The wedding market is a $50-billion industry. The duration of the average engagement in the US is 15 months, and during this period, couples spend $4 billion on furniture, $3 billion on house wares, $400 million on tableware, and $19 billion on presents at wedding gift registries.
You can see how huge the market is. It’s highly profitable and is an evergreen market to start a business in. So, if you’ve decided to set up a wedding barn, you couldn’t have made a better decision. However, there are some things you need to be aware of.
Barns are beautiful places to host weddings. They’re unique, they’re special, but setting up one is far from what I’d call easy.
You’ll need certain equipment to farm the large expanse of land where your wedding barn will be set up.
This, in addition to the legal requirements and certain laws you have to abide by can skyrocket the cost of getting your barn ready for beautiful weddings. You’ll also need to make important decisions, such as deciding whether to include a full-service kitchen or leave it off in favor of using catering.
Nevertheless, it’s not complicated. You just need to keep a few key things in mind.
I would summarize this consideration in one sentence by saying “wedding barns aren’t cheap.” Of course, the size of the barn and facilities you intend to add to it will determine how much it will cost to a large extent (add compliance with fire, building, and health codes to that as well).
I had to dig a well for water, and it cost me a few thousands of dollars to get it done. Running power lines in the area, obtaining permits, code compliance (such as sprinkler systems and ADA compliant bathrooms), and marketing or advertising costs are just some of the other expensive things that raise the cost of setting up a wedding barn.
Spend as much as you need to spend to create a standard barn—or an exceptional one. But, remember, the better the barn, the more you can charge for it. So, a bigger investment will produce bigger profits in the long run as long as your business is successful.
Zoning codes and permitting processes can be difficult to understand, but that’s not all. They vary from city to town, so it’s advisable to familiarize yourself with the regulations in your chosen location so you won’t run into any problems.
I built my barn in an unincorporated area so I didn’t have to worry about zoning, but yours may be different, so be sure to check with your local authorities. You don’t want any legal issues disrupting your business in the future.
New or Old Barn
You already have a barn, so what? Don’t think you can just open it up for weddings and start charging thousands for it. Using a barn as a wedding venue is not the same as using it for agritourism activities.
The rules are different. Structural, fire, health, environmental, and accessibility considerations must be factored into your plans. For example, your barn should be large enough to accommodate a few hundred guests.
Therefore, be sure to inspect your barn and ensure it’s up to the standard for wedding venues. If it’s not, you may need to retrofit it, build a barn in a different location, etc.
Hiring an expert can make your life easier, particularly with obtaining permits from local zoning boards. If you want to do it all yourself, that’s fine, but don’t expect to breeze through it like it’s nothing unless you’ve been through a similar process before or are knowledgeable about it.
Rules and Contracts
This is for your clients and guests. Let them know what is acceptable and what isn’t and have them sign a contract in agreement. For example, regarding alcohol usage, you could state in the contract that you have the right to expel any guest that misbehaves as a result of drinking too much alcohol. That’s just one example. You decide what you’ll allow and what you won’t.
Over to You
Wedding barns are profitable sources of income and you can spend as much or as little money as you want in setting one up. The tips above will make the process easier, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. If you can, hire an expert to help you. It’ll be money well spent.