Wedding venue prices, why are they such a secret?
When I first started in the wedding venue business in 2012, it was a mystery to me why venues wouldn’t tell you what it would cost to have your wedding with them. I couldn’t understand it. Why is it so hard to find out what wedding venues charge? I wouldn’t book or buy anything that wouldn’t tell me what the price was. Cost isn’t everything but…it’s definitely something. And something I want to know and I’m guessing you do too.
I didn’t start my career in the wedding industry. My first career was a gazillion miles from weddings. So I had a lot to learn about the wedding biz when I first started. And what I learned really quickly was the standard advice to wedding biz people is ‘don’t put your prices on your website’. Seriously. The reasoning (apparently) is that couples (ie you) can’t appreciate value, they need to understand what you offer before they can understand why you charge what you charge. Okaaaay…
As a consumer I completely understand that if I buy an organic, hand-picked, unwaxed orange, it’s going to cost me more than if I buy a factory farmed orange sprayed with pesticide and picked by exploited workers. I get that. I have a choice and if I want to buy on quality, I buy the first one and if I want to buy on price I’ll get the second one or go without if I don’t like the choices. I’m not an idiot and I know couples looking for wedding venues aren’t either.
When I launched our first website back in early 2013, I followed what the experts said (they’re experts right?) and didn’t put the venue hire prices on the website. Over time I tracked results and spoke with lots of couples who got in touch with me for their experience and feedback. And what I found completely flew in the face of what the experts were saying. I got enquiries from people where we were way out of budget for them. That sucked for both of us and wasted everyone’s time. And I also spoke to couples who were saying they assumed the venue was out of their budget because, well ‘if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it’, right..? Wrong. In our case, way wrong but because our pricing was a secret, they couldn’t make that decision for themselves and didn’t want to ask for fear of being rejected. It’s not great having to ask a price and hearing that it’s out of your budget. No-one likes that experience. Yuck.
So I decided to ditch the expert advice and do what felt right for me as a biz owner. At that stage I was still thinking that as every wedding is different, every wedding should be priced differently. So I spent hours (and hours) pricing up each wedding individually. And then the couple would come back and say, ‘what if we increase our guest numbers’ or ‘what if we don’t want this bit’.
After a while I was back to the drawing board – what could I do to give clarity to couples and make my own life easier? I wanted to take into account that a big wedding of 120 guests is a different amount of work to 50 guests. I wanted to make it fair to both me and the couples and also take account of the fact that guest numbers always (always) change after booking. There are lots of variables and I wanted to be fair to everyone whilst keeping it simple. Cue hours of pondering (yes, some of it walking in the woods in wellies)
Eventually I came up with something that felt fair, open and transparent. Win. Unlike other venues we don’t charge a premium for the most popular summer months. It would probably make good biz sense to do that but to make my own life simple I went for one price that applied to the whole summer season.
Some couples don’t want to hire the marquee so I wanted to be able to take account of that easily. That’s why the marquee hire is separate. If you don’t need the space (you have fewer than 50 guests and you’re not having music & dancing) then you don’t have to hire it.
We make a guest charge in our pricing as we have to supply a lot more items for a 120 guest wedding than for 50 guests in terms of tables, chairs, glassware, crockery, cutlery etc and our inclusive bus service. For a wedding with 50 guests we provide 2 buses and may provide 400 glasses. For 120 guests we provide 5 buses and almost 1,000 glasses. That principal applies to everything else we supply for the day. So bigger weddings cost more to account for their higher guest numbers.
The guest charge makes it easy for you to work out exactly how much a wedding will cost and how a change in guest numbers affects the cost. It allows us to adjust the hire charge nearer the time of the wedding so if your guest list goes down, we make a reduction in the hire charge. It also allows you to add guests at the last minute too, knowing exactly what the cost is.
I’ll be back to talk about discounting prices so make sure you pop back in to catch that…
If you want to download a copy of our brochure (with pricing!) click here. If you just want to know about pricing, read our FAQ page, the prices are right there for the next couple of years.
If you want to email about anything wedding, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’d love to hear from you!
Click here to see my post about all the great stuff our marquee charge includes so you don’t have to bring it yourself.
If you want to know why you can’t just hire a marquee in your back garden and be done with this whole venue malarky click here (Hint: you can)