Following up on our ‘Top 6 Rustic Venues‘ which we recently published, here is a list of our favorite Philly wedding venues. It could obviously be that we’re a bit biased being based out of South Jersey which is only a hop, skip, and a short drive away, but there’s something truly special about the city of Philadelphia. A city with no shortage of historical places to exchange your vows and celebrate afterward.
Philadelphia’s Art Museum steps, Liberty Bell, and Reading Terminal Market are not only well known across the country but around the world. Along with some of the most iconic buildings in the US, such as City Hall and Independence Hall, who doesn’t love a good set of cobblestone streets which have been holding steady since the birth of this country. Covered with murals, some that scale walls up to three stories high, it’s also a city that has embraced artists and creatives like no other. Throw in its fair share of dive bars, food trucks, parks, and unique little neighborhoods, it’s easily one of the coolest cities to not only visit but get married in. Even for those who aren’t into the typical big-city weddings, Philly has more than enough to offer without having your wedding look like an episode of Sex In The City. Plus, we have the best sports fans in the world – that’s a fact, not an opinion. FLY EAGLES FLY!
City weddings can often feel intimidating, which is why our staff does everything it can to help out. The slightest whisper of parking, permits, or transportation is enough to make anyone start to sweat. While there is a lot that can go into the planning process, with our help we promise you that it really isn’t that bad. However, you will want to make sure that you hire a photographer that has a good amount of experience in the city. While a lot of photographers find city weddings to be extremely challenging and difficult to manage, they bring out the best of ours and they love everything about them. Photographing a wedding in the city allows our team to push the creative envelope and creatively capture each and every client’s story in its own unique way as you’ll see in the blog posts below. Let’s be honest, there’s a big difference between photographing a wedding at a big open farm venue and one in the city, but luckily our squad never backs down from a challenge. In fact, it only helps them produce their best work 🙂
Over the past 8 years, we’ve had the opportunity to photograph weddings at a good amount of the wedding venues that the city of Philadelphia has to offer. Some of which we’ve shot at once, others several times, and there are still a small handful that we haven’t been to. Below is a list that we compiled, as a team, of our favorite Philly wedding venues. We narrowed it down to a list of 8, along with a little blurb about each, what we love about them and blog posts to not only show off the venue but for you to use as inspiration for your own wedding.
One of Philly’s best kept venue secrets, The Franklin Institute was founded almost two centuries ago and is one of the oldest centers of science and science education in the entire US. If science is your thing, or even if it isn’t, it’s one of the most unique places you can get married at. Along with all of the institute’s interactive exhibits, you have the ability to exchange vows under the moon and stars that move across the 40,000-pound stainless steel dome of the Fels Planetarium.
While you still have all the normal photo-op spots around the city to hit for portraits, you also have access to having the Franklin Institute all to yourself on your wedding day. Not only does it offer a good variety of extremely creative and unique photo opportunities, but all of your guests will be talking about how badass it was attending a wedding at the Franklin Institute.
There’s a 20 foot Ben Franklin statue that sits right in the room where most of the receptions are held. There’s nothing quite like looking over to see a huge statue of the man who founded the institute while dining to an absolutely top-notch cuisine by the award-winning FROG Commissary.
Union Trust is quite the unique Philly venue and without a doubt one of our favorites. You could easily find yourself driving right by this venue without even realizing it as it blends in with the other buildings on the same street. Once you walk in the front doors and see what’s inside you’ll quickly realize what makes this place so special. It has a very classic ballroom-look on the ground level with unique and captivating architectural details that naturally draw your eyes upwards to the second level that wraps around offering a balcony type of view. Union Trust expertly marries (pun intended!) regal Philadelphia grandeur with a new and modern vibrancy. As with all of the other venues on our list, Union Trust is quite unique looking and the setup for their indoor ceremonies is one of the coolest there is in the city which you can see in the blog post below.
The insane 65 foot engraved ceilings seem to go on forever and ever. The Art Deco accents provide awesome unique backdrops for photos and the uplighting keeps the space interesting and industrial.
The Union Trust Building was constructed in 1888 and served as the Union Trust Company Bank before it was taken over by Finley Catering and turned into the grand and opulent Union Trust it is today!
The Cescaphe Ballroom is the original, timeless ballroom by the Cescaphe event company. Ornate crystal chandeliers with hanging pearls, gold and brass accents, cathedral ceilings, stone columns, and a grand staircase fit for the newlyweds’ grand entrance complete with sparklers for added ‘WOW’ factor.
The Ballroom is located right in the middle of Northern Liberties, a bustling hipster mecca, yet it still maintains its classy and refined style. Two cocktail hour areas allow for guests to enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres both inside and outside, and a baby grand piano evokes a fancy old Hollywood feel.
Years ago, the ballroom served as the Imperial Movie Theater during the golden age of film and while it’s had a facelift since then, it still maintains classic details from the era, like the balconies overlooking the ballroom that were once green rooms – now suites for the bridal parties.
The Vie is a chic lounge-style ballroom with French Provincial accents and a huge imported Italian mosaic wall. Soft draping and unique lighting installations keep the space cozy but contemporary.
An outside courtyard sets this venue apart from many others, creating a beautiful backdrop for outdoor ceremonies amidst greenery. Three cocktail spaces give guests ample room to move and mingle, and custom-designed ice sculptures and an expansive raw bar kicks cocktail hour into the next level.
This is Cescaphe’s largest venue with a capacity of 600 guests for a wedding – perfect for big weddings that include large scale and extravagant cultural celebrations.
Another Cescaphe venue, The Waterworks is a pretty popular spot for weddings and other events in the Philly area which is within a stone’s throw away from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Iconic views and classic design combined with tons of historical nuances and beautiful landscaping give Waterworks a little something more than the average Philly venue.
It’s located a stone’s throw away from the Philadelphia Art Museum, Fairmount Park, and Boathouse Row which is ideal for photos and is perched right along the Schuylkill River. Cocktail hour is indoor and outdoor, and couples have a choice of three reception spaces. The outdoor ceremony and space with the sunset dipping into the river gives an awesome backdrop for exchanging vows and dancing all night.
Built-in the 1800’s as our nation’s very first municipal water system using paddle wheels, Water Works and served Philadelphia for over 50 years until it was closed down in the early 1900s. Even back then, it was revered for its amazing architecture, called ‘very pleasant’ by Charles Dickens himself!
The Lucy is the Cescaphe’s newest venue which has been open for less than a year, but we wouldn’t be surprised if they’re booked up solid by this point through 2021.
The modern space is located just off the Avenue of the Arts, at Broad and Locust, and has a second-floor mezzanine for cocktail hour that overlooks the ballroom. Chevron flooring, modern gold accents, marble flooring, and whitewashed brick walls are perfect for couples who want a true city chic and luxe vibe.
The prime location allows newlyweds and their bridal parties to snag some photos at Philly’s most iconic location — City Hall.
The terms elegant and sophisticated basically encompass the whole vibe at the Ballroom at the Ben, Finley Catering. Beautiful gold chandeliers, tall pillars, and giant archways bring European charm and spectacular opulence. This is the grand ballroom of king and queen dreams.
The location is perfectly placed in the heart of the city. There are hotels, restaurants, and historic locations surrounding the venue on all sides making it convenient even for traveling guests. Cocktail hour is on the second floor giving guests a bird’s eye view of the ballroom and the giant white dance floor.
Your custom-designed wedding cake comes from Termini’s Bakery – a true iconic Philly touch!
The Morris House is a romantic garden venue which is tucked away in the middle of Center City Philly and looks like it came straight off your Pinterest board. As they explain it on their website, which we totally agree with: The Morris House is an escape into another world, offering modern amenities in an old-world setting surrounded by history and endless charm right in the heart of center city Philadelphia.
Dinner is served under romantic twinkle lights in the clear tent surrounded by lush greenery and gardens. Once you step through the wrought iron gates, it’s like you’re a hundred miles away from a bustling city. The Historic hotel has 17 rooms for guests, and combines a fancy B&B feel with luxury historic touches.
Unlike many city venues, Morris House is geared toward those couples wanting an intimate experience. Capacity is 100 max, making for a super special event with your closest family and friends.
They met through Bumble, started talking on Thanksgiving, were engaged a year later, and tied the knot at a beautiful The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm wedding this past November. Gigi and Geoff’s wedding turned out to be one of our favorites from 2019 and one we’ve been excited to share with everyone. You may recognize them from their engagement shoot that we shared on the site last year. If you didn’t see it, check it out by clicking on the image below, you won’t regret it. It was when Sandi and I quickly realized just how special these two were and how perfect of a match we were for each other. I often speak at workshops and conferences about how to book your ideal clients that perfectly fit your brand. For us, this was that couple. Not only that but they put their full trust in us, let us be as creative as we wanted, and our work shows it. They let us get to know them as individuals and as a couple which only makes telling their story through our photography that much easier.
Shortly after booking, we started planning their engagement shoot. Not wanting a typical engagement shoot, Gigi wasn’t sure if she and Geoff were really even interested in one. I talked it over with her and explained why I felt that they should and how important it was for them, and us, for us to properly tell their wedding story. Their AirBnB engagement shoot, at the Paxson Hill Farm was what led us to write, 3 Big Reasons To Get Engagement Photos.
After talking them into an engagement shoot, Gigi emailed over a handful of AirBnB options and asked us to choose the one that we felt offered the most creative opportunities. They went with the one we chose, made a weekend out of it, and we drove up to New Hope, PA to hang out and capture some documentary-style engagement photos that also let them see what it felt like being in front of our cameras.
We immediately felt like old friends and had a great time photographing their engagement shoot. By the time that their The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm wedding rolled around, Sandi and knew enough about them to feel extremely comfortable telling their story.
Fast forward a little over 7 months and we were driving up to The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm, a venue we hadn’t shot at in the past, and one that we immediately fell in love with. Right in front of where we parked was a fenced-in pasture filled with ponies, cows, sheep, and goats. Having grown up on a farm until I moved out at the age of 18, I love getting to shoot at farms like this with animals (especially goats). It takes me back to when I was younger at a time when my Mom was the photographer and neither of us would have ever imagined that I would follow in her footsteps. One day I’ll own a farm with animals again, but until then, the nostalgia a venue like this brings will have to do.
Gigi and Geoff’s Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm wedding turned out to be one hell of a day filled with many unique elements that made it an extremely special day for us as photographers. I’ll be honest, we have had a lot of clients over the years tell us all about how they want to keep things untraditional as much as possible. In the end, their plans for a unique wedding turn out to be as traditional as a traditional wedding can be.
Gigi and Geoff, on the other hand, followed through with their promise. As artists, we couldn’t have asked for much more. Not only did Gigi personally design her wedding gown from scratch but she wore her grandmother’s hat throughout the day which gave her a very unique and absolutely stunning look. They had their ceremony right there on the farm but due to it being one of the coldest days in November it was moved inside.
The cold weather can tend to make things difficult as far as capturing documentary-style photos, especially if the bride isn’t a fan of cold weather. Gigi didn’t let it bother her in the slightest and we were able to capture everything we needed to properly tell their wedding story. At the end of the night when the temps had dropped, even more, I asked the two of them if they had any desire to head back outside to capture a few more shots. They didn’t hesitate and we headed out for a few night shots which turned out being some of our favorite shots from the day. I was freezing in my North Face coat with gloves on yet Gigi and Geoff took a solid 10 minutes or so to enjoy the moment just before their big day officially came to a close.
If you’ve made it this far in the blog, please do us a favor and read the review below that Gigi and Geoff wrote for us. It’s very easy for wedding photographers to rave about how great every single wedding is that they shot, but it’s rare to see the clients’ perspective being shared. This review couldn’t have made us happier as we read through it for the first time and it meant the world to us. We really feel that it makes for a perfect ending to this story.
We wish Gigi and Geoff nothing but the best and couldn’t be more grateful that they chose us to document their big day. It’s a wedding that Sandi and I are extremely proud of and look forward to showing other potential clients. They put their trust in us and just as with any wedding, we put a ton of pressure on ourselves to deliver our best work. We thank you for your trust, your friendship, and your appreciation for our artistic style of photography. Thank you for everything, enjoy!
If you don’t want to read my whole spiel then you can stop after this sentence knowing that if you’re considering using Twisted Oaks you need to stop considering and pull the trigger. This studio is amazing. I worked with Jay and Sandi (the owners) for my own wedding, but I have seen their associates work as well and they are just as incredible. Jay goes above and beyond. He truly loves the art of photography and that passion clearly translates into the finished product. I am certain that he has chosen and trained associates that do the same. What you get from this studio is not only incredible imagery that captures the day but and extremely professional and laid back experience that allows you to have one less thing to stress about on your big day. It was freezing the day of our wedding, but knowing how important it was to me to have outside shots, Jay froze his a** off setting up the perfect shots for me to run out and quickly get a great shot with the perfect backdrop. In addition to their artistry, Jay and Sandi know how to make the photo taking process as painless as possible. My husband hates taking photos, yet was blown away by how much fun he actually had during our engagement and wedding sessions. What can else can I say, I love Twisted Oaks and ca not wait to work with them again in the future.
What happens when a South Philly princess marries one of our Boys in Blue? It’s bound to be one hell of a party! Liz and Bill wanted a winter wedding and Lucien’s Manor was the perfect venue. It is already elegant, but looked even more beautiful decorated for the holidays.
Unfortunately, just before the wedding Bill broke his ankle and use crutches to get around. Luckily, his fellow officers made him a scooter to help him get around. It even had a blue police light on top! The dance floor was packed all night long thanks to Liz and Bill’s huge bridal party.
Great job to Eric and Nicole for beautifully capturing the day and congratulations to Liz and Bill!
Bride Prep Location: SpringHill Suites Marriott Voorhees New Jersey
Groom Prep Location: Bride and Groom’s Home
Ceremony and Reception Location: Lucien’s Manor
Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka
Groom’s Attire: Domenico Formal Wear
Videographer: Stomping Bread
Florist: Frannie’s Fancies
See more of Eric’s wedding work by clicking here!
If you like Liz and Bill’s winter wedding at Lucien’s Manor, check out their engagement shoot at the Christmas Village in Philly!
Our associate photographer Cecilia met up with Grace and Eric in Philly to spend some time getting to know them while also capturing some awesome engagement photos for their ‘Save The Dates’. Rather than waiting until Spring when things warmed up a little, they decided to take a chance and head over to the city in January. Surprisingly, it ended up being the warmest day of the month with awesome weather for an engagement shoot like this.
They met up at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and ended the night at the Time Restaurant, where Grace and Eric first met. Cecilia captured some great shots of them and she couldn’t be more excited for their wedding day!
We have to first start this post by saying that Kristina and Alec’s winter wedding at the Fairmount Park Horticultural Center was simply perfect. They captured their love of Philly, and made sure they incorporated lots of special details. For example, Alec had a custom jacket designed by Damari Savile that was lined with photos of him and Kristina inside. It was such a sweet and unique way to honor their life together above all!
Associate photographer Angela was there to capture every moment of this special day! It was cold out, but it was a sunny day and most importantly Kristina and Alec had each other.
Their ceremony took place after dark, however the lighting team at Eventions Productions made the whole room sparkle. Walking into the reception at the Horticultural Center was like a fairytale. The beautiful hanging floral chandeliers transformed the whole space. In addition, guests had a great time dancing the night away to the live band. Then at the end of the night, the newlyweds served dessert from some Philly favorites like Federal Donuts, Isgro Pastries, and Insomnia Cookies! Go ahead and scroll through to see more of this wedding that looks like it came straight from Pinterest!
Congrats to Kristina and Alec and great job to Angela for rocking this wedding!
Bride & Groom Prep: The Logan Hotel Philadelphia
Groom’s Jacket: Damari Savile
Bridal Gown: Country Way Bridal
Hair and Makeup: Moxie Blue Salon
Lighting and Design: Eventions Productions
Floral and Event Design: Faye + Renee
Ceremony and Reception Venue: Fairmount Park Horticultural Center
Catering: Constellation Catering
Wedding Cake: Whipped Bake Shop
Food Truck: Steve’s Prince of Steaks
Love Philly weddings as much as we do? See our list of Top Philadelphia Wedding Venues!