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September 03, 2015

Six alternative destinations to say 'I do'

Where some creative couples are celebrating their nuptials

Entertainment Weddings
04-082815_AltWedDest_Dickinson.jpg Grace Dickinson/for PhillyVoice

Housed in an old pickle and barrel factory, Front & Palmer looks far different than it did back in the 19th century. Today, artsy chandeliers hang from its lofty ceilings to create an intimate wedding venue.

If you’ve already done marriage in a church, lodge or hotel, take a cue from couples planning weddings in less familiar regional venues.

While some are going so far as to marry in funeral homes (if you don’t mind a few bodies stored in the basement), still others are opting for cemeteries, urban farms and rooftop gardens.

Some twosomes even go all in for themed weddings – from Renaissance Faire to Beetlejuice to (gag) Twilight – with less mainstream attire (no more something borrowed or blue), transportation (hello, Love Letter Train Tour) and menus (vegan, anyone?) to personalize their big day. With same-sex couples also putting a ring on it, abandoning tradition is more in vogue than ever.

Here are some places to start:

Front & Palmer

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Housed in an old pickle and barrel factory, Front & Palmer looks far different than it did back in the 19th century. Today, artsy chandeliers hang from its lofty ceilings to create an intimate wedding venue. (Grace Dickinson/For PhillyVoice)

As a former industrial town, Philly has plenty of properties reinvented from their historic pasts into gorgeous event spaces that meet modern demands. Front & Palmer is one of them. Housed in a former barrel factory in the South Kensington Art District, the main loft space has 35-foot ceilings, a lounge area, wood floors and dozens of creative touches that can be customized for special events. Caterer Feast Your Eyes even has kitchens on site to comfortably host 250 guests for a seated dinner with dancing or 325 or more for cocktail receptions. Best part? You can tie the knot under the El.

Greensgrow

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At Greensgrow, guests are free to wander all throughout the nursery. The greenhouse stays open as well, which comes in handy for winter weddings (Grace Dickinson/For PhillyVoice)

Two farms smack in the middle of the fifth-largest city in the country? Yep. Urbanites with a taste for the country can have the best of both worlds at these eco-friendly fresh fields. With two locations, one on Baltimore Avenue, the other on East Cumberland, Greensgrow specializes in small, boutique weddings (100 guests or fewer) with a bucolic background in the heart of the city. Because the properties change with each season, spring nuptials are different from autumn ones, making each event entirely individual. One of the more creative, back-to-nature ways to say “I do” here is to stage a farm-to-table dinner in the midst of Greensgrow’s blooming nursery.

Yards Brewing Company

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Weddings at Yards are held in the tasting room that resides to the left of the brewery, with brewery tours available to guests upon request. (Grace Dickinson/For PhillyVoice)

Beer lovers will be happy to know that Yards, one of the city’s most popular brewers, hosts weddings in its tasting room, complete with all the suds you can drink. With accommodations for up to 150 people, event packages include guided tours and samples of ale. Wedding parties can also customize the space with eats from Diverse Catering, which incorporates beer into many of its recipes. A few more industrious duos have even hired food trucks to get the party started just outside the tasting room. The combo indoor/outdoor options will save any event from potentially uncooperative weather. Bonus: Yards even has a Love Stout.

Union Transfer

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See a show one night and celebrate your wedding the next at Union Transfer, a former luggage transfer station and Spaghetti Warehouse restaurant turned concert and event space. (Grace Dickinson/For PhillyVoice)

Step up to the mic and into the spotlight where some of the world’s most famous bands have played. Union Transfer, a former luggage transfer station for the Reading Railroad, is now one of the city’s most popular music venues for live shows. With sky-high ceilings, stained glass windows, dramatic lighting and rock star swagger, the venue can be customized for weddings of fewer than 100 people and up to 1,200 people. Music lovers, take note: The sound system is one of the best in the city, making live bands or DJs their absolute best, even if you are doing the “Chicken Dance.”

Phoenixville Foundry

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Built in 1882 along the French Creek, the foundry of Phoenix Iron & Steel Company poured iron castings well into the 1970s. Today, Phoenixville Foundry offers 18,000 square feet of event space with all of the modern amenities and rich tradition befitting the town’s illustrious past and future. (CAMPLI/Phoenixville Foundry/For PhillyVoice)

This suburban secret is tucked just a few miles outside the city in Phoenixville (home of The Blob). The turn-of-the-century former steel foundry may be one of the most beautiful symbols of the region’s past, blending vintage and modern touches with more than 18,000 square feet of event space. The 60-foot-high ceilings reveal a rounded rooftop with beautiful clerestory windows that create dramatic lighting. There’s also a mezzanine with views of the space below, as well as a full kitchen where J. Scott Catering and Queen of Hearts Signature Catering concoct small plates, buffets and full dinners with ingredients that come straight from local farms.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

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At PAFA, couples can choose to hold their wedding either at The Historic Landmark Building, pictured here, or within one of the galleries housed inside PAFA’s Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building. (Grace Dickinson/For PhillyVoice)

Why not wed amidst one of the finest collections of American art in the world? Couples may flock to the famous steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art for their wedding photos, but PAFA offers a more intimate approach to the museum wedding with two spaces – one elegant landmark, the other soaring contemporary. Not only is this one of the oldest, most respected museum schools in the country, it’s also within walking distance to some of the city’s most beloved religious institutions, not to mention City Hall, which has served as the background for many wedding photos. PAFA even has professional event planners on site to walk couples through the planning process from start to finish, with Starr Catering creating a first-class menu.