The do's and don'ts of hosting a wedding showcase event

Woman in black dress holding tray with glasses of champagne and smiling at the camera.

Holding your first wedding showcase may seem like a daunting task – and for good reason! The preparations take detailed planning and vigorous execution… but it’s all worth it once the couples start flooding through your doors and experience what your venue has to offer!

Laura Harris shares the experience of holding their first wedding showcase event at Sissons Barn. Read on for the do’s, don’ts and top tips to guarantee success at your own wedding showcase event!  

Tell us a little about Sissons Barn…

Barn venue lit up at night.

The farm has been a family run venture for the past 4 generations now and has slowly been diversifying for about 15 years. Sissons Barn first started as a wedding venue for marquees the year we got engaged.

Four years ago we started the daunting task of planning the new barn build. We decided that if we were going to make a success of the wedding business we needed to have a venue that would work all year round, be able to hold ceremonies and be something different to what the local venue market had to offer.

What made you decide to host a wedding showcase event at your venue?

We were very lucky to have a lovely lady approach us and ask if we’d like to hold a wedding showcase event. She organises wedding events in the local area and so the journey began! We mutually chose a date that we hoped would be far enough away so the barn was finished but still within the ‘Engagement Season’, which as we know is a critical sales period for any wedding professional.

Did you know: Engagement Season runs from Christmas to Valentine’s Day. Bridebook estimates that 40% of all engagements in a year happen over this festive period, the busiest weekend being 20th, 21st & 22nd December!

What concerns did you have regarding hosting a wedding showcase event? 

Silhouette of a bride and groom standing under barn beams.

Our biggest concern was that the Barn would not be finished in time. We were working every hour under the sun to try and get it complete. We desperately wanted to have the wedding showcase event, so cancelling or postponing was not an option. Once we were in a reasonable place with the building, we then had to worry about whether potential couples would want to come and see it. Would the Barn be interesting enough for our local couple audience?

Bridebook tip: Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today’. As a venue, you are always going to be making changes, improvements and fixes to your venue and wedding offering. Don’t let this put you off hosting a wedding showcase event. Book that date in advance and work towards it.

What would be your top tip for driving couples through your doors? 

I think the best places for us are social media and online directories, especially Bridebook. Our target audience are generally on their phones, so all the suppliers booked for the wedding showcase event were tagging, sharing and boosting the events detail, driving couples to the ticket site. They were free tickets but it was very handy to gauge the number you will get on the day.

Did you know: The UK Wedding Report found that 52% of couples are using phones daily for wedding planning. The most popular phone activities are researching venues and  suppliers, keeping notes / photos and browsing inspirational photos. The Bridebook app allows them to do all that and more, so it’s the perfect place to advertise your venue and any upcoming open days. 

Would you recommend Bridebook to other wedding venues?

Absolutely!! Bridebook has given us 33% of our bookings so far but that’s not all. Their help, advice and friendly words of encouragement have been invaluable. 

Interested in boosting your exposure on Bridebook this Engagement Season? Register your interest for VenuePro now!

Based on the learnings from your first showcase, what are your 5 do’s when hosting a wedding showcase event? 

Four women standing and talking around a table set up at a wedding showcase.
  1. Collaboration over competition: If you have any preferred suppliers contact them first to have a pitch, it saves awkward conversations and keeps everyone happy.
  2. Tactical room set up: place things like free food samples in both prominent and tucked away places to keep the room moving. If you are offering a free glass of bubbles, make sure you have staff in place to help with this, so you are free to speak with couples in detail.
  3. Save time on questions: Create a FAQ’s list to hand out, this helps keep couples moving through without them feeling they haven’t been looked after. They can read them at a later date, leaving us to engage with them at a more personal level.
  4. Refreshments: Tea! Or water for you and the other suppliers! A vital addition when you are potentially talking for 3 hours. Again, it was helpful to have a member of staff there to help.
  5. Plan & prep: We set up the room the day before so the suppliers could set up straight away when they arrived. The event planner had created a map of the room with the suppliers names on so we knew who was where and whether they needed a table and electric.

…And your don’ts?

  1. Content is king: Do not leave it to the last minute to put together all the information you want to give couples about the venue. We did and felt we may have missed giving some couples key information. 
  2. Smart casual is your best bet: I made the mistake of wearing a very smart dress and heels! I looked the part but I could hardly move in my dress and my feet we killing me!! Note to self – normal smart work clothes!

What is your no.1 recommendation for venues thinking of hosting their first showcase event?

We would not have been able to organise the event without the event planner, so my top tip would be: if you are friendly with a planner, see if they would like to mutually collaborate. They have the skills and time, even if you don’t, to bring the event together. We have now got two more dates booked with our planner and she has given us the confidence to start thinking about doing our own much smaller open evening. 

Bridebook tip: Event planners can take a lot of pressure off your shoulders when organising Showcases and Open Days. If you don’t already work with an event or wedding planner, get in touch with one through Bridebook

About Laura Harris 

Man and woman smiling into camera.

Laura lives on the farm with her husband, Ben, and their two small children and a Jack Russell. She is a gardener and designer by trade but has been helping to run the farm business since her and Ben married 7 years ago. 

Equipped with Laura’s tips and ticks, you should now be ready to tackle your first wedding showcase or to make improvements to your existing practices! Check out the Bridebook Business Hub for more information, inspiration and advice. 

Advertise your upcoming Wedding Showcase on your Bridebook profile, by uploading details under Fairs, Reports & Network.