The term “wedding bell blues” has taken on a new meaning as the pandemic forces couples to postpone nuptials until it’s safe for crowds to gather. But as the $74 billion industry suffers, there’s a bright spot: Outdoor weddings are gaining in popularity.
Outdoor wedding venues have always been popular. Tying the knot in Mother Nature carries a splendor no indoor venue can match. Choosing a beautiful garden or vista can save you an average of $1,500 on wedding flowers. And now there’s a new reason to consider them, since they can keep guests safer with social distancing and avoiding recirculated air.
So if you’re considering an outdoor wedding venue, we’ve made it easier by compiling a list of the best, with a special focus on landscaping and natural beauty. Below are the winners of Wikilawn’s “Wiki Wonder Award” for best landscaped wedding venues.
To win the Wiki-award badge of honor, the venue must have several selling points:
- An exquisite view.
- Gardens or outstanding landscaping.
- A Plan B in case of a sudden rain or wind storm.
- A significant presence on social media.
- The ability to seat at least 100 guests.
Weeding the list down to the best was challenging. We now know what brides go through when choosing the site for her picture-perfect wedding. We hope this list will make things a little less stressful.
Atlanta Botanical Garden
Calling itself the “emerald jewel in the crown of Atlanta culture,” the Botanical Garden opened in 1976. It’s become one of the city’s most popular wedding sites, but choosing your setting isn’t an easy task, as there are so many gorgeous backdrops. Want a serene forest setting? Got it. Lush tropical plants and the sound of waterfalls? Yep. Or go for the most popular ceremony site on the grounds: the Rose Garden, with brightly hued flowers and a brilliant green lawn.
Favorite Post: Alice’s Wonderland Reimagined
This historic mansion on Atlanta’s Peachtree Street was the talk of the town when it was built 116 years ago. Amos Rhodes was inspired by homes he saw when traveling through the German Rhineland and built this house for his family. These days, Rhodes Hall is a museum and the setting for numerous weddings. You can hold your ceremony inside, but the outdoor backdrop features a magnificent green lawn, flowers, and trees against large stone arches.
Favorite Post: Going Green
The Contemporary Austin has a lofty goal: to be an essential part of city life. With a unique combination of both urban and outdoor sites, the museum has something for everyone. The Contemporary occupies a downtown space that housed a drugstore 150 years ago. Several renovations later, it became The Contemporary in 1998. Many couples looking for a downtown wedding choose this site for the renowned Moody Rooftop, featuring a breathtaking view of downtown, including the Capitol.
Favorite Post: Create at Home
The Millennium Gate Museum
Atlanta, known as “the Gate City” since 1857, after the railroad system was completed, is home to this landmark. Back then, Atlanta was the gateway from the Atlantic Ocean to the west by train. Now, this 100-foot tall monument is the backdrop for weddings held in its courtyard. Ceremonies take place on the oval lawn, nestled inside Roman columns and surrounded by green trees and shrubs. There’s even a pond with a fountain.
Favorite Post: Collections Highlights
Neill-Cochran House Museum
This historic site in the heart of Austin, Texas, has a fascinating and varied background. Built in 1856, the Neill-Cochran House Museum features the city’s only intact slave quarters. The Greek Revival home was also used as a school for the blind and, during the Civil War, a federal hospital. This antebellum venue features an outdoor space for weddings with stone pavers, trees, flowers, and privacy shrubs surrounded by history.
Favorite Post: Dancing With the Demon Rum
Alexander Homestead Weddings
Co-owner Tirzah Caffee grew up around weddings, thanks to her parents, who restored historic homes and turned them into wedding venues. The Alexander Homestead was built in 1903 in Charlotte, N.C., and was renovated to its present state in 2010. The outdoor space is full of vibrant flowerbeds, emerald-green hedges and trees, pathways, and water features with small bridges.
Favorite Post: Stress Free: The Way Your Wedding Should Be
The Duke Mansion
The original Duke Mansion was built in 1915. Four years later, tobacco mogul James Buchanan Duke bought it and tripled its size. The Charlotte, N.C., property passed through many hands before landing with a foundation designed to preserve its history. The Duke Mansion operates as a small, upscale inn and hosts weddings 25 weekends a year, making it a much-sought-after site. Two outdoor spaces are available, each with beautiful grounds and brilliant flowers.
Favorite Post: The Mary DBT Semans Gardens
The 18-acre Pinecroft estate sits right in the middle of a busy neighborhood in Cincinnati. The area was less developed when the estate was built in 1928 by inventor and former owner of the Cincinnati Reds, Powell Crosley, Jr. The mansion now belongs to Cincinnati Preservation and serves as an event center. The grounds feature a 5-acre lake, dozens of gardens, and a lavish pavilion, providing a variety of backdrops for weddings.
Favorite Post: Rich English Elegance for Your Cincinnati Celebration
Cincinnati’s first park started with a donation of land in 1817, laying the groundwork for today’s large city park system. Four of the parks offer wedding backdrops, including a mid-nineteenth century domed pavilion on a vast lawn. You’ll also find picturesque gazebos and arbor settings featuring both annual and perennial gardens.
Favorite Post: Cincinnati Parks Rank 5th in the Nation
Nationwide Hotels & Conference Center
Tucked away in a 15-acre park setting, Nationwide Hotels & Conference Center in Columbus, Ohio, is the perfect spot for outdoor weddings. Couples can choose from a patio overlooking a tranquil pond, a luxurious lawn with mature trees and vibrant floral displays, or a white pergola with clinging wisteria vines. The Nationwide Hotel hosts more than 75 weddings each year.
Favorite Post: Send Them Off in Style
This banquet hall wedding venue near Columbus, Ohio, offers one-stop shopping for couples. The rustic setting features reclaimed wood, whiskey barrel tables, and a wrought iron arbor. The outdoor patio sits near a secluded stream and the garden is bursting with flowers. Guests can hold the ceremony and reception on-site, where meals are also prepared and a DJ is available, making wedding planning simple.
Favorite Post: Ceremonies
Rambling Rose Ranch
This country-like location is just 15 minutes from downtown Austin, Texas. Rambling Rose Ranch is home to horses, donkeys, goats, and chickens. The flagstone patio in the center of a large gravel floor is surrounded by gardens, potted flowers, and oak trees. Nearly all the decor was created by the ranch owners on a shoestring budget. It’s now one of Austin’s most popular wedding destinations.
Favorite Post: Nature=Stress Relief
The Reception House
The backdrop for this wedding venue is a beautifully designed and landscaped 18-hole golf course. The Reception House is managed by Schmidt’s, the city’s iconic food service legacy that goes back more than 100 years in Columbus. Seal your love on the greens or opt for a patio ceremony with a view of the idyllic setting.
Favorite Post: Wedding Receptions
Nasher Sculpture Center
Imagine dinner and dancing under the stars next to works by Picasso. That can be your wedding reality at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. The Nasher is home to more than 300 contemporary sculptures by famous artists and has hosted countless weddings. The intimate sculpture garden includes more than a hundred weeping willows, live oaks, and magnolias. The center is a past winner of an Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Favorite Post: Sweet Pass Sculpture Park Revels in Looseness
Grant Humphreys Mansion
Built in 1902 for James Benton Grant, the third governor of Colorado, Denver’s Grant Humphreys Mansion was sold to oil baron A.E. Humphreys 15 years later. The Colorado Historical Society now manages the property, using the front lawn and back patio (with pergola) for weddings. Photographers rave about this site because it’s located next to a park and features flower beds, birch trees, and rolling lawns. The lighting at sunset also helps create picture-perfect wedding memories.
Favorite Post: Research & Learn
Villa Parker bills itself as the place “Where the Tuscan Charm Meets the Rockies.” This wedding venue is just south of Denver and features a grand entrance and brilliant gardens. You’ll also get great pictures under the archways and courtyard with panoramic mountain views.
Favorite Post: Villa Weddings
Fort Worth Zoo
Wedding guests will go ape over ceremonies held at the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas. This is an unmatched spot for your special day, offering several backdrops. Put black bears and jaguars on the guest list at Texas Wild!, overlook a savanna and gaze at giraffes among the trees. Maybe you prefer the green surroundings of the Museum of Living Art gardens while surrounded (safely) by crocodiles, turtles, and exotic fish.
Favorite Post: The Fort Worth Zoo Is Seeing Pink!
This art gallery and wedding venue in Fort Worth occupies a space that’s 110 years old. Enjoy two sculpture gardens and an outdoor patio. Cafe lights strung between the many tall trees create a just-right ambiance.
Favorite Post: Elopements and Intimate Ceremonies
The Houstonian sits on 27 wood acres with several beautifully landscaped backdrops for couples to choose from. Pine and oak trees hold lush foliage and flora. Say “I do” under the twinkling lights wrapping a majestic live oak. Or spread out over the Event Lawn where, at certain times of the year, you’ll be treated to Houston’s show-stopping azaleas.
Looking for a rustic setting for your wedding? Moffitt Oaks in Houston may have what you want. Say your vows under an arbor next to a lake with a backdrop of mature trees, a green lawn, succulents, and flowers. Or choose a more rural look with a corral fence, an expansive lawn and an arbor dripping with plants and vines.
Longview Mansion was Kansas City lumber baron R.A. Long’s country estate. Built in 1913, it was once known as the “World’s Most Beautiful Farm.” Restored to its original splendor two years ago, Longview Mansion boasts numerous perfectly manicured outdoor spaces for weddings. Cultivated gardens, wooded sites, a lake and sprawling fields create a picturesque backdrop for your ceremony.
Favorite Post: Choosing a Wedding Venue
The Pavilion Event Space
An open-air chapel is a unique setting for a wedding, and you’ll find just that at The Pavilion Event Space in Kansas City. Surrounded by an expansive lawn, the chapel features trees, a garden, hardscaping, bridges and paths. State-of-the-art amphitheater surround sound and custom lighting make it an outdoor wedding to remember.
Favorite Post: Moody + Romantic Wedding
This venue in Phoenix was never intended to be the popular wedding spot it’s become. The owner created the Hidden Gardens as a personal project but soon decided to share its distinctive style. Boojum Tree is a 5-acre forest of trees, fountains — even a waterfall! Couples can tie the knot on the Mexican Plaza, the Tropical Rainforest, or English Garden.
Favorite Post: Photo Shoots
Royal Palms Resort and Spa
The Royal Palms Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., initially operated as a couples retreat. These days, couples remain in the picture but the focus is on uniting them in marriage. Wedding sites include a stone-walled courtyard surrounded by palm trees, cacti and succulents, a lawn with mountain vistas, and the Camelback Vista with a garden and mountain views.
Favorite Post: Weddings Outdoor Venues
MIM – Musical Instrument Museum
The MIM in Phoenix calls itself “The World’s Only Global Musical Instrument Museum.” With more than 7,000 instruments from 200 countries, you’ll find items played by Johnny Cash, Elvis and Tito Puente. Wedding guests in the museum’s courtyard are treated to desert foliage, fountains, the Phoenix sculpture, and gorgeous desert sunsets.
Favorite Post: Celebrating 10 Years of MIM
The Meadows near Raleigh, sits on a heritage farm (owned and operated by members of the same family for more than 100 years). The rolling meadows and mature forests set the scene for couples who want nature to play a role in their ceremony. The Valley offers wide-open spaces, the Lawn gives a more intimate feel in a smaller space and the Meadows puts guests right in the middle of grassy fields.
Favorite Post: Gone Camping: The Big Fake Wedding
The Merrimon-Wynne House
This historic home in Raleigh, N.C., was built in 1876 by Agustus S. Merrimon, a chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. For years in the 1900s, it was used as a college dormitory. Now, the Merrimon-Wynne House is one of the city’s premier wedding venues. Couples and their guests can experience the ceremony on The Lawn, under 100-year-old pecan trees, or in front of The Carriage House, with a sloping yard and a pergola.
The Van Dusen Mansion
This Minneapolis, Minn, mansion was built in 1892 for George Washington Van Dusen, a grain mogul. After years of commercial use, the historic property was set to be demolished, but an investor swooped in and restored it to its original splendor. Weddings at this castle-like estate are sure to impress. Ceremonies on the brick pavers in the courtyard are surrounded by gardens, trees, and flowering shrubs; an oasis in the city.
Favorite Post: 2020 Minnesota Bride Awards
The Japanese Garden
The Japanese Garden is part of Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn. This 2-acre gem was built in 1972 on a swampy area behind the college. A professional garden architect from Tokyo helped design the space. Couples who wed at The Japanese Garden find a serene setting with shrubs sheared into specific shapes such as clouds or hills.
Favorite Post: The Japanese Garden Beckons in All Seasons
The Princess Wedding
Brides and their Prince Charmings can say their vows like royalty at this venue in Minneapolis. Set in “Cindyrella’s Wedding Garden,” the backdrop for your special day features old country charm and unique landscaping. There’s a vineyard with Edelweiss and Swenson red grapevines, a 100-year-old willow tree, a flower garden, and a lake. Best of all, you arrive at the site in a white carriage.
Favorite Post: Ceremony
The Outing Lodge at Pine Point
This historic property in Stillwater, Minn., has an unusual past. It was founded in 1858 as a poor farm, a place for the chronically indigent. The farm was discontinued 100 years later and eventually abandoned. Today, fully renovated, The Outing Lodge at Pine Point, serves as a pastoral setting for weddings. With 300 acres of wooded paths and rolling land amid hundreds of pines, the setting offers something for everyone.
Favorite Post: Theme Rooms
Mission Inn Resort & Club
The Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, a Central Florida town northwest of Orlando, is home to one of the earliest golf courses in the state. Built in 1917 to attract investors to the owner’s citrus business, the property declined during the Depression. Many years and renovations later, an inn was built based on Spanish Colonial architecture. Couples today can choose from three outdoor spaces; Legends Courtyard, Marina del Rey, and Plaza de la Fontana, all with spectacular landscaping and water views.
Favorite Post: Goodness From the Garden
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
In 1895, Richmond, Va., businessman Lewis Ginter bought property that was once Powhatan Indian hunting grounds. He then built the Lakeside Wheel Club, a place for local bicyclists. After several expansions, the property morphed into the Botanical Garden. Couples choose from three wedding sites: The Rose Garden envelops guests in vivid roses and delicate scents; Flagler Garden features a secluded pagoda, surrounded by a circular screen of trees; and Grace Arents Garden offers a wide lawn, a paved path leading up to an arbor and plenty of bright flowers and plants.
Favorite Post: Worms! How to Make a Wormery
Blue Bee Cider
Raise a glass to ceremonies at Virginia’s first urban cidery! Founded seven years ago in a historic building in Richmond, Blue Bee creates artisanal ciders from heirloom Virginia apples. This full-fledged cider production and tasting facility makes for a wedding backdrop like no other. The cidery offers French country style buildings and garden with vivid blooms and, of course, cider. Bottoms up!
Favorite Post: Persnickety Pawpaws
This ornate mansion on 100 acres of manicured lawns, flower gardens and trees started out in 1893 as the home of a wealthy lawyer and his wife. Having no children, the couple left the property to the people of Richmond, Va. Maymont is now a city park and museum and hosts many weddings each year. Impeccably landscaped spaces include the Italian Garden with hundreds of brilliant blooms, the Japanese Garden with a terraced waterfall, and The Robins Nature Center with fish, turtles, and river otters.
Favorite Post: Teacher Appreciation
The 1850 Settlement
The 1850 Settlement in San Antonio, Texas, offers a taste of the old Southwest. The property was homesteaded 170 years ago. Couples choosing this venue will find some of the original buildings still standing. Wedding guests will enjoy a spacious lawn, an outdoor firepit and enormous live oak trees, all set against the original homestead and The Settlement Stage Coach Station.
Favorite Post: Rainy Day Wedding
This 1894 home is modeled after the chateaus and castles in Belgium and France, as its original owner was Ambassador to Belgium in the early 1890s. The historic house in San Antonio, Texas, now functions as an inn and event venue. Couples who wed outdoors on the lawn have the arches of the mansion, well-kept shrubs, and plenty of mature trees as a backdrop.
Favorite Post: Afternoon Tea Party
Gardens of Cranesbury View
Couples looking for European ambiance and charm in the Austin, Texas, area will find it at The Gardens of Cranesbury View. An Italian Sculptured Garden sits on 32 acres and features intricately designed hedges, rose bushes, and peaceful water features. An ornate gazebo with classic columns completes the picture-perfect look.
Favorite Post: Useful Wedding Favors for Family and Friends
Imagine having peacocks on your guest list. That’s the reality for couples who hold their ceremonies at Hummingbird Gardens in Tampa. This family-owned business has been around since 2005, filling the grounds with well-known and exotic plants, trees, and flowers. Wedding guests will see the peacock and his family roaming the gardens, as well as horses and chickens.
Favorite Post: Garden Nursery
Four acres of natural landscaping just seven minutes from the ocean make this the ultimate wedding venue for couples wanting greenery with a beach nearby. Country Villa in rural Virginia Beach, features white blooming bushes and trees behind a unique altar. You’ll also find a pavilion surrounded by mature pines, a spiral staircase attached to a vine-covered tree, and a bridge over a rock river surrounded by flowers.
Favorite Post: The Groom’s Room
Built in 1799, Dumbarton House offers a look at life in the earliest days of our nation’s capital city. The home is famous for being the place Dolley Madison first fled to when learning the British were coming during the War of 1812. These days, the museum is often used as a wedding venue. A courtyard paved with slate is among 1.2 acres of gardens and terraces, including an herb garden growing more than 40 varieties of plants.
Favorite Post: Dolley Madison
Omni Hotel & Resorts Washington, D.C.
This landmark hotel in Washington, D.C., has hosted presidents and world leaders since 1930 and is a member of Historic Hotels of America. In 1933, the Omni Shoreham Hotel put on the first inaugural ball for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Thirty years later, The Beatles booked the entire seventh floor. Today, the property boasts three garden wedding venues complete with trimmed hedges, cherry trees, tulip beds, and a pavilion on a vast lawn, all surrounded by a colorful forest.
Favorite Post: 48 Hours In Washington, D.C.
The Keeler Property
This private country estate in Jacksonville, Fla., was discovered by its owner five years ago as she was searching for a one-of-a-kind site for her own wedding. She took the rough space and put in the hard work to make it what it is today. The Keeler Property features Florida’s only covered bridge that’s open for both public and private events, a barn for rustic charm, all set on a lake and surrounded by trees.
Favorite Post: How Wedding Music Can Make — or Break — Your Reception
Chicago Botanic Garden
More than a million people visit the Chicago Botanic Garden each year, some of them brides and grooms. The Garden is a living plant museum and conservation center situated on nine islands in the Cook County Forest Preserves. Wedding parties can choose from many spaces, including a canopied terrace next to the water, an English walled garden, the Rose Terrace with its water features and roses, and the Buehler Enabling Garden, with hanging baskets and vertical flower beds.
Favorite Post: The Elements of Design
South Coast Botanic Garden
In an epic example of reuse and recycling, South Coast Botanic Garden in the Greater Los Angeles area is one of the first botanical gardens to be created over a sanitary landfill. The garden is proof that land reclamation can help solve refuse disposal problems while creating a brilliant and beautiful space. Couples and their wedding guests enjoy 87 acres of rolling meadows, vivid flowers, a rustic amphitheater, a gazebo and a shaded koi pond patio, experiencing first hand this unique example of environmental improvement.
Favorite Post: The Banyan Grove
Cedar Springs Pavilion
The vision of Lisa Brannon, an Ohio native and avid conservationist, sprang to life nine years ago near Dayton, Ohio. While creating a refuge for endangered species, including monarch butterflies, she also came up with a perfect outdoor wedding venue. The backdrop is a Tuscan-style pavilion surrounded by an expansive lawn, trees, stone paths, a pond, and vivid flowers everywhere. Cedar Springs Pavilion bills itself as the place where elegance meets nature.
Favorite Post: Gardens
The Little Nell
If you’re looking for a spectacular backdrop for your wedding, you can’t beat the Rocky Mountains. And if you’re looking for five-star luxury, The Little Nell has it. Located in Aspen, Colo., and named for an 1800s lady of the evening, it sits on land that’s been used as a summer hunting grounds for the Ute Indians, a place for miners to rest and a railroad depot. Today’s weddings at The Little Nell are nothing short of amazing, no manmade landscaping needed. Mother Nature already did that with jaw-dropping views of the mountains.
Favorite Post: Wine Experiences at the Little Nell
They really know how to throw a party here, as this 24,000-square-foot event center was designed specifically for weddings and banquets. Stonebrook Manor in Thornton, Colorado, features outdoor ceremonies in brightly colored gardens. The greenery is set among bubbling brooks and waterfalls with bridges, gazebos, arbors, and benches.
Favorite Post: 5 Ways to Make an Entrance at Your Wedding Reception
Red Butte Garden
This living landscape is part of the University of Utah system and is a state arboretum in Salt Lake City. For 35 years Red Butte Garden has been connecting people to plants, with 100 acres of formal gardens, natural areas, waterfalls, and mountain views. Couples can say “I do” in the Rose House, the Rose Garden, or the Fragrance Garden where each spring, you’ll find a half million blooming bulbs.
Favorite Post: The Garden Misses You
This Is the Place Heritage Park
Experience the Wild West with your wedding guests at This Is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City. Featuring 50 historic homes and structures, train rides, panning for gold and mining, the Park takes you back in time. Couples have ten wedding venues to pick from, including two outdoor pavilions. The third option, The Garden Place, is a rustic mountain lodge with French doors that open to a patio with a waterfall, a massive outdoor fireplace, and, of course, a majestic mountain view.
Favorite Post: Pioneer Children’s Memorial
Getting married outdoors comes with the risk of a hiccup or two. You’ll have to worry about the weather and maybe a few uninvited mosquitoes. But the Wiki-award winning venues have you covered, literally. All have awnings or contingency plans for rain, and each has a bug zapper and plenty of bug spray on hand.
The pros for choosing an outdoor wedding venue far outweigh the cons, especially when it comes to price. With the average couple spending more than $22,000 to get hitched, saving on flowers and other decor is a huge plus. Keep in mind, like real estate, the cost of any venue depends on location, location, location.