Unique Philadelphia area wedding venue ideas needed
April 27, 2014 4:00 PM   Subscribe

Fiance and I are attempting to plan a wedding for less than 150 guests in early March 2015 in the Philadelphia area. We currently live in Montgomery county, but we are open to considering locations in the 5 county area (and are learning toward Philadelphia, which will make things easier on our out of town guests). We want to keep the venue/catering/booze costs around $15,000 if possible, which seemed super easy before we started searching. Help!

A few caveats: as we're aiming to get married in early March, we need a location with sufficient space for an indoor event for 125-150 guests. We'd like the ceremony and reception to take place at the same location. We want to have a dinner and dancing, but other entertainment ideas would be welcomed as well (for instance we'd be happy incorporating pool tables/shuffleboard/games if space allows). We're open to alternatives to the traditional set up (restaurants, breweries, etc) but aren't finding a lot of options with interesting indoor venues. If we don't do Center City, we'd like to be within about a 30-40 min drive from PHL as the majority of our guests will be from out of town.

So far we're excited about the Mutter Museum, the Horticultural Society, Hunting Hill Mansion at Ridley Creek State Park and Yards Brewery as options, but would love some additional suggestions (especially ones where we'd have the option of a few different caterers - the Horticultural Society is outside of our budget because we'd have to use Starr catering and the Mutter Museum is borderline too).
posted by moshimosh to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
We got married at Farmicia. It's not super interesting like the Mutter Museum, but it is a unique space. Food is great (even in a banquet setup). Photographs really well too.
posted by supercres at 4:05 PM on April 27, 2014

Some friends of ours got married at the German Society on Spring Garden at 7th. It's beautiful and pretty inexpensive, seats 150 for sit-down dinner in the Great Hall, and I don't believe you're locked into any specific caterer. Our friends had the ceremony in the Great Hall, beer and snacks in the Rathskeller downstairs while the upstairs was reconfigured, and then dinner and dancing upstairs. The big knock is a lack of air-conditioning, but our friends got married in June and it was fine; in March, it'll be delightful. Definitely worth a look.
posted by The Michael The at 4:15 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Our reception was held at the Morris Arboretum, about 20-30 minutes northwest of CC, and we were able to keep our venue/catering/beverage costs to well within your budget for about 90 people.

The Morris wedding reception/dinner area is a large tent that seats no more than 150 with a dance floor, from what I remember, and people typically have their ceremony on a grassy area outside (but they have a indoor location in case of weather). The location itself is amazing, and they offer a choice of a few caterers. You can PM me if you want a specific info about this place.
posted by scalespace at 4:17 PM on April 27, 2014

Can't find the link now on my phone - but Trust Bank (in old city I think) is a wedding venue we looked at. It's an old bank that's been converted for weddings and what not. A little pricey, but beautiful architecture and big open space and second level balcony.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 6:11 PM on April 27, 2014

Okay, definitely consider the Magic Gardens! If you haven't been there, it's worth a visit (hell, it's worth a visit anyway), because how it feels to actually be inside it absolutely can't be represented by photos.

Our wedding was there and it was both incredible and affordable. And (not that this was our goal, but...) we got a constant stream of enthusiastic "this was the coolest wedding ever" comments from our guests.

Also consider the atrium at the top of the Kimmel Center; it's as stunning as the Magic Gardens but in a very different, more traditional way.
posted by kalapierson at 6:46 PM on April 27, 2014

Can't find the link now on my phone - but Trust Bank (in old city I think) is a wedding venue we looked at. It's an old bank that's been converted for weddings and what not. A little pricey, but beautiful architecture and big open space and second level balcony.

FYI, that was, before it was remodeled, the Real World: Philadelphia house.
posted by The Michael The at 7:10 PM on April 27, 2014

A friend had her wedding in a museum (though, not in Philadelphia). Other public spaces, like Union Station here in Los Angeles, or a main library branch, are often affordable, but they have a lot of rules about insurance and/or approved vendors.
posted by vignettist at 9:15 PM on April 27, 2014

Congratulations and best wishes!
We were very, very happy with our wedding at Glen Foerd--there was a wine cellar, an art gallery, grounds to stroll around--lots of options for guests. The staff was fabulous, too, and the price was reasonable. It is a caterer-included kind of venue, which we appreciated after we visited lots of interesting sites that would have required us to coordinate the rentals of things like tables, chairs, linens, silverware, air conditioners, dance floors, toilets (yes, for real: toilets).
Good luck!
posted by TEA at 10:02 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

You might want to consider some of the private schools in the Philadelphia area: The Miquon School, Germantown Friends School, other Friends schools as well as others.

Generally they are rented out only by Alumni for weddings, but I guess the schools are always happy for additional income, have infrastructure (cafeteria's, auditoriums, parking) and are commonly not used on weekends.
posted by jazh at 6:39 AM on April 28, 2014

My friend was looking into a lot of the same venues as you are, with similar parameters. They went with the Raquet Club. It's a super interesting space, there were enough rooms that the bridal party stayed there for the weekend (easy to get ready, etc.)
posted by loolie at 7:09 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

My wife & I got married at Front & Palmer which is a converted barrel factory under the El in Fishtown (as fit our aesthetic tastes perfectly). The food was excellent and the staff was super helpful with everything, so I would highly recommend it. I've also played music in a bunch of weddings in the area & second the German Society as a very cool, very unique venue.
posted by zempf at 10:55 AM on April 28, 2014


Along the line of the other private schools mentioned is Baldwin, out in Bryn Mawr-- their event fee is $3000, but you do get a selection of caterers with different prices and some of them come with a BYOB option. It's relatively close to the city and very close to the train station.

General notes that may be helpful: if you're looking at city venues, consider the potential impact of city taxes. Look at suggested tips and the number of support staff people involved (like do they have mandatory valet parking, coat checks, how many waiters, etc.) Are rentals (linen/tables/etc.) included? If not, how much does that add to the price per person? The ability to bring in our own alcohol was a huge money saver, and we were able to tailor the wine and liquor to what we wanted. Our caterer was Jeffrey Miller, but I will say their packages might be a little out of your budget, depending on your total number of guests/options/base venue fee, as you do have to further consider all the staff, venue fees, etc.-- but they were really great about a lot of things and their packages were very customizable. If you are looking at a venue that uses them and if you would like to see any of the info we have, let me know. (As a side note, the Kimmel Center is phenomenal but the suggested pricing I saw was around $200 a head, though maybe Garces catering does have lower options?)
posted by jetlagaddict at 12:17 PM on April 28, 2014

Also, have you tried using partyspace.com at all? I think it's under the Jeffrey Miller umbrella and there are sponsored listings, but it's really great for finding out info on all kinds of venues throughout the area. I didn't find their categories very useful, so I just went through a lot of listings geographically and winnowed them slowly.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:36 PM on April 28, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Loving all the ideas we've seen here so far (keep them coming!) We have referenced partyspace.com and weddingwire for more ideas as well. The reception budget may be a bit flexible, as that cost was based on some things I'd seen reported online that you should expect the reception to account for about 50% of your overall wedding budget.

We know we have a few good options, but we're pretty torn between the convenience of a downtown event and the added costs of being in Center City. The majority of our guests will be flying in and most of the suburban locations are far from public transit, introducing the car rental requirements or putting the burden back on us to provide transport to suburban hotels or the reception site.
posted by moshimosh at 7:09 PM on April 28, 2014

You can also poke around on ShareMySpace for options.
posted by knile at 2:28 PM on June 3, 2014

Response by poster: We wound up booking the College of Physicians and are very excited. Thanks everyone for your input!
posted by moshimosh at 12:57 PM on June 4, 2014

For anyone reading this thread later: my friend just got married at the Stirling Guest Hotel in Reading (not in Philly, but probably doable). She got married in a little grove of trees and the indoor reception looked like a gorgeous tea party (in a non-fussy way!). The setting was nice enough so that very few external decorations were needed, and they even let her use some of the leftover flower arrangements from an event the night before. Their prices look pretty good, too.
posted by Madamina at 8:04 AM on June 13, 2014

Another one for the future-readers: Reading Terminal Market is at least an option for receptions.
posted by knile at 9:38 AM on June 20, 2014

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