starting a B&B/wedding venue

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rose1111

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Hi!
I am in the (very) early stages of opening a Bed & Breakfast slash niche wedding venue (geared toward micro weddings ~under 50 guests). A little background on myself, I've worked in event planning/PR in NYC for 12 years, and while it would be a departure from the 9-5, I do have the skill set/passion to make this happen and my husband would help manage the business end.
We would want to purchase a historic Victorian home, and renovate it for the venue (we would be extremely mindful of the integrity/history/charm of the home). TBD if it would function as a bed and breakfast outside of weddings or if the guest rooms would only be for the events.
We will spend the next few years doing research, building a business plan, etc. but I don't foresee any major headway on this happening for the next 2-3 years, however, what would be the next steps when we're ready to move forward? Here are some questions that I have:
  • What would come first if we were to purchase the home (not already a B&B): purchasing the home or making sure that it would be possible to get it either zoned commercial/approved to host events/etc.?? We'll be looking at real estate in a certain areas, but wouldn't know the specific town laws until we know where the home will be and we certainly would not purchase a home first without confirming that the business would be possible. Wondering how that timeline would sync up...would hate for another seller to come along on our dream location while we wait for a town's decision!
  • Must the home already be zoned commercial prior to buying it? If not, is that a difficult process?
  • Would it be easier to purchase an already established bed and breakfast vs. a home that we would then turn into one?
  • Is it a challenge to get approval/permits/licensing to establish a venue with a newly formed B&B?
  • How easy it for a bed and breakfast to receive permits/licenses to host small weddings?
Any insight to these questions would be much appreciated!
Thank you!
 

gillumhouse

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What would come first if we were to purchase the home (not already a B&B): purchasing the home or making sure that it would be possible to get it either zoned commercial/approved to host events/etc.?? We'll be looking at real estate in a certain areas, but wouldn't know the specific town laws until we know where the home will be and we certainly would not purchase a home first without confirming that the business would be possible. Wondering how that timeline would sync up...would hate for another seller to come along on our dream location while we wait for a town's decision!
Get answers IN WRITING regarding Zoning/Building Code/Health Dept requirements BEFORE spending the first penny on property.
Must the home already be zoned commercial prior to buying it? If not, is that a difficult process?
Depends on location. Some neighbors would fight tooth & nail against. If planning a venue, need space so not in a residential - possible noie element
Would it be easier to purchase an already established bed and breakfast vs. a home that we would then turn into one?
Again depends on the where. Same answer applies on the town/city and their ordinances. My City, a B & B can be anywhere IF meeting parking restrictions (1 off-street space per room minimum), city 10miles agay - too snooty, not a chance in Hell.
Is it a challenge to get approval/permits/licensing to establish a venue with a newly formed B&B?
How easy it for a bed and breakfast to receive permits/licenses to host small weddings?
 

Morticia

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To host weddings, even small ones, you need space. Parking for cars, buffer zone from neighbors, room for tents (a barn might be better).
You want to buy where you want to live.
Generally speaking, buying a business is easier than setting one up from scratch.
You can do some advance work on locations that look interesting to you by seeing what is currently available there. Are there wedding venues in place already? Then there are already rules in place. What are the reviews like for those places? If the neighbors hate those places, they’ll leave bad reviews.
I’d avoid setting my heart on a specific house style because that narrows you down too much.
 

gillumhouse

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To host weddings, even small ones, you need space. Parking for cars, buffer zone from neighbors, room for tents (a barn might be better).
You want to buy where you want to live.
Generally speaking, buying a business is easier than setting one up from scratch.
You can do some advance work on locations that look interesting to you by seeing what is currently available there. Are there wedding venues in place already? Then there are already rules in place. What are the reviews like for those places? If the neighbors hate those places, they’ll leave bad reviews.
I’d avoid setting my heart on a specific house style because that narrows you down too much..
In addition to what Mort says about an existing business - check to see if it is zoned for this OR was the business "grandfathered" and IF SO - does grandfather stay or disappear with NEW owners.
 

Generic

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To host weddings, even small ones, you need space. Parking for cars, buffer zone from neighbors, room for tents (a barn might be better).
You want to buy where you want to live.
Generally speaking, buying a business is easier than setting one up from scratch.
You can do some advance work on locations that look interesting to you by seeing what is currently available there. Are there wedding venues in place already? Then there are already rules in place. What are the reviews like for those places? If the neighbors hate those places, they’ll leave bad reviews.
I’d avoid setting my heart on a specific house style because that narrows you down too much..
At least here, if you run a wedding venue, you are required to also hold a public music permit. It's the royalties for the music.
 

Hillbilly

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I would make sure you pay attention to how things might change in the lodging industry as a whole with the way times are. Innkeeping operations might look a little different moving forward. The way you clean, cook, serve, space... Things will not be the same. Guests will be nervous to come to a place they have never stayed. We have had mostly repeat guests booking because they know our set up and feel comfortable. So starting out fresh will have its challenges. I would think in a few years we should know how our industry will be affected.
 

rose1111

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To host weddings, even small ones, you need space. Parking for cars, buffer zone from neighbors, room for tents (a barn might be better).
You want to buy where you want to live.
Generally speaking, buying a business is easier than setting one up from scratch.
You can do some advance work on locations that look interesting to you by seeing what is currently available there. Are there wedding venues in place already? Then there are already rules in place. What are the reviews like for those places? If the neighbors hate those places, they’ll leave bad reviews.
I’d avoid setting my heart on a specific house style because that narrows you down too much..
In addition to what Mort says about an existing business - check to see if it is zoned for this OR was the business "grandfathered" and IF SO - does grandfather stay or disappear with NEW owners.
.
Thank you so much for all of your helpful advice! This is a very good point to consider!
 

rose1111

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To host weddings, even small ones, you need space. Parking for cars, buffer zone from neighbors, room for tents (a barn might be better).
You want to buy where you want to live.
Generally speaking, buying a business is easier than setting one up from scratch.
You can do some advance work on locations that look interesting to you by seeing what is currently available there. Are there wedding venues in place already? Then there are already rules in place. What are the reviews like for those places? If the neighbors hate those places, they’ll leave bad reviews.
I’d avoid setting my heart on a specific house style because that narrows you down too much..
At least here, if you run a wedding venue, you are required to also hold a public music permit. It's the royalties for the music.
.
Interesting point. Wow. I wonder if that is something a DJ would consider or if it would fall on the inn? Thank you!
 

rose1111

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To host weddings, even small ones, you need space. Parking for cars, buffer zone from neighbors, room for tents (a barn might be better).
You want to buy where you want to live.
Generally speaking, buying a business is easier than setting one up from scratch.
You can do some advance work on locations that look interesting to you by seeing what is currently available there. Are there wedding venues in place already? Then there are already rules in place. What are the reviews like for those places? If the neighbors hate those places, they’ll leave bad reviews.
I’d avoid setting my heart on a specific house style because that narrows you down too much..
Thank you so very much for this very thoughtful reply. These are all great points you bring up and I appreciate you taking the time to reply!
 

rose1111

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I would make sure you pay attention to how things might change in the lodging industry as a whole with the way times are. Innkeeping operations might look a little different moving forward. The way you clean, cook, serve, space... Things will not be the same. Guests will be nervous to come to a place they have never stayed. We have had mostly repeat guests booking because they know our set up and feel comfortable. So starting out fresh will have its challenges. I would think in a few years we should know how our industry will be affected..
That is a very good point (sadly). Will definitely see how things shape up after this. Wishing you all the best during this time...thank you for this reply!
 

rose1111

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What would come first if we were to purchase the home (not already a B&B): purchasing the home or making sure that it would be possible to get it either zoned commercial/approved to host events/etc.?? We'll be looking at real estate in a certain areas, but wouldn't know the specific town laws until we know where the home will be and we certainly would not purchase a home first without confirming that the business would be possible. Wondering how that timeline would sync up...would hate for another seller to come along on our dream location while we wait for a town's decision!
Get answers IN WRITING regarding Zoning/Building Code/Health Dept requirements BEFORE spending the first penny on property.
Must the home already be zoned commercial prior to buying it? If not, is that a difficult process?
Depends on location. Some neighbors would fight tooth & nail against. If planning a venue, need space so not in a residential - possible noie element
Would it be easier to purchase an already established bed and breakfast vs. a home that we would then turn into one?
Again depends on the where. Same answer applies on the town/city and their ordinances. My City, a B & B can be anywhere IF meeting parking restrictions (1 off-street space per room minimum), city 10miles agay - too snooty, not a chance in Hell.
Is it a challenge to get approval/permits/licensing to establish a venue with a newly formed B&B?
How easy it for a bed and breakfast to receive permits/licenses to host small weddings?.
Thanks for sharing this as well. We absolutely have a lot to consider, and this advice is all very helpful to hear!
 

Generic

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To host weddings, even small ones, you need space. Parking for cars, buffer zone from neighbors, room for tents (a barn might be better).
You want to buy where you want to live.
Generally speaking, buying a business is easier than setting one up from scratch.
You can do some advance work on locations that look interesting to you by seeing what is currently available there. Are there wedding venues in place already? Then there are already rules in place. What are the reviews like for those places? If the neighbors hate those places, they’ll leave bad reviews.
I’d avoid setting my heart on a specific house style because that narrows you down too much..
At least here, if you run a wedding venue, you are required to also hold a public music permit. It's the royalties for the music.
.
Interesting point. Wow. I wonder if that is something a DJ would consider or if it would fall on the inn? Thank you!
.
At least here, the venue needs a licence, not the DJ. You own the public venue.
 
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