In our last “Bag the Bride” post I detailed the 5 first meeting mistakes to avoid, as told by me – a millennial bride-to-be wading into the tantalizing pool of wedding planning. Since my last post I’ve come a long way: I’ve set a date and booked my wedding venue for May of 2017, which feels like an enormous weight off my shoulders. I spent a good deal of time stressing out about figuring out where I wanted to make these memories, whether or not my fiance and I were going to agree, and ultimately it was all a waste of energy because there was one venue that – for me and my fiance- stood a cut above the rest. Read on to find out how they bagged this bride – and how to use my experience for better booking.
Step 1: Reel them in Online
I’m originally from Northampton, Massachusetts which is about an hour away from the Berkshires, and I was hoping to find a venue within my budget in the area. My fiance is taking a pretty laid back approach to the whole thing, and he’d agreed to check out whatever venues I deemed appropriate.
When I found The Berkshire Lake House online, I was immediately smitten with the site’s clean simple web-design. Visually focused, the site had a carousel of big beautiful photos that showed modern cottages with high ceilings filled with light gathered on the edge of a sun dappled lake. Unlike a lot of other venue’s sites, I didn’t have to dig around on the site to find the “Wedding” section – it was right there in the navigation bar at the top of the site.
Once I clicked through, I was greeted by a simple, concise description of the venue which contained some key – to me – phrases: “create the weddings of your dreams”, “capture your personal vision and style”, “weekend celebration”, “access to the entire property” and “luxury cottages”. Underneath the description was another photo gallery with more images, including some shows capturing the property at night as well as a few with a photo of a fairly simple previous ceremony. I was hooked: I emailed the owner immediately to ask for their pricing and packages.
When building or updating your website, it’s important to put the focus on the visual with a clean simple design that allows potential wedding seekers to envision their special day at your venue. Copy should remain similarly simple – don’t get bogged down in trying to describe every detail of your wedding package – brides will want to talk to you in person or at the very least be willing to email you with more information. It’s more important that you emphasize your ability to help them achieve their dream day – whatever that may look like.
Step 2: Professional, Polite, Perfection
I sent a quick email requesting more information about pricing and packages and I was delighted when I received a response later that same day that included a simple, easy to understand, layout of the costs and benefits of booking The Berkshire Lake House with a single number – a flat rate for the entire property for the weekend, which would allow my fiancé and I – not to mention my wedding party and family members – to relax by the lake and host our rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception, and goodbye brunch in one gorgeous place.
Eric, the owner, was friendly and made it clear that he was available to answer any questions, but it was the end of his email that put a big smile on my face: “If you would like to come for a day tour or would like a complimentary night stay for four to check us out just let me know.” At the sight of that, I was sold: not only was there no way I could pass up a complimentary night’s stay, but I suspected that if Eric felt confident enough to offer a free night’s stay, that The Berkshire Lake House might just be so beautiful that if I saw it in person I wouldn’t be able to resist: and boy was he right!
Responding to emails promptly has a huge impact: there were several venues that I simply crossed off the list when they didn’t respond to my emails quickly – or at all. I’m planning to drop a large chunk of change on my wedding, and I want to work with someone who makes me feel like I’m more than just another bride in a long line – even if that’s the case!
Laying down the entire price up front, rather than breaking it down into each individual fee made me feel a lot more relaxed about everything because I felt like Eric was being honest about expectations, rather than trying to make the price seem lower than it really was.
Most importantly, if you’re trying to entice a bride (and/or groom) into investing their time and money into your venue, offering a complimentary night’s stay, dinner, or tasting is a great way to immediately incur some good favor, get on their good side, and get them to see the venue in person. Invite them to come during the slow season when you wouldn’t be booked up anyway, and consider it a wise investment.
Step 3: Little Touches Go a Long Way
Despite the fact that it was raining, when we finally saw The Berkshire Lake House in person it looked every bit as gorgeous as the pictures. I immediately felt a thrill: if it looked this beautiful in the rain I could rest assured that if I chose this venue my wedding day would be stunning regardless of the unpredictable New England weather. When we arrived we were met by Cory, the young and friendly caretaker who showed us to our cottage (luxurious indeed) and showed us around the property: Unlike some other venues, I could imagine Cory handling the occasionally rambunctious members of our wedding party without getting ruffled.
Even though the cottages and the lodge are tucked against the lake, they were brand new and laid out efficiently creating a central green space that made the entire spot feel intimate and private, despite neighbors on both sides. The rooms were well appointed, with king beds, crisp white sheets and art that Cory assured us was changed seasonally, along with the plants and flowers. There were ipads in each cottage and in the main house which were pre-loaded with information about the neighboring towns, with suggestions for restaurants and activities for guests who hasn’t previously ventured to the Berkshires.
The lodge had a gleaming, brand new industrial kitchen, a two story fireplace, and there were large flat screen tvs in every room, and in one room which featured two sets of bunk beds, there were four separate flat screens, one for each bed. It was the perfect mix of laid back and luxurious, with a splash of modern comfort. A stone deck overlooked the lake, and large white rocking chairs dotted the front porch. A long dock extended out into the lake, and I could already envision the amazing photos that could be taken.
Your venue may not be brand new, but there are little ways to add thoughtful modern updates that will impress visiting brides. If fully loaded Ipads aren’t in your budget, go old school and create a binder highlighting all of the nearby restaurants and attractions – it’s one less thing for brides to have to worry about, and anticipating that will help reassure them that they’ll be in good hands with you.
Figure out how to create the feeling of luxury, even if it’s simply by splurging providing an extra fluffy towel or complimentary slippers. A little goes a long way, and everyone likes to be pampered, especially a bride in the throws of wedding planning hysteria.
Step 4: The Follow Up
After a lovely night’s sleep we regretfully left The Berkshire Lake House, refreshed. I couldn’t help but imagine how wonderful our wedding weekend would be there – in fact, now that we’d had such a lovely time there, I was unable to envision it anywhere else.
Within the hour Cory, the property’s caretaker, had emailed to extend his contact info as well, letting me know that he was available to answer questions. Overall, I had felt so welcomed and well taken care of – exactly how I wanted to feel on the big day, and my fiance had been sold since he first heard the words “boat house” (oh yes – there’s a boat house alright) uttered.
A quick follow up is always a good move: it’s a quick easy step that makes brides feel like they’re a priority. It also helps emphasize the idea that it’s okay to ask questions and make requests, and at the end of the day, a bride that doesn’t feel comfortable with you isn’t likely to book with you either.
That’s All Folks!
We did go check out one more venue after that, another lakeside location that will remain nameless. While the location was beautiful, I was put off by the “wedding factory” vibe that manifested itself in the wedding planners insistence that having a tent was mandatory and that while we would have to end the party at 11 we could “go to a bar across the street” for an after party. My fiance and I knew that then that no other venue could possibly measure up to my experience at The Berkshire Lake House, so we said “I do” to a May weekend wedding in 2017 and I couldn’t be more excited!