Top 5 considerations for establishing a successful farm-based wedding venue

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Tim TurnerSenior Associate

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Top 5 considerations for establishing a successful farm-based wedding venue

More and more we are seeing agricultural business owners choosing to either diversify or start afresh by getting into the business of wedding venues. Just like planning a wedding, any aspiring wedding entrepreneur has a lot to think about when setting up their new business. With this in mind, we have prepared the following top tips for those considering entry into this lucrative market.

1. Obtain all necessary approvals for your venue

As with any wedding plan, the starting point is picking a suitable venue. From tree top retreats to converted barns; agricultural business owners are well placed to accommodate the rising desire for fairy-tale wedding venues.

Putting up new structures or changing the use of existing buildings is likely to require planning permission and building regulations approval. An additional consideration for leaseholders will be whether operating a wedding business is permitted under the terms of the lease.

Applications will need to be made to the relevant local authority for a premises licences so alcohol can be sold and, if the intention is to hold ceremonies at the venue, grant of approval to hold civil marriages and civil partnerships.  A licence may also be required so that music can be played at the venue.

2. Decide on your business structure

Operating a new business carries with it a high degree of risk.  In most circumstances, the liabilities of business owners can be limited to the amount they invest by running the business through a limited company or limited liability partnership. The choice of corporate vehicle will depend on a number of factors, in particular tax. 

When setting up a new business venture with others, consideration should also be given to documenting each party’s rights and obligations. The documentation required will depend on the type of corporate vehicle used to operate the business and the level of each party’s day to day involvement.

3. Understand your financing options

Often new business owners require an extra helping hand to achieve their goals. There are more options open to budding entrepreneurs for finance these days than ever before.  Traditional sources of finance from the banks or family wealth will always have some appeal but may not be available to new businesses.  Crowd funding and peer-to-peer lending are increasingly popular ways of helping a business get off the ground.

4. Finalise agreements with your suppliers

Once the venue is ready, consideration should be given to entering into arrangements with suppliers. For example, partnering with a catering firm to supply the food for hungry guests may be more cost effective in the long run. To avoid disputes, it is important to have considered agreements in place with suppliers which clearly set out each party’s rights and obligations.

5. Protect yourself against the unforeseeable

Needless to say everyone hopes the big day goes well, but business owners need to have a contingency plan in place if things do not go to plan.  Being prepared for any eventuality will help avert disaster for the bride and groom and will, hopefully, avoid complaints or, worse, litigation. Bespoke insurance policies are available for wedding businesses.

When undertaking any new venture, you should seek professional legal advice to ensure you and your business are protected. 

This article was first published in the October 2018 edition of South East Farmer.