Steamline your wedding strategy by learning the tricks and trends that will help you show off the potential of your venue and its offering to couples looking for something special. We hear from Ciara Crossan, founder of Wedding Dates, on how to do just that.

Having worked in the wedding industry for over 11 years, I have seen many trends come and go along with different sales and marketing techniques. In my view, understanding the highly digital Millennial generation and how they think and act is a really important aspect of any venue’s sales and marketing strategy right now. It’s also important to understand that one size does not fit all and couples are looking for authenticity and personalisation as they navigate their way towards their big day.

Same sex couples now account for approximately 3% of weddings and that has been on the rise since it came into law 5 years ago. These couples will often pour more of their budget into the look and feel of the day spending on a super band, amazing room design or favours. The more mature, second time rounders, tend to opt for a more relaxed setting and a low key, less fuss type of set up such as a buffet or restaurant. Many engaged couples have young children and so the wedding becomes as much about them.  

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First impressions

For all couples, the importance of first impressions are still as influential now as they were 5 or 10 years ago, in fact, even more so. The days of couples spending weekend after weekend driving around to venues is well and truly over. A quarter of engaged couples will visit just 1 venue. With 66% of couples visiting 3 venues or less, rolling out the red carpet and being top of your game for show rounds is critical for success in getting that booking.

Location location location

Historically, location has been the first factor considered when choosing a venue. Today, since so much venue research is done online, location is used as the primary search criteria when creating a shortlist of venues to tour. More than half of surveyed couples cite the décor of the venue as a key factor, highlighting the importance of high-quality photos and video in attracting enquiries and reinforcing the importance of an impressive venue tour for millennial couples. Social media plays a key role here – you need to be active, show your personality and what makes you stand out. The venue’s Wedding Coordinator is also a critical part of the tour’s success, ranking as the #3 factor in the decision-making process for engaged couples.

The people factor

Weddings are a highly emotional purchase and couples are not only choosing the venue or the packages that you have to offer but they are buying into the team that will deliver on the day. It is all about trust and the better you can communicate that to couples upfront the better. A great example of this is Marriott Hotels across the UK re-name their wedding & events coordinators as “Memory Makers” and profile their photos across their new website.  

Changes in communication preferences all need to be considered by the wedding team when planning the all-important enquiry response strategy. We now have an on-demand customer with 4 in 10 couples expecting a response from a venue to their enquiry within 12-24 hours. In fact, almost 20% expect a response within just 12 hours. This highlights the importance of an email strategy through the whole booking and planning process with an overwhelming preference for email.

The trends for 2020

In terms of trends for 2020 – we are going to see more and more levels of personalisation and highly styled weddings. Sustainability is a big theme and we will see more eco-conscious choices when it comes to weddings particularly around the décor. Creative uses for flowers outside of bouquets – we will see couples use flowers in unexpected ways such as edible blooms in food and drinks or in large decor displays. There is a huge focus on the guest experience and creating memorable moments for them (so they can show off on Instagram) and we can expect to see things like signature drinks at weddings in 2020.

The reception itself is no longer about the formal sit-down meal, couples are really looking to get their guests in on the action and have them take part in some fun, unexpected things. Pimp your Prosecco and gin stations have become popular for weddings and this will definitely continue into 2020. The 2020 couple pays close attention to all the details of their wedding, making showstopping moments out of basics like the bar.

Statement lighting can set the mood for weddings and transform the space to make it more unique. Hanging lanterns, string lights, LED signs, or even chandeliers are some options that couples are going for. The average guest count has been decreasing over the past year, but we’re seeing the spending-per-guest increase, so this means is that couples are really thinking about the guest experience. Magicians, sketch artists, or tarot card readers can all increase the fun the guest has at the wedding, making it a priority for couples.

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Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

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