While saying “Yes” to certain things will be right in the beginning stages of business, later you might want, or need, to say no! When you first start your wedding venue business you’re excited to get customers. It’s easy to be overly accommodating in some cases.
Granted, you will have to make more sacrifices in the beginning. I think most do, we sure did. And while it is okay to say yes, eventually you might decide to say no. I’m going to share 5 things we said “yes” to in the beginning. And actually, I’m glad we did.
During the first few years we offered a three hour rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. We supplied the tables and chairs, set them up and took them down at the end of the evening. They were responsible for the food and table linens (I did not have enough linens for both the rehearsal dinner and wedding day).
What happened? they did not leave after 3 hours. Not only did they not want to leave, the came early! Not to mention there was way more garbage produced. So, there was more work for us in setting up and taking down, plus the added problem of more garbage to take care of. For the wedding package price we were offering, it was not cost or time efficient.
Rehearsal dinners lasted about three years and then it was time to say no. Now we offer a two hour rehearsal but no rehearsal dinner is available. This seems to work really well for us. On my website vendor page I do have suggestions of restaurants in our area that can accommodate big dinner parties.
We have allowed self-catering for many years and just recently decided to say no. Now you must have a licensed caterer when you book a wedding at the Ridge. This makes it so much easier on us and actually on the clients. People did not follow the rules we had in place for self catering. I would get very frustrated at how they were treating my little kitchen area.
I do not have an industrial kitchen facility set up. Clients were supposed to bring in the food already prepared, have a way to keep food heated and bring their own utensils for serving. While some people are very consciences and caring, others are not. I wrote a post on this very topic called My Educating Failure.
We still take care of garbage removal and disposal, but the catering companies are wonderful at keeping things tidy. They come at the right time, serve the food in a beautiful setting, clean up their space, and then they are gone. The food doesn’t sit around all day and attract the bees and bugs. We love the caterers.
My favorite catering companies are on my website vendor page. There is a verity to choose from for taste and price. Clients do not have to choose from our vendor page, but they do have to hire a licensed catering company.
It’s also a plus when clients chose a catering company because they usually offer a bartending service; which we just started to require.
Our website states we are a wine and beer facility only. We have always required a banquet permit issued by the state. It costs around $10.00. The client purchases it and a copy is emailed to us. We have the client sign on rehearsal night and it is displayed where the alcohol is served.
In our reading of the law, we assumed that you didn’t need a licensed bartender if only beer and wine were served and of course nothing is sold, it is provided to the guest.
It has come to our attention that, that probably is not the case. We have heard both scenarios and have decided to play it safe and start requiring a licensed bartender that has a Mast permit.
Actually, Les and I are considering taking the three hour on-line class ourselves. If you live in Washington State, you can find that info HERE. So, I guess you can say we are saying no to just a banquet permit, and are also requiring a licensed Mast bartender.
When Denison Ridge opened we had a great price… it was low. Starting out we didn’t have the experience or knowledge of running a wedding venue business. Read about my story How My Life Changed After We Started the Business for some encouragement. We needed customers and for us a low price was the key.
It took us awhile to get our marketing in place and then it needed time to start working. Even with a low price the first few years were lean in the booking department. We offered specials at the Bridal Festival, when people called with sad stories I caved, I even tried specials for booking in a certain month.
You do what you have to! As a newbie on the block, no testimonials were available, photos were slim on the website, and I didn’t even know much about Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.
But, it did get better! I have been able to increase my price several times and I offer discounts when I want to, not because I feel like I should.
If you have read my eBook “How to Start and Run a Wedding Venue – In Your Own Backyard” you know that we gave up our master bedroom for the wedding season. Our bedroom became the groomsman room. It was the perfect alternative. There was a door opening to the outside and it had a big bathroom it. Oh the bathroom stories I could tell…
What did this mean for me? I had to clean the room before every tour, before every wedding and after every wedding so we could sleep there at night. Sometimes the cologne smell was so strong I couldn’t sleep. That was with the windows open and the fan on high, lol!
The carpet was a mess because they ate and drank in the room. I would have to spot clean after most weddings. I finally took the rugs out of the bathroom so I didn’t have to wash them after every wedding; this made a little less work for me.
Really though, it was better than going into debt. Besides, now we have a beautiful cabin for the groomsman and let-me-tell-you it’s wonderful! And, on the plus side, my master bedroom is getting a complete makeover. 🙂
If we had never said yes to these 5 things my business would not be where it is today. The knowledge and experience that we have gained is invaluable. The best part is that I can now share our journey with you; fellow backyard wedding entrepreneurs.
Some of us just need space to be creative and use our talents. Others need to make money from home; to be with children. Maybe you’re a wanna-be retiree like me who needs extra cash to pay off the house or start a Roth IRA.
What are you saying “yes” to, in your business, that will change in the future?