The Wedding Lifecycle – Part 2: WOW Your Couples from Contract Signing to the Wedding Day
During the 2023 National Hotel Marketing Conference at Burton Upon Trent, we had the opportunity to host an interactive seminar on The Wedding Lifecycle. The CEO and Founder at WeddingDates Ciara Crossan, and Mark Godfrey, Managing Director at Deer Park in Devon, an award-winning, exclusive-use wedding venue, teamed up to bring an engaging and interactive session. During the seminar, we received input from attendees with over 250 years of combined industry experience on how to WOW couples through key touchpoints in the enquiry process. The collaborative ideas and energy has resulted in a checklist of excellence for venues at each stage of the couple’s journey. But we didn’t stop there!
To further support venues in delivering exceptional experiences, our team of wedding experts compiled a set of best practices. These practical tips will help venues nurture enquiries and cater to the evolving needs of modern couples along the essential touchpoints of the wedding planning process. Following the success of our third webinar in the three-part series on The Wedding Lifecycle, we are excited to share these insights on how to WOW your couples from the moment they sign the contract to their wedding day.
In case you missed Part 1 of The Wedding Lifecycle, where we discussed how to WOW couples during the proposal, enquiry, and showround stages, don’t worry! You can catch up and discover valuable strategies to enhance your couples’ experience. Read more here.
Securing the Deal: Deposit and Contract Signing
At the deposit and final meeting stage of the wedding planning journey, the couple has made their decision and chosen your venue as their wedding destination. This is a critical stage in the process as it can make or break the experience for the couple. Your team’s attention to detail and communication skills will be put to the test. In this section, we’ll explore the deposit and final meeting stage, sharing tips and tricks to ensure the couple feels confident in their choice and leaves excited for their big day.
- In most cases, a deposit is required to secure a date, make sure this is communicated to couples and that payment plans for future instalments are noted. Offer a flexible payment plan for the couple to make payments at convenient intervals.
- Upon booking, consider sending a personalised congratulatory email or customised gift to the couple linked to the venue.
- Once the deposit has been received, the couple is sent wedding documentation, alongside a list of recommended suppliers and a personal ‘Planning Guide’ to guide couples chronologically through their next steps in terms of wedding planning. Offer recommendations for reliable and high-quality suppliers.
- Ensure that a dedicated Wedding Coordinator is available throughout the wedding planning process and that the couples are made aware of this.
- Create an Instagram or Pinterest account to showcase real weddings and inspire couples.
- If the booking takes place after a showround set up a sign at the venue for couples to take a photo once they’ve booked, and encourage them to share on social media.
Between Contract and Wedding Day: Making Your Couple Feel Valued
Once the contract is signed, it’s important to keep the communication lines open and ensure the couple feels supported throughout the planning process. By making the couple feel valued and supported during the planning process, you will not only increase the chances of a successful event but also create a positive experience that they will remember for years to come.
- Regularly communicate with the couple to check in on their planning progress and offer any assistance they may need. The best practice is to keep communication to email or calls and aim to keep response times between 24 and 48 hours.
- At Deer Park, couples are invited for three meetings at the venue or via telephone with their designated Wedding Coordinator. This enables the development of strong rapport and confidence in the team’s ability to deliver the event they have envisaged. Meetings take place 6 months, 3 months and 1 month ahead of the celebrations.
- Confirm with the couple if there are other aspects of the wedding day that your team can take care of to enhance the couple’s experience, for example moving luggage or completing the set-up of final decor. This builds confidence in the team and ensures the couple’s stress is kept to a minimum.
- Offer a final meeting or call with the couple to review all details and ensure everyone is comfortable with the plans. Offer the couple the option to revisit the venue for a tour with family or a wedding party.
- It’s important to remember that weddings can be stressful, and couples may appreciate a simple check-in to see how they are doing. This is a great opportunity to show them that you care and are invested in their special day.
- Another way to make the couple feel valued during this stage is to offer a special treat or gesture. This could be a complimentary room upgrade, a small gift or even a handwritten note. These small touches can go a long way in creating a lasting impression and building a relationship with the couple.
- Following each meeting, the couple should be sent a friendly email thanking them and attachments include a copy of the couple’s current plans in ‘Function Sheet’ format.
- Send a thoughtful card to the couple one month before the wedding to show your support and excitement.
WedPro Feature: With WedMail, WedPro’s Automated Email System, there are 5 customisable email templates triggered in the days and months following the booking confirmation. These emails will help you keep on top of your to-do list.
Menu Tasting: A Chance to Delight the Senses
Menu tasting is a necessary part of the wedding planning journey, as it allows couples to sample and choose their preferred dishes for their special day. However, it also presents a unique opportunity for wedding venues to delight the senses and create an unforgettable experience for the couple. In this section, we will explore some of the ways that wedding venues can elevate their menu tastings and create a truly immersive experience.
- A menu tasting needs to be more than just a chance to try different dishes. It will ideally be an experience that engages all the senses, from the presentation of the food to the ambience of the venue.
- Set a romantic scene; light some fires, use mood lighting and provide a restaurant-style experience.
- The Wedding Coordinator attends to greet couples at the door by name and take them to the lounge to enjoy their bubbles and canapes.
- Menu tasting provides an opportunity for the couple to revisit the venue, and meet the front-of-house team members who will be involved in the running of their celebrations.
- Include something unexpected; at Deer Park menu tastings are a paid extra and allow the couple to sample two starters, two main courses and two desserts plus the house wine. They also include an unadvertised extra surprise – a glass of house sparkling wine upon arrival and a 3-piece canape selection, which are provided to enhance the couple’s experience.
- Encourage the couple to take photos and notes during the tasting to help them make informed decisions.
- Ask for feedback and take note of any special requests or changes to the menu.
- Discuss service and presentation details, including table settings and decor, during the tasting.
- Provide a detailed breakdown of the costs associated with the chosen menu and offer guidance on how to manage any additional costs.
- Offer a range of menu options to suit different tastes and dietary requirements and consider offering an upgrade option for premium dishes or beverages.
- Each menu tasting can be followed up the next day, inviting the couple to provide feedback or note any changes required ahead of their celebrations.
Final Details Meeting: Ensuring a Seamless Wedding Day
As the wedding day approaches, the final details meeting is a crucial touchpoint in the wedding planning journey. This meeting typically takes place a few weeks before the wedding day and allows the couple to finalise all the details. This meeting is a critical moment in the wedding planning journey that can make all the difference in creating a memorable and stress-free wedding day.
- Arrange the final details meeting four weeks ahead of the wedding date. Ahead of the final meeting send the couple a checklist of the required information so they arrive prepared.
- The venue staff must be organised and prepared to answer any questions the couple may have, and to make suggestions that can enhance the wedding day experience.
- This meeting is an opportunity to show that the venue staff is invested in making their wedding day as special as possible. By demonstrating that the venue is willing to go to ensure a seamless wedding day, the couple will feel confident and excited about their upcoming nuptials.
- Create a detailed timeline for the wedding day and share it with all necessary parties, including the couple, vendors, and venue staff.
- Run chronologically through the proceedings to ensure the couple is happy and confident in all arrangements. The Coordinator discusses logistical elements of the running of the day for example the arrival of Registrars, points of contact etc. to ensure they are prepared and confident.
- Have a backup team available in case of last-minute changes along with a plan for inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances and communicate this plan with the couple and vendors.
- Discuss the wedding party and family introductions, and confirm the pronunciation of all names.
We hope that the practical tips and insights shared in this blog post will empower you to elevate your venue and deliver unforgettable experiences for your couples. By implementing these strategies from contract signing to the wedding day, you can create truly exceptional weddings that leave a lasting impression.
If you missed the webinars in the three-part series, don’t worry! You can still access the playback and catch up on all the valuable information and ideas shared. Simply click here to watch the replay and gain additional inspiration to enhance your venue’s offerings.
Thank you for joining us on this journey of uncovering The Wedding Lifecycle and discovering ways to WOW your couples. We wish you great success in implementing these tips and creating magical moments that exceed your couples’ expectations. Together, let’s take your venue to the next level and create extraordinary memories that will be cherished forever.