Whether you’re a history buff or a lover of all things vintage, there’s something special about a historic wedding venue. Every detail, big and small, celebrate the start of a beautiful future in a golden moment of the past.

History is all around us, but historic wedding venues that suit your style may be hard to find. You don’t need a time machine to find that perfect place though. There are historic wedding spaces for a wedding reception all around—you just have to know where to look.

If you’re looking for a rustic wedding venue that’s full of character and charm, a historic place might just be your perfect fit. This guide will take you through some of the amazing “something old” venues the US has to offer.

Opera Houses

Opera houses are where old world sophistication meets today’s luxury. An opera house is not only one of the most unique wedding venues, but it also sets the stage for a dramatic backdrop on your big day. (You can even have your reception on stage!) Take a look at these reasons to embrace your inner opera star:

  • A Feast for the Eyes: The interior of an opera house is a work of art in and of itself: ornate gilded paneling, intricate wall murals, and of course, that spectacular red curtain.

  • Expert Lighting: If you’ve ever spent time in a romantic restaurant, you know that lighting can transform a room and amplify feelings of intimacy, excitement, and joy. Opera houses come equipped with modern light boards to help you craft an unforgettable wedding venue atmosphere.

  • Unbelievable Acoustics: It’s an opera house, which means it was built for music that brings tears to your eyes. Whether you choose to hire a live band or a DJ, an opera house’s architecture will create a natural surround sound effect ideal for dancing the night away.

Refurbished Mills

Historic mills haven’t produced flour for at least a century. But since then, refurbished mills have housed art museums, upscale restaurants, eclectic bookshops, and even wedding venues. Mill weddings combine rustic elements of old industry with natural beauty.

Here’s why you should consider a 19th or 20th century renovated mill for your wedding:

  • High Ceilings: Have you ever wondered why older buildings have such high ceilings? For mills, taller ceilings meant better ventilation. What does that mean for a wedding? Opportunities for drapery, swooping lighting, and an airy celebration space.

  • Natural Light: When older mills were built, electricity wasn’t ubiquitous. In the past, tons of windows had to be built to allow the millworkers to see what they were doing. In the present, your guests can enjoy vintage windows and a naturally illuminated reception space.

  • Gorgeous Stone and Brickwork: Most historic mills were built before concrete became the norm. Walls and foundations were made primarily of local stones or bricks. Today, mill venues boast that super chic exposed brick and stone look.

  • Stunning Natural Water Features: Mills were always built right next to rivers. Your guests will enjoy the site of a rushing river surrounded by greenery as they arrive at your reception.

Historic Hotels

Hotels are classic wedding venues. Choosing an older hotel for your reception will combine vintage flair and modern amenities. Additional benefits to a history-rich hotel wedding include:

  • City Pride: Historic hotels are a vital part of a city’s story. Most hotels display artifacts and vintage photos from a community’s birth and growth into a bustling metropolis. If a certain city is important to you and your partner, a historic hotel is a great way to show your love for that city.

  • Memorable Accommodation: Holding your reception in a hotel offers the possibility of an accommodation package for your guests. Older hotels often maintain vintage room decorations, but still include modern luxuries such as smart TVs, spa bathtubs, and climate control.

  • Experts in Weddings: These types of venues have been hosting weddings for many years, so you can be reasonably assured that all the logistical kinks have been worked out.

Historic Wedding Venues in the US Photo Credit // J Lobbins Photography

American Castles

You don’t need to cross the Atlantic to get married in a beautiful castle. From Hawaii to New Hampshire, American castles have been around since the 17th century. There’s no better way to bring history and splendor together than in a castle wedding.

Here are a few more benefits to consider:

  • Destination Wedding Without the Price Tag: If a flight to a European palace isn’t in the budget, you can find royal beauty right in your backyard.

  • A Modern Fairy Tale: There’s no better place for a “happily ever after” theme than a castle. So rent that horse and carriage, set the dress code to “white tie,” and plan for a reception filled with ball gowns and tiaras.

  • Don’t Forget the Grounds: There’s more to a castle than brick, mortar, and a royalty-level wow factor. A castle’s expansive grounds and gardens offer incredible opportunities for ceremonies, wedding photos, and outdoor receptions.

Museums

Historic architecture, cool marble floors, vaulted ceilings, and fascinating exhibits—museums are a marvelous option for a wedding venue. Not only are they institutions of history and learning, but many museums are also pieces of history themselves. And they’re no strangers to hosting events. Many museums hold seasonal galas to raise funds and already have all the essentials required for special occasions.

If that isn’t enough to convince you, take a look at these reasons to have your reception at a museum:

  • Start Conversations, Make New Friends: With so much to look at and learn, your guests will enjoy exploring, chatting, and making new connections with each other.

  • Venue Options: Most museums have varying event spaces to fit your guest list and your style. From garden areas to rooftop planetariums, you can add history and an unforgettable setting to your special day.

  • A Museum for Every Taste: Whatever interests you and your partner, you can absolutely find a museum for it. Do you like boats? Have your reception at a maritime museum. Do you like learning about new cultures? Try an anthropology museum. Do you love dinosaurs? Dance the night away with a brontosaurus at a natural history museum. The options are endless.

Vintage Yacht, Ship, or Riverboat

Celebrate your marriage with the wind in your hair, the sound of the river or ocean below, and your favorite people beside you. Vintage and historic ships combine luxury and history with a hint of adventure.

Discover the joys of a floating wedding in the list below:

  • Floating Museums: Most historic ships embrace their age with artifact exhibits, vintage decor, and themed outfits for the wait staff.

  • The Water: Humans are naturally drawn to the water. It’s a place of play and a space for tranquility and reflection. Holding your reception on the water will add an element of fun and wonder to your wedding day.

  • The View: Everything looks more beautiful from the water, especially when it’s for a special event. Your guests will watch with dropped jaws as the sun sets on the ocean, or take in the twinkling city lights from the river.

University Buildings

Some American colleges and universities still hold classes (and events) in buildings that are over 300 years old. From sumptuous wooden lecture halls to solemnly beautiful stone structures, you’ll find prestige, history, and romance in a university venue.

Check out these other advantages of going back to school for your wedding:

  • Nostalgia: If you and your love are college sweethearts, there’s no better way to start your new chapter than by going back to your roots. And if you’re inviting your old college friends, you and your partner can walk down the aisle and memory lane with your buddies. Bonus? You may even secure a place on the cover of your alumni magazine.

  • College Town Fun: Whether the venue is a small town college or a big city university, your guests will find good food, great entertainment, and a lively atmosphere to enjoy throughout the entire wedding experience.

  • A Beautiful Venue for Every Subject: Universities have a variety of different buildings for various subject matters, which gives you plenty of options for your wedding day. You may be able to hold your reception at a centuries-old library, an art gallery, or even in a botanical garden.

Historic Wedding Venues in the US Photo Credit // Kristin Griffin Photography

Make Your Own History

When you say “I do” to your partner, you’re making history. When you say “I do” in a historic venue, your love story becomes a part of that place’s long and vibrant life. But whatever place you choose, you’ll be creating a wonderful chapter in your own history book.

Something Old, Something New with Zola

Whether you’re making history in a mill, an opera house, or a college campus on your big day, give your guests the information they need to fully enjoy your unique historic venue. With Zola, you can go old-school and design invitations with a vintage flair. Or, you can build a wedding website that gives up-to-date details about your special day. Or do both. At Zola, we make sure you have the best of the old world and the new for your big day.