Unique Spots to Tie the Knot
The constantly morphing landscape of weddings means alternative options for venues. While classic church weddings and hotel ballroom receptions are traditional go-tos, brides and grooms looking for a little spice are opening the door to more unique and economical wedding-day locales.
Alternative venues also mean an opportunity to combine the ceremony and reception. According to a Ceremony and Reception Study from The Wedding Report, the wedding market research company, more than 60 percent of ceremonies and receptions were held in the same location. The report, which compared data from 2010, 2011 and 2012, also showed a decrease in the popularity of some traditional wedding locales – places of worship, country clubs – and the addition of new, nontraditional categories like museums and art galleries.
Keeping the receptions on-site also cut costs for photography, videography and car services, since transportation is not an issue.
“Simplification is always an advantage,” says Meg Keene, author of “A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable and Meaningful Celebration” (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2011). “You reduce the stress and cost of decorating and paying for two venues, and you don’t have to transport everyone from one place to another.”
This trend toward one-site celebrations and unusual venues means a fun opportunity for couples and wedding planners alike. Here are some picks for nontraditional ceremony and reception locations.
Museums or Libraries
The nostalgic sentiment of a favorite museum or the quiet atmosphere of a library can be a great outlet for low-key couples.
“If a couple is really into art, they could get married in anything from a photography museum to an aquarium,” says Wynn Austin, a wedding and event planner in San Diego. Austin says she’s noticed libraries and other public city spaces are becoming more open-minded in terms of offering wedding services to interested parties. She suggests looking for something with a touch of sentimentality or a shared memory between the pair.
Farms or Barns
“Rusted and rugged seems to be the new chic for weddings,” says Laura Nedelcu of VOW Wedding Consulting in New York. “A lot of couples are going for more of a vintage feel, so any venue that has that look will do just fine.”
A rustic wedding also means an easy transition from ceremony to reception, with nothing more than haystacks and rows of chairs separating guests from the post-wedding festivities. Finding a clean, easy-to-use barn owned by a friend or relative also slashes budgets. The rentals fees alone could save thousands, says Austin.
Warehouses or Lofts
“I’ve seen couples who love the urban feel who find empty warehouses for their wedding,” Austin says. These large, spartan spaces mean plenty of opportunity for personal decorations, sprawling food services and, most importantly, room to party!
Save, Save, Save
The unique, fun location might be set, but it’s important not to go overboard in the little things – that will make even a cost-effective venue unnecessarily pricey.
Nedelcu suggests keeping an eye on menus and rentals. "Off-site catering companies offer many menu options, which allow for a significantly lower food cost per person,” she says. “You can make your wedding as fancy or low-key as you want depending on your budget.”
According to Austin, it’s the food that will make or break any budget – and the drinks. “Most caterers will allow the couple to purchase their own alcohol,” she says.
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