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How do I convert my barn into a wedding venue?

Rustic barns are among the most desired wedding venues these days.

So, if you have a property with a beautiful old barn or rundown shed, it’s likely the old building can be transformed into a charming place for a party.

It will often take a fair bit of time and effort to bring your barn up to scratch, but the investment could really pay off, as many wedding venue businesses report strong profits once they are up and running.

With that in mind, here are six tips on how to start your own barn wedding venue.

Barn wedding

Barn weddings are among today’s most popular. Picture: Scott Webb/Unsplash

1. Get your council approvals

Dealing with red tape is where this journey starts. Every council has different rules and every property will fall within different zoning, so be prepared to encounter some bureaucracy.

In most cases, you will have to file an application, and answer questions related to liquor licences, security, parking arrangements, toilet facilities, first-aid provisions, waste removal, water facilities and fire safety – to name but a few.

The barn itself will also need to undergo an inspection, to make sure it’s safe before you open your doors.

2. Research your competition

There are more than 100,000 weddings every year in Australia. So it’s perhaps not surprising that there are a fair few venues, too.

The industry is therefore very competitive in some locations. And so, you’ll need to check out the other operators in your area to get a good idea of what you’re up against.

Make note of the price, the facilities, and what’s included in your competitors’ offerings. And try to determine what works and what doesn’t, so that you can adjust your offering accordingly.

Barn wedding

You need to make sure your barn is in good condition before renting it out for weddings. Picture: Shelly Pence/Unsplash

3. Do the maths

Running a wedding venue can be lots of fun, but in the end, it must be profitable if you are to continue operating. Therefore, you must do a comprehensive budget before you begin.

You will need to know:

  • how much money is required to get the property ready
  • a realistic estimate of your potential revenue
  • a list of all your fixed and variable costs – including maintenance, advertising and insurance
  • how much you need to spend on additional assets for the venue – e.g. commercial kitchen equipment and backup power generators.

4. Prepare your venue

Things are likely to get expensive at this stage of your journey, as most barns will need a substantial amount of tender loving care before they’re in a position to accept bookings.

The buildings should be aesthetically-pleasing and in good structural condition. Space should be configured in a way that makes life simple for caterers and bands. And areas around the barn need to be picture-perfect.

Safety hazards need to be identified, too. Install signs near steep embankments and lights on pathways, and fence off water sources such as creeks and dams.

In a bid to absorb costs, many operators continue to take bookings whilst working on renovations. If you do this, it’s essential that the venue is of an acceptable standard before you start hosting events, and the construction work doesn’t interfere with your guests’ enjoyment of the space.

5. Organise a list of complementary businesses

Whilst rustic barn weddings are popular, they are usually in remote locations where organising caterers, accommodation and transport can be difficult.

You don’t need to offer these as part of your venue package. However, having a good network of local businesses you can recommend to clients could be the difference between securing a client and missing out.

Barn wedding

Instagram-worthy interiors shouldn’t be your only priority; your space should be practical, too. Picture: Sweet Ice Cream Photography/Unsplash

6. Market your wedding venue

The best wedding venues are booked up every weekend of the year. Typically, this is because they don’t rely exclusively on social media for promotion, but instead adopt a comprehensive, multi-channel marketing strategy.

Which is why you should sit down and write out a detailed marketing plan.

You should also set yourself realistic goals, set aside an advertising budget, and identify a range of channels to target your audience.

At a bare minimum, you will need your own website and social media accounts under your venue name. And checking out industry websites, magazines, and short-term hire websites such as Spacely won’t hurt, either.

Once you’ve chosen your advertising channels, invest in a photographer.

Imagery is one of the most powerful tools to showcase your venue, so having top-quality digital assets is worth the extra cost.

If you are interested in barn wedding venues, check out the available options on Spacely.

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