Wedding Trends

Wedding Trends: Planning your Business Strategy to meet the needs of your couples in 2023.

2022 was a phenomenal year for the wedding industry.  A return to business as usual (or unusual) as we tackled a swell of weddings off the back of Covid against a backdrop of rising costs, staffing struggles, a war, political disharmony and economic instability.  Now the backlog of Covid weddings has cleared what wedding trends will 2023 bring?  

2023 is set to be another busy year for the wedding industry but as we enter a period of recession and uncertainty there is going to be an ever-greater need for businesses to be strategic.  My advice is to take action; minimise debt, add new income streams, closely monitor your cash flow, trim any unnecessary expenses, reduce your costs, focus your marketing campaigns and pay close attention to wedding trends and the needs of couples.  These measures will help you successfully navigate the year ahead. 

Ambiguity aside (and the gloomy January weather!), there is sunshine on the horizon and things can only get better (as D:Ream once sung).  We live in a constant state of flux and nothing is ever certain.  All we can do is hope for the best and plan for the worst. 

I am an 80s kid and with my rose-tinted specs firmly on I can’t help feel a bit nostalgic for those halcyon days.  I was born in 1979 so I don’t remember the economic struggles of the 1970s.  My early childhood was filled with bright optimism as the grownups put their troubles behind them and embraced the era of neon colours, uplifting electronic pop, pioneering technological advances, adventure movies where the impossible seemed possible, a booming economy and a magnificent Royal wedding.

It seems I am not the only one harking back to this period of cheerful confidence and enthusiasm if wedding trends are anything to go by…. 

Wedding trends
Anna Morgan Photography / Hope Farm Dorset

Eye-catching wedding trends.

The traditional white and cream weddings have definitely been flung into the past as bold colour takes over.  Like the 80s, 2023 is going to be a year of vibrant and vivid shades.  A riotous display of strength, fortitude and courage.  Viva Magenta!  The pantone colour of the year is a significant bright red.  A daring colour to stand alone but in amongst a contrasting colour palette or rainbow scheme it will shine.  

Is your venue a blank canvas to allow couples to experiment with bright colours?  How can you meet the wedding trends and incorporate cheerful colours into your landscaping or interior décor?  Can you offer interchangeable accent colours to help inspire your couples’ creativity?       


Digital wedding trends.

The technological advances are getting better and better.  As I get older, wedding couples seem to get ever younger and it’s very much the Millennial generation’s turn to get hitched.  They might not have seen much of the 80s, but this is the generation who have a strong understanding and appreciation of the digital world that this decade gave birth to. This is bringing a digital element to wedding trends.   Most couples are embracing the technology of the 21st century and making use of some of the great digital platforms now available which can be used to organise your guest list, send e-invites, collect RSVPs and arrange your seating plan.  

Some venues are even linking software to their own CRM systems to help integrate their planning process with that of their clients.  This is a great way to help streamline the planning process and make communication easier for everyone.    

Wedding Trends Bridal
Halfpenny London

Un-traditional wedding trends.

Can you remember the last time you saw a groom in a morning suit and a top hat?  It was probably in the 80s.  Wedding fashion is becoming so much more interesting and less formulaic.  Bridal fashion this year is also giving a nod to big, bold 80s style with voluminous sleeves and skirts.  Whatever the wedding trend, there is nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable on your wedding day.  Brides are taking this to heart and wearing what makes them feel good.   I love seeing brides expressing their personality through their bridalwear.  From the Doc Martin, leather jacket wearing rock chicks to the disco divas in their sequin jump suits and short skater dresses.  And when it’s impossible to choose just one outfit, why not have two!  An elegant daytime dress for the more formal proceedings and an evening showstopper to dominate the dancefloor!    If your venue doesn’t have accommodation, can you offer a comfortable and private space for the bride and groom to change if they want to?     

Is it bad luck for the Groom to see the Bride before the wedding?  Like a lot of old wedding trends, this is a superstition based on historic practises such as arranged marriages. when families did not want the couple to see each other before their wedding in case they didn’t like what they saw!  Whilst some still observe this tradition, some couples like the opportunity to take a ‘first look’.  A private moment just before their ceremony when they are dressed in all their finery to appreciate one another and perhaps calm each other’s nerves before they step into the limelight.  Is there an intimate place at your venue that you can offer to couples for them to make the most of this special moment?

Couples are not always opting for the traditional top table either choosing to sit in amongst their friends or even just a table for two.  Can you offer a flexible table arrangement for couples to choose what feels most comfortable for them?

Wedding Trends
Jason Williams Photography

Inclusive wedding trends.

More and more weddings are also family friendly and inclusive.  Most weddings will have children so it’s helpful if wedding venues can provide a welcoming indoor and outdoor space and entertainment for them.  As a parent myself, I hold high appreciation for places which give a warm welcome to younger as well as older guests.  Venues are ideal if they can safely entertain my kids whilst also entertaining me!  Outdoor games, a bouncy castle, treasure hunt, babysitters, special kids menu and mocktails are all winners for kids of all ages.  

Not everyone wants to dance.  Older guests might want a quiet place they can rest in comfort away from all the wedding antics.    

And not all family are two-legged!  I am seeing more and more four-legged family members at weddings and there is a burgeoning demand for pet-handlers at weddings to help look after couples’ furry friends so they can participate in the event.  Can you accommodate pets at your wedding venue?  

Anna Morgan Photography

Convivial wedding trends.

As well as providing sustenance, food plays a big part in the wedding day and is very much dictated by the tastes of the couple.   Culinary choice is becoming much more multicultural and with various serving styles from formal plated wedding breakfasts to more informal grazing platters.  Couples want their guests to enjoy their meal so will want to ensure that all tastes and dietary needs are catered for.  If you provide in-house catering then how do you keep your menus fresh and exciting and appeal to all tastes and needs?  If you work with outside caterers then get to know them well, especially the style and quality of their food, so you can help couples find a suitable supplier to meet their culinary needs.  Evening food is continuing to be popular as weddings progress late into the night with guests needing further sustenance to keep them on the dancefloor.  Simple street food goes down well when guests want something substantial enough to feed their hunger but not another full meal.  This also presents a possible additional revenue stream for venues who can offer in-house catering.

Music also plays a big part in the enjoyment of the wedding day from the ceremony right through to the dancefloor.  But is music entertainment enough?  As wedding parties have returned to larger numbers not all guests will know one another so ice-breakers are a great opportunity to help guests start conversations with strangers.  Wandering musicians, close-up magicians or silhouette cutters are a perfect addition to the drinks reception and wedding breakfast.  More active guests might want to participate together in garden games such as croquet, quoits or laser clay pigeon shooting.  

Make sure you talk to your couples about all their ideas and help them to find entertainment best suited to your venue.  Do you have a suitable space available for what they want?  Comfortable indoor and outdoor seating areas for guests to rest or chat if they don’t want to dance are also welcome.  

Wedding Trends
Venetia Norrington / Tipi Spaces

Outdoor wedding trends.

The change in law governing where legal wedding ceremonies can be conducted was relaxed a little during Covid to allow ceremonies to be conducted outside. This has had a massive impact on wedding trends and led to an increase in outdoor wedding ceremonies.  The law is set to be changed further to enable more flexibility in where and who can conduct wedding ceremonies.

Summer weddings still remain extremely popular with couples hoping to enjoy as much of their wedding outdoors as possible.  More and more people are embracing the health benefits that exposure to nature brings and this is also influencing weddings in 2023.  Lots of couples are choosing marquee weddings that enable them to feel more connected with the outdoors whilst still giving them a shelter from the weather.  Woodland and orchard wedding ceremonies are also very popular, as are venues that are close to water and the coast.  

How can you help your couples make the most of your outdoor space?  

Tipi Spaces / Charlotte Winship Consulting

Weddings with a conscience.  

The social and environmental impact of weddings and events is becoming an ever-increasing concern and an influence on wedding trends.  We are an industry notorious for waste but we are getting a lot better.  Clients are becoming a lot more mindful about the impact their wedding will have on the wider world.  Couples are often choosing local wedding venues to save travel for themselves and their guests and also opting for local suppliers to lower their carbon footprint and support the local economy.  Locally grown flowers and produce are very popular.  

If you provide in-house catering then think carefully about where you source your ingredients and if you can do more to reduce the journey they make to the plate. Your food menu doesn’t have to be completely vegetarian but offer a good choice of exciting and appetising vegetarian and vegan dishes to tempt even the most hardened meat-eater.      

Homegrown flowers from family and friends’ gardens can provide a beautifully personal touch to a wedding day as well as being a sustainable option that is grown not flown.  Can you help put your couples in touch with a local florist who supports this or who can supply seasonal and locally grown blooms?  

There are some amazing drinks producers in the UK now supplying everything from wine and beer to exciting spirits and soft drinks.  How local is your bar menu?      

Providing a recommended list of local suppliers is very helpful for wedding couples but choose suppliers who share the same sustainable business ethos as you as well as those that offer an excellent standard of service and quality.     

If you are working to make your wedding venue more sustainable then share this with your prospective clients.  How do you encourage your couples to have a sustainable wedding?  Evidence your efforts to reduce waste, use sustainable materials and renewable energy.  Reduce your carbon footprint by planting trees, working with local suppliers and reducing your own travel.  Support other local and global environmental organisations to widen your impact.  

Wedding Trends
IYHTV Designs

Investment weddings.

Everyone is watching their pennies but that doesn’t mean that couples are looking for a cheap wedding.  Most couples will have a budget in mind and price is going to be an important factor in helping them to decide on everything from their venue to the size of their guest list.  But their wedding is an important milestone event.  They want it to be special and memorable and they want all their loved ones to be a part of it.  They understand that their wedding is an investment.  This means that they want good value for money.  They want to know what they will be receiving for their investment.  

Couples have more choice than ever when it comes to weddings.  So how do they choose?  

Trust.  Couples need to trust in the people they are investing with.  They want to be assured that they are going to receive the best possible service and that you will understand their needs and support them to have the best wedding day.    Communication, flexibility, guidance, information, expertise, comfort and convenience are all highly prized assets when it comes to offering value to your clients.

Couples want to make the most of their special event.  Lockdown forced couples to reduce their wedding party size to more intimate affairs with many couples settling to have a small legal ceremony with just their immediate friends and family.  Whilst we wait for the marriage law to catch up to the 21st century I think we will see more and more couples choose this option with a second, bigger celebration afterwards.  With the legal bit out the way, couples then have the freedom to stage a wedding ceremony on their own terms under the guidance of a celebrant.  

Wedding venues that can offer weddings over multiple days are becoming increasingly popular.  Venue hire is one of the biggest wedding expenses so couples want to get the most for their money.  Venues that can offer accommodation, whether it’s a bedroom or a tent pitch, enable couples to extend their celebration.  This also gives venues the opportunity to increase their income by offering additional entertainment and hospitality such as a BBQ the night before or a brunch the following day.  This is also appealing for guests, some of whom may have travelled some distance and may want to extend their stay rather than rush back home.  

Whatever the predictions for wedding trends in 2023, one thing is for certain, the wedding industry is still thriving and couples still want to get married in their own special way.  Each of your clients will bring their own set of needs and requirements for how they want to plan their wedding.  Be very clear on who your ideal couple are and the type of weddings your venue is best suited for.  Offer as much flexibility as possible but also be the expert and help guide your clients to get the most out of your venue.    

If you need any help planning your business strategy for 2023 and beyond then please do get in touch.

I hope you all have a great 2023.

Do you need support with your venue or events?

Let 's start a conversation today

Manage your workflow

How to manage your workflow and prevent the January overwhelm.

Happy New Year! If, like me, today is your first day back in the office after an extended Christmas break then welcome back!  I try to plan an easy day for my first day back in the office after a holiday. This helps me manage my workflow; respond to emails, review where I left things and start planning ahead.  

Manage your workflow

This is also always a good time for you to check in with your team, make sure they are mentally and physically rested and ready and raring to go.  Share your plans and expectations, listen to their ideas and suggestions and support each other to achieve your goals.    

Manage your workflow

Christmas and New Year continue to be a popular time for couples to become engaged.  It’s also when most of us get some kind of break from our usual day-to-day life and when our thoughts turn to planning exciting events for the year ahead.  Hopefully with the result that your inbox will be inundated with enquiries over the next few weeks from hopeful couples wanting to find out more about your wedding venue, book a site visit and book their wedding date.  

Manage your workflow

Don’t let yourself become too overwhelmed by all this sudden activity after your break.  Here are a few tips to help you manage your workflow and give you some breathing space:

  1. Make your sure your website is working well.

Your website is a great sales funnel and is perfectly placed to help filter all the serious venue shoppers. It will also help reduce the number of inappropriate enquiries, helping you to manage your workflow. Before any prospective clients will reach out to you, they are highly likely to view your website to find out more information about your venue.  Make sure your website is up to date with all the information they will need to know about your venue.  Make sure the information is easy to find, clear and concise. The more information they can find out here, the less questions they will need to ask and the quicker they can make a decision to dismiss your venue or move to the next stage and book a viewing.   For more information on how to create a wedding venue website that works well take a look here

Manage your workflow

2. Keep an online calendar.  

What dates do you still have available?  Create an up-to-date calendar on your website which shows your availability.  This will enable your clients to check if the date they want to book is available quickly and easily. This will save them time and help you manage your workflow.

Manage your workflow

3. Publicise your prices.  

One of the first questions couples always have is ‘How much?’ or ‘Can I afford you?’  Make it simple for them.  List your hire fees and any other costs on your website.  

Manage your workflow

4. Create an online brochure.  

A digital brochure that clients can access direct from your website is a much faster way for them to receive information from you and it is also a lot more environmentally friendly. Create a button on your website with a link to your brochure. Make sure your clients can find this quickly and easily and that you have enabled a digital form to capture their contact details so you can contact them afterwards. Your brochure should be an extension of your website.  Use lots of colourful images that best showcase your venue and your services.  Keep the text short and snappy but include all the relevant information that your clients will need in order to make an informed decision about your venue.  Eg. prices, facilities available, special conditions etc.  

Manage your workflow

5. Venue viewing appointments.  

Add an appointment calendar to your website that enables clients to book a venue viewing online.  You can create appointment slots to fit in around you and your other activities but this saves your clients having to phone or email to book an appointment and makes the process much quicker for you.

Manage your workflow

6. Virtual venue viewings.  

If your viewing appointments are stacking up then don’t risk losing important bookings because you don’t have capacity for any more viewings.  Create a virtual tour of your venue.  You will need to hire a professional and experienced 360 degree photographer or videographer to capture your venue.  Done well, this can create a realistic and immersive experience of your venue for clients to enjoy from the comfort of their own home.  This is also really helpful for clients who live too far away to visit your venue.     

Virtual venue visit

7. Email templates.  

Of course there will be some clients who bypass all of the above and insist on sending an email.  Everyone expects a personalised reply.  But when you are repeating yourself multiple times a day then genuine enthusiasm can begin to wane.  Write a template which is suitable for the majority of your clients.  Think about the information that your clients will want to know eg. costs, inclusions, hire terms and conditions etc.  You can still personalise the introduction (make sure you spell their name right!) and respond to any unique queries but being able to copy and paste the main information will save you time.

Manage your workflow

8. Establish a CRM system (Customer Relationship Management).  

How are you going to stay on top of all the enquiries?  A good CRM system is really helpful to log enquiries including any specific needs and requirements.  You can track how your clients heard about your venue and use this data to find out how well your marketing strategy is working.  You can book a reminder to make a follow-up call or send a follow-up email.  This is also a secure place to hold their contact details and keep information if they decide to book your venue.  It is also invaluable if you have a large team so you can share information easily. There is software available to help you but if this is out of scope then a simple excel spreadsheet is also just as useful.  

CRM System

If you need any more help or advice on how to manage your workflow and make your business work better for you then please do get in touch.      

Do you need support with your venue or events?

Let 's start a conversation today

Wedding venue accommodation

Maintaining venue bookings in a weak economy.

How adding value to your venue will sustain your venue bookings in a weak economy.

As I write this in early October 2022, the economic future of the UK looks bleak.  High inflation, interest rates rising, a cost of living crisis and a government in disarray.  Across the hospitality industry we are already feeling weary from the hammering we took during Covid.  For some, 2022 has not been the panacea we hoped for.  Rising food and energy costs and staffing problems have all hampered our recovery.   If you are running a venue or thinking about starting a new venue then you will be right to be concerned and considering how you can attract venue bookings from clients who maybe feeling the pinch. But before YOU take a U-turn please do read on.

Venue Bookings
© Robin Goodlad

I am not an economist or a politician, nor do I have a crystal ball but like you I am a business owner and I do not believe there is ever a perfect time to start a new business (unless you happen to have a time machine or can see into the future).  The political and economic landscape right now maybe troubling but we live in a state of constant flux so the outlook today may look very different tomorrow.  I believe that if you have the opportunity, determination and a sound strategy then success is possible at anytime.    

I have worked in the events industry for long enough to know that whatever is happening in the world, people still want to hold weddings and events.  Indeed, the wedding and events industry contributes over £80bn to the UK economy.  £14.7bn of that is generated by weddings alone.  

We are not impervious to crisis as the last few years will testify.  Covid had an overwhelming impact on the events industry costing us billions in lost revenue.  However, we are resilient and 2022 has seen a resurgence of postponed weddings and delayed festivals.  And even during Covid we adapted.  We reduced numbers, we moved outdoors, we stepped up our health and safety processes and we even stepped foot into the world of virtual events.

Because, whatever else is going in the world, we still want to get married, we still want to meet our friends and colleagues face to face, we want to celebrate and we want to be entertained. 

Venue Bookings
© Venetia Norrington

It might be harder to attract new venue bookings right now but if you plan well, do your research, evaluate, invest wisely and have a policy of continuous improvement then there is still a market for weddings and events.  

There will be some of us who will fall by the wayside but I predict that these will be the businesses who have not adapted, who have not done the research and continue to offer run of the mill, lacklustre, functional, unappealing spaces with little in the way of customer service.  The businesses that do listen and develop and make wise decisions that offer fresh, unique, inspiring, extraordinary venues with their focus on delighting the customer will emerge stronger and maintain their venue bookings. They will also benefit the industry as a whole by encouraging more people to host events.   

Your venues are significant for the whole events industry.  For the caterers and florists, for the dress makers and food and drink producers, for the local taxi firms and photographers, for your staff and, most importantly, for your clients.   

Venue Bookings
© Kathryn Clarke-Mcleod

Before any real planning can begin wedding couples and other events organisers need to secure a venue.  Choosing the right venue is crucial.  The venue is more than just a place.  It sets the scene and creates an ambience for the whole event. It helps attract an audience and inspires creativity. It offers comfort and a warm welcome.   

And because of this significance, and most importantly for you as venue owners, this means that a sizeable portion of the event budget is spent on venue hire.  

In 2021, the average spend by couples on their wedding was over £17,000 with a significant 40% (£7,000) being spent on the wedding venue*.  

Price has always been a primary factor in helping clients decide on their venue.  Now more than ever budgets will be tightened but this doesn’t mean that couples are on the hunt for the cheapest venue they can find.  The venue still remains important so will still command a high proportion of the overall budget.   What they will be looking for is best value for money and cheap does not necessarily mean good value.  

Consider the couple deciding to marry at home.  A ‘free’ and meaningful venue perhaps but not necessarily good value for money.   Without a dedicated event space they will need to spend significant sums on a marquee, decorating, hiring furniture, lighting and sound equipment, power and toilets. A dedicated, purpose built events venue on the other hand might cost them several thousand pounds in hire fees but they will save time and money from not having to build and organise their own venue at home.

Tipi Wedding
© Venetia Norrington

How can you provide good value for money and attract venue bookings?

You need to focus on two things; offering great customer service and facilities that best serve your ideal client.

Great customer service is about communicating well with your clients.  Listening to their needs and responding promptly and considerately.  If you can’t directly supply what they need, explain early on in the planning process and if possible help them source it from elsewhere.  You might not be the right venue for them but they will remember you for your helpfulness and perhaps recommend you to a couple who ARE your ideal client.    Be as flexible as possible.  Clients want to enjoy the event planning process so help them avoid stress and even save them time by giving them all the information they need to have a successful event at your venue.  Don’t forget you are the expert so your input will be extremely valuable and save them time in the long run if you can help prompt questions and provide solutions early on.    

You might have the most beautiful palace but is it equipped for events?  What infrastructure do you need to deliver weddings and events that will best serve your ideal clients?  Anticipate the needs of your client and invest wisely in the things that they want and need the most.  What can you supply that will make their life easier?  An outdoor wedding or event will need a field which is easily accessible with well-drained ground in good condition.   They will need a temporary structure.  They will need power and water.  If you can’t supply these directly then direct your clients to other local and reliable suppliers.   

Venue Bookings
© Kathryn Clarke-Mcleod

If you are converting an existing building into a dedicated space for weddings then bear in mind that, on average, most wedding parties are now in excess of 100 guests.  How many guests can you accommodate?  Do you have different spaces available for the ceremony and dancing?  Do you have an attractive outside space for outdoor wedding ceremonies?  How long is your hire period?  One day or the whole weekend?  Do you have a wedding licence?  Do you offer a bar service?  Do you have sound and lighting installed?  Do you have a kitchen for the caterer or can you supply the catering in-house?  Do you offer a wedding co-ordinator?  Can you recommend other local suppliers?  Do you have accommodation available on site? What furniture can you supply?     

The more services and facilities you can supply the more perceived value you will present to wedding and events organisers and the more likely they are to book your venue. It may also offer additional income.  Overnight accommodation or an in-house bar service are a good way to add value but also accrue income.  And remember to be explicit in telling prospective clients the value that you offer.  Keep an up-to-date list of what is included in the hire fee.  Share this list on your website and brochures.  Talk about your service and facilities when clients come for site visits.

Don’t forget to do research before you invest in services and facilities.  Talk to your competitors.  What services and facilities are they offering?  How much are they charging?  Listen and notice what your clients are asking for.  What is important to them?  Do they need additional accommodation?  Do they need state of the art audio visual equipment?  Do they still need furniture for an extravagant three-course wedding breakfast or would they prefer a more low-key buffet table or outdoor barbecue?  Discuss what is happening elsewhere in the industry with your suppliers.  What are they noticing?  The more information you can gather the more informed your investment decisions will be, the more value you can add for your clients and the more venue bookings for you.  

For more information about how I can help you plan your venue for success, take a look here.

*Hitched National Wedding Survey 2021


Do you need support with your venue or events?

Let 's start a conversation today

Outdoor weddings

Outdoor Weddings

The Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) (Amendment) Regulations 2022

Outdoor Weddings Are Here To Stay – The Government announce a permanent extension to licensed wedding venues.

After a robust campaign by members of the wedding industry, interfaith community and wider public, the Government have announced that outdoor civil weddings and partnerships at licensed venues will be made permanently legal in England and Wales from April 2022.  

This legislation will be a permanent extension to the temporary measures that were introduced in 2021 to enable couples to safely marry outdoors during the pandemic.

A government consultation found that 96% of respondents backed this permanent change.  93% also supported extending it to religious ceremonies.*  This change currently only applies to civil ceremonies and partnerships however further reforms to religious ceremonies are planned due to overwhelming support from all major faith groups.  

This is exciting news for the wedding and events industry and opens the door for couples to plan their dream outdoor summer wedding.

Outdoor weddings

What does this mean for couples?

Couples are often looking for more meaningful ways to personalise their wedding and this change will give them greater choice and freedom to create a more authentic ceremony.  The legislation will allow couples the ability to exchange their vows in the open air surrounded by nature.  They must still book an approved venue but the venue licence will be extended to include all outdoor areas.  A woodland glade, a lakeside jetty, on a roof garden or a clifftop field overlooking the sea.  So many more possibilities!     

Before visiting wedding venues, couples should think about whether they want an indoor or outdoor ceremony.  If an outdoor ceremony is attractive then examine what outdoor space the venue can offer and whether it is suitable for the ceremony.  Consider seating space and accessibility as well as the aesthetic qualities of the site.  If the weather forecast is poor then what alternative ceremony venues are available?  Are they equal to the outdoor setting?  Could a temporary structure such as a tipi or marquee be erected to provide shelter and enable the ceremony to continue outdoors?  

The ceremony will still be required to be officiated by a Registrar and couples must adhere to the legal preliminaries including giving notice of their marriage or civil partnership and providing identification documents.  The ceremony must also include specific vows and be free of any religious influence.     

Outdoor Weddings

What does this mean for wedding venues?

Lots of calls from couples who have already booked the venue and are now thinking of changing their plans from indoor ceremony to outdoor ceremony!  

The venue will still be required to have a licence to conduct civil weddings and partnerships on their premises but the licence will no longer be restricted to indoor spaces.  The licence will be extended to include all outdoor spaces provided that the areas are ‘seemly and dignified’*.   This will be determined by an assessment undertaken by a Registrar from the Local Authority.  ‘Ceremonies will now be able to take place fully outdoors or under a partially covered structure.’*   

All venues should consider what outdoor spaces they can offer for wedding ceremonies.  The more outdoor wedding options venues can offer their couples the more value they add.  Venues that can offer a larger variety of outdoor spaces with multiple appeal will stand-out.  Larger estates may have endless options from formal gardens to more bohemian wild woodlands but urban venues can also compete with courtyard gardens and rooftop vistas.  

Think about the aesthetic qualities of the space you are offering.  What is the appeal to couples wishing to marry outside? Does it offer the romance of a showstopping view, a unique or unusual setting or breath-taking beauty.  Venues should consider investing equal time and money into developing their outdoor areas as they do their indoor areas.   

As well as creating the wow-factor, also ensure your outdoor spaces are accessible and suitable for ceremonies.  How many guests can you safely and comfortably accommodate in the outside space?  How will guests get to the space?  Does the space offer privacy or is it overlooked?  Will you need to pacify any neighbours fearful of outdoor weddings?  Are your gardeners worried about the flowerbeds?  Will you need to leave a field fallow to enable alternative usage?    Remember that requirements for public access will also remain.    

Outdoor weddings

What does this mean for Registrars?

Please bear with your local Registrars.  No doubt they are still learning about what the change in the law means and how best they can support venues and couples.  Speaking to my local Registrar this week, they had only found about this change when we did and are catching up on the ramifications themselves.  If you are planning to offer outdoor spaces alongside your approved indoor venues, please do inform your Local Authority well in advance.  If you are a couple planning an outdoor civil marriage or partnership ceremony then also let your registrar know as soon as possible.  They may need to come and visit the site to ensure it is suitable.  They will also likely be inundated with similar requests from couples and venues so be prepared to wait for a response.  

Outdoor Weddings
Robin Goodlad Photography / Hope Farm Dorset

Future Wedding Law Reform.

This change in law is also encouraging news ahead of the publication of the Law Commission’s report into the proposed reform of the Marriage Act.   A final report is expected in July and is intended to provide recommendations for a ‘reformed law of weddings that will allow couples greater choice within a simple, fair and consistent legal structure.’**  Principally we hope that the reform will remove any unnecessary regulation and increase choice for couples.  Consideration is being made to the legal preliminaries required before the wedding, removing the restrictions on where a wedding can take place, who can solemnize a marriage, if specific vows are required and how marriages are registered.  

The anticipation is that a reform will offer couples more freedom and inclusivity than ever before to choose how and where they conduct their marriage or partnership ceremonies:

  • Instead of venues being licensed, an officiate could be registered with the Local Authority.  This could be a humanist or independent celebrant, church minister or civil servant who can meet certain stipulations.  A similar officiate system is already in place in Australia and New Zealand.  
  • Couples could be able to choose a meaningful place to conduct their ceremony rather than an approved venue.  This could be anywhere; at home, on a beach or in a church.  
  • Couples could be able to decide a style of ceremony that reflects them and not the state or church and choose authentic words, personal to them.  
  • Couples could also have the opportunity to combine a secular ceremony with a religious ritual.  This would be an important and inclusive change in our multi-faith society.  Families become joined through marriage which can often create complications if each family has a different faith or belief.  
  • This reform may also help make weddings more affordable as couples are saved the cost of hiring an approved venue.  

The Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) (Amendment) Regulations 2022 will come into force on 6thApril 2022.  

For more information about outdoor weddings visit:



Do you need support with your venue or events?

Let 's start a conversation today

Venue Design

Biophilic Venue Design

How to connect your venue with nature.

Biophilia is a term used to describe our instinctive human attraction to the living world and has recently become an important aspect in venue design.  The term was first used by Erich Fromm in the 1960s to describe a psychological orientation of being attracted to all that is alive and vital.  In his book Biophilia (1984), American biologist Professor E. O. Wilson hypothesized that humans possess ‘an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life’.  ‘Because the living environment is what really sustains us’.  

Since the industrial revolution and mass migration to urban centres, our connection with nature has gradually diminished.  We travel to work underground; to artificially lit, grey, airless, windowless boxes; to spend hours staring at a screen; in towns and cities where the value of green has become outweighed by the value of real estate.  This man-made existence fights against our biophilic tendencies rooted in our human biology and could explain why so many seek to escape their urban lives for the sanctuary of the countryside or coast.   Work related stress and anxiety is the leading cause for ill-health and sickness absence in Britain.  Stress, depression and anxiety accounted for 17.9 million lost working days in 2019/20.  

Venue Design

Our need to embrace nature and the associated benefits have been discussed widely.  In 2021, a report by the Mental Health Foundation surmised that ‘Our relationship with nature – how much we notice, think about and appreciate our natural surroundings – is a critical factor in supporting good mental health and preventing distress’..

There have been numerous studies into the positive impact that having close contact with nature can have on our physical and mental health, wellbeing and performance.   Reduced stress and anxiety, increased happiness, relief from mental tiredness and improvement to our focus and attention span.  A relaxing walk in the woods, an invigorating run in the park or a refreshing swim in the sea can help lower your blood pressure and reduce your heart rate. Research by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in 2009 concluded that ‘an environment devoid of Nature may act as a discord’ (ie. Have a negative effect).  

Venue Design

But for those of us who do not have regular access to large green or blue spaces, how do we connect with nature?  

Throughout human history we have had a predisposition to nature; bringing plants into our homes, displaying landscape paintings and drawings of the natural world and coveting ownership of green spaces.  Artists and designers have drawn on nature for inspiration for many thousands of years and there have been widespread campaigns since the nineteenth century for the need for greenspaces in urban landscapes for health reasons.  

As the biophilic design movement has gathered momentum architects around the world have developed structures and interiors incorporating natural elements that bring their inhabitants closer to nature in their life and work.  Natural lighting and ventilation, living walls, roof gardens and organic materials often feature in modern architectural design.  The simple inclusion of a garden and windows in a venue design scheme can enable inhabitants to access daylight, helping our circadian rhythms to function.  Consideration of airflow and temperature and incorporating water and plant life into interior design can all positively influence feelings of comfort and relaxation whilst reducing stress and fatigue, promoting healing and encouraging focus, creativity and concentration.  

If you lack the budget for a ‘Grand Designs’ abode, introducing pot plants to your living and working spaces, switching off artificial lights and enjoying the natural light from windows, incorporate features such as natural wood and organic fibres and stepping outside everyday can all help you achieve a happier existence.  Nature is everywhere, even in concrete jungles!  

With wellbeing high on everyone’s agenda after the last two years, how do we incorporate Biophilia to hospitality and events?  

Biophilic Weddings and Events

For many couples an outdoor wedding is their dream.  A warm Summer’s day, within a verdant garden surrounded by fragrant flowers; a woodland setting immersed in bird song and tree creatures; or on a beach, sand between your toes, listening to the waves lapping the shore.  A multi-sensory experience of natural views, scents, textures and sounds.  

Venues that can offer a direct connection to nature are in high demand.  Draw attention to your garden or woodland ceremony spaces, natural vistas, proximity to water and any near-by wildlife.  

Urban Garden Venue

Indoor or more urban venues can also create a connection with nature using the natural textures of stone and wood in their interior venue design and furnishings combined with plenty of natural light, good air flow and thermal balance.  

Wildflowers and foliage, potted trees, rustic furniture, reclaimed wood, natural fabrics, fire and candlelight all add to indoor biophilic ambience.  

Wellbeing events are becoming more popular than ever.  Organisers want to create a successful event and will be looking for venues that ideally offer the benefits of outdoor spaces and connection with nature.  Outdoor yoga workshops, mindfulness retreats, and wellness festivals will actively incorporate aspects of biophilia to their programmes.  

Companies wanting to unite their workforce again after lockdown and homeworking are looking for inspiring venues and activities that will rejuvenate their team.  Outdoor pursuits that offer them the opportunity to bond in nature are highly coveted.

Biophilic Venue Design

Temporary canvas structures such as marquees, tipis and yurts all offer a biophilic advantage.  A portable venue design that can be erected in any outdoor space, offering direct contact with nature and the opportunity and freedom to create a totally immersive natural experience.  

Tipi Spaces hire ivory-white tipis and tents for weddings and events in the West Country.  Director Shane Martin says, “The idea for creating outdoor wedding venues was born out of our own love for outdoor adventures, gatherings and celebrations.  At home in the garden, at festivals or remote spots around the UK and further afield.  We have lots of happy memories of spending time with family and friends outdoors, playing music, telling stories and sharing a meal around a fire and beneath a starlit sky.  Uniting all these experiences has been the element of space in nature and freedom beyond the confines of indoors.” 

Wedding Venue

Permanent venues can also offer a deep connection with nature.  The Gillyflower at Elmore Court is a “future-rustic” dinner and dancing venue that has been designed with biophilic principles at its heart.  Walls made from Rammed Earth, timber sustainably sourced directly from their own woodlands, floor to ceiling windows that frame the countryside views and a meadow roof that blends the building with the surrounding nature.   

Wedding Venue
Rob Tarren

In-Spira are innovative company based in East Sussex specialising in the design and manufacture of garden rooms.  Their venue design is based on biophilic and organic principles that compliment the natural landscape.  Their original design is based on Fibonacci’s sequence which is used to describe certain shapes in nature such as shells, sunflowers and galaxies.  Their rooms are flexible and can be designed to make any shape or size to fit a specific purpose or location whether it is a home office or art studio, sleeping accommodation or meeting room.  The curved walls wrap around you creating a cocoon and providing a feeling of security.  The timber interior and exterior blend into the natural environment providing a visual, tactile and olfactory connection with nature.  The room captures natural light from the roof-light above and the windows framing the views outside. Chief designer, Brian Martin: “Biophilic design allows us to create working and studio spaces that take cues from nature, natural forms and environments and instil these qualities in the room itself promoting wellbeing on a number of metrics and leading to better focus and creativity”. 

Garden Venue

Biophilic Accommodation.

Camping and glamping accommodation come in all shapes and sizes offering guests the opportunity to connect with nature and detach from the artificial world.  There have been some extraordinary and inspired biophilic design developments in the past few years from hanging tree pods to floating cabins and earth burrows.  

Secret Water at Hippersons Boatyard in Suffolk are the first luxury floating glamping pods in the UK offering a unique biophilic experience.  They provide direct access to the Southern Broads for you to immerse yourself in river-life.  

Biophilic Glamping

The Glamping Burrows at The Quiet Site in the Lake District are large underground living spaces with views over the Ullswater Valley.  Energy efficient, secure and virtually invisible, they offer true sustainable accommodation for the most discerning eco-hobbits.  

Biophilic Accommodation

The Tree Tent at Pennard Hill Farm in Somerset is a suspended spherical structure strung between two trees overlooking the Mendip Hills, enabling you to truly get amongst the birds in this beautiful woodland setting.


Biophilia and Sustainability

The best thing about Biophilia trend is that it goes hand-in-hand with sustainability.  By adding more nature to our lives, we reduce our reliance on our man-made lifestyle.  By embracing the natural world and enabling more human connection with nature we are creating opportunities for people to be inspired to help preserve the natural world whilst supporting their own wellbeing.  As E.O Wilson proclaimed, ‘Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction’.

For more helpful ideas on how you can transform your venue, please do get in touch.

Do you need support with your venue or events?

Let 's start a conversation today

Hope Farm Dorset Wedding Venue

Venue Marketing: How to create a venue website that works well.

Recently I have been helping a wedding venue identify opportunities to develop their business, increase bookings and increase their revenue.  One of the areas for improvement we identified was their venue website.  

creating a venue website

Venue Marketing in the Digital Age.

I started my career when digital media was still in its infancy and websites, online listings and social media barely existed.  

Nowadays, for most of us, life without a digital presence is unimaginable.  Our marketing purpose has always been to create engagement and build relationships but social media and web marketing have revolutionised our marketing strategy and made reaching and engaging with a distant audience much more achievable and straightforward.

For good or bad, the immediacy and visual nature of the digital age means that we need to regularly maintain our presence and appeal.  This means refreshing your online content regularly and listening to and understanding your audience to be able to position yourself and enable them to find you. 

Your social media activity acts as a conduit to your website.  Your website acts as a sales channel.  Your social media is the street crier voicing encouragement for passers-by to visit your website.  Your website is your digital shop front virtually displaying your venue and enticing those prospective clients to visit you and make a booking.  The two work together.  You can spend hours every day uploading engaging content to your Instagram account but if your website is out-of-date then it could be thwarting all your efforts.  

creating a venue website

So what elements do you need to incorporate to create a venue website that works well?  

1. Research and Development

In a busy marketplace, creating a venue website that works well and helps you stand-out from the crowd is a must.  It pays to do your research and have a clear strategy.  Review your competitors’ websites.  Which one is your favourite?  Why?  Be very clear on who your audience is, who you are aiming to reach and how your want them to perceive your venue.  What sets you apart from other local wedding venues?  What is your identity?  Do you have a distinctive brand?  How will you incorporate this into your website?  What functions do you want your website to perform?  Is it going to be a simple brochure style website or would you like visitors to have access to an up-to-date availability calendar?  Set a budget.  As with many things, you pay for what you get.  An off-the-shelf web template is fine and a more affordable option.  There are so many different styles available now that you will find one to suit you and your venue.  Beware of any limitations and consider the longevity.  A bespoke website from an experienced and talented web designer offers the most flexibility both in design and functionality.  It can also sometimes be more cost effective if it is designed with the capacity to adapt as your business develops.  It also enables you to stay focused on the business of running your venue and not web designing!  

2. Visual Content

A picture is worth a thousand words.  We process visual information far more quickly and easily than text information.  This means that when your audience visit your website they are looking for images that will give them the information they need to make an informed decision.  They want to see key elements of your venue and be able to picture themselves marrying there.  Your pictures need to appeal to your ideal audience.  They need to be up-to-date and of high quality.  It pays to be on good terms with your couples and their photographers.  Ask them for permission to share their photographs on your website and social media.  Most will be very happy to accommodate in return for a mention and credit.  Tell a story with your photographs. Consider adding video content.  Ask your couples to share their wedding film.  Their videographer may even provide you with edited highlights.  A virtual tour is also a great investment particularly for venues that regularly attract couples from further afield and may not be able to easily visit your venue in person.          

create a venue website

3. Text Content

Sadly these days, many of us are time poor and wedding planning is yet another time thief.  Make it as quick and easy as possible for your audience to gather information about your venue.  Text that is quick to scan and easy to digest is a winner.  Speak to your audience.  What tone will you use?  Relaxed and familiar or formal and professional.  Use short paragraphs that give specific, essential information such as location, capacity, facilities and costs.  Quick bullet points listing what’s included in the venue hire.  Don’t go into too much detail.  Save longer explanations for your brochure.  

4. Simplicity

Keep your website simple.  Your audience is at the start of their relationship with you.  They don’t want to be overwhelmed by too much information.  Remember your website is the introduction and the tool that your audience is using to decide whether to book a viewing.  Remember couples look at hundreds of venues online but only choose a few to visit.  The website should serve to help your clients make a choice and choose you!

create a venue website

5. Emotive Experience

How do you want visitors to feel as they navigate your website?  Confident in you as venue operators?  Awed by your appearance and facilities?  Inspired by the options available?  Curious to visit and find out more?  Determined to book?  

6. Strategic Direction

Your website should have a strategy.  Your ideal client has found your homepage.  Now what?  Your website should take visitors on a journey.  You are the guide.  What path do you want them to follow?  What do you want them to do next?  Be explicit.  Your audience is not stupid but they do need you to be clear to the point of obvious.  They are busy people and don’t want to spend precious time decoding your website.  Don’t hide methods for them to contact you.  Actively encourage them to call or email you.  Make it easy for them to book a site visit.  Share availability calendars.        

How I can help your venue.

7. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

With over 1 billion websites in the World you would be remiss to spend money investing in a shiny, new, brilliant website and not giving any consideration to SEO.  The intricacies and subtleties of SEO are unending but having a basic understanding of how SEO affects your web presence and a few tools to enable your audience to find your website are invaluable.    If I am speaking a foreign language then there are plenty of resources available providing more information and training as well as numerous SEO experts who can help you get to page one of Google.  

If you need further help to create a venue website that works well or any other aspect of marketing or venue management then please do get in touch.  I offer a free, no obligation, 30-minute introductory call. To find out more about how I can help your venue please click here.   

*Featured image courtesy of Laura Dean Photography and Hope Farm Dorset

Do you need support with your venue or events?

Let 's start a conversation today

Venue Bookings

The future of UK weddings and events.

The past 18 months have been unprecedented and the hardest any of us working in the wedding and events industry has ever known. I am proud of our perseverance and resilience to adapt, finding new ways to operate under the restrictions, keeping our staff and customers safe and ensuring a return to some normality. It has been heartwarming to see venues re-open and witness the return of full size weddings and events as our industry slowly bounces back. We are an industry used to evolution and change. We are not adverse to trying new things. In fact we embrace innovation and novelty, always looking for the next unique experience and opportunity. New trends come and go, advances are made in technology and with them the needs of our customers. As we continue to adjust to life with Covid and make plans for the future with more certainty, what does the landscape look like for weddings and events?

future of weddings and events

Virtual Technology

Before lockdown #1, I had never heard of Zoom or Microsoft Teams.  I had a familiarity with Skype and Facetime from my years living overseas and welcomed then, as I do now, the opportunities it created to maintain face-to-face contact with people from a distance.  Virtual meetings are now the norm and, although not necessarily liked by all, they have enabled venues to maintain client contact and engagement throughout lockdown.  Many of us are raring to embrace (literally!) the opportunity to meet in person again but for many, time poor or unable to travel easily, this opportunity to meet face-to-face remotely will continue to be invaluable. 

Many venues have already been capitalising on virtual-tour technology and this has been crucial in enabling sales activity to continue throughout lockdown.  This will also continue to be a valuable sales and marketing tool, enabling venues to be accessed by customers based overseas or further afield.  Make sure your tours are up-to-date and show your venues at their very best with crisp clear imagery.  

virtual weddings and events

I have also been impressed by the technology available for creating virtual events.  Venues, production companies and entertainment suppliers have collaborated to create some innovative virtual event platforms enabling all manner of events including exhibitions, conferences and parties to be successfully transferred into the virtual arena.  Venues have been recreated digitally to create an immersive experience without guests having to leave their house.  Food and drink can be couriered to your home so that you can enjoy a live culinary experience, guests can network with each other remotely in chat-rooms, guests can participate in live presentations from 1000s of miles away and watch live entertainment from their sofa.  Whilst it is not cheap, this technology negates the problem of managing social distancing and enables a much larger guest list and participation.  This technology also has the capacity to be used to create hybrid events allowing guests the choice to attend in-person or remotely but still participate fully.  Corporate events organisers will be keen to continue to access this technology to reach overseas customers and associates, particularly whilst travel remains limited.  Now is the time for venues to reach out to their technical suppliers and continue to explore virtual event opportunities. 

As we become increasingly geographically spread out, the ability to unite people wherever they are is very powerful.  So many couples miss the opportunity to have overseas friends and family attend their marriage celebrations yet now we can livestream the day for all to see.  Venues with the technology and connectivity to enable this will be increasingly in demand as travel restrictions continue. 

streaming live weddings and events

Outdoor Spaces

For many, the ability to get outdoors for exercise, gardening, working or socialising has been a lifeline over the past year.  Outdoors is safer, less-restricted and confined, with more space to circulate and breathe fresh air.  The outdoor creates a feeling of wellbeing.  If your venue offers outdoor spaces, make sure you promote it as much as your indoor spaces.  Value and maintain your outdoor spaces as much as your indoor spaces.  Show clients how they can optimise their weddings and events with use of your outdoor spaces.  An outdoor wedding ceremony, a picnic or BBQ, garden games, alfresco music.  The great British weather will always require us to make a ‘Plan B’ but enabling people to take their event outside whenever they can will be worthwhile.

outdoor weddings and events
Venetia Norrington/ Tipi Spaces

Planning laws have been relaxed this year lengthening the usual 28-day period for temporary structures without planning permission to 56 days or longer in some circumstances (speak to your local council).  This has sent the demand for marquees and other temporary structures through the roof.  Not only do they enable hospitality venues to open under current restrictions in all weathers but they also enable smaller venues to increase their capacity.  A small country home with limited indoor capacity but a large garden can considerably increase their capacity and develop their share of the wedding market with the addition of a Summer marquee. 

Landowners are increasingly exploring ways to diversify and may not yet be prepared to convert a farm building into a wedding venue.  This is a great opportunity to put up a tent and test the market.  This also opens opportunities for venues to provide overnight accommodation in the form of glamping.  Or glamp-sites to offer a party venue for their glampers.  Speak to your local marquee suppliers about a collaboration or maybe it’s time to invest in your own marquee structure?

accommodation for weddings and events

Anticipated changes to the marriage laws are also likely to create more freedom for venues to utilise outdoor spaces for marriage ceremonies.  The Law Commission has proposed reforms to the current laws that will enable more flexibility for couples to marry how they wish without the constraints of a registered or licensed venue.  No date has been confirmed but the pandemic has certainly identified the need and increased public demand for this change.      

outdoor wedding ceremonies

Overseas Travel

Sadly we will have to wait a while longer before we are able to travel without restriction again.  This gives the UK wedding and event market an advantage.  An inability to plan overseas weddings or corporate events means that there will be an increased demand on the domestic market.  Many people have been working remotely and whilst for some this has worked well, I foresee a need for companies to bring their teams together to raise morale, restore mental wellbeing, team-building workshops, corporate away days and conferences.  Businesses will be looking for unique experiences for their clients and teams.  What experiences can your venue offer onsite or off-site nearby?  Orienteering, archery, sailing, survival challenge, treasure hunt, escape room, obstacle races etc.  Do you have the technological capability to facilitate conferences?  Screens, PA systems, projectors etc. 

With tropical beach weddings off the cards for now, couples not prepared to wait, will also be looking for unique and unusual UK wedding venues to fulfil their dreams.  How can you inspire a couple with wanderlust to book your venue?  An intrepid menu? A waterfront ceremony?  A yurt in the garden? Exotic entertainment?     

exotic wedding cocktails

Micro Weddings and Events

The economic consequences of the pandemic are also likely to have an impact on consumer spending around weddings and events.  There will continue to be a strong desire for people to meet and get married however it is likely that they may continue to embrace the smaller, more intimate nuptial event.  How can your venue continue to meet this demand for micro weddings and events?  Do you have a smaller space that you can offer to more intimate gatherings which would otherwise be lost in a vast barn or hall?  Couples are also recognising that micro weddings create an opportunity for more extravagant wedding plans.  Instead of limiting their spend to essentials they can incorporate more luxurious styling elements, expand their Wedding Breakfast menu, upgrade their beverage choice etc.  What ways can you enable your couples to enhance their wedding at your venue?      

micro weddings and events
Venetia Norrington / Tipi Spaces

Digital Agility

The biggest outcome of the pandemic is the realisation that we are living in a digital world.  We still need personal interaction from time-to-time but technology has created the convenience of being able to take action remotely.  Venues must make sure that they are up-to-date with their digital communication methods to access their remote audience.   Up-to-date websites and communication methods, digital booking processes, a strong social media presence and continued investment in digital technology is required if you are to continue to find an audience in an ever expanding and advancing wedding and events market. 

digital communication

Our world is constantly changing and our customers ever evolving.  Being able to adapt, change, pivot and flex is crucial if we are to keep up with changing consumer demands.  Venues must continue to work with their customers, listen to their needs, compromise where possible and adapt when necessary.  The customer is king and only by acknowledging this will we truly be able to ensure we give them the best experience.

More information about how I can help your venue to adapt in this changing landscape can be found here.

Do you need support with your venue or events?

Let 's start a conversation today

Outdoor Events

Outdoor Events: Business development opportunities for landowners

If you are fortunate to sit on a significant piece of land then the opportunities for outdoor events are boundless but before you start planning your very own Glastonbury Festival there are a few considerations you must make.

As with any new business venture it pays to do your homework and make a PLAN!  Planning a public event is definitely not for the feint-hearted but it is a lot of fun and the euphoria at the end of a successful event is hard to beat.  Do not underestimate the amount of work that goes into planning any size of event.  Administration, sales, marketing, coordination, operations, security, health and safety, legal liability, infrastructure etc.  The larger the event the bigger the workload but smaller outdoor events do still require plenty of planning, particularly if you have not hosted a public event before.  How much involvement will you make?  Do you have the capacity to take on an event yourself or should you consider hiring a professional event organiser?  Should you consider simply renting your land to an event organiser?   

Outdoor events

1. Choose your business model.

Before you start you need decide on your business model.  Renting your land to an events organiser is certainly the most simple route and will be preferable if you are already very busy and are just looking for a straightforward income supplement.  The income you achieve from renting your land for outdoor events will be determined by a number of factors.  The size and type of event, the attractiveness of your event site, the location, what existing facilities you can offer and the competition.  Before you enter into any discussion with an event organiser, decide how much you need to derive from each event to make it worth your while.  Speak to other local landowners about their experience and find out their hire rate.  You will still carry some liability for public safety but essentially you are simply the host and the event organiser is responsible for everything else. Agree a hire fee for the use of your land and consider adding a refundable damage deposit.

If you are hosting and organising the event yourself then you may achieve a better income; however, with this comes increased investment in both time and money.  It also brings increased risk.  Outdoor events are notoriously high risk.  The British weather is increasingly unpredictable and it can often take several years for new events to turn a significant profit.  

You may want to consider profit share with the event organiser though this partnership also carries similar risks.  

If you are entering into a contract with a third party, find out as much as you can about the event organiser beforehand.  As the landowner you still carry liability and duty of care over members of the public visiting your land.  It is also your name attached to the property and your reputation as a future events holder that you need to protect.   Who are they?  What experience do they have?  Where have they worked previously?  Do they have all the correct licences, insurances, policies etc?  Don’t be afraid to ask for a reference from another landowner.  If you are already in possession of a Premises Licence then it may also be wise to ask the event organiser to make their own licensing arrangements.  You do not want your future license jeopardised by the activities of another event organiser.     

Before entering into any formal arrangement, I strongly advise seeking legal advice and asking a lawyer to help you to draw up a Licence To Occupy.  This is a contract for an events organiser to use your land for a set period and purpose under specific terms and conditions.  Make sure your contract defines limits of liability and obligations of responsibility relating to health and safety.  It should also specify required insurances, indemnities and recovery of costs in case anything goes wrong.   

Outdoor events

2. Business interruption

Outdoor events are seasonal; spring, summer, early autumn and Christmas.  Will the event interrupt any other business activities such as weddings or holiday letting?  Will your other business activities have an impact on the success of the event?  

Are you farming the land?  How long can you feasibly set-aside land?  No-one wants to be dancing in cow-pats or sitting on stubble!  A freshly mown, soft, grassy, dry meadow is ideal! 

How can you partition your land or premises to ensure that one activity does not infringe upon the other?  How can they operate in tandem?  Can you temporarily cease one activity to allow for another?  Do you have the acreage to isolate activities from one another?  Consider health and safety as well as simply the enjoyment of visitors and guests.

3. Field fit for a festival.

Assess the suitability of your land.  Does it have a steep gradient?  Though hilltops can supply amazing vistas, they are not always ideal for building temporary structures. What happens when it rains?  Does the field turn into a lake or do you have good drainage?  What is going on overhead?  Trees and overhead power lines are not helpful for large temporary structures.  Likewise, underground utilities need to be avoided.  A plan of your land showing the location of the event site in relation to power lines, trees and any water pipes is vital.  

What existing infrastructure do you have in place for outdoor events?  Do you have access to mains water? If not, then you will likely need to hire additional fresh water.  It is also likely that you will require an additional temporary power supply from a generator.  You will need to speak to everyone involved and calculate their power requirements in advance to gauge the power supply needed.  You will also likely require a contractor to remove excess waste.  

If you are intending to promote a ‘green’ event then you will also need to look at ways to minimise waste, discouraging the use of plastic and looking at ways to separate materials for recycling or composting.  

Conduct a site risk assessment.  Are there any hazards that could impact the safety and wellbeing of visitors, event staff or suppliers?   


Outdoor events

4. Play to your event audience.

Who is your audience?  What’s their demographic?  Where are they coming from?  How long will they be on site at the event?  What will they need whilst they are on site? Answers to these questions will impact the facilities you will need to provide.  

If visitors are coming from far away then they may bring a car and will require parking.  Do you have good road access?  How close are you to public transport?  Can you offer adequate car parking space?  Can you offer on-site accommodation?  Camping, holiday cottages, glamping, hotel, bed and breakfast?  You will certainly need toilets and drinking water.  

You should also consider the type and timing of the event.  Daytime events are a different animal to night-time events.  Daytime events are more family friendly and attract a broader demographic.  They are less likely to attract the risk of alcohol related incidents.  Night-time events are less sociable for your close neighbours, particularly if there is loud music involved.  They also require additional infrastructure in terms of lighting after dark.  

Outdoor events

5. Outdoor events admin.

Organising public events requires plenty of administration in terms of licences, insurances, assessments, plans and preparation.  Make a detailed plan early on.  Include what the event is, what will be needed to organise the event successfully, who will be attending, who will be involved in delivering the event, when the event will take place and any other deadlines, where will the event take place including a detailed site plan, how you will deliver the event including any actions that you will need to take to prepare the site or your business for interruption and impact.  

It is a good idea to speak to your Local Authority early at least six months before the event to check what permissions and licences you will need.  Depending on the nature of your event, you may or may not need a Premises Licence.  A Premises Licence is required for all licensable activities including the sale of alcohol, live and recorded music, the performance of a play, film screenings and indoor sport.  

If the event is a one-off, you can apply for a Temporary Event Notice (TEN).  This allows you to temporarily conduct licenced activities for up to 499 people including the sale of alcohol.  Please note that you can only apply for a limited number of TENs each year.  More information can be found on your local council website.  

Other licences you may need, depending on the nature of the event, are an Entertainments Licence which allows you to play live or recorded music, Single Title Screening Licence which allows you to screen films and an alcohol licence for the sale of alcohol.  

Before granting licences, the Local Authority may want to know about your event.  What activities you have planned, what Emergency Planning is in place, your Health & Safety Plan, Risk Assessments and Insurances.

All events and activities involving members of the public will require some form of Public Liability Insurance.  If you are directly employing staff, whether on a permanent or temporary basis, you will also require Employers Liability Insurance.  

It is good practise to notify the emergency services of your event in advance and also provide Advance Notice to the public.  If you are intending to stage fireworks then you will also need to make an application to the Fire Service.

Event Admin

6. Event legacy.

If you are planning on holding successive events then make sure your neighbours enjoyed the first one!  How close is your nearest neighbour?  What impact will the event have on them?  Are there any covenants on your land which may preclude the Local Authority granting permission or give your neighbours cause to frustrate the event.  It is wise to keep an open dialogue with your neighbours from the beginning.  Listen to and acknowledge their concerns.  What measures can you put in place to mitigate their disturbance or inconvenience?  They have the right to object if the event is deemed a nuisance and this could cause the council to limit the scope of the event or even revoke your licence in the future.  

Who else could the event impact?  High traffic volume in an otherwise quiet part of the countryside can cause immense problems to all road users.  Plan how visitors will access the event site.  You certainly don’t want frustrated visitors arriving (or not arriving!!).  If narrow roads surround your property, can you put in place a one-way system to avoid congestion?  Is there good access to public transport?  Can you encourage people to walk or cycle to your event?

How will the event impact your land?  Is there risk of damage to good pasture or arable soil? What environmental impact could it have on waterways and other fragile ecosystems?           

Outdoor events

7. Tell them and they will come.

Last but not least, sales and marketing.  An event is nothing without a crowd of people, small or large.  Amidst all the planning and preparation you will also need to be talking about the amazing outdoor events you are planning.  How are people going to hear about your event?  How will they book tickets?  Having an event website is a good idea as it gives credibility and authenticity to your event.  It is also a great communication device for answering questions, providing information and helping people find you.  Social media is also very powerful at helping to tell the World about your event.  Choose a platform suitable for the audience you are trying to attract and focus your attention here.  Make sure you set aside the resources to manage sales and marketing, whether this is your time or anothers, it is fundamental to the success of the event.  

Equally if you have decided to go down the route of hiring your land to other event organisers don’t expect the phone to start ringing as soon as you have made a decision to do it.  You will need to go out to market and tell people.  Build a website, add photos of your event site, highlighting all its attractions and virtues.  Communicate what types of events are best suited for the site, give people an idea of the cost of hire, explain if there are any specific hire conditions eg. no fireworks.  Also, use social media targeting the audience you are looking to attract eg. festival organisers.  It is also worth reaching out directly to events organisers and inviting them to visit your site.  The Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) is a great resource for finding festival and event organisers and also seeking advice and support.     

As you can see, there is plenty to consider when deciding to open up your land for events but there are certainly rewards. The first event is always the hardest but like most businesses, once you have a good system and process in place then it will become easier.  You will also encounter unexpected problems which are usually solved with a supportive team around you, calm, patience and good humour.  

I offer new and existing outdoor events venues business development advice and support. For more information about how I can help your events business, please click here.

Do you need support with your venue or events?

Let 's start a conversation today

Venue Sales

Venue Sales: The art of telling a story.

One of my favourite parts of my job is the site visit or show round.  And I don’t mean the perfunctory operational aspects of venue sales: how your event will flow or the best places to put a flower arrangement, or where to put the band, or where to put the bar or any other functional event needs.  This stuff is important of course.  You want your client to be able to visualise their event in your venue and know how you and your venue operate. 

Venue sales is about engagement

More fun was seeing my clients arrive at the venue for the first time, their first impression, their sense of arrival, their experience of the location and the atmosphere.   Giving them a warm welcome before beginning my show! Venue sales is about engagement and how successfully you can immerse your client into the opportunity you are providing them.  Giving them an emotive experience is gold.  When they get a shiver down their spine as something sparks an emotion: joy, love, wonder, awe, intrigue; then you have them hooked. 

Enthuse your clients

I have always had a fascination for history (I even got a BA in it!) and I am very fortunate to have been able to combine my passion for the past with my passion for parties and events.  Having the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of our ancestors, imagine what their experience would have been like and hear stories of their lives.  These stories became a large part of my venue sales patter.  Reeling off names and dates, stories, anecdotes, mysteries and intrigue helped me enthuse my clients and compel them to fall in love with my venues as much as I did.  By taking the time to share my excitement and enthusiasm for the venue, telling the story, the history, how it came to be and perhaps sparking their imagination of how their event can become part of the story of the venue I would win my clients hearts and minds and bookings!

Venue Sales
The Cupola Room at Kensington Palace. Stunning venue and also the place where Queen Victoria was christened in 1819.

Express the uniqueness of your venue

Sadly we haven’t been able to do much face-to-face interaction lately and have had to find more remote ways to engage our clients and share the wonder of our venues virtually.  Our words are more important than ever for expressing the uniqueness of our venues.  Because no two venues are the same.  Each has a unique location, a singular view, an aspect that sets it apart from the rest, a history and an experience that nowhere else can provide.  Each has humanity: the people who built and designed it, the people who lived and worked there, the people who have partied and dined there and the people who poured their heart and soul into transforming it into a wedding and events venue.  Learn their stories and your venue ceases to become just a beautiful shell but a place with a past purpose and a future legacy.         

Venue Sales: Government House Sydney
The Dining Room at Government House Sydney. Place of many Vice Regal dinner parties and also a makeshift operating theatre following the attempted assassination of Prince Alfred, son of Queen Victoria, in Sydney in 1867.

Every venue has a story

Even the most modern and industrial of buildings can tell a tale.  One of my favourite venues is Cockatoo Island.  It has a chequered history. Originally as a convict penitentiary for repeat offenders, then a quarry, a shipyard and finally a naval dockyard.  It is now one of the most important cultural sites in Sydney hosting the Biennale, art and music festivals and various Hollywood film crews.  It’s ugly, grubby, dilapidated, utilitarian and difficult to get to (you need a boat!) but it has an amazing $MILLION Sydney Harbour view and 100s of storys! 

Venue Sales: Cockatoo Island
Cockatoo Island, Sydney. Beautiful? Mm. Intriguing? Absolutely!

It doesn’t matter if you’re selling a palace or a barn or a factory.  Everywhere has a story to tell. Find that unique quality that only your venue possesses, share your passion, tell your story, weave magic, intrigue and instil a little humour.  How you articulate that story can help you engage with your clients and leave a lasting memory in their hearts and minds.  

(And, as my husband often likes to say to me, never let the truth get in the way of a good story!)

If you need help weaving your stories into your sales patter or any other venue sales advice, then please do get in touch.  More information about my experience and expertise can be found here.

Do you need support with your venue or events?

Let 's start a conversation today

Win Venue Bookings

Marketing for Venues: Building relationships with your customers.

Marketing for venues is about reaching out and showing up.  It is about making your venue visible to the people you want to see it.  It is also fundamentally about building relationships with your customers.   It’s about making your venue stand out from the competition and be memorable (for the right reasons!).  It’s about telling a story that creates an emotional response.  It’s about showing your audience that you understand them and their needs.  It’s about giving them an experience.  It is about persuading an audience that your venue is so desirable that they have to book it.

Marketing for venues
Stephanie Stevens Photography

Marketing for venues is about reaching out to your customers.

I moved to Devon from Australia nearly five years ago.  I didn’t know anyone in the small village we settled in.  I could have stayed not knowing anyone, remained invisible and made little effort to make any acquaintances.  But this would not have fulfilled me or helped my family settle into our new home.  For my sake and theirs, I knew I would have to make the effort to make some friends, so I set about finding ways to meet people and introduce myself.  Gradually I got to know a few people, talked to them, listened to them, found some likeminded individuals and we became friends.  I have spent lots of time with these people over the past five years and now count them as some of my best friends.  They know me, I know them, we hang out and enjoy each other’s company.  We have a transformational relationship.  Each fundamentally benefitting from the other.

I have told this story to demonstrate how by reaching out and making your venue visible (marketing) you can form relationships with people.  Not everybody you reach out to will become your friends (customers) but unless you make some effort, you won’t find those worthwhile relationships.  If you simply sit and wait for the phone to ring, chances are it won’t.  If your ideal customers don’t know your venue exists then how will they find it?  You need to go out into the world and introduce your venue.    Once you find those ideal customers then you need to maintain the relationship.  Don’t just turn up once and expect a call back.  You need to keep showing-up regularly and consistently to make a lasting impression.  Then the party invitations arrive and you know you’ve made it into the inner circle! 

Marketing for venues
Stephanie Stevens Photography

Marketing for venues requires forming transformational relationships.

In business, relationships can be purely transactional.  I need something, you’ve got something, you’re willing to sell it to me for a price, I am willing to buy it at that price, I pay you, you give me, we each go our separate ways, happy that we each got what we wanted from the relationship (eg. Tesco).

However, venue sales relationships can be a lot more complex.  Understanding your ideal customer; what they want, what they need, who they are, where they come from, what they like, what they dislike; helps you develop a stronger relationship with them and ultimately wins you their business.  Many business transactions are made on trust.  How do you build trust?  You show up regularly and on time, you deliver consistently and to a high standard, you are responsive and flexible.  You build a transformational relationship which ultimately becomes much deeper than the basic transaction (eg. Apple).  Your customers are convinced that by booking your venue their wedding is going to be the best wedding ever! 

Methods of marketing.

The world of marketing has changed massively in the last twenty years.  When I started in my career, the world wide web was still in its infancy.  We were using email but a lot of business was still done over the phone and by snail mail.  Businesses were beginning to recognise the importance of websites but social media was unheard of.  Most of our advertising was in print.  We invested much more heavily in PR, networking, exhibitions, word of mouth and brazen sales calls.  My clients knew little about me personally but trusted my business services based on my reputation and consistency.    

Now in a digital era of social media, reality TV, blogging, vlogging influencers, our potential reach is infinite and affordable.  You don’t need a multi-million pound marketing budget to gain traction.  Marketing for venues can be highly effective with a basic understanding of social media platforms and website optimisation. 

The fundamentals of marketing for venues hasn’t changed.  It’s still about reaching your ideal customer, developing a relationship and persuading them to buy from you.  It’s just been made a lot easier thanks to complex algorithms that help you target more accurately the people you want to meet.  You still need to show-up consistently and frequently but it is now much quicker to find your ideal customer.  No more blanket wedding magazine advertising in the hope of finding that perfect customer.  You can hone your venue marketing strategy to target the demographic who you know your venue will appeal to. 

Online content and social media give venues the opportunity to get in front of their ideal customer and build relationships even if they’re in another part of the world.  You can show your customers that you are like-minded, you understand them, you can meet their needs, you will exceed their expectations and that you are trustworthy.   Just keep showing up! 

marketing for venues

I have over twenty years’ experience managing venues in London and Sydney and have transformed venues from good to great.    If you need help reaching your ideal customers, maximising sales opportunities, increasing profitability, establishing an effective team or streamlining your venue operations then I would love to hear from you.  My vision is to use my expertise to support you to success. If you would like to find out more about how I can help with your marketing, or any other aspect of your venue business, then please follow this link for further information

Do you need support with your venue or events?

Let 's start a conversation today

Close Menu

Thank you for subscribing to receive regular news, information and updates from me.

I respect your privacy and will never pass on your details.