The 22 Types of Wedding Venues You Need to Know Before Picking Yours
When it comes to choosing your wedding venue, it can be difficult to narrow down the breadth of options. Before starting your venue search in earnest, we recommend sitting down with your partner and any family members who are contributing financially to the big day, and answering the following questions:
- Are we hosting a hometown or destination wedding? Where (city, state, region) do we want to get married?
- Do we want a big wedding or a small wedding? How many wedding guests do we want to invite?
- What is our total wedding budget, and how much can we spend on venue and catering (usually about half of your budget will go to venue and food)?
- What are our favorite venue styles?
That last question is an important one, as the type of wedding venue you choose will help inform many of your wedding planning decisions, from your big day's general vibe and theme to the ceremony and reception decor to what you'll wear, and much more. Using data from our new Real Wedding Study, we've compiled a list of the most popular types of wedding venues so that you can pick your favorites, start your venue hunt on The Knot Marketplace and book those tours!
Banquet Halls and Ballrooms
According to our study, 20% of wedding receptions took place at banquet halls—the highest. These venues tend to be larger event spaces, but they come in a wide range of styles, from classic and elegant to modern and minimalist. And perhaps best of all? Most banquet halls offer all-inclusive wedding packages, meaning that catering, rentals and other services are handled in house so your planning process will be an absolute breeze.
Farms, Barns and Ranches
Going for a more relaxed vibe? You're not alone. Farm and barn wedding venues are among the most popular types of event spaces, with 18% of receptions taking place at these locations. Many couples choose farm, barns and ranches as their dream wedding venue because of the rustic feel, as well as the beautiful scenery for outdoor wedding ceremonies and photo backdrops. These venues are often located in more rural areas, meaning finding nearby hotels for out-of-town guests may be tricky (though some farm wedding venues have on-site accommodations!). And modern amenities like climate control and convenient bathrooms aren't a given at these venues, so make sure to do your research and ask lots of questions before booking.
Historic Homes and Buildings
Whether you're a history buff or just love beautiful architecture, a historic home or building is a lovely choice for a wedding venue. According to our study, 12% of wedding celebrations take place at a historic space. These venues tend to be picturesque, with indoor and outdoor spaces for events. While many historic homes specialize in smaller, more intimate weddings, other can accommodate larger parties. Some historic homes have rules and restrictions to maintain the integrity of the space, including rules banning open flames and noise restrictions, so read over any contracts carefully.
A country club wedding venue (where 8% of couples marry) offers the best of both worlds—scenic outdoor space plus the convenience of an all-inclusive venue. Country clubs allow couples to host outdoor ceremonies (often on a golf course) and indoor receptions with room for many guests, plus they usually have on-site catering and other amenities to streamline the planning process. These venues are ideal for couples whose taste leans more classic and traditional.
Hotels are known as the one-stop shop of wedding venues—and 8% of couples host their weddings at these spaces. Most hotels offer indoor and outdoor event space options in a variety of sizes, as well as in-house catering, rentals and other amenities. But the real bonus of hosting a hotel wedding? The on-site accommodations for everyone on your guest list—especially important if you're hosting a lot of out-of-towners. By choosing a hotel wedding venue with enough rooms for all of your loved ones, you won't have to worry about transportation and your guests will love the convenience of just heading up to their room after your reception. Note that hotel venues don't have a lot of flexibility in terms of decor so it's important that you like the carpet, chandeliers, wallpaper and more as those details will affect your wedding style.
If you're planning a destination wedding (particularly one that takes place abroad), a resort is a clear favorite wedding venue. According to our study, 40% of international destination weddings took place at a resort—and it's easy to see why. Resorts offer a variety of event spaces, in-house wedding vendors, lodging, dining, activities and more, so you and your guests won't have to leave the premises at all.
Couples looking for an intimate setting and delicious food may gravitate toward a restaurant with private event space. According to our study, 6% of couples host a reception at a restaurant. Some of the benefits of a restaurant venue—they're usually well decorated so you can save on decor and the food and service are typically top notch. However, restaurants tend to be smaller, so if you're hosting a more intimate wedding day (hello, microwedding!) or a rehearsal dinner, these venues are ideal.
Religious settings, including churches, chapels, synagogues and mosques, are popular wedding ceremony locations—19% of couples host their ceremony at a house of worship. Typically, couples who host their ceremonies at a religious institution host their reception elsewhere (but 2% of couples host their receptions at a house of worship as well). This means that additional transportation will be required to ensure everyone is able to get from ceremony and reception in a timely fashion.
If your guest list is climbing, you're probably looking for a large space for your big day. Conference centers are accustomed to hosting huge events and can be ideal for supersized weddings. These venues tend to have more of a "blank slate" feel, meaning that you'll have to bring in decor—but that allows you and your wedding vendors to start from scratch, be creative and bring your vision to life.
From the stunning scenery to the relaxed vibes, beach weddings are popular for a reason. According to our study, 5% of couples opt to host their ceremony at a beach location, while 3% host their reception in these types of wedding venues. While beach weddings are certainly gorgeous, they are very weather dependent. If you're considering a beach venue, it's important to carefully pick a wedding date with the best chance of good weather, and make sure you have an indoor Plan B that you're happy with.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many couples opted to marry at home. Backyard weddings are somewhat less common now (about 6% of wedding receptions took place at a private home), but they are certainly beloved for being intimate and personal. While hosting a backyard wedding might sound easy, it actually can be a pretty complex process, especially if you're hosting more than just a few guests. You'll likely need a full team of vendors, permits, tents, even generators and outdoor kitchens. A wedding planner is an absolute must for at-home weddings.
For an event that feels like something out of a fairytale, garden wedding venues are ideal—and 4% of survey respondents agree. Botanical gardens offer gorgeous natural surroundings for ceremonies, receptions and photos, meaning you likely won't need to bring in a ton of flowers and greenery to decorate. As with other venues that also operate as sites that are open to the public, there may be rules and restrictions that you'll want to be aware of before booking.
Wineries and Vineyards
Vineyard wedding venues aren't just for wine lovers. These venues often have some of the most beautiful outdoor and indoor event spaces, and it's pretty much a given that you'll have some truly spectacular photos (and yes, the amazing wine is an added bonus). According to our study, 4% of wedding receptions in 2021 took place at a winery or vineyard. These venues are most common in certain parts of the country (California, Washington State, Upstate New York, Texas Hill Country, Virginia, etc.), so they may require travel for some.
Bed and Breakfasts
Bed and breakfasts and inns are charming venues for more intimate wedding celebrations—2% of couples choose these spaces for their wedding. These venues typically have outdoor and indoor space for events, and are often best suited for smaller weddings, rehearsal dinners, showers and more. Depending on the size of your wedding, these venues may not have the space to accommodate all of your guests for overnight lodging—though the couple and wedding party may be able to stay on site.
Lake Houses and Cabins
A lake house or cabin wedding offers the scenery of a waterfront event space combined with the country charm of a barn or farm. Many couples who are hoping for a more rustic destination wedding opt for a lake house or cabin over a beach setting.
Boats and Yachts
Couples who don't want to stay still during their wedding celebration might be interested in a boat or yacht venue. These venues allow the couple and their guests to view the scenery of the wedding location on the water, providing a unique vantage point and experience. And many boat wedding venues offer all-inclusive wedding packages. However, some guests may balk at the fact that once the boat leaves, they can't get off until it docks again.
Museums and Galleries
If a unique wedding venue is what you're after, then a museum or art gallery may be just the space for your big day. Not all museums and galleries can accommodate private events, but some can—and while these spaces may be pricey to rent, the dramatic and gorgeous spaces are worth it. Who wouldn't like to enjoy dinner and dancing in the shadow of a giant dinosaur skeleton? Guests may also be able to tour the museum or gallery's exhibits during cocktail hour, a definite bonus. While museum wedding venues are certainly special, be mindful of any rules or decor restrictions aimed at protecting their valuable pieces.
Lofts and Rooftops
Couples opting for a modern, city-chic aesthetic should definitely consider a loft space or rooftop wedding venues. These venues are usually most popular in urban locations, and they provide a "blank slate", which allow couples and vendors to create a unique and personalized vibe with flowers and decor. Lofts in particular are typically indoor-only venues (though some may offer outdoor space).
Public Spaces and Parks
A public space, like a park, can be a great location for a casual wedding. Outdoor space galore, locations for lovely wedding photos and more, make for a very special event. While these spaces may seem low-key, you'll likely need to obtain a permit to host an event at a public park—but the affordability of hosting a park wedding may make up for it.
In recent years, we've seen a surge of interest in summer-camp-themed weddings and campground wedding venues. At these events, guests usually stay on site (whether camping themselves or in on-site cabins or other lodging), and the couple plans a full weekend of fun. These wedding venues are likely on the more outdoorsy rustic side, so couples and their guests should be comfortable with roughing it, especially if actual camping is involved.
Planning an elopement? These types of couple-only ceremonies often take place at City Hall or another government building. These are typically no-frills events, but romantic in their own right. If a reception is held after the "I do"s, it's often at a restaurant or other low-key location.
Universities and Colleges
If one or both of the engaged duo attended a particular college or university, it's fitting that they might celebrate their nuptials at their alma mater. Many colleges have their own event spaces available for rent—and the scenic campus is an added bonus.