Which Philadelphia Wedding Venues are the Best?
This is such a tough question and one I’m asked almost daily, “What are the best wedding venues in Philadelphia?”. Well the answer isn’t an easy one because there are so many amazing wedding venues in Philly and in the surrounding suburbs. Also, every couple has a different aesthetic that will ring true for them. To help, I’ve decided to put together a list of some of my favorites. These recommendations are strongly based in what is best for wedding photography, being that I’m a wedding photographer and all. These are listed alphabetical as I don’t want to play favorites, too much!
- Academy of the Fine Arts – PAFA
- Appleford Estate
- Ballroom at the Ben
- Bartram’s Garden
- The Bellevue Philadelphia
- Cairnwood Estate
- Cescaphe Ballroom
- College of Physicians
- The Fillmore
- Franklin Institute
- Free Library
- Front & Palmer
- Glen Foerd
- Hotel Monaco
- Kimmel Center
- The Lucy
- Morris Arboretum
- Morris House
- Philadelphia Country Club
- Powel House
- Rittenhouse Hotel
- Ritz Carlton Philadelphia
- Swedish Museum of Philadelphia
- Union League
- Union Trust
- Weatherproof Wedding Venues
Academy of the Fine Arts
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, PAFA, is one of the more unique and classy venues in Philadelphia. It’s a museum, and museums are cool wedding venues. There are multiple rooms and areas you can utilize across two buildings.
PAFA is located in the Center City area, a few blocks north of City Hall. They can accomodate 250+ guests and also have in-house caterers. Although I didn’t get to sample any, I’ve seen some truly extravagant plates come out of their kitchen!
Posed portraits and formal photos are easy to accomplish from PAFA’s centralized location. My recommendations would be to do your portraits around City Hall and Dilworth Park. As of 2020 Dilworth Park does require a wedding photography permit. If you’re getting married at PAFA though, you can forego the permit and just stick to City Hall. Then head back to PAFA to utilize the AMAZING architecture and spaces inside the Museum. This would effectively make your wedding day weather proof.
Another important decision for every wedding in Philadelphia, is what hotel to stay at. There is no shortage of choices in center city but from a photographic standpoint, I have a few favorites.
- The Loews
- Bellevue (specifically the Bellevue suite. At a minimum a room with windows facing outside)
- Le Meridian
Fun Fact, PAFA was the nations first art museum and academy of the fine arts.
Visit the PAFA website for more information – Click Here
If I told you that you could married on a historic 24 acre farmhouse estate venue. What would you think? Whatever your thinking wouldn’t be wrong when it comes to Appleford Estate. Located a short drive from Philadelphia, you will get swept up from the moment you enter the estate. The grounds and gardens are truly stunning. I don’t know how else to describe them.
Outdoor ceremonies are ideal here. If it does rain though, their backup option isn’t too shabby. The tent is supported on one side by the Historic Farmhouse. That provides a distinct photographic advantage over a typical “tent” ceremony as the photographer can compose with more of the farmhouse being the background than plastic tent drapes. That’s a big deal!
Appleford can accomodate 200 guests and it never feels too crowded as the garden bar and outdoor seating area provide a place for guests to enjoy some quiet time throughout your evening. When it comes to food, they have 5 caterers to choose from. It’s some extra work but it’s also nice to have choices. And tastings aren’t the worse thing in the world.
Posed portraits and formal photos are super easy if you’re getting married at Appleford Estate. You do them at Appleford Estate! People getting married at other venues would pay to have their wedding day portraits taken here. It’s safe to say that it’s a perk about choosing Appleford.
The upstair suite is provided as a space to get ready. The lighting up there can be a little bit dim. But I would recommend using it over a generic hotel every single time. The character of the historic farmhouse more than makes up for any shortcomings. It also provides a cohesive feel to your photos when combined with the rest of the wedding day. Your entire album will have the rustic, historic, farmhouse feel.
Visit the Appleford wedding website for more information – Click Here
Ballroom at the Ben
Ballroom at the Ben may be the quintessential example of a Philadelphia ballroom style wedding. If you’ve dreamed of a ballroom wedding and/or you’re looking to WOW your guests with elegance, this is a great option!
Located at the corner of 9th and Chestnut, weddings are coordinated and operated by Finley Catering. They can accomodate 300+ guests without ever feeling crammed.
Posed portraits and formal photos could be done in either Center City or Old City when you’re getting married here. Theoretically you could even stretch that out to Fairmount Park and the Art Museum if you were ok with losing some extra travel time. Options abound though when you’re centrally located here.
Depending on where you want to do your portraits, or where your ceremony will be, there are a few different hotel options that are good choices for wedding photography:
Fun Fact, the dance scene in Silver Linings Playbook was filmed here.
Fifteen minutes from Center City Philadelphia sits a hidden oasis called Bartram’s Garden. The Garden is a 45 acre national historical landmark. It’s a unique venue as it functions primarily as historic landmark and garden for visitors to enjoy an escape from the city. Operated by the John Bartram Association in cooperation with Philadelphia Parks and Recreations. A portion of all wedding proceeds go to support the gardens for future visitors.
Being a 45 acre garden, you guessed it, it’s big! They can accomodate up to 350 guests and provide catering services.
Posed portraits and family formals are best kept to the venue. You have access to the grounds that everyone else would have to buy a permit for. So take advantage of it! The grounds are truly stunning and are centered around a historic farmhouse that provides a ton of character to break up the gardens. If you’re booking this venue, you’re doing it for the gardens and the grounds. Not using those for portraits just wouldn’t make sense.
They have some spaces to stage and get ready but they are in the historic farmhouse. That is pretty historic and pretty dark. I would recommend getting ready locally. If you really value wedding photos and wedding photojournalism, it may be worth getting ready in the city and then commuting to Bartram’s Garden when you’re allowed to access the grounds. You could book a stay at Hotel Lokal Old City which would aesthetically fit well with the story of your day. Not to mention provide exponentially more character to your photos than a generic chain hotel.
Visit Bartram’s wedding website for more information – Click Here
The Bellevue Philadelphia
Another quintessential ballroom in Philadelphia for weddings. However, the Bellevue Philadelphia offers a unique ballroom experience. It’s hard to describe but the Bellevue just feels unique in the ballroom category. It also photographs extremely well.
The Bellevue Philadelphia is HUGE. I don’t even want to list want they say they can accomodate here. But if you can max out their capacity props to you two! They also have in house catering to keep the process simple and easy when it comes to planning.
Posed portraits and family formals are best taken around Center City. A HUGE bonus for a lot of couples is the proximity of this venue to the “Broad St. Photo”. You know, the one straight down Broad St. with City Hall in the background. This photo is ok during the day. But at night is when it really comes alive! However, most wedding receptions are in full swing when the sun has set. There are a handful of venues though where you can just walk out the front door at night, take the photo, and walk right back in to your party. This is one of those venues. Something to consider if that photo is on your “must have” list.
As far as where to stay? This is an easy one. You stay at the Bellevue Philadelphia! This is one of my favorite hotels when it comes to photos. With some big disclaimers, YOU MUST MAKE SURE YOU GET A ROOM WITH WINDOWS FACING THE OUTSIDE. There are rooms in this hotel where the “windows” face inwards, towards the dark inside of the hotel. These are some of, if not the worst, rooms in the city for getting ready photos. While the rooms facing out towards the city, specifically the Bellevue Suite (one of the best suites in the Philly for photos), are great! Also, if they offer you a specific room where you can have your hair and makeup done, you don’t want this room, it is a windowless meeting room. If you place a lot of value on photos just book a Bellevue Suite and LOVE the results.
Visit the Bellevue Philadelphia wedding website for more information – Click Here
If you’re having a church ceremony and looking for a location to host your reception? You cannot go wrong with Cairnwood Estate! It’s truly stunning and a one of a kind venue. If your ceremony venue is close enough you can also get ready in their wedding suites which are spectacular! Not just one of them like most venues, but both suites are equally beautiful and photograph extremely well.
Cairnwood is located 30 minutes north of Philadelphia, in Bryn Athyn. A nice perk is that they don’t require a minimum guest count as of 2020. Their max capacity is 275. They don’t have an in house caterer but provide you with a couple choices. A lot of couples will prefer that flexibility.
Posed portraits and formal photos should be done at Cairnwood. There isn’t much else around there that would be better and worth losing time to travel to. So stick with what sold you on Cairnwood, how epic it is!
Fun fact, the grounds and gardens were designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead, who also helped design Central Park.
Visit Cairnwood Estate’s wedding website for more information – Click Here
This is the first Cescaphe venue on the list, only because we are just now getting to “C”. Cescaphe’s reputation speaks for itself and I have nothing to say besides repeating all the amazing things you’ve already heard. And yes, their cocktail hour spreads are absolutely absurd!
The Cescaphe Ballroom is located in Northern Liberties. As with all Cescaphe venues they provide the catering. The Cescaphe Ballroom is one of their bigger venues and can accomodate up to 300 guests comfortably. There is a 150 guest minimum to keep in mind you’re planning a smaller, more intimate, wedding.
I generally don’t recommend posed couple portraits at this venue. It is 100% doable but there are better options around the city. The venue is situated just north of Old City, so that can be a great staging location. If I was doing a first look, I would get ready with the wedding party at Hotel Lokal in Old City or Hotel Monaco. Then take a trolley around Old City for photos before heading to the Cescaphe Ballroom. If you need help with timing, check out my article on the “perfect wedding day timeline“.
Visit Cescaphe Ballroom’s wedding website for more information – Click Here
College of Physicians
The College of Physicians in Philadelphia is a truly stunning and unique venue. Something I always found a little lacking in Philadelphia, were unique wedding venues representative of Philly itself. If you go to New York City, every venue has character unique to NYC, even their high end ballrooms. By pure coincidence, since this list is alphabetical, The College of Physician and the next 4 venues do the best job of providing an experience unique to Philadelphia, in my opinion. You could also add PAFA and the Kimmel Center to those. And for a smaller, more boutique, venue the Morris House or the Powel House, both of which I absolutely LOVE!
The College of Physicians is located just west of Center City. Being a museum the venue is very large and can accomodate up to 350 guests. What I love about the experience your guests have here, besides the Mutter Museum access, is the way the venue allows you to take your guests on a tour of the building. You can have a courtyard ceremony, a 1st floor cocktail hour surrounding by beautiful artwork, then up a massive marble staircase to your ballroom for the reception. Talking about wowing your guests!
Posed portraits and family formals can take a little coordination. Wedding party and family formals can be taken at the venue or church. Posed portraits can easily be done at the venue. But if you’re having an outdoor ceremony there, 1st floor cocktail hour, and 2nd floor reception, the entire venue will be in setup mode when you want to do posed portraits. That can pose a bit of an issue. The best way to approach it is to pick a getting ready hotel near your ceremony location or first look location. You can do all the couple portraits in the city and then make your way to your cocktail hour or ceremony at the College of Physicians.
Some great hotels close to the College of Physicians are:
Fun fact, your guests can check out Einstein’s brain at the Mutter Museum during cocktail hour. Now that is a unique wedding experience!
Visit the College of Physicians wedding website for more information – Click Here
The Fillmore Philadelphia
One of the best concert venues in Philadelphia, and you can have a wedding here!? Sign me up! This is one of a handful of venues in the city that give you that Philadelphia original feel. This would fall into the industrial chic category of venues but in a unique way. Every space just feels open and larger than life, in a very good way. Also, since it doubles as a concert venue, all the bars are just flat out cool! Probably the coolest bars of any wedding venue I’ve been to.
They can accomodate a ridiculous number of guests. Think up to 2,000! What’s nice though is they also allow for a minimum of 50 guests. Giving this venue the best guest range on the entire list. They also provide in house catering and mixologists with the ability to create custom food and drink items unique to your wedding!
Located on the outskirts of Northern Liberties, it’s not a great area for posed couple portraits, outside of the actual venue. This would be a venue where you’d want to get ready off site anyway. So if you wanted to do posed couple portraits outside you could just pick a hotel near your area of choice.
Bonus feature, they have a huge, free, parking lot you can utilize for yourselves and your guests.
Visit the Fillmore weddings website for more information – Click Here
The Franklin Institute
What is more Philadelphia than a venue with a King Kong sized statue of Benjamin Franklin in the middle of it!? You can have your ceremony up on their amazing roof deck. Roof decks not for you, then you can head deep into the belly of the Franklin Institute to get married inside the Planetarium! Everything about this place is Philly style cool.
Located on the Parkway between City Hall and the Art Museum you have an infinite amount of possibilities for your day. You could do outdoor posed portraits at City Hall, Logan Circle, or the Art Museum. Don’t want to leave the venue, no problem! The Franklin Institute itself is epic for portraits and they give you access to the entire building!
You can stay anywhere in center city, but the most convenient hotel, that I’d recommend for photos, is The Logan Philadelphia.
Visit the Franklin Institute wedding website for more information – Click Here
Free Library of Philadelphia
Another venue where not only can you get married on the roof, but you can have your entire reception on the roof! Worried about the weather? No problem, they have multiple indoor spaces with a truly unique Philly vibe. All in all it’s one of the more versatile spaces for a wedding ceremony and reception.
Top notch caterer Brûlée Catering coordinates all events at the Free Library ensuring only the best of everything. The venue can accomodate up to 200 seated guests utilizing a variety of their 7 event spaces.
Located just off the parkway between center city and the art museum, you have a lot of flexibility on where you can do posed portraits and formal photos. Center City or the Art Museum would be the best options to cut down on travel times though.
If you do want to optimize time for photos, by minimizing traveling, there are some great hotels nearby to get ready at:
- The Logan Philadelphia (basically across the street)
- Le Meridian
- The Bellevue (Bellevue Suite specifically, if your leaning towards City Hall portraits)
Visit Brûlée Catering’s website for more information – Click Here
Front & Palmer
Looking for another venue with an “urban chic” vibe? Then Front and Palmer is for you! We could also jump back to The Fillmore, but those are really the two best choices when it comes to urban chic in Philly. This venue is a converted barrel factory with 35′ high ceilings in their main space! It’s such a cool vibe in there that you really need to visit the venue in person to appreciate it.
Located northwest of Fishtown, in the South Kensington Art District. Front and Palmer can accomodate up to 250 seated guests.
The area around Front & Palmer isn’t ideal for portraits. I also don’t recommend using their spaces to get ready in. It is an old industrial building, so it can be a bit dark. No big deal though! Just pick your favorite part of the city where you can get ready and do some portraits before heading to your ceremony or cocktail hour at the venue. That flexibility can be nice as it lets you get all the Philly you want in your photos. Make sure to account for enough time to do all the posed pictures you want though. This article is a huge help with that – Click Here.
Visit Front and Palmers wedding website for more information – Click Here
Want to get out of the city for something a little different? Glen Foerd on the Delaware may give you just what you’re looking for. This venue is a photographic dream! It’s nestled among 18 acres of parklike landscape on the Delaware River. It’s every bit as beautiful as it sounds!
Glen Foerd is located 20 minutes north of Philadelphia on the Delaware river. Jamie Hollander catering provides all the catering services on site and rest assured that these folks are amazing at what they do.
This is pretty close to a one stop shop. The suite is truly amazing, one of the best in the area. With one disclaimer, if both you and your significant other want to get ready here, the 2nd prep room is a beautifully finished basement, but it’s dark. Very dark. There are some work arounds and I’ll cover all of those with my couples getting married there.
Posed couple portraits and formal photos SHOULD be done here! The grounds are truly that spectacular!
The ceremony can be held outside and they have a beautiful indoor space, within the mansion, for rainy days. The cocktail hour is in the mansion and surrounding grounds which is a one of a kind vibe. Followed by a reception inside one of the best tented halls in the area.
Visit Glen Foerd’s wedding website for more information – Click Here
I can’t count the number of times that I’ve photographed getting ready photos at Hotel Monaco. But did you know it’s a pretty rad wedding venue as well!? You can have your cocktail hour and/or after party at the Stratus Rooftop Lounge. If you’ve never been, you should definitely check it out. It’s one of the coolest bars in Philadelphia.
Hotel Monaco is located in the heart of Old City, my favorite part of Philadelphia. They have a variety of ballrooms available for the reception and can accomodate up to 300 people.
This is truly a one stop shop for your wedding day. They have some of the best hotel rooms in the city for getting ready. For posed portraits and formal photos, you’re in the heart of what I consider the best 3 blocks of wedding portrait locations of any city in the country. From the First or Second Bank, to Washington Square, the Carpenters Buildings, Merchant’s Exchange, the Rose Gardens, and everything in between. You can’t go wrong here and the variety you get within a few blocks is unmatched.
Visit Hotel Monaco’s wedding website for more information – Click Here
I LOVE the Kimmel Center. If there was a NYC Broadway venue that was modernized and moved to Philly. This is it! It is one of the few wedding venues in Philly that give a you a truly unique to Philadelphia experience. That has always been a big hangup for me regarding Philadelphia wedding venues, most are elegant and luxurious, but somewhat generic. The Kimmel Center does not feel generic at all!
Located on Broad St. in Center City you are centralized to everything. The Kimmel Center can accomodate almost all your guest count needs. So no worries on that front. They also have amazing in house catering that keeps everything simple on the planning front.
Posed portraits and family formals can easily be done in the Kimmel Center itself. If you want variety though it’s just a short walk to City Hall. As far as getting ready, keep it simple, one of the best suites in the entire city for photographing getting ready is two blocks away. If you value photojournalistic wedding photography and you’re getting married at the Kimmel Center, book the Bellevue Suite at the Bellevue Philadelphia and forget about the rest. All of this combines to make the Kimmel Center another weather proof venue.
If the quintessential Philadelphia Broad St. wedding portrait is important to you two. Getting married at the Kimmel Center is a huge plus. Not only is it one of the few venues where you can take this photo at night with the city lights. But it is the exact perfect distance down Broad St. for the photo. When I’m doing a pit stop on Broad St. to take this photo for couples getting married elsewhere. We park the trolley at the Kimmel Center’s loading zone.
Visit the Kimmel Center’s wedding website for more information – Click Here
The Lucy is the newest of the Cescaphe venues and it continues the amazing Cescaphe tradition. Exceptional food with cocktail hour spreads to wow even the most critical guests. Of all the cescaphe venues I think this one may be my favorite. It’s a unique combination of decor and layout that separates it from the other cescaphe venues.
Located on Broad St. in Center City, it’s the perfect location for a wedding day. You’re also afforded the opportunity to take a nighttime Broad St. portrait with the city lights. So if that is important to you this is one of a handful of venues that give you the opportunity to do that.
Posed portraits and formal photos are best taken in and around City Hall and Dilworth Park. You’re such close proximity you don’t even need transportation. If you’re ok with walking 4 blocks. Photos inside the venue can be tough as there will be a lot of hustle and bustle happening for the setup of your reception and cocktail hour.
Where to get ready is easy. You’re across the street from the Bellevue Philadelphia. So splurge a bit on a Bellevue Suite and love the vibe of your getting ready photos. The Lucy does have a suite but this is best served as a short hangout prior to your ceremony or cocktail hour. It’s nice, but it’s an enclosed box with no windows.
Visit The Lucy’s wedding website for more information – Click Here
Want to get married a short drive from Philadelphia and have no idea that you’re a short drive from Philadelphia? Enter Morris Arboretum, which has a whopping 92 acres of gardens, parks, and victorian architecture. I can tell you from experience that every single one of those 92 acres is stunning! You can have a cocktail hour in a treehouse! The reception tent is attached to 100 year old stone carriage house as well. So there is plenty to love about each part of the day here.
Located at the Northeast corner of Wissahickon Park, Morris Arboretum is just flat out beautiful. They can host up to 175 of your guests comfortable. They also provide an on-site kitchen from one of their five approved caterers.
Posed portraits and formal photos should be done here. Period.
Visit Morris Arboretum’s wedding website for more information – Click Here
The Morris House Hotel is one of my favorite venues. Anywhere. It’s so unique and original to Philadelphia. It was built in 1787 and is a National Historic Landmark. Needless to say, this venue provides tons of Philadelphia character.
The Morris House Hotel is location on the western edge of Old City. Being a smaller boutique venue, there are some stipulations that come with varying guests counts. They can accomodate up to 120 guests though.
For your posed couple portraits you are right next to Washington Square with easy access to the rest of Old City. In my opinion, that is the most versatile area of the city for wedding portraits so no need to travel else where unless you really want to. Family formals and wedding party portraits are best done at the Morris House and/or Washington Square to save time.
Stay and get ready right at the Morris House! Their suite for couples is STUNNING! It oozes character and has a quaint old school Philadelphia feel to it. Not to mention the convenience factor that comes with staying at your venue.
Find out more by reaching out to Morris House Hotel through their website – Click Here
Philadelphia Country Club
Want that elegant Philadelphia ballroom vibe without having to be in the city? Look no further! Country Club weddings aren’t for everyone, but if it’s for you, the Philadelphia C.C. grounds are amazing! The cocktail hour on the patio and the ballroom scream elegance. The service and attention to detail is top notch as well.
The Philadelphia Country Club is located in Gladwyne, about 25 minutes west of Philly. They can accomodate up to 350 guests comfortably making it a good choice for bigger weddings.
Posed portraits and formal photos are best done on site. You can go else where but there is so much to work with on the grounds themselves that there is no reason to waste the time.
Visit Philadelphia C.C.’s wedding website for more information – Click Here
Powel House is the perfect venue for an elegant dinner party wedding. Built in 1765 the Powel House maintains it’s historical feel throughout. It is also the flagship for the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks. If you want to be transported back to what it would be like to have a wedding in the late 1700’s, this is your spot!
The Powel House is located on the southern border of Old City. They can accomodate up to 100 guests, making it ideal for more intimate wedding gatherings or dinner parties.
When it comes to couple portraits and formal photos. The Powel House itself is spectacular. If you want to get some variety for your couple portraits, you are right next to the best parts of Old City. A quick one block walk from the Powel House and you’re in the heart of the best 3 square blocks in the country for wedding portraits.
Fun Fact, George & Martha Washing, Benjamin Rush, John Adams, & Ben Franklin all stayed here during its residency period.
Visit the Powel House event website for more information – Click Here
Rittenhouse square is where you go for a night out with high end restaurants and fancy cocktails. So the fact that the Rittenhouse Hotel provides one of the most elegant ballroom wedding experiences in Philadelphia is no surprise!
Being located in Rittenhouse Square makes this hotel a great location for you and your guests to experience everything Philadelphia has to offer over a weekend of wedding festivities. They can accomodate up to 350 guests with spectacular in house catering to keep things simple. They can even do your wedding cake in house!
Posed portraits and formal photos can be done inside the hotel as well as Rittenhouse Square. Everything you need is literally inside or right on the hotels doorstep. If you’re having a church ceremony elsewhere you can also easily incorporate City Hall portraits as it isn’t too far out of the way.
Visit Rittenhouse Hotels wedding website for more information – Click Here
Ritz Carlton Philadelphia
Extravagant luxury. That’s what I think of when I hear Ritz Carlton and the Philadelphia Ritz doesn’t disappoint when it comes to weddings.
Located adjacent to City Hall this is a great launching point for weekend wedding festivities and everything you need to do on your actual wedding day. The Ritz Carlton Philly can accomodate up to 400 guests. So invite all your family and friends with out too much concern that they will all RSVP. To round out their luxury services they provide top notch in house catering and will even make your wedding cake.
Posed couple portraits and formal photos are an easy choice if you’re getting married at the Ritz. City Hall & Dilworth Park. Don’t mess with a good thing and effectively zero travel time, just walk across the street.
Visit the Ritz Carlton Philadelphia wedding website for more information – Click Here
Swedish Museum of Philadelphia
What a cool venue this place is. A museum, located in a park, with a spectacular outdoor space for your ceremony and reception.
Located in South Philly, you can maintain that Philadelphia vibe without all the hustle and bustle of Center City or Old City. They also have a huge free parking lot which is a nice perk. The Swedish Museum can accomodate up to 360 guests with catering provided by Jeffrey A. Miller.
Posed couple portraits and formal photos can easily be done on site and in the surrounding FDR park. If you want some of the city vibe you can always get ready at a hotel in your favorite part of the city. Allowing you to do portraits in that area before heading to your ceremony at the Swedish Museum.
Picking a hotel to get ready at is up to you. You can pick a nearby hotel or get ready in heart of the city. Depending on if you want to do all your portraits at the museum or mix in the downtown vibe a bit.
Visit Jeffrey A. Millers wedding website for more information – Click Here
Tendenza is another Cescaphe venue that makes the list. Following suit with the other Cescaphe venues on this list, you can expect top notch everything from them!
Located in Northern Liberties the Tendenza can accomodate up to 240 guests. With a 150 guest minimum. Catering is provided by Cescaphe.
I generally don’t recommend posed couple portraits at the venue. It is 100% doable but there are better options around the city. The venue is situated just north of Old City, so that can be a great staging location. If I was doing a first look, I would get ready with the wedding party at Hotel Lokal or Hotel Monaco. Then take a trolley around Old City for photos before heading to the ceremony or cocktail hour.
Visit the Tendenza wedding website for more information – Click Here
The Union League is a truly unique ballroom, think elegance taken to a new level. The reception hall is huge. It gives a feeling of grandness not easily duplicated. Cocktail hour is spread out through their marble foyer and two library rooms. Think sitting in a big comfy chair with a whiskey and cigar vibe.
Located on Broad St. just south of City Hall, the Union League is centrally located for all your needs. They can accomodate over 300 guests. And you would never know you had 300 guests which is nice.
Posed portraits and formals can be done in the venue itself but the variety City Hall offers should be considered. Especially considering that requires little to no transportation, besides your feet. This is the last venue on the list where you have easy access to night portraits on Broad St. If that is high on your priority list, that should be considered.
The getting ready location seems like an easy choice, stay at the Union League. However, if photojournalistic wedding photos are important to you, I recommend getting ready at a Bellevue Suite in the Bellevue, one block away. The Union League hotel rooms are dark and dimly lit. They are far from ideal, for a photojournalistic approach. If you’re working with me and getting married at the Union League we will discuss the plusses and minuses of this along with all the options so you can make an informed decision.
Visit the Union League’s event page for more information – Click Here
Union Trust is one cool venue. I’m not sure how else to describe it. The open two floor set up provides guests with a one of a kind feel to the wedding. Not to mention the ridiculously high ceilings which give the space a very open feel. The uplighting creates a unique vibe that isn’t duplicated at any other venue in Philadelphia.
Located on the outskirts of Old City you could really base your day around Center City or Old City. Then make your way to the venue for the ceremony or reception. It’s up to the two of you and where you’d prefer to do any posed and formal portraits. I do recommend getting ready at a hotel and not utilizing their bridal suite besides for down time. The suite is beautiful and probably one of the nicest wedding suites in the city. But like 99% of the venue wedding suites in the city, it’s an enclosed box. So it’s pretty dark. That doesn’t lend well to photojournalism if that is important to you.
Union Trust is operated by Finley Catering who is truly one of the best caterers around. Everything they do is top of the line. The space can accomodate up to 190 guests comfortably.
Visit the Finley Catering website for more information about Union Trust Weddings – Click Here
As we get close to wrapping up this list of the best Philadelphia wedding venues, we come to the last two Cescaphe Venues. Vie is really cool! It is a ballroom in Cescaphe style. But it is a bit more open than Tendenza while keeping everything on one floor. This can be a big deal depending on the mobility of your guest list.
This is the largest Cescaphe venue and can accomodate up to 600 guests! There is a 175 guest minimum, so if you’re having a smaller more intimate wedding you can probably skip this one. Catering is provided by Cescaphe and remains consistent with all the other Cescaphe venues on this list.
Located 1 mile north of City Hall, Center City can be a great staging area for a wedding ceremony and/or reception at Vie. This means you can utilize some of the center city hotels I’ve recommended. Since you’ll need transportation it doesn’t really matter which one you pick.
Posed portraits and formal photos are easiest to do at City Hall & Dilworth Park. You could also swing by the Art Museum or Fairmount Park.
Visit Cescaphe’s Vie website for more information – Click Here
Waterworks is that last Cescaphe venue on the list, and the last of the best wedding venues in Philadelphia. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love this venue! It hasn’t always been a Cescaphe Venue, they took over around 2016/2017. Once they did though, the venue went through a stunning overhaul. Now you have a cescaphe style venue overlooking boathouse row and right next to the Art Museum…. That’s a pretty epic combo.
Waterworks can accomodate up to 400 guests with a 100 guest minimum. Catering is provided by the amazing Cescaphe crew.
Posed portraits and formal photos are best done in the area surrounding the venue. You have a handful of Philadelphia’s most recognizable landmarks within walking distance. If posed couple portraits are important to you two. I highly recommend setting some time aside at sunset for some. This is one of the Philadelphia venues where portraits can be significantly better in the 30-45 minutes before sunset vs middle of the afternoon.
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Weatherproof Wedding Venues in Philadelphia
I’m constantly asked the question “what should we do if it rains on our wedding day?”. That could also apply to; What if it’s too hot. Or too cold. Or too windy. Well there are a couple wedding venues that provide so much opportunity for photos inside, you really don’t need to go outside for posed portraits, if you don’t want to. If your wedding day dream involves an outdoor ceremony, you should just ignore this section.
Every venue has backup plans for inclement weather. And I’m not going to cover what is the best backup plan. But these venues listed below are ones where I feel like inclement weather would have ABSOLUTELY ZERO effect on your photos.
Summary for the Best Wedding Venues in Philadelphia
I hope this was helpful. These are just my opinions and based around my style of pure photojournalistic wedding photography. For the couples whom I’m working with, or will be working with, let’s talk about your questions! I’m always happy to help talk about the best hotels in your area for photos. The best portrait locations. The best way to utilize our time together. That way you two can decide what is most important to YOU and make informed decisions about your day!