9 Unique and Unconventional Wedding Venues in the City
BY GLORI BLATT
These days, all weddings seem to include twinkle lights, beachside vows, and mason jars. Then, outta nowhere, you get invited to hear “I do” somewhere totally out of the box, like the middle of the woods, or underwater.
Here’s a secret: there are some wildly cool places where you can get married right in the city.
We highlighted some of the most special (and quirky) venues that will set the bar high and give city savvy to your Pinterest board. Skip the destination travel and stay right in the middle of the action.
In a Fire Station
Put out a fire, spark a romance. It’s all possible at Firehouse Chicago. Photo courtesy of Firehouse Chicago
For fun and fiery couples that want a memorable way to turn up the heat on their matrimony, there’s no venue more perfect than a fully restored fire station. Firehouse Chicago, originally built for Engine Company 70, was an integral part of the neighborhood for 102 years. Since the building’s recent restoration, it’s become a charming place for couples to declare their love, surrounded by the original antique doors, lighting, and plumbing fixtures. A lush outdoor garden provides a perfectly secluded ceremony spot, while a luxurious bridal suite complete with a vintage tub and private deck provides the perfect place for wedding party prep.
In a Silent Movie Theater
Cinefamily may be a silent movie theater, but the parties get loud. Photo courtesy of Cinefamily
Remember when a night out at the movies was a grand occasion, and the theaters that held them were ornate and beautiful? We don’t either, but we wish we did, which makes a silent movie theater the ultimate venue for couples that want to wow their guests with Old Hollywood glamour. In Los Angeles, the Silent Movie Theater combines an Art Deco background with a killer sound system, so after walking the red carpet—under a marquee with your name in lights—you and your guests can dance the night away in perfect pitch, while the movie of your choice is projected on screen.
Under a Bridge
We’re not trolling you when we say you can get married under a bridge. Photo courtesy of Guastavino’s
Forget the old fairy tales—one of the only things you’ll find hiding under a bridge these days is unique architecture and amazing acoustics, both of which make for a wonderful wedding venue. One such venue can be found under the Queensboro Bridge in Manhattan. Guastavino’s is an architectural masterpiece that provides an unforgettable setting. Towering granite arches and a Catalan vaulted tile ceiling make this romantic space unlike any other, and guests seeking privacy can enjoy a romantic moment in their spacious private garden.
On an (Urban) Private Island
Have a destination island wedding, without the tropical storms and expensive airfare. Photo courtesy of Forbes Island
Channel your inner celebrity by throwing a lavish wedding on your own private island—without the long flights and tropical storms, because these “urban islands” can be found by nearly every coastal city. Forbes Island is right smack dab in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, and in addition to white sand and palm beaches, guests can take in the view from a 40-foot lighthouse—the only privately owned lighthouse in the USA. That’s cool and all, but in our humble opinion, the venue’s most awesome feature is their underwater dining room, where guests can enjoy porthole views of the ocean while raising a glass to celebrate the bride and groom—and your good taste in wedding venues.
At an Animal Sanctuary
Let your wedding get wild at Lions, Tigers & Bears animal sanctuary. Photo courtesy of Lions, Tigers, & Bears via Eden Day Photography
Animal lovers will have the wedding of their dreams when they choose an animal sanctuary as the backdrop for the big day. Lions, Tigers, & Bears Animal Sanctuary in San Diego is a haven for rescued exotic animals. Welcome wedded bliss in the company of nature’s finest, including the aforementioned lions, tigers, and bears (Black, Himalayan Black, and Grizzly), as well as bobcats, horses, sheep, chickens, a mountain lion, a leopard, and a macaw. In addition to the standard celebratory offerings, couples can have a “White Oak Wild Wedding Night,” which involves an overnight at the park prior to, or after, their nuptials. Adventurous couples can even choose to “Feed a Wild One” and get up close and personal with the park’s residents.
Turn the tide on boring weddings with a ceremony on the Liberty Fleet. Photo courtesy of Boston’s Tall Ships
Adventurous aquaphiles: Have your very own “King of the World” moment and celebrate your union at sea. In Boston, brides and grooms who head to the harbor can choose from the Liberty Fleet, like the 125-foot Liberty Clipper for celebrations of up to 100, or the smaller Liberty Star for more intimate gatherings. Celebrations can be scheduled for any time of day, providing a perfect setting, whether you have aspirations of wedding day eggs benny or a first dance under the stars. Either way, guests will enjoy one heck of a party surrounded by views of the inimitable Boston skyline.
At an Antique Shop
Out with the old, in with the…old. Celebrate at Big Daddy’s Antiques. Photo courtesy of Big Daddy’s Antiques and Pottery Barn
Couples seeking a wedding venue that’s completely quirky and full of endless treasures should strongly consider an antique shop as the ultimate unexpected venue. With locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, Big Daddy’s Antiques will satisfy the whimsy of even the most unconventional. Prepare to swoon over the industrial interior’s beautifully curated decor, including a loading dock that’s been revamped into an impossibly cool ceremony spot. Forget DIY; use their in-house design services and achieve antique chic. This warehouse full of fun goodies will provide guests with endless entertainment from the minute they walk through the door.
At an Art Museum
The Perez Art Museum will make your wedding a guaranteed masterpiece. Photo courtesy of Perez Art Museum via Mademoiselle Fiona Photography
Art museums are literally built to provide a beautiful setting that accommodates many people and adds an emotional charge to anything that’s displayed within, which makes them the perfect wedding venue, whether you’re an art enthusiast or not. The Perez Art Museum in Miami is perched on the beach at Biscayne Bay, with outdoor plazas where sumptuous vegetation falls from ceiling canopies, providing a lush backdrop for your vows and an interesting contrast to the building’s minimal aesthetic. Guests can roam the 200,000-square-foot gallery full of avant garde exhibits and enjoy delicious cuisine from the venue’s exclusive caterer, Stephen STARR Events, owner of world-renowned restaurants Makoto and Steak 949.
In a Speakeasy
Speakeasy, party hard: you can say “I do” at Cliff Bell’s. Photo courtesy of Cliff Bell’s
For the bride and groom who just want to party, there’s no setting more epic and appropriate than a real life speakeasy. Cliff Bell's in Detroit was originally founded by John Bell in 1935, after he opened slew of speakeasies during the dry days of Prohibition. Considered by many to be his masterpiece, Cliff Bell's was the picture of luxury in mahogany and brass and fully embraced the legal availability of alcohol. The club was a beloved part of Detroit’s busiest night crawl throughout the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s. In late 2005, after being shuttered for 20 years, Cliff Bell's reopened under new management. Alive with the vibe from the 1930s, it’s the perfect venue not only for jazz lovers, but for anyone with a predilection for throwing one heck of a shindig.
Glori Blatt is a shopaholic writer and bride-to-be living and working in Boston, MA. Follow her wedding planning adventures—and purchases—at LazyBrideGuide.com and @GloriousBE.