10 Completely Unique (and Totally You) Wedding Venues

By: Sara Elliott

Wedding Gown Image Gallery Your wedding venue can be an expression of who you are as a couple. See pictures of wedding gowns.
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You want your wedding to be unique, memorable and entertaining, but it can be a challenge to come up with the perfect backdrop for the festivities. There are a lot of locales to choose from, and the possibilities can vary based on a number of factors, like the time of year, your budget and the number of guests and participants you have in mind. These 10 wedding venue ideas represent some romantic, practical and unexpected options. When it comes to your wedding and reception, though, let your personal style be your guide.


10: In a Chapel

Traditional can intersect with unique.
Traditional can intersect with unique.

For a small and intimate affair, nothing beats a wedding in an inviting little chapel. Because scale plays a role in what makes the effect seem so fairytale perfect, keep it small and go for classic touches in the flowers and gowns. If you don't plan on having many guests, using a chapel is a great way to make the proceedings feel cozy without appearing too informal. The right, picturesque chapel can almost seem like a member of the wedding when it's displayed artfully in posed photos. It's an iconic locale any time of year.


9: Going Where Your Passion Takes You

If you love butterflies and think the butterfly habitat at the local zoo is the perfect place for your wedding, then it never hurts to ask if you can make the magic happen there. Even if you just adore the arts and want to get married in your favorite art gallery, you may be able to pull it off with permission, some time and a little judicious planning. Your choice may require some additional creative strategizing, but it never hurts to explore all the options, especially if it'll make your dreams come true. An unusual wedding venue can create some hassles, but it can be the basis for great stories later and a one-of-a-kind experience for everyone involved.


8: At a Winery

Expressing your love at a winery is easy.
Expressing your love at a winery is easy.

Wineries are becoming popular wedding venues, and it's no wonder. Their picturesque, wine history and lore makes for lively post wedding conversation and the vistas are usually breathtaking. Wineries are popping up in lots of states across the nation, so don't rule out a winery for your wedding just because you don't live in the Napa valley. Oh, and getting a nice discount on a popular vintage isn't out of the question, either. As with other fashionable wedding locales, make arrangements at your winery of choice well in advance.


7: On the Waterfront

Anything on the water or with an ocean, lake or river view can be a dramatic and appealing locale for a wedding. A nautical theme offers lots of design opportunities too. Just remember that water related venues may look beguiling on sunny spring days but appear bleak, gray and forbidding in bad weather. Even so, there's something about the water that makes festive occasions even more special, so swab the decks and check out the options.

Some interesting candidates are: ferries, houseboats, dockside restaurants and parks near or on waterways.


6: At the Country Club

Scenic and classy -- a country club could be the perfect spot to exchange vows.
Scenic and classy -- a country club could be the perfect spot to exchange vows.
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Country clubs often have lavish facilities that make for spectacular indoor and outdoor wedding celebrations. They can be pricy locations, though, and may have restrictions you'll want to review if you aren't already a club member. If you've got the budget, and a wedding and reception with all the trimmings is your childhood dream, a little country club ambience may be just what the wedding planner ordered.


5: In the Hall

No one ever said a wedding had to be fancy to be delightful. If a simple city hall wedding worked for Carrie Bradshaw (of Sex and the City fame), it may work for you too. One nice thing about this approach is that it doesn't take much planning and can be a low-stress option. If you've ever participated in a big wedding, you might find a civil ceremony refreshingly easygoing and the best choice for your temperament and budget.


4: At a Museum or Historic Building

A museum can be an awe-inspiring venue.
A museum can be an awe-inspiring venue.

When you're looking for picturesque or meaningful sites for your wedding, don't forget to check out the historic or cultural buildings in your area. Some of these venues offer great rental discounts and have quaint, impressive or unexpected features that make dynamic photo opportunities, like elaborate entrances or stained-glass windows. If you think all that marble or stone looks too cold, consider it a great neutral background for loads of flowers -- and your wedding party, of course.

To make sure you've covered all the bases, check with your local chamber of commerce for suggestions. Sometimes college buildings and state owned buildings that you wouldn't consider rentable are available for weddings on a limited basis.


3: In a Public or Private Park

For the bride on a budget, planning a wedding and reception in the park can be a beautiful and economical choice. Mother Nature will play a part in making it perfect, though. Horror stories about outdoor weddings gone wrong abound, but no one will argue that when it works, an outdoor wedding has special charm. For a nominal fee in some areas, you can rent a site, often including a covered space with electrical service. If the weather in your area is predictable, this could be the perfect location for you.


2: In the Garden

A garden is synonymous with love in full bloom.
A garden is synonymous with love in full bloom.
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Getting married in your own backyard can be a touching tribute to your parents (if you're getting married at the family homestead) and an homage to the gardener in your family. The size of the wedding and potential weather problems are always considerations when dealing with limited outdoor spaces, though. Having to add structural elements, like tents, tables, lighting, chairs and a platform to the property could destroy some of the existing landscaping too. You should also consider issues like parking (you may be able to ask the local police department to block the street for the duration for a nominal fee), and the inconvenience a big gathering may cause the neighbors.


1: In the Extreme

You've read about couples who tied the knot scuba diving, skydiving or mountain climbing. Extreme weddings can be news-at-eleven worthy or just exciting and remarkable. Contemplating a bold, themed wedding is a gutsy move, but it could pay dividends. It might turn out to be the event of the season, or just the best weekend outing you've ever had or sponsored.

If this sparks an idea and you have a specific venue in mind, just make sure to keep it safe and sane enough for your guests, and get any appropriate licenses or permissions you'll need before the big day.

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