Do you want to open a wedding venue? If so, you’re getting in at a great time. Weddings in general are big business, but it’s the venue that’s the real money maker. The average cost of renting a venue with catering is $18,186.1
But to run a wedding venue, you can’t simply hang up a sign saying you’re open for weddings. There are several steps you must first complete to turn it into a legitimate business—one that’s geared for long-term success.
Want to know how to open a wedding venue? Let’s get this party started.
How to open a wedding venue
Running the perfect wedding venue isn’t all champagne toasts and celebrations and happy tears. There’s a ton of prep work and due diligence that goes into launching your dream wedding venue space.
To ensure that you start off on the right foot, consider the following actions:
Assess whether or not you’re ready
No matter the business, it’s important that you not rush into things. Rushing into a venture is a recipe for failure. Instead, take a careful, thoughtful approach as you prepare for this new adventure.
Want to make sure that you’re doing the right thing? Ask yourself the following general questions:
- Are you financially fit? – Starting a new business is a risky proposition. It’s a big investment. Don’t take that lightly. Will you be investing in a wedding venue? Or turning a property you already own into an event space?
- Would this be a full-time job? – Hosting weddings is a significant time commitment that will likely eat up your weekends and holidays.
- Is there demand in your area? – Market demand is a key indicator of whether or not this is a smart business decision.
- Do you have the necessary skills? – Are you able to wear a bunch of different hats? Do you mind high-pressure situations? Highly emotional outbursts? Tensions running high? Playing the diplomat? Late nights? All of these things are part of the anatomy of a wedding, and they’re a lot less fun when they’re not your own. You need to be mentally prepared to take on this challenge.
These aren’t all the factors you need to consider, but they make for a good start. By asking critical questions like these, you can see whether or not going into the wedding business is right for you.
Find the right venue
When it comes to the venue, you typically have one of two choices:
#1. You already have a location
If you already have property that you wish to convert into the perfect wedding venue, then you may be off to a good start. However, there could also be significant investment costs needed to get the building ready to host a wedding ceremony or reception. Considerations include:
- Is it ideally situated, close to town or lodgings?
- How does the venue look? Will it photograph nicely?
- Are there noise ordinances in the area that will affect the days and hours that events can take place?
- Are there ordinances in place that will affect what food and beverages can be served?
- Do you have the proper infrastructure to host a large event?
- Do you have the necessary bathroom space?
- Are there power sources?
- Will it be available year-round? In other words, is it capable of being climate-controlled?
It’s not simply about having an event space, it’s about having the right space. It needs to be able to easily accommodate hundreds of people, including the wedding party, guests, catering staff, DJs, etc.
#2. You want to invest in or lease a location
If you don’t have a place in mind yet, but have the bankroll to acquire one, this may be the better route. It gives you more flexibility to find a location that’s not only in a good spot but that has all of the requisites you need to have a wedding. Whether you own or will invest in a spot, you’ll need to think about the following:
- Venue size
- Shelter (if it’s an outdoor wedding venue)
- Bathrooms and adequate changing areas for the wedding party
- Catering/food preparation space
- Water and utilities (including appropriate power supply to accommodate DJ or band requirements)
As you compare and contrast venues, keep these factors in mind.
Research your local and state laws
It’s imperative that you conduct thorough research on local zoning laws and building codes to confirm that you’re complying with all legal ordinances.
Just think what a disaster it would be if you sunk a ton of money into an event venue, only to find out that you couldn’t use it for weddings. For instance, the barn you planned on using may be zoned for agricultural but not commercial uses.2 Or you cannot serve alcohol in that part of the county, or play music after 8:00 PM at night. And getting a space up to code could potentially cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Don’t dive in headfirst. Instead, take the cautious approach by identifying everything you need to know ahead of time.
Build a wedding venue business plan
Even if you think the job is a simple one, you have to flesh out a detailed business plan.
This is an important step to take not only for your own benefit but especially for outside investors or banks from whom you will seek initial funding. Investors will want assurance that they’ll be seeing returns on their investment.
What needs to be included in the plan?
- Your type of business organization
- Summary of your operations
- Market research
- Your timeline
- Marketing plan
- Expected costs and revenue projections
- Business goals
Protect your business
Hosting a special event is risky business, particularly when alcohol is added to the mix. Whenever you have a crowd of people, accidents are bound to happen. For a wedding venue, every person who steps foot on your property represents a possible liability claim or even a lawsuit.
Therefore, it’s vital that you protect your business assets with insurance.
The types of policies you obtain are up to you, but consider at least getting the following:
General liability – General liability insurance coverage protects you from costs related to injury or damage to third parties, including property damage, bodily injury, and personal & advertising injury.
Workers’ compensation – If you have at least one full-time employee, you’re likely required by your state to have workers’ comp. It protects you from costs related to your employees’ injuries or illnesses on the job.
Commercial property insurance – Whenever you own property that you use for commercial purposes, it needs to be protected from damages and perils, whether natural disaster, fire, theft, or vandalism.
Need help finding the right general and professional liability coverage for you?
Thimble can help. We specialize in flexible, affordable, on-demand business insurance policies that go by the hour, day, or month.
Getting the protection you need only takes 60 seconds. Simply download the Thimble mobile app or click “Get a Quote.” Answer a few brief questions to receive a free quote. Hit purchase and your Certificate of Insurance (COI) will be sent to your inbox instantly.
Open your doors
Once the details are finalized, you’ll be set to open up your doors to new wedding venue business.
For this stage, lean in heavily on your marketing plan, utilize social media, and be sure to build out a beautiful website with lots of photos. Do these things and word will spread about your hot new wedding venue.
Nuptials are exciting and happy occasions! You focus on helping your clients throw one heck of a party, and let Thimble make sure life’s surprises don’t derail your business.
- Value Penguin. Average Cost of a Wedding: By Feature and State.
- Tampa Bay Times. Rise of rustic wedding venues brings zoning, code issues for owners.