Important events should take place in important venues. Why hold your wedding anywhere less than a famous historical site? Add your love story to the grandeur of a place that has its own long story. The vows you take and the joyous day you celebrate will become a part of everlasting history.
Historic venues can take many forms. Look for locations near you that have personally significant history. Do you have deep family roots in the city where you grew up? Rent an historic building that stood in your great-grandparents' time. Do you have a passion for fine art? Rent space in an historic art museum for the day. Do you love the tranquility of gardening? Rent an historic botanical garden. From magnificent mansions and castles to cozy country cottages, and from sunny rose gardens to soaring cathedrals, meaningful venues can be found in any long-standing location that has meaning to you.
Well-preserved venues are distinctive and unique. They often boast beautiful architectural features and impeccable landscaping. Expect to pay higher rental fees for historic venues than you would for a community space or banquet hall. The fee covers preservation of the site's character as well as more seclusion on the day of your event. Since historic venues usually do not host more than one wedding at once, you're assured of a greater degree of privacy for your celebration.
Because historic venues stand where they, historically, always have, they are not always in the most convenient locations. Keep in mind that not all venues will be easy for guests of limited mobility to access, and they may require a longer driving time for your guests.
A similar restriction goes for the building's interior structure: because many buildings were not created with special events in mind, they do not have the most convenient layout for a large party. If there is not a large ballroom or banquet space, ask the venue management about the best options for splitting the different sections of your reception among several smaller rooms. Don't rule out garden spaces as you plan the areas of your event. It is up to you to establish a consistent theme within all of the rooms. Use music, lighting, and décor to create a balanced atmosphere for your guests as they flow from one area to the next.
Keep in mind that not all historic venues are open for rental. Some are tasked with preserving their historic character at the expense of use by the general public. Those that are available for special event rental usually have strict restrictions on number of guests, allowable party rentals and décor, and hours of use. Expect to compromise about everything from serving red wine (which presents a staining risk) to lighting a unity candle as part of your ceremony. However, if you are in love with the venue, you'll find the compromises are worth it.
If you find it too inconvenient to use the historic venue as your wedding location, given the type of ceremony and reception you're planning, you can still use the venue for your formal wedding photos. Most venue management is willing to make exceptions for two people and a photographer, or for a small number of bridesmaids and groomsmen, that they wouldn't be willing to make for a party of 200 people. You can still enjoy the grandeur of the location as a backdrop for your wedding album.
One of the most wonderful parts of wedding your spouse in a location that holds its own long history is that the building itself is a reminder of the solemnity of the occasion. The words, "'Till death do us part" come to vivid life as you stand in a location that has sheltered generations and generations before you. As you pledge to love and support each other for the long term, the setting itself serves as an inspiration. It's withstood the test of time all these years. It is still beautiful and strong. Lay your own foundation with the same loving care.