When you want to have an intimate wedding celebration the bombardment of sprawling venues that seem to have been made for massive celebrations can be frustrating. Luckily, Philadelphia is filled with exquisite event spaces that accommodate small guest lists without feeling cramped—or disproportionately large. This historic metropolis is primed for modest-in-size nuptials with venues that display vibrant masterpieces from artistic luminaries, transport you back in time to the late 1700s, or allow you to wed in nature-filled wonderlands.
Couples who appreciate the historic charm of old world Philadelphia will easily fall for this landmark home built in 1786. Situated in Society Hill, this four-story brick structure is truly unique as it’s the last remaining freestanding Federal townhouse in the area. Adding to its appeal is the French-inspired Neoclassic furniture, one-of-a-kind antiques and an exceptionally large, grass-covered garden overflowing with wisteria. This house is so enchanting you almost expect it to carry you to the 1700s where you could glance out the windows and witness horse drawn carriages and women strolling by with parasols. So if you’re hoping for a celebration that exudes whimsy and timeless grace, be sure to check out the legendary Hill-Physick House.
Typical Cost: $1,250 to $2,500
Bonus: Creating a stunning photo backdrop is the massive doorway fan light, which was the largest in Philadelphia when it was originally installed.
These aptly named “magic gardens” exude intimacy, as they’re partially composed of an extensive outdoor labyrinth that inspires a meandering stroll with your lover. The brainchild of Isaiah Zagar, who has spent 14 years crafting this 3,000 square foot haven, allows couples to pledge their love in a whimsical, rainbow-hued oasis of tile-mosaics that sparkle in the sun, or under a canopy of twinkle lights, whilst surrounded by a small group of their nearest and dearest. Beyond the aforementioned labyrinth is an indoor gallery that features abstract folk art sculptures, bicycle wheels, hand-made tiles, and a myriad of mirrors, merging to create an unforgettable masterpiece that was constructed from found objects and material donated by the local community. Couples who thrive on creativity and originality will find their happy place in this otherworldly venue that is unique in every way.
Typical Cost: Peak season (April-October) is $500 an hour Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, and off-peak season (November-March) is $300 per hour Monday, Wednesday & Thursday
Bonus: Renting this Seussian wonderland gives you reign of the full premises. In addition, they don’t confine you to a particular caterer or set number of hours.
An ideal space for couples with a distinct vision, the Maas Building offers an interesting blend of modern and rustic chic details, while being understated enough to serve as a clean canvas for couples to craft their dream wedding upon. Whether you want to manifest a vintage, floral-filled celebration, moody, drama soaked nuptials, a bohemian oasis wedding, or anything else you can imagine, the Maas Building can serve as the perfect backdrop. Allowing you to create separation between the ceremony and reception are the variety of spaces, including an indoor area with a vaulted ceiling and exposed beams and brick, and a large courtyard that feels like a wonderfully overgrown secret garden. Complementing these spaces are charming cobblestones and a fire pit. If you’re not yet set on the style you want to weave into your big day, head to the Maas Building for a spark of inspiration.
Typical Cost: $2,000
Bonus: They offer sound and lighting equipment at a reasonable rate, and include complimentary tables and chairs.
A primary benefit of a venue that accommodates smaller weddings is that they often pay great attention to detail, which is certainly the case at Terrain at Styer’s, which features an antique greenhouse overflowing with greenery and glowing with charming light fixtures. As a historical gem that has been a celebrated Philadelphia landmark since the 19th century, this space is an elegant monument to the art of gardening, as J. Franklin Styer, a respected horticulturist who would regularly provide peonies to the White House, founded it.
In addition to the greenhouse, couples can utilize the adjacent barn and outdoor wedding temple, providing superb ingredients for a memorable ceremony and reception that highlight the wonders created when Mother Nature meets a skilled gardener. Enhancing the ambiance is the soft lighting, provided by tea lights, pillar candles and string lights, in addition to waterfalls of vines that gracefully hang throughout the venue.
Typical Cost: Between $18,400 and $26,600 for ceremony and reception
Bonus: The on-site culinary team works with couples to create farm-to-table menus customized to their specific preferences.
Located in the renovated Manayunk train station from the 1930s, Platform Thirty has retained its historic allure, while also offering modern features like sleek hardwood floors, exposed brick walls, stylish track lighting and chic details, including contemporary furniture and lavish chandeliers. As the building has three stories, there are numerous event spaces to choose from that all offer a slightly different vibe, allowing couples a wide range of décor palates for their theme of choice. While Platform Thirty offers some flexibility with caterers, offering a list of preferred providers, Infinity Caterers is their in-house food service that meticulously creates menus that are lauded by guests. Sample menu items include Teriyaki & Molasses Glazed Butterfly Shrimp, Sesame and Orange Crusted Center Cut Salmon with a Teriyaki Molasses Thai Glaze, Assorted LeBus Rolls with Sweet Creamy Butter, and many other delicious options. The all-inclusive per-person fee includes a menu and cake, open bar, and champagne toast.
Typical Cost: $3,000 to $5,000
Bonus: There is an on-site bridal suite, and for couples who want to add an extra splash of fun, an optional photo booth.
Bailey Gaddis is the author of Feng Shui Mommy: Creating Balance and Harmony for Blissful Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood, a childbirth preparation educator, birth doula, and hypnotherapist who works with mothers-to-be, new mothers, and their support teams. She is also a regular contributor to media outlets including Disney’s Babble, Working Mother, Pregnancy & Newborn, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, and Woman’s Day. In addition to her childbirth-prep work, she volunteers for families in need of postpartum support. She lives in Ojai, California.