12 Philly-Area Outdoor Wedding Venues That Bring a Breath of Fresh Air to Your Big Day
Summer has us longing for the outdoors, and alfresco weddings (including all those elopements and micro-gatherings) seem to offer a post-pandemic paradise. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 12 Philadelphia-area venues that celebrate the beauty of the world around us — many of which are working on implementing new COVID-19-related health and safety practices as cities and states introduce updated guidelines. Whether you’re dreaming of a sky-high rooftop party, an intimate secret-garden soiree or a ceremony amid historic grounds, these open-air destinations set the scene for your Big Day. (And check out these lake and riverfront wonders or beachfront beauties for more options.) Now that’s au naturel!
Historian Amandus Johnson founded the museum in 1926 as a tribute to Swedish contributions to the United States, which celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence that same year. Case in point: The venue in FDR Park sits on a property that was once part of a 17th century land grant from Queen Christina of Sweden to Swedish colonist Sven Skute. The venue also references famous Scandinavian and American architecture with elements from Sweden’s centuries-old buildings as well as Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home. Ceremonies and receptions can be held under the natural flora, under one of the venue’s arches or in front of the main doors. (Guests will also have access to indoor galleries featuring period paintings, regardless of whether the fete is held outside.) The museum is isolated enough to avoid noise restrictions yet close enough that Ubers and Lyfts are a quick trip. As Philly moves into the green phase, the venue hopes to begin hosting weddings in the late summer and fall; it is extending its outdoor tent rentals (the facades have clear, retractable sides) to facilitate social distancing. (COVID-related guest capacity will be introduced as available.) Rental fees from $1,750 for a five-hour event. 1900 Pattison Avenue, South Philly.
“Treet” your guests to a veritable garden of them at this 45-acre historic landmark that planted roots thanks to early-American botanist John Bartram. There’s a ginkgo believed to be the oldest on the continent and a signature tree dubbed Franklinia. (We’ll let you figure out its namesake.) The outdoor spaces are alive with flora and fauna (as you can see in this flower-filled celebration), and there are transitional areas for lawn games and cocktail hour, all backed by vistas of the Schuylkill River. Under normal circumstances, the new Eastwick Pavilion (it has a covered porch and granite patio) can accommodate about 300. However, the venue expects to limit head counts as it begins its reopening process in July and enacts social-distancing measures. Catering is handled by Jamie Hollander; Bartram’s is offering 25% off for food and bev through 2020. Venue rentals from $2,800. 5400 Lindbergh Boulevard, Southwest Philly.
Want to say your vows with a backdrop bearing one of the best views in the city? Head to this eclectic, industrial venue topping off the former vocational school turned creative hub and gathering place. The Center City skyline sets the scene for the Bok Special, a complete 300-person outdoor wedding experience that’s available only 10 weeks per year and begins at $9,000. It provides access to both the eighth-floor North and South Terrace. (Other locations throughout the space start at $5,500.) Outdoor ceremonies on the North Terrace are typically available as an upgrade to other Bok nuptials; however, the building cannot currently accommodate ceremony-only bookings. All packages give couples guided access to hidden, lesser-known areas throughout the building — perfect for cool first-look photos. The venue is accepting bookings for 2021; some Friday and Saturday dates are still available. 800 Mifflin Street, East Passyunk.
The College of Physicians represents a cornerstone of American medicinal history: Since 1787, the nonprofit has had a mission of championing health and medicine. (It is largely known for its Mütter Museum, a cabinet of veritable medical mysteries — skulls, among them, if you want to get brainy on your Big Day.) The Sir John Templeton Veranda is a private enclave with four parterres of medicinal herbs and plants (think flax or evening primrose), slate and pebble pathways, and benches for quiet moments. The blooming season begins in the spring and ends in the fall, ensuring ample greenery for your backdrop. Typical capacity is 195 seated and standing. As Philly moves into the green phase, it expects to offer 75% of that for events; the space has also instituted a plethora of preventative measures including sanitation before, during and after the event; eliminating buffets (Catering by Design will work with you on cuisine); and checking employees’ temperatures beforehand, among other actions. A Saturday in peak season starts from $4,200. 19 South 22nd Street, Center City.
Rolling hills, two ponds and 50 types of trees make up this 45-acre destination in Montgomery County. If that’s not enough to paint a pretty picture, consider this: The site was also designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect for Central Park; the mansion and grounds were renovated in 2019. The original wisteria-covered pergola is a romantic space for ceremonies, and the historic gardens provide a verdant backdrop for sipping cocktails post “I do.” As the region moves into its green phase, the venue aims to open for outdoor July weddings with 160 guests, depending on guidelines. Tours have opened up with required face masks; 2021 rental prices start at $3,000. 1250 West Church Road, Wyncote.
Giraffe feedings, jaguar exhibits and wild weddings, oh my! Animal-loving duos can get their fauna fix thanks to the more than 100 species here. Weddings support the zoo’s work to raise awareness about conservation efforts; couples can hold their ceremony in front of the Classic Red Barn or Olivia’s Eagle Observation Deck, among other outdoor locales. Eagles fans might take flight knowing that Noah, the team’s animal ambassador, and his pal Reggie sometimes make an appearance. Want to feed one of the three giraffes? They love to photobomb, which can make for one-of-a-kind portraits. The zoo is available for fall and winter 2020 weddings as well as 2021. It can accommodate 100 seated guests, though it hopes to return to full capacity (150) in the future; the zoo is also offering 50% rental fees for events and bookings through 2020. The various venue prices range from $500 to $2,500. 1661 Harding Boulevard, Norristown.
The semi-newish, members-only Fitler Club, which opened in 2019, has it all — but its 1,800-square-foot brick-walled garden, with its charming string lighting illuminating the dance floor, is perfect for a sophisticated set of future newlyweds. The club’s garden currently offers micro-weddings of up to 25 people (it typically can accommodate 50 folks for the ceremony, dinner and dancing); larger celebrations are being booked for the future as regulations allow. A perk: Those who celebrate their unions here become honorary, temporary members, receiving access to restaurants, bars, fitness centers and, perhaps, a bit of bowling by way of the Trophy Room. Pricing starts at $200 per person (excluding tax and service charge). 1 South 24th Street, Center City.
The Historic Strawberry Mansion is for a couple with good taste — it’s sweet, lush and surrounded by fresh berries. Lawyer and abolitionist Judge William Lewis built the iconic white estate more than two centuries ago, and it makes a picturesque backdrop to outdoor celebrations for up to 250 on the charming rear grounds, with its brick terrace looking out over a winding azalea path. It is managed by Open Aire Affairs, while the catering program is run by Birchtree, who will dish out seasonal menus (the signature fruit, picked from the award-winning fields, might just find its way onto your plate). While the mansion has been closed due to COVID-19, the venue is allowing already-booked couples to use the space on their planned wedding dates for pictures or an elopement of 25 people or less, based on health and safety guidelines. (These couples can move their reception to 2021 as well.) The venue is not currently booking otherwise for 2020 until Philly moves into the green phase. Saturday night venue prices start at $2,500. 2450 Strawberry Mansion Drive, Fairmount Park.
Take your guests on a tropical trip without leaving Philly at this green-thumb’s paradise. Recite your vows framed by lush Cherry Allée trees; say “I do” by the reflecting pool or get indoor-outdoor vibes in the light-filled greenhouse. The ample space can accommodate up to 300; COVID regulations, however, have affected the total capacity, and the venue plans to update its programs as the city moves into green phase and regulations change. (The venue’s first wedding post-pandemic is hopefully planned for August; read about a few of the couples whose celebrations have been impacted here and here.) Tours are currently not available, though exclusive caterer Constellation has a Pinterest page that might inspire your Big Day plans. Five-hour events from $2,500. 100 N Horticultural Drive, Fairmount Park.
This romantic, family-run farm in Bucks County dates back to the 18th century and is cheerily outfitted with bucolic touches. The property spans 21 acres and delights with pristine grounds and postcard-perfect landscaping. HollyHedge can typically accommodate 200 guests and provide 15 on-site rooms for friends and family; right now, couples can hold four-hour micro-weddings in spaces such as the courtyard garden, pastures, ponds and the stone barn. As the green phase progresses, the destination hopes to expand offerings to up to 140 attendees; the spot is also considering introducing full-day progressive receptions (during which various groups come at different stages of the day to mitigate risk) moving forward. Prices from $125 per person. 6987 Upper York Road, New Hope.
Philly Francophiles already adore this venue: It houses the largest collection of the French sculptor’s work outside of Paris. So they’ll certainly fall in love with hosting their wedding here, too. The outdoor environs allow you to say your vows between the serene reflecting pool and The Thinker statue; garden ceremonies typically accommodate up to 100, though the venue is currently limiting capacity. The venue is accepting inquiries and has weddings booked as early as August, pending updates to COVID-19 guidelines. Pricing starts at $3,000 for ceremony only and $7,500 for a full event. 2151 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Center City.
The historic park, cemetery and mansion sit along the banks of the Schuylkill River and was inherited 180 years ago by William Hamilton. He turned the central mansion into a beacon of British-style architecture and landscaping. The aesthetic carries throughout the 54-acre grounds, and it remains grand yet charming today, beckoning all kinds of couples seeking to say their “I do’s” in a historic setting. Peach Pear Plum Photography has called it one of the most enjoyable nontraditional venues at which to work. While the space accommodates a maximum of 200 (in either the alfresco Carriage or Riverfront spaces at the estate), it is currently offering smaller ceremonies of up to 50 and will work with couples on a flexible budget. Micro-weddings from $660 per hour. 4000 Woodland Avenue, Southwest Philly.