Times may be tough, but they've brought us all together in unexpected ways. As we forge ahead, let’s be mindful of the good deeds and helping hands that will get us through this downturn.
In this edition of our new weekly blog series, Good Works and Great Ideas, which we publish every Friday, we address how wedding venues are helping couples during COVID-19. We also explore a handful of ideas for venues to get through this downturn and prepare for the future.
Good Works: Discover ways wedding venues are helping couples during COVID-19
1. Virginia wedding venue hosts socially distanced ceremonies
Glencliff Manor, a wedding and events venue in Lynchburg, Virginia, is set to host more than 40 weddings in May — at no cost to couples. The venue announced the initiative at the end of March, writing, in part:
"We know a lot of couples have had to change the date of their ceremony and reception but you still want to tie the knot before then. We have decided that (starting) May 2, any couple in the area that wants to get married can do so at Glencliff. There will be no charge. We just want to give you the opportunity to say 'I do' in a beautiful spot and have the opportunity to get some fabulous pictures.”
All couples have to do is message the venue to reserve a time slot. Owner Teresa Clayton told WSLS 10 that only 10 people are allowed at each wedding, and each ceremony takes only an hour to complete.
2. Wedding venues across the country step up to help thousands of venue-less couples
An estimated 7,500 brides and grooms were left without a wedding venue when Noah's Event Venue closed after filing for bankruptcy, according to an attorney representing the chain, which had 42 venues across 25 states. Not only that, but the attorney told the Des Moines Register that refunds for the couples are unlikely. To help mitigate the losses suffered by the couples, many wedding venues across the country have stepped up to lend a helping hand. For example:
- Sara Carr, the owner of Chateaux at Fox Meadows in Colorado, has been offering discounted rates to those seeking a new wedding venue, according to The Denver Channel. "We are a family business," she said. "We do this because we love, love, and we love couples, and we know what this means, and we really want to help."
- A Kansas couple impacted by the closure was given a discounted rate from their new venue, the Petroleum Club. "The workers at the Petroleum Club have been with me every step of the way for me and my fiance," Tierra Poyner said, via KWCH 12. "They've been making it so easy, an easy transition for us to like deal with, and I'm excited for the ceremony now."
- In Ohio, married couple Josh and Michelle Staley pushed up the grand opening of their recently-purchased event venue when they heard about Noah's closing. They also waived the rental fee for clients impacted by the situation. “Our wedding wasn’t exactly perfect, and we had some experiences that we don’t want anyone else to deal with,” Josh Staley said, via the Des Moines Register. “Our hearts play a bigger role than our business sense or making money.”
3. DC wedding venues working with videography team to offer virtual tours
“We not only film the empty venue, but include footage from real weddings we have shot at that venue so couples can see both a blank canvas and executed event,” Bowen said, via Washingtonian. “This enables (couples) to envision what their wedding could look like in that space.”
Per the article, Bowen Films is offering the service at a discount (or free, in some cases), and venues don't have to pay for the promotion until they are able to start hosting weddings again.
Great Ideas: Discover ways wedding venues can adapt and prepare for future business
1. Communication, and support, is key
Just like many of the venues listed above, it's more important than ever to be there for the couples whose weddings have been impacted by COVID-19. Even if you can't host weddings and events at your venue just yet, keeping those couples in the loop and working with them to make the situation easier on everybody is a gesture that goes a long way — whether that's working to secure new dates for postponed weddings, or simply saying you're sorry that this is happening. Be there with them every step of the way, and provide them with any and all pertinent updates about your venue and local, state, and federal guidelines.
2. Offer alternatives
Did a couple book the largest package at your venue for their wedding of 200+ guests? If you can, give them a chance to keep their date and switch to a smaller package for a more intimate affair or a micro wedding.
What about the couples who want to go virtual? Offer a way for them to still utilize your venue for their big day. As long as all guidelines are still met, give them the option to use the space they booked for the ceremony. The couple, the officiant, the photographer, and the video crew can attend in person, while the rest of the guests can view the ceremony virtually via a live stream.
As for the couples who want to reschedule, give them as much leeway as you can. If their original wedding was scheduled for May 2020 but they want to push it back to later in the year, work with them to nail down some dates and, if possible, put a soft hold on a few options until they get everything sorted out.
We understand that every venue and couple may be facing different challenges each day, but flexibility is key during times like these, and it's paramount that you do everything you can to lend a hand.
3. Prepare for safe weddings
Just like safe meetings and events, safe weddings in a world affected by COVID-19 will require major adjusting — especially from planners and venues. It’ll take a combined effort in order to restart the industry and begin hosting in-person functions again. Venues can focus on a few key areas in order to provide the requirements needed for safe weddings: health and safety protocols, social distancing arrangements, and safe food and beverage.
The United States government recently released guidelines – "Opening Up America Again" – that give general principles applicable to all future phases of business recovery. These few are directly related to events:
- Social distancing and protective equipment
- Temperature checks and other testing
- Isolating and contact tracing
- Sanitation and disinfection of common and high-traffic areas
- Policies and procedures for workforce contact tracing following positive coronavirus tests
Additionally, one of the most notable ways social distancing will affect future weddings will likely be room and seating configuration. When it comes to hosting safe weddings at your hotel or venue, be sure to continue to stay in touch with all local, state, and federal guidelines. You can then use event diagramming tools to ensure you adhere to those guidelines, so you can deliver safe experiences for all attendees and employees.
Venues also need to make changes to food and beverage operations to ensure safe weddings. Self-service buffets likely won’t be a viable option for a while. Seated dining could be an alternative option, as could pre-packed meals that guests pick up from fridges or multiple locations, or have the boxed meals already placed at their seats. These extra steps and layers of caution could tack on added costs, however, so it’s in venues’ best interest to offer cost-effective solutions for food and beverage.
Now you know how wedding venues are helping during COVID-19 — and how to implement new strategies moving forward
For more good works and great ideas, check out last week’s post, How to Leverage Virtual Tours During Times of Social Distancing. And be sure to check back next Friday for the latest edition of this series.