Picking a venue is one of the most important decisions you’ll make regarding your wedding. The location determines how many guests you can invite, what kind and style of decorations you can have, who can cater the reception, and more. A traditional venue is also typically the most expensive part of a wedding.
Luckily, that also means one of the best ways to reduce your wedding expenses is to not pick a traditional option! If your heart isn’t set on a church, check out some of these interesting, creative, and downright gorgeous alternative venues.
These venues aren’t quite traditional but aren’t quite nontradtional, either. These are perfect for the couple who wants the feel of a destination wedding without having to travel so far.
Wineries/Vineyards: at the right time of year, wineries or vineyards are stunning and smell heavenly, making them an enticing wedding location. You’ll also have a built-in bar — although many wineries only have a license for wine and maybe beer, not liquor. Wineries are spreading across the country, and even if they don’t have a vineyard on the same grounds, the wineries themselves are typically beautiful buildings.
Pros: beautiful views, delicious smells, can accommodate any number of guests, catering usually included
Cons: can be expensive, transportation, site-specific regulations
College campus: did you and your significant other meet at college? Your favorite campus spot – whether it be the green, football field, chapel, or welcome archway – can be the perfect wedding spot! It signifies the moment your relationship began and can now signify the moment you became one. You can’t get much more sentimental and romantic than that.
Pros: sentimental, familiar, meaningful, has a built-in theme
Cons: rules about who can get married and when, can get expensive
Beach: beaches have become known as one of the most idyllic wedding venues. The sun hot on your backs, walking barefoot in the sand, with the sound and smell of the ocean nearby are all definitely good reasons to have your wedding on the beach. There’s more than just ocean beaches, too. If you don’t live near a coast, look for a lake nearby! You can find the water, sound, and beauty at lakes, although you may have to pass on the sand and salty smell.
Pros: beautiful, serene, inexpensive
Cons: logistics, transportation, may be difficult to find a private beach or reserve a public beach
Forest/garden: for the outdoorsy types who don’t like the sand and sun as much, a forest or lavish garden are also great options! Maybe you know someone who has a certified backyard habitat or a large acreage with lots of trees. One of the best things about an outdoor wedding is there isn’t really a limit for how many seats you can have, so if you’ve always dreamed of a huge wedding, this is a great, budget-friendly option.
Pros: peaceful, beautiful, can accommodate any number of people, inexpensive, might get to see wildlife
Cons: weather-dependent, bugs, logistics
Library: did you know you can rent a library for your wedding? Well, you can, and it’s incredible. For the couple who loves reading, writing, and all things libraries, having your wedding at a library is a meaningful way to celebrate your relationship while also supporting your local library (or any library you choose!). The biggest downsize for a library venue would be the guest count – depending on the size of the library, you may have to severely limit your guest list.
Pros: meaningful, supports local business, unique, inexpensive
Cons: size restrictions, site-specific regulations
Museum or art gallery: along similar lines, many museums will host weddings. Museums and galleries are great venues for history buffs, art lovers, or guest lists with lots of kids who may get bored or restless during the ceremony. For someone looking to slash their budget, a museum offers built-in decorations! Pick a museum with your favorite statues or historical scene or person you admire, and forget about the rest. If you’re into supporting local businesses, find a local gallery with artists you adore and ask to rent the gallery one night with some of your favorite pieces on display.
Pros: built-in theme, built-in activities, inexpensive
Cons: site-specific regulations, may not be able to decorate
Lighthouse: lighthouses have been used since at least 5BC to help guide ships during a storm. What better foundation for your marriage than one that promises to keep each other safe when you are struggling? The lighthouse you choose will stand forever as a testament to your love and commitment to each other.
Pros: beautiful, sentimental
Cons: outdoor planning, can be expensive depending on the lighthouse
National park: state and national parks across the country offer special permits for weddings as well. You’ll have to pay for the application and permits, but it will be a fraction of the cost of a traditional venue. For the breathtaking views provided at these parks, you can’t beat this. However, it’s important to acknowledge the untraditional logistics that go into planning a wedding at this untraditional venue (bathrooms, transportation, food, etc.). Fortunately, most parks have someone on staff who can help with all the details.
Pros: beautiful natural views, low-cost, can accommodate any number of guests
Cons: logistics, park regulations, outdoor planning
Apple store: yep, you could even get married somewhere like an Apple store! If there’s a particular location that’s especially important to you and your fiancé, look into getting married there. It never hurts to ask if that location – whether it’s a park, store, restaurant, or private property – could host your wedding. A nontraditional venue like this is a sure way to have a completely unique wedding. However, make sure you ask well in advance and be prepared to be declined; the site may have rules or regulations that don’t allow events like weddings.
Pros: unique venue, personalized location, low-cost
Cons: may not be authorized, likely won’t be able to have many guests
Not all of the pros and cons will apply to every couple, and some couples will find one of the pros listed above may actually be a con, and vice-versa. If you’re looking for a location that will amaze your guests and create lifelong memories, a nontraditional venue may be your best option. Make sure you thoroughly research your chosen venue for any rules and regulations it may have, and be prepared to compromise or have a backup in case those rules won’t work for your wedding.