Philadelphia Weddings: Venue Ideas, Marriage License Tips, and More

Planning a Philadelphia wedding? This guide covers everything you should know—from venue ideas to how to obtain a marriage license and more.

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Photo by Zola

Looking to plan your wedding in one of the nation’s most historical and culturally vibrant cities? You’re in the right place. Known as The City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia has become a unique hybrid of old and new, classic and modern, full of history and must-see attractions.

Along with countless curated restaurants, dazzling art galleries and locally owned boutiques, Philadelphia’s pivotal role in the founding of the nation can be seen among its cobblestone streets and old-world architecture. Whether you want to be awed by the art collections or experience the culinary offerings across the city, a wedding in Philadelphia is one you won’t soon forget.

No matter what kind of wedding you’re envisioning, nailing down the details of your venue, accommodation options, photo locations and more is essential. From COVID-19 updates to LGBTQIA wedding support, our Philadelphia wedding guide has all the tips and inspiration you’ll need to make your wedding vision a reality.

Read the complete guide or use our jump-to links below:

Where to Get Married in Philadelphia

Philadelphia is rich with history, and you’ll find some truly iconic locations to host your wedding in Pennsylvania’s largest city. Whether you’re looking for a more traditional location to host your wedding or something more off the beaten path, there’s no shortage of beautiful Philadelphia wedding venues to choose from.

  • Museums and galleries: If you’re looking for a distinctive venue to hold a memorable ceremony in, Philadelphia won’t disappoint. You’ll find countless historic sites throughout the city, from industrial galleries to stunning art museums steeped in history.
  • Garden wedding sites: Contrary to popular belief, Philadelphia is home to a plethora of gorgeous gardens and green spaces that can bring your outdoor wedding vision to life. From tucked-away gardens and greenhouse venues to the rolling hills of countryside estates, you’ll find plenty of enchanting garden-inspired venues.
  • Hotels and ballrooms: If you’re looking to host a wedding somewhere with classic elegance, Philadelphia has countless hotels and ballrooms with all the grandeur and beauty you could imagine.
  • Countryside barns: Philadelphia is home to some beautiful countryside and historic barn venues with plenty of rustic charm. Captivate your guests with high wooden ceilings, craftsman-style stonework, and sprawling farm landscapes.

How to Obtain a Philadelphia Wedding License

A marriage license is required in order to get legally married in Philadelphia. Here’s how to obtain one:

  • Both you and your future spouse must appear together in Room 413 of City Hall to apply for the marriage license. Use the northeast corner entrance of City Hall and check in at the security desk once inside.
  • Go to the fourth floor and find Room 413, where you’ll knock on the door.
  • A Marriage License Bureau representative will walk you through the rest of the process.
  • Prepare to pay a marriage license fee of $90.00.

Your marriage license will be issued three days after your application date, and your ceremony must take place within 60 days of the license issuance. The marriage license can be used in any county in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but it cannot be used out of state. For more information, reference the Marriage Licenses page on Philadelphia’s website.

Do I Need a Philadelphia Marriage License?

Yes. To get legally married in Philadelphia or any other county in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia marriage license is required.

Can I Get Married the Same Day in Philadelphia?

Couples in Philadelphia must wait three days following their marriage license applications before they can hold their wedding ceremony.

Philadelphia City Hall Wedding

If you and your partner are looking to get married right away, you can hold a city hall wedding at Philadelphia’s City Hall. To get started, you’ll need to email MLappt.@phila.gov or call (215) 686-2233 to request an appointment with the Marriage License Bureau in City Hall. Keep in mind that you’ll need to plan on getting married within 60 days of your appointment. You’ll also need to bring two forms of ID—review this checklist to learn which forms of IDs are accepted.

Philadelphia Wedding Trends

Philadelphia is steeped in rich cultural history, artistic treasures, and gorgeous countrysides, making it the perfect location for a memorable wedding. Planning a wedding in Philadelphia gives you the chance to explore centuries of history and architecture, remarkable museums, endless restaurants, and a vibrant nightlife.

Average Cost of a Wedding in Philadelphia

The average cost of a wedding in Philadelphia is $58,474. Busy metropolitan areas are known to have steeper prices, particularly when it comes to venues.

Other factors that impact average wedding costs are guest list size, location, season, and style. View the chart below for a helpful breakdown of costs by vendor:

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If you think a Philadelphia wedding might cost more than you budgeted for, you might consider hosting a smaller, more intimate ceremony to cut down on costs. For more tips, check out our guide on how to plan a wedding on a budget.

Best Times of Year for Weddings in Philadelphia

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Seasons are an important factor in wedding planning, impacting everything from your venue choice to the look and feel of your wedding. Here are some considerations when choosing a wedding month in Philadelphia.

Fall: September, October, November

While temperatures often fluctuate, fall weather in Philadelphia starts off fairly warm in September before dropping to cooler temperatures in October and November. In September, temperatures average around 70 degrees, with lows in the 60’s. By October, these drop to the mid and low 60s. In November, expect temperatures between the 40s and mid 50s.

Spring: March, April, May

Spring is known to arrive slowly in Philadelphia, and the city doesn’t start to warm up until late April. Spring in Philadelphia feels like more of a mild winter, with lower temperatures remaining for much of the season. Expect weather in the low 40s and 50s in March before the temperature slowly climbs to highs of 60 degrees in April. By May, temperatures average in the low to mid 60s with highs in the 70s. Keep in mind that heavy snowstorms are typical in March.

Summer: June, July, August

Summers in Philadelphia are known to be rainy and humid, with late afternoon thunderstorms happening frequently in July. Expect temperatures in the high 70s all summer long with heavy afternoon downpours every now and then. July is Philadelphia’s hottest month, with highs averaging around 88 degrees, as well as the wettest month.

Winter: December, January, February

While Philadelphia gets quite frigid in the winter, the season also brings a mix of sunshine and clouds throughout the season. January is Philadelphia’s coldest month, with temperatures averaging 34 degrees, and they don’t vary much moving into February.

Busiest Weeks in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Weddings and COVID-19

Philadelphia has made significant progress in recovering from COVID-19, resulting in updated guidelines and safety measures for residents and visitors. The following guidelines of The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are in alignment with CDC guidelines.

As of August 11, 2021, fully vaccinated individuals can resume regular activities without wearing a mask (except where required by local businesses and workplaces). The City of Philadelphia requires all individuals to wear masks or provide proof of vaccination at indoor public places, and masks are required at outdoor gatherings of 1,000 people or more.

For more information, visit the official City of Philadelphia website.

Real Philadelphia Weddings

Check out some of these photos of real Philadelphia weddings, where you can filter to find inspiration by season, trending styles, and location! Below are a few of our favorites.

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For even more real wedding inspiration, head over to Zola’s Real Weddings gallery.

Best Spots for Wedding Photos

Philadelphia has no shortage of photo opportunities, with plenty of beautiful sites for the perfect wedding photo backdrop. From mile-long sunsets and the sparkling Delaware River to gorgeous skyline views, you won’t struggle to find a beautiful photo setting in Philadelphia.

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LGBTQIA Marriages in Philadelphia

LGBTQIA couples planning to say “I do” in Philadelphia won’t be disappointed. Philadelphia proudly celebrates the LGBTQ civil rights movement and the role they've played as a city in fostering the movement. After all, the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affections hosted the country’s first major LGBTQ rights demonstration in Philly in 1965.

The center of Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community and culture is known as The Gayborhood, where you’ll find rainbows adorning street signs, homes, and businesses at every turn. You’ll find plenty of LGBTQIA-friendly restaurants and nightlife, and don’t forget Philadelphia’s annual LGBT PrideDay parade and festival.

How to Find Local Vendors

Once you’ve decided on Philadelphia as your wedding destination, it’s time to start researching and planning out your vendors. To help you get started, our list of pre-screen vendors has you covered. You can filter by price, venue style, wedding theme, and more.

Philadelphia Wedding Guest Guide

If you have out-of-town guests traveling to attend your wedding, you’ll want to prepare an itinerary of helpful information like travel tips, the best neighborhoods nearby, and fun things to do around town. Check out the travel details below to ensure you give your guests the best experience possible when they’re traveling to be apart of your special day!

How to Get to Philadelphia

By plane: The Philadelphia Airport (PHL) is the nearest airport to Philadelphia just 7 miles away from town. SEPTA (Philadelphia’s bus, light rail, regional rail and subway system) offers a train service between Center City and the airport, which runs daily every 30 minutes.

By train: There are several centrally located Amtrak rail trains that depart to Philadelphia from cities along the east coast. Trains arrive at historic 30th Street Station (William H Gray III 30th Street Station) within a short walk to Center City, and offer easy connections to SEPTA.

By bus: Megabus provides affordable bus routes throughout Philadelphia’s Northeast Corridor. The Greyhound Terminal arrival station is located at 10th and Filbert street.

By car: If you plan to make your journey by car, Interstates 95 and 76 (the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Turnpikes) offer access points from all directions. Once you arrive, you’ll find over 40 parking lots and garages in Center City, along with metered street parking. More parking information can be found at the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

Best Neighborhoods for Out-of-Town Guests

Philadelphia is rich with first-rate dining spots, famous historic sites and top-notch museums and galleries, many within steps of Center City. With miles of outdoor space and plenty of walkable neighborhoods, there are plenty of opportunities for your guests to explore the city.

  • Chestnut Hill: Located close to downtown Philly, Chestnut Hill has more museums, gardens, parks and theaters than any other Philadelphia neighborhoods. You’ll find plenty of shops, events and things to do in this bustling neighborhood.
  • Rittenhouse Square: Rittenhouse Square is a tried and true favorite among out-of-town visitors for its locally owned boutiques, galleries and theaters, and a wide array of restaurants and cafes.
  • Washington Square West: Washington Square West is a bustling area that encompasses Midtown Village and the Gayborhood, making it more like three neighborhoods in one. As one of the five original public squares in Philadelphia, Washington Square is a favorite for travelers looking for unique shops, eateries, and bars.
  • Old City: Travelers tend to flock to the cobblestone streets of Old City, known for its 18th-century charm and rich history. Located near the Liberty Bell, Penn’s Landing and Benjamin Franklin Bridge, there’s no shortage of sites to see.
  • East Passyunk: East Passyunk is a unique blend of Philly’s classic historical charm and modern energy. Food-loving travelers tend to flock to East Passyunk for its highly acclaimed dining spots and eateries, which have earned this location a spot on Food and Wine’s list of 10 Best Foodie Streets in America.

10 Fun Things to Do in While You’re in Town for a Wedding

If your guests are traveling from out of town to attend your wedding, highlighting some fun things to do while they’re in town is a thoughtful way to help them prepare for the trip. Here are some of our favorite attractions, sites, and spots in Philly!

  1. Take a Liberty Bell History Tour: Hit all the main historic sites of Philadelphia in a single guided tour. Starting in Washington Square, take in the wonder of the Liberty Bell before making your way to Betsy Ross’s House and even Ben Franklin’s grave.
  2. Visit Independence Hall: No trip to Philly is complete without a visit to this historical site. Take a free tour of the World Heritage site where America’s Founders signed both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
  3. Grab a bite at The Bourse food hall: Once the nation’s first commodities exchange market, this historic 125-year-old building has since been restored and is now home to a diverse collection of eateries. Featuring over 20 artisanal vendors, you can satisfy just about any food craving you might have at The Bourse!
  4. Explore Cherry Street Pier: This former municipal pier is now a year-round, mixed-use public space located on the Delaware River waterfront. You’ll find a diverse array of artist studios and exhibitions, pop-up events and stunning views of the Delaware River.
  5. Take in the beauty of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens: For an unforgettable experience, check out Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens—a half indoor, half outdoor mixed media art destination that’s entirely covered in mosaics. Experience the two indoor galleries before making your way to the outdoor sculpture garden!
  6. Visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Don’t miss this cultural staple in the heart of Philadelphia. The Museum of Art is home to an array of renowned artworks, from Van Gogh and Marcel Duchamp to the Rodin Museum. With over 200 galleries, there’s something for everyone.
  7. Take a Philadelphia Cheesesteak Tour: It may as well be criminal to visit Philadelphia without trying a Philly cheesesteak, so why not take a tour where you can sample all the best cheesesteak spots in town?
  8. Eat at the Reading Terminal Market: This historic market takes up an entire city block, and is a full blown wonderland for your tastebuds. Explore over 80 vendors selling fresh meat, fish, produce, and baked goods before heading to the food hall with dozens of restaurants.
  9. Walk through Elfreth’s Alley: Now a National Historic Landmark, Elfreth’s Alley is America’s oldest residential street built in 1702. With pre-Revolutionary War homes still preserved from over 250 years ago, you’ll be enchanted by one of the most picturesque and historical streets in Philly.
  10. Take in the views at Boathouse Row: Boathouse Row makes up 10 historical crew clubhouses first constructed in the 19th century. Now a National Historical Landmark, the boathouses are one of the city’s most sought after sites. Be sure to visit at night, when the lights surrounding the boathouses cast beautiful reflections on the Schuylkill River.

Now that you and your guests have everything you need to plan the perfect Philadelphia wedding weekend, you can get to work on the rest of your wedding planning. From designing custom wedding invitations to putting the final touches on your wedding registry, Zola has all the Expert Advice you might need to bring your special day to life.

Sources: City of Philadelphia Official Website