It’s a tempting headline isn’t it – winning your wedding!
For some couples, it’s fair to say that winning a wedding would be a dream come true for them, enabling them to have a wedding that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford.
However, if you’re currently planning your wedding, and considering entering any competitions to “win your wedding”, whilst it can save you a lot of money, there are lots of compromises you’ll have to make.
As a bit of background: I spent many years working in commercial radio, so have seen first hand how these “win a wedding” competitions work.
Generally there will be a front “sponsor”, usually the venue, who will be running the competition (and often paying lots of money to do so) to promote their venue. The reason for doing this type of competition is to sell more weddings. The “giveaway” is a vehicle to run a promotion rather than straight advertising. Giving away this wedding will be a significant cost to them, so your day won’t be a priority to them. Don’t expect them to push the boat out on the day!
Because the wedding is being given away, you’ll usually give provided with a date that your wedding is happening (or, if you’re lucky, a limited selection of dates). These are certainly not going to be “peak season” dates – in fact you’ll be lucky if it’s on a Saturday. There will be a lot of compromise made with the date of your wedding.
You’ll likely have very few options available for your wedding. The prize will be a set package, with a set menu and most of the day already planned for you. If you want to make any changes, expect them to make a charge. They’ll be keen to try and “up sell” you as much as possible to reduce their “losses” on the giveaway. Don’t be surprised to find them trying to sell you a better wedding breakfast menu or better wine.
The promotion will usually attract a number of suppliers who will contribute to the overall wedding package with their services. This may include a dress, grooms outfit, flowers, decorations, cake etc. Again, this suppliers are giving away their goods and services for free in return for advertising. Again, expect options to be limited – you’ll literally get what they provide – or, as before, expect to pay extra for any changes you want.
The package will be limited to a certain number of guests. The venue will be keen for you to add more, as again, they can recover some of their losses by charging you the full price “per head” for additional guests.
This cannot be overlooked. Your suppliers are not getting paid for this day of work. They won’t be as enthusiastic as a normal wedding that they are getting paid for. Expect them to provide the bare minimum. By the time your wedding comes around, the actual promotion they were involved with is long finished, so they don’t really have anything to gain by providing exceptional service. In many cases, the suppliers would have received minimal promotion from the advertising, and might not have made any sales from it, meaning they’ll be even less enthusiastic.
Look closely at what is provided in the prize. Often, entertainment is missed, as are other key aspects of the wedding, which you’ll still need to pay for. These extra costs can soon mount up.
Go in to a competition with your eyes open. Be aware that each supplier will be providing their most basic service, and will be keen to upsell you to their “normal” service. And regardless of whether you upgrade or not, they’ll still effectively be working for free, so their enthusiasm will be low for your wedding.
If you can accept the lack of flexibility and control you’ll get over your wedding, and are desperate to keep costs down, then a wedding competition is for you. If you have a great back-story as to why you can’t afford your own wedding, then it works well for the promotion.
But if you can afford to pay for your own wedding, and were simply looking to save a few pounds, be very aware of the compromises you’re making to achieve this.