Accessibility and Inclusivity within the Philadelphia Wedding Industry

Written and edited by Shannon Collins
Sensitivity reading and disability consulting provided by Sarah Wiener

Vibrant illustration of two people of color, one a wheelchair user, enjoying nature together.

Estimated reading time: 40 minutes

Being a more inclusive and affirming wedding photographer means examining the intersections of the wedding industry and all of the ways we can strive to do better to serve individuals. Making our services, spaces, and communities more accessible is an act of care and something we can and must work on improving together.

I’d like to share Sins Invalid’s definition of disability, since it aligns with my own mindset: “We define disability broadly to include people with physical impairments, people who belong to a sensory minority, people with emotional disabilities, people with cognitive challenges, and those with chronic/severe illness. We understand the experience of disability to occur within any and all walks of life, with deeply felt connections to all communities impacted by the medicalization of their bodies, including trans, gender-variant, and intersex people, and others whose bodies do not conform to our culture(s)’ notions of ‘normal’ or ‘functional.'”

When writing about disabilities, I’m opting to use identity-first language (saying “disabled” or “disabled person”)  instead of person-first language (“a person who is disabled”). I do this to reinforce the idea that disability is not a bad word. The disabled community is not a monolith and language is ever-evolving, meaning there isn’t a universally preferred language. If you are unsure whether to use person-first or identity-first language, ask if a person is comfortable sharing what they use for themselves. According to the CDC, 1 in 4 Americans have a disability that impacts a major part of their life. That number becomes higher if we expand the definition of disability beyond what the CDC currently uses.

“For many, the line between ability and disability is self-realization and claiming it for yourself. I know how many of you are disabled. You’ll come to this realization in your own time. Just know that needing accommodations and tools for your survival and peace isn’t shameful, it’s necessary.” — Imani Barbarin

I am a queer, disabled photographer whose work has been impacted by brain surgery, mental illness (anxiety), and chronic illness (hypothyroidism). It took me reading Imani’s words above for me to unlearn my ableist attitudes and validate that I can and do identify as disabled. It’s something that I had to push through my internalized ableism to say with pride. I want to fully acknowledge intersectionality and the many privileges I hold and benefit from as a white, non-binary person.

Accessibility and the ADA

Planning a wedding can be at times overwhelming, and for disabled folks planning to celebrate their love or plan a wedding, facing physical and social barriers to accessibility only adds to the growing list of to-do’s. There is often invisible labor that disabled marriers have to face in order to celebrate their love.

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) stipulates that businesses and organizations must be “readily accessible to and usable by” disabled customers, clients, and members of the public. These guidelines are a narrow scope of what makes a space accessible, and are often not being enforced. ADA requirements were brought into effect on January 26, 1992, but apply to properties from before and after that time differently. Rules for facilities constructed before 1993 are far more lenient than for those built after, though changes are expected to ensure they comply with the ADA. In Philadelphia, many wedding venues have a rich history, and with that comes spaces that are oftentimes not ADA compliant. All religious buildings and private residences are exempt from the ADA, which affects a large percentage of accessibility at weddings, from church ceremonies to backyard receptions.

Alice Wong interviews Lia Seth about accessibility in Episode 18 of the Disability Visibility Podcast, “Accessibility and the ADA.” Lia shares her experiences with the extra planning that goes into navigating public spaces as a disabled, queer, woman of color. Click here to listen or read the transcript of the episode.

#AccessIsLove

Simply having an elevator and ramp or offering scent-free spaces is not enough. Wedding venues and vendors can do more to challenge ableism beyond compliance. We should not settle, but push to demand more from the people within our communities, and ourselves, to do better.

In 2018, Mia Mingus gave a keynote speech at the Disability Intersectionality Summit, sharing that “Disability justice is simply another word for love.” That speech inspired the Access is Love campaign, created and led by Sandy Ho, Mia Mingus, and Alice Wong. From their website, they share that “Access Is Love aims to help build a world where accessibility is understood as an act of love, instead of a burden or an after-thought. It is an initiative to raise awareness about accessibility and encourage people to incorporate access in their everyday practices and lives.”

In that same speech, Mingus shares, “I don’t just want technical and logistical access. I don’t just want inclusion. I want liberatory access and access intimacy. I want us to not only be able to be part of spaces, but for us to be able to fully engage in spaces. I don’t just want us to get a seat at someone else’s table, I want us to be able to build something more understood and to be able to take part in principled structure together — to be able to be human together. Not just placated or politely listened to.”

Marriage equality

It is important to note that total marriage equality is still not a reality for the disabled community in the United States. Many disabled people can’t marry without the threat of losing their financial assistance programs or “benefits.” As much as I’d like to advocate for making the wedding industry a more accessible space, it feels like an impossible mission when so many disabled folks are suffering losses and punishments for getting married.

As @dominickevans thoroughly wrote about on Twitter, the plan by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for marriage equality still doesn’t allow every disabled person to marry. SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is one of the programs that disabled folks face penalties from if they get married. Biden’s plan is to reform the SSI program and eliminate the SSI marriage penalty, however by only addressing SSI, it ignores an abundance of other programs that disabled people face penalties from if they get married — including Medicaid.

If you’re a social justice-minded wedding vendor like myself and have embraced the milestone of “marriage equality” in the US since 2015, please remember that disabled people deserve to be celebrated, too.

So many incredible folks have been writing about disabled marriage equality for years, including Dominick Evans, whose article about marriage equality can be found on the Center for Disability Rights website here.

Disability justice

What are some ways we can be more mindful of accessibility within our own businesses, both in-person and online?

  • Video captions, alt-text, image descriptions, #HashtagCapitalization, content warnings, avoiding ableist language, and using emojis sparingly are some of the ways we can work toward better social media access.
  • Designing our websites with accessibility and screen reader compatibility in mind, while being transparent about accessibility information on our websites. For more information on collective unlearning around accessibility, check out Higher Priestess’ content here.
  • As a venue, ask your clients if they or their guests have any needs around seating, interpreter services, support with lodging or transportation, or dietary restrictions. Hire an accessibility specialist if you’re able to.
  • Don’t be afraid to thoughtfully ask folks directly what their needs are to better serve the community. Find out what disabled guests need, rather than trying to make those decisions for them. And don’t assume to know how someone identifies, as disabilities can be invisible.
  • Let’s ask ourselves, what does it mean to create spaces where access is a central part of the planning process, not an afterthought?
  • If you’re planning a wedding or celebration, set the tone of inclusion by requesting dietary restrictions or accessibility needs in your invitation and offering guests the ability to connect with you. Be mindful of certain types of calligraphy and colors that may be difficult for many people to read. For more on accessible invitations, visit Offbeat Bride.
  • As someone planning a wedding, make sure that all information is digitally available for guests with screen-readers and those who use applications to plan or store information. Allow guests to respond and share information (including with their +1 or a caregiver) digitally to reduce the amount of steps in any task.

The guide itself

This is a constantly-evolving accessibility and inclusivity guide to wedding venues in the Greater Philadelphia area on Lenapehoking land. The venues highlighted offer spaces for weddings, microweddings, intimate weddings, and elopements. I’m hoping by compiling this research, folks in the disabled community and beyond will have some basic information to start their search for a location. By no means is this guide meant to be a declarative statement that these venues are fully accessible or adhere to ADA guidelines.

It is my hope that by sharing these details, folks who are planning will be able to make judgement calls based on their needs. It is also worth noting that even if marriers aren’t disabled, it is likely many of their guests in attendance will be.  Similar to universal design, everyone benefits from having more accessible wedding venues and vendors, whether personally, or to better serve the needs of the community.

Wedding venue descriptions include details around gender-inclusive restrooms, wheelchair access, and other factors of accessibility. Much of the questionnaire I compiled and sent to venues was inspired by the access checklist created by Nina Neon, who wrote the series, “Confessions of the Disabled Bride.” Sarah Wiener also provided many helpful options for follow-up questions, which will be sent to the venues as this guide expands.

This blog post will be updated as conditions at these locations change. If you see an error or something that needs to be updated, please reach out to let me know (shannon@shannoncollins.com). If you have anything you’d like to share to improve this article, I am always open to any feedback or suggestions to make this a more useful community resource. To read the guide in Google Docs, click here.

If you’d like to submit your Philadelphia area venue for consideration, please fill out the form here. It is free to be included — no one is being compensated for this listing.

The map of venue locations


Google Map linked here for reference.

The questions

For each event location, the following information has been included when possible. This guide will expand to include more detailed questions as it grows and evolves. Below each question is information about the importance of why it is being asked.

  1. Is the venue/entrance clearly labeled? If not, describe the entrance and how to enter the space.
    Knowing more about what to expect regarding venue visibility can help folks prepare for their arrival.
  2. What is the proximity of public transportation to the venue?
    This will help people estimate how much time it may take to travel to the venue from public transit.
  3. Where’s the closest ADA accessible parking?
    Knowing where ADA parking is located in advance is helpful for planning ahead.
  4. What are the seating options?
    Finding out how sizable and supportive the chairs offered are is necessary for accessible seating for all bodies.
  5. How much seating is there?
    This may help folks prepare for a guest count, though keep in mind capacity changes as we navigate COVID-19 restrictions.
  6. Can wheelchair users view the ceremony clearly from a sitting height?
    Will there be enough room for a wheelchair user to view the ceremony comfortably, without feeling isolated?
  7. What is the type of path surface?
    Paved, boardwalk, gravel, dirt, etc? Is the path relatively smooth/even and well-maintained with fillers between stones? Any significant change in elevation in these paths?
  8. Are there curb cuts where applicable?
    Curb cuts or ramps are used to allow smooth passage between sidewalks and the street, and throughout spaces.
  9. Is the main entrance/level where ceremony and receptions take place wheelchair accessible?
    Even one step at the main entrance means the venue is not wheelchair accessible. An exception would be if a ramp rental is possible (see #10).
  10. If there are steps, can you hire a ramp to place over the steps?
    Knowing whether or not a ramp can be rented to make a space more accessible is helpful.
  11. How complicated is the venue layout?
    Are there many different levels, or narrow corridors and doors that might be difficult for disabled folks? How flexible is the layout, especially the width of the aisle?
  12. Are the doorways at least 32 inches wide?
    By ADA standards, the clear width of a door opening must be a minimum of 32 inches.
  13. Are there gender-inclusive restrooms?
    It can feel risky and tiring to navigate restrooms that only offer two options. Knowing if a gender-inclusive restroom will be available can make marriers and their guests have a more affirming experience.
  14. Are the restrooms accessible?
    Are the restrooms ADA-compliant? Do they have the right amount of space? Are there grab bars?
  15. If the restrooms are ADA accessible, where are they located?
    Preparing and planning is impactful, including knowing where the ADA accessible restrooms are in advance.
  16. Is there an accessible getting ready space for the marriers if they need it?
    Knowing what resources marriers will or won’t have made available to them is important. If the space is on the second floor, but there’s no elevator or ramp option, that makes the space inaccessible.
  17. Does the venue allow service animals?
    Disabled folks use service animals for many reasons, and they are considered as important as necessary medical equipment (ie: a wheelchair).
  18. When serving food, are there vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options?
    Navigating how food allergies or dietary restrictions will be accommodated in advance is necessary for folks to prepare.
  19. Can people bring their own food?
    Examples include, but are not limited to: meal replacement drinks/bars, glucose tablets, baby food, no-chew foods, and foods for those with strict limitations around allergies and intolerances. Food for service animals is also included. All of the above should be covered under the ADA.

Bartram’s Garden

An outdoor ceremony space at Bartram's Garden, with a floral arch and white chairs set up in rows in the grass.

One of the outdoor ceremony locations at Bartram’s Garden, with a floral arch and white chairs set up in rows in the grass, with a pebbled path. Photo by Shannon Collins Photography.

  1. Is the venue/entrance clearly labeled? If not, describe the entrance and how to enter the space.
    Yes, clearly labeled entrance at 5400 Lindbergh Boulevard.
  2. What is the proximity of public transportation to the venue?
    Valet parking or self service lot.
  3. Where’s the closest ADA accessible parking?
    The self-service lot on site.
  4. What are the seating options?
    Folding chairs or chiavari chairs.
  5. How much seating is there?
    Same as capacity, which is 50 guests for an intimate wedding, due to COVID-19 [at the time of publication].
  6. Can wheelchair users view the ceremony clearly from a sitting height?
    Yes
  7. What is the type of path surface?
    Awaiting response
  8. Are there curb cuts where applicable?
    Awaiting response
  9. Is the main entrance (or level where the ceremonies and receptions take place) wheelchair accessible?
    Yes
  10. If there are steps, can you hire a ramp to place over the steps?
    Does not apply
  11. How complicated is the venue layout?
    Awaiting response
  12. Are the doorways at least 32 inches wide?
    Awaiting response
  13. Are there gender-inclusive restrooms?
    Yes
  14. Are the restrooms accessible?
    Yes
  15. If the restrooms are ADA accessible, where are they located?
    Awaiting response
  16. Is there an accessible getting ready space for the marriers if they need it?
    Awaiting response
  17. Does the venue allow service animals?
    Awaiting response
  18. When serving food, are there vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options?
    Yes
  19. Can people bring their own food?
    No

Fleisher Art Memorial

A large group of seated and standing guests at the outdoor courtyard of Fleisher Art Memorial.

A large group of seated and standing guests at the outdoor courtyard of Fleisher Art Memorial. Photo by Shannon Collins Photography.

  1. Is the venue/entrance clearly labeled? If not, describe the entrance and how to enter the space.
    Entrance at 719 Catharine Street, through the gate and steps or lift into our lobby. Many clients additionally rent out Palumbo Park which is adjacent to our entrance/lobby. The park has steps and a ramp for entrance.
  2. What is the proximity of public transportation to the venue?
    1 minute from Bus Route 47, and an 18-minute walk from the wheelchair-accessible 8th & Market Station. [Editor’s note: Walking directions from 8th & Market to Fleisher Art Memorial linked here.]
  3. Where’s the closest ADA accessible parking?
    Our parking lot is directly across the street from our entrance.
  4. What are the seating options?
    Padded folding chairs & wooden benches.
  5. How much seating is there?
    Up to 120, same as guest capacity.
  6. Can wheelchair users view the ceremony clearly from a sitting height?
    If ceremony is in Palumbo Park yes, not necessarily if in our Sanctuary space.
  7. What is the type of path surface?
    If a client rents Palumbo Park (not a part of Fleisher) for their outdoor ceremony, there will be a smooth, concrete ramp entrance with the main surface consisting of even brick, filled cobblestone, and without a significant change in elevation.
  8. Are there curb cuts where applicable?
    Yes
  9. Is the main entrance (or level where the ceremonies and receptions take place) wheelchair accessible?
    Yes, the entire event space at Fleisher (and Palumbo Park) is ADA accessible.
  10. If there are steps, can you hire a ramp to place over the steps?
    Not applicable
  11. How complicated is the venue layout?
    All of Fleisher’s rentals take place on the first floor of our building, which meets the requirements of the ADA accessibility guidelines. We have a lift to get into our main lobby and a ramp into our gallery and Sanctuary space. The Sanctuary features a raised altar area that is often used for indoor ceremonies.
  12. Are the doorways at least 32 inches wide?
    Yes
  13. Are there gender-inclusive restrooms?
    Yes
  14. Are the restrooms accessible?
    Yes
  15. If the restrooms are ADA accessible, where are they located?
    Lobby
  16. Is there an accessible getting ready space for the marriers if they need it?
    Yes, we can accommodate one of Fleisher’s classroom/studios for clients to get ready in. They would be located on Fleisher’s 2nd or 3rd floors, but are accessible via elevator.
  17. Does the venue allow service animals?
    Yes
  18. When serving food, are there vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options?
    Yes
  19. Can people bring their own food?
    No

Hill-Physick House and Powel House

The whimsical Hill-Physick 18th century garden, which is filled with greens and a brick background.

The Hill-Physick 18th century garden has an outdoor entrance option to keep your event fully outside. Photo provided by Hill-Physick House and Powel House.

  1. Is the venue/entrance clearly labeled? If not, describe the entrance and how to enter the space.
    Both venues are located directly off of 4th street and 3rd street, respectively. They are homes in residential neighborhoods, but when weather permits we will have the front door open to help guests find their way.
  2. What is the proximity of public transportation to the venue?
    We are near the Market-Frankford line, and several bus lines stop near our two venues. [Walking directions from Market-Frankford Line’s 5th Street Independence Hall Station to The Hill-Physick House is linked here. It is a 10-minute walk.]
  3. Where’s the closest ADA accessible parking?
    Parking is limited to street parking or lot parking, we do not offer parking.
  4. What are the seating options?
    We have wooden, padded folding chairs that can be used inside the venue. Outdoor chairs would need to be rented for our garden space.
  5. How much seating is there?
    Each event is uniquely tailored, but in many cases a chair rental is required and the rental company sets up and breaks down the chairs. Capacity is 100 or below [at time of publication].
  6. Can wheelchair users view the ceremony clearly from a sitting height?
    Ceremonies that are held in the garden are set up in different configurations each time, there is no static seating arrangement. There is a step up to access the garden at both locations, but a rented ramp could definitely be utilized.
  7. What is the type of path surface?
    Brick path that surrounds grass.
  8. Are there curb cuts where applicable?
    Despite the city streets having curb cuts, both houses require climbing stairs to enter the space, and both gardens have a single step up.
  9. Is the main entrance (or level where the ceremonies and receptions take place) wheelchair accessible?
    The Hill-Physick 18th century garden can accommodate up to 100 guests for a seated dinner, with an outdoor entrance option to keep your event fully outside. Both homes were built in the 1700’s and are unfortunately not ADA-compliant. Wheelchair users are only able to access the garden space (interior bathrooms are not wheelchair accessible).
  10. If there are steps, can you hire a ramp to place over the steps?
    We are open to it. It has not been done before at either venue. It would not be possible to install a ramp up to the 2nd floor, due to the intricate stairs that change directions.
  11. How complicated is the venue layout?
    Very complicated. Both homes were built in the 1700’s and stairs are the only way to get to the 2nd floor, where some portion of the event space is. The interior of the homes are not wheelchair accessible, unfortunately.
  12. Are the doorways at least 32 inches wide?
    Not all of them, but some of them are.
  13. Are there gender-inclusive restrooms?
    There are two individual use bathrooms in each venue none of them have gender signs.
  14. Are the restrooms accessible?
    No
  15. If the restrooms are ADA accessible, where are they located?
    Not applicable
  16. Is there an accessible getting ready space for the marriers if they need it?
    No, there is not.
  17. Does the venue allow service animals?
    With advanced approval.
  18. When serving food, are there vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options?
    Yes
  19. Can people bring their own food?
    No

Horticulture Center

The indoor gathering space at The Horticulture Center greenhouse. The reception room is filled with tables, chairs, and hanging lights.

The Horticulture Center, a modern exhibition hall and greenhouse, is located in beautiful Fairmount Park. Photo provided by The Horticulture Center.

  1. Is the venue/entrance clearly labeled? If not, describe the entrance and how to enter the space.
    Yes
  2. What is the proximity of public transportation to the venue?
    Not located close by.
  3. Where’s the closest ADA accessible parking?
    In front of the building.
  4. What are the seating options?
    Gold chiavari chairs (as seen in photo above) or white folding chairs. Anything can be rented.
  5. How much seating is there?
    Same as capacity, which is 25 guests indoors [at time of publication].
  6. Can wheelchair users view the ceremony clearly from a sitting height?
    Yes
  7. What is the type of path surface?
    Flat, concrete, or pavement
  8. Are there curb cuts where applicable?
    Yes
  9. Is the main entrance (or level where the ceremonies and receptions take place) wheelchair accessible?
    Yes
  10. If there are steps, can you hire a ramp to place over the steps?
    There is a ramp.
  11. How complicated is the venue layout?
    Easy
  12. Are the doorways at least 32 inches wide?
    Yes
  13. Are there gender-inclusive restrooms?
    Yes
  14. Are the restrooms accessible?
    Yes
  15. If the restrooms are ADA accessible, where are they located?
    Near the other restrooms
  16. Is there an accessible getting ready space for the marriers if they need it?
    No
  17. Does the venue allow service animals?
    Yes
  18. When serving food, are there vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options?
    Yes
  19. Can people bring their own food?
    No

Irwin’s

The interior of Irwin's, where there is an abundance of natural light, vibrant retro furniture, plants, and unique lighting. Walls are tagged and have neutral subway tiles.

Irwin’s specializes in intimate weddings and has a 1,800 sq ft south-facing terrace and indoor dining room. Photo provided by Irwin’s.

  1. Is the venue/entrance clearly labeled? If not, describe the entrance and how to enter the space.
    The entrance is located at 800 Mifflin Street. Take the elevator up to the 8th floor. Irwin’s is off to the right side. Bok Bar is off to the left.
  2. What is the proximity of public transportation to the venue?
    .5 miles to and from Broad Street Line’s Snyder Station. [Snyder, a 12-minute walk from the venue, is not wheelchair accessible. Walking directions linked here. Broad Street Line’s Oregon Station is wheelchair accessible and a 20-minute walk. Directions linked here.]
  3. Where’s the closest ADA accessible parking?
    Street parking or nearby school lot weekend parking, ADA entrance off of Mifflin Street.
  4. What are the seating options?
    Flexible and various table and seating options. Couches, benches, comfortable chairs, etc.
  5. How much seating is there?
    Same as capacity, 25 [at time of publication].
  6. Can wheelchair users view the ceremony clearly from a sitting height?
    Yes
  7. What is the type of path surface?
    Concrete and decking.
  8. Are there curb cuts where applicable?
    Yes
  9. Is the main entrance (or level where the ceremonies and receptions take place) wheelchair accessible?
    Yes
  10. If there are steps, can you hire a ramp to place over the steps?
    Yes
  11. How complicated is the venue layout?
    Not complicated. Once up on the 8th floor, everything is right near each other and very close.
  12. Are the doorways at least 32 inches wide?
    Yes
  13. Are there gender-inclusive restrooms?
    Yes
  14. Are the restrooms accessible?
    Yes
  15. If the restrooms are ADA accessible, where are they located?
    They are located inside Irwin’s for private use.
  16. Is there an accessible getting ready space for the marriers if they need it?
    Yes, there is an accessible getting ready space.
  17. Does the venue allow service animals?
    Yes
  18. When serving food, are there vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options?
    Yes
  19. Can people bring their own food?
    Yes

Morris House Hotel

The historic outdoor, tented courtyard at Morris House Hotel, where guests are seated for dinner at an intimate microwedding.

The Morris House Hotel has a 4,800 sq ft courtyard garden and is a hidden gem nestled in historic Philadelphia. Photo by Shannon Collins Photography.

  1. Is the venue/entrance clearly labeled? If not, describe the entrance and how to enter the space.
    Take Walnut Street and make a left on 8th St and another left on St. James St. The entrance to the hotel will be on the right. The garden event entrance will be to the left of the main hotel entrance.
  2. What is the proximity of public transportation to the venue?
    There are many bus and subway options nearby, including Market-Frankford Line’s 8th & Market Street Station. [The station is wheelchair accessible and a 5-minute walk. Walking directions linked here.]
  3. Where’s the closest ADA accessible parking?
    There is a parking garage directly across the street on 8th between Walnut and Locust Streets. The fee for 24 hours is $30. For this garage only, the Morris House Hotel will validate your parking ticket for a 15% discount to all hotel guests and vendors.
  4. What are the seating options?
    Garden chairs are available on-site or rental chairs.
  5. How much seating is there?
    58 garden chairs on-site and rental chairs, based on guest count. Capacity is currently at 100.
  6. Can wheelchair users view the ceremony clearly from a sitting height?
    Yes
  7. What is the type of path surface?
    Bricks
  8. Are there curb cuts where applicable?
    I believe so.
  9. Is the main entrance (or level where the ceremonies and receptions take place) wheelchair accessible?
    Yes
  10. If there are steps, can you hire a ramp to place over the steps?
    There are no steps in the garden area where the ceremony is.
  11. How complicated is the venue layout?
    Some entrances are narrow.
  12. Are the doorways at least 32 inches wide?
    The front hotel entrance is 40,” so a wheelchair can fit through there. The one ground floor room does not have a doorway to enter that is at least 32″.
  13. Are there gender-inclusive restrooms?
    Yes
  14. Are the restrooms accessible?
    Yes
  15. If the restrooms are ADA accessible, where are they located?
    The restrooms are accessible through The Garden Building, the door to one restroom is 35″, but the other restroom is not large enough for a wheelchair.
  16. Is there an accessible getting ready space for the marriers if they need it?
    They would need to reserve a hotel room to get ready in. There is a room called the Library that the wedding party can go in before and after the ceremony if need be.
  17. Does the venue allow service animals?
    Yes, with proper documentation.
  18. When serving food, are there vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options?
    Yes
  19. Can people bring their own food?
    No

Penn Museum

The Stoner Courtyard outside of The Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has white seats spaced apart for an outdoor ceremony.

The Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is a 300,000 sq ft venue with many accessible options, including Stoner Courtyard. Photo by Ashley Gerrity Photography.

  1. Is the venue/entrance clearly labeled? If not, describe the entrance and how to enter the space.
    Yes
  2. What is the proximity of public transportation to the venue?
    There is a train and bus that drop off very closely to the Museum. [Penn Medicine Station is located one minute away, across the street from the Museum, and is not wheelchair accessible. 30th Street Station is wheelchair accessible and an 18-minute walk. Walking directions linked here.]
  3. Where’s the closest ADA accessible parking?
    There is one ADA accessible parking space in the Museum’s parking lot and additional parking spaces on the ground floor of the garage, which is located next door to the Museum.
  4. What are the seating options?
    Wood folding chairs with a padded seat.
  5. How much seating is there?
    Most of the seating in the Museum’s event spaces are added in. The guest capacity for an intimate wedding is 25.
  6. Can wheelchair users view the ceremony clearly from a sitting height?
    Yes
  7. What is the type of path surface?
    Terrazzo flooring inside, a combination of brick and grass in one garden and cobblestone in the other. A runner can be added on the cobblestone.
  8. Are there curb cuts where applicable?
    Yes
  9. Is the main entrance (or level where the ceremonies and receptions take place) wheelchair accessible?
    Yes
  10. If there are steps, can you hire a ramp to place over the steps?
    There are elevators and ramps throughout the Museum, so the steps don’t have to be used.
  11. How complicated is the venue layout?
    The Museum has undergone renovations recently and all galleries were renovated to adhere to ADA requirements. There are no tight areas in the outside spaces.
  12. Are the doorways at least 32 inches wide?
    Yes
  13. Are there gender-inclusive restrooms?
    Yes
  14. Are the restrooms accessible?
    Yes
  15. If the restrooms are ADA accessible, where are they located?
    The newly-renovated restrooms are ADA accessible. Some of the older restrooms that have not yet been renovated are not. The ADA accessible restrooms are on the basement level, 2nd, and 3rd floors.
  16. Is there an accessible getting ready space for the marriers if they need it?
    Yes, we offer two classroom spaces that are large and very open.
  17. Does the venue allow service animals?
    Yes
  18. When serving food, are there vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options?
    Yes
  19. Can people bring their own food?
    No

Philadelphia City Hall

An intimate Philadelphia City Hall wedding in the courtroom. Seven guests surround the newlyweds and applaud them.

A couple marries with their immediate family celebrating them in a courtroom at Philadelphia City Hall. Photo by Shannon Collins Photography.

While Philadelphia City Hall is accessible and has an elevator that goes up to Room 413, the site is currently only issuing marriage licenses virtually due to COVID-The courtrooms, where judges previously married folks two days a week, are shut down indefinitely. The Register of Wills and all of its divisions are operating by appointment only until further notice. For more information, click here.


Portico at Awbury Arboretum

Guests mingle during an afternoon cocktail hour outside of The Francis Cope House at Awbury Arboretum.

The Francis Cope House is located at Awbury Arboretum, a 55 acre public park. Photo by Shannon Collins Photography.

  1. Is the venue/entrance clearly labeled? If not, describe the entrance and how to enter the space.
    Yes
  2. What is the proximity of public transportation to the venue?
    Within .5 miles. [SEPTA Chestnut Hill East Line of Washington Lane Station is located nearby, but is not wheelchair accessible. Accessible SEPTA bus routes 18 and 26 stop on Chew Avenue and the XH bus stops on Washington Lane. Walking directions from SEPTA bus route 18 linked here.]
  3. Where’s the closest ADA accessible parking?
    Next to the venue
  4. What are the seating options?
    White garden chairs for ceremonies and whitewash Chiavari for receptions.
  5. How much seating is there?
    Same as capacity, which is 20-150 people.
  6. Can wheelchair users view the ceremony clearly from a sitting height?
    Yes
  7. What is the type of path surface?
    It depends. There are stone pathways, wood chips, asphalt, and grass depending where you are on the property.
  8. Are there curb cuts where applicable?
    Yes
  9. Is the main entrance (or level where the ceremonies and receptions take place) wheelchair accessible?
    Yes
  10. If there are steps, can you hire a ramp to place over the steps?
    Ramp in back of the property already installed.
  11. How complicated is the venue layout?
    Very simple with a lot of movable space.
  12. Are the doorways at least 32 inches wide?
    Yes
  13. Are there gender-inclusive restrooms?
    Yes
  14. Are the restrooms accessible?
    Not sure
  15. If the restrooms are ADA accessible, where are they located?
    Downstairs of the house
  16. Is there an accessible getting ready space for the marriers if they need it?
    Yes. Typically the one wedding suite is upstairs, but we can utilize one of the downstairs parlor rooms if needed for the marriers to get ready.
  17. Does the venue allow service animals?
    Yes
  18. When serving food, are there vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options?
    Yes
  19. Can people bring their own food?
    No

Power Plant Productions

A ceremony inside Power Plant, where lights are draped above white, painted brick walls and wooden floors.

This Old City venue retains the industrial feel of an early 1900’s power plant. Photo by Shannon Collins Photography.

  1. Is the venue/entrance clearly labeled? If not, describe the entrance and how to enter the space.
    Enter through the lobby doors, straight up the stairs, to the main entrance on the right. In addition to a sidewalk board, there is unique signage directing guests along the hallway to the studio. Once in the space, everything can be contained to one level.
  2. What is the proximity of public transportation to the venue?
    We are conveniently located 2 blocks from the Market Line and local buses. [Market-Frankford Line’s 2nd Street Station is wheelchair accessible and a 7-minute walk. Walking directions linked here.]
  3. Where’s the closest ADA accessible parking?
    There is an ADA parking garage directly across the street.
  4. What are the seating options?
    We have a mix of seating options: resign chairs, stools, and lounge furniture.
  5. How much seating is there?
    We craft layouts with seating based on our clients specific needs, ranging from seated dinners to cocktail-style receptions. The microwedding package includes space for up to 50 guests, with a maximum capacity at 200.
  6. Can wheelchair users view the ceremony clearly from a sitting height?
    Yes
  7. What is the type of path surface?
    Wooden floors
  8. Are there curb cuts where applicable?
    No
  9. Is the main entrance (or level where the ceremonies and receptions take place) wheelchair accessible?
    We do not have an elevator in the building but we have helped guests carry up wheelchairs when needed.
  10. If there are steps, can you hire a ramp to place over the steps?
    We cannot add a ramp. [The building has 7 stairs in the entrance, followed by two flights of stairs, ~16 each, with no elevator available.]
  11. How complicated is the venue layout?
    Power Plant is beautiful in its simplicity. The main studio is divided by a giant smokestack with billowing sheer curtains which allows for creating intimate vignettes or a wide open space. Flexible, but spacious.
  12. Are the doorways at least 32 inches wide?
    Yes
  13. Are there gender-inclusive restrooms?
    Yes
  14. Are the restrooms accessible?
    Yes
  15. If the restrooms are ADA accessible, where are they located?
    On the main floor in the studio.
  16. Is there an accessible getting ready space for the marriers if they need it?
    Yes, on the 2nd floor. [The 2nd floor is not wheelchair accessible, due to the lack of elevator or the ability to add a ramp, because the stairs are too steep.]
  17. Does the venue allow service animals?
    Yes
  18. When serving food, are there vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options?
    Yes
  19. Can people bring their own food?
    Yes

The Rail Park

Rail Park, an elevated gravel and boardwalk space that stretches outdoors from 1300 Noble Street up onto the Viaduct.

Phase 1 of the Rail Park is a 1/4 mile stretch of elevated park. Photo provided by the Rail Park.

  1. Is the venue/entrance clearly labeled? If not, describe the entrance and how to enter the space.
    Yes, there is an accessible ramp entrance at Noble and 13th, and a stairwell on Callowhill between 11th and 12th streets.
  2. What is the proximity of public transportation to the venue?
    A 24-minute walk away from the Spring Garden Station, with plenty of bus options within a few blocks. Street and lot parking is nearby, too. [Market-Frankford Line’s Spring Garden Station has three elevators. One provides access to and from the street, while the other provides access from the fare line to the north and southbound platform. Walking directions from Spring Garden Station linked here.]
  3. Where’s the closest ADA accessible parking?
    There is a parking lot next to the Rail Park that is accessible at 12th and Callowhill for $15 a day.
  4. What are the seating options?
    There are architectural benches built into the design of the linear park as well as large swings. They are dispersed across a 1/4 mile of linear space. [Editor’s note: Popular times for the Rail Park can be viewed on Google here, for folks who want to find out which days and times are the slowest, in order to reduce interruption or stimuli.]
  5. How much seating is there?
    While there are a number of benches/steps built into the park, they are dispersed across a 1/4 mile of linear space.
  6. Can wheelchair users view the ceremony clearly from a sitting height?
    Yes
  7. What is the type of path surface?
    Gravel and boardwalk.
  8. Are there curb cuts where applicable?
    Yes
  9. Is the main entrance (or level where the ceremonies and receptions take place) wheelchair accessible?
    Yes
  10. If there are steps, can you hire a ramp to place over the steps?
    Likely not.
  11. How complicated is the venue layout?
    The paths are pretty wide and shouldn’t be difficult for guests to walk, except on the boards next to the railings.
  12. Are the doorways at least 32 inches wide?
    Not applicable.
  13. Are there gender-inclusive restrooms?
    No public restrooms available on-site.
  14. Are the restrooms accessible?
    No
  15. If the restrooms are ADA accessible, where are they located?
    No, there are no restrooms.
  16. Is there an accessible getting ready space for the marriers if they need it?
    No
  17. Does the venue allow service animals?
    Yes
  18. When serving food, are there vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options?
    Not applicable
  19. Can people bring their own food?
    Yes

Terrain at Styer’s

The Garden Shed at Terrain's rustic reception room, with twinkling lights, lanterns, and warm rustic details.

Terrain’s Garden Shed, the charming and rustic reception room, has amble space. Photo by Shannon Collins Photography.

  1. Is the venue/entrance clearly labeled? If not, describe the entrance and how to enter the space.
    Yes
  2. What is the proximity of public transportation to the venue?
    Buses 111 and 119 have routes that pass near the venue. [7-minute walking directions from bus 111 linked here.]
  3. Where’s the closest ADA accessible parking?
    The parking lot outside the venue.
  4. What are the seating options?
    Indoor or outdoor
  5. How much seating is there?
    Same as capacity, which is up to 30 guests (indoor) or 75 (outdoor) for an intimate wedding [at the time of publication].
  6. Can wheelchair users view the ceremony clearly from a sitting height?
    Yes
  7. What is the type of path surface?
    Combination of brick, wood, pavers, gravel, grass. [A virtual tour can be viewed here, to get a better idea of the layout and options.]
  8. Are there curb cuts where applicable?
    Yes
  9. Is the main entrance (or level where the ceremonies and receptions take place) wheelchair accessible?
    Yes
  10. If there are steps, can you hire a ramp to place over the steps?
    No
  11. How complicated is the venue layout?
    Very easy.
  12. Are the doorways at least 32 inches wide?
    Yes
  13. Are there gender-inclusive restrooms?
    Yes
  14. Are the restrooms accessible?
    Yes
  15. If the restrooms are ADA accessible, where are they located?
    Located inside the reception room.
  16. Is there an accessible getting ready space for the marriers if they need it?
    There is a suite for touchup, makeup, and dressing, but not for full wedding getting ready.
  17. Does the venue allow service animals?
    Yes
  18. When serving food, are there vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options?
    Yes
  19. Can people bring their own food?
    No

Vaux Studio

A couple stands inside Vaux Studio, an intimate wedding chapel with airy light and white folding chairs on either side of them.

VAUX Studio is a non-denominational wedding chapel. Photo by Allie Wilson Photography.

  1. Is the venue/entrance clearly labeled? If not, describe the entrance and how to enter the space.
    Vaux studio is located on the first floor of a residential building. There are 2 locked doors and you need to ring the bell to be let in.
  2. What is the proximity of public transportation to the venue?
    We are located on 12th and Spruce. [There is a subway station at 13th and Locust, one block away, which is not wheelchair accessible. Nearby bus stops, including Locust Street & 12th Street, are accessible. Walking directions to the nearest bus stop, 2 minutes away, linked here.]
  3. Where’s the closest ADA accessible parking?
    ABM Parking is located on 13th and Spruce and is ADA accessible.
  4. What are the seating options?
    Folding white wooden chairs, accent wishbone chairs and a seating area with antique wooden chairs.
  5. How much seating is there?
    Same as capacity, which is 22 guests.
  6. Can wheelchair users view the ceremony clearly from a sitting height?
    Yes, but the building is wheelchair accessible due to a fire in the neighboring building.
  7. What is the type of path surface?
    Paved, city sidewalk.
  8. Are there curb cuts where applicable?
    Yes
  9. Is the main entrance (or level where the ceremonies and receptions take place) wheelchair accessible?
    No, however, a ramp can be hired and placed over the steps.
  10. If there are steps, can you hire a ramp to place over the steps?
    Yes
  11. How complicated is the venue layout?
    One large room separated by 2 pocket doors. In-venue restroom and easy layout.
  12. Are the doorways at least 32 inches wide?
    Yes
  13. Are there gender-inclusive restrooms?
    Yes
  14. Are the restrooms accessible?
    No
  15. If the restrooms are ADA accessible, where are they located?
    The bathrooms aren’t accessible.
  16. Is there an accessible getting ready space for the marriers if they need it?
    No. Unfortunately, not at this time.
  17. Does the venue allow service animals?
    Yes
  18. When serving food, are there vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options?
    Not applicable
  19. Can people bring their own food?
    Yes

The Woodlands

The historic exterior of The Woodlands on a sunny day, with the path leading to the neighboring cemetery.

The grounds, the first floor of the mansion, and the restrooms are wheelchair accessible at this historic venue. Photo by Shannon Collins Photography.

  1. Is the venue/entrance clearly labeled? If not, describe the entrance and how to enter the space.
    Located in University City in West Philadelphia, the entrance to The Woodlands is directly across from SEPTA’s 40th Street Trolley Portal and is a short walk from University of Pennsylvania, University of the Sciences, and the VA Hospital. Visitor enter our 54 acres through our historic gate designed by Paul Philippe Cret.
  2. What is the proximity of public transportation to the venue?
    Extremely proximal, directly across from SEPTA’s 40th Street Trolley Portal. [Septa’s 40th Street Trolley Portal is not wheelchair accessible. However, 40th Street Station is wheelchair accessible and a 15-minute walk to The Woodlands. Walking directions from 40th Street Station to The Woodlands linked here.]
  3. Where’s the closest ADA accessible parking?
    ADA accessible parking is available across the site, along the paved roads of our 54 acres.
  4. What are the seating options?
    Rentals are done through an outside vendor.
  5. How much seating is there?
    Dependent on the rental size. Current capacity due to COVID-19 is 50 guests, outdoors.
  6. Can wheelchair users view the ceremony clearly from a sitting height?
    Yes, depending on the location of the ceremony.
  7. What is the type of path surface?
    Paved roads, as well as brick paths, cobbles, and grass.
  8. Are there curb cuts where applicable?
    Yes
  9. Is the main entrance (or level where the ceremonies and receptions take place) wheelchair accessible?
    Yes, we have a ramp available on -site for access to The Hamilton Mansion and the Stable and single stall bathrooms are ADA accessible.
  10. If there are steps, can you hire a ramp to place over the steps?
    Yes, we have a ramp on-site for the steps at the Hamilton Mansion.
  11. How complicated is the venue layout?
    The entire site spans 54 rolling acres with varying levels of unevenness, with brick paths weaving throughout the grounds and gravestones. The area where ceremonies take place include The Mansion, The Stable, and The Carriage shed, all which have parking in the immediate vicinity and are connected by paved roads.
  12. Are the doorways at least 32 inches wide?
    I believe so, but this is something we should confirm.
  13. Are there gender-inclusive restrooms?
    Yes
  14. Are the restrooms accessible?
    Yes
  15. If the restrooms are ADA accessible, where are they located?
    We have newly renovated, single-stall, gender-inclusive restrooms located at The Stable.
  16. Is there an accessible getting ready space for the marriers if they need it?
    Yes, we have a bridal suite with air conditioning located on the first floor of The Mansion.
  17. Does the venue allow service animals?
    Yes
  18. When serving food, are there vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options?
    Not applicable
  19. Can people bring their own food?
    Yes

I will be contacting the included venues with follow-up questions, in order to update this post and provide more in-depth information. As a reminder, this guide is going to continue to expand as Philadelphia area wedding venues apply and as disability justice work continues to evolve. I’m looking forward to collectively encouraging more accessible spaces in our community.

Thank you for joining me throughout this process.

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