Brides and grooms have to make a myriad of decisions, plans, compromises, and last-minute improvisations to get a perfect wedding underway. The first question they must answer is pretty simple: Where are you going to get married?
Churches used to be the go-to wedding venues, but nowadays more couples are going the secular route. In 2016, only 26% of couples tied the knot in a church. Modern couples prefer to think outside the church, as it were, and plan celebrations based on love rather than religion. In this new era of wedding events, the nation’s historical locations have gained traction and become popular venues among couples with a passion for the past.
Our dating experts have reviewed hundreds of wedding destinations from coast to coast to bring our readers an all-star ranking of the 10 best historically significant wedding venues in the U.S. We hand-selected these destinations to help couples take their wedding plans up a notch and check at least one thing off their to-do lists.
1. The Ernest Hemingway Home — Key West, Florida
In terms of wedding destinations, the Ernest Hemingway Home is the cat’s meow. The lush gardens, luxuriant atmosphere, and historical significance is wonderful enough, and the estate’s location in Key West, one of the most popular wedding and honeymoon destinations in the U.S., is just icing on the metaphorical wedding cake.
Cat lovers and history buffs alike are drawn to the Ernest Hemingway Home. The family-owned museum has captured and preserved what life was like for the famous author. The house still features its original furniture, and more than 50 six-toed cats roam the grounds. These descendants of Hemingway’s pet cat Snow White can often be seen lounging in the sun, hunting in the grass, and purring at someone’s feet.
Every year, the Ernest Hemingway Home hosts over 130 weddings. The wedding event planners go the extra mile to assist couples and help them choose the perfect spot for their needs. Many of these couples live outside of Key West and rely on the planners’ expertise to make the event picture-perfect.
You can contact Wedding Coordinator Vicky Furman at (305) 509-1876 or Jen Diaz at (305) 393-2444 for more information. Please note that the museum limits its private event parties to 100 people to preserve the natural beauty of the grounds.
“The gardens are extremely lush,” explained Vicky Furman when we spoke with her. “We have over 150 types of plants and trees that are native to Florida, so couples can save a lot of money on decorations.”
The history of the Ernest Hemingway Home begins with the American author’s engagement to Pauline Pfeiffer, who was his mistress during his first marriage. The couple received the massive Spanish Colonial house, originally built in 1851, as a wedding present. Hemingway and Pauline had two children together and lived in this Florida home for nine years, during which Hemingway wrote 70% of his published works.
Nine years after Pauline passed away, a local family bought the Hemingway Home intending to live in it, but so many visitors knocked on their door that they eventually decided to open it up to the public. Today, the Ernest Hemingway Home is one of the most popular tourist attractions and wedding destinations in Key West, and that’s saying something in such a gorgeous beach town.
“It’s a great place to escape to, especially during the winter,” Vicky said. “We have a good combination of a beautiful venue, great staff, and cats — along with nice, warm weather.”
2. The Mackey House — Savannah, Georgia
Savannah’s oak-lined streets, historical sites, and riverside restaurants attract over 13.4 million visitors a year. The coastal city is full of beauty and romance. If you want to get married in this quaint Georgia town, we recommend choosing the Mackey House as your venue.
Established in 1931, the Mackey House on Red Gate Farms is just a 10-minute drive from downtown Savannah, but visitors feel far removed from civilization.
This land once served as a military encampment for Confederate soldiers and Union Army troops, but the Mackey family have transformed it into a peaceful and private getaway. The first wedding to take place on the grounds was that of the Mackey’s daughter Tonya, and it was so beautiful that friends of the family asked if they could have their ceremonies there. Thus, a business was born.
Today, the Mackey House hosts weddings and other events that marry traditional Southern values with modern elegance. The timeless look of this colonial mansion is perfect for engagement photo shoots, and many couples choose to say their vows beneath the branches of the 300-year-old trees growing throughout the grounds.
Wedding parties enjoy exclusive use of the mansion, deck, garden, pavilion, and lakeside spots on this 440-acre property. The venue’s wedding package varies in price from season to season, but generally ranges from $2,200 to $7,000. The wedding package includes the setup and breakdown of the event. The venue allows for three hours of setup time and four hours of event time. Couples can extend their event time for an added fee.
The Mackey House employs wedding planners, day-of coordinators, and ceremony officials to help couples get everything in order. These professionals can recommend trustworthy local vendors if needed. The Mackey House can provide catering and bar packages, though it is not included in the standard wedding package.
Under the Mackey House’s twinkling lights, couples can say “I do” in a beautiful oak grove and celebrate their union on the illuminated dance floor on the deck. The event venue can provide a DJ booth, a bar, and a draping canopy to set the mood. Fill out this contact form to get in touch with the Mackey House’s wedding planners and start planning your Southern fairy-tale wedding.
The Mackey House boasts a 4.8-star rating on Wedding Wire with many brides and grooms praising the venue’s beautiful setting and friendly, hands-on team. “The Mackey House is visually a dream come true for a wedding venue,” said Kristen in 2018. “I am so grateful for this venue and the people attached to it for helping make my dream wedding come true.”
3. Kennedy Space Center — Cape Canaveral, Florida
You may not think of Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral as a wedding destination, but this spacious museum can put on a romantic events that is out of this world. You can rocket into your marriage by booking a wedding here.
According to the social events page, the Kennedy Space Center offers a variety of wedding venues where guests will be surrounded by space shuttles, astronaut gear, and other NASA memorabilia. The museum’s eye-catching decor will keep people talking throughout the event. Over the years, the museum has hosted rehearsal dinners, wedding ceremonies, and receptions for science enthusiasts in Florida.
All wedding packages include complimentary parking for all guests, 72-inch round banquet tables, centerpieces and decor, glassware and silverware, full-service catering, and a full bar staffed by experienced bartenders. Couples enjoy private use of the Kennedy Space Center’s exhibits for up to four hours.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has a kitchen to cater all its events. And, no, Tang isn’t on the menu. The award-winning Executive Chef Gidget Wickham and her team can whip up a variety of appetizers, main dishes, and desserts for up to 500 guests. Banquet menu options range from classic flatbread pizzas to perfectly seasoned steaks.
Shaun and Megan got married at the Kennedy Space Center on July 20, 2018, and posted a video of the breathtaking event. “You have come together today because you can be more together than you can individually,” the officiant said. They celebrated a love fated by the stars in an exceptional venue.
Couples capture the pioneering spirit of America on their wedding days by saying their vows beside real-life space shuttles. This one-of-a-kind experience is perfect for couples with a passion for interstellar travel. Email [email protected] or call 1-(800)-433-4210 to reach the private events staff at the Kennedy Space Center.
4. Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center — Washington, D.C.
Located in the heart of Washington, D.C., the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center has hosted charity galas, comedy shows, outdoor concerts, and the occasional upscale wedding. In total, the ITC hosts over 1,200 events each year in its two ballrooms, exhibition space, and other reception areas.
All in all, the the Ronald Reagan Building and ITC has many spectacular wedding venues to offer couples. Some offer a view of Pennsylvania Avenue while others provide a sophisticated and private space to celebrate your union.
Seasoned wedding planners help couples choose the perfect venue for their rehearsal dinners, ceremonies, and receptions, and they offer many catering options included in the wedding package. The Ronald Reagan and ITC has a top-notch culinary team who can prepare multi-ethnic cuisines to suit everyone’s tastes and dietary restrictions.
The wedding menu includes everything from a full three-course dinner to late-night snacks and specialty cocktails. Couples are treated to a five-hour open premium bar as well as five hors-d’oeuvres served during the cocktail hour. The Ronald Reagan and ITC employ one bartender per 100 guests. All tables, fine china, silver, glass, and votive candles come included with the wedding package as well.
The Ronald Reagan and ITC can host up to 700 guests at an event. No matter how many people you invite, parking shouldn’t be a problem on the big day because the Ronald Reagan Building is home to the city’s largest parking garage. You can request more information online.
“There are so many wedding venues in DC. Some are good, some are great, and some are amazing. The Ronald Reagan Building falls in the “amazing” category,” said Jessica in a five-star review on Wedding Wire. “All the staff members at the Ronald Reagan Building are thoughtful, flexible, courteous, efficient, knowledgeable, and thorough. I’ve never worked with a more professional staff.”
5. The Liberty View — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Liberty View at the Independence Visitor Center offers people a remarkable events venue in the heart of Philadelphia. The ballroom, terrace, and other rental spaces are perfect for a private wedding surrounded by historical sites. You can find the Liberty View just steps away from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall at the junction of Sixth and Market Streets in Independence National Historical Park aka the most historical square mile in the U.S.
As a facility rental company, the Liberty View welcomes couples seeking a more perfect union in the Birthplace of America. It can arrange for a rooftop proposal on the open-air observation deck or an indoor or outdoor wedding draped in elegance. The ballroom can hold up to 180 seated guests and up to 150 dancing guests. The Grand Hall can host a cocktail party for up to 1,000 people or a seated dinner for up to 500 people.
The Liberty View has partnered with local caterers and other exclusive vendors to bring its guests the best of the best. Rental fees start a $3,200 for a five-hour rental on Friday or Sunday evening (typically from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m.) This fee includes tables, chairs, setup, and breakdown fees. It costs an additional $300 for a 30-minute onsite wedding ceremony. Contact Liberty View’s event staff for more details.
Reviews on the Wedding Wire have given the Liberty View 5 out of 5 stars in terms of quality service, professionalism, flexibility, value, and responsiveness.
“Liberty View is the best! Recently renovated and even more stunning outdoor space added, this venue was perfect for our ceremony spot,” said Kim, who said not even pouring rain could put a damper on her special day at Liberty View. “We also got great family photos from the new outdoor side terrace with the Independence Mall and Independence Hall behind us!”
6. The Biltmore Estate — Asheville, North Carolina
Built by George Washington Vanderbilt in the late 1800s, the Biltmore Estate is a popular romantic destination nestled among the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. Hardly a day goes by without someone getting down on one knee here. The original house is modeled on a medieval castle and sits on a grand 8,000-acre estate. Many couples love to wander these grounds and find a quiet moment to themselves among the greenery.
Since 1895, the Biltmore Estate has opened its doors to the public and encouraged guests to witness its beauty and wonder for themselves. The estate now boasts a winery, equestrian center, and luxury accommodations, including a two-bedroom cottage decorated as if a high-class English family lived there. This is the only inn that dates back to Vanderbilt’s days on the estate.
The Biltmore Estate prides itself on providing an idyllic setting for romantic moments, particularly wedding days. The estate has a dedicated wedding planning staff to assist with all the details up until you say “I do.” You can call (800) 211-9804 or fill out an online contact form to get in touch with Biltmore’s wedding experts and start planning a wedding in the gardens, the conservatory, the house, or its event rooms.
The Biltmore can accommodate intimate wedding parties of 10-15 people in the Champagne Cellar at the winery, or it can throw a large bash on the lawn for up to 1,200 wedding guests. From the rustic Antler Hill Barn to the fairytale Diana lawn, the Biltmore’s many event venues can suit couples of all tastes and budgets. The wedding package even includes a complimentary two-night stay at The Inn on Biltmore Estate.
“Our wedding was wonderful!” gushed Katrice H. in a five-star review of the Biltmore Estate. “Everything at the Biltmore was exceptional, from the food to the drinks to the venue to the staff! You can’t find a better location or a more attentive staff!”
7. Ellis Island National Monument — New York, New York
Years ago, immigrants came through New York’s Ellis Island in hopes of starting a new life in the new world. Nowadays, some American couples travel to Ellis Island to honor their relatives, join their families, and make a new start of their own. That’s right, Ellis Island has been known to host wedding ceremonies, receptions, and vow renewals.
The Ellis Island National Monument is an American landmark steeped in historical significance. It stands as a symbol of the freedom, prosperity, and promise of this nation of immigrants. A third-generation family-owned company called Evelyn Hill Inc. runs private events at Ellis Island and ensures its legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of the American people.
Evelyn Hill Inc. has organized thousands of weddings in the last 84 years and has the process down to a science. Brides and grooms can call (646) 783-3641 or set up an appointment to get in touch with a professional events coordinator who can explain the indoor and outdoor event options at Ellis Island.
You can say your vows in the Great Hall on Ellis Island or outside by the Wall of Honor or on a terrace with a sweeping view of New York City. All wedding packages include a ferry ride to and from Ellis Island. You and your guests can glide across the water and imagine what it must’ve been like to leave everything you know behind and seek your fortune in another country. As you approach the Statue of Liberty, you can capture unique photos with your significant other and your wedding guests standing in Lady Liberty’s formidable shadow.
Getting married at Ellis Island is an unforgettable and uniquely American experience. Couples use their vows to pay homage to the past while continuing the pursuit of happiness.
In the words of the website, “From the modern Manhattan skyline to the Statue of Liberty herself, you’ll celebrate amidst this amazing backdrop and return home with once-in-a-lifetime wedding photos to treasure forever.”
8. Gettysburg Hotel — Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Since 1797, the Gettysburg Hotel has offered its guests a welcome respite and peaceful sanctuary, even in troubled times. The hotel endured through the Civil War, witnessed President Abraham Lincoln’s famed Gettysburg address, and later served as President Dwight Eisenhower’s national operations center during World War II.
Today, its ideal location (within walking distance of the historic battlefield) and luxurious accommodations (199 guest rooms and suites) appeal to visitors hoping to see the sights and stay in the lap of luxury.
Couples can unite their families in the heart of Gettysburg by booking a wedding at the hotel. The Gettysburg Hotel hosts beautiful weddings steeped in historical significance. The hotel can hold up to 300 wedding guests in its indoor and outdoor venues.
The Gettysburg Hotel opens its Grand Ballroom to couples and invites them to tie the knot surrounded by 28-foot hand-painted ceilings inlaid with gold, green, and burgundy. Over 200 brides and grooms on the Wedding Wire have given the hotel an average rating of 4.8 out of 5.0 stars.
“I cannot say enough positive things about our entire experience,” said Lauren in her review. “The bridal suite was gorgeous and in close proximity to the ballroom… They also had a lovely spread and treats for us in the room for after the wedding.”
Fill out the Wedding Proposal Request form to get in touch with the Gettysburg Hotel’s wedding planner and receive more detailed information about the venue’s wedding spaces and available dates.
9. Ponce de León’s Fountain of Youth — St. Augustine, Florida
Legend has it that Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, who led the first recorded landing and exploration of La Florida, journeyed to the new world in search of the mythical Fountain of Youth. But the jury is still out on how much of that is story and how much is fact. Ponce de León himself never wrote about the fountain, and his official royal charter from the Spanish crown stipulated that he was to find the land of Beniny (Bemini), the westernmost part of the Bahamas.
Some say Ponce de León was looking for gold, others say he was looking for tea, but it’s much more fun to think of this intrepid explorer discovering Florida because he wanted to uncover a magical youth-bringing fountain. This story has so captivated imaginations that it has become a historical attraction (and wedding venue) in St. Augustine, Florida.
Now visitors can discover Ponce de León’s Fountain of Youth for themselves for just $14 per ticket. The historical site includes educational exhibits, a recreated Native Timucua village, and a planetarium. It also serves as a breathtaking outdoor wedding venue.
As a wedding venue, the Fountain of Youth is certainly original. This 15-acre archaeological park hosts elegant weddings in its open-air pavilion. The pavilion can accommodate up to 300 standing guests and 150 seated guests. The Fountain of Youth Properties can provide an approved list of event planners and vendors.
Rental options can range in price from $700 to $4,000 depending on the time, location, and number of guests. Couples should note that food and drink will not be permitted during daytime events, and the park will remain open for regular visitors while the wedding celebration is going on. Call (804) 829-3168 to work out the details for your upcoming nuptials.
This lush location is ideal for low-key weddings in an idyllic natural setting. You can recapture the excitement of youth at this one-of-a-kind destination.
10. Edison and Ford Winter Estates — Fort Myers, Florida
Florida’s coastal cities have appeared a lot on our list, and we’re going to add one more by highlighting the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers as a premier wedding destination. These neighboring estates, known as the Seminole Lodge and the Mangoes, were the winter homes of the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford families.
Thomas Edison’s wife Mina gifted the Seminole Lodge to the City of Fort Myers upon her death, and it opened to the public in 1947. The Mangoes was sold to the city in 1988, and it was restored and opened to the public in 1990. Now, these two historical sites welcome more than 250,000 visitors every year.
The Edison and Ford Winter Estates include 20 acres of botanic gardens, which are ideal for outdoor wedding ceremonies and receptions. The Moonlight Garden is particularly breathtaking with its blue and white flowers and a small reflection pool next to a bench. This picturesque area has been used to host intimate bridal luncheons, tea parties, and showers, but it is most popular for couples interested in a small outdoor wedding surrounding by fragrant flowers.
All wedding venues at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates are outdoor venues. The Coconut Grove and Ford’s Riverside Lawn support sunset wedding ceremonies beside the Caloosahatchee River, while the Moonlight Garden surrounds couples with greenery. Finally, there’s the Mysore Fig Tree, a memorable landmark on the Ford Estate. Couples can stand in front of this old tree and vow to entwine their lives and grow a new family.
The estate’s wedding ceremony package includes a one-hour rehearsal, a two-hour photo session, complimentary passes, free parking, and an events staff member to help coordinate all the moving parts along the way. The venue requires a 50% deposit to secure a desired date.
Couples can review the Edison and Ford Estates’ approved vendors list to book accommodations, hire a caterer, rent equipment, find a local photographer or officiant, and arrange other trustworthy services. Call the Edison and Ford Events Office at (239) 334-7419 or fill out an event inquiry form to start working with this professional team in Fort Myers.
“They work diligently hard to make your burdens light and [the] process easier,” said Austin Bonner in a Wedding Wire review. “Highly recommend. You won’t be disappointed.”
A Momentous & One-of-a-Kind Wedding is Within Your Reach
From old-fashioned mansions to historical monuments, many fantastic wedding venues can add significance to an already important day. The historic wedding venues on our list provide beautiful and thought-provoking settings steeped in stories, legends, and historical fact.
Couples can make their own love story stand out by choosing a wedding destination with a rich history behind it. Hopefully, this list of the best wedding destinations for history aficionados has helped you discover a place that can make your wedding day one for the history books. Best wishes!
Sources & Methodology: We scoured America’s favorite historic cities and venues and reviewed real wedding testimonials from Wedding Wire, The Knot, and other wedding review sites to determine the best historic wedding venues in America.