Finding the perfect wedding venue can be one of the most frustrating parts of planning the wedding, doubly so because it’s one of the first things that needs to be done. If the cathedrals are all booked, it’s too cold for a state park, and the local designated wedding venues are scheduling two years in advance, it’s time to consider an alternative venue. These spaces may not seem right for a wedding at first blush, but they’re frequently easier to book and less expensive, and with the right planning can be a perfect place to say your vows. Here are a few to consider, in order from more conventional to more outlandish.
We’re not suggesting that you say I Do at your local multiplex, although some of the new-fangled theaters with reclining seats and luxury snacks might be a fun place for a wedding. No, what we’re talking about here is a restored old movie theater, a single-screen palace, gorgeously decorated and lavishly appointed. Most major metropolitan areas have at least one or two of these treasures. You can even provide a slideshow or movie to run on the screen during or after the ceremony which makes it a great choice for a wedding venue; though it will be rather unconventional.
If being in front of the screen at a movie theater doesn’t make you the center of attention enough, see if your town has a theater-in-the-round. It’s a circular stage surrounded by audience seating all the way around, 360-degrees. In a traditional wedding set-up, the entire audience is looking at the back of the wedding couple’s head throughout the ceremony; with theater-in-the-round, at least half of the audience gets to see your faces as you say those vows which makes them an ideal setup as a wedding venue.
Most major museums have a big entrance hall that would be perfect for hosting a wedding. You could do an art museum and say your vows surrounded by beautiful masterpieces. Or choose a science museum and let the zapping of Jacob’s Ladders provide a counterpoint to your bridal recession. Best yet, if your city has a good natural history museum, you could get married underneath an enormous dinosaur skeleton. What’s more, when your ceremony is in a museum, your guests have the perfect activity to keep them busy in the lull between ceremony and reception.
We’re willing to bet that when most of you hear “bowling alley,” you don’t think “romance.” For the select few who associate the smell of lane oil and the sound of crashing pins with high romance, we salute you. The rest of us have to make a bit of a leap to imagine a bowling alley wedding, but for the right couple, it could be great fun. Decorate with a rockabilly theme, have the bridal party in bowling shoes, say your vows in front of the fault line and throw a strike after the kiss. Your ceremony venue is also a great reception venue; it’s got a bar with snacks, and something to do at the reception besides the chicken dance.
Okay, stay with us on this one. We wouldn’t have believed that a wedding in a cave was suitable for anyone but orcs and goblins, but we keep seeing stunning pictures of these subterranean nuptials, and now we’re convinced. We’re not talking about a tiny, unlit tunnel, here–we’re talking something like Ruby Falls in Tennessee, or Carlsbad Caverns, something huge and well-lit. The enormity of the enclosed space invokes wonder and awe, while the cool, damp air keeps those tuxedo-clad groomsmen from sweating. Obviously the viability of this venue depends on wedding guests who are healthy enough to make a bit of a hike, and you’ll most likely want to have the reception somewhere above-ground. But imagine being able to tell people you got married in a cave, and then show them amazing pictures to prove it.
Just as home is where the heart is, a great wedding venue is wherever the happy couple says their vows; even if it is very unconventional. When picking your venue, don’t be afraid to think outside the church or VFW. Some truly remarkable wedding experiences await a couple with the chutzpah to go for one of these unconventional venues.