Venue open houses can be fantastic opportunities. Undecided couples get a physical/visual feel for their wedding as the venue fills with people and excitement. It’s also an honor to be invited to attend as a recommended vendor.

Venue open houses can be as different as the venues themselves. Venues and vendors win when they look after each other’s best interests.

Here are a few tips to experience a positive and effective open house.


1. Always confirm the date, time, location, set-up, tear-down, and set-up details (table size, location, etc.).

2. Avoid being late by checking road traffic conditions, planning alternative routes and leaving plenty early.

3. Have a contact number at the venue to call if you become detained or are arriving late. Consider offering to relinquish the open house to avoid awkwardly setting up when guests are present. The venue can easily use the table elsewhere or just remove it.

4. Bring hand lotion, hand sanitizer, tissues and any other personal items you might need. Keep personal items hidden under your display until needed. If food will not be provided for vendors, bring a snack or energy bar and your own water. Gum chewing is not recommended.

5. Always dress your best. Ask the venue if the attire will be casual (jeans), resort casual (no jeans) or should you dress as though you are working at a wedding.

6. When setting up, consider the venue’s foot traffic expectations. Big crowds may require you to stand behind your table so as to not block foot traffic. If you expect light foot traffic, set up so you are standing in the traffic path to shake hands and be as personable as possible.

7. Most foot traffic goes in one direction or the other. Always invite the guests to meet the vendor at the next table, i.e., “Be sure to meet Tom’s Photography at the next table. He really knows this venue.” It gives a comforting impression of compatibility and credibility.

8. Thank the owner, manager or person in charge. Ingratitude is never ignored.


1. Invite the best vendors. It confuses couples if each vendor is not a recognized leader in their field. Helping new or struggling vendors might be admirable, but it can also backfire.

2. Explain the food and drink policy of the open house. If you do not want to see vendors eating randomly at their station, tell them. Planning to feed the vendors, perhaps before or at the conclusion of the open house? Let them know in advance.

3. The person in charge should stop by every vendor, shake hands and say “thank you.” Take time to listen to any questions or comments. To do so verbally confirms the value of the relationship.

4. Meeting people can be awkward. If you have a new employee, consider getting name badges immediately and personally introduce them to the vendors in a friendly way. Don’t expect either of them to take the first step when you are providing the hospitality.

5. Set standards for open house attire. If you don’t, your vendors will. Insist on wedding day attire if you want everyone looking their best. If you prefer not to see vendors in jeans, tank tops or open-toed shoes, say so. The vendors will appreciate it.

6. Are you periodically annoyed by insects or varmints? Do you have any security or infrastructure issues? Don’t be embarrassed to tell your vendors. They can be prepared and will gladly run interference if anything is noticed by guests.

7. Give open house attendees a list of the vendors they are meeting. You can even provide a property map identifying each vendor’s location on the property or in a room.

8. After the open house, send out an “Open House Survey” to the vendors to find out any issues or opportunities for improvement.

Open houses can be fantastic opportunities as undecided couples get a physical/visual feel for their wedding venue. Venues and vendors win when they look after each other’s best interests.

By Phillip Waring
Arizona Ministers