Choosing a wedding venue is one of the hardest decisions many couple face in planning their wedding. There are so many factors to take into account but sometimes it’s what the venues do not disclose that can have the biggest influence on the outcome of the wedding experience and not always favourably.
Restrictive Practice is an offence and one I have a separate article about here. It is when a venue insists on using people on their recommended suppliers list and unfortunately the way that some venues carry this practice out can result in a worse experience for couples getting married.
At Gaynes Park in Epping in Essex if a wedding supplier is not on their list but a couple wants to use the services of that supplier this venue will try to dissuade the couple from doing so and instead influence them to book a supplier on their list. I would guess that it is unlikely they inform the couples that the suppliers on their list have paid to appear on it. A true recommended list is where a venue lists suppliers they know deliver a great service and the suppliers are their on merit not because they are paying to be there.
This can get clouded a little as some venues publish an annual or twice yearly brochure and the cost of this is funded by the recommended suppliers. In other-words anyone on the recommended suppliers list has to contribute to the cost of this brochure if they wish to stay on this list.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be added to the recommended suppliers list of many venues but have never been asked to pay to be included and if I was asked I would politely decline as I would prefer to be recommended because of the quality of my work not because I am willing to open my wallet.
So when booking a venue if that venue tries to persuade you to stick with suppliers on their list you may want to ask yourself whether it’s because the venue truly believes they are offering you some of the best suppliers around that are suitable for your requirements or if it’s because the suppliers being recommended are paying to be recommended?
Gaynes Park require their recommended suppliers to pay ten percent from each invoice from any work carried out there back to the venue.It would appear that neither the venue or the suppliers are aware that this is not a legal practice as mentioned in the blog post linked to above.
I did a wedding there in August 2016 and in the lead up to the wedding they put a lot of obstacles in the couples way to put the couple off from booking me as their DJ. They requested PLI (Public Liability Insurance) and PAT (Portable Appliance Test) certificates which some venues do ask for, They asked for a Risk Assessment form which is rarely asked for, however they then went onto ask for a copy of my ProDub license which I’ve never been asked for since first acquiring the license in 2008. They also asked me not to use any sub-woofer speakers which again is something I’ve never been asked and yet have performed at over 2,000 weddings in most of the top venues in and around London and the M25. There was also a form asking many other questions including stating that my speakers had to be placed in a specific position “facing the outside Gather Barn” and the form went onto say “i.e. in the normal designated spot for bands and DJs in the dance area”.
I was able to supply all of the required documents so they agreed that the couple could use my services.
When I was setting up my equipment on the day of the wedding I adhered to their policy of facing the outside Gather Barn which meant that I was positioned in a different room from the dancefloor and the guests. I was also instructed on the day that my lighting was not allowed in the room. All of this was quite puzzling and made little sense because they were just making it harder for me to do my job and create a good atmosphere and so running the risk of their clients not having as good a night as they could have had with out the restrictions. I later found out from a staff member that the line in the form which said :
“Regardless of the band or DJs position will always have their speakers facing the outside Gather Barn i.e. in the normal designated spot for bands and DJs in the dance area” was not strictly true, because I was informed that DJs on their recommended list were able to place their lighting and equipment near to the dancefloor. Suggesting that they apparently deliberately impede the performance of DJs that are not on their list regardless of whether that might negatively impact the bride and grooms day.
A few guests approached me to ask why had I set up in a different room and were baffled! Luckily it ended up being a great night but this was in spite of the venue as they did little to influence it going well which was a shame and in my opinion unnecessary.
There are venues around which do not have their clients best interest at hearts and instead do what is easiest and/or most profitable for them regardless of any negative impact that might have on the day and unfortunately it these kinds of details that are virtually impossible to discover when viewing the venue.
As with most things social proof is often the most reliable indicator of good quality and I would advise that when booking a venue which will have a major impact on the outcome of the day, whenever possible always try to speak with some couples that have had their weddings at the venue and ask them about the experience of dealing with the venue which will give you a far clearer picture than is often visible.
The purpose of this blog post isn’t to dissuade anyone from booking any particular venue but rather leaving people better informed which usually aids in making important decisions. I’d also like to add that I am by no means casting any aspersions on the quality of the suppliers at Gaynes Park. A friend of mine is on their recommended list and he is a superb DJ.
This is the form that I was asked to complete.