I’m thrilled to be introducing you to a brand new voice on the Kelly Chandler Consulting blog.
This is the first in a series I’m really excited about bringing to you, my lovely wedding venue readers. Enter: Eleanor Hopkins. Eleanor is a former team member of both my wedding planning and consulting business and is currently a bride in the midst of planning her own beautiful wedding. Knowing Eleanor well, although she is absolutely unique, she very much typifies the thinking and lifestyle choices of a large proportion of modern brides (and couples) and is THE spot-on target market for a great number of my distinctive venue clients and their spaces. It felt like an obvious opportunity to ask Eleanor to share her experiences as a bride in the planning with you to help you in making your venue’s offering even more spot-on and appealing to her and many other brilliant potential wedding customers like her and her fiancé.
Eleanor will be writing quarterly for the blog over the next year as she plans her wedding and first up she is tackling a subject very close to her heart, that of sustainability and avoiding waste on their wedding day. She offers here many practical and easy to implement tips for you on improving your venue’s environmental impact and how to promote your efforts effectively.
Over to you Eleanor…
Andy and I got engaged in March 2017 in Vienna (the proposal involved a fancy picnic overlooking the Schönbrunn Palace on a very sunny day – I’m a lucky girl!) and we started planning our wedding day in January this year; choosing July 2019 as our month to be wed.
We’ve booked a beautiful Grade II listed manor house in North Devon called Hallsannery House. Our plan is to host a long wedding weekend, arriving on a Wednesday with our wedding on the Saturday, and leaving on Monday. The ceremony is due to take place outside under the portico, with the wedding breakfast in a marquee attached to the side of the house and the evening party inside the house (predominately in the Dining Room). We want it to feel as relaxed as possible and our style is quite simplistic with our focus on the food, drink and music!
We’ve made good progress so far with our catering, photographer, marquee and even my hair & make-up booked – dress shopping is the next task for me this month and we’re also researching DJs at the moment.
My first blog for Kelly Chandler Consulting focuses on something I am particularly passionate about; our environmental impact and minimising waste, more specifically around the use of plastic. And I don’t think it will be just myself and my Fiancé that feel this is in an important part of, not just our daily lives, but in all areas – including our wedding! In fact, Princess Eugenie recently told Vogue;
“My whole house is anti-plastic now – and Jack and I want our wedding to be like that as well” – maybe she overheard me talking about it!
And you can understand why both myself and the Princess have this in common; a wedding is a big event and naturally includes the use of lots of ‘things’ – some disposable, some that will become leftover and some that may be reused. So, Andy and I feel this is a big opportunity to avoid unnecessary waste where possible. We’ve discussed this with our caterer and we’ll be reducing the number of floral arrangements we have (moving them around during the day to make the most of them). We’re also considering what we can do for the evening bar as glass won’t be allowed and so the obvious go-to is plastic – not ideal!
We are very lucky in the fact that our venue is a recycling pro and this was obvious during our first visit; we loved the whole venue anyway but this really did make it a clear winner. I think all venues should start (if they aren’t already) to think “How can we generally be more environmentally-friendly as a wedding venue business?” and also “How can we support couples who would like to have a ‘minimal waste’ wedding and suggest ways to help them do this?” – I really do believe that venues will have an advantage over others if they do this. Millennial couples really do care about the environment and I know that mindsets are shifting and “green” venues will be so much more attractive to them – this could be the difference between securing a booking or not!
Now, onto some of the things I would love (and almost expect) to see as a bride whilst venue hunting:
- Use of online e-contracts, T&Cs documents and brochures – this will save in printing costs, reduces your use of paper and makes the whole process quicker for everyone.
- Featuring suppliers within your ‘recommended’ list that are local (reduces journey distance), can supply a range of hire items/services (reduces the number of deliveries and makes it easier for couples/planners to organise) and/or offer ‘green’ packages (I’ve seen a DJ that offers an entertainment service that uses less power than normal equipment which really appeals to me).
- Introduce as much recycling as possible – my venue does this fantastically well which I’m really pleased with.
- Promoting public transport or offer a shuttle bus service from nearby stations/towns if guests are staying at your venue – this reduces the number of taxis that could be driving guests back and forth!
And if catering is in-house:
- Source drinks stored in glass bottles rather than plastic (or make up jugs of soft drinks and cocktails).
- Offering to (elegantly) wrap cake, cheese etc leftover so guests can take away – acts like an extra favour and means waste is minimal!
- Provide straws (preferably paper ones) on request – either by the couple beforehand or serve drinks without straws and give them to guests who ask for one.
- If glassware is not permitted for certain areas / times (e.g. around dancefloor), source sturdy (and sophisticated) paper alternatives or easily recyclable plastic glasses.
- Source produce locally from nearby suppliers – it’s great to support business in your area and it means transportation doesn’t take long!
- Invest a little extra time with the couple to understand portion size requirements (e.g. do they think the portions can be modest or need to be bigger? If they can be smaller, food waste could be reduced which would also save money!).
And some suggestions of how you, as a venue, can help a couple conscious of the impact their wedding day may have on the environment:
- Offer to recycle any leftover stationery that the couple don’t need to keep.
- Encourage relocation of floral arrangements from one space to another (e.g. from wedding breakfast area to party room or Bridesmaid bouquets displayed on the cake table).
- Suggest turning large floral arrangements into smaller bunches at the end of the evening for guests to take away.
- Recommend a guest transport supplier (e.g. bus or coach) to reduce the number of taxis used.
- Promote the use of candles/lanterns instead of electric lighting.
- Recommend local suppliers that your couple can hire decorations from (opposed to them being purchased and leftover at the end).
- Discuss the most efficient heating/cooling options if these may be needed (e.g. avoiding air conditioning set up in an area near to a door that will be open to the outside).
If you do take steps to be greener, then shout about it! Potential couples won’t know you have worked hard to reduce your impact on the environment unless you tell them. So, add a page on your website that explains this, post about it on your social media (why not make it interactive and ask your followers to tell you what they’d like to see you doing?), include it in your online (only!) brochure and tell them about it during show-rounds. Be passionate about the steps you take to reduce your impact on the environment and offer to work with the couple to reduce theirs on their big day; your couple will thank you and so will the earth!
PHOTO CREDITS: Andy & Ellie – Photographer: Joe Stotesbury // Hallsannery House – Kate & Tom’s // Recycling Barrel – Style Me Pretty // Paper Straws – Esquire // Recycling Bins – Something Hired // Candle Decorations – Wedding Forward // Contract – Raw Pixel via Unsplash // Glass Bottles – Christian Gertenbach via Unsplash // Wedding Breakfast – Caper & Berry // Stationery – Emily & Jo // Guest Transport – The Vintage Bus Company // Flowers – Wildabout