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Website Helps Rent Farms Out For Weddings, Events
If you’ve ever thought about renting out your farm for weddings or if you’re interested in finding a place to get married, you should check out the website, www.rusticbride.com. It includes 3,000 sites throughout the U.S. and offers a free listing service to rural business owners who would like to be added.
  Therese Sison started the website with information she compiled while planning her own wedding in 2010.  “Rustic means many different things to different people. That can be a barn on a farm. For others it’s a nice resort lodge in a rustic setting,” she explains.
  Businesses fill out a form about their services, and she makes sure they fit her broad definition of rustic before posting them.
  Besides farms, listings include camps, orchards, vineyards, wineries and retreat centers. Without any marketing, her site has grown organically by referrals and people finding the site with search engines.
  One good example is Susan Bell of Engel Farms (www.engel-farms.com) west of Kalamazoo, Mich. She and Bill Engel bought their 80-acre fruit farm to raise crops, sheep and peaches. They “accidentally” got into the wedding and event business in 2008 after saying yes to a neighbor who wanted to hold a wedding in their roomy farm yard.
  Business spread by word of mouth and the farm, with its pre-Civil War hay barn and 1800’s house, has been the venue for weddings with up to 500 guests. Initially, most were local, Bell says. But she has noticed more calls from other parts of the state, the Chicago area, and even other parts of the country. She believes the inquiries are due to websites such as Rustic Bride that list her as a venue.
  For people looking for a venue, Sison suggests asking a lot of questions about details of services offered. For example: Do they provide tables and chairs, take care of the liquor license, have adequate parking?
  Rusticbride.com organizes the venues by state, and each business’s name links to its web page – for free. For venues interested in more exposure, Sison plans to offer advertising in the future, but will continue free listings as well.
  While maintaining the website is a hobby in addition to Sison’s full-time job in education, she enjoys the response she gets from it. In the past year her website racked up 1.5 million referrals to venue sites.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Therese Sison, (info@rusticbride.com; www.rusticbride.com).

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2014 - Volume #38, Issue #5