Outdoor weddings

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Country Girl

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We have a great property with a fantastic view. Almost weekly we receive inquiries about hosting weddings here. We've done a few very small weddings but we haven't taken the leap to bigger ones. Here are the issues we face:
They would be outdoor weddings ONLY as we don't have the room inside, so rain or shine they would be outside
We would provide the venue only; the guests would provide the tent and chairs, approved caterer, porta potties, etc.
Parking for more than 30 cars could be an issue
On the other hand, it seems like a great way to make some additional money, especially because there is not much competition nearby. So, my big question is: For those of you who host outdoor weddings ONLY, what are the pros and cons? How do you deal with inclement weather? If any of you used to host outdoor weddings in the past, but stopped, please let me know why.
Thanks.
 

Alibi Ike

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One of the toughest things I've ever heard mentioned is keeping the wedding guests out of your house. Women (and I'm one of them) do not like using porta potties and especially when dressed up. Yes, there are those elegant porta potties for weddings but you have to require that they are used and they are pricey.
The second biggest complaint I've heard is keeping the wedding under the agreed upon numbers. 'Outside' implies 'free for all' in regards to numbers.
Another one is being adamant about the catering and you actually approving the caterer and insuring that caterer is really hired and not just 'mentioned in passing'. You don't want Aunt Gertrude showing up at your door at 8 AM to 'start cooking'.
Absolutely no real life experience, just anecdotal tales.
 

Proud Texan

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DW asked if I actually wrote the original query because we having this same actual discussion VERBATIM. I'll be interested to see the responses.
 

Mini

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We have had 3 weddings and found they are just way too much work.
I would love to see what kind of price quotes you give.
People phone us all the time to have their wedding here but after I send them the quote, I don't hear back from them (which is fine). I find too many of them are looking for a deal, like $500 for the entire ceremony with 200 guests. No way! That is too low. I would love to know what you would charge for just the ceremony with say 100 guests.
 

Samster

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We have had 3 weddings and found they are just way too much work.
I would love to see what kind of price quotes you give.
People phone us all the time to have their wedding here but after I send them the quote, I don't hear back from them (which is fine). I find too many of them are looking for a deal, like $500 for the entire ceremony with 200 guests. No way! That is too low. I would love to know what you would charge for just the ceremony with say 100 guests..
I know an innkeeper who is actually focusing on their wedding clientele and not the inn rooms because she finds the B&B side to be way more work than the weddings. (They host all kinds of weddings.) And, they also like that they are not working every single day on the B&B stuff or heating/cooling the whole giant house for one room.
I think you have to figure out what works best for your biz and your temperament.

 

Copperhead

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I started this post yesterday and then we lost power due to a bad storm. I am pasting it from Word - so excuse any format dificulties...Well I have done and still do outdoor weddings. In my location weather is a real factor!!! Here is my take - lengthy - I warn you!
People (generally speaking) when looking to do an outdoor event are thinking CHEAP. They do not take into account that they are using your property, placing you with liabilites you would not have, disrupting your regular business. I is wise to provide inquires with a summary of what is included along with a price... This will limit the number of 'real' inquirers.
Have a VERY clear and complete contract! Have a cancel by date that provides you with plenty of time to book your rooms if they cancel. I have 1/4 due at signing, 1/4 90 days prior and balance is due 30 days prior... Cancellation is the following: Deposits are refunded (minus $150) up until 2nd payment (90 days), cancellations within 90 days forfeit entire paid.
Weather & outdoor events: Be clear here! You know your weather patterns and you may want to choose what time of year you want to stay away from. Here we do have times where no matter what type of covering it is not possible to go on. We will provide alternate dates if it is done in advance - 36 hours prior... once caterer has purchased/prepared food, they are SOL. NOTE: we usually do not book events during this time of year or only book small events that we can move in doors if a must.
Rooms: Will you require they rent all rooms or will you pad your room cost in the cost? DON'T make the mistake of renting to non-wedding people, this does not make for a good stay!!! I have never done this but have seen reviews from other places that have allowed it.
Will you require they obtain their own insurance (make this as contingent to the contract) or will your insurance cover events? Check with your ins agent if you are unsure. Damages, how will you handle that? A damage fee may not cover it all. Make sure to add insurance cost into your pricing.
Booze - what about that? What are the local laws? This you will need to know to astablish how or if you can allow liquor and how it can be served. Here is my experience, learn from my problems: here, liquor is king - everyone wants to have liquor. If the paying party is not wanting to provide, guests know this and you may have a few try to slip it on the property. Yes this happened to me and the guest was giving it to young people that were of questionable age. I had to intervene, tell him to remove it from the property, meanwhile I had to remove all the glasses from the tables and have everyone start over. Then I told him the next time he heads for his car, he was to leave and told security just that as well. Dry weddings are just as much of a pain as wet ones! How I do liquor with weddings is this: If they want a bar, we line up a bartender, they pay directly and they bring the liquor. Or they can hire a moving bar with bartender - which I must approve. Here we are required to have security for events of 75 or more... I just add that events with booze even under require security and add that cost as an extra charge.
Renting the space vs offering an event:
We first tried it as rent the space and tried to keep the cost low. This was a BIG mistake! Just like reducing your room rates, this attracts the wrong clients... TRUST ME! No matter what they say or agree to, you will have a devil of a time making them adhere to your policies. And on top of this, you are allowing them to lesson your reputation. If you do not supervise every step, they could (as Ike stated) have Aunt Dot do the catering or Sue 'that makes lovely cakes' bring the wedding cake... Yes I have experienced this and have several horror stories all with very strict polices to follow for future clients. I say DO NOT go into this unless YOU are in control as to WHO they use. And VERIFY (at the beginning, 30 days prior & last week prior) as I had one that set up a caterer and then dropped them closer to the event, when I called to discuss their arrival time, they told me. At that time it was too late to hire anyone else. So I had to quickly write a list of does and don’ts and made a sign “Catering lovingly prepared by family and friends” You have got to protect your reputation and wedding guests have no idea as to who prepared the food… if it is nasty, word will spread quickly that your B&B is a horrible place for a wedding!! Plus you also have to worry about food poisoning and who would be liable for this.!!! We now have 1 caterer that we use, we include the food in the package, they get to select from a list of food choices., this has eased my stress level and I know it will be professionally done. We even have them bring the staff so we have built in staff for any event. This works well for us.
Tents and the like. Remember these things can damage your yard and if you do a good number of these you will have divots all over.
Litter – and there will be lots! Outdoor wedding guests are the worst about cigarette litter. We have smoking posts etc. but always have butts everywhere.
Music – How will this be done, what are the noise ordnance laws… make sure you know them. Bands, DJ’s love to play loud. If you allow this make sure you have it in the agreement that they have to agree to YOUR terms before they inter into a contact. Make sure YOU are listed as the go to person and the one they answer to regarding set up and noise. Make sure you have enough power to take care of their needs, some use a heck of a lot of watts. And another thing – a dance floor!
Bathrooms - Ike touched on thise and YES she is right. Ladies hate port-a-potties and will do everything to come inside. We have to lock our doors, now we have the self locking coded locks but still have to make sure any who have the code keeps it to themselves.
Size – just because they are outdoors people think they can have as many guests as they want. Remember that if it does rain, all will head for the tent – it has to have enough room for all the guests. Also the caterer prepares for a certain number of guests, if they go over there may not be enough food – then again with the reputation…
If you go this route, make a strict time frame for use & set up / clean up. They will push the limits here if you let them!!! I could go on for days with what if’s to avoid…
 

Country Girl

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Wow Copperhead, thank you so much. That is exactly the information I was looking for. You've definitely given me a lot to think about. You addressed every issue we will face and it's not looking good. Right now there seem to be way too many cons to proceed. I think you just saved me a ton of stress and heartache.
 

birdwatcher

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Had meeting with boss last night-weddings was brought up and I started the "If" thing such as what Copperhead has brought up and was instantly brought "down to earth" because owner thought this was just negativity-yea if its outdoors and we have to move 100-150 people into the house-ITS A PROBLEM OK? that means that the food, the DJ the people and everything will be moving into three rooms-NOT she kind pissed me off-I said the only thing I know is that weddings are an emotional thing and some brides are gozzilas and other arent but that does not mean that mom or mom-in-law or anyone else are going to be "angels" and then bring in alcohol and all bets are off understand that a torrential rain has sent their wedding cake, flowers, table cloths etc. in the air-who is liable for this and is this gonna happen in the middle of the rain or are they gonna just do it inside? Tents, thats great if its a straight rain with no wind-what about wind? Hail? and other crap that happens in a thunderstorm?
Needless to say the discussion ended up with me shutting my mouth cause I was gonna just burst, so there is nothing concrete or anything of precedures, pricing or anything like that-and I AM NOT THE OWNER but have to deal with it-so im don't think I will be doing any weddings here if I can't have a sayso as to what is expected. thats my take on it. But thats beside this thread-i know. But you just gotta think of all the ugly that weddings bring sometimes before you start doing them maybe start small with elopment packages or re-newal of vows etc and see where it goes from there....IMHO
 

Copperhead

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I wanted to get the meat out here of what problems there may be but once you have the list, move to look at what may work. I don't want people to think it can't work, it can!!! you just have to tweek everything to be in your favor. But don't think it is not work!!! If you will be taking the lead role for each event, it is twice the work as a very full B&B weekend, (by the end of the wedding my pups are screaming) but if you price it right you get more than double what you will make selling your rooms for the weekend!
If anyone whats to know more, you can email me through the forum. I will be happy to provide you with ways that we have found work for us. It can be a money maker once you have a good working plan.
 

Samster

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Had meeting with boss last night-weddings was brought up and I started the "If" thing such as what Copperhead has brought up and was instantly brought "down to earth" because owner thought this was just negativity-yea if its outdoors and we have to move 100-150 people into the house-ITS A PROBLEM OK? that means that the food, the DJ the people and everything will be moving into three rooms-NOT she kind pissed me off-I said the only thing I know is that weddings are an emotional thing and some brides are gozzilas and other arent but that does not mean that mom or mom-in-law or anyone else are going to be "angels" and then bring in alcohol and all bets are off understand that a torrential rain has sent their wedding cake, flowers, table cloths etc. in the air-who is liable for this and is this gonna happen in the middle of the rain or are they gonna just do it inside? Tents, thats great if its a straight rain with no wind-what about wind? Hail? and other crap that happens in a thunderstorm?
Needless to say the discussion ended up with me shutting my mouth cause I was gonna just burst, so there is nothing concrete or anything of precedures, pricing or anything like that-and I AM NOT THE OWNER but have to deal with it-so im don't think I will be doing any weddings here if I can't have a sayso as to what is expected. thats my take on it. But thats beside this thread-i know. But you just gotta think of all the ugly that weddings bring sometimes before you start doing them maybe start small with elopment packages or re-newal of vows etc and see where it goes from there....IMHO.
My friend that does weddings has a wedding coordinator who handles the bridezillas and family.
They use very detailed contracts and the wedding packages are firm. If the bride does a custom wedding, it costs quite a bit more.
They are quite clear on what has to be done for liquor.
They have a large indoor space for inclement weather.
She is experienced in catering large events.
It can be quite profitable, if you nail everything down and know your limitations.
 

Proud Texan

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I started this post yesterday and then we lost power due to a bad storm. I am pasting it from Word - so excuse any format dificulties...Well I have done and still do outdoor weddings. In my location weather is a real factor!!! Here is my take - lengthy - I warn you!
People (generally speaking) when looking to do an outdoor event are thinking CHEAP. They do not take into account that they are using your property, placing you with liabilites you would not have, disrupting your regular business. I is wise to provide inquires with a summary of what is included along with a price... This will limit the number of 'real' inquirers.
Have a VERY clear and complete contract! Have a cancel by date that provides you with plenty of time to book your rooms if they cancel. I have 1/4 due at signing, 1/4 90 days prior and balance is due 30 days prior... Cancellation is the following: Deposits are refunded (minus $150) up until 2nd payment (90 days), cancellations within 90 days forfeit entire paid.
Weather & outdoor events: Be clear here! You know your weather patterns and you may want to choose what time of year you want to stay away from. Here we do have times where no matter what type of covering it is not possible to go on. We will provide alternate dates if it is done in advance - 36 hours prior... once caterer has purchased/prepared food, they are SOL. NOTE: we usually do not book events during this time of year or only book small events that we can move in doors if a must.
Rooms: Will you require they rent all rooms or will you pad your room cost in the cost? DON'T make the mistake of renting to non-wedding people, this does not make for a good stay!!! I have never done this but have seen reviews from other places that have allowed it.
Will you require they obtain their own insurance (make this as contingent to the contract) or will your insurance cover events? Check with your ins agent if you are unsure. Damages, how will you handle that? A damage fee may not cover it all. Make sure to add insurance cost into your pricing.
Booze - what about that? What are the local laws? This you will need to know to astablish how or if you can allow liquor and how it can be served. Here is my experience, learn from my problems: here, liquor is king - everyone wants to have liquor. If the paying party is not wanting to provide, guests know this and you may have a few try to slip it on the property. Yes this happened to me and the guest was giving it to young people that were of questionable age. I had to intervene, tell him to remove it from the property, meanwhile I had to remove all the glasses from the tables and have everyone start over. Then I told him the next time he heads for his car, he was to leave and told security just that as well. Dry weddings are just as much of a pain as wet ones! How I do liquor with weddings is this: If they want a bar, we line up a bartender, they pay directly and they bring the liquor. Or they can hire a moving bar with bartender - which I must approve. Here we are required to have security for events of 75 or more... I just add that events with booze even under require security and add that cost as an extra charge.
Renting the space vs offering an event:
We first tried it as rent the space and tried to keep the cost low. This was a BIG mistake! Just like reducing your room rates, this attracts the wrong clients... TRUST ME! No matter what they say or agree to, you will have a devil of a time making them adhere to your policies. And on top of this, you are allowing them to lesson your reputation. If you do not supervise every step, they could (as Ike stated) have Aunt Dot do the catering or Sue 'that makes lovely cakes' bring the wedding cake... Yes I have experienced this and have several horror stories all with very strict polices to follow for future clients. I say DO NOT go into this unless YOU are in control as to WHO they use. And VERIFY (at the beginning, 30 days prior & last week prior) as I had one that set up a caterer and then dropped them closer to the event, when I called to discuss their arrival time, they told me. At that time it was too late to hire anyone else. So I had to quickly write a list of does and don’ts and made a sign “Catering lovingly prepared by family and friends” You have got to protect your reputation and wedding guests have no idea as to who prepared the food… if it is nasty, word will spread quickly that your B&B is a horrible place for a wedding!! Plus you also have to worry about food poisoning and who would be liable for this.!!! We now have 1 caterer that we use, we include the food in the package, they get to select from a list of food choices., this has eased my stress level and I know it will be professionally done. We even have them bring the staff so we have built in staff for any event. This works well for us.
Tents and the like. Remember these things can damage your yard and if you do a good number of these you will have divots all over.
Litter – and there will be lots! Outdoor wedding guests are the worst about cigarette litter. We have smoking posts etc. but always have butts everywhere.
Music – How will this be done, what are the noise ordnance laws… make sure you know them. Bands, DJ’s love to play loud. If you allow this make sure you have it in the agreement that they have to agree to YOUR terms before they inter into a contact. Make sure YOU are listed as the go to person and the one they answer to regarding set up and noise. Make sure you have enough power to take care of their needs, some use a heck of a lot of watts. And another thing – a dance floor!
Bathrooms - Ike touched on thise and YES she is right. Ladies hate port-a-potties and will do everything to come inside. We have to lock our doors, now we have the self locking coded locks but still have to make sure any who have the code keeps it to themselves.
Size – just because they are outdoors people think they can have as many guests as they want. Remember that if it does rain, all will head for the tent – it has to have enough room for all the guests. Also the caterer prepares for a certain number of guests, if they go over there may not be enough food – then again with the reputation…
If you go this route, make a strict time frame for use & set up / clean up. They will push the limits here if you let them!!! I could go on for days with what if’s to avoid….
Copperhead,
I think you just talked us out of it.
 
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