Key findings from The 2019 UK Wedding Report from bridebook.co.uk and the Wedding Industry Awards
The 2019 UK Wedding Report is here. In light of that, the wedding season is fast approaching, offering great opportunities to many B&B owners to accommodate guests attending the ceremony and/or reception. Bill Lumley finds opportunities aplenty emerging.
The rate at which couples are choosing to marry in non-traditional locations such as a church or town hall is rising rapidly, and with this trend comes great scope for owners of high-end B&Bs to offer wedding-related services from hosting the bridal party to staging the reception and increasingly now to staging the wedding itself.
According to the 2019 UK Wedding Report, couples care most about a venue’s visual appeal, price and service. The most popular venue types are country or manor houses and barns, and couples continue to move towards hosting ceremonies at the reception venue versus places of worship.
According to Unique features are making headway in weddings. One quarter of weddings last more than a day, half take place on non-Saturdays, and new trends are emerging such as midnight snacks, mobile vans and candy carts/tables.
A clear movement is underway for wedding ceremonies to take place at the wedding reception venue itself. This reduces the logistics for any wedding planner overseeing the movement of guests from a town hall or a church to a B&B or other venue hosting the reception.
According to the 2019 UK Wedding Report released last month, some 67% of wedding now take place at the same venue as the reception, up by 7% on last year. Place of worship as a venue for wedding ceremonies has fallen from 29% in 2017 to 23% this year.
Meanwhile there is a perceived growth in adventure taking place among young newly-weds-to-be. And while spend is down, the number of invited guests is rising, up by over 10% in 2018 to 90 guests compared with the previous year.
Unsurprisingly the internet plays an increasingly important role in finding the right venue. Selected venues were discovered by 40% of couples looking online compared with 21% on recommendation from friends or family, 16% from a wedding fair, 10% from their own experience at friends’ or realtives’ wedding and 3% from a wedding magazine advert or editorial, according to the 2019 UK Wedding Report.
Hamish Shephard, the founder of Bridebook.co.uk which published the report with The Wedding Industry Awards, says: “We’re seeing that millennials view weddings as a big party with unique experiences, personal touches and beautiful photo backdrops. They’re planning on their phones, jointly together, and they’re cutting costs wherever possible. We expect to see planning become more digital and social in the near term with increased personality woven throughout the wedding activities. Wedding venues and suppliers are encouraged to show off their unique offerings to reach those looking for something ‘different’.”
Average wedding spend is flat at a projected £17,674 this year, down from £17,913 in 2018. London has seen the sharpest fall down from 31,837 last year to 24,039 while the northeast of England has seen expense grow from 15, 624 last year to 17,357 this year.
Source: 2019 UK Wedding Report
Country B&Bs such as Hurst Farm (profile page 16) with field space and guest accommodation comprising its own self-contained kitchen dining area lend themselves to the growing shift from the traditional wedding to the vast emerging alternative opportunities.
Owner Victoria Sachiko has run the B&B for three years and is starting to build her business with a focus on weddings. “I’ve been utterly inspired by people who come and stay here compelling me to hold weddings,” she says. “We have wedding parties staying here, including a couple who stayed recently who said they were getting married in a tepee in the woods.”
She says she wants to venture into the wedding market very simply, offering the B&B venue, the field and gardens for hire and for the wedding organisers to do as they like. If they wish to erect a marquee then they can do so.”
According to the 2019 UK Wedding Report Marquee hire is the third greatest expense at £5,007 per wedding, behind food & drink at £5,187 and hire of the venue itself at £6,539, according to the latest UK Wedding Report.
The market for outdoor entertainment structures such as gazebos is growing. Marketing manager Joni Beal at The Lapa Company, which specialises in page timber gazebo and lapa structures, tells Luxury Bed & Breakfast: “In all honesty it is growing everywhere, both with consumers and commercial, as people look to make more of the outdoors. It has become much more of an area of interest.”
The areas in which the company has experienced greatest growth fall into two categories. The first is in providing seating and shaded areas, places for people actually to sit and enjoy the outside of a residence, while the other area of growth is cooking facilities such as outdoor kitchens, for seating and eating.
The relatively new idea of having an outdoor wedding inevitably raises concerns about the unpredictable weather. You can book a B&B but you can’t book sunshine.
Beal suggests the matter is an issue of common sense. Her company does not offer advice on weather as such owing to the fact that it is not an events planner. But she says: “That is the nature of British weather. People who organise events such as weddings are very familiar with this. And you do get a lot more outdoors time than people often give credit for.
“What we find with wedding venues that are putting in gazebos, lapas and other large outdoor spaces for the clients is that when they are talking to people about using them there normally is a contingency space. We tend not to come across premises that are putting in an outdoor facility for weddings or events that don’t have an indoor space as well. They tend to run them as a dual option for consumers so that they understand that there is an element of risk: that if you choose to be outside, you can commit 90% of your planning for outside but you always have to have that 10% where you plan the way you would switch if there were a sudden storm.”
With the busiest wedding season ahead of us, the advice she gives on preparations to acquire and install a gazebo depends on the size of installation that a B&B or inn may be looking for, and whether they are looking for something bespoke or standard. “Typically, we would say get ahead of your season. This is the time when people are actually marketing out particularly for weddings, and this is the time when people are holding their wedding fares. Realistically you want to be installing these things pre-season,” she says.
To give an idea of lead time, she says a standard wedding gazebo that would fit the registrar, the bride and groom and a couple of bridesmaids would normally entail a 6-8 week lead time for the structure to be installed. So if you are looking at cashing in on weddings this summer now is the time to get started.
Crucially she says it is important to look at the kind of ground work that would be necessary to be completed before fitting a gazebo. “Regardless of their type she says no gazebo can simply sit upon a flat grass surface, and it has to have a base. It also has to be flat,” she says. “It is therefore important ahead of time to take into consideration whether there needs to be ground work preparation, whether you are going to need the gazebo company to do a bit of landscaping to provide a flat space or whether you have a suitable area such as a patio where you are planning to stage the wedding.
“You can have gazebos that are installed with their footings down within the ground but many gazebos can be installed straight onto the surface as long as it is not grass and is a solitude cement base or patio surface ands the g can sit on top of that without having to put footings in,” she adds.
Another important consideration when looking at location concerns the time of day the majority of the wedding itself is going to occur and where the sun positioning will be at that time. “The last thing you want is to have a bride and groom squinting into broad sunlight as they try to say their vows and as you try to take pictures of their special day,” she says.
“Little things like that can really make the difference – when you are showing guests around and talking about a facility for weddings if you are there in the afternoon you want them to be able to stand there and think wow this is going to be amazing, not wondering whether they will be squinting or whether it is going to be difficult to see.”
If you are worried about the limitation of investing in something like a gazebo or a lapa for weddings, she stresses that outdoor wooden structures are not just for weddings. “They can be used for absolutely anything. You can use them as bars, for music, for general seating. Gazebos are a covered space so you can have them with furniture. Anything you can do on stage effectively you can do with a gazebo as well” she says.
Gazebos are not necessarily perceived as being the strongest of structures but The Lapa Company only provides wooden gazebos, which she says are absolutely solid and won’t blow away. But then nor would they be dismantled out of season. Wooden gazebos are a permanent structure, which ticks the regulation concerning location: Weddings can only legally take place outside if they take place in a structure with a solid, permanent roof such as a gazebo and notably ceremonies in temporary structures, such as marquees, are not permitted.
Wooden gazebos are very easy to maintain, she says. “There is no real maintenance required beyond giving them a brush out or a dusting. You can either have a rustic traditional look with thatched tiles or you can have cedar shingles, which is a more modern, clean-looking wooden tile. At the start and end of each season just make sure it has had a dust down getting rid of spiders up in the roof. Every few years you might want to give the timber a re-stain, otherwise they are fine as they are,” she says.
The size starts at 2.4m circular gazebo which first just two people, which is probably too small to be of any use for a wedding. A standard gazebo with upright balustrades and a roof can accommodate between four and 12 people in them. As the company’s name suggests it can also provide a lapa – a very large wooden structure that can be made as big as you wish, holding perhaps up to 80 people. This she says is becoming very popular for wedding venues:
“There is one being built right now at a very large wedding venue in Kent, which holds 20 people inside with wooden seating around it to accommodate a further 80 to 100 people.
“We’ve also supplied a luxury B&B which has just had a gazebo fitted for their weddings. They have painted it white, and it holds eight people sitting down – enough for a registrar’s table, registrar, bride and groom and bridesmaids. You can really go as small or as big as you need,” she concludes.
If your B&B can be adapted to host wedding receptions and perhaps even weddings then you just need a little imagination to realise how vast the opportunities are for taking a share of the wedding spend, with 41% of couples having a total budget for the event of between £10,000 and £20,000.
Last November in the Budget Chancellor Phillip Hammond tasked the Law Commission to review the laws around weddings in England and Wales. The project will look to propose options for a simpler and fairer system to give modern couples meaningful choice. The move was welcomed by the Commission, suggesting it concurred with the government’s desire to reduce some of the impracticalities including cost that burdens couples getting married, concluding that the law is failing to meet the needs of modern couples.
The law governing marriages dates from 1836, and the law commission undertaking the review has stated that the regulation of how and where weddings can take place is too restrictive for a modern Britain.
Law Commissioner Professor Nick Hopkins said: “A couple’s wedding day is a profoundly important event in their lives. But the current law does not meet the needs of modern couples.
“Reform of the law would aim to make the law more flexible and give couples greater choice so they can marry in a way that is meaningful to them, whilst also lowering the cost of wedding venues.
“We therefore welcome the Government’s announcement and look forward to continuing our work in this area.”
The announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer highlights that reforms to remove unnecessary restrictions on where a wedding can take place and potentially reduce unnecessary red tape could lower the cost of wedding venues for couples.
The Law Commission agrees that the complex and restrictive rules on wedding venues are in need of reform and has identified a range of questions that would need to be addressed by a full law reform project. It has also suggested four guiding principles that should underpin a revised law of marriage:
- Certainty and simplicity;
- Fairness and equality;
- Protecting the state’s interest; and
- Respecting individuals’ wishes and beliefs.
Weddings can only legally take place outside if they are solemnised in a structure with a solid, permanent roof such as a gazebo. Ceremonies in temporary structures, such as marquees, are not permitted.
Requirements that couples specify the building in which the ceremony is to take place – and restrictions on the consumption of food and drink in the area before and during the event – date from 1837.
The Treasury’s view now is that such anachronistic red tape was pushing up the cost of weddings and putting some people off getting married.
“Relaxing restrictions would make it cheaper and simpler for couples to get married, potentially supporting more people to get married,” it said.
“This review will help the law keep pace with modern Britain while helping people keep the cost of living down.
Wedding Spend Flat
The average UK wedding spend has remained relatively flat year over year at £17,674, however a London wedding costs at least a third more at £24,039.
Rise of the Groom
Grooms now contribute 35% of wedding costs. Three quarters of grooms are heavily involved in planning, taking part or owning decision-making in many different categories.
Couples are using phones daily for planning, primarily venue and supplier research. Reviews, recommendations from websites and venue’s social media are gaining prominence as trusted information sources.
Unique features are making headway in weddings. One quarter of weddings last more than 1 day, half take place on non-Saturdays, and new trends are emerging like midnight snacks, mobile vans and candy carts/tables.
Couples care most about a venue’s visual appeal, price and service. The most popular venue types are country / manor houses and barns, and couples continue to move towards hosting ceremonies at the reception venue versus places of worship
DIY Stays Strong Almost all couples engage in DIY for many aspects of weddings, mainly table seating arrangements, invitations and decor, as well as homemade wedding cakes and their own music playlists.
THE 20 MOST POPULAR WEDDING DATES IN 2018
- Saturday 11 August
- Saturday 4 August
- Saturday 1 September
- Saturday 8 September
- Saturday 16 June
- Saturday 14 July
- Saturday 15 September
- Saturday 2 June
- Saturday 22 September
- Saturday 30 June
- Saturday 18 August
- Saturday 9 June
- Saturday 28 July
- Saturday 21 July
- Saturday 25 August
- Saturday 19 May
- Saturday 23 June
- Saturday 26 May
- Saturday 7 July
- Saturday 29 September
Source: 2019 UK Wedding Report
The Lapa Company’s Top 5 Tips to maintaining your wooden gazebo
Winds can bring with them an accumulation of little leaves, twigs, berries and other garden treasures that can get caught in between the grooves of decking, under seats etc and when you come to shutting up your Gazebo for the winter it’s best to clear these out.
- Freshen up your canvas and cushions
Many gazebos and garden building owners have our colourful canvas panels and bench cushions. Made from high quality, UV resistant canvas, they will benefit from a freshen up each year. Warm soapy water is all that is needed to clean.
If you haven’t added pendant heaters, this is a great time to do this – extending the use of your Gazebo right through the winter period. The design style ensures heat is focused onto the seating areas rather than being dispersed in the air.
Whatever type of roof you have, whether Cape Reed Thatch Tiles or Cedar Shingle Roof Tiles, it’s well worth brushing down the roof at the end of summer to ensure it is free of leaves and looks as pristine as possible. This simple action also enables you to keep your roof in best possible condition.
Lighting can prove a practical and stylish addition to your Gazebo. The most popular way to light your Gazebo is through the addition of lights on your upright posts, or through the addition of fairy lights around the roof beam. Ensure any lighting used is appropriate for outdoor use and installed by a suitably qualified electrician.