Willunga wedding guru among Pitchfest finalists

By Melissa Keogh

Taking the stress out of a bride and groom’s big day is no easy feat, but one Fleurieu woman is hoping to ease the process before it begins.

Willunga’s Melissa Little is launching an online event planning tool, VENYU, which will help brides carry out the most expensive part of wedding planning – selecting a venue.

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The online decision-making tool, which allows loved up couples to search for available wedding venues across the Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island, has received the nod from the 2017 Australia Post Regional Pitchfest.

Regional Pitchfest seeks the country’s top innovators and entrepreneurs and will award the winners with cash prizes to help launch their ventures.

Melissa is one of five South Australian finalists who will head to the State finals in McLaren Vale on July 28.

If successful, she will head to the nationals in Wagga Wagga in August.

The expert event planner says she is “really proud” to be recognised among the cohort of regional thinkers and innovators.

Willunga's Melissa Little is a Regional Pitchfest finalist.

Willunga’s Melissa Little is a Regional Pitchfest finalist.

The idea of VENYU sparked two years ago when Melissa’s sister was forced to find an alternate wedding venue after being double booked three weeks before the big day.

“We rang 90-odd venues … nothing was suitable,” Melissa says.

“It highlighted to me that it would be so simple to just jump online.”

From the dilemma sprouted the start-up venture, which Melissa says will allow users to shortlist suitable venues using search refinements “not currently offered by any other site”.

The VENYU concept is similar to property and accommodation sites realestate.com and Airbnb and will officially launch by the end of July.

“Usually 50% of a wedding budget is spent on the venue – it’s the most expensive component and the first decision made,” Melissa says.

“Some venues are booked out two years in advance (and) small venues don’t often market themselves.

“There are some beautiful small venues out there.”

South Australian landscapes offer the best wedding spaces.

South Australian landscapes offer the best wedding spaces.

Melissa’s advice for the bride-to-be is to look for unique and unsuspecting locations.

“It’s all about having it somewhere that your friends haven’t seen before,” she says.

Check out the other Regional Pitchfest South Australian finalists here.

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