Mariah Kalhor will discuss a small glimpse into her real life as a young female entrepreneur in this series of video blogs. She’ll share all of the tips and tricks she’s picked up over the last decade. She’ll be showcasing unique Oklahoma businesses as well as touring homes and highlighting things about Oklahoma, assisting others in understanding how to be successful, and never giving up on yourself.
Video Transcript / Summary:
Building Our Dream Venue
The Beginning of Huckleberry Hill Barn
Huckleberry Hill Barn was a vision of Mariah’s that she birthed from her engagement about 12 years ago. She had looked everywhere for a place like the barn she now owns.
She had already gotten married a few years before telling her parents that she wanted to find a white wedding barn. She and her husband decided to look for land and construct their ideal barn, and after how many years, they located a 20-acre plot of land in Purcell, Oklahoma, where they immediately began erecting and constructing the posts and beans.
It was fulfilling for Mariah to see all the wonderful events (weddings, birthday parties, etc.) held in Huckleberry Hill Barn. She said, “It’s still a labor of love; we have a long way to go, but it’s been so fun to just see this vision that happened 12 years ago come to life, and as a younger girl, the one thing we always dream about is our wedding, so to have two parents that back up building a wedding venue is the coolest thing I think I’ve ever experienced.”
Struggles and Breakthroughs
Mariah and her family had to postpone the opening of their barn due to family health issues. For a while, they just watched it rot away, which was very disheartening for Mariah. But then Mariah and her husband decided to pull it together, put more money into it, and finish it, so they ended up finishing the barn, and just as it was about to open, COVID hit, and it was the month when the entire world shut down, so now there was this beautiful venue that just sat there, where no one would come because everyone was staying away from anyone.
So months and years passed before the breakthrough. Mariah’s brother got engaged, and the first wedding they hosted at the barn was incredible for them because it was their first event, and it also allowed them to promote it and take photos and videos. Because of this, they were able to host approximately 60 weddings at the Huckleberry Hill Barn a few years later.
Owning Huckleberry Hill Barn
The hardest part of managing this wedding venue for Mariah is keeping her family members, who own 50% of the barn, on the same page. She adores her family, but they do have different ideas about how to run things, which makes it harder for her when they disagree about implementing certain policies. A lot is going on at all times, dealing with the bride, their families, and friends. As a result, Mariah occasionally needs to swallow her pride and just let things go to see how they turn out, and sometimes that works out quite well.
For Mariah, the idea of owning a wedding venue has been a lot of fun because she could peek inside, look around to see what was going on, and maybe even indulge in a small piece of cake. There are numerous challenges, though. On the day of the wedding, people are under a great deal of stress, so issues can appear at any time. She thinks back to one of those instances where she trusted her father and delegated responsibility. Given that they reside on the same property as the barn and are present when Mariah is away from the business, she found it convenient to have her parents on hand to manage it.
Tips and Tricks for Running a Wedding Venue
Let them know Something that does Go Wrong
According to Mariah, no matter how well-planned your wedding event is, something will go wrong on some occasions. For example, someone may forget to bring ice, someone may be late, or you may have lost a button, among other things. No matter what goes wrong, the goal is to keep everyone calm on their wedding day.
It’s amazing how much anxiety a wedding can cause. But once Mariah says, “Okay, listen, it’s go time,” all of a sudden, she puts on a different face, and they manage to get it done. At the end of the day, nine times out of ten, the bride, groom, and guests are incredibly happy.
Be very Transparent
Mariah’s biggest tip is to always be honest and let people know that mistakes can happen but that it’s okay because there are enough people on hand to fix them.
Choose A Wedding Venue Somewhere that’s Unincorporated Area
When Mariah had the idea to build the venue, they wanted somewhere unincorporated so that they could do what they wanted to do and wouldn’t be shut down. Weddings often last all night, so if you’re establishing an event in the town proper, people will tell you that “it’s 10 o’clock or 11 o’clock and the quiet ordinance is here,” so being out on the property was their biggest vision because now people can go until later in the hour and can be loud out there and have a good time.
If you’re going to start your own wedding venue, you want to offer as many incentives as possible, according to Mariah. That’s the number one thing brides ask for when they come in; they’re like, “What do you have for me?” So in our wedding venue, we provide all the tables, chairs, linens, and decors. One of the coolest things is that after weddings, a lot of people don’t want to deal with taking home any of the stuff they brought, so they’ll just donate it to the venue, which is fantastic. But also providing value, not just a space, is important because that is the first question that pops up: “What can you do for me at this price?”
Take Care of the Cleaning
Do not put pressure on the bridal party or other event parties to clean the venue afterward, according to Mariah, because nine out of 10 people will not clean it the way you want it. So in Mariah’s event venue, they ask for a deposit that is set aside to take care of the deep cleaning after the party is over because, when we expected them to clean the place as they received it, they never got their deposit back because they simply did not clean well.