It’s an incredible perk of the job and something that we’re both incredibly grateful for, as not only do these events allow us to step away from our inboxes, they also provide us with an opportunity to network, catch up with our fellow industry colleagues and immerse ourselves in experiences that we wouldn’t ordinarily have the opportunity to enjoy!
Most importantly, these events provide us with valuable insights into a venue and how it operates; we also get to meet their in-house teams and view their event spaces so that we can ultimately recommend these venues to our clients and form a working relationship moving forward.
That being said, and without saying ANY names, when it comes to events and retreats, we’ve experienced the good, the bad and the truly baffling! With this in mind, we thought it might be helpful to share our advice and top tips on things to consider when hosting the ultimate event/retreat for wedding planners.
Reason and Outcome
Think about what you want from the experience and use this to structure the event and possibly the guest list, i.e. is it potential clients, Instagram Stories and followers, enhanced relationships or feedback and advice? And then let us know!
We recommend having the event photographed and/or filmed so that you can give the attending planners access to beautiful images of your venue and the event, sending files in an easy, shareable way that includes any supplier credits for social media/blog use.
After the event, consider your marketing outputs, such as third-party marketing platforms like Coco Wedding Venues. The images that illustrate this feature were used in a beautiful article about Hampton Manor; you can read it here. You can also update your website and marketing listings with the new imagery, maximising that event ROI!
Ideal Guest List
As a venue, you’ll already know your ideal or target client – where they’re based, their style, their priorities and what they’ll potentially spend. With this in mind, invite the planners whose client profile matches yours and use this as a starting point for your invitation list. If your objective is to elevate your client base or move into the next market tier, it makes sense to invite planners who operate in that market segment and can bring you those particular clients.
This may seem obvious, but time and time again, we hear that an invitation list comprises planners featured on arbitrary lists, but not all of these planners are the right fit for your venue. For example, some planners specialise in destination weddings; others only cover the UK; you also have planners specialising in specific styles, locations and budgets.
And whilst we’re on the subject of your guest list, this one is a biggie! If you don’t want to work with wedding planners, then don’t go to the expense or effort of hosting an event or retreat (although we think this is a real shame as we adore the venues that we’re fortunate enough to work alongside and wholeheartedly believe in the mutual benefits these relationships provide).
If your in-house processes don’t allow for flexibility or bespoke experiences and/or your in-house team already provides the support services your clients require, an event or retreat may be a waste of time and money for everyone involved.
Time of Year
As you’ll know, the summer months are peak season for wedding planners. If you have a venue with spectacular grounds and outdoor activities best experienced in the summer, understand that hosting an event during this time will impact attendance. Consider quieter months, such as November to March and adapt the experience to suit the weather.
Think about the format of the event/retreat and how you can show the venue off to its best.
Personally, the best events we’ve been to have involved:
Some planners receive a LOT of invitations, especially leading up to Christmas, so think about what will make you stand out and really encourage your ideal guest list to attend. FYI, if you add the word picante to the agenda, we’re probably there!
Find out where planners are based, and if they’re travelling from far and wide, then offers of transportation, lifts from stations, and overnight accommodation are gratefully appreciated and sometimes needed.
Also, factor this into start and finish times to ensure that as many planners as possible can attend.
If you’d like wedding planners to attend, please make the invitation personal. Emails starting with “Dear Planner”, “Dear Events Team”, and “Dear Sirs” are a daily occurrence and usually result in an automatic delete!
Once again, this may seem obvious, but we’ve been to a few venues recently where we’ve learnt very little about the venue itself.
We want to know (and see) as much as possible – the spaces, areas, accommodation, rates, availability, supplier lists, catering, drinks, rules and regulations, activities, access etc. The more information you can give us in advance, on the day and afterwards, the better!
If you’re showcasing various spaces, we don’t necessarily need to see them set for a wedding unless you’re hosting a dinner… and then the more Instagrammable the set-up, the better!
Most planners would prefer to see a room or location as a blank canvas and imagine how they can work with that space.
Whilst we’re there, and especially if you’re hosting a dinner or overnight stay, we’d love to meet some of your recommended suppliers as well, whether that’s sampling their cakes or cocktails (looping back to the said statement about picantes!) or seeing their florals adorn the evening tablescape.
Once again, it’s a way to learn more about your venue and the options and possibilities available.
Meet the Planners
ByChenai Events is a boutique award-winning wedding and event design company based in London and has been named one of the top planners by Harper’s Bazaar and Over The Moon.
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