Bye-bye, ballrooms! Meet America’s most bizarre wedding venues.
We’ve all been to drab weddings in beige ballrooms with over-salted steak and a lame DJ. But for newly-engaged couples looking for something beyond banquet tables and chandeliers, there are plenty of unique options, from an antique store to a Girl Scout camp.
Imagine kissing your sweetie in Portland, Oregon, just a few feet away from where hot donuts are being pulled out of the oven…or reading your vows on a moving train across Florida. These 10 wild venues will have people talking (in a good way).
On a Ferris Wheel
WHERE: Las Vegas, Nevada
There’s no Elvis and no chapel for this sleek reboot of a cheesy Vegas wedding. Instead, you’ll board the 550-foot-tall observation wheel (dubbed High Roller) at The LINQ with your wedding party for a 30-minute or hour-long ceremony in the sky. With seven different packages, this can be a total buyout with 40 guests fitting into 28 cabins or a simple affair with only enough cabins for a handful of guests. Reception can be hosted at ground level back at the 2,640-room hotel. Oh, and don’t forget to bring your favorite jams, because all of the packages include a Bluetooth speaker.
In an NFL Stadium
WHERE: Green Bay, Wisconsin
Apologies to all other NFL teams, but Packers fans are die-hard. For some, this might mean hosting a wedding reception at the team’s Frozen Tundra stadium. What better love letter to this community-owned team, where fans don foam cheese-wedge hats on Game Day? On the catering menu are fun options like the “Training Camp” menu (anchored around Johnsonville brats), mini grilled-cheese sandwiches, and an artisan-cheese board (remember, this is the Dairy State and unofficial cheese capital). And don’t worry, guests won’t be seated in the end zone. Event spaces include the glass-walled, spacious indoor Atrium; the Legends Club Room, attached to the MVP Box (fun photos, perhaps?); and the Lambeau Suite, with views of the 50-yard line.
WHERE: Atlanta, Georgia
If you’re the kind of couple who swears you were born with fins (you like to swim, dive, and snorkel) then consider calling up Georgia Aquarium to book your special day. Within its 23,000 square feet of event space is a live wedding venue, where the walls and ceiling above you are glass-enclosed tanks filled with colorful fish. But one couple recently went above and beyond, declaring their vows underwater, within a 6.3 million-gallon tank (it’s worth noting they’re both divers—and unafraid of the manta rays and white sharks that swirled around them.).
In a Doughnut Shop
WHERE: Portland, Oregon
Portland never ceases to amaze visitors with its trend-setting food scene, and doughnuts are no exception. While Voodoo Doughnut is now in Denver, Colorado; Orlando, Florida; Austin, Texas; Hollywood, California; and Eugene, Oregon, the original was the first to become a popular wedding venue. Wedding packages—from a small wedding with nine guests up to the 60–person “The Whole Shebang” (including airfare to Portland, plus hotel accommodations and a personal Voodoo Doughnut tour led by its owners)—available across their locations make the process as simple as choosing frosting or glaze on a doughnut order. Want to know what really—pardon the pun—takes the cake? Each package includes custom doughnuts.
In a Cave
WHERE: Ozarks, Missouri
This wedding option is not for the claustrophobic–caves are dark, dimly-lit, and a door or window may not be in sight. But as anyone who’s been to the Ozarks knows, this area also flaunts gorgeous scenery—especially in autumn. At the aptly named Bridal Cave, weddings take place in the Bridal Chapel (you can also opt for al-fresco vows via the Pavilion overlooking Lake of the Ozarks.). According to historical records, marrying inside this cave is nothing new: a Native American wedding ceremony occurred here around 1900. Recorded pipe-organ music is included with the two packages, “Sweetheart Special” and “Romance to Remember;” the latter gets you and your honey lifetime passes to Bridal Cave.
On a Train
Virgin CEO Richard Branson’s always got something cooking—from cruise ships to private-island resorts. Among his latest ventures is Virgin Trains USA, a passenger-rail line in South Florida that’s soon to commence operations on the Brightline tracks, traveling between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. The first on-board wedding was in late August and, according to this wedding diary, the couple was accompanied by guests from Florida and Brazil and said “I do” as the train pulled into the West Palm Beach station.
In a Hot Air Ballon
WHERE: Allen and McKinney, Texas
Usually, you associate a hot-air balloon ride as a romantic activity during a honeymoon–but why not for a wedding, too? Whether this is an elopement or the prelude to a large wedding reception, Rohr Balloons—in the hot-air balloon business since the 1970s, so you can trust them—has hosted a lot of ceremonies in the air. Cute props like a “Just Married” banner and flowers draped over the basket are part of a special wedding package, plus an officiant, of course. You can also hire a photographer and DJ to make the ride even more memorable.
At the Zoo
WHERE: San Diego, California
Before you start freaking about getting married a few feet away from screeching hyenas, this is a completely controlled setting. Yes, your wedding is at the zoo, but it’s not next to animals—unless you request an animal encounter, as many couples do. A free one-day zoo pass is among the perks your guests can enjoy before and after a “Wild Weddings” ceremony at San Diego Zoo & Safari Park. Three different packages are available: “Savannah Wedding Package,” “Serengeti Wedding Package,” and “Rehearsal Dinner Package,” including fun add-ons like “jungle juice” (that’s wine) and an annual pass to use during your first year as a married couple.
At a Girl Scout Camp
WHERE: West Kingston, Rhode Island
Quite a few Girl Scout camps across the U.S. book weddings, mostly in the Northeast. When you think about it, these camps have been working the farmhouse-chic vibe long before it was hip. At Camp Hoffman, which consists of 170 acres on the shores of Larkin Pond, you can rent out the Barbara W. French Dining Hall, chat up your wedding party around the fireplace and bring your dog along no problem for wedding-day shots (as this couple did).
At an Antiques Store
WHERE: Los Angeles, California
Love browsing flea markets and watching HGTV marathons? Maybe your wedding should be at Big Daddy’s Antiques, which is a warehouse in L.A. filled with well-styled treasures. Owner Shane Brown has sourced vintage finds and home décor for Starbucks, Nordstrom, and Ralph Lauren stores. For a glimpse at just how glam a wedding at Big Daddy’s can be, check out these photos or find its location on Instagram. No need to spring for flowers and other decorative items when you’ve got chaise lounges, taxidermy, and valuable art all around you.