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If the standard house of worship or hotel combo doesn't quite suit the type of wedding that you and your partner hope to have, you may be entertaining ideas for some less traditional sites for your ceremony and reception.
An off-beat venue is great way for couples to express their personalities in ways that are unique to them as a couple, plus the more unusual the location, the more likely the venue will be available for your chosen date. Keep in mind that if you choose a venue that does not typically rent its space for weddings and receptions, it may require or advise you to seriously consider hiring a wedding planner to assist you in coordinating the many elements that need to be brought together to create your dream day. This may or may not include your caterers, seating, lighting, flooring, bars, sound system, generators, portable bathrooms, as well as the handling of permits and city allowances for parking, noise, fire safety and handicap accessibility. A wedding planner who specializes in planning unique and off-site occasions can recommend the most reputable service providers for your particular occasion and work in tandem with your caterers, rental companies and the venue's on-site manager to ensure that it all comes together as easily and as smoothly as possible for you and your partner.
Before you finalize your venue choice, consider, at the least, hiring a third-party wedding planner (one that doesn't work for the venue) because he or she may be able to advise on any additional costs that you and your partner may incur and need to budget for, the estimated amount of time you will need to allow for planning, and any items to consider changing or negotiating before signing your contract.
Consider one of these interesting alternative locales for the wedding that suits you best.
Designed to house, grow, study and protect exotic plants, tropical trees, flowers from around the world, endangered types of greenery needed to sustain forest life, a conservatory is overflowing with natural beauty. You would hardly need to haul in your own floral arrangements, and most conservatories are free to the public, which means you may be able to negotiate a sweet deal (perhaps even a free deal) to privately reserve it for your big day. So long as you respect the inhabitants of the facility, your Wedding Day will feel like a trip to the Garden of Eden within the greenhouse walls of a conservatory.
A Concert Hall
Look for old concert halls in your area. If your town or city has an opera house, a specific venue for the symphony, the ballet or the theatre—or if there are any historical-landmarks-turned-venues for bands to perform shows—talk to the owner or the booking agent to see about renting the space for your wedding. Many concert halls date back further than the automobile, so the interiors (like the gold ceilings and even the seats) may be part of the original foundation, making for an exceptionally beautiful, nostalgic setting for your wedding.
An Old Movie Theater
If you and your partner are film buffs or theatre-lovers, look for an old movie theatre with the original organ from the days of silent films and check with the owner or manager about renting it out for your wedding. You can walk down the theatre aisle and hold your ceremony on stage, in front of the red velvet curtain, while your guests take their seats in the original theater chairs (you could even offer popcorn treats after the ceremony to tie-in the theater theme) and set up a cocktail reception in the lobby.
Wherever you live, there is surely culture, and with that culture comes history, which comes with museums to preserve and display it. Whether it’s a classical or contemporary art museum, a museum of science and industry, a museum of film and photography, or a museum of natural history, these majestic buildings are an incredibly rich and untapped resource. Hosting your wedding at your favorite museum can be a fun, entertaining and educational experience for everyone, not to mention a totally unique way to celebrate your nuptials.
The serenely dim lighting, the fantastic array of brightly colored creatures, the sweet turtles and quirky penguins who mate for life…what could be a more romantic setting for your Wedding Day? Guests can browse the displays and exhibits during the reception or just enjoy the calm and intimate surroundings.
Gaze at the starry skies (even if the real stars are covered by storm clouds or city smog), slow-dance in the moonlight (and try to remember the constellations you learned in high school), and tell your beloved that you think they’re really ‘out of this world’ by hosting your wedding at the planetarium. It will be a fun learning experience for little ones (and grownups who could use a refresher on astronomy), plus it will offer a beautiful stargazing scene for your reception. Oh, and you can try this one on your guests: How do you organize the perfect wedding in space? Planet! Get it?
Enjoyable for kids and adults alike, hosting your wedding at a local zoo is a great alternative to the dull indoors. Full of gorgeous flowers and exotic plant life, wondrous creatures from around the world, and endless room for kid-friendly-mother-approved adventures, a zoo is a terrific place to say, “I do,” whether you’re outside with the African giraffes and elephants or inside with the birds of the rainforest.
Just because it didn’t quite pan out for Carrie and Big in the "Sex and the City" movie doesn’t mean it won’t be the absolute perfect location for your wedding. Full of history and stocked with all the greatest poets and love letters of the world, a grand old library could be an amazing site for your ceremony.
Getting married in your own backyard can be a touching tribute to your parents (if you're getting married at the family homestead).
Some barns are built to host weddings while others can be transformed from a traditional country barn with hay to a rustic yet elegant and unique space. Barns exist in many shapes and sizes and with the right vision, you are bound to find just the right one for your Big Day.