As one of the oldest cities in the United States, Philadelphia has had plenty of time to build an impressive catalog of wedding venues that not only meet a wide range of preferences but also provide remarkably affordable rates. In addition to being home to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and iconic sites from the American Revolution, this historic metropolis features countless acres of vibrant gardens, world-renowned museums, classic chapels, and other timeless wedding spaces that are sure to delight endless happy couples. So whether you’re hoping for a nature-kissed ceremony or a reception soaked in urban luxury, Philadelphia has you covered.
A sprawling wonderland of more than 12,000 labeled plants of approximately 2,500 types, the Morris Arboretum offers a whimsical backdrop for Spring and Summer weddings, and for Fall and Winter nuptials, a breathtaking display of holly, winterberries, witch hazel, oak leaf hydrangea, and other foliage that exudes the captivating colors of the seasons. Couples that appreciate the happy balance of both manicured and unrestrained nature will adore this oasis that intersperses Mother Nature’s masterpieces, including over 100 varieties of trees, with original Victorian architecture, a 100-year-old stone carriage house, and sparkling fountains. Ceremony sites include a stunning rose garden, a field surrounded by azaleas, a brick patio overlooking a meadow garden, and a variety of other sites that suit any other flora preferences.
Typical Cost: Ceremony site fees start at $1,200; reception site fees are $3,000 during off-peak season and $6,500 during peak season. Rates include the “getting ready suite”, tables, chairs and parking.
Bonus: The rental fee includes exclusive use of the Visitor Center and grounds. And simplifying transportation throughout this 92-acre arboretum, for one-of-a-kind photos, is a golf cart and driver, who is at your service for 3-hours.
Those hoping for a more traditional ceremony will appreciate this historic chapel, which radiates a classic elegance with its neo-gothic architecture and exquisite details. The cruciform-shaped building features soaring stained glass windows, an immaculate alter with an Italian stone mosaic, intricate woodwork and old world lighting that fills the sacred space with a flattering, romantic glow. If the idea of filling a large chapel with guests is daunting, there are smaller side chapels that can accommodate intimate ceremonies. Although this is an Episcopal church, they are incredibly inclusive and open their doors to all who would like to celebrate their love.
Typical Cost: $600 – $850 for ceremony
Bonus: The front doors of the chapel are a captivating red hue and beautifully carved, making them an ideal setting for unforgettable photos.
As the oldest botanical garden in the country, the 45-acres of natural splendor at Bartram’s Garden offers couples a quintessential venue for a timeless ceremony and reception. Mixing history with modern convenience is the new Eastwick Pavilion, which features a covered porch, Love Park granite patio, and extraordinary views of downtown Philadelphia – this is a popular location for receptions. Beyond the endless displays of organic beauty in this garden, which includes a massive Ginkgo tree, Franklinia tree, and 200-year old Yellowwood tree, are expertly preserved stone structures that transport you back to the 1700s. Be sure to leave plenty of time for photos, or a pre-ceremony romantic stroll, in the 8-acre Historic Garden and meadow.
Typical Cost: Rates start at $2,000 in the off-season and $3,000 in the peak season. Price includes set up, clean up, a pre-ceremony suite, event planning, tables, chairs, linens, china, flatware, glassware, and parking.
Bonus: Your money will support the John Bartram Association’s mission to protect and enhance these historic gardens, while also inspiring visitors to care for the natural world.
Conceived in the 1890s, the spectacular University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is an award-winning venue dripping in historical elegance and grandeur. Penn Museum’s 300,000 square feet of indoor space is filled with rare artifacts acquired from over 300 archaeological and anthropological expeditions, while the exterior includes glass mosaics by the Tiffany Glass Company, sculptures by Alexander Stirling Calder, and marble medallions by John Ross of New York City.
Popular event spaces include the Chinese Rotunda, which features a 90-foot dome and ancient Chinese art, Pepper Hall with soaring arched ceilings and views of the Warden Garden, Egypt Upper Gallery offering celebrations amongst pharaohs and Mummies of Egypt, the sophisticated Warden Garden, and Stoner Courtyard, which is home to remarkable sculptures, a cobblestone walkway, and a marble fountain. In addition, weddings can be hosted in the Mosaic Hall & Courtyard that’s set between two inner gardens, and houses ancient mosaics from Syria and Carthage, and finally, the Rooftop Terrace that sparkles under a canopy of string lights.
Typical Cost: Ceremony rates begin at $850, and reception rates start at $3,500 in the off-season and $4,500 during peak season.
Capacity: 300 – 1,000
Bonus: The on-site catering is superb, with each dish looking and tasting like an edible masterpiece, as it’s all crafted by renowned chefs who utilize fresh, local ingredients.
The 11 unique event spaces at The Franklin Institute shine with unprecedented stateliness, making it a great choice for urban couples wanting the magnificence of both American antiquity and innovation to be the backdrops of their big day. Popular reception spaces include the Rooftop Deck, offering awe-inspiring views of the Ben Franklin Parkway, and the Fels Planetarium, which allows guests to marvel at glistening stars and a luminous moon. Another acclaimed space is the Ben Franklin National Memorial that is centered on a commanding 20-foot statue of none other than Ben Franklin, resting under an 82-foot domed ceiling replete with a gold gilded oculus. Enhancing the sophistication of this space are the 16 marble columns framing the room. Couples wanting one-of-a-kind luxury for an unbeatable price should look no further than The Franklin Institute.
Typical Cost: Ceremonies start at $1,500, and receptions start at $5,000.
Bonus: Frog Commissary, the exclusive caterer for museum events, offers creative menu options that are as visually appealing as they are delicious. They provide delectable food stations (try the Yo! Philadelphia or Asian Noodle Bar!), in addition to hors-d’oeuvres, buffets, and three-course meals.
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.