There are around 250,000 weddings every year in the UK, and the vast majority of couples head off to enjoy a jolly good party with their family and friends afterwards. Some might even claim the reception is the most important elements of the day… but I couldn’t possibly comment on that! The classic English country wedding is in high demand, and that delivers an excellent opportunity for farms looking to diversify into new markets.

Barn conversions are popular spaces for the reception, and the backdrop of a rural landscape, perhaps with photogenic livestock in shot, makes for wonderful wedding photos. Whether your aim is to run a reception venue only or be licenced for ceremonies as well, or perhaps convert cottages and build glamping facilities to offer accommodation, succeeding at your new wedding venture will boost income and secure the future of the farm.

Once you’ve undertaken any building or conversion work necessary, the next step will be to market your wedding venue. Newly engaged couples will be using a variety of methods to search out their perfect venue so it’s all about showing up where they are looking! Here are my top 5 marketing tasks for every budding wedding venue to tick off to make sure they get noticed:

1. Commission photography

The couple may well have a very clear vision for their wedding, but even the best imaginations need a little help! High quality photography, some of it showing the venue ‘dressed’ ready for a wedding or reception, will be invaluable in helping people get excited about your venue and motivated to book a viewing. If you are a keen amateur photographer then you can crack on yourself, if not then research local photographers or tap up friends and family who can help. You will need this photography for some of the other steps in my wedding venue marketing checklist…

See also: Investing in professional photography

2. Get a website and learn the basics of SEO

A website is essential – it’s the core place to have all the information couples will want to find out for themselves before they pick up the phone. That could include how many people the venue can fit, if there are preferred suppliers for catering and flowers, if there is accommodation on site and whether you are licenced for ceremonies. Learning basic SEO (that’s search engine optimisation!) or getting someone to help you will be time well spent, as it will enable potential customers to find you. That work might include thinking about the key words people might type into Google if they are looking for a venue like yours (i.e. farm wedding near Bath, farm wedding venue Bath, rural wedding rustic Bath) and then including them in website copy, tags and headings.

3. List yourself on wedding planning websites

When a bride-to-be Googles ideas for wedding venues, there are several nationwide information websites that will pop up near the top of the results. These include Hitched, The Wedding Secret and Guides for Brides, and it’s worth investigating the cost of being listed on them. Even if you sign up for a trial period and carefully monitor the ROI, it’s not wise to ignore this channel totally, as they are popular sources of information.

4. Set up social media profiles

A social media presence is a great way to build some organic (translation – free) marketing awareness. I would advise wedding venues to set up a Facebook page and an Instagram profile and use them both to share images and captions detailing the key features of your wedding venue. For example, if you’ve installed a stunning antler chandelier in a barn conversion, if there is a lovely view across the rural landscape or if you’ve loving converted a cottage into a cosy B&B, it’s worth sharing these things far and wide. I would advise you have a presence on at least two social media networks as you never know when an algorithm tweak will hurt your reach on a platform (and therefore potentially hurt your sales!).

See also: How to reach your target audience on social media

5. Go to wedding fairs

Wedding fairs are another incredibly popular way for couples to find wedding venues and suppliers. Just like the wedding websites, there will be a small investment to make and so you will want to keep note of any leads you get from the fair and therefore the return on your investment. If you do take a table at a fair, make sure you spend a little bit of time preparing beforehand. You may wish to have roller or pop-up banners made up with the name and key images on them. Think about the key features of your venue and really learn all the numbers so that you can chatter with confidence to people about why they should marry there!

I hope that this advice is useful both to those who have already taken the plunge and are creating their own slice of rural wedding perfection and people who are still mulling over the possibilities. There are plenty more steps you can make the most of the channels I’ve covered above to really raise your profile, and if you would like to talk about them with me over coffee or over the phone, drop me a line:

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