Earlier this month at WeddingDates, we published our 5th annual Industry Report, which is put together with valuable date from 2000+ couples from across the UK and Ireland.
If you haven’t seen it yet, you can download the report here, grab a coffee and enjoy!
It is packed full of interesting insights about how couples are enquiring for and planning their weddings but I have picked out 5 key points that really stood out to me.
1. CIVIL CEREMONY POPULARITY IS INCREASING.
69% of couples are now opting for a civil ceremony, a growth of 16% since 2019. This indicates that planning can be somewhat simplified with everything taking place in one venue. There is also no need to spend a chunk of the budget on transport which means money can be spent elsewhere.
From a venue’s perspective this means UPSELL!
Think about what photo opportunities are available for the couple and how you can make more of this. For example, if the couple are not travelling between two locations will they want to sneak off, away from the wedding party and have a private moment together – could you offer a picnic hamper complete with champagne/canapes for the two of them to enjoy?
Maybe you are not a venue that has extensive or picturesque grounds for photos, and you are located in a city centre. Don’t shy away from this. Instead, offer the couple possible solutions and highlight some great local spots for photography such as parks/green spaces and city landmarks that they can walk to. Again, offering a picnic hamper they can take off site shows you have thought about them and how to make their day that bit extra special.
2. ENGAGEMENT LENGTH
Engagement length has been increasing over the last 10 years however this year we are seeing a significant increase due to postponements and cancellations. The percentage of couples engaged for 2+ years has increased from 11% in 2020 to 18% in 2021. Likewise, the number of couples engaged 18-24 months has more than doubled from 6% in 2020 to 14% in 2021.
With 32% of couples having an 18 month+ engagement this means more time is taken up with communication and it increases the need to streamline processes.
Having a clear and simple communication plan for staff to follow will ensure efficient communication.
There are things you can do to help with streamlining communications and the WedPro software from WeddingDates provides you with simple tools (like WedMail!) to ease the administration workload.
And of course, this extended time between engagement and wedding means more time and opportunity to upsell!
3. WEDDING SEASON IS EXTENDING
Each year in our Industry Report we look at popular months to get married. The trend has remained pretty much the same with that ‘peak wedding season’ falling across the warmer months. However, this year we are seeing demand spread across months that have historically been less popular. The only decidedly quiet months for the UK are Dec – Mar resulting in an 8 month season.
Interestingly in Ireland, December is one of the most popular months to get married outside of July/August so for UK venues there is an opportunity here.
How could you market yourselves for Winter/Christmas weddings?
It is likely that your venue will already be dressed up for Christmas and there is something really quite magical and romantic about an abundance of candles/fairy lights. Christmas parties may take up a large chunk of your Nov/Dec calendar but the week between Christmas and New Year (known as Twixmas) could be a big opportunity for weddings.
4. COUPLES ARE SENDING FEWER ENQUIRIES
With the ability to do extensive research online we are seeing the number of enquiries couples send decreasing – the majority of couples are now sending five or fewer enquiries to venues. This means that using your online presence to the greatest effect is absolutely essential.
Your website, any third party listings, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook – these all play a part in couples forming their first impression of your venue and if you don’t wow them they will move on to the next.
Look for ways you can offer some of your extensive knowledge and expertise of the wedding industry and position yourself as an expert and trusted source of information. Could this be in the form of some FAQ videos being published on your Instagram? (Don’t forget to link to these from your website).
You could write a blog post around things to consider when booking a venue. Showing that you care about your couples and their day more than just booking another wedding will help build that sense of trust and rapport before they have even sent an enquiry.
It saddens me to know that only 30% of couples say they were made to feel special in their venue selection process so once a couple has shortlisted your venue and enquired. What are you doing to stand out from the crowd and really WOW your prospective clients?
The WeddingDates Method is something that can help you here; an award winning methodology focusing specifically on improving conversion rates of enquiries to show rounds. This is a service WeddingDates provides that has proven to deliver incredible results for our clients.
5. COVID COMPROMISES & ALTERNATIVES
COVID restrictions have had a huge impact on the size of weddings that are able to take place. When we look at what compromises a couple are willing to make for their big day it is interesting to see that 51% have said they would reduce their guest list. Couples would rather forego family than photography!
When restrictions are lifted and we have returned to some sense of normality I think there will still be a place for more intimate Micro Weddings allowing for quality time spent with guests.
However, despite willingness to reduce numbers, in the main, budgets have not changed, with 67% of couples reporting that their budget has remained the same. These smaller guest lists will potentially mean a higher price per head and better allocation of resources.
This is a definite opportunity for venues to offer enhanced F&B offerings. This is backed up by the fact that many of the top wish list items that couples mentioned this year were around food and drink:
- Dessert table: 20%
- Grazing table: 13%
- Food Truck: 13%
- Cheese display: 10%
- Donut table/wall: 8%
- Ice cream/candy floss cart: 7%
Try to offer a more varied selection to suit these current trends either providing in-house or outsourcing to a supplier. You can offer more to your couples by adding some of these items to your packages or your extras menu, while at the same time simplifying the planning process for them.