How to Make a Nontraditional Wedding Venue Work for Your Big Day
For couples with long-held dreams of tying the knot on a remote white sand beach, in the corridors of a modern art museum, or even on the rooftop of a historic property, making those dreams a reality can prove tricky. While there's a lot of extra work that goes into planning a wedding in a nontraditional venue, it's important to note that your fantasy wedding site doesn't have to be a fantasy at all. The simple fact is that, though a nontraditional wedding venue often requires more careful planning and a little extra attention to detail, any space can play host to your "I dos" if you put your mind to it. While it's true that permits, spatial logistics, and sometimes even in-depth travel details are necessary aspects of planning a wedding in a location that otherwise doesn't host these types of events, there's no reason why you should let the specifics of your venue overshadow the uniqueness of the one-of-a-kind site you fell in love with.
Whether you're choosing a site that embodies personal significance (maybe it's where your spouse proposed or your childhood home) nearly any venue can be altered to fit your day—within reason, of course!—as well as your specific needs. To prove our point, we gathered advice from some of the industry's top planners, venue coordinators, entertainment experts, and all-around wedding professionals. Their master list of tips for making sure your venue's standout features aren't overlooked will come in handy when it comes to finalizing the details of your big day.
Here, everything you need to know about making a nontraditional venue work for your ceremony and reception.
Utilize Your Venue's Uniqueness
"If you chose an 'outside-of-the-box' venue, use the site's most exclusive aspects to your advantage to create an unforgettable celebration. For this wedding at Nasher Sculpture Center, guests dined amongst the large garden sculptures without a tent overhead in order to give all who attended an up-close feel for the museum and its offerings. Mark di Suvero's beautiful Eviva Amore (Long Live Love) steel sculpture and the other extraordinary works of art on Nasher's lawn created a grand backdrop for this reception seating area." —Emily Clarke, Founder, Emily Clarke Events
Frame Architectural Features
"Embrace characteristics that make your venue nontraditional. By hosting the larger moments of your event (the ceremony, reception, or first dance) around your venue's unusual and historic architectural details, you're able to create extraordinary backdrops while highlighting the uniqueness of the setting itself—whether it's a reception under the crisp light of arched windows or a dramatic aisle down an industrial loft." —Francesca C. Damico, Events Associate, Haven's Kitchen
Adapt Indoor-Outdoor Spaces
"An added element to any venue, indoor-outdoor spaces present a variety of options for embracing your venue without having to commit to the indoors or outdoors fully. Setting up lounge areas in these unique alcoves gives guests a chance to really take in the space." —Kelly Cavanaugh, Owner & Senior Event Consultant, Clementine Custom Events
Embrace the Beauty of an Outdoor Venue
"When it comes to design, sometimes less is more. You chose this space because you loved its unique aesthetic, so let it shine! This is especially important when it comes to outdoor venues. Don't fight natural beauty, embrace it!" —Cassy Anderson, Founder, Cassy Rose Events
Consider Destination Spots
"Destination weddings are a great way to explore a different country or area with your closest friends and family. For an outdoor wedding, like this beach affair, it's important to consider factors like time of day and the time of year when finalizing details like your ceremony and any other outdoor events to avoid the heat." —Michelle Rago, Owner, Michelle Rago Destinations
Choose an Accommodating Space
"Hosting an event in a restaurant venue gives you the best of two worlds—an exceptional space and a menu you can count on. With built-in catering and bar service, you can focus your attention on making the space feel like your own. Accentuate the restaurant's existing décor with your own personal touches to reflect a signature style." —Demi Meeker, Senior Sales Manager, Cannon Green
"Measure, measure, measure! In a nontraditional space, you may not have the perks of a ready-made aisle and other familiar means of a traditional setup. You'll want to measure to make sure your guests, chair counts, as well as your bridal party, all fit comfortably." —Brandi Reiland, Creative Director + Owner, Soiree Weddings & Events
Let Nature Take Center Stage
"A natural setting provides the most exquisite scenery for beginning a new life together. The organic light and gorgeous color palette captured outdoors makes for an unforgettable backdrop. Let nature inform your design vision and guide work in harmony with your surroundings." —Tina Reikes, Owner, Bear Flag Farm
Alter Your Space as Needed
"Consider alternative flooring ideas to maximize your space. For a recent wedding at a private estate, we were tasked with creating a dinner and dance-friendly environment in a small space, so we built a catwalk-style dance floor over the pool, giving guests a truly unique dancing experience!" —Allyson Joseph, Owner, Bob Gail Special Events
Tell a Story
"Picking a unique venue that holds a unique significance to your and your spouse's relationship is a beautiful way to convey even more meaning to your big day. Whether you choose to tie the knot where you got engaged, where you first met, or where you grew up, it's important to consider those one-of-a-kind elements in your final planning." —Jennifer Thye, Owner, Imoni Events
Consider a View from the Top
"Sometimes the most unconventional wedding spaces can actually sprout from the rooftop of traditional venues. For this rooftop ceremony, we positioned the chairs and the altar to showcase New York's iconic skyline." —Joseph Todd St. Cyr, Owner, Joseph Todd Events
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