30 Amazing Wedding Venues in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware

amazing wedding venues, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania

Visiting wedding venues to find one that perfectly sums you up as a couple is an intimidating task. But if Katie Maloney and Schwartzy can do it, you got this (please don’t let my Vanderpump Rules reference be lost on you).

It’s incredibly overwhelming, especially after taking the leap to get engaged. Are you a rustic barn couple? A historic-building-in-the-city-that’s-perfect-but-doesn’t-have-easy-parking couple? A backyard wedding couple (aka ‘sup neighbors and noise ordinances and letting Uncle Ned pee inside your soon-to-be mother-in-law’s house)?

As a Philadelphia-area photographer with over 7 years of weddings under my belt, I wanted to compile a list of my favorite, local wedding venues. Below you’ll find 30 amazing wedding venues in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware (in alphabetical order). I’ve shot at all of these wedding venues and will be offering my unbiased opinion.

This top 30 list is for my fellow type A-introverts who hate leaving voicemails for venue coordinators, only to be ignored for weeks and left feeling defeated. Kick back, turn on an episode of the latest Real Housewives franchise, open up a new Google spreadsheet, and get planning.

1. ABINGTON ART CENTER

This non-profit community art center is only a few minutes away from my house, which definitely doesn’t suck. I’ve photographed several events there and always leave feeling like I haven’t fully explored the place. That might be because the venue sits on 27 acres. The art trail loops through the woods and around the venue, with environmentally-conscious outdoor installations. Gallery and Sculpture Park access is free to the public (which I take advantage of when my toddler is bored of the same playground routine). The pavilion space is perfect for reception coverage and the stage makes for a killer bridal party backdrop. They do require you to use one of their exclusive caterers, but you can’t go wrong with their options (especially Joshua’s Catering, who we used for our wedding!).

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2. AWBURY ARBORETUM

If you were as obsessed with The Secret Garden as I was in my youth, you’ll quickly understand my fascination with this place. Awbury Arboretum has a legit secret garden (they use a key to access it and everything) for couples who want to feel like they’ve unlocked one of Philadelphia’s best-kept hidden wedding venues. Maggie Smith would most definitely approve of the 55-acres of lush landscape. The Cope House, built in 1860, is beautifully Victorian and offers floor-to-ceiling windows and a wrap-around porch that is perfect for dancing. The maximum for indoor-only events is 60 people, but if you want to utilize the amazing outdoor space, they can accommodate up to 175 guests. It’s super accessible by public transportation, with plenty of parking (there’s even an attendant!).

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3. AZALEA GARDEN AT PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART

Located on the grounds of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Azalea Garden boasts over four acres of 150 different species of azaleas and rhododendrons. There’s also no shortage of irises, tulips, sycamores, oaks, and hundreds of blooming annuals and perennials. Oh, and some adorable elderly couples holding hands on benches. The Garden is free to visit, with nearby, time-limited parking (2 hours) behind the Museum. The blooms look best in the Spring, but the Garden is a year-round attraction. There’s also easy access to Boathouse Row, Philadelphia Waterworks, and the Museum of Art within walking distance for couple portraits. Just a heads up, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation requires a permit for wedding ceremonies and photos.

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4. BACKYARD/HOME

I’m a bit biased since we had a backyard wedding, but I think getting married at home is incredibly personal. If you don’t have a backyard, consider asking a close relative to use their space. I once photographed a wedding inside an intimate, Kensington apartment, which was transformed beautifully for a group of 40+ guests. It remains to be one of my most favorite ceremony experiences. Another plus to getting married at home is that you can leave the breakdown and clean-up for the morning. Don’t forget, Pennsylvania is one of just a few states that allow self-uniting marriages. Take advantage of our progressive marriage laws (thank you, Quakers) and consider self-officiating your own wedding.

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5. BARTRAM’S GARDEN

It always surprises me when people outside of the wedding industry don’t know about Bartram’s Garden, the oldest surviving botanic garden in North America. The Garden is easily one of my favorite places in the city. It’s hard to find a better view of the Philadelphia skyline. Behind the Welcome Center and Bartram House, trails lead down to a scenic boardwalk along the river’s edge. Their recently renovated pavilion seats up to 350 guests and overlooks the Schuylkill. New in 2017, Jamie Hollander Catering & Events are the exclusive caterers at the Garden. There’s also ample parking located at the top of the meadow (my favorite place to shoot). The grounds are free and open to the public year-round from dawn to dusk. However, photo permits ($300) are now required for engagement and wedding sessions.

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6. BELLEVUE HALL

If you’re looking for wedding venues near Wilmington, Delaware, the gorgeous grounds of Bellevue Hall at Bellevue State Park are hard to pass up. A former DuPont family mansion built in the 1850s, the Hall provides an amazing backdrop for photos. For couples with a large guest count (up to 150), consider having dinner outside under a tent, with dancing inside the wood-paneled (ahem, air conditioned) Library. The inside of the Hall has elegant, vintage details, so if it rains there’s no shortage of quirky, wallpapered rooms for portraits. You can also explore the nearby gardens, Figure 8 Barn, amphitheater, and pond for bridal party and couple portraits. Couples are given a vendor collection to choose from, so you can hire caterers and rental companies the venue trusts and has worked with previously.

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7. BETHLEHEM STEELSTACKS

When I shot my first wedding at the Bethlehem Steelstacks, I was an instant fan. The Blast Furnace Room at the ArtsQuest Center offers epic views of the Bethlehem Steel furnaces. It can hold up to 180 guests for a sit-down reception with a dance floor. The Center also has The Musikfest Cafe, which accommodates larger groups of 175-350. The venue has its own catering service, which is delicious. The juxtaposition of the historic, industrial backdrop with the modern, reception space (blown glass sculptures! face chairs!) is awesome. I love shooting pictures under the fire-sculpture arch with a view of the LED-lit SteelStacks behind.

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8. BROOKLYN WINERY

The Brooklyn Winery, located in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, is hands-down one of my favorite wedding venues. The glass-roofed atrium, dark wood walls salvaged from New Orleans, industrial wine tanks, and airy light make it a dream to photograph. There’s also a tin ceiling, dark leather furniture, and a built-in fish tank. It doesn’t hurt that Brooklyn Winery serves up some of the best food I’ve ever eaten (family-style, with fresh bread and compound butter). The Winery is fully-functional and has a harvest season every fall. As such, they’re unable to accommodate weddings from mid-September through October. The venue offers two hours of wedding suite time in the Parlor and Portrait Rooms, with plenty of space. Street parking is also super easy.

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9. CITY HALL

For couples who wish to keep it simple and elope, look no further than City Hall in Philadelphia. To start the process, you should apply for a marriage license in Room 413 (an $80 fee). Once the marriage license is obtained, typically three days later, you can select a date within 60 days. Civil ceremonies are only performed on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, with couples lining up outside Room 415 on the day the book opens in order to reserve a date. Last-minute planning is never easy, but first-choice vendors — especially photographers — typically have open availability on weekdays. The City allows up to 8-10 people to attend, perfect for a non-traditional wedding that really puts the focus on the couple.

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10. CLIVEDEN OF THE NATIONAL TRUST

Located in the Germantown neighborhood of Northwest Philadelphia, the Cliveden is a historic site owned and operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The woody landscape at Cliveden is full of history — with huge trees, grassy fields, sliding barn doors, and exposed stone walls. The Carriage House, which seats up to 80 guests, provides an elegant backdrop for guests. The Main House, built in 1767, is the country estate of the Chew family. Be sure to check out The Cliveden Museum, which is open for public tours Thursday through Sunday. The venue grounds — which span 5.5 acres— also allow tented receptions for couples who wish to get married during the warmer months with up to 300 guests.

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11. THE NATIONAL SOCIETY OF THE COLONIAL DAMES OF AMERICA

The NSCDA is an organization founded by a group of women “who did things, driven by a desire to preserve the past, while engaging in the present, yet keeping a clear eye on the future,” — according to the website. That’s a lot of badass, feminist history. The Headquarters, completed in 1921, are tucked away on a side street just off Rittenhouse Square. It would be easy to mistake it for a picturesque brick row home, but it is actually a well-manicured gem in the middle of the city. The venue is filled with stunning details — antique decor, large windows, and a gorgeous ballroom. The House can comfortably accommodate intimate weddings in a number of rooms, or up to 120 guests in the ballroom. For outdoor ceremonies, guests can escape to the historic parlor or sunroom for AC, or take in the sights of the private gardens.

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12. CRANE ARTS CENTER

The Crane Arts Center is a contemporary arts and culture venue in Northern Liberties with rotating art shows. The long, wedge-shaped building was originally used as a plumbing warehouse in the early 1900s. The enormous concrete-block, first-floor addition functioned as a walk-in freezer when the building was later used to process frozen seafood. Now the space serves as the Ice Box Project, the perfect blank slate for a wedding reception. The building’s historic character has been creatively preserved, with long muraled hallways (and ancient urinals perfect for portraits!). The outside space features an awesome staircase, ivy-covered windows, and a beautiful backdrop of foliage as a ceremony space. There’s also easy street parking, which this suburban dweller always applauds.

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13. FLEISHER ART MEMORIAL

Fleisher Art Memorial is the country’s oldest community art center, dedicated to making art accessible to everyone, regardless of economic means or background. The century-old sanctuary seats up to 100 guests, with dramatic architecture and eclectic decor. During the cocktail hour and reception, the art galleries and courtyard are open to explore. The art studios make for a creative backdrop for couple portraits and can accommodate up to 40 guests. You don’t need to spend a lot on decorations because the historic space is beautiful — with stained-glass windows, colorful walls, and a brightly muraled exterior. The staff and event space manager are also a joy to work with (all rental events include an on-site staff to handle day-of logistic). Plus they offer free parking in the convenient Bella Vista location, which is a rare find.

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14. FRONT & PALMER

Front & Palmer is a former pickle barrel warehouse located under the El in the Kensington Arts District. With 3,000 square feet of open loft space, the venue has a quintessential industrial feel, with high ceilings, exposed brick duct work, and repurposed chandeliers. For couples looking for a non-traditional indoor space, you can’t go wrong with Front & Palmer. The eco-friendly venue also acts as a home base for Feast Your Eyes, the on-site catering company. The space can accommodate 250 guests for a seated dinner, with stylish lounge seating spread throughout. There’s also an on-site parking lot, with plenty of street parking. Since the wedding venue is indoors, there’s no need to stress about rain or tents, so getting married in the off-season to potentially save on costs is something to consider.

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15. GLASBERN INN

For those of you who have never been to Fogelsville, Pennsylvania, you’re seriously missing out. Glasbern Inn is a rustic venue in Lehigh Valley that overlooks a pond and waterfall. It’s one of my absolute favorite wedding venues, with the best farm-to-table menu I’ve ever had (wedding or otherwise). This is my go-to spot for staycations, so when I have the opportunity to photograph weddings here, I’m so in. The Inn has picturesque options for ceremony spaces — outside overlooking rolling hills or more intimate indoor lodges and barns. You do have to reserve a minimum number of overnight rooms in the Pack House to host a ceremony at Glasbern. But you won’t be disappointed, unless you hate Jacuzzis and fireplaces. Oh, and there are goats and other adorable farm animals on-site.

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16. GREENSGROW FARMS

Kensington’s Greensgrow Farms is nationally recognized as a leader in urban farming. The property changes with the season, which means each event is treated as a custom creation. The working farm and nursery provides an alternative venue for couples looking for a piece of countryside in the city. There’s Milkshake the pig, a composting toilet, bee hives on top of a tool shed, and a deck made from old pallets and water bottles. Their 6,000 square foot greenhouse can accommodate 100 people and has the prettiest hanging plants imaginable. Greensgrow’s list of approved caterers meets their mission of supporting local farmers and cooking with locally-sourced, fresh food. There’s also a parking lot, as well as unmetered street parking surrounding the farm.

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17. GROUNDS FOR SCULPTURE

As far as wedding venues go, it doesn’t get much more whimsical than the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey. Outdoor ceremonies are typically held at The Nine Muses sculpture, a granite installation with slabs pieced together in puzzle formation to form the floor. Guests are allowed to browse the Grounds, where art and nature collide and the peacocks are plentiful. The 270+ contemporary sculptures add to the magic of the venue. Receptions can be held in Rat’s Restaurant or the Seward Johnson Center for the Arts, which are catered by the always impressive STARR Catering Group.

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18. HISTORIC YELLOW SPRINGS

The Washington at Historic Yellow Springs in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, is rich in history. Built around 1750, the venue once served as a colonial inn and tavern where George Washington once slept. Many couples choose to have their ceremony outside in The Ruins, which was once a Revolutionary War hospital. The Main Room features a cozy fireplace, high ceiling, and large windows, which open up to a covered porch where guests can meander during cocktail hour. The bridal suite and parlor rooms are beautifully detailed and make lovely backdrops for getting ready photos.

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19. JG DOMESTIC PHILADELPHIA

JG Domestic at Philadelphia’s Cira Center Atrium is a warm and welcoming venue by Chef Jose Garces. The space offers a panoramic view of the skyline, seasonal American food, and a soaring multi-story glass facade. The venue is adjacent to 30th Street Station, which is not only convenient, but makes for an awesome backdrop for bridal party and couple portraits. The Porch at 30th Street features greenery, food trucks, wooden swings and seating. JG Domestic seats 250-300 guests, with a wide range of menu options for foodie couples. Fresh ingredients hail from Michigan to Philadelphia and New York, with a chalkboard map above the kitchen showing the rich, geographic history. The rustic restaurant also has a living wall of plants, reclaimed materials, and vintage collectibles. The communal table features three living trees, perfect for seating your bridal party and immediate family.

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20. KNOWLTON MANSION

Knowlton Mansion, also known as the Rhawn Residence, is a historic mansion in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia. The three-story Victorian mansion was beautifully restored by Conroy Catering. The estate once served as the residence of Robert Green II, son of Robert Green I, who invented ice cream soda in the late 1800s. So in addition to the property’s stable, gorgeous wine cellar, and soaring wooden ceilings, there’s also some pretty awesome family history involving ice cream floats. For winter weddings, the interior rooms of the mansion are perfect to explore. The star wallpaper on the ceiling, stained glass entrance, and library are some of my favorite parts, but each room is rich in history.

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21. MAAS BUILDING

Tucked away in North Kensington is The Maas Building, an old trolley repair/brewery turned gallery space. Guests can gather for ceremonies in the intimate outdoor garden, where the cobblestones, gardens, concrete planters, and fire pit give it a urban, yet rustic feel. An optional canopy covers the entire patio as a safe, dry area in case of inclement weather. In addition to the patio and garden outside, Maas has an indoor space and cocktail area. The cobblestone parking area is perfect for couples looking to incorporate a food truck. Eating Pitruco Pizza underneath the string lights at Maas remains one of my most treasured wedding memories (then again, I was 8 months pregnant and liked food even more than usual). The neighborhood is one of my favorites for exploring — especially the brightly-colored, geometric mural at Thompson and Orkney Streets.

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22. MORRIS HOUSE HOTEL

Morris House Hotel is a boutique hotel in the heart of Center City, where “guests can escape from the motion of the city into a landmark of time in stillness,” according to the Hotel’s website. There are so many antique elements that make me swoon. The stunning grandfather clock. The yellow, wallpapered staircase. The Revolutionary-era lounge and fireplace. The library stocked with books and surrounded by quirky paintings. Right down the street is Washington Square Park, an obvious choice for photos. I love being able to capture a wide range of angles at the courtyard garden, since I can sneak behind the couple during the ceremony, which is rare. The Hotel has an in-house team of professional chefs at Restaurant M, so no two weddings are ever the same.

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23. PENNSYLVANIA ACADEMY OF THE FINE ARTS

I photographed my first ever wedding as a second shooter at PAFA seven years ago. I always love revisiting America’s oldest museum and school of fine arts. They have The Gross Clinic on display in the reception area, which makes me have art history flashbacks (in the best way possible). Ceremony space is available in the elegant Historic Landmark Building and the contemporary Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building. The grand staircase in The Historic Landmark Building is a breathtaking ceremony location, surrounded by historic pieces encapsulating American art from the 1760s to present. The basement is my favorite place for portraits, with dozens of classically-sculpted, plaster casts used by students for study. PAFA has two catering options — Starr Events and Jimmy Duffy Catering — and you can’t go wrong either way.

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24. PHILADELPHIA’S MAGIC GARDENS

I’ve photographed couples at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens more than any other venue. To some photographers, that might sound redundant and boring. But, every time I step foot on the colorful grounds of PMG, I’m inspired by Isaiah Zagar’s vision. The 3,000 square foot mosaic installation includes an indoor gallery, massive outdoor labyrinth, and eclectic basement. Guests can explore the Gardens, which cover half a city block with folk art sculptures, bicycle wheels, and handmade tiles. The maximum capacity for the space is 75 people and they only book events on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings. The space is perfect if you’re looking for an offbeat, intimate experience. The venue does offer a special $25/half hour photography fee (half off their normal $50/half hour rate) for using one of their recommended photographers. They are kind enough to include me on that list!

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25. POWER PLANT PRODUCTIONS

Power Plant Productions gets runner-up for venues I’ve shot at most. Every celebration is an entirely new experience because the studio is the perfect blank canvas for events. It doesn’t hurt that Elfreth’s Alley, Race Street Pier, and Painted Bride Art Center are within walking distance for couple portraits and bridal party photos in Old City. Power Plant is the largest photo studio in the city, with lofty ceilings, airy curtains, and no shortage of natural light. If you’re looking for an industrial, warehouse vibe with an open concept space, Power Plant does not disappoint. The venue seats up to 130 guests, with year-round availability. Since the space leaves a lot of room to explore creatively, floral design and planning is key for a venue like this. For vendor recommendations, don’t hesitate to email me!

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26. RACE STREET PIER

Race Street Pier isn’t just perfect for running and free yoga, it’s also a tranquil wedding ceremony location. A wooden path leads to the river, with benches, greenery, and a picturesque view of the Delaware River. The Ben Franklin Bridge and Walt Whitman Bridge make for an awesome backdrop. Street parking can be tricky, but there are parking lots within a short walking distance. The Delaware River Waterfront’s security guards prevent wedding crashers and keep everything running smoothly. Be sure to fill out the necessary paperwork and print out a copy of your permit, since they have a strict policy. Wedding ceremony permits are issued for a 2-hour time period and cost $200. The Pier is a short walk from Old City, where there’s no shortage of wedding venues for your reception.

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27. READING TERMINAL MARKET

Reading Terminal Market in downtown Philadelphia is the perfect wedding venue for nontraditional foodies. The on-site team from All About Events transforms the iconic Philadelphia landmark beautifully with ambient string lights and a unique floorplan. The nontraditional grazing stations and wildly different vendors make it a venue that guests will rave about for years. I always look forward to trying new foods when I photograph weddings there — my favorite being the cheesesteak pretzel rolls from Miller’s and the shrimp po’ boys from Beck’s Cajun Cafe. Molly Malloy’s even has a bar inside the market, so guests can order craft beer and you can choose custom, seasonal options. If you’re getting ready at a nearby hotel in Center City, consider having the Philadelphia Mummers escort your guests to the Terminal.

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28. ROSE BANK WINERY

When it comes to romantic Bucks County wedding venues with a lot of character, Rose Bank Winery is one of my favorites. For couples going for a rustic, elegant feel, the Winery is an obvious choice. The Winery offers three options for couples — The Vintner’s Ballroom, which can accommodate up to 200 guests; The Buckman Barn, which seats up to 60 guests; or The Rose Ballroom, which is the most popular option and can seat up to 250 guests. Guests can walk around with a glass of wine and take in the sights (like the goats, vineyard, and pastures). There’s also plenty of parking and the Winery is open all year, which makes it a perfect spot for winter weddings.

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29. TALULA’S GARDEN

Whenever my husband and I go on a date, Talula’s Garden is always at the top of our list. Depending on the size of your party, Talula’s Garden or Talula’s Daily is the perfect venue for a secret garden wedding in Washington Square. I always recommend the restaurant to couples who want to celebrate after a City Hall elopement. Talula’s Garden is available for private parties for up to 120 guests, with a beautifully-designed outdoor space perfect for nontraditional couples. The farm-to-table menu uses local ingredients that reflect the season. If I could eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be the World Travel cheese platter. Starr Restaurants, you continue to woo me.

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30. WORLD CAFE LIVE

As a longtime listener of WXPN and a World Cafe Live concertgoer, it’s hard not to geek out a little when attending a wedding there. Being able to get married on stage, where so many talented musicians have performed, is pretty awesome. Set lists are plastered behind the stage, a disco ball glints colorful lights on the dance floor, and a majestic theater surrounds. It’s also hard to beat the world-class sound system. Philadelphia’s World Cafe Live has two separate spaces — a cafe and restaurant, perfect for more intimate gatherings and cocktail hour; and the music hall, which comfortably seats 300 guests. The on-site production and catering and adjacent secure parking make for a pretty harmonious package, saving you from a lot of planning headaches. There’s also a Wilmington location if you’re on the mission to find a unique wedding venue in Delaware.

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1 Comment
  1. Briana

    Beautiful work Shannon!

    Reply

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