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Save The Wedding Barns in Howell

This petition had 435 supporters

- This is not written by or on behalf of any of the barn owners - 

In Marion Township in Howell, Michigan, several families invested hundreds of thousands of dollars each into their respective farms in order to make their barns available as wedding venues - a move that not only helps to preserve historic farms in the area, but brings a great deal of business to local wedding vendors, restaurants, hotels and other local businesses.  

During the time that these barns were beginning to operate, these families were in communication with the township and were told by township representatives that they were taking the appropriate steps to operate legally.  

My husband and I were married on my parents farm last spring - one of Howell's first farms, the historic Eisner Farm on Jewell Road.  The wedding was beyond my wildest dreams, enchanting in every way. Nearly everything came from Howell businesses - the most beautiful cake I've ever seen from Mom & Pop's Bakery, stunning floral arrangements from Country Lane, and my wedding gown came from The Dress Shop. Our guests stayed in local hotels, and our dinner was catered by a local chef.  We followed every rule by the book. My bridal shower was even at the Marion Township Hall, where they were fully aware of our wedding plans.  Contrary to incorrect statements from Marion Township, my husband and I did not pay my parents to get married on their farm - a claim that I found both absurd and insulting when I read it shortly after our wedding in an article on WHMI Radio’s website. The article was later removed from the WHMI website, but can still be viewed in an rss feed here (scroll down and look for “Marion Township Looks To Shut Down Barn Wedding Venues”)

Firstly, I’ll say as a new bride, it really stung to see the first press that came out mentioning my wedding was press implying that my wedding was illegal when my parents not only worked hard to give us such a beautiful wedding, but bent over backwards to follow the local rules as well.

We had heard some rumbles that the township wasn’t too excited about the new local wedding industry, but the cold hard truth of what was really happening didn’t strike us until shortly after our wedding, when my mother received a legal notice from from the township via a process server - They shut down every wedding barn in the township that day, forcing several Marion Township families to cancel and refund deposits for dozens of upcoming weddings, which effectively diverted huge amounts of money that would’ve gone to local business to other towns when devastated brides had to re-locate their weddings last minute.  

Since then, it has been nothing but a soap opera watching all of the wedding barn families struggle to get any kind of agreement with the Township. Historically, there is no logical way to argue that a) it’s unusual to have a large crowd at a barn, or b) that it’s inappropriate to use your farm for profit.  

Apparently in Marion township, Mud Bogging on private property is completely legal, which involves huge crowds, alcohol, insane tricks in souped up vehicles in mud - sometimes vehicles with small children riding with their parents.  

I personally don’t have any issue with mud bogging as long as it’s being done responsibly without kids getting hurt and the noise isn’t too loud from a distance, but I find it utterly shocking that Marion Township would ban weddings (with smaller crowds and no dangerous vehicle stunts) and allow mud bogging.  

According to a Facebook post from a few days ago, they actually endorse it!  “Marion Township would like the presence of as many mud trucks as possible to be on display for the Heritage Days on June 10&11. Trucks need to be unloaded between 7:30 - 9:00 am either day, or both days. If you're not broke after Dan's bog, let's give them our support.”

Link to the original post:

Again, I have no interest in shutting down the Mud Bogs - I have a massive issue with the logic to condone them and continue to call wedding barns a safety hazard when the owners are proactively adhering to safety rules and willing to get permits were they to be made available.  There was more press on the situation this week about a local family that is also struggling with the township over this, and again WHMI censored it by entirely removing what was their featured story from their evening radio re-run of the news.  (here is the transcript I found on the back of their site - )

This is hurting the well-being and income of an entire community. For some reason it’s been kept very quiet in the press, and there are too many people that are suffering because of it.

Farms are designed for families to be able to work hard and profit. We demand an immediate resolution to this situation and will accept nothing less than a fair, legal system for hosting weddings on privately owned farms in Marion Township.


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Erin Hamilton needs your help with “The Marion Township Board of Trustees: SAVE THE WEDDING BARNS!”. Join Erin and 434 supporters today.