Hosting an Equine-Themed Wedding

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Editor's Note: While all farms and stables have daily chores, sometimes the winter months are less busy with customers and lessons. That makes January and February a great time to plan for your busy spring, summer, and fall! A lot of wedding planning goes on in the first two months of the year, so if you have been thinking about offering your farm as a wedding location (with or without horses), it would be a good time to visit some shows or start booking the location.

Looking for ways to increase revenue at your stable? Increasing the number of horses boarded on the property or expanding the lesson program may not be feasible options. Perhaps you need to think outside the box. Have you considered renting your facilities to clients or community members for wedding services and/or wedding receptions?

With an increased popularity in equestrian-themed weddings, many couples search out stables willing and able to host such events.Many of today’s larger stables include amenities that would make hosting such gatherings a possible.

Location, location, location The bride and groom have chosen to hold their wedding reception at a stable because of the views and backdrop.Evaluate your property and determine which portion of the property is well-enough drained and offers convenient parking to accommodate all guests.

Facilities What type of facilities are available?Some couples looking for a relaxed atmosphere will consider a plywood dance floor in the indoor arena hospitable.Others will prefer an outdoor gathering and a tent to offer protection from the elements.

On some horse properties, older barns, and buildings that used to house horses might be worth renovating and could advertised as a location for a wide variety of events.

Either way, consider the quantity and accessibility of restrooms.If permanent restrooms are not a part of the facility, the couple will need to arrange for the rental of temporary ones.

Does your stable include apartments or cottages that can be rented out to the bridal party? Not only can these spaces provide space for wedding day preparations, they can generate additional income through the rentals to out-of-town guests or the bridal party the night before the big celebration.

If accommodations are not available directly on your property, a partnership with a local bed and breakfast could lead to increased opportunities for both businesses.

Equipment Whether you are providing a carriage or a riding horse, make sure the equipment is thoroughly checked out and safe. If possible, offer a variety of saddles, from Western to side saddles.

Photo ops Photographs to record the day’s events are one of the most important aspects of any wedding.Decide which areas on the property will be available to the photographer.An area with gardens and landscaping could include a sign with your stable’s name to make the most of advertising opportunities. Keep in mind that many couples take wedding pictures before the ceremony. There also is the opportunity to provide the backdrop for engagement photos.

Horses Of course many couples are looking to include horses in the wedding, whether riding in a horse-drawn vehicle or having the bride ride in on an appropriate horse. Don't just assume your most "broke" horse will suffice; work with the horse and set up a mock wedding to train the horse what to expect. And have a "stable hand" ready in case the horse is nervous. Provide a wrangler assigned to any horses for the wedding or photos in order to keep things under control and safe. And if the bride insists that the "non-riding" future spouse be horseback, make sure you can provide a suitable mount.

Insurance Check with your insurance carrier to make sure that you are covered if you host any type of event, whether wedding or reception, and whether or not horses are involved.

Hosting an equestrian-themed wedding will not be a perfect fit for every facility.But if you think your stable might be a good candidate, meet with local wedding planners to let them know the facility welcomes special events and get advice from them.