Wedding market for pubs 'booming'

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Booming market: hosting weddings fun and worthwhile for pubs but cost effectiveness and preparation are key (Credit: Getty/coolnina)
Booming market: hosting weddings fun and worthwhile for pubs but cost effectiveness and preparation are key (Credit: Getty/coolnina)

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“Booming” wedding market provides pubs an opportunity to “showcase” their venue while offering variety to staff, according to operators from the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list.

With couples spending in excess of £17,000 on their special day, according to a 2021 survey of 2,000 people by​, investing in this service is “wholly worth it” for pubs to bring in extra revenue and build lasting relationships with consumers.

Chef and owner of the Loch and Tyne​ pub in Old Windsor, Berkshire, which is number 27 on the list​, Adam Handling said: “You could be looking at around £1,000 for hire fees of furniture and linen, however being clever with the space reduces the need to spend too much cash.

“Any small amount of revenue needed as investment is wholly worth it and is compensated in the spend per head charged.

“Not only does it bring extra revenue on quieter days, but weddings are also a great showcase of your business to a concise demographic.

“[Weddings​] provide the perfect opportunity to build a reputation in a market that is always booming and allow the team to build lasting relationships with local people or new guests.”

Handling advised pubs to start by curating basic weddings that can be “easily digested” by couples and give an understanding of what the venue can offer, the space and costs which can be adapted and tweaked to suit.

Fun and worthwhile 

He said: “Know every detail about your space and ensure you and your team are able to answer any questions which the couple may have.

“This will highlight what extra things your pub may need and help when weighing up costings and whether hosting weddings would be a viable option for your business.”

According to manager of the Three Hills​ in Bartlow, Cambridgeshire (number 43 on the list), Emma Harrison, weddings provide staff the opportunity to do something “fun” and different.

She said: “Hosting weddings is a fun and very worthwhile thing to do.

“If you do your sums correctly, are prepared to really invest in the process, and focus on what you do best, providing excellent food and great service, you cannot go too wrong.”

However, Harrison explained offering this service takes a lot of preparation, and closure of the pub for events like weddings, causing a loss of regular trade, as well as ensuring staff have the commitment and dedication required, can pose challenges operators need to be prepared for.

She said: “Weddings can be very worthwhile for a gastropub, the higher numbers can seem very attractive, but you do need to think carefully about the costs involved, particularly if you have to close your business for other guests.

Get the price right 

“If you are offering exclusive use to your wedding couple, the cost of this lost business needs to be factored in. You may want to charge an exclusive use fee to cover this and will also want to consider staffing.

“Weddings require a higher ratio of staff to guests, and the day is typically longer than your average shift. Depending on the timing of the wedding, you may need to limit evening service the day before, to allow the kitchen enough time to prepare.”

Furthermore, Harrison stated while the best thing about being part of an occasion like weddings is seeing the whole thing come to fruition and the joy on couples faces as they dance the night away, they are demanding.

The biggest challenge for the Three Hills, which hosts around eight weddings a year, was quoting accurately and, while it can be tempting just to get the business in, pubs should avoid “low balling” as operators could face having made little profit for a lot of effort.  

She added: “Hosting weddings is demanding, and the price should reflect this. Work out a floor for what you are prepared to ‘get out of bed’ for and stick to it.

“The rapid increase in the cost of doing business​ has made this even more important.

“Remember - sales are vanity, profit is sanity - there is absolutely no point in hosting weddings unless you can get the price right.”

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