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Vow to be Different

By Selena Fragassi


A wedding day is one of the most personal moments in a person’s life, and more brides and grooms are realizing that it takes a special venue to make it truly meaningful. The planning website, citing a survey on The Knot states that “formal weddings decreased by 16 percent in 2017 because couples booked nontraditional venues such as barns, historic homes, and wineries instead,” citing reasons such as intimacy, longer use of the venue, more picturesque spots, affordability, and creativity.

Planner Necoya L. Tyson has seen this trend firsthand. “When I think about it, I can’t even remember the last time one of my clients had a hotel wedding, it’s been a while,” says the D.C.-based wedding planner who started her own firm, All About You Event Management, LLC in 2009. Nowadays, her couples have opted for wineries, museums, and monuments that are abundant in the nation’s capital. “The biggest thing is the bride and groom can really get creative in these spaces, the sky’s the limit,” she continues, cautioning, “With more traditional spots there are a lot of rules and regulations. But at non-traditional venues, the coordinators actually want to see different ways venues can be utilized—that helps them as well, to promote their venue.”

Tyson also believes the trend will keep growing. “Brides and grooms love options and appreciate any time they can use their imagination and make their day personal,” she says.

In that spirit, we chose 10 of our favorite places to find that perfect union.

3 West Club (New York, NY)
There are few things more classic than a wedding in New York City, especially one in the middle of the landmark Rockefeller Center. The team at 3 West Club can make it happen—and for far less cost than might be expected for all the glamour. In fact, 3 West Club (winner of the Best of the Knot Wedding awards in 2017 and 2018) is the most cost-effective private club in the city, with an average savings of 20 percent over other formal venues, with space to accommodate up to 150 guests. In addition, brides and grooms can take advantage of special pricing if their plans are flexible, with some of the lowest rates available for Friday and Sunday weddings as well as the off-season months of January, February, July, and August (the venue is open year-round). Standard and premium wedding packages are available at 3 West Club that include a 5-hour time window, menus customized and created by the in-house Culinary Institute-trained chef, and a day-of wedding coordinator that can help to make sure everything goes as planned. Premium wedding packages also include a $200 Oasis Day Spa gift certificate to get pampered for the big day. Rehearsal dinner and bridal shower packages are also available, and 3 West Club has a 27-room hotel located on the property with group rates for wedding parties.
(212) 582.5454 ext. 2183

Chapel Charm (Laval, QC)
For couples that are looking for the traditional church setting but with a unique twist, there is Chapel Charm. This abandoned church, located in the cozy St. Rose suburb of Montreal, was originally built in 1947 and shuttered in 1967 until it was later bought by owner Nicholas Pergat. He invested 20 years into fully restoring it, and the results speak for itself. The beautiful, open loft layout accommodates 90-100 people and includes a vaulted 25-foot cathedral ceiling with a Juliet balcony, arched windows, stained glass, and fireplace with mantel. Beyond the décor, brides and grooms will enjoy the exclusivity and affordability of Chapel Charm. Pergat only allows one or two events a month so that couples and planners can access the space several days prior to the event in order to set up and make the wedding their own. He also works within budgets with complete planning and event packages, no restrictions on food and beverage, and plenty of décor and ambiance already built into the space. One of the most memorable occasions happened last October when Pergat worked with a local planner to host three “pop-up weddings” in one day—the planner posted an ad on Instagram with details on a mystery location for the ceremony and mini-reception. Suffice to say, all three couples were very pleased and were able to enjoy a very unique experience.
(514) 970.6200

Chicago Botanic Garden (Glencoe, IL)
A true fairytale wedding can be had at Chicago Botanic Garden. The lush 385-acre property offers incredible greenery, serene lakes, and native woodlands that make any event look like it’s straight out of a storybook. Couples and planners can choose from a range of indoor and outdoor spaces that are available during all four seasons, including the 400-person capacity Nichols Hall, the 350-person McGinley Pavilion, and the 250-person Rose Garden, among other special spots. Chicago Botanic Garden offers a range of convenient amenities, from full A/V to coat check and valet and street parking, but one of the most unique offerings is how the event team makes sure every event adheres with the property’s mission of being sustainable. Coordinators work closely with the bride and groom to help pick a menu that is chosen with peak growing seasons in mind and that uses produce from the on-site Windy City Harvest Youth Farm program, an urban agriculture education and jobs training initiative aimed at building healthier communities. Chicago Botanic Garden also recycles and composts waste from events and incorporates biodegradable place settings made from recycled bamboo and leaves. One of the venue’s most memorable weddings happened when a couple brought the garden inside with a décor team that assembled a massive ceiling treatment filled with hanging wisteria.
(847) 835.8370

1909 Taverne Moderne (Montreal, QC)
The largest weddings will feel right at home at this Montreal upscale casual eatery with three fully accessible floors offering 25,000-plus square feet of space and a maximum capacity of 1,515 guests. The layout includes opportunities for a full buyout or a separate plaza and a mezzanine that can be reserved exclusively or used for semi-private function space. One of the most prominent features of 1909 Taverne Moderne is a giant 46’ x 20’ television screen with 4K quality, plus 65 HDTVs and a full A/V system, that can be connected for special video projections, chosen by the bride and groom. Each wedding is 100 percent personalized with the venue’s coordinators who can help arrange customized printed menus, branded décor, visuals on the screen, and other unique touches. One of the most memorable weddings the venue helped plan was a themed event where guests were led in a time travel journey. Specially chosen food, lights, images, and songs represented different eras in American history, from the Roaring ‘20s to the disco era and the hippie generation. Because it’s a bustling restaurant, 1909 Taverne Moderne also has the food and beverage component covered with delicious made-from-scratch menu items, plus 40 beer taps, an extensive wine list, and cocktail menu.
(514) 557.0187

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (La Jolla, CA)
For animal loving couples, a whole kingdom awaits at Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institute of Oceanography. From an intimate ceremony among the fishes in the Giant Kelp Forest to a fete for 500 on the outdoor Tide Pool Plaza, the 30,000-square-foot aquarium provides a unique combination of indoor and outdoor spaces, all with fantastic views. In fact, Birch Aquarium is located on a bluff overlooking the artsy, seaside town of La Jolla with some of the best sunsets in Southern California. Hosting a wedding here also provides unparalleled exclusivity as the aquarium remains open just for guests during the event so they can explore interactive exhibits and come up close with beautiful creatures including a rescued Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Leopard Sharks, and seahorses, or take pictures in front of the largest whale sculpture in the world. Museum interpreters are also available to provide more information and parties can add on an exclusive dive show. One of the best features is that all proceeds from events support the aquarium’s conservation efforts and contribute to the research done by Scripps Oceanography. In addition to the space, Birch Aquarium also offers farm-to-table menus with locally sourced ingredients curated by one of the venue’s exclusive caterers.
(858) 822.5439

Chicago Private Yacht - Adeline's Sea Moose (Chicago, IL)
The right person can make you feel like you’re floating—and Adeline’s Sea Moose can provide the same feeling for a wedding day. The private, mid-size yacht can accommodate 45 guests and operates April through October, providing one exquisite venue for the reception, ceremony, and after-party that cruises along the incredible Chicago skyline. In addition to unique views, the panoramic backdrop also makes for unforgettable photos and is accompanied by a docent that narrates all the memorable architecture. As well, Adeline’s Sea Moose is equipped with surround sound both indoors and outdoors for all the onboard entertainment and has two separate decks with a bar and lounge that opens to the scenery outside. Because the ship is a private, more intimate venue option, the team is able to add a range of personal touches to make the day extra special, including the choice of ceremony location and photo backdrop at various tourist points along the lake. The rental fee includes a bridal suite open for one hour prior to the charter (along with complimentary champagne) and a master stateroom with full dressing area, plus a licensed captain and crew. The vessel also can provide open bars with bartenders, catering options, and even overnight stays for up to six guests.
(224) 601.0220

Gaspar’s Grotto (Ybor City, FL)
A wedding for $7? Couples can take “the plunge” with Gaspar’s Grotto, which provides all the loot with a pirate-themed ceremony officiated by a real sea captain. The ridiculously affordable complete package rate includes the venue, rental tux, witnesses (if needed), music, flowers, plus a shot and beer for each the bride and the groom. The “notorious pirate bar” is a believer in having fun at weddings, without the stress. One of the coordinators can set up everything you need for one of the most unique weddings possible. The Grotto can accommodate up to 875 people, and the team is well equipped to handle elopements with no guests or guest lists with hundreds of family and friends. The venue, located in Tampa’s historic National Landmark District known as Ybor City, also has full-service food and alcohol for a complete reception too.
(813) 924.5759

Globe and Mail Centre (Toronto, BC)
If you’re looking to plan a wedding that will grab headlines, The Globe and Mail Centre in Toronto is a newsworthy choice. Located on the top floor of the headquarters of Canada’s leading national newspaper, the grandeur of this space is just as classic. The LEED Gold Certified building has floor-to-ceiling windows that offer breathtaking panoramic views of the city skyline, enhanced by a location just steps away from the downtown core. For weddings, the year-round Globe and Mail Centre is suitable for ceremonies and seated dinners with a dance floor for up to 250 guests and offers the dual accompaniment of flexible indoor and outdoor spaces including exclusive use of the Event Hall & Lounge and Terrace. Each area is equipped with the latest digital A/V technology and comfortable furnishings including the use of up to 300 black leather chairs, 50 matte black rectangular tables, and eight gallery benches, plus setup and tear-down. A list of carefully selected rental providers and caterers add to the ambiance, and customized bar and beverage packages are also available. Each wedding party is appointed an event specialist and attentive event staff to ensure everything goes smoothly on the big day.
(416) 585.5420

Redwoods in Yosemite (Wawona, CA)
History and nature make for a beautiful union at the Redwoods in Yosemite National Park. Couples can choose from hosting the event in the brand-new Wedding and Event Center or in a number of outside locations within the park that also provide stunning backdrops for photo sessions. The Event Center features a dining hall with room for 80 seated for formal dinners as well as a large open deck with indoor and outdoor fireplaces. Inside there’s also a separate bridal changing room and catering kitchen if couples want to bring in their own food, though the venue can provide a list of preferred caterers. If dates are flexible, weddings held on Sundays through Thursdays are 50 percent off the package rate and provide extra discounts for on-site lodging, with the choice of an intimate log cabin or spacious year-round vacation rental home. If your pet is a part of your wedding you can bring them, too! Many of the vacation homes are pet-friendly and there are pet-friendly hiking trails nearby. Other outdoor activities include touring historic railroads, snowboard and ski areas, horseback riding, sleigh rides, fishing, rafting, and golf. Event planners are ready to assist with wedding planning information, including park guidelines for outdoor wedding services, catering, photographers, and florists.
(877) 496.3052

RockRidge Canyon (Princeton, BC)
For brides and grooms dreaming of a white winter wedding, this resort-like, 1500-acre Young Life Camp property set in the mountains of gorgeous Princeton, British Columbia is the perfect destination. Their specialty is all-encompassing ceremonies and receptions from November through February for 50 to 350 people that allow guests to get away without breaking the bank, meaning more guests will have the ability to RSVP, too. Rates vary based on chosen activities, but start at $295 for two nights accommodations, six Instagram-worthy gourmet meals, and a range of group outings such as snowshoeing, a tubing hill, ice skating, cross-country skiing, and bonfires under a star-filled sky. The options here are an outdoorsy couple’s dream, including His and Hers Ziplines utilizing the longest, dual, over-water zipline in North America that traverses the property’s private lake. RockRidge Canyon is also in the middle of two ski resorts with Manning Park one hour to the west and Apex Mountain one hour to the east that allow guests to enjoy the slopes for a day, capping the perfect weekend that everyone will truly remember.
(250) 870.9030