From sea to shining sea, the United States is full of surprising ceremony and reception sites. A restored bank in Connecticut? Check. Lush gardens in Hawaii? Double check. Our guide contains the best of the best, plus insider tips to help you personalize your celebration.
Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville (hsvmuseum.org, 479-966-4441). This modern space offers four versatile settings for saying "I do," including an outdoor patio and a large gallery with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Big Spring International Park. If they can tear themselves away from admiring the landscape, guests can browse the contemporary Southern artwork.
Also Consider: Holding your welcome dinner at Cotton Row Restaurant (cottonrowrestaurant.com). The seasonal American menu includes a surprisingly mouthwatering dessert: peanut butter and jelly in phyllo. Then wind down with music at The Kaffeeklatsch, a coffee house turned bar and unplugged stage at night (kaffeeklatsch.com).
University of Alaska Museum of the North, Fairbanks (uaf.edu, 907-474-7505). Resembling a glacier set against the mountains, this stark building is both striking and cozy. It hosts affairs of 50 people or fewer, so it's a good fit for small weddings.
Also Consider: Shopping for favors at the Tanana Valley Farmers Market (tvfmarket.com). The vendors sell gourmet foods, such as berry-infused vinegar and specialty honeys (alaskaherbtea.com). Treat your bridesmaids to a soak in the geothermic pools at the Chena Hot Springs Resort (chenahotsprings.com). If you're there from December through March, stay up to see the Northern Lights.
The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, Marana (ritzcarlton.com, 520-572-3000). The attentive wedding planners at this new resort (shown at right) will create menus and drinks for you (even color-coordinated margaritas). That'll leave you more time for outdoor spa treatments, like a moisturizing facial with Arizona aloe, while looking out on petroglyphs in the Sonoran Desert.
Also Consider: Taking your wedding party to Kartchner Caverns State Park for a tour of 200,000-year-old limestone caves. They're filled with elaborate rock formations and, in the summer, a colony of bats (pr.state.az.us). Say goodnight with chocolate-chili pepper fudge favors from Arizona Fhantom Fudge (sweet-rustler-treats.com).
Pratt Place Inn and Barn, Fayetteville (prattplaceinn.com, 479-966-4441). Arrowheads can still be found on the grounds of this former Indian encampment. It features a classic red barn of lodgepole-pine timbers, spruced up with chandeliers. To elicit some oohs and aahs, put in a request for the property's four statuesque Haflinger horses to make an appearance.
Also Consider: A groomsmen's brunch with the best ribs in town, served on the checkered tablecloths of Herman's Ribhouse (hermansribhouse.com). For invitations with a geographic touch, consult Amy Nelson Hannon at Sincerely Yours Paper (sincerelyyoursonline.net). Her creations, such as save-the-date cards and weekend guides, can include tea towels with a handdrawn map of Fayetteville.
Manka's Inverness Lodge, Inverness (mankas.com, 415-669-1034). Weddings at this little-known gem turn into wild events by nature. The 100-year-old fishing lodge, now a luxury inn, is situated between the misty coastline and dense forests. A fireplace and 18-foot ceilings, plus sweeping bay views, provide a dramatic Northern California backdrop for exchanging vows or holding a small reception.
Also Consider: Throwing a picnic for your wedding party at Hog Island Oyster Farm in nearby Marshall (hogislandoysters.com). Bring your own food and drink, buy oysters on-site, and take advantage of the farm's shucking lessons, picnic tables, grills, and gorgeous view of sleepy Tomales Bay. Or organize a leisurely morning bike ride through Point Reyes National Seashore. Cyclists (and hikers too) are drawn to its rolling hills and delicious pit stop: the Bovine Bakery (415-663-9420).
Aspen Mountain Club, Aspen (thelittlenell.com, 888-843-6355). A breathtaking three-mile gondola ride carries guests from the resort to the clubhouse, where a deck looks out over the Elk Mountain Range. If alfresco entertaining isn't your style, indoor options include a wood-paneled wine room or the Montagna Exclusive, a top-rated bar and restaurant with a 20,000-bottle wine cellar.
Also Consider: Sending guests to enjoy the regional Flying Dog beer (Hunter S. Thompson loved it) at Woody Creek Tavern (woodycreektavern.com). As they devour huge enchiladas and margaritas, have them keep an eye out for celebs. On the big day, visit Salon Tullio (salontullio.com) for one of owner Michael Tullio's sought-after updos.
The Society Room of Hartford, Hartford (hartfordsocietyroom.com, 860-524-0796). This ornate Victorian structure served as a bank from the 1800s to the late 1990s and is now an event space. The bi-level grand lobby offers two areas for entertaining: a wraparound upper balcony for cocktails and a richly appointed main floor that can serve as a lavish dining room.
Also Consider: Trumbull Kitchen, a downtown Hartford hot spot (maxrestaurantgroup.com). Specializing in Asian fusion and Continental dishes, it has a fantastic happy hour, which makes it a nice option for a welcome party. To capture your day, hire documentary-style photographer Brian Ambrose (brianambrosephoto.com).
Hotel du Pont, Wilmington (hoteldupont.com, 302-594-3100). The Italian Renaissance-style hotel, commissioned by businessman Pierre S. du Pont in 1913, still features the work of the European craftsmen who executed his vision.
Also Consider: Hosting a meet-and-greet for friends and family at the Brandywine Zoo (brandywinezoo.org). It's home to 150 animals, including Siberian tigers, two-toed sloths, and African ball pythons. Later, move the party to Kooma to mingle over sushi and saketinis (gokoomarestaurant.com).
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota (ringling.org, 941-385-5700). Circus mogul John Ringling built this Venetian mansion for his wife, Mable, but now it's a gallery for Renaissance and Baroque art. Most stunning is the 81-foot tower in the center of the palm-filled property.
Also Consider: Making reservations at the Columbia Restaurant (columbiarestaurant.com). Order their famous 1905 salad: a hearty portion of lettuce, tomato, ham, Swiss and romano cheeses, green olives, and garlic dressing, prepared at the table. Send guests home with a bottle of award-winning grapefruit sparkling wine from St. Armands Gifts & Winery (starmandswinery.com). For an oceanside afterparty, head to Siesta Key's Daiquiri Deck. The drink menu has 13 types of daiquiris (daiquiridecksiestakey.com).
Nikolai's Roof, Atlanta (nikolaisroof.com, 404-221-6362). The restaurant's rooftop has a 180-degree view of Atlanta's bright skyline. But guests will be most impressed by the four-star cuisine and selection of 1,100 wines. Include one of their flavored vodkas on your drink menu.
Also Consider: A jar of the Atlanta-produced jalepeno-raspberry Emily G's Jam of Love is a spicy-and-sweet wedding favor (emilygs.com). And make an entrance that no one will forget by hiring the Seed & Feed Marching Abominable Band (seedandfeed.org). Their repertoire will have your guests on their feet.
Na 'Aina Kai Botanical Garden, Kilauea, Kauai (naainakai.org, 808-828-0575). The grounds surrounding Na 'Aina Kai (which translates into "lands by the sea") feature prime examples of iconic Hawaiian scenery -- a waterfall-fed lagoon, pristine beaches, and a teak-and-mahogany forest. This once-private 240-acre estate feels isolated in the best kind of way. Your guests will have plenty of space to roam, explore, and view the 90 bronze sculptures that are sprinkled throughout the property.
Also Consider: Joining residents (Pierce Brosnan is one) to satisfy your sweet tooth at Kilauea Bakery. The fresh-baked goodies, such as coconut-cream eclairs and guava sourdough, offer delicious favor options. For a seafood-rich welcome dinner, bring guests to Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant, west of Kilauea on the Hanalei River. Its chefs are known for their fresh, inventive sushi. Or, to stock up on supplies for a cookout on the water, visit the fish market out back (hanaleidolphin.com). As a keepsake, purchase a Niihau shell lei. The art of stringing tiny shells into a necklace has been perfected by generations on the island of Niihau. Find beautiful examples, as well as hand-crafted koa bowls, at the Kauai Museum (kauaimuseum.org).
Coeur d'Alene Resort, Coeur d'Alene (cdaresort.com, 800-688-5253). Golf lovers go gaga for this lakeside resort on a pro-grade course, where couples can tie the knot overlooking its floating 14th hole. Other options for nuptials: the waterfront chapel or penthouse suite. To get married on the lake itself, board one of the property's six cruise boats with your guests.
Also Consider: Grabbing a burger at Hudson's Hamburgers, a tradition for more than 100 years in CDA (the town's nickname). Purists will appreciate the made-to-order patties served straight up, sans fries, lettuce, or other distractions. The counter-only diner is small, making it perfect for a wedding-party-only lunch. On the second Friday of every month (April-December), CDA hosts Artwalk, a showcase of new exhibitions, where you can meet and mingle with the artists. Pencil in a gallery crawl before or after your rehearsal (artsincda.org).
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (mcachicago.org, 312-280-2660). A downtown institution that boasts views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline, it's home to a handful of architecturally impressive event spaces, including a theater, industrial-chic warehouse loft, and airy sculpture garden. It can accommodate small ceremonies, dinners of up to 500, and cocktail receptions for 2,000. Best of all, during your reception, guests will have access to some of the exhibition galleries, featuring ever-changing installations.
Also Consider: The upscale Rockit Bar & Grill. It earns praise for its burgers, but also gets buzz for celebrity sightings and a recent renovation by interior designer Nate Berkus (rockitbarandgrill.com). Send the groomsmen here to kick back and have a beer while the bridesmaids bring their own party to Arbre Nail Spa (arbrenails.com). Patrons are invited to BYOB for a truly relaxing manicure, so go ahead and pop open a bottle of bubbly.
Buskirk-Chumley Theater, Bloomington (buskirkchumley.org, 812-323-3020). An affair at this vaudeville theater, which still hosts music and community events, is guaranteed to be a showstopper. In the past, couples have used the stage for live bands or decked it out to match their theme. One recent groom pushed to add a 15-foot velvet figure of Elvis Presley as a quirky backdrop.
Also Consider: The French country-style offerings at offbeat Le Petit Cafe -- it's a delightful spot for a morning-after brunch. The French owners have an avid following that visits for their personalities as much as for the pastries. Cycling enthusiasts will appreciate that "Breaking Away," a classic bicycling film, was shot here. If you set an October date, your guests can enjoy watching (or participating in) the Hilly Hundred, a two-day bike tour through Green, Monroe, and Owen counties (hillyhundred.org). It's a popular time to be in the city, which means hotels will fill up quickly. Book your accommodations early.
Hotel Julien Dubuque, Dubuque (hoteljuliendubuque.com, 800-798-7098). The historic venue is often the choice of Iowa brides wishing to be married in the same place as their great-grandmothers (it's been a popular wedding site since 1915). There are nine event spaces, including the 170-year-old Grande Ballroom, recently restored to its original splendor; the cinematic windows, parquet floor, and 20-foot coffered ceiling are all new. Old Hollywood glamour aside, the hotel gained fame as a onetime hideout of Al Capone during the days of Prohibition. As the story goes, the gangster tucked himself in the vault of one suite while being hunted by authorities.
Also Consider: Giving your guests an authentic experience by boarding a boat to Catfish Charlie's River Club (catfishcharliesdubuque.com) for lunch or dinner on the Mississippi -- every seat has a view of the water. Or take a tour through the beautiful riverside grounds of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey (mississippiabbey.org). There, a small order of Trappist nuns makes a living selling Trappistine Creamy Caramels (trappistine.com). Heavenly wedding favor alert!
The Castle Tea Room, Lawrence (castletearoom.com, 785-843-1151). Originally a private home designed for entertaining, this limestone fortress became a restaurant in the 1940s and has hosted more than 1,000 weddings and rehearsal dinners since. If you'd prefer to get married outside, the venue is just three blocks from beautiful South Park. Tie the knot there, then storm the freshly renovated castle to party.
Also Consider: Consulting with Pendelton's Country Market to see what homegrown produce you can add to your menu and which flowers will be in season (pendletons.com). And throw a bash at the Free State Brewing Company, located in a trolley station (freestatebrewing.com). When it opened in 1989, it was the first Kansas brewery to operate legally in 100 years. Sample a couple of their signature blends, like the Storm Cloud Stout or Post Rock Pilsner.
The Henry Clay, Louisville (thehenryclay.com, 502-515-2489). This neoclassical revival building was listed as an endangered site after its abandonment in 1987, but an overhaul has returned it to a stately space. The Beaux Arts ballroom, one of nine ceremony and reception sites on the property, features colorful stained-glass skylights. And there's a cool perk: When you book your wedding here, the nearby SkyLoft will waive the venue fee for a rehearsal dinner at its rooftop.
Also Consider: Doling out bags of the Old Louisville Candy Company's Happy Balls Kentucky bourbon candy (gethappyballs.com) as a playful welcome gift. A Louisville couple makes these chocolate-dipped bourbon-buttercream confections by hand from a family recipe (they're named after Aunt Happy, who created it). And to learn more about the Bluegrass State, take guests on a Mint Julep tour (mintjuleptours.com). Choose one of four options: Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Historic Louisville, Best of Kentucky, or Horse Country.
Shaw Center for the Arts, Baton Rouge (shawcenter.org, 225-346-5001). The 125,000-square-foot art museum turned theatrical space opened its doors in 2005 and has since received an honor award from the American Institute of Architects. It features views of the city and the Mississippi from the modern River Terrace, a sleek option for ceremonies and outdoor receptions.
Also Consider: Stashing a bag of locally made Cafe du Monde coffee in your guests' rooms (shop.cafedumonde.com). In Louisiana, you can't wake up without a cup of chicory brew. If you're thinking of serving a traditional Southern groom's cake, go for one of John Folse's cheesecakes, made with spicy Creole cream cheese (jfolse.com). And encourage out-of-towners to tour the Old State Capitol for the animatronic statue of former governor Huey P. Long.
Chebeague Island Inn, Chebeague Island (chebeagueislandinn.com, 207-846-5155). When your party takes over its 21 rooms, you'll feel like you own the three-and-a-half-mile-long island on which it sits. Porches surround the restored 1880s structure, providing many vantage points for water views. And the wood-paneled dining room offers a grand setting for celebrating.
Also Consider: Grabbing sandwiches from Clayton's cafe in Yarmouth, on your way to the island (claytonscafe.com). Once at the inn, borrow bikes and go for a seaside picnic. For a late-night treat to serve at your wedding, look no further than Maine's beloved whoopie pies. Wicked Whoopies' red-velvet variety takes the regional delicacy seriously (as in, they're seriously good). Each pie is individually made, so you'll have to order in advance and have them shipped to the inn (wicked whoopies.com).
The George Peabody Library, Baltimore (peabodyevents.library.jhu.edu, 410-659-8197). Located in the city's Mount Vernon Cultural District, this soaring space has a 61-foot ceiling, marble floors, and gold-leaf accents. In the exhibition room, guests can see historic manuscripts as they dance and dine. To keep costs down, hire Peabody Conservatory students to play music at your wedding.
Also Consider: Trying the garlic fries and a Resurrection Ale at The Brewer's Art (thebrewersart.com). Residents will insist that out-of-towners craving crab cakes should visit Faidley's in Lexington Market, home of the tastiest in town (faidleyscrabcakes.com). And on the morning of the wedding, send groomsmen to Quintessential Gentlemen to get a straight-razor shave and shoe shine (baltimorebarbershop.com).
Longfellow's Wayside Inn, Sudbury (wayside.org, 978-443-1776). Step back in time at this nearly 300-year-old inn -- the oldest in the country. It was here where Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote "Tales of the Wayside Inn." A lily pond and Federal-style dining room provide quaint, Colonial settings for your wedding.
Also Consider: Serving a signature drink that's a nod to the Boston Tea Party. Mix iced tea with cranberry-infused vodka (after all, Sudbury is just minutes away from the city), or garnish pre-ceremony iced tea with the locally grown berries themselves. For picture-perfect hair, turn to Jana Rago of Boston's Acote Salon (salonacote.com).
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids (meijergardens.org, 888-957-1580). It should come as no surprise that this locale is a top attraction in Grand Rapids. The grounds are graced with works by Rodin and Calder, and outdoor wedding sites include a 30-foot waterfall and pond, and a 1930s-style farmhouse and windmill. Inside, the Grand Room and Atrium, which overlook a sprawling wooded wetlands area, are also popular with brides.
Also Consider: The 1913 Room at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel (the1913room.com). It's a AAA Five Diamond Restaurant (the only one in the state), and for good reason: They serve decadent French food (think Dover sole and roasted lamb) amid Louis XIV-style decor. A night out with your guests should also center around The B.O.B. (Big Old Building), a massive downtown warehouse with a comedy club, brewery, and shops (thebob.com).
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, St. Paul (comozooconservatory.org, 651-487-8272). At the site's Marjorie McNeeley Conservatory, you can have an "outdoor" wedding without worrying about the weather -- the Sunken Garden and the North Garden are surrounded by glass. You can also get married in one of two outdoor spaces: the Zen-like Japanese garden, or the Excedra, a tree-dotted area on the front lawn with a frog pond and a waterfall. Or, for a truly spectacular event, book the 65,000-square-foot visitor's center.
Also Donsider: La Belle Vie restaurant, where James Beard Award-winning chef Tim McKee creates masterpieces you would expect to find in Paris (labellevie.us). Take your future in-laws for a feast of foie gras and duck breast, or bring your wedding party to the lounge for cool cocktails, like tequila gimlets. For one-of-a-kind gowns and accessories (matching handbags or hats) for you or your bridesmaids, visit custom dress designer Joy Teiken (joynoelle.com).
Monmouth Plantation, Natchez (monmouthplantation.com, 800-828-4531). Nothing says Old South like a wisteria-wrapped pergola set among magnolias and draped in Spanish moss. Exchange vows in an intimate temple, inside in the ballroom, or beneath a centuries-old oak tree -- or rent out the entire property. The owners insist that you consider all 26 acres your playground; they even organized Frisbee golf and picnic lunches for one wedding party.
Also Consider: Forgoing Southern propriety with a laid-back rehearsal dinner at Fat Mama's Tamales (fatmamastamales.com). It's known for its Mexican fare and "Knock You Naked" margarita (don't say we didn't warn you!). Or put your guests on Southern time: Pick up sandwiches at Uptown Grocery (uptowngrocery.com), then spend a few lazy hours at the river bank, watching the Mississippi roll by. Down the street from Monmouth is Pamper Me Please, top for prewedding primping (natchezspa.com).
The Sawyer Room, Kansas City (thesawyerroom.net, 816-377-3932). This venue, in the Mark Twain Tower, is named after the author's famous character. One couple embraced the literary connection by planning a Twain-themed wedding with his books and novels as table names and favors.
Also Consider: Getting your fingers dirty with your guests over some old-style Kansas City barbecue at Arthur Bryant's (arthurbryantsbbq.com). For favors or welcome bags, consider a cult Missourian candy: Chase's Candy Company Cherry Mash (cherrymash.com). The family recipe for these sweet-and-sour confections, made in nearby St. Joseph, is 90 years old.
The Big EZ Lodge, Big Sky (bigezlodge.com, 877-244-3299). Near the gateway to Yellowstone and backed by the picturesque Gallatin Mountains, the Big EZ is the ultimate setting for grand gestures. The pine lodges are perched 7,500 feet above sea level, with wraparound decks. While there, guests can participate in dozens of outdoor activities, including fly-fishing (even in winter), dogsledding, and snowmobiling.
Also Consider: Lone Peak Brewery, the only microbrewery in Big Sky. It's a prime place to gather for brunch or a glass of Hippy Highway Oatmeal Stout (lonepeakbrewery.com). Embrace the Wild West spirit of Big Sky country with cowgirl poet Buzzy Vick. Have her perform spoken word at your welcome dinner (406-995-4476).
Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha (omahabotanicalgardens.org, 402-346-4002). During your reception here, friends and family will get the green light to explore the property's 100 acres by foot or tram. Any small children on your list will appreciate the garden's seven model-railroad lines. And guests in town for fall events in October and November will be treated to a riot of color at the annual chrysanthemum show.
Also Consider: Booking the Passport Restaurant for a rehearsal dinner with international flair (passport-restaurant.com). After you eat, encourage guests to stroll through Old Market in historic Omaha (oldmarket.com). They'll want to sample the treats at Uprising Bakery, which serves spectacular cupcakes and pineapple bars (402-344-8846). All About Nails, also in Old Market, is a relaxing stop for prewedding pedicures (402-341-3100).
Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas (mandarinoriental.com, 702-590-8888). Despite the fact that it's a mammoth 392-room hotel, this high-rise makes service a priority by hosting only one wedding at a time. Within its walls are some significant perks, including a florist, salon, catering company, bakery, and even a talented tailor, who has altered Celine Dion's gowns.
Also Consider: Thanking guests with a bottle of vino from Pahrump Valley Winery (pahrumpwinery.com). And for a flawless wedding look, hire makeup artist Kim Katunis (kkmakeup.com) -- brides flock to her for faux eyelashes, and she's the go-to expert for Sin City magazine shoots.
Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods (omnihotels.com, 603-278-1000). Thomas Edison himself turned the lights on at this resort's opening dinner in 1902. Tiffany glass adds to the ambience inside, but the White Mountain National Forest outside is the retreat's main draw.
Also Consider: Taking your wedding party on an invigorating zip-line ride over Mount Washington's lush canopy of trees -- the three-mile Bretton Woods Canopy Tour at the Omni Resort (603-278-4947), with 10 lines and two sky bridges, is an experience they'll never forget. For a reminder of your celebration, send guests home with maple candy from Stonewall Farm in nearby Keene (stonewallfarm.org).
Natirar, Peapack (natirar.com, 908-901-9500). Natural luxury is at the fore of this 500-acre resort, once owned by the King of Morocco. The Raritan River flows through the property ("Natirar" is "Raritan," spelled backward), and newborn lambs roam the grounds each spring. A semipermanent tent for up to 225 people provides views of the entire property, and on-site catering is available.
Also Consider: Natirar's Ninety Acres Culinary Center. It's the place for a rehearsal dinner (ninetyacres.com). The menu (with delectable offerings like bacon-wrapped quail) enlists ingredients from the property's farm. In neighboring Far Hills, surprise your groom with an outing to the United States Golf Association Museum, where he can test his skills with antique clubs and balls (usgamuseum.com). The nine-hole Pynes Putting Course is modeled after the Himalayas at the St. Andrews course in Scotland.
Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi, Santa Fe (innoftheanasazi.com, 505-988-3030). Smaller guest lists (50 people or fewer) will be comfortably accommodated in this warm and cozy boutique hotel whose decor echoes traditional pueblo living. Brides are drawn to the library for receptions, the living room for fireside ceremonies with 8 to 10 people, and the wine cellar for private dinners.
Also Consider: Having a welcome dinner at Cafe Pasqual's. Be sure to order the house specialty, chile relleno picadillo, and purchase cookbooks for your mothers (pasquals.com). Stock guests' gift bags with Santa Fe School of Cooking hot cocoa and a molinillo, a tool used for frothing the beverage (santafeschoolofcooking.com).
Angel Orensanz Foundation Center for the Arts, New York City (orensanzevents.org, 212-529-7194). Modeled after the Cathedral of Cologne, this neo-Gothic-style event space has hosted Black Eyed Peas concerts, Alexander McQueen runway shows, and even Sarah Jessica Parker's wedding. The jaw-dropping architectural details include a deep-blue vaulted ceiling, gilded altar, and a wraparound mezzanine level that looks down on the main floor and makes an excellent spot for a cocktail hour.
Also Consider: Reserving a block of rooms at the nearby Hotel East Houston, a posh enclave in the heart of the city's gritty-chic Lower East Side neighborhood (hoteleasthouston.com). For your reception, create a candy buffet with goodies from Economy Candy, a sweets institution since 1937 (economycandy.com). And when the party winds down, take guests to Schiller's Liquor Bar for drinks from another era (schillersny.com). Try the Delancey, the bar's signature libation: a potent mix of Absolut Kurant, lemon juice, simple syrup, Sprite, grenadine, and fresh mint.
Biltmore Estate, Asheville (biltmore.com, 828-225-1600). Perhaps the biggest endorsement for the Biltmore is that Cornelia Vanderbilt, who could have been married anywhere on the planet, chose to celebrate here. The largest home in the United States, it also has one of the biggest yards imaginable: 8,000 acres of gardens and parkland designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Past weddings have included sunrise ceremonies and fireworks after dark.
Also Consider: The fresh fare served at Tupelo Honey Cafe. The insider favorite is ideal for a bridesmaids' brunch -- don't leave without sampling the fried green tomatoes (tupelohoneycafe.com). And for an early wedding gift, take your husband-to-be to the Land Rover driving school on the Biltmore property, where an instructor will guide him through an obstacle-filled course.
Plains Art Museum, Fargo (plainsart.org, 701-232-3821). The converted downtown warehouse is one of the most modern locations in the Great Plains, and it was made for extra-large parties. You can spread your event over three floors and use the art studio to entertain the grade-school crowd.
Also Consider: Sending out-of-towners to the Hotel Donaldson, otherwise known as HoDo (hoteldonaldson.com), to mix with the locals. It was built in 1890, and its bison filet mignon (yes, that's actual bison) is as popular now as it was back then. To satisfy salty-and-sweet cravings, add Carol Widman's Chippers, surprisingly addictive chocolate-covered potato chips, to guests' gift bags (carolwidmanscandy.com).
House of Blues, Cleveland (houseofblues.com, 216-523-2583). They do the decorating for you by filling this outpost with murals and artwork from the company's collection of folk art (the world's largest). Host your party in the Cambridge Room or the Music Hall, where access to the stage will make you feel like a bona fide star.
Also Consider: Custom posters and artwork created by House of Blues designers. They look like they were torn from the halls of a rock concert; use them as invitations or favors to showcase the edgy atmosphere of your event. For nearby eats, turn guests on to Iron Chef Michael Symon's Lolita (lolabistro.com). The menu is packed with sophisticated comfort food, like macaroni and goat cheese with rosemary chicken.
Silo Event Center at Redberry Farm, Tulsa (thesilotulsa.com, 918-447-2724). The beautifully renovated silo is a lofty indoor setting for tying the knot. But this is, after all, a farm, and the landscaped outdoor space doesn't disappoint. The Cedar Rock Inn, a five-room, on-site bed-and-breakfast, makes the commute easy on your family and wedding party.
Also Consider: Having your groom take the guys to Mahogany Prime Steakhouse for the best filet in Tulsa -- and in steak country, that's saying a lot (mahoganyprime.com). For the ladies, a trip to Miss Jackson's, a 100-year-old high-end department store, is a must (missjacksons.com). After browsing the racks, head upstairs to the Penthouse Salon for blowouts and pedicures.
View Point Inn, Corbett (theviewpointinn.com, 503-695-5811). This grand Tudor-style inn has been featured in movies, including the "Twilight" series, for its panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge, Portland, and even Vancouver, Canada. Take advantage of the scenery with an outdoor event, or hold it inside where the setting is romantic and rustic.
Also Consider: Complementing those intoxicating views with a bottle of Willamette Valley Vineyard's pinot noir (willamettevalleyvineyards.com). Leave guests a thank-you bottle in their rooms, or add it to your wine list for dinner. When friends and family arrive, insist they take a side trip to Multnomah Falls, the second-tallest waterfall in the country (trips.stateoforegon.com). A walking trail leads to a bridge over the cascade. If you have time between the ceremony and reception, drive to Vista House for wedding photos (vistahouse.com). It's an octagonal observatory located 733 feet above the stunning Columbia River.
Trust, Philadelphia (thetrustvenue.com, 215-592-8400). There may not be a more aptly named venue for a wedding. The 10,000-square-foot neoclassical structure was originally Girard Corn Exchange Bank; it gained notoriety in 2004 as the home of the "Real World: Philadelphia" cast. Now the venue is a chic blank slate that couples have decorated Moroccan-style, transformed into an art gallery, and given a Prohibition-era theme.
Also Consider: Hosting welcome cocktails at Southwark, where co-owner Kip Waide is rumored to make the best drinks in Philly (southwarkrestaurant.com) -- try the Philadelphian (apple brandy, orange juice, and ginger ale). To get wedding-ready, check into Rescue Rittenhouse Spa with your mom or maid of honor a day or two before you hit the aisle for a relaxing massage (rescuerittenhousespa.com).
The Chanler at Cliff Walk, Newport (thechanler.com, 401-847-1300). Have your wedding here, overlooking the legendary Cliff Walk, and you'll feel like you're on the edge of the world -- the mansion specializes in outdoor events on an oceanfront lawn. Amenities at the 20-room property (which can be rented in its entirety for large events) include working fireplaces and butler-drawn baths.
Also Consider: the White Horse Tavern. This quaint restaurant, which dates back to 1652, was once home to the colony's General Assembly (whitehorsetavern.us). It sets an intimate scene for a small rehearsal dinner or a meal with your in-laws. Before you leave for your honeymoon, contact Bird's Eye View to surprise your groom with a helicopter tour of the mansions and beaches Newport is known for (riaerial.com).
William Aiken House, Charleston (patpropllc.com, 843-853-1810). As one of the oldest homes in Charleston, this site provides exactly what you'd expect from a historic Southern mansion. The land boasts an enormous 200-year-old magnolia tree and a reflecting pond, and the six event rooms inside are furnished with antiques. On your wedding night, check into one of two carriage-house suites.
Also Consider: The freshly caught Low Country seafood, area produce, and mouthwatering drink list at Fig (eatatfig.com). Try the Honeysuckle, a mix of pisco capel, lime, grapefruit, elderflower, and orange-blossom water. For a modern up-do or "Blowout Party" (perfect for bridesmaids who want polished -- not prom -- hair), go to Canvas Salon (canvashair.com).
Chef Dominique's, Sioux Falls (chefdomscatering.com, 605-336-0455). After working his way through top kitchens in London and Chicago, Dominique Fontenille, the chef and owner of this venue, brought his French upbringing and culinary training to Sioux Falls. Host your reception here and food will be the focus. The talented Fontenille will even tailor the menu to include your favorite dishes.
Also Consider: Treating your wedding party to dinner and a show at the locally celebrated Olde Towne Dinner Theatre (oldetownetheatre.org). Or take them on an exhilarating hot-air-balloon ride above the Great Plains (flyprairiesky.com). You can see deer and pheasant as you rise above the prairie, so bring a pair of binoculars.
Blackberry Farm, Walland (blackberryfarm.com, 865-984-8166). This working farm, nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, specializes in simple elegance. Booking your wedding here means you'll likely have the run of the property, where much of the food is grown. Most brides select this country locale for its peaceful outdoor setting, but a large barn relocated from Pennsylvania also presents a rustic option for indoor events. The on-site spa provides a luxe experience for brides and bridesmaids too.
Also Consider: Inviting your wedding party to the Grand Ole Opry -- the country's longest-running live radio show -- or slipping CDs of classic broadcasts (opry.com) into guests' gift bags. For favors that double as sweet mementos, give seed packets from Blackberry Farm.
Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (nashersculpturecenter.org, 214-242-5100). At this sculpture garden, you'll be married among masterpieces by the likes of Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. Indoors, thanks to high ceilings and airy architecture, the galleries seem roofless, guaranteeing an outdoor feel regardless of the weather.
Also Consider: Giving bridesmaids a book that marks the occasion, like "The Nasher Collection: A Century of Sculpture." In the arts district, upscale MiCocina offers guests a convenient gathering place. Consult with the mixologists there to create a signature drink for your fiesta (mcrowd.com). And for centerpieces with an unusual twist, supplement your floral arrangements with fabric plants created by the Arlington-based sisters-in-law known as Jane Joss (etsy.com/shop/janejoss).
Sundance Resort, Sundance (sundanceresort.com, 877-273-7199). Whether you opt for the grand hall or the log cabin, the rugged beauty of the remote mountain setting plays a major role in a Sundance wedding. The resort offers endless ways to inject creativity into your event: Hold a chuck-wagon barbecue for the rehearsal dinner, set up a mechanical bull in an open meadow, or deliver your wedding party via ski lift.
Also Consider: Simply hanging around the property. The Tree Room has won awards for its cuisine, which includes a pork-belly BLT and bison tenderloin. Visit the Owl Bar, a hangout of Butch Cassidy's gang, which Robert Redford moved from Wyoming and restored. And for a truly memorable souvenir, schedule a private silversmithing class where you and your groom can make your own wedding bands. The resort will also give wine bottles from your celebration to their resident glass artisan and have him or her craft a piece of art for you to take home.
Equinox Resort and Spa, Manchester (equinoxresort.com, 800-362-4747). Brides planning weddings here usually select outdoor grounds near the 1811 house with the Green Mountains as the backdrop, or the Adirondack Boat House, which faces a spring-fed pond. To add to the natural surroundings, request a falcon and falconer (trainer) to entertain during cocktails.
Also Consider: The Perfect Wife -- how could any groom resist this restaurant? The Manchester eatery hosts live bands, and its banquet room was made for rehearsal dinners (perfectwife.com). For a keepsake of your locale, add a handcrafted wooden serving piece from the Vermont Bowl Company to your registry (vermontbowl.com).
Thomas Birkby House, Leesburg (birkbyhouse.com, 703-777-2700). Hugging the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this historic home was built on one of the city's original lots. Ceremonies and receptions can take place in the home, carriage house, or tent, and you and your fiance can get ready in the on-site bride's salon and gentleman's lounge.
Also Consider: Hosting a wine-tasting welcome dinner at Tuscan-style Breaux Vineyards in nearby Purcellville. Breaux has won awards for its varietals (breauxvineyards.com). And as a cheeky nod to your day, order "Virginia is for Lovers" save-the-date cards (thevastore.com).
The Museum of Flight, Seattle (museumofflight.org, 206-764-5720). With windows facing an airfield and full-size planes suspended overhead, your attendees won't have a choice but to look to the heavens after you exchange vows. To take advantage of the site's unconventional location on Boeing Field, make your grand entrance or exit in an airplane (it's really possible here!).
Also Consider: Scouring the museum's shop for groomsmen gifts. It's full of options, like the Sopwith Camel wooden model airplane. Unwind with friends over drinks at the Zig Zag Cafe (zigzagseattle.com): Try the Night and Day (cognac, Grand Marnier, Campari, and sparkling wine). To document your event, hire brothers John and Joseph Hong of John and Joseph Photography (jkhphoto.com). Their photojournalistic style has scored them points with West Coast couples and A-listers, including Rihanna and Sylvester Stallone.
Creekside Resort and Spa, Greenville (creeksideresort.net, 800-691-6420). This small, family-run rural resort is big on personalization and attention. It holds just one wedding per weekend, so the property is all yours for the exploring. Brides and grooms host rehearsal dinners on the farmhouse porch, tie the knot on an island in the middle of Indian Creek, and celebrate at the lodge with its mountain views.
Also Consider: Sending any history buffs to the Monroe County Historical Society Museum and the area's many Civil War sites (monroewvhistory.org). For favors, purchase mugs spun by blind potter Marcia Springston at Wake Robin Gallery (304-466-2227). Or have Hall Hitzig, otherwise known as the Crazy Baker, whip up an oversize batch of his homemade granola (thecrazybaker.com). Also request his specialty, almond-packed panforte, for your dessert spread.
Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, Milwaukee (villaterracemuseum.org, 414-271-3656). A Mediterranean-style estate on the Great Lakes may seem like a disconnect -- until you experience the views of Lake Michigan from the Terrace de Luna. Outdoors, the re-creation of a Tuscan landscape is gorgeous in warm weather. Inside, the Great Room's fireplace creates a cozy mood come winter.
Also Consider: Stocking up on the state's best cheeses for your cocktail hour at the Wisconsin Cheese Mart (wisconsincheesemart.com) on Old World Third Street. For inventive chocolate favors or goodies for your gift bags, turn to the Northern Chocolate Company (414-372-1885). The owner, Jim Fetzer, uses vintage molds to make delectable confections in the shape of freshwater fish. Or order Kopp's creamy frozen custard for dessert (kopps.com). For wedding-day makeup, book Sarah Brucker, the owner of Blush (blushmilwaukee.com).
Amangani Resort, Jackson (amanresorts.com, 307-734-7333). This venue, with floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, relies partly on Mother Nature to wow. It's easy to appreciate the views of the Tetons and ignore the exposed California-redwood beams and Oklahoma-sandstone walls, but they come together for a scenic wedding environment that's truly one-of-a-kind.
Also Consider: Hosting your welcome meal at Rendezvous Bistro, which offers an upscale setting and a seasonal menu (rendezvousbistro.net). Adventurous guests can sample items like elk tartare or chicken-fried frog legs. To embrace the cowboy way, present your wedding party with custom cowboy hats from Jackson Hole Hat Company (jhhatco.com).
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