Weddings reflect society and our values. As culture shifts, so do weddings. The choice of ceremony locations is becoming more important as couples want to plan a personalized wedding that reflects their personalities, values, and relationship together. The shift is proving to be good news for agritourism wedding venues.
For the first time, farms, barns, and ranches are tied with banquet halls as the most popular wedding venues. In 2022, there were 2.4 million weddings in the U.S. Twenty percent of them, nearly one-half million, took place on a farm or ranch (480,000).
In 2009, only 2% of weddings took place at an agritourism venue: popularity has grown tenfold.
Many factors have contributed to the growing appeal of agritourism venue weddings:
The combination of rustic charm, natural beauty, personalized options, and a connection to nature has contributed to the growing popularity of farm and barn weddings. These venues offer a romantic and enchanting escape that resonates with couples seeking a distinctive and unforgettable wedding celebration.
External factors contributing to their increased popularity include:
The average 2022 wedding + reception cost $29,195, with one-sixth costing more than $30,000 (16.4%). The average number of guests was 127, with one-third of weddings having 150 or more guests (32%).
The most popular months for weddings, when most weddings occur (52%), are in May and June in the Spring and September and October in the Fall, perfect times when both the indoors and outdoors can be enjoyed at farms and ranches.
In 2022, the 25-39 age group accounted for the majority of weddings (54%), and 56% of all wedding spending.
Weddings have become very gentrified. People with a bachelor's or high degree now account for 38% of all marriages, an increase from 29% in 2008.
In 2022, couples with at least one person with a bachelor's or higher degree accounted for 51% of all wedding spending.
Modern weddings have gone from celebrating the "Big Day" to the "Big Year" with what is being called "the wedding sprawl." Engaged couples are now indulging in multiple celebrations. It has become more common to have an engagement bash, a bridal shower, a bachelor and/or bachelorette weekend, and even a will-you-be-my-bridesmaid party. Then when it comes time for the actual reception and wedding, there are additional events, including welcome drinks, a rehearsal dinner, and a morning-after brunch. We're even seeing a short mini-moon right after the festivities followed by the honeymoon. Sometimes there's even an early-moon before all the celebrating begins. All these festivities allow agritourism to capture some of the wedding revenues even if they don't host the wedding.
Our company's latest farm wedding and private event project was just completed at the 240-acre Williamson Family Farm just outside Nashville in Murfreesboro, TN. For the last seven years, part of the farm has operated as The Grove, a wedding and corporate event venue. The farm's owners took over management of the farm from its previous lessor three years ago. We've worked with the owners ever since as designers and producers on a multi-million-dollar investment of significant upgrades, renovations, and expansion. To maintain the authentic and rustic look of the buildings, we utilized weathered wood and exterior metal from demolished buildings so the renovations, new buildings, and additions would continue to capture the original rustic authentic look. Our design and construction management work included:
Loafing barn addition
The private event campus can now host two simultaneous weddings or group events for up to 300 people each in its two barns. Including the outdoor grounds, the farm can host a major private event for up to 1,500 people.
We continue working on the farm's renovation to include an interactive animal area, public festival grounds, an amphitheater, and conversion of the farm to regenerative organic crop production to supply crops for all the farm's events and development of apple orchards to supply a cidery to open in three years.