Are Meetings and Weddings Good With a B&B?

From “Ask Kit!”:

Q: I would like to develop a meetings, weddings aspect of the inn, but would probably do so in cooperation with a caterer in the area. Are meetings and weddings good businesses in conjunction with B&Bs?

A: They are excellent companions to B&Bs. Do be sure to charge enough for the rental of the facility for those activities to cover wear and tear on the property.

A few things to research or consider:

* does your zoning allow for special occasions
* make sure that those uses don’t impose on the guest space and experience
* will noise or parking issues negatively impact your neighbors or other guests
* create rules to safeguard your businesses — special occasion/meeting and B&B

If a B&B has the physical space, I think a special events rooms is a superb addition to a B&B. Like a gift shop, the space can be an excellent source of additional income with minimal effort on your part. And the space can be a magnet for B&B business; that’s especially nice during off- or slow-season.

7 thoughts on “Are Meetings and Weddings Good With a B&B?”

  1. …. and if you DO have the space, why not create your OWN special event, such as a quilting or crafting getaway or a workshop aimed at teachers, librarians or other professional group. Schedule it in the off season, or the off part of the week.
    You might coordinate with a local craft or quilt club, for instance, and market your event in the metro areas within a 2 or 3 hour drive. If there is a local museum with quilts on display, it is a plus. invite the local participants to breakfast also; serve lunch and use the space for the activity…. set up tables, they bring their own sewing machine, have the local group let you know what else might be needed… irons, ironing boards, “bottomless” pot of coffee, non-greasy snack foods…
    Be sure you take pictures, add to your website…. and invite other groups to plan an event at your inn…

  2. Pamela’s idea is excellent. We were a small inn and only a few times did we host to a wedding or event. Much of this is dependant on where you are located.
    As a former professional photographer, I know from personal experience, how stressful a wedding can be. Not only for the couple but for all involved in pulling it off. Surprised
    The same goes for “power gatherings” and ” think tank” type meetings.
    For those who have never done this, one of the first things you need to address is how you will set up for the event. If it’s a wedding, in many cases, it is advisable to make the wedding party rent the whole inn as it will surely be disruptive to your other guests. Even if it’s only the couple and a few of their guests.
    You will find that they tend to “take over” the inn and will make many demands on you beyond what you expect to provide.
    Best advise is to hook up with a wedding coordinator and basically rent the facility to them to do the whole thing. A good one will take care of everything including all the cleanup and you actually get a break you will be paid for!
    Remember that it is your inn and you must set the rules. People tend to sometimes get out of hand, especially at large weddings when the reception is held there, between drinking, loud music, etc.
    Also be sure you are not in violation of any laws pertaining to alcohol, your county B&B regulations, neighborhood covenants, etc.
    We had one disaster with a next door neighbor B&B that thought they could do anything they wanted. They had a typical Hawaiian wedding and there were around 200 people that showed up. Half of the guests were uninvited. Picture a 12 ft wide driveway and a tennis court used for a parking lot. At least 100 drunk individuals who were doing everything from swinging in the trees screaming to a local band that the drunker they got the louder they played. People were puking everywhere and peeing anywhere they could. Beer bottles being thrown into the landscaping and no less than a dozen bottles being heard bouncing off the cars on the tennis court.
    A few fights broke out, cops were called and the innkeepers were lucky they wern’t shut down.
    This was the rare exception. Just be sure you have a plan in place to do these type of events.
    And for larger events, if putting all these items together is not your passion, hire someone who does this professionally. It will be a lot less headaches.

  3. I’ve had several prospective guests call and ask about wedding receptions. The problem is that this is a small facility. We have a maxium seating capacity of only twenty people. The smallest party that’s called has had 30 people.
    To offset this problem, we’ve referred wedding parties to two area restaurants that have banquet rooms. Wedding guests needing overnight accomodations have stayed at this facility – but the reception has always been held at another location.
    Inn at Elizabethville

  4. Weddings & special events can be an exellent source of additional revenue if you are prepared to host such events. I used my past catering experiences (7 years in Beverly Hills, CA and 19 years in Manhattan, NY) to design the grounds surrounding Kilburnie, the Inn at Craig Farm for such events. Please plan for the following;
    1) Determine the maximum legal number of guests based upon your local ordinances and your property limitations (or opportunities).
    2) Provide safe off-street parking, plan on average 2 guests per car.
    3) Provide special designed area(s) for the wedding ceremony.
    3) Provide well drained space(s) to put up event tent(s)
    4) Require that all your rooms are rented by the host for both the previous night and the night of the event; having regular guests during weddings or other large events is insulting to unsuspecting guests.
    5) Charge a decent location rental rate keeping in mind the wear & tear to your property and your own time (often many hours) during the planning stages and the day of the wedding,
    6) Prepare your house rules and other regulations and have them signed by the host and all vendors servicing events on your property.
    7) Allow only those vendors (Caterers, photographers, florists, tenting companies, rental companies, etc.) on your property who have supplied you with proof of their liability insurance and a copy of thier business license.
    8)Have adequate night lighting for safety of the guests.
    9) Have adequate electricity available for extra lighting, sound equipment, caterers needs, etc.
    10) Be fully involved with the planning of each event and be present during the event(s).
    Be sure to have fun hosting weddings, otherwise it is not worth your time or the energy required.

  5. Thanks Kilburnie,
    Those are great and well thought out suggestions. I like the one about making sure vendors have their own liability insurance. I would also add that it is important to consider your neighbors. Depending on proximity, they may be fine with a B&B next door, but too many parties may push them past their comfort / tolerance level.
    Steve Wirt
    Wine Country Cabins Bed and Breakfast in the Finger Lakes
    and Inngenious Bed and Breakfast Website Promotion

  6. Thanks Swirt,
    I am fortunate to have no neighbors. The property is close to 400 acres, allowing me to do all the events I can live with. Still though, I do have a 10:30 pm cut off for music and bar services. All guests are expected to have departed by 11:00 pm;I too need my beauty sleep.
    By the way, contractually the caterer is ultimately responsible to leave the premises as they found it upon arrival; this includes cleaning the entire event area and removal of all refuse and trash.
    Also no equipment, decor or materials (except for the tent(s) may be left overnight. This means extra costs to the client but helps keep the property in tip-top shape without having to face any reminders of yesterday’s party in the morning.
    We hosts outdoors weddings almost every weekend from mid-April to mid-November.

  7. We also host occasional wedding ceremonies. Most are outdoor celebrations. So far we have an unblemished weather record. So far we have stuck with ceremonies only. Receptions and the attendant problems with late nights, noise, alcohol and mess are someone else’s worry. The only whole full meal deal we entertained was our own daughter’s wedding last summer and even that took several days to tidy up from and have the property back to normal. The combination of extra family in the inn , family campers and guests was too much for the sewer system despite a porta potty so we had an unfortunate maintenance call from the drain surgeon.

    I like Kilburnie’s suggestion about the rules as that might make hosting other receptions viable and would certainly be an extra source of revenue.Even though, I find the exposure with just ceremonies and photo shoots is great for referral business especially with extra attention to photographers, wedding commissioners and wedding parties to ensure all goes smoothly. A reasonable charge is certainly a good idea as host time,set-up, impact on other guests and wear and tear all should be factored into the equation.

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