How would you like to exchange vows underneath a world-famous piece of art? What about cutting the cake near thousand-year-old fossils? Art lovers and history buffs alike may swoon over the idea of a museum wedding since the unusual space makes for a unique celebration. But these types of venues come with challenges that other big-day locales might not. Whether you choose to host the big day in an iconic gallery, renowned history exhibit, or interesting science center, here are six things to consider before booking a museum for your big day.
You have to work with the space.
Unlike more typical wedding venues, there's not much you can change about a museum, so you'll need to work with the existing layout of the space when planning the ceremony and reception. That means you'll need to arrange tables, chairs, the dance floor, and bars around the museum's displays and attractions—you don't want the woolly mammoth replica blocking guests' view of the sweetheart table.
The price tag can be high.
Many museums are available for weddings—popular attractions like the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the Seattle Art Museum, the Chicago History Museum, and the Newseum in Washington, D.C., all do!—but most come with a hefty price tag. There are generally fees associated with a membership donation and the cost of admission (basically, a site rental fee) in addition to the cost per head. Always plan your budget in advance and delegate finances accordingly.
There are limitations to what you can do.
If you want your ceremony and reception in one place, be sure to ask if this is even a possibility. Since many museums operate as nonprofits, they can't host wedding ceremonies in the vicinity. Even if they can host a ceremony, some institutions only rent the property to donors or members, or you may need one to sponsor your celebration. Always check the limitations, rules, and regulations before you get your heart set on one venue.
You have to bring in your own rentals.
When renting out a museum, basic rentals often aren't included, mainly because most of these spaces don't already own tables, chairs, and glassware, although some may. Make sure to find out what your museum venue already has and what you're responsible for bringing in—depending on what you need to rent, the cost could eat up a major chunk of your budget.
Some museum elements can't be changed.
In addition to the attractions, museums have many other elements—like information stations, emergency exit signs, loading docks, and built-in benches—that can't be changed or removed. If you're nervous about certain objects detracting from the visual aesthetic of your big day, talk to your planner about creative ways to disguise them. If you're still worried that won't stop staring at them on the big day, it may be best to choose another venue.
You can invite more guests.
Those wanting a larger-than-life celebration should be excited: Many museums can accommodate several hundred wedding guests. Of course, most smaller museums allow larger head counts for standing receptions rather than seated dinners, so be sure to ask about options.