Booking a wedding venue can be one of the most daunting tasks involved in wedding planning. The location of the ceremony or reception sets the mood for the whole event. Depending on the atmosphere you’re trying to create, the options may seem overwhelming.
Do you want something close by with easy parking for the in-laws? Do you want something more hidden and quaint? Private or in the center of a bustling city? All it takes is a little intention, inspiration, and planning to nail down your dream wedding venue.
Below are 10 different ideas of where to hold your wedding, and here are 36 of the best + most unique wedding venues we recommend.
But first, remember that…
Before calling up every church, park, and library in the area, keep in mind the size. Are you having a small wedding with only family members and close friends? Or are more the merrier, high school friends and old coworkers all welcome?
For small weddings, it will be a more intimate affair. Having a shorter guest list gives you the ability to book a smaller non-traditional venue. If you and your significant other want to keep it simple and have a short guest list, consider the following ideas for venues.
Restaurants are top on the list for wedding venues when it comes to a smaller guest list. If you have a restaurant that’s near and dear to your heart, perhaps a place you and your significant other use to dine together, reach out to see if they offer reservations or a private room.
Make sure you enjoy everything that’s preexisting about the venue, like the menu, decor, and overall feel. You will be unable to change much about the restaurant itself, so make sure it’s love at first sight.
2. Hotel Suite
Many hotels offer lovely areas, both indoor and outdoor, such as wine bars, beaches, lakes and gardens. Booking your wedding venue at a hotel has its perks, such as rooms for out-of-town relatives, catering, gorgeous reception areas, ballrooms, and entertainment.
Keep in mind that a smaller crowd of people attending calls for creativity with seating arrangements and table layouts. You may want to opt for a large round table, so guests are in close quarters. Curtains, lights, and other decorations can help warm up the place. Designing an intimate event takes preparation and early booking. Make sure your wedding planner or whoever is in charge of decorating understands your vision.
3. Private Home
Another popular option for an intimate wedding venue would be to rent someone else’s home. Renting out a private home for the big day or the week of the wedding is a great idea for couples who find hotels and museums to lack the personal touch.
Having your own private home opens up more to flexibility. You’re doing what you want on your own time, instead of following the time constraints hotels and caterers designate.
During the summer, this is also a great opportunity to have a gorgeous backyard wedding. A house offers a unique atmosphere for the wedding and the personal touch of home without the stress of actually hosting in your own house.
One big way to save on flowers? Have your wedding at a conservatory. Imagine being surrounded by blossoming flowers and a variety of plants without handing your paycheck over to a florist. Consider conservatories, botanical gardens, and horticulture centers.
Not only will you be surrounded by never-ending, gorgeous blooms, but conservatories typically feature elegant fountains, stunning greenhouses and pretty tree-lined stone paths. A photographer’s dream. Your guests will be in awe as well. Skip the decorations on this one.
Barns have been a popular wedding venue choice for a few years now, and rightly so. This so-called “trend” is here to stay. The barn wedding gives brides the flexibility to design their wedding however they want. A spacious red barn is like a blank canvas. You can pick out the whole setup. Candles of LED lanterns? Chandeliers hanging from the ceiling or white curtains? Tons of greenery or some sunflowers here and there? The possibilities are endless.
Great for any season, indoor or outdoor, a barn is a unique wedding venue for the bride who wants full control of the design and vision of the big day. Depending on where you live, family-owned barns are plentiful. Some farms even offer groom and bride suites, spacious guest areas, wine bars and Wi-Fi. What more could you need?
Note: If you’re up for the challenge, find a local barn that needs to be refurbished. After some cleaning and a fresh coat of paint, an old barn can be transformed into the perfect summertime oasis.
For larger weddings, the venue will have to follow suit. But bigger doesn’t always mean it has to be more expensive!
Whether it’s lakeside or oceanside, nautical-inspired beach weddings are always fun with a big crowd. Especially when it’s your big crowd. Typically this will be a causal affair. No heels, skip the big lacy dress, and throw that hair in an updo. Overall you may save money by having a beach wedding, assuming you stay local and keep decor and extras simple.
A permit will also be required for a ceremony to be held. Renting an oceanfront estate can eliminate disruption from a public audience and offer more seclusion for photos. As for any outdoor wedding, you’ll want to have a backup plan in case of bad weather. Having a sturdy canopy, tent, or indoor place could save the day.
7. State Park
Outdoor weddings can be beautiful and inexpensive.
Parks may require reservations and special permits, so make sure to contact them first. Entry fees are typically less than $5, if not free.
Because you’ll be surrounded by natural beauty and scenic views, decorations are not required. With free admittance, minimal decorations, and a picnic-themed reception, you’ll save a lot of extra money. Maybe a honeymoon trip to Bora Bora?
Picking a weeknight for this unique wedding venue is a plus. Less people will be out and about, giving your wedding more privacy. If you want to use a park’s amphitheater, an activities permit will be needed in advance. Don’t worry, thats usually free too.
8. Apple Orchard
Thinking of a fall wedding? Apple orchards capture the rustic ambience of autumn. The changing leaves offer a stunning backdrop for wedding photos and large ceremonies. Versatile for any season or any size wedding, apple orchards have adapted to this popular wedding choice.
Many apple orchards have incorporated house-drawn carriage rides, rowboats, apple picking and children-focused activities. There will never be a dull moment.
Finding a local apple orchard is easy with a quick Google search. Save money by staying close to home, so family members and other guests are a short drive away.
Note: Not near an apple orchard? A scenic field will do the job.
Does an outdoor wedding make you nervous? We don’t blame you. If you’re not a fan of the Weather Guessing Game, many museums have areas you can rent after-hours.
Not only are these wedding venues unique, but guests can explore different historical masterpieces or go on tours before or after the ceremony. Some museums offer outdoors activities as well. Typically the lighting in museums are spectacular, so pictures will turn out great. You’ll also be supporting a local organization. That’s one big donation.
Museum Wedding Inspiration: Intimate Museum Wedding With Texture + Vintage Details. View here.
A once-and-a-lifetime opportunity for an indoor wedding venue idea would be an aquarium. Majestic sea life and larger-than-life aquariums would be your backdrop on the big day.
For this venue, there would be a team of staff taking care of the ins-and-outs of the ceremony and reception. More money, but less work for you. Find an aquarium with raving reviews and a professional event background to host you dream wedding. It will be unforgettable!
Whether you’re filing for a permit at a state park or renting out a space at a historical museum, time is of the essence. Most larger event venues, such as an aquarium or hotel, require a reservation and down payment a year in advance.
Plan on a venue deposit of 50% since that’s the industry standard. Some vendors and facilities may require a 25% deposit or less, but it’s better to be on the safe side. You want to secure your dream venue as soon as you make the final decision. Your wedding planner should have an estimate on how early to book. Otherwise it never hurts to call or visit the venue in person.
Don’t Be Afraid to Wheel and Deal
State parks, beautiful beaches, quaint farms, rolling fields, and outdoor amphitheaters are all inexpensive ways to celebrate. When it comes to museums and aquariums, pick a date that’s less in-demand.
It never hurts to ask for a discount. If you or your significant other are in the military, don’t be afraid to mention this and see if any benefits are available. Booking far ahead can also include early discounts. Other tips include:
Shopping around. Negotiate and use the power of competition. If you find a great price at another venue, see if your other choice venue will match the offer.
Cut down on other expenses. If you absolutely want to book a certain venue and their price won’t budge, look at other expenses to see if those will budge. Ask the florist for 20% off, or find a different caterer that will knock off a few hundred.
Don’t settle. It’s easy to be in a hurry and get caught up in the decision-making process. You may feel pressured or feel like time is running out. But don’t take the first offer. Make sure to do your research. Be willing to walk away if the venue is asking an unfair amount.
Hint at upgrades. Let’s say you find the venue and fall madly in love. The price for the venue is reasonable, but going over your own personal budget. See if the venue will sweeten the deal by adding services that would benefit the wedding process, like offering vases for the flowers or drinks before the ceremony. They want to make you happy.
Be Kind. Most importantly, treat employees with respect. Their job is to make your wedding day rock and roll. You will want to grow and foster a positive relationship with them. Being rude, aggressive or cheap can easily cut ties in a matter of minutes. Being polite and negotiating fair prices is the best route.
Deciding the location of your wedding venue is arguably the most important step in the wedding planning process. You’ll create some of the most significant memories of your life in this space. Pictures of this grand day will hang up in your hallways for years to come.
Tons of options are available to you! But don’t be alarmed. Take time and careful consideration when picking your personalized, unique wedding venue. Staying in your budget doesn’t mean you have to lose out on a location that’s meaningful to you. This is about you and creating special memories with loved ones. Take a step back and envision your goals for this wedding day.
After you’ve finally chosen your perfect wedding venue, whether it be big or small, pat yourself on the back. You’ve opened up a new chapter of your life and it’s going to be a great read.
Written by: Amanda Lerom of The Wedding Shoppe.
header photo // Captured Glory Photography
photo 2 // Innate Light
photo 3 // Vein and Vessel
photo 4 // Jason Livingood
photo 5 // Empiria Studios
photo 6 // Cordelia Haugen
photo 7 // Uppercase L Photography
photo 8 // Anna Nesseth
photo 9 // Emilie Anne Szabo
photo 10 // La Vie Photography