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I Do or Do Not Want to Host Weddings

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Country Girl

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We are contemplating hosting smaller sized (50 people or less) weddings here on a regular basis during the summer and early fall. However, we are limited to outdoor weddings only as we do not have one room large enough for 50. However we do have a beautiful yard with an incredible view of a lake and mountains and it is the perfect spot to hold weddings. We receive inquiries on a weekly basis so we know there is a need in this area for outdoor weddings. Is there anyone on this forum that can help me with the pros and cons (especially regarding weather related issues and wear and tear to the property)? We would not be serving the food. Basically we would be providing the venue, including the tent, tables, chairs, and porta potties (nice ones, not the ones you see in construction sites). The guests would not have access to the house. We would require that the guests use only the caterers we approve. Also, if you are in the same situation where you’re only providing the venue how much do you charge? How many hours do you allow? Do you allow a DJ? Do you get a revenue percentage from the florist, photographer, caterer, DJ, etc. if you recommended them? Is there a standard contract you use? Is there anything I am missing? Thanks so much for any input.
 

EmptyNest

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I think there has been much talk here about weddings if you do a search you may find all the info you are asking about. My first comment to you however would be...what does your zoning allow? Is it even permitted? Check your county zoning dept before you do any more thinking. Also check with your insurance agent because for sure you are going to need more liability insurance if you are able to do this.
We have an incredible view and a lovely pergola..perfect for a wedding and we have had folks ask us about holding weddings. We would never even consider it. Too much of a hassle and if weather gets bad ....even a tent is not a great shelter.
HEre is my friends' site..she does weddings and this will give you lots of info to think about.
 

Morticia

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I can't help with any of the details because we don't do this. Mostly because we're in a similar situation with no indoor space for inclement weather. I will ask these questions for your consideration:
  • How will this impact the B&B guests who are not part of the wedding? Or, will you require that the wedding book all the guest rooms as well?
  • How will you handle the overnight guests' brekkie the morning of the wedding when everyone is knocking on the door to make deliveries and set up the venue?
  • If the wedding is/ is not required to book all of the rooms, how will you keep all 50 of the wedding guests from tramping thru your house to find a 'real' bathroom? (Yes, those wedding porta potties are nice, but they are OUTSIDE and many guests will not use them.)
  • You are most definitely (I would guess) going to have to provide at least one room for the bride to dress in, or at least to hang out in before the wedding starts. Now, the door is open for the other 50 guests.
  • How will you handle the photog traipsing everywhere for a 'better' shot?
  • Ditto handling the hair & makeup stylists?
  • Ditto making room for the flowers, etc in advance?
  • Make friends with a tent company and REQUIRE a tent be ordered for the date so you are not scrambling to provide a venue in the pouring rain.
  • Make friends with the caterers and be sure they are comfortable in your space and that they will leave it better than they found it.
  • Update your insurance policy to cover anything and everything.
  • Find out from your town if there are noise ordinances.
  • Keep in mind most weddings (here anyway) START at 4 PM.
It sounds like you are talking about 2 different things...being the 'wedding' venue and being the 'reception' venue. If you have food and a DJ, this is a reception. If it's just for the wedding ceremony and they all leave afterwards to go somewhere else for the entertainment, I'd budget 3 hours for setup, event, cleanup. And they should pay for the whole 3 hours even if they're there for 15 minutes. You could do a 'package' for them where you handle everything- the tents, the chairs, the toilets, the setup, cleanup, the acceptance of delivered items and a room for the bride, preferably near the outside to keep everyone OUT of your house because everyone will want to 'help' the bride.
Not unacceptable to charge $1500 for that, meaning your time and your space. Because you will EARN it just in the TIME this takes before they even book! And in 'cat-herding' in the days leading up to the ceremony and the day of as well. THEN add on the cost of the rentals. (It is not uncommon for indoor rentals, sans food, to go upwards of $10k around here.)
You're providing a service by allowing the bride to focus on all the other stuff knowing her wedding ceremony site is completely taken care of. You're worth the money!
 

birdwatcher

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When we had our Inn we contemplated the wedding senario, but like you we could only do it outside although they would have access to the Guest House only the only problem for us was parking and if there was a wedding we would definantely have the clause of renting the whole Inn so that we wouldn't have other guests to take care of.
As I heard on this forum, unless you have the patience of a saint-weddings are something for a special Innkeeper. They either bring the "best" guests or the "PIA" guests. But you are considering doing it all outdoors? That is a big chance to take. Would the headache be worth the $$$?
Just my two cents.
 

Copperhead

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Edited to remove unneeded quote.
We do weddings/receptions here, anything from a small eplopement to 100 max. For receptions 40 or under we are able to do inside or out, larger events are outdoors only and we do not do those during our hot summer or colder winter months even if begged and pleaded with.
First (as others mentioned) check your zoning, ins. etc. Since you mentioned a DJ, ask about your city/county noice ordiance and requirements concerning gatherings. (The law here states we must have a officer on duty for a gathering of 75 or more. I must pay for a min. service of 4 hrs @ currently $30hr.)
Weather is a factor: While we do outdoor events, we have a covered pavilion with a floor which provides plenty of space (could seat 150) so if there is a hard rain, they still will not get wet. If you are using tents, make sure the tent company has the sides and floor that can be added to the rental if it is predicted to rain. Since you mentioned DJ, be certain to include a rental dance floor.
CATERING & CAKE: After a trial and a learning curve, we only do wedding/reception packages. I have a caterer (and a back up) and a bakery that I use exclusively. NO exceptions....I have a few horror stories that would make even the most trained wedding corrdinator go ballistic. I will not bore you with details but will say that I had more than once - they hired a caterer or bakery I approved, then later canceled and hired a friend (no experience, no license). Each time I was not made aware of the change until a few days prior when I called the caterer to arrange set up etc. Of course the owner (the caterer) would have called me if they had known, but each time it was an employee that took the cancellation so it was gone unnoticed. Another REASON for this: While the Brides/Grooms families may know where they purchased the food, drinks, cake etc.... the guest DO NOT - they are under the impression that the facility provided these things. If the food is bad or there is not enough, the cake is a flop, etc.. it is a reflection on YOU and YOUR B&B.
Out door restrooms: We installed our own, nicely built and very well maintained outdoor restrooms (they are like the nice portable restrooms). Some of the female guests REFUSE to use them - flatly! We do have a general use bathroom, and just had to go ahead and open it up to their use. Again, another reflection on your place!
Rooms: We use to require rental of all guestrooms with the wedding, now we just block them off for the night, and include our nicest room for their honeymoon night. Another is used for the bridal dressing area. (all our rooms are on the 2nd floor and we rope off the stairs) We did this because it was easier on US, we do not have staff for the B&B (we hire wedding staff) and trying to clean the rooms, prepare for the wedding, tend to the brides needs etc. is far more than we can do in one day, plus then getting up to prepare breakfast for a full house is just TOO much. If you have staff, you may consider the room rental as a requirement. I would not have NON-wedding guests be overnight guests, they would feel out of place and would not experience your B&B as you normally describe it. NOTE: having the rooms required for rent also opens the house to be trampled in by others because there are always those that just want to 'take a peek - I am sure you won't mind'.
Time allowed: I allow 30 minutes for the wedding, and 3 hours for the reception. My weddings must conclude (if outdoors) by 10PM. I also allow a 30 minute rehearsal time the day/night before. (side note: stress only Bridal party, parents ONLY for rehearsal or everyone and their brother will come and add their 2 cents....) As stated you will also need time prior /after for set up/breakdown.
You did not mention this but what about liquor? A lot of people what it at their reception. If you do not have a license, check the law to see if they can hire someone to come in to handle this that has one. This is what we do. Our packages are NON-Alcoholic. If they want to hire someone, we have a list, they must book it themselves. I also have the bridal family sign a seperate agreement of Indemnification as well as their contract. NOTE: if anyone other than one of my approved bar companies would come to set up, they would be turned away and the reception would be soft drinks & tea only. This is stated FIRMLY to them. It is funny, I never had anyone try to skirt this policy, yet they did with the food...you can tell where their priorities lie! Also, I always hire (and add to their bill) a security officer if alcohol is going to be present.
Finder's fees: I do not expect one, nor do I give one. I would rather the friendly word of mouth advertising exchange. This is my ethics talking. I prefer someone referring my business because it is a nice place, not because they will get a monetary thank you. I do have a couple of photographers that I recommend and they have done some really nice things for me as a thank you (as well as the word of mouth).
Music: DJ's - personally I hate them, even the most professional! They always are requiring more electricity than they state when we discuss the need. They do not listen to US about how loud they can play. (they think because it is outside, the sky is the limit) I would prefer a small band over a DJ, don't know why but never had a problem with a band. MY preference is to have canned music. We have a surround sound system and we discuss the music choices with the bridal party. They can either select from our selection OR they can bring their own CD with the following restrictions: require the music to be played in the order they record it, and that there is NO vulgar music played (this is for any music - DJ, band or CD). I just remind them that a wedding is an elegent event, not a party.
Cost: This is something only you can decide. Things to place on your detailed list: Costs of all rentals, room revenue loss (or included), YOUR time - once they book to arrange rentals etc.; day before for deliveries, set up, rehearsal; ALL day wedding day; break down/ cleanup time. Make sure you have have a security deposit (refundable if all is back in order). I collect payment in increments in a payment plan NOTE reall bold your policy for canceling and you may consider adding something regarding inclement weather but be very clear.
Receptions inside: as a note, we have several places in our area that do indoor wedding receptions. They open several rooms for the event and people wonder around. I personally do not care for this as I have missed things like cutting of the cake, etc. and makes socializing more dificult, but others really like that atmosphere. Just throwing this out for you to consider incase you haven't. (I don't know your layout).
Feel Free to email me personally if you want more details on anything.
 

Country Girl

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Thank you so much everyone. This is all such great advice. I really want to try this wedding idea and I want to go into it with both eyes wide open. We have already contacted our insurance agency and are now waiting on the local town officials to give us the go ahead. My biggest concern is the weather. On a beautiful summer day this place is perfect but on a rainy, cold, windy day (which can happen in July!) it could be a problem.
 

Morticia

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Thank you so much everyone. This is all such great advice. I really want to try this wedding idea and I want to go into it with both eyes wide open. We have already contacted our insurance agency and are now waiting on the local town officials to give us the go ahead. My biggest concern is the weather. On a beautiful summer day this place is perfect but on a rainy, cold, windy day (which can happen in July!) it could be a problem..
If you get the ok to go ahead, try to plan only one wedding as early as you can get it so you know before you hit summer if this is something you want to do. What we've seen around here is a shift to small weddings. We get lots of calls for 'micro' weddings, 10 or so guests. It's certainly something to consider.
 

Copperhead

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Thank you so much everyone. This is all such great advice. I really want to try this wedding idea and I want to go into it with both eyes wide open. We have already contacted our insurance agency and are now waiting on the local town officials to give us the go ahead. My biggest concern is the weather. On a beautiful summer day this place is perfect but on a rainy, cold, windy day (which can happen in July!) it could be a problem..
If you get the ok to go ahead, try to plan only one wedding as early as you can get it so you know before you hit summer if this is something you want to do. What we've seen around here is a shift to small weddings. We get lots of calls for 'micro' weddings, 10 or so guests. It's certainly something to consider.
.
Morticia said:
If you get the ok to go ahead, try to plan only one wedding as early as you can get it so you know before you hit summer if this is something you want to do. What we've seen around here is a shift to small weddings. We get lots of calls for 'micro' weddings, 10 or so guests. It's certainly something to consider.
The ones I have booked as of late were also small (25-35max). I think the economy is having a lot to do with the #, with many telling me that they will just host a big party when they can for those they are unable to include.
 

Country Girl

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Thank you so much everyone. This is all such great advice. I really want to try this wedding idea and I want to go into it with both eyes wide open. We have already contacted our insurance agency and are now waiting on the local town officials to give us the go ahead. My biggest concern is the weather. On a beautiful summer day this place is perfect but on a rainy, cold, windy day (which can happen in July!) it could be a problem..
If you get the ok to go ahead, try to plan only one wedding as early as you can get it so you know before you hit summer if this is something you want to do. What we've seen around here is a shift to small weddings. We get lots of calls for 'micro' weddings, 10 or so guests. It's certainly something to consider.
.
Morticia said:
If you get the ok to go ahead, try to plan only one wedding as early as you can get it so you know before you hit summer if this is something you want to do. What we've seen around here is a shift to small weddings. We get lots of calls for 'micro' weddings, 10 or so guests. It's certainly something to consider.
The ones I have booked as of late were also small (25-35max). I think the economy is having a lot to do with the #, with many telling me that they will just host a big party when they can for those they are unable to include.
.
Copperhead said:
Morticia said:
If you get the ok to go ahead, try to plan only one wedding as early as you can get it so you know before you hit summer if this is something you want to do. What we've seen around here is a shift to small weddings. We get lots of calls for 'micro' weddings, 10 or so guests. It's certainly something to consider.
The ones I have booked as of late were also small (25-35max). I think the economy is having a lot to do with the #, with many telling me that they will just host a big party when they can for those they are unable to include.
The ones we've hosted so far were very small, only 12 people. They were easy because we could hold them inside if the weather turned bad. We are sticking to 50 or less for a number of reasons, including parking. In May we will hold a bridal shower here for 25. They want to be outside but we will can manage it inside in case of rain. Beyond 25 would be really difficult.
 
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