13 Tips To Launch a Successful Pop-Up Wedding with Gary & Kim Evans
Have you ever struggled to really track the return on investment (ROI) from coordinating a styled shoot? Sure, you made it into a few blogs, but did you really get anything concrete from all that effort? How about a prime wedding date in your calendar that just didn’t book? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to fill that with a killer sales initiative?
Those are the main reasons we’ve developed our Pop-Up Weddings. We’re marrying real couples, back to back, in one ceremony space (think themed, styled shoot), providing an intimate wedding with a great package, and we average $20,000 per Pop-Up day.
Here’s our 13 tips that you need to know if you’re interested in launching your own Pop-Up Wedding program:
1. VENDOR PARTNERSHIPS
We love working with a consistent team that we know are reliable and will do an amazing job for us. Get your team excited about this concept, and work with vendors who really buy into the idea. Just like with a styled shoot, you’re going to share images from the day that they can use to build their portfolios, and the social media reach on a Pop-Up Wedding is killer. It’s a really fun, unique idea that people gravitate toward and love to share. Leverage what you’re providing. We do a lot of advertising for our Pop-Ups, especially on social media, including vendor features and vendor/sponsor boards at the event itself. Negotiate with each vendor partner what works best for both your and their business. If there’s a hard cost like florals, we like to cover it, especially as we need seven bouquets/boutonnieres in addition to any ceremony florals.
2. GUEST COUNT
This has a bit to do with the location you choose as well. It needs to be small enough to provide an intimate experience. If it’s too big, your guests will feel lost. Too small, and you can’t keep everything in one area (don’t forget, you lose precious time relocating wedding guests). Our packages include 20 guests, but if there’s room, we can do up to 40. You do not want to get bigger than that. Over 40 wedding guests can be problematic to shift and move along following their time slot.
3. PACKAGE INCLUSIONS
We keep it simple. We don’t want to include anything that could delay our timeline (which is tight—we do seven weddings per day), so we steer clear of any hair/makeup, gowns, getting ready on site, etc. Because we need absolute reliability on timing, we stick to PDF invitations, an officiant, a photographer, a bouquet/boutonniere, music, a toast/hors d’oeuvres, and décor. They do them and show up ready to get married. We do the rest.
We always look for cool, quirky, different venues that perhaps a couple would not have considered it possible to get married in. We’ve done a brewery, boutique hotel, outdoor courtyard, cool pub, museum, etc. The cooler/more personality the venue has, the less you have to invest to make it so. Over 95 percent of our couples have continued their party somewhere else—we love when there’s lots of other options for space onsite or nearby to make their life easier. You can also leverage the potential increase in the bookings (booking an additional brunch, cocktail reception, dinner, etc.) with your venue to get a pretty sweet deal.
5. FOMO (FEAR OF MISSING OUT)
Use your marketing channels to inspire FOMO in your potential couples. We collect a mailing list all year round and hype up a presale exclusive to the mailing list when a new date is going to be announced. This drives both more mailing list sign-ups and an increase in the pace of bookings. We’ve sold out an entire day of weddings in less than five minutes. Selling out quickly drives the pace for the next release and also saves money in advertising—win-win.
We use Survey Monkey, which is free, to send out surveys to our list. We also have the survey on our website and get ongoing survey responses through there. We use 17hats for all of our client communication, including a lead form once a date goes on sale. We have our couples choose their top-three times—this can help you cluster bookings together if you’re not sure if you’ll sell out a date completely, and you can also track the time that the requests were submitted. We invoice, contract, send questionnaires and reminders, and set up previews, all through this system. Efficiency is key, especially when dealing with so many details.
7. GIVE THEM A SAY
Every few months, we survey our mailing list to see what they want. This can be invaluable information that helps you choose what times of year will be the most popular, explore ideas for themes, test out a new date for interest, etc. We’ve gotten plenty of ideas from our mailing list, including the suggestion for a Pop-Up Wedding on February 29 (Leap Day), which has already sold out.
8. OFFER THEM MORE
Let me clarify—if you’re not a florist, don’t offer upsells on bouquets. You’ll get bogged down with details that don’t really have anything to do with you. Keep it simple. We currently offer three different packages to upsell before the day. And you’d better believe they all come in for a wedding preview IPS appointment. We have a variety of creative print packages for each initial package that they could have booked. It’s great to offer additional options, and they really appreciate it. It’s also a great opportunity to chat about what they loved about your Pop-Up Wedding and get invaluable feedback.
9. BE ORGANIZED AND INFORMATIVE
When managing so many details for one day, it’s really important to be organized and simplify where you can. We provide lots of information to our couples at various points through the process to answer any potential questions, tell them what’s coming next, and set expectations. In total (unless there’s the odd question), we talk on the phone with each couple for 10 minutes on average, just to touch base a week or so before their day. My favorite is our “So you booked a Pop-Up Wedding” guide, which we personalize and send them (as a PDF) after they book. It’s filled with reminders of all the information they need, including the package they chose (with a push to upgrade to the higher package), their timeline (including the finish time for their slot), what’s next, and recommendations for partners if there’s anything else they need.
10. BRAND IT
If this concept doesn’t fit with your brand, give it a brand all its own. Know who you’re talking to and who would be interested in this offer. Our Pop-Up Wedding couple is a bold, fun and adventurous couple who aren’t interested in a traditional wedding. They put their trust in our design and overall concepts. Our branding and messaging need to reflect that. Everything from logo, to the photos we choose, to promos and copy are consistent to build trust with our couples.
11. TEST THE WATERS AND THE CONCEPT
When we first started, we offered a one-time-only promotion with three slots for only $600 each. This barely covered our costs, but we needed to really get the idea out there and drive interest. This gave us a chance to get promo material, prove the concept and interest, build a mailing list, and get our feet wet. We had two hours between start times to give us a buffer if we needed it and in case anything went wrong. Doing a smaller first Pop-Up gave us the confidence we needed to push the concept farther than we ever thought possible.
12. INSPIRE, BUT MAINTAIN CONTROL
Before the Pop-Up, our couples see an inspiration board of the overall concept, and they find out what the venue is. That’s it. We don’t overcommit to fine details, so we have the flexibility to pivot if needed. It’s also part of the concept/brand. It’s a surprise! What the bouquet will look like? Surprise! What the toast will be? Surprise! What the hors d’oeuvres will be? Surprise! What type of décor? Surprise! Couples hand over their trust and put it into our hands, which greatly reduces the amount of questions and customization that we need to deal with and keeps our details really streamlined.
We shoot from the start of the ceremony, straight through a 20-minute cocktail hour, where we also squeeze in any requested family shots, and end with a 30-minute couples session. Make sure that you’ve scouted a route that you can manage in those 30 minutes that are allotted. We also always make sure that there is an assistant accompanying the photographer to fluff dress, shift positions, carry any equipment, and most importantly keep the time (discreetly of course). This is a speed round for creativity and posing, so make sure you bring your A-game. You’ll also need to be ready for a variety of lighting conditions, as you are shooting in all different times of the day—from morning to dusk, or even dark. Some key points are: be efficient, don’t overshoot, and take advantage of any downtime that’s provided to hydrate and have a break. It is a long day—a marathon, not a sprint.
Interested in hearing more about Pop-Up Weddings? See you at ShutterFest!