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Pictures of an old fashioned Bentley, a cream coloured wedding ceremony room with drapes, blue and cream wedding flower table display, a wooden Wedding arrow sign, and the wedding breakfast layout at Stockwood Discvery Centre Luton

My First Professional Wedding

Back in 2012 (OMG how is that 8 years ago!?) I was tasked with introducing a new wedding service for the venue I was working at. I had a year to figure things out, launch it and host our first wedding. My first professional wedding service… so what did I learn in that first year? Read on to find out.

The first thing I do with any new request is research. If you've read any of my other blogs, you'll probably see that I often talk about doing your research before making any big decisions. It was the same for me. I'd never set up a wedding service for a venue previously, so I needed to find out what I'd need to have in place to be physically and legally able to host them. I also knew I'd need the support of other teams in the organisation and suppliers, which fortunately I already had some up my sleeve. The biggest thing I needed to research though was our competition, other venues. I needed to know what they charged and provided for their couples, what they included in their packages and where we would fall in the market.

I love doing research. I adore looking at wedding venues. I have so much fun talking to suppliers. And some of the venues I was finding, were really inspiring.

You come across the term 'unique' a lot in the wedding industry, so many people and places are unusual, quirky and yes many offer a completely unique service. People's perception plays a major part too. Two places can be alike in many ways but a couples perception of what's on offer can vary dramatically, and a lot of that has to do with the staff they encounter. I could have almost the exact same conversation with 4-6 couples in one day of show rounds and get 4-6 different responses to the same offer. I spent a fair amount of time perfecting my pitch for show rounds and meetings, which also informed the FAQ's section I introduced on the website.

You learn a lot from the questions people ask

A big part of the preparations for launching a wedding service is getting to grips with the rules and requirements of the legal ceremonies. I did not anticipate the requirement to provide water and tissues, alongside the need to guarantee a parking spot for the registrars. These things make sense now and actually I would likely have provided these without instruction, but I've definitely fought battles with staff over ensuring that these things are in place before the ceremony though, so it seems some venues don't receive these same instructions.

Keeping you and safe and comfortable is an important part of every wedding

Another area requiring research, was identifying suppliers we would want to work with and could recommend to our couples. Having worked in venues for a fair few years before this, and being local, I already had some contacts but an early collaboration with an event planning company I'd worked with, helped me pull together some amazing companies to run a launch competition. These heroes helped me pull off an amazing offer and a fantastic wedding for one very lucky, very worthy couple, who they picked from the pool of entrants.

Competitions and giveaways are a great way to get to know suppliers

Something I hadn't expected to learn from my first professional weddings was just how much the weather can impact every part of the day. If the weather is too hot, too cold, too wet, etc plans need to be put in place in order to keep everyone happy. Heating will only go so far in high ceilinged venues, and if your ceremony room doesn't have air conditioning but does have doors, a whole other set of issues can arise. Especially in venues that are open to the public. The weather also informed two of my FAQ's - the biggest one ensuring that your hire car can actually get all the way to the front door of the venue, or you could end up taking a longer walk than expected and potentially in the rain.

Always be prepared for whatever the weather may throw at you

My first wedding was actually held on the same day as we hosted our first baby naming ceremony, so it was a double whammy of firsts and learning. Both events went brilliantly (having experience of looking after multiple meetings and venues really helped) and they had similar colour schemes, which was a nice coincidence. My teams did brilliantly, and I realised I loved planning and hosting events, more than I even thought possible. I also learned that not everyone will love what you have to offer; a sometimes brutal lesson to learn, but one that stood me in good stead as I set up Your Wedding Friend.

So, 8 ish years later, here we are, let's make wedding plans together for the love of it! X