Hosting Happy Endings: How to Turn Your Property into a Wedding Venue
You own a picturesque slice of classic Texas scenery, and you’re considering ways to earn a little extra money. Or maybe a friend approached you about hosting a wedding on your land and it worked. Maybe you just like big groups of happy people, or maybe you’re reading this and considering the idea for the first time.
We asked a group of experienced Texas wedding professionals about venue basics. Here is what the wedding and event planning professionals had to say.
As a professional, what is one thing about a property that makes it more “marketable”?
Ansonya Burke is the Visionary Proprietress and Principal Consultant of Principles in Action Consulting. She is a Professional Wedding Consultant with, and San Antonio Chapter Chair, The Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants.
Space. Whether you are hosting a small event or large, there are several factors that need to be kept under consideration, and they all are some way or the other related to how spacious the location is. For example, Does it have a safe parking lot? No one wants to trouble their guests by not providing a spacious parking area. Space matters a lot, and makes the wedding venue extremely marketable. – Burke, Principles in Action Consulting
Ellen Westcott is the owner of Wescott Weddings, a full-service event planning boutique in Austin. She is a true romantic who believes in happily-ever-after, and that flawless parties happen with the right mixture of magic and meticulous attention to detail.
Beautiful outdoor AND indoor space. I think that’s one of the reasons Camp Lucy has been so successful. Besides the fact that the entire space is gorgeous and immaculately maintained, there are equally beautiful indoor and outdoor settings for both the ceremony and reception. A built-in rain plan is always a plus! I also think a blank slate is always nice. Provide the shell, but don’t define how it should be used. For example, resist the urge to install a ceremony structure – let your clients decide how to use the space! – Westcott, Westcott Weddings
What are some design aspects that potential clients are looking for?
Becky Levin Navarro, the founder of Pearl Events Austin, has planned an array of events, from fairy tale weddings to corporate events for MTV and The University of Texas. She is a member of International Special Events Society and Nuptial Essentials Association of Wedding Professionals.
The biggest design elements for clients in Austin is having some outdoor element to their wedding – outdoor ceremony site, cocktail hour, etc. We are lucky to have pleasant weather most of the time so the outdoor element is important. – Navarro, Pearl Events Austin
Adrienne Henk is a Wedding and Event Specialist with Eddie Dean & Co., a Dallas-based catering and event company that specializes in creating the ultimate “True Texas Experience.”
Visual appeal is the most important aspect, but also a design that gives the client the opportunity to make it their own. Make the client feel inspired when they see your venue, not limited to one style. Location and accessibility are also very important. If parking is far from the venue site, for example, offer a transportation system from the parking lot to the site.”- Henk, Eddie Dean & Co.
Does the size of the venue matter?
It is the number one, most important factor in picking a venue. We have to plan for 100% of the estimate guest count to attend. One hundred percent of the estimated guest count will not attended, but as we plan, the guest list grows. More and more people get added to the list (some even add themselves), so we plan for it from the beginning! There is nothing worse than having a venue that doesn’t hold everyone, and guests feel like the “B list.” – Navarro, Pearl Events Austin
Sara Mulder is a certified floral designer, wedding planner, and a certified wedding and event designer through Preston Bailey and The Wedding Planning Institute.
Yes, a location that is too small will limit the venue to a small number of available brides, usually with small budgets. Bigger can be made to look smaller, but smaller can’t be made to look bigger. However, too large and you will price your venue out of the range that most brides can afford. – Mulder, Bella By Sara
Know what you are marketing. If you happen to have a very small venue, target clients with small guest counts and advertise the intimate, comfortable atmosphere. If you have a very large venue, appeal to clients with large guest counts, and advertise the number of people you can hold and the entertainment aspect. – Henk, Eddie Dean & Co.
What are the liabilities of renting out private land and/or buildings, such as barns, that people should be aware of?
These are just a few of the many concerns:
- Insurance Coverage
- Vendor Coverage
- Vendor Policies & Procedures
- Security Deposits
- Limiting access to the property
- Pre-Event & Post-Event Walk-through
- Cleaning Fees
– Mulder, Bella By Sara
Janice Carnevale is the founder of Bellwether Events in Washington D.C., where she has been planning modern weddings since 2006. Her free e-book, The Elegant At-Home Wedding, is available for free at YourWeddingAtHome.com.
You should speak extensively with your attorney and your insurance carrier about protecting your property and yourself from liability. Many venues also require their clients (and some of the vendors) to carry event insurance. This will add an extra layer of protection. You will also need to prepare to keep the property in tip top shape throughout wedding season. If you are going to do weddings on back to back weekends, you need to be set up to repair whatever needs to be repaired week to week. Your client will not care that the previous weekend was rainy and those wedding guests ruined the sod; they want that sod to be perfect on their wedding day. – Carnevale, Bellwether Events
What advice would you give someone who has just decided to start renting out his or her private property?
Getting in touch with a wedding planner should be your top priority. Wedding planners are the best source for bringing clientele. They are familiar with vendors, and can suggest ways you can market your property for weddings. In addition to this, they can pitch your property to their clients if it meets their requirement. The other thing is social media. Get yourself out there on Facebook and blogs, lots of pictures on Instagram, and Tweet tips about your venue. – Burke, Principles in Action Consulting
Millennials (people born after 1979) are going to be the bulk of the wedding market for many years to come. You need to study them and their habits, and learn how to market to them. You are going to have to embrace social media. You should also host open houses for local planners, photographers and caterers, to let people know about your new venue. Have a professional photographer take photos of your property, preferably set up for an event. Make sure you are capable of helping your clients with their event floor plans, and provide a scaled rendering of the property if needed. If you don’t want to be working full time on this, I recommend bringing an established planner on board to help manage the property, respond to inquiries and handle the clients. – Carnevale, Bellwether Events
Host an open house! Do some research, and team up with a handful of other wedding professionals who share your same aesthetic and who book the kind of clients you want to book. Work with them to stage the space for your open house, so clients have an opportunity to see your venue used to its full potential! I would also host an ‘exclusive’ preview event for wedding professionals. Invite them for cocktails and showcase the space. They’re the people with eyes and ears on the ground, and I know I’m always looking for new, unique space! – Westcott, Westcott Weddings
If you are considering renting your little slice of heaven as a wedding venue, hopefully you have some new inspiration, ideas, and leads. We asked these same questions of some more specialized wedding professionals – photographers and videographers, as well as existing wedding venue owners. Check back soon for their insights.
If you are inspired, but are still looking for the perfect piece of Texas real estate to call home in the first place, give us a call at 830-569-3500.