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Unique Ribble Valley partnership hailed a success

Wedding fair Published Thursday, 29 June 2017

A unique tourism programme, initiated by Ribble Valley Borough Council, is celebrating its third anniversary and has been hailed a success by its members during a period of significant economic growth

The Ribble Valley Wedding Partnership, comprising licenced wedding venues and suppliers, is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, where venues work together, with the local authority, to develop a brand based on a reputation of ‘the perfect place to get married’.

Stuart Carefoot, chairman of Ribble Valley Borough Council’s community services committee, said: “Weddings have become big business and many venues are recording healthy increases in bookings throughout the year and on many days of the week, as opposed to just weekends. The economic value of weddings in Ribble Valley spreads way beyond that of the actual wedding venue and into the wider economy, through shopping, wedding suppliers, accommodation and local dining.”

The group is coordinated by Tom Pridmore, the council’s Tourism and Events officer, who added: “Weddings have become a powerful tool in stimulating the visitor economy, as they not only provide a significant number of first time visitors to stay in the area, but evidence also suggests that many such visits are converting to repeat visitors. Having enjoyed their time, experiencing the fantastic hospitality, great countryside and amazing dining experiences, wedding guests are returning for independent holidays.”

The success of the group can be attributed to a number of factors, firstly, the strong brand identity of Ribble Valley, a place with great landscapes and a reputation for quality. Next, a local authority committed to partnership working.

The group has recognised that by working together, any wedding located in Ribble Valley could potentially benefit any partner, whether that be through dining experiences or overspill accommodation, and that working collaboratively has great potential. Finally, every wedding venue in the partnership is distinctly different; therefore the options available to customers are very wide from castles to abbeys and country house hotels to barns. And whilst each is unique, they share values of quality and outstanding customer service, both characteristic of this locality.  

In the three years since its first meeting, the group has launched a new website, hosted visits by specialist wedding journalists, and attended four national wedding fairs. It has organised the first dedicated Ribble Valley wedding fair, as well as hosting joint open wedding evenings, called ‘One night in heaven’ enabling prospective customers to make the most of their time and be able to visit several venues in one visit.

To help with promotions, the group has produced a high quality publication, which is particularly useful to potential customers, as it offers a one stop guide to Ribble Valley wedding venues. As far as the group are aware, there is nowhere else in Great Britain where this level of collaborative working has been achieved, with competing venues working so closely together.

One of the partner venues is Gibbon Bridge Hotel and owner Janet Simpson said “It has been exciting and rewarding to be involved with Ribble Valley Heaven from the start. We are particularly enjoying working with others from within the wedding industry in promoting not only our own venue but others, and highlighting everything that the Ribble Valley has to offer.”

Wendy Hope, representing another of the partner venues, Stanley House Hotel and Spa, added, ‘Here in the Ribble Valley, not only is there a stunning range of beautiful wedding venues, but also experienced people dedicated to ensuring that every wedding is memorable and unique’.

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