With a history that spans over 300 hundred years, Philadelphia has become a hub of American history. Life-changing inventiveness, a rich culture imbued with originality – in short, Philadelphia is the place to be for couples hoping to craft unique nuptials. In addition to being home to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and iconic sites from the American Revolution, this timeless metropolis features a mystical labyrinth, mummy-filled chamber, an emporium dripping with colorful treasures, a hipster paradise, replete with vibrant foliage and twinkle lights, and many other equally eccentric wedding venues. Leave your preconceived notions behind when entering the wonderful world of Philadelphia’s unique event spaces, being open to discovering the magnificently unexpected venues that await.
Imagine pledging your love in a whimsical, rainbow-hued oasis of tile-mosaics that sparkle in the sun, or under a canopy of twinkle lights. Couples who thrive on creativity and originality will find their bliss in this otherworldly venue that is one-of-a-kind in every way. These aptly named “magic gardens” are the brainchild of Isaiah Zagar, who has spent 14 years crafting this 3,000 square foot haven for artists and art-lovers alike. Included in the space is an indoor gallery and extensive outdoor labyrinth, which includes abstract folk art sculptures, bicycle wheels, hand-made tiles, and a myriad of mirrors. This unforgettable masterpiece was constructed from found objects and material donated by the local community, which has created an ambiance of collective goodwill (ideal for a wedding ceremony!) within the South Street neighborhood it inhabits. If you’re hoping to host a ceremony and reception that will forever live in the hearts of your guests, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is for you.
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: Couples who rent this space are able to utilize both the outdoor and indoor spaces, and are not confined to one caterer for a set number of hours.
A space that emanates both grandeur and individuality, The Franklin Institute is a superb venue option for history buffs with a passion for both American antiquity and innovation. This sprawling museum features 11 event spaces, which include the Rooftop Deck, offering stunning views of the Ben Franklin Parkway, the Fels Planetarium that places guests under a mesmerizing display of stars and a gleaming moon, and numerous other spaces that combine stately elegance with unique details. One of the museum’s most popular spaces is the Ben Franklin National Memorial, which features a towering 20-foot statue of, you guessed it, Ben Franklin. Ben watches over proceedings under an 82-foot domed ceiling with a gold gilded oculus that glimmers down on the 16 marble columns framing the room. If you want imagination, majesty, and American history to be woven through your big day, this museum just might be your optimal venue.
Typical Cost: Ceremonies start at $1,500, and receptions start at $5,000
Bonus: Frog Commissary, the exclusive caterer for the museum, offers unique menu options that are both aesthetically pleasing and delicious. Couples will enjoy ample variety, as they can select everything from delectable food stations (try the Yo! Philadelphia or Asian Noodle Bar!) and hors-d’oeuvres to buffets and three-course meals.
The ultimate in quirky wedding venues, this extraordinary establishment is home to countless global antiques, arts and crafts, and other remarkable treasures. Couples who enjoy vibrant color, well-humored drama, and idiosyncratic craftsmanship will revel in this 60,000 square foot emporium, which was built in 1920 and is located in the former train station of the Atwater Kent Radio Factory. You can be sure guests will never bore at your wedding, as there are so many uncommon, fascinating riches to examine, they could wander through space for weeks. And, it’s not only the structure and inanimate inhabitants of this space that makes it special – the in-house caterer, Baba Olga’s Kitchen, led by acclaimed Chef Aliza Green, serves up a diverse collection of sweet and savory treats that are crafted from seasonal, sustainable ingredients. Sample menu options include Sicilian eggplant caponata, Turkish lamb meatballs, wild mushroom turnovers, Creole Ratatouille, roasted Maduro plantains, and so much more.
Typical Cost: Ceremony fee is $1,000 with reception rental. Reception fee is $3,200 for 6 hours of event time, excluding set up and clean up time. There is a refundable security deposit of $1,000.
Bonus: As it’s centrally located in the East Falls district of Philadelphia, Material Culture offers convenient access to a variety of accommodations, in addition to unlimited parking and easy drop-off and pick up access for those utilizing a rideshare service.
Accomplishing the rare feat of being both historical and cutting-edge, the Penn Museum, also referred to as the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, was conceived in the 1890s and features some of the most jaw-dropping relics from ancient Egypt, Greece, Italy, Mesopotamia, Africa, the Americas and more. Housed within the 300,000 square feet of indoor space are rare artifacts acquired from over 300 archaeological and anthropological expeditions, which include pharaohs and Mummies of Egypt, items from the first cities created 6,500 years ago, Roman sculptures, carved sarcophagi, massive displays of Chinese art, and so much more you couldn’t possibly see it all in one visit.
The exterior of the museum is just as breathtaking as the interior with 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, Stoner Courtyard, which is home to remarkable sculptures, a cobblestone walkway, and marble fountain, and numerous other options. This space is a marvelous celebration of human ingenuity and advancement, making it a spot-on wedding venue for couples wanting the magic that exudes from the wonders of the world to reverberate through their sacred celebration.
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 spectacular, with each dish looking and tasting like an edible masterpiece, as it’s all crafted by first-rate chefs who utilize fresh, local ingredients.
While rustic chic weddings have become a well-done theme, Terrain at Styer’s offers a refreshing twist on this wedding genre by having a history steeped in meticulous horticulture. J. Franklin Styer, the namesake of this venue, was such a respected horticulturist (as far back as 1890!) that he would regularly provide peonies to the White House. Having been a celebrated Philadelphia landmark since the 19th century, this fully restored antique greenhouse, and adjacent barn and outdoor wedding temple, are now the site of memorable ceremonies and receptions that feature the wonder of Mother Nature, and dignified character of America’s early days. Enhancing the environment is the romantic lighting, provided by tea lights, pillar candles, and string lights, in addition to a waterfall of greenery that gracefully hangs throughout the venue. This is where you want to be if you’d like a captivating sense of enchantment to float through your most special of gatherings.
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 tastes.
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.