It began with a “Franconia ski house rental” Google search and ended in the purchasing of a New Hampshire Inn! How 3 childhood friends bought an inn during COVID and turned it into a New Hampshire wedding venue with lodging.
While looking through the sparse ski house rental options near Cannon mountain in Franconia NH this past summer, Jon stumbled across a listing for the Horse & Hound Inn. As he perused the specs and details, he had a brilliant idea. He decided to pose this question to his wife Hally: what if we bought the inn with some other families and turned it into a shared ski house?
They immediately thought of Jon’s two childhood best friends. There was Pallo and his wife Jess, who already loved skiing at Cannon with their two kids. And Chris, who had just adopted a little boy with his wife Katy. Chris couldn’t wait to get his new son on skis. Katy, who had become a dear friend, was always game for an unusual project (she’d just finished a gut renovation in the Azores!).
But if they used the Horse & Hound as a ski house in the winter, how could they use it to gain revenue throughout the remainder of the year? The restaurant had already been closed the year before by the former owners. And small inns are certainly not having an easy time keeping the lights on during the COVID pandemic.
The Vision for the Wedding Venue with Lodging
Katy had a vision: the Horse & Hound with its lodging, was an ideal destination wedding venue! The historic inn has 12 bedrooms and is set on 8 idyllic acres in the rustic White Mountains. She knew it was a great idea. But Katy, being a lawyer, she knew nothing about weddings. They were not closing on the inn until the end of October, and they had not booked a single wedding. Were they insane?
Luckily, lawyers are familiar with due diligence, so Katy got to work. She reached out to a bunch of industry folks and discovered that New Hampshire weddings vendors are amazingly friendly and helpful. They confirmed her notion that the Horse & Hound was ideal New Hampshire wedding venue with lodging. Couples love to be able to stay on-site with their wedding party. Also, at thee Horse & Hound, there were multiple options on the property for rehearsal dinner, ceremony, cocktail hour and reception.
Well, it’s all fine and good to know that you have a great spot for weddings. But how would couples find the Horse & Hound? And more importantly, this was 2020, and Katy remembered hearing about all the weddings that were cancelled because of COVID. The ideal wedding venue with lodging wasn’t helpful if there weren’t any weddings happening!
Fortunately, she found that love has not been cancelled, and couples were still making it work. She spoke to lots of wedding vendors and while they warned that COVID was transforming the wedding landscape, couples were finding creative solutions to tie the knot. She also learned that the Horse & Hound is as perfect for a New Hampshire micro-wedding as it is an extravagant tented affair. Katy admits, she had to Google “micro-wedding” when she first heard the term. But she now appreciates why couples might prefer intimate nuptials, even after COVID has cleared.
The Styled Shoot at the New Hampshire Wedding Venue
So Katy felt better, but she still didn’t know how to get the word out. Because they didn’t have wedding photos to advertise the venue with lodging, many vendors recommended a “styled shoot” at the Horse & Hound — which it turns out, is a bit of a pretend wedding. Katy had the good fortune to find Sorrell Downing of Events by Sorrell who quickly put together some “looks” for the shoot.
Katy quickly learned that there was a lot involved. They needed models, “HMU” (hair and makeup done by the amazing Katherine MacDonald), food (delectably created by Bitchin’ Kitchen), stationery (including a “cover to an order of service”) from Nikisha King and of course, flowers (gorgeously done by Clementina Floral Co). And of course a photographer to document it all (artfully done by Kate Preftakes Photography). Using a completely women-business owned vendor team (in Katy’s humble opinion), they rocked the shoot (more photos here).
Katy also really starting to pick up the wedding lingo. This was helpful, because she put it to use in the Horse & Hound social media content to go along with the awesome pics. Because as it turns out, social media is now how many couples actually find their New Hampshire wedding venue!
And in a positive (knocking on wood) turn of events, it’s looking like a good year for a new New Hampshire wedding venue with lodging to go online! Many 2020 weddings were rescheduled to 2021, along with all the 2020 engagements looking for venues. They already have 4 weddings booked and a ton of interest.
So finger’s crossed for this crazy idea. And in the meantime, the families are hitting the slopes and enjoying the homemade skating rink this winter at the Horse & Hound!