5 Unique Wedding Venue Ideas in New England

Unique outdoor beer garden wedding venue in Weymouth Massachusetts

In a world of Pinterest boards, planning a wedding can be a strange and confusing exercise in adjusting your expectations. When I got married (in 2011), I initially had my heart set on the Boston Public Library. Upon learning that the food and beverage minimum was (at that time) equal to my entire wedding budget, my plans had to shift. And I’m glad they did. Our wedding venue, the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, was similar in vibe to my coveted BPL Gustavino Room – outdoor ceremony, white marble reception floor, ornate ceiling, classic details – but at a way more affordable price point. It was the perfect space for my day.

Side note, I’d still love to photograph a wedding at the Boston Public Library someday. (Universe, are you listening?)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a classic New England manor or barn, or any number of stunning historic downtown Boston venues. They are incredible and we’re lucky to live in a place with so many gorgeous and varied choices! But thinking outside the “venue” box can be an amazing way to infuse your wedding with your personal style. Not to mention, it can help you keep your budget in a reasonable range. So here are five offbeat wedding venue types you should consider.

Les Zygomates Offbeat Affordable Restaurant Wedding Venue in Downtown Boston


#1) A Restaurant

Why choose a restaurant? Most importantly (in my book), you know the food is going to be awesome! With a chef on staff, you may be able to collaborate and get extra creative with the menu. Since restaurants generally have a stock of tables and chairs (and linens and plates), you can save a bundle on rentals. Restaurants also come with built-in ambiance, which means you can have an awesome vibe with minimal additional expense on things like florals and decor.

What else is there to consider? Depending on the size of your wedding, you may be able to use a large private room or you may be looking at a restaurant buyout. The costs for these scenarios can vary widely, so for a larger wedding or a smaller restaurant, you may want to consider an “off peak” night to maximize your budget. If music and dancing is a big part of your vision, be strategic about how you utilize the space. Can tables can be moved to accommodate a dance floor? Also, remember, that built-in ambiance? You’re stuck with it, so make sure the look and feel of the space match your wedding vision!

Local faves: Commonwealth Cambridge in Kendall Square. La Brasa in East Somerville.

Nightshift Brewery Unique Beer Winery Wedding Venue in New England near Boston

#2) Your Favorite Brewery

(or Winery or Distillery)

Why choose a brewery? Brewery weddings are extra fun! You know the beer is going to be awesome and the spaces are generally open concept, made for mingling. Some breweries have a drink minimum in lieu of a rental fee, which is a great way to get more bang for your buck. Ask if you can get access to a barrel room or any overhead walkways for extra unique wedding photos.

What else is there to consider? You’re often restricted to the alcohol that’s already served on site, so a full bar may not be an option. If you’re not keen to embrace the casual ambiance of a taproom, you may need to bring in a lot of rentals to get the space wedding ready. Some breweries don’t make food on site, which means hiring a food truck. Personally, I consider this a major pro, but you’ll have to decide if it works for your personal vibe.

Local faves: Nightshift Brewing Taproom in Everett. Harpoon Brewery in South Boston. Dorchester Brewing Company in Dorchester. Long Trail Brewing Co. in Bridgewater Corners, VT.

Somerville Arts at the Armory Unique Affordable Wedding Venue

#3) A Performing Arts Venue

Why choose an arts venue? Performance spaces host all kinds of events, so they are often very flexible – a “blank slate” from which to build your dream wedding. They also tend to have great sound equipment, which is perfect if you’re asking friends (or a playlist) to provide the night’s entertainment. A built in stage with audience style seating may provide an ideal, simple ceremony set up. Also, these spaces don’t usually tend to have rigid rules about catering options, meaning you can find the perfect food solution to fit your needs.

What else is there to consider? Like any “blank slate” wedding venue, there’s a lot of planning to do, so make sure you’re up for it or that you get the help you need! Ask if the venue provides a day-of coordinator and/or a tech expert to manage any rental items, sound equipment, and lighting. (If you’re using their equipment, it’s likely that they do!)

Local faves: Arts at the Armory in Somerville. Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center in East Cambridge. Memorial Hall in Plymouth.

Woodsy outdoor national park camping wedding venue at Purgatory Chasm in Massachusetts

#4) An Entire Campground

Why choose a campground? For outdoorsy couples who want to embrace the whole wedding weekend, a camp buyout is an amazing way to bring people together and stretch out the wedding celebration. Many camps have fun activities like hiking and water sports to keep your guests busy as they mingle over three days of wedding fun. Remote locations mean noise isn’t a concern, so the party can go on all night. Plus, dancing with your new spouse in a field of trees under a star filled sky? Sounds pretty damn romantic to me!

What else is there to consider? Buying out a whole camp is not going to be the cheapest way to have a wedding. But considering the amount of space, time, meals, and lodgings provided, it may still be fairly cost effective, especially if guests are reimbursing you for their stay. Ask all the questions about costs: Are there extra fees for having camp staff on site? For certain outdoor activities? For guest lodging? For meals? Also, make sure you have a game plan for inclement weather. Availability may be limited to certain weekends if camp sessions are running in the summer. And if your camp is really off the beaten path, your vendors may require travel reimbursement or lodgings, so be sure to factor those extra costs into your budget.

(Semi) Local faves: Pinewood Lodge Campground in Plymouth, MA. Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, CT. Ohana Family Camp in Post Mills, VT. Camp O-AT-KA in Sebago, ME. Kingsley Pines in Raymond, ME.

Backyard wedding at a private South Shore home in Massachusetts with bride getting ready in her childhood bedroom

#5) Someone’s Backyard

Why choose a backyard wedding? Not everyone is lucky enough to have a family home that can accommodate a big event, but if you do, this can be an incredibly special space to hold your wedding. There’s something so connected and beautiful about being in an intimate and meaningful place on that day. For example, buttoning up your wedding dress in your childhood bedroom, surrounded by pictures of all your milestones? (It’s almost surreal.) You’ll have a ton of flexibility to design things however you’d like. And of course, there are no rental fees for the space.

What else is there to consider? You’re going to have to bring in pretty much everything, which may include a tent, portable restrooms (depending on the guest count), all the rental items, and of course, food, beverages, and serving staff. Your caterer can probably help you out with most of this, but if you’re able to hire a planner (or a day-of-coordinator at minimum), it could save you a ton of stress. If your wedding is in a space provided by family, it potentially gives your generous relatives a lot of leverage to share their opinions about the day. Make sure you’re on the same page up front to avoid potential arguments down the road.

Local faves: I can’t help you there! I have shot weddings in some incredible family homes, but generally, you either have this one available to you or you don’t.

Offbeat New England Brewery wedding venue and bouquet at Long Trail Brewing Company in Vermont

So there you have it – five wedding venue types that will make your wedding more uniquely you.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about picking a wedding venue, start with your values. Consider what you truly want from the day. What is non-negotiable? Do you just want everyone to relax and have fun? Would you do anything to get as much time as possible with family and friends? Is life crazy and you just want a laid back wedding planning process? Do you actually want to skip all this fuss and marry your person at city hall right now?

I’m confident that once you know what matters to you, you can find the perfect space to make it happen. I’d love to hear in the comments if one of these ideas is your perfect fit!

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