How to Find a Unique Wedding Venue

Want to go the non-traditional route when it comes to your wedding location? Check out these helpful ways to find unique wedding venues near you.

By The Zola Team

Bride posed in front of green door
Photo by Zola

Deciding where you’ll get married is one of the first orders of business when wedding planning, since everything else revolves around your chosen location. Searching for unique wedding venues may take a little more time to research and tour until you find the ultimate one. If you already know that you’d like to go the non-traditional route and skip the house of worship, the possibilities are endless. Here’s how to start your search for the ultimate wedding venue.

Start With a City

There are unique wedding venues available around the world, but consider what works best for your budget and guest list. Are you planning to stick close to home or does the idea of a destination wedding appeal to you? Start with a few cities that are special to you as a couple. Whether it's a wedding venue in Minneapolis, MN or Los Angeles, CA each will have its own offerings and special touches that will help make your wedding day remarkable.

Talk about your chosen cities and what you enjoy about each. Is the place you’re considering going to be easy for your wedding guests to travel to, or do you want an exotic getaway with only a few of your closest friends and family members in attendance? All of this factors into the final destination you choose, but start with the cities you love the most.

Decide on a Style

Couples who want to find a unique wedding venue may be open to all scenarios. However, when you have a specific aesthetic in mind, it can help you narrow down your choices. For example, if both of you love the arts, then a museum gallery or sculpture park may draw your attention.

Couples who enjoy rustic charm may want to find a barn, ranch, or other outdoor location with exposed brick to serve as the backdrop to their nuptials. With so many potential spaces available, starting with one or two style ideas helps you start your search and begin to eliminate those you don’t want, which is oftentimes as helpful as knowing which ones you do.

How to Find a Unique Wedding Venue Photo Credit // Limelight Photography

Expand Your Online Search

The internet is a valuable tool and definitely should be put to good use as you search for the ideal spot. Start by entering “unique wedding venues near me” into your browser and see what pops up. The closest and/or most popular will be displayed first, which means it’ll take patience for you to sift through the results to find a hidden gem.

Another way to search is by looking for special event spaces that are not necessarily wedding specific. Not all venues promote weddings as their top engagements, but are still available for rental for all kinds of celebrations. Thinking of your non-traditional wedding from an event aspect broadens the possibilities for the types of spaces that are available. This is especially true if you have a smaller headcount for your guest list. To find places off the beaten path, you’ll have to be ready to dig a little deeper.

Schedule Impromptu Road Trips

Get outside of your city and see what’s around you. Map out a mini road trip and search for places that are located in the rural or suburban areas that border your town. Or, head to the next big city over and see what you can find. You may uncover quaint farmhouses, family-owned wineries, and other unique wedding venues that may serve as inspiration to your wedding ceremony planning. It’s also a fun way to spend the day together while wedding planning at the same time.

Brainstorm All Shared Special Events

Take a walk down memory lane and write down a list of special events and memories you’ve shared together. Where were you and what made the day special? This can include anything from sporting events to outdoor concerts and momentous occasions like your first date or where you got engaged.

Pinpoint these special memories and see if that sparks the imagination of where your wedding ceremony could take place. Selecting a wedding venue based on your memories as a couple makes the venue automatically unique to you and will continue to hold special significance for the rest of your life.

Go Back to Your Childhood Favorites

Similar to brainstorming all the moments you’ve enjoyed as a couple, individually think about the things you enjoyed most about being a kid. For example, book lovers may consider saying their wedding vows at their local public library. Outdoor enthusiasts may want to get married near a lake, mountains, or somewhere else in nature. Even if you have different memories of what you loved most when you were young, there are ways to incorporate elements of both into one unique wedding venue.

Ask Around

Although you may want to limit those who you ask to weigh in on wedding decisions, pick a chosen few who know you well to share their ideas. They may think of one you haven’t come up with or ask questions that will get you thinking about where to get married. Sometimes receiving an impartial opinion on a decision you’ve been weighing back and forth for a while will provide clarity when choosing the right place. Start by asking your maid of honor and best man to get their input first and see what ideas the four of you can come up with together.

Unique Wedding Venue Ideas

The most important part of making your selection is making the event space feel special to you. There are endless places to have your wedding day, but here are a few more unique venue ideas to serve as inspiration as you start your search:

  • Arboretum
  • Zoo
  • Vintage movie theater
  • Historical site
  • Favorite restaurant or coffee shop
  • College campus
  • Train depot
  • On a boat
  • Inside a wine cave
  • At an apple orchard

Some of these may be more feasible than others, depending on where you live or where you want to hold your nuptials. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices to a few favorites, consider the logistics of your special day and how easy it will be for you to plan and budget for overall.

How to Find a Unique Wedding Venue Photo Credit // Robert Norman Photography

Finalizing Your Perfect Wedding Venue

After narrowing the venue list down to a few places, start to tour properties and meet with coordinators who can give you information and provide insight about your ideas for the big day. First, consider your wedding venue budget. Allocating specific funds for each part of wedding planning can help you avoid overspending in certain areas. If the venue is one of the major expenses, decide which other areas you can cut back.

Once you have a good idea of what you’re willing to pay for the space, schedule time with the venue coordinator to talk about the vision of your wedding day. Many unique wedding venues lean toward a DIY approach for couples rather than the all-inclusive route that comes with more traditional space options. However, you may not need to add much in terms of flowers and decorations if the space comes built-in with beautiful scenery.

For example, the atmosphere at a zoo, art gallery, or botanical gardens do not need extra details to make the space and ambiance feel complete. You can save on costs by keeping these areas minimal when planning, but to avoid any surprises, always ask questions regarding what’s included. Sometimes event spaces require you to coordinate your own table and chair rentals, sound equipment, and other important details. This is a factor to consider when tallying your pros and cons of the wedding venues you visit.

Consider the size and comfort of your guest list as well. While the venue should be chosen based primarily on your wishes as a couple, if you have a large guest list, certain venues may not be able to accommodate the number of people you want to attend. It all comes down to how you want your wedding day to go and what will make you feel most excited about starting your new life together.

The search for your wedding reception venue can be an exciting adventure all on its own. Have fun with sourcing different spots and writing down what you like about each. Take your time visiting venues and ask all the questions that will help you feel confident about your decision. By honing in on the location, style, and personality you want infused into your wedding day, Zola will help you find your perfect venue.

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