We’re all looking for side hustles these days. One ambitious idea you could have is, “Can I use my property as a wedding venue?”
It is certainly possible to build a wedding venue on residential land, but it can be a difficult and complex process. There are numerous practical and logistical factors you must account for, but a wedding venue can become a satisfying long-term investment.
You’ll need to perform legal and market research in your area before making a final decision, but we’ve rounded up some of the key processes you’ll need to think through to launch a successful wedding venue on your property.
- A wedding venue on residential property is possible, but you’ll need to plan carefully.
- Think about the facilities you have onsite, and what you will need to build.
- Have a business plan that covers legal concerns, as well as a way to market yourself.
- Think about all of the logistics to offer a user-friendly plan for your clients.
Table of Contents
What Is Residential Land?
The simple definition of residential land is that it is used by families and individuals for private housing. Most commercial uses, like running a business with high customer traffic, are not permitted under normal zoning laws. Heavy farming or industrial manufacturing are not permitted on residential land either.
The most typical approach to residential land use is to divide the residential land into lots, which are sold to individuals or families.
Some other restrictions that may apply to residential land include the types of animals that may be kept there (domestic animals only, not farm animals or free-roaming wildlife), the height and location of buildings within the boundaries of the lot, and street access.
Converting Your Residential Land to Commercial Use
If you have the idea to build a wedding venue on your property, and you believe it is currently zoned as residential land, the first legal hurdles you will need to overcome involve zoning ordinances, building code issues, and other restrictions that would prevent you from legally building and operating a structure as a wedding venue.
Zoning, Codes, and Permits
Check with your local zoning laws or state ordinances and governing bodies to learn about your area’s specific zoning requirements. There is usually an application and presentation process to complete in order to file for your property to be used for commercial uses.
Additionally, you will need to ensure that all existing structures, plus what you may intend to construct in the future, meet all applicable local laws and building codes. Furthermore, you will need to consider things like noise rules, access to utilities, and sanitation. What’s more, you will need to be mindful of your neighbors and how increased traffic might affect them.
Securing the support of an attorney would be beneficial throughout each step of the process.
Constructing a Wedding Venue on Your Property
Building a Business
A great deal of planning should go into the process before you break ground on your wedding venue site. You should account for the costs of structure construction and continual maintenance and upkeep to ensure that you can handle the investment.
A business plan will be helpful in determining the anticipated costs and revenues. A wedding venue business can be unexpectedly complex for those who are new to operating a commercial business like this.
You may need to secure various types of insurance, including property, personal liability, and special event insurance. Preparing standard contracts will also protect your interests, as well as those of your clients, as you begin to host weddings and events on your property.
Also, you will need to think about how you will market your property to engaged couples. Partnering with wedding and event planners in your area is a good start, and additional marketing and advertising channels can make the world aware that your facility is open for business.
Facilities, Licenses, and Staff
What structures do you currently have on your property, and what might you need to build? Don’t limit yourself to the venue for the wedding ceremony itself, but also think about a reception area, spaces for the wedding party to prepare, and also lodging for the wedding party and others to create a destination wedding venue.
You will also need to think about where your guests will park, event preparation space, and storage areas for supplies and equipment.
Barn or Rustic Weddings
Rustic weddings (also called barn weddings) have exploded in popularity in recent years. The aesthetic and environment is appealing to many couples, so finding a venue has become more difficult.
If you want to open rustic wedding venues on your property, this could be a great opportunity to fill a need and appeal to a high demand niche market. Look at how many other similar facilities are available in your area, and how you can set yourself apart from the competition.
Staff and Vendors
In addition to the proper zoning laws, as the wedding venue owners you will likely need to apply for several other licenses. Professional licenses for hosting events may be required, as well as a permit that allows you to offer food service or for serving alcohol.
If you plan to offer other premium amenities like fireworks, that will require completing a additional one-time permitting process as well.
Clients will likely have their own vendor in mind, but as the owner you should also be ready to offer your own alternative. Having a catering partner ensures that you have a reliable option for your potential clients.
You should also think about maintaining a list of other preferred vendors such as photographers, videographers, florists, event planners, dress designers, caterers, and other staff needs.
Other Practical Concerns
There are a host of other practical concerns your new wedding venue will need to address, but we’ve highlighted a few of the most important ones here.
We mentioned catering earlier, but it bears repeating. Promoting your space as a destination venue for both the ceremony and the wedding reception can make your wedding venue an ideal choice.
Work with caterers in your area to make sure that your facilities can handle the food service needs of the weddings you want to host. You will need ample space for food storage, preparation, and service. Alcohol service is another factor as well.
Plumbing is one aspect of your facilities that should certainly not be overlooked. Wedding parties will need a place to prepare, and your wedding guests will need restroom facilities as well. How will you route the appropriate utilities to your wedding venue?
Think about lighting, but we aren’t referring to the lighting features within your venue (although you should definitely be planning for that as well). Think about how your property will appear during both daytime and nighttime events.
Do you have enough lighting for people to get from the parking facilities to the event venue and back? Is the lighting ambience appealing during all times of day, and in all seasons?
You may not need to build massive paved lots, but even smaller weddings will require ample parking for the wedding party, their guests, and the event staff. Think about where you can host everyone’s vehicles while the event is being put on.
Most wedding planners who plan outdoor weddings will recommend having a tent on standby in case of bad weather, and this is good advice to follow.
Think about whether you want to have a preferred tent rental vendor, or if you want to purchase some to have ready to rent yourselves.
You should also think about other weather-related alternatives to your outdoor facilities based on seasonal changes.
About THE AUTHOR
Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.Read More About Brittany Melling