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10 Unique Wedding Venues

Booking a wedding venue is 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.

Welcome sign for wedding

Empiria Studios

Size Matters

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 the 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.

1. Restaurant 

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.

restaurant wedding

Sophisticated Grace Photography 

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.

hotel wedding

Leigh Elizabeth Photography

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. Find a temporary dream home here!

private residence wedding

Hannah Kate Photography

4. Conservatory 

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 botanical gardens, conservatories, or 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.

conservatory wedding

Simply Sarah Photography

5. Barn

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 or 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?

Check out the Top Barn Wedding Venues in the USA.

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.

barn wedding

Janelle Marina Photography 

For larger weddings, the venue will have to follow suit. But bigger doesn’t always mean it has to be more expensive!

6. Beach

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. 

Save money by staying local, keeping decor simple, and hiring local vendors. A beach wedding doesn't always have to mean a destination wedding!

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.

 

beach wedding

Simply Sarah Photography

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?

Note: 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.

state park wedding

Flow Event Group

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 horse-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.

open field wedding

Catherine Leanne Photography

9. Museum

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. Check out art, children's, science, and history museums! 

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.

Find the museum that fits your personality and wedding vision board here!

museum wedding

Empiria Studios 

10. Aquarium 

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!

aquarium wedding

 

Once you determine which type of venue fits your wedding vibe, it's important to do your research and nail down the perfect venue. Think logistically and make sure you and your partner are on the same page. Follow these important tips to make sure you seal the deal!

Be Proactive 

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. 

Shop 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.

wedding venue

Russell Heeter Photography

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. 

city wedding

Sophisticated Grace Photography 

Where would you say your I do's? Already booked your dream spot? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Leave a comment

Natasha Hayes
January 04, 2021 11:58

Great ideas. My fiancé and I can are interested in having a smaller venue

lianne
April 17, 2018 19:50

I love these ideas! We are getting married in a state park. Im excited to have an amazing backdrop!

Cass kite
April 16, 2018 12:43

These are really cool. I’ll have to keep these in mind.

Bethanie
April 13, 2018 21:27

My fiance and I are actually using some super non-traditional venues: we’re having the ceremony in a jazz cafe and the reception a few blocks down the road at an Irish pub! It was so much cheaper than doing something traditionally thought of for a wedding.

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