June 17, 2022

Farm Weddings & Events: Make Your Barn Work for You

"The potential [for income] is astounding."

- Chuck Bultman of the National Barn Alliance on using farms and barns as wedding venues. But he says, "no one wants to talk about the reality of starting a business."


What's Top of Mind?

It cannot be denied. Love is in the air.

Summertime means wedding season is upon us. And that can mean big money!

With the average U.S. wedding costing a whopping $30,000, it’s no surprise that weddings are a $60 billion a year industry. The 2 million couples who get hitched each year can't get enough of outdoor and barn weddings in rural areas. Weddings might just offer an opportunity for a lucrative secondary source of income for your farm.

Converting a portion of your farm, ranch, barn, winery/vineyard or orchard into a space to host a wedding requires time, investment, communication and significant attention to the safety of both your farm and the those involved in the wedding.

This week’s checklist offers a few nuggets of advice when considering transforming your farm into a wedding venue.

This Week's Prosperity Checklist: Turning Your Farm into a Venue

✅ Ensure compliance with local zoning laws.

Zoning codes aren’t a state issue, they’re a local law. So it's important that you check applicable zoning laws in your municipality, township or city. Farms are generally zoned for exclusively agricultural purposes and so they aren't zoned for commercial uses.

If your property hasn't been cleared for a commercial business, you will likely need to apply for a variance to allow for a change or improvement and thus a rezoning of your property.

✅ Ensure compliance with local ordinances.

We just talked about local zoning laws, but there's another thing. Local ordinances. Think: prohibited noises timeline, traffic control and alcohol sales.

Ordinances, like zoning laws, are a local issues and you should consult your local governing body. Honestly a quick Google search like “local ordinances [your county]” should do the trick. Here’s an example for Waco, TX.

✅ Check state farmland preservation laws.

Farmland is "preserved" if its development rights have been sold to the government in exchange for cash so that the property is designated for agricultural use forever. While this can offer monetary value and help save family farms, it can restrict you from using your farm or ranch as an event venue or stop you from building of new infrastructure on the property unless it is intended for an agricultural purpose.

In this instance, it's best to consult your state level Department of Agriculture about the possibility of using your farmland for something other than agriculture.

✅ Read up!

There are so many pros about using your operation as an event venue like cash in your pocket, meeting new people and possibly busting a move under the rafters. So if it sounds like a good fit for you, check out this comprehensive guide: Hosting Weddings on Your Farm.

Get Funding to Convert Your Barn into a Venue!

Investment in agritourism is trending! Good news for farmers who want to diversify their income. But startup costs are a real thing and there are grants out there to help you get started. Where can you find them?

FarmRaise Premium Members receive weekly funding alerts that offer announcements and deadline reminders for agritourism grants like the like the Multi-Business Agritourism Grant Program.

To receive funding alerts and gain access to our full library of federal, state and private grants, consider tying the knot with FarmRaise and upgrading to our Premium Membership. A FarmRaise Premium Membership is far from a “Till death do us part” type situation and you can cancel anytime.


This week's survey results are in:

Amazing! Many of have diversified your income by making your farm a venue. That’s a huge step toward farm prosperity. Never miss an opportunity to apply for funding to help convert your farm into a venue or maintain it.

It's wedding season now, and if you'd like to start making some extra cash by turning your farm or ranch into an event venue, let us help you get started on that plan today so you can be ready for the 2023 wedding season.

Sidenote: We know a lot of you may be searching through the checklist for how to quell the wrath of Bride/Groom-Zillas! Sorry, we're more dedicated to connecting farmers to funding opportunities. But if we learn anything helpful, we'll provide  findings in a future newsletter. Stay safe until then!

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