Question: Should I Open a Wedding Venue?

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“Hi there. First off, impressive website. Great info here and easy to find all your relevant content. Question for you:

“I am starting to tinker with the idea of opening a wedding venue in Oregon but have two crucial questions I was hoping you could help with or guide me in the right direction for finding more info:

#1 – Is there an industry standard booking rate/percentage for wedding venues? And if so, anything specific from a geographic perspective?

 I’ve been having a heck of a hard time finding that information out and have zero idea if wedding venues are usually 100% booked or 70%, 30%, etc. Naturally, assuming folks are running a good business, advertising well, etc.

#2 – What would you recommend as the best way to find out if a specific area still has enough demand for wedding venues to warrant starting a new one? Not just an estimated number of weddings for 2016 divided by the number of venues but any other clever, more objective ways to finding that out?

“Thank you in advance for any help. I really love it that you both seem genuinely committed to helping folks in your industry. I firmly believe that the more collaboration there is, the more everyone wins.”

Best,

Vivi

​FREE BONUS: Download this article as a free checklist that shows you exactly how to open your own profitable wedding venue.

Answer: Research before you commit.

Wow! It’s obvious that you’re a smart cookie because you ask some excellent questions.

While I don’t have specific data about U.S. venues in my back pocket, I am a pretty resourceful gal and they don’t call me Stephanie “Action Plan” Padovani for nothin’.

Here’s where I would begin:

#1 – Contact venue associations to gather data.

These organizations often collect data and share with their members. A quick search turned up IAVM.org (International Association of Venue Managers) with something called a VenueDataSource that sounds promising, Venues Today, and NACE (National Association for Catering and Events.)

#2 – Find a venue owner mentor.

This is admittedly a tricky thing to do in your local market, especially if you may soon be the competition. However, you should be able to find helpful venue owners outside your state.

Join one or more of the associations listed above and network with members in the forum. You might also try Facebook or Linked In groups and ask for help.

Before Jeff and I got into the business, we called up a local DJ and asked for his advice about breaking into the business. We hit it off, he invited me to work with him several times, and when I was ready he started sending us his overflow leads.

Without a mentor, we never would have made it in the wedding business. This will give you a huge advantage over the competition because they’ll have knowledge that you can’t get anywhere else.

#3 – Use TheWeddingReport.com to get specific numbers for your market.

The Wedding Report provides data on the number of weddings in your local market as well as a breakdown of spending by category. You can find out how much people are spending on venues in your area.

Make sure you look beyond the “average expense” number. The average includes both those who rent the local firehouse as well as those who host the wedding at a mansion, so it’s not the most accurate number.

The spending distribution tells you how many couples spend a particular amount in each price range. For example, only 4.8% of weddings in the state of Oregon (about 1,000 weddings) spend over $15,000 on the event location. (This doesn’t include food expenses.)

This will give you an idea of approximately how many weddings you’d be competing for in your price range.

#4 – Research the venue competition in your local market.

Opening a venue is a big expense. I wouldn’t do so unless your venue offers something substantially  different from the competition. You’ll need a unique marketing message to stand out and communicate your value.

What’s the need in the market that ISN’T being met?

Search online and local bridal magazines to find the competition. Look at the types of venues and the clients targeted. How can you be completely different?

Your connections with venue associations and a mentor can help you identify opportunities in your market the competition isn’t covering.

#5 – Use an venue management software to track and manage your sales.

As a wedding venue, you can very quickly get an overwhelming number of leads, especially when you run advertisements. Tracking leads and sales with multiple staff members can be a nightmare, and it’s easy for leads to fall through the cracks…which means lost sales for you.

Event Temple makes it easy to increase your bookings.  This software lets you track and follow up with leads automatically. I don’t want to get into too much detail about venue management software here –that’s a whole blog post in itself! — but definitely check it out.

The Secret to Profitable Wedding Venues

Like other wedding businesses, venue owners need to know their numbers to find success.

How much income do you need to draw from the business?

How much are your expenses?

How many weddings do you need to book at what price to make your target sales revenue?

How many leads and website visitors will you need to hit those booking numbers?

It’s not rocket science, but it sure isn’t easy, either. It takes guts, hard work and determination.

Do your research, know your numbers and search your heart. You’ll know whether this is the adventure for you.

​FREE BONUS: Download this article as a free checklist that shows you exactly how to open your own profitable wedding venue.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click through and buy something, we will probably get paid.

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Stephanie Padovani

Stephanie is a Hudson Valley wedding insider, blogger, writer, and wedding business coach. Want to book more weddings at higher prices? Quit dealing with price shoppers? Transform your wedding business so that it supports the life you really want? Look her up! They don't call her the Wedding Business Cheerleader for nothing. :)

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4 thoughts on “5 Things You Must Do Before Opening a Wedding Venue”

  1. Sam Fickel says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    Thank you for selecting Vivi’s questions (and of course, thanks Vivi for asking them). They are some questions I’d been considering myself.

    Before I get anywhere with starting my venue, I need to secure financing, and before that, I need a solid business plan. One of the things I’m struggling with the most is understanding what projected monthly/daily expenses exist, and how to utilize prices to make enough operating income to create justifiable profit margins.

  2. karen binks says:

    I love the help you are sharing with everyone… I have a venue that is sitting doing nothing, surrounding this venue is very expensive venue’s, I would love to open this venue at a Price that will be affordable but also unique. In the small village I live in… My wedding was low cost but all that came to it still talk just how beautiful it was and this is what I would love to bring to others. Simple, special, and specialized to each couple’s unity of family and friends.. It would be great any tips you could give me.. It is a farmer’s area with a beautiful church in the village
    Kind regards
    Karen

    1. Hi, Karen. The first thing I’d do is some market research. The Wedding Report offers competitive pricing info in the U.S, down to the zip code.

      Investigate what your competitors are charging and the demand in your area. If it’s a very small village, you’re probably going to be a destination location from larger nearby cities or even further. This can make advertising a challenge in the beginning.

      Is there enough demand in your area? What do you need to charge to be profitable?

      One of the biggest mistakes new venue owners make is charging “affordable” prices only to find out it takes much more time and puts much more wear and tear on the property than they originally thought. Talk to other venue owners (connections online or in our FB group are great for this) to find out what’s working for them and learn from their mistakes.

      Good luck with everything!

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