In the event industry, we are all about building relationships, and anyone with even a basic understanding about interpersonal skills knows that communication is key. Venue management has a unique opportunity to work with professionals from all over the industry, and we spend a lot of time learning about how other businesses work so we can give our clients accurate details, the best intel, and a helpful big picture.
Venues themselves, though, are something of a mystery to couples. We hope that our planner colleagues will share some important messages with future couples about their wedding day:
1. Know what the venue provides.
Couples tend to grossly underestimate the resources they will need during their planning and on the wedding day itself. A place to start is having a clear understanding of what the venue will provide. Before your clients start ordering rentals and contracting services, encourage them to clarify what comes standard and use that as a jumping-off point. From there, you can recommend additional products or services that might suit the couple’s needs.
2. Understand the limitations and possibilities of a space.
Many couples have a misconception about the space they rent and about the options for setup. A room that is meant to hold 10 tables cannot hold 12, 14 or 20. Helping them understand and accept the limitations within the space really helps with their ultimate satisfaction.
Outlining a physical representation of what the space will look like can eliminate any concerns, and you’ll be able to help them visualize what details they may be overlooking, such as accessibility and comfort of guests. Touch base with your venue sales team if you need more specifics on dimensions and restrictions.
3. Appreciate what “full-service” means.
As a full-service venue, we provide our couples with a list of vendors who we are confident understand our facility and meet our standards while working well with our team. Choosing vendors from our list helps alleviate a lot of stress leading up to the wedding day. This experience for our clients is important to us, and we genuinely appreciate vendor colleagues who support this approach.
4. Set expectations for the first meeting.
Your first meeting after signing a contract can answer a lot of important questions. We’ll generally ask couples what their priorities are so they can be met. Are they most interested in getting ideas for decor and layout, or are they ready to start planning the menu?
Having a purpose for each meeting helps everyone make the best use of the time.
5. Help them understand event timing.
Many couples underestimate how much time each event element will take. As a team, we can assure them that not only are we using our collective experience when we make timeline suggestions, but we’re also building in a little wiggle room to ensure that everything important is done.
6. Make the most of the final appointment.
We’ll be in touch with couples often throughout their planning, but the final appointment--two to three weeks before the wedding--is the most critical. They can expect to walk through the events detail by detail and confirm setup, rentals, menu and the event timeline.
Any last-minute changes should be finalized at this meeting--an important point to emphasize to clients. The more you can avoid last-minute changes after the final meeting, the more you can minimize the risk of dropped details or crossed wires. Our goal is that our couples will experience the least possible stress on the wedding day, and taking care of changes with enough time to troubleshoot helps us accomplish this.
7. Never let them forget: Every detail matters.
Probably the most important message that venues have for couples is that every detail matters.
Sometimes clients aren’t sure if something is valuable enough to bring up, and we help by asking the right questions throughout the process. But know that you can’t over-communicate essential information to the venue. Certainly, it is easier to digest if it comes in the form of a timeline or a single daily email--as opposed to dozens of random thoughts--but we need to know everything so we can anticipate issues, solve potential problems, and deliver the most perfect event day possible.
The best events result from teamwork, and we are truly grateful when our colleagues help couples better understand how things work from the venue perspective!
Heather Jones is the catering sales director for Wente Vineyards, a family-owned property in Livermore, Calif., that is home to a winery and vineyards, a golf course, restaurant, and a range of unique facilities for hosting weddings and special events.