If you own farmland or other open space and parkland, the idea of establishing a permanent wedding venue may well be in your thoughts. There is no shortage of farms, barns and country estates which have become top choices for weddings and other celebrations. The average daily venue hire charges around £6,000 according to Guides for Brides, so there’s clearly a way of earning a significant income from your estate.
Around 250,000 couples tie the knot every year, and the wedding industry in the UK is worth a staggering £10 billion. Demand for wedding venues is there, with a growing trend favouring rustic or grand rural locations. However, that also means there’s a lot of competition throughout the UK. So what do you need to make your country wedding venue a success?
In this blog:
- What kind of wedding venue can you create?
- How much demand will there be for your new wedding venue?
- What do wedding venues near you offer?
- Is yours a wow factor wedding venue?
- How many guests can your wedding venue take?
- Don’t forget the loos
- Do you need a licence for a wedding venue?
- Do you need planning permission for a wedding venue?
- How noisy will your wedding venue be?
- Are complete wedding packages popular?
- How do you market your wedding venue?
- What services do you need for your wedding venue?
What kind of wedding venue can you create?
First things first. How much land can you devote to the venue? Is there enough room for a large marquee or do you have a big enough barn or hall for 100-150 people to meet, eat and dance the night away? Is there room for a kitchen for food preparation? And a bar area? Are there WC’s?
If the facilities are not already in place, it is essential to put together a realistic plan and budget for putting them in place.
How much demand will there be for your new wedding venue?
As with any business venture, you need to have an idea of how much demand there will be for your venue. Fantastic venues attract interest from far afield, but it is reasonable to assume that most of your business will come from within 30 miles of your location. So when you’re thinking about how many bookings you might get, it’s worth taking into account who lives in your likeliest catchment area.
The choice of a wedding venue location usually takes into account how close it is to the bride’s family home, or where she currently lives. Knowledge of your local area will tell you how many family homes are nearby, and how many people there are around the average marriage age. That’s 35 for women and 38 for men, according to an ONS survey quoted in Harper’s Bazaar. Other surveys put the ages a few years lower.
You’ll also have an idea of local incomes which is another factor in gauging potential demand. It’s impossible to make a hard and fast prediction of how your wedding event business will do – but by thinking things through you’re more likely to have a successful business.
What do wedding venues near you offer?A golden rule for every business is to know your competition! There is almost certainly a range of attractive wedding venues near you. You may well know some of them, but searching on a wedding venue directory will give you a fuller picture. You need to know what local competitors offer in terms of locations and facilities. You also need to research what they charge. How does your venue match up? What can you learn from your competitors? and what could you offer to stand out?
Is yours a wow factor wedding venue?
Do you have features – lakes, woods, buildings, arches, walled gardens – that make your venue unique?
Gorgeous landscapes and gardens are right at the top of venue hunters’ wish lists, so it’s always worth making the very best of your location and position.
“Venues should focus on making outdoor grounds useable and photo-ready to impress couples who place a high value on garden aesthetics.”
– Hamish Shephard, CEO of Bridebook.co.uk
Do you have super-stylish spots for official wedding photographs of the bride and groom? Ask yourself how ‘instagrammable’ your venue is – wedding pictures are shared on social media and your venue will be a major part of the visual show.
If you can add extra ‘wow’ to any part of the venue, don’t hesitate to do it. Think about investing in something distinctive – how about adding some free-roaming peacocks for example, or maybe a rustic tractor?
How many guests can your wedding venue take?
The essential element in any wedding is a covered space that’s big enough for all guests; this includes those at the wedding reception and evening only invitees as well. Average numbers for a wedding reception are around 100, with a further 50 guests joining for the evening party.
To work out the size of room or marquee your clients will need, you can work on the basis of 10 sq ft per guest for the reception. If you have a bar area or buffet area as well, you need to add 5 sq ft per guest.
10 sq ft per guest for the reception
+ 5 sq ft per guest for bar and buffet area
+ 5 sq ft per guest for dance floor
That’s a rough guide only, but it should help you understand what kind of wedding you are best suited to cater for. If your venue is limited to smaller than average weddings, you will miss out on some potential business, but you could still be a runaway success. If, on the other hand you are set up only for larger than average weddings, some couples might be put off having empty space on their special day.
Ideally your venue will have some flexibility, perhaps with the ability to open up or shut off parts of the main wedding space. You need to be realistic about existing buildings and floor areas, and whether you need to build more, or introduce more space with a marquee – for example one which leads off a large barn doorway.
Marquees come in a huge range of choices, and can be either permanent, seasonal or more temporary. Time spent researching to find what will work for you is time well spent.
Don’t forget the loosYour venue must have enough loos for guests to be comfortable. Aim for a minimum of one loo for 50 guests, but remember that you also need baby changing facilities too, as well as accessible facilities. You can always supplement permanent facilities with hire loos.
Do you need a licence for a wedding venue?
Yes you do. To hold a civil ceremony on your land you need a Grant of Approval from your local council. Licences are only given for permanent buildings which are ‘seemly and dignified’. There are no options for marquees and tipis.
You also need a premises licence and personal licence to sell alcohol.
Do you need planning permission for a wedding venue?Yes, if yours is a permanent, year-round business. You can get away without planning permission if you use a marquee that is up for less than 28 days during the year – but with the time taken to set up events that equates to a handful of occasions. You do need planning permission for new buildings, and for change of use of old barns. If you have listed buildings you might have to deal with further issues. There are also potential planning complications if you are in a flood area, and if access for transport is limited or difficult. That’s not all you need to think about. You must have public liability insurance, and to carry out a health and safety risk assessment (especially if your venue is on a working farm), preferably by a qualified consultant.
How noisy will your wedding venue be?
When you set up a wedding venue your planning application has to cover the issue of noise. If you disturb your neighbours with music and the sounds of celebrations, you will get complaints. Especially if it happens repeatedly. Complaints can escalate to local authorities and could result in fines, enforcement notices and the withdrawal of licences.
This guide to The Top 5 Causes of Noise at a Wedding Venue highlights some of the main issues. Solutions are available for most venue noise problems, but the first issue is for a qualified consultant to carry out a Noise Impact Assessment.
The noise feasibility study will include the gathering of local underlying background levels using state-of-the-art equipment. This provides a base level to model the predicted noise level at your neighbouring properties when events take place and therefore establish if mitigation is required.
Formal assessments are of real help in dealing with local authorities and neighbours. They also provide acoustic engineers working on the site with measures that they can work to and control noise within the agreed limits.
Are complete wedding packages popular?
Two growing trends in weddings are for more informal events in rustic settings and the availability of complete wedding packages. Couples increasingly want a non-religious ceremony, reception, evening event and accommodation all on one site. The attraction is easy to see – everyone can let their hair down, without worrying about transport. The availability of nearby accommodation for guests is always a key consideration, but having somewhere to stay for close friends and relations helps contribute to a memorable day.
As a result, more and more venue owners are looking at on site accommodation options for guests. That might mean converting outbuildings to bedrooms, or installing shepherds’ huts or glamping tipis, or simply providing room for tents.
How do you market your wedding venue?
Two absolutely essential building blocks for spreading the word about your venue are a solid website and lovely images. Highlighting positive reviews is always a good move. Make sure you include clear details about making enquiries and always ask for contact details with the appropriate wording about how they would like you to stay in touch.
Without breaking the bank, you can keep posting on Pinterest and Instagram, and if the budget permits, pay for ads on Facebook and Google. You could also pay for the services of online marketing agencies, including the cost-efficient SEO experts we use.
You can also encourage clients to tag their social media photos with your venue name, and to write 5-star reviews. Links with local businesses can help too, especially the ones you use. While it’s not directly under your control, if your venue lives up to expectations, word will spread.
What services do you need for your wedding venue?
There is a huge list of potentially useful links you can provide for your clients to make their celebrations a little more special. There is no shortage of wedding planning web resources such as bridebook.co.uk and hitched.co.uk.
Your wedding venue website could also have links to local businesses you rate including:
- Hair and makeup
- Wedding cars
- Wine merchant
- Live band
- Local accommodation
Some nice extra touches could include:
- Sweet stalls
- Photo booths
- Kids’ entertainers
- Guest book
- Cocktail bar