How to Host Weddings at Your Property

It’s the season for bluebells and wedding bells. While you can’t give a couple a happily ever after, you can make their wedding a happily memorable experience. (Unless a guest decides to wear white, then there’s nothing you can do other than a red wine spill.) 

Independent hotels have an advantage for snagging private events; they offer something unique, not a cookie cutter experience. Here’s how to capitalize on this advantage and make weddings a success at your property. 

Why Weddings?

Independent hotels are already well equipped with the services required to host a wedding, including guest rooms, plenty of space, catering, guest activities, and so on. With a little extra effort, your property could make the perfect wedding venue. So, is it worth the effort?

Weddings not only bring in group bookings to boost room revenue (if you have a smaller property, it could even sell out) but ancillary revenue too. There’s definitely room for upsells here. What about a spa package for the bridesmaids or a pre-ceremony sightseeing tour for the guests to keep them from cooling their heels? 

Hosting weddings also provides additional marketing opportunities that raise awareness and improve your reputation. Guests remember how your property made them feel, and a wedding is the perfect chance to create a memorable experience. 

Show Off Your Location

Everyone wants a nice location for their wedding. A view of your parking lot isn’t going to work, so spruce up your property and ensure it looks good. Put a fresh coat of paint on the outside and deadhead those roses. Little touches go a long way. Of course, if you have a more spectacular landscape than your flower garden, you should make that clear. Towering forests and white-foam beaches are classics for a reason.

We’ve all seen those social media pictures of the lovestruck couple gazing into each other’s eyes. Show that they’re lovestruck at your beautiful property! (Ask permission before photographing anyone or posting their photos.)

Prepare for your local weather as well. What’s the backup plan in case it rains? Do you have enough water if the day gets hot? Swooning may be romantic, but heatstroke isn’t. 

Rustic wedding decorations set the atmosphere.
Successful weddings are all in the details

Set Expectations

Set expectations early and clearly. At minimum, couples should know from the outset how many guests you can accommodate and what it’s going to cost. 

Be aware, the couple doesn’t always pay for the wedding themselves. Find out who’s taking care of that and make deposit and payment deadlines clear (this should not turn into a game of “nose goes” at the reception!). Draw up a detailed contract and have the couple sign. A canceled wedding has a very different impact on your property than a canceled overnight stay. A damages fee is also a good idea in case they party a little too hard… 

Be very clear about what you’re offering and what they need to handle themselves. Are you providing a few chairs and telling them to go for it? Or is your event coordinator managing the whole shebang? 

Accurately convey the experience they can expect. Use images, video, and copy to portray your venue and service level. Are guests roasting s’mores around the campfire or indulging in a champagne tasting? Both experiences are good, but they have a different feel and budget. 

Team Up

As elegant as your property may be, a wedding needs more than a fantastic setting to make it succeed. There’s the catering, the marriage license, the photographer, the flowers, the bouncer for unruly relatives, etc… 

Partner with other local businesses to enable the wedding couple to kill two birds with one stone (catering and flowers make sense here). Many couples don’t want to think about these things too hard, so take the weight off their shoulders. Think in terms of a wedding package rather than a wedding venue. The more value you provide, the better. 

A beautiful wedding cake awaits the first cut.
Partner with local businesses to provide the whole package

Welcome Everyone

Showcase all kinds of couples across your website and other marketing to let everyone know they are welcome. Consider diversity training for your staff to teach them nuances they may otherwise miss. 

Pay attention to accessibility as well. How easy is it for guests to enter the ceremony and reception? Are spaces accessible to guests using wheelchairs? If you provide catering, there should be options for people with dietary restrictions, and staff should be aware of cross-contamination. 

Lean on Your Area

The ceremony may be the main event, but it won’t take up the guests’ entire stay. What other activities do you have in your area? Trails for hiking? Stores nearby? Put these on the “things to do” page on your website or blog. Guests are happy to know where they can run out and get a replacement if their tights run or their heel breaks. (Stocking essentials like greeting cards or power adaptors at your gift shop is a good idea too.) 

If you’re located somewhere that’s culturally or historically significant, use it in your marketing. Even small historical details add color to the ceremony (what famous couples got married in the chapel?). 

Use Your Amenities

What amenities and services do you offer to make the couple’s day easier? Spa services are popular, and a complimentary airport shuttle is always appreciated. 

Think outside the box and enhance your unique selling proposition. What would have been really convenient at your own wedding that wasn’t there? Bonus points if you’re pet friendly. Many couples opt for a four-legged ring bearer.

Have the Right Tech

To host weddings and other private events, you’ll need a property management system (PMS) that handles group bookings. WebRezPro’s group folios enable you to set up room blocks and special rates, track contract status and deposits, manage reservations and billing, and more—all from a single convenient folio. Charges can be applied either to the group (say if the couple is paying) or to an individual (if the guests are footing their own bills). 

You can even create password-protected group rates that wedding guests can book online through your website. 

Market, Market, Market

Wedding information should be easy to find on your website. Include a “weddings” or “events” page that guests can click to directly from your homepage. 

Share your guests’ photos on social media if you have permission. Remember that lovestruck couple from earlier? However, you also have an opportunity for storytelling with the couple as protagonists and your property as the mentor who made the happy memory possible. Are there any cute facts about them that they would be okay with you sharing? Potential guests admire that beautiful beach on Instagram, but they relate much better to other human beings. 

Hint: Keep in touch with the couple and ask them back to your property for their anniversary. 

Pursuing weddings makes sense for independent hotels because the ingredients for success are already in place. With the right preparation, weddings can boost your revenue and help raise brand awareness. Use these tips to entice couples to choose your property for their special event and give them a fabulous, romantic guest experience they’ll remember (and share online) happily ever after.