Barn weddings becoming more popular in Utah, farmers say it helps pay the bills

Sep 19, 2023, 6:55 PM | Updated: 6:55 pm

CACHE COUNTY, Utah — There are still plenty of places in Utah where cows might outnumber people. Cache County is one of those places, though farmers here will tell you ranching continues to be challenging.

“Things are tough, and you know, we couldn’t even make it as being our full-time job,” said Kelli Snider.

Snider and her husband bought a farm in the small community of Paradise a few years ago. It was everything they hoped for, but they knew immediately they needed something else to help pay the bills.

“When times are tough, farmers get creative,” said Snider.

That’s when they came up with the idea to build a barn where a simple hay shed used to be.

“We looked around and realized just how beautiful the setting was, and we thought, you know what? We’re not doing this place justice,” she said. “That was when we had this idea to build a barn and say, come have weddings here.”

The exterior of the barn used in the weddings hosted by the Sniders. (Aubrey Shafer/KSL TV)

It seems barn weddings have become quite the thing in Utah in the past few years. And farmers have barns.

The Sniders call theirs The Barn in Old Paradise, but they had no idea how popular it would become.

“We are booked most weekends throughout the summer,” said Snider. “I think one of the biggest appeals about a farm wedding or a barn wedding is the relaxed atmosphere. It is kind of like a step back in time a little bit.”

It turns out a lot of people will pay for that experience. You can’t beat the view many rural farms have.

For ranchers, it is another way to make ends meet.

“You know, obviously, we hoped it would increase the bottom line, which it has done for us, but it has been so much more for us, too,” she said.

Kelli Snider showing off the floorplans of the barn.

Kelli Snider showing off the floorplans of the barn used in weddings. (Aubrey Shafer/KSL TV)

For example, many people are now visiting farms who may not have ever been on one.

The Utah Farm Bureau thinks the rising popularity of barn weddings in Utah can help raise awareness of what farmers and ranchers do.

“Farmers are looking for additional ways to share their farms with others. It can help the bottom line, but it also helps to build understanding with those who don’t farm,” said Matt Hargreaves, the communications director of the Utah Farm Bureau. “This is a big objective of what we work on. Understanding helps our industry.”

The Sniders agree and have taken plenty of time to answer questions from guests about farming.

“There may be people who come here who have never been on a farm or maybe wouldn’t go to a farm,” said Snider. “We want to show them we care about the land, and we consider ourselves stewards of the land.”

A view of the inside of the barn from the barn doors. (Aubrey Shafer/KSL TV)

Snider says they want visitors to know they are focused on water conversation and overcoming the farmer stereotype.

“We’re not just water hungry, animal abusing, whatever that is sometimes the stereotype that is put on agriculture,” she said.

It takes work to host weddings, and farmers will also tell you hard work is something they have never been afraid of. It’s just a matter of if they want to try something that can bring in extra money.

“It has really paid off for us,” said Snider. “It has been a great experience.”

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Barn weddings becoming more popular in Utah, farmers say it helps pay the bills