Jen and Lauren: A Fairytale New York City Proposal by Brady Donnelly

The Hitch is extremely excited to introduce Jen and Lauren!

Jen and Lauren are a New York City-based couple who are in the midst of their wedding planning process, and they’re giving friends, family, and soon-to-be-fans the opportunity to follow along over at H&H Weddings. As many of you know — and many of you will soon know — wedding planning is no simple task, beautiful as it is along the way, and the opportunity to learn from a real-life, real-time couple is a rare one. And of course, we’re especially proud to be helping them find their favorite venue, especially here in our fair city.

To keep up on the fun, start with Jen and Lauren's proposal, shared right on H&H Weddings, featuring photography from the talented Jen Brister below.

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Battle of the Coasts: East Versus West by Jackie Judson

We could occupy a million minutes talking about the cultural differences between the East and West Coast: the Atlantic and the Pacific, the suits and sneakers, the Yankees and the Giants, the pizza and the In-and-Out, New York and Los Angeles. The list could go on forever, and it makes you wonder: Are the costs ever on the same page? Eh, not really.

But that’s what’s beautiful about the United States — and beautiful about its wedding venues. Look closely, and you’ll see that the finer details of some coastal spots mirror one another, but as far as traditions and ambience are concerned, little aligns. And that should be embraced. So, we decided, what better way to attempt to make sense of their varying different aspects by bringing it back to what we do best: weddings, and comparing their venues side by side.

Round One: Maine Versus Oregon

At a first glance, Maine and Oregon seem quite similar, both with bordering coastlines and located in one of the uppermost areas of the United States. Maine, or Vacationland as it is known, has a rocky, jagged coastline with a densely wooded mainland, plus rolling mountains; in fact, nearly 83 percent of the state is covered in pine trees. And our Maine wedding venues, such as The Inn on Peaks Island, The Barn on Walnut Hill, and French’s Point Estate, reflect this splendor of its geography.

Conversely, Oregon has more diverse terrain, plus the volcanic studded Cascade Mountains, waterfalls, deserts, and diverse forests made of both pine, redwood, and juniper trees. Interestingly enough, the state also boasts great vineyards (Maysara Winery is a Hitch favorite). Portland has also become a hipster paradise, and with venues like UNION/PINE, we couldn’t be more thrilled. Both these states are built upon their geography, and not just literally. Lucky for us, mother nature has graced both these lands and provided us with some truly remarkable venues.

Below, we’ve picked out two of our favorites from each.

Vista Hills Vineyard | Dayton, Oregon

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Home to some of the richest, most wine-friendly soil on the planet, Vista Hills Vineyard is located in the Dundee Hills, one of Oregon’s most famed and photogenic sites. This climate is extremely similar to — gasp — the Burgundy region of France, yet it embodies its own distinct taste at the most sought after caliber of wine excellence. And with that, their 42-acre vineyard is right in the middle of it all. LIVE-certified and Salmon Safe (meaning that it produces premium fruit without harming its environment), the vineyard strives to always keep their key morals of treating people fairly, appreciating nature, and giving back to society. These values are intertwined in everything that they do, creating the most pleasant atmosphere for a wedding.

The Treehouse is the main attraction for all things wedding-related. Looking west over the beautiful Willamette Valley, the room boasts sweeping views of their estate vines and the gorgeous mountains beyond. Or choose between their other three spaces —  the Tasting Room, the Great Room, or their quaint, expansive deck — or any combination for your ceremony and reception. Combine these cozy spaces beneath the trees with lit candles, live music, exceptional food, and hand-crafted wines right from their home vineyard. You are in for a  truly unforgettable experience.

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Migis Lodge on Sebago Lake | South Casco, Maine

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Between the White Mountains and the Atlantic, Migis Lodge on Sebago Lake is located in the heart of Maine’s Lakes Region, which is the primary reason why Maine is called Vacationland.  And with the options to swim, boat, fish, sail, skate, snowshoe, ski, snowboard, snowmobile, sled dog race, waterski, canoe, kayak, hike, golf, camp, and bicycle —how could it not? Right in the middle of it all, the Migis Lodge is nestled on 125 acres of pine forest and 3,500 feet of Sebago Lake shoreline, making the description “outdoor oasis” an understatement.

According to legend, there lived four sons of a Native American chief on the far prairie. In search of a new home, the sons all parted ways to follow their desires. One of the young Indian sons went to the Northland, and beneath the pine forest that bordered the crystalline, great lake he found peace, happiness and pleasure. That very Maine land he named, ‘Migis’ meaning “place to steal away to rest.”  Whether you believe it or not, the truth remains: this venue holds true to its name.

Arrive in style on their classic 1936 Chris Craft, then exchange vows under the pine trees with Sebago Lake and Western Maine’s mountains in the background, and then retreat to the Lakeside Lodge, where your guests can enjoy cocktails, dinner, and dancing. Then, why not round out your night around the bonfire at the Migis’ front terrace? The Lodge makes sure you and your guests are taken care of by providing a special bed and breakfast rate while enjoying overnight accommodations in their 35 cottages and 6 lodge rooms, all equipped with fieldstone fireplaces, handmade quilts and fine linens, and private porches overlooking the lake.

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Round Two: Los Angeles Versus New York

I don’t think anyone in this great nation has seen two cities compared more than New York and Los Angeles, but the City of Angels and the Big Apple really couldn’t be more different. New York is filled with extreme vertical height and a very cosmopolitan culture, and Los Angeles is more sprawling and horizontal and prefers a more laid-back casual sense of being. Both are cultural havens, and continue to fight to be named as the number one attraction for all things entertainment, arts, fashion, and cuisine. But if there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that nothing represents the true colors of each city better than its wedding venues.

Below, we’ve picked out two our favorites from each.

loftSEVEN Penthouse | Los Angeles, California

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loftSEVEN Penthouse is located in the historic, vivacious area that is downtown Los Angeles. Situated on the infamous Broadway — which is home to a hustling-and-bustling multicultural marketplace and the largest concentration of historic movie venues in the world — loftSEVEN is just steps away from the Fashion District, Walt Disney Concert Hall, L.A. Live, and Clifton’s Cafeteria. In short, it’s perfectly in the middle of the most renowned places that L.A. has to offer. 

After undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation, the HAAS Building, where loftSEVEN is located, has been given a fresh breath of air to its 11 floors, all designed to attract only the finest artists and entrepreneurs. Claiming its 12th floor is this prestigious penthouse and rooftop venue, which spans over 16,000 feet across its 2 levels. The whole venue has the satisfying feeling of a modern boutique hotel with splashes of its impressive 95-year history throughout, creating a relaxing ambiance that makes you forget that you are still in the middle of one of the most prominent cities in the Western hemisphere.

On the contrary to the ballroom environment, this venue attracts the modern day couple that seeks a unique space that will have a sophisticated, contemporary backdrop for their special day, one that mirrors their personalities, tailoring their wedding to feel more like a representation of themselves. Versatile, this venue can either hold an intimate gathering or an over-the-top, grand wedding fit for press. Whichever you choose, their professional team of coordinators will tailor every last detail to you and your future spouses personalities, so you are free to mingle and enjoy every minute of your special day.

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PUBLIC Restaurant | New York, New York

PUBLIC-restaurant

Picture what you imagine a New York wedding to be: all the elegance, sophistication, and everything that makes New York, well, New York. Now add an industrial warehouse vibe and lots of candles and you have PUBLIC. This trendy spot boasts one of the most unique spaces in the Nolita neighborhood of downtown Manhattan, and it’s the perfect venue to combine good food, good wine, and good people.

PUBLIC is owned by the critically acclaimed AvroKo Restaurant Group, an award-winning multidisciplinary New York City firm. The restaurant was awarded a Michelin Star five years in a row, and chef Brad Farmerie was victorious in his maple syrup battle on Food Network’s Iron Chef America.

A combination of ceremony, reception, and dancing can be had within the space. PUBLIC offers two main options for your wedding. First: a reception, dinner, and then dancing. The reception will take place in the lounge area, complete with hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, and wine. Your event will then continue with a seated dinner with space available for up to 120 guests. Following dinner, the celebration continues in the lounge and bar where you and your guests can dance until your feet fall off.

The second option is a cocktail party and dancing, with room for 200 guests. A new fad, having a massive cocktail party in place of the original seated dinner, seems to be on the rise, and rightfully so. The food will progress from light appetizers to heavier, main course dishes and then to sweets. Included with your package would be use of the Daily, a lounge adjacent to PUBLIC, perfect for couples to use as a waiting room before or after their ceremony.

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Round Three: Santa Monica Versus Martha's Vineyard

Two of the most desired relaxation destinations also appear to be on opposite coasts. For ages, people from all over both the Pacific and the Atlantic have been flocking to the seaside oasis of Santa Monica and Martha’s Vineyard (respectively) for a much needed break from the real world. Known for being a strictly summer getaway, Martha’s Vineyard's permanent population of 16,500 jumps to a whopping 100,000 during the summer months and is home to another one of our best venues, the Atria. On the complete contrary, although Santa Monica is a famed resort town (and home to another Hitch favorite, the Viceroy Santa Monica), many choose to make it their permanent place of residency, enjoying the sweet smell of the sea year round. So, it seems fitting here that both our favorite seaside venues on each coast, wholeheartedly represent the wonders and traditions of their hometowns.

Below, we’ve picked out two our favorites from each.

Hotel Casa Del Mar | Santa Monica, California

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This 1920’s luxurious beach club has what you need for a reception and ceremony that will take your breath away. A ballroom with two-story high ceilings? Check. A staircase that allows you to make a grander than grand entrance? Check. Sweeping panoramic views of the Pacific coastline and Santa Monica Ferris Wheel? Double check. Whether your guests want relaxation or action, Casa Del Mar makes either/or happen. Surf lessons, yoga on the sand, pike rides, pools, spas, beach — everything needed to immerse yourself in the ultimate California lifestyle.

Elegant but easy, serious but fun, traditional but also contemporary, Casa Del Mar is all of this and more. A lot of beach, a little club, and an extra something magical is how they like to describe themselves, and we couldn’t agree more. Dream of your wedding, no matter how intimate or grand your dream is, and it can be accomplished. Choose from the Casa Del Mar’s seven wedding spaces — Colonnade Ballroom, the Colonnade Foyer, the Colonnade Terrace, the Bow, the Library, the Private Dining Room, and the Crimson Room — each can be fit to whatever you envision, no matter the size or theme.

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Harbor View Hotel | Edgartown, Massachusetts

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Edgartown is situated on Martha’s Vineyard, an island located just south of of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and has the reputation of being an affluent summer colony. Since 1891, the Harbor View Hotel has been a staple destination of Martha’s Vineyard. The rise of the whaling industry in the 1830’s and 1840’s credited Edgartown to becoming the Vineyard’s wealthiest town. However, with the nation on the brink of civil war, the town had to make a paradigm shift from a place of permanent residency to becoming a resort destination. With the town making a massive push to  becoming an important summer resort, a railroad was built across the island and the Harbor View Hotel was built on Starbuck’s Neck, overlooking the harbor entrance. Today, the hotel intertwines their history and tradition in every aspect of their resort, while at the same time creating a relaxing, contemporary and timeless ambiance.

Your storybook wedding begins at the Harbor View. They offer the Vineyard’s largest selection of indoor and outdoor locations with harbor and garden views. Have your ceremony at the gazebo, with views of the harbor and the historic Edgartown lighthouse. The site encompasses all the bells and whistles of a classic New England ceremony. Afterward, join your guests in  Edgartown Room, Menemsha Room, or the Chilmark Room.The Edgartown Room is the largest on the Vineyard and doesn’t fall short on New England charm. Prefer the outdoors? Have your reception on the lawn surrounded by beautiful flowers and under the stars.  The venue doesn’t fall short on activities for your guests: golfing along the Atlantic, sailing on a wooden schooner, sunset wine cruise, or just simply beaching are all just a select view of what they offer.

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Hundreds of Feet Above Sea Level: Our Best Mountain Venues by Jackie Judson

Glacier Park Weddings in Columbia Falls, Montana

Glacier Park Weddings in Columbia Falls, Montana

From the redwood forests of California to the waters of the Atlantic, the United States doesn’t fall short on natural beauty. Hundreds upon hundreds of acres of jaw-dropping landscapes surround us at any given point, and, with each more unique and grander than the last, choosing a venue is no easy task. However, out of the weddings in the valleys and meadows, and in the gulfs and the seas, there is something in particular to be said about a wedding in the mountains.

Between the Rocky Mountains, the White Mountains, the Appalachian Mountains, the so-called North American Alps, and the Sierra Nevada, the United States boasts some of the greatest ranges. So, why not take advantage of them for your wedding day? Have the beauty of your upcoming marriage be matched by the awe-inspiring view of the backdrop around you. Take your pick, because there is something to be said about a landscape that weathers every season, especially when each season is just as beautiful as the last.

Of course, narrowing down nature’s destination could take a small army, so let us make your search easier by highlighting our favorite mountain venues.

Waterville Valley Resort | Waterville Valley, New Hampshire

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Waterville Valley Resort’s 360-degree views of New Hampshire’s White Mountains make this venue a must for our fellow outdoors-lovers. And with the motto “Escape the Outside World”, how could it not capture our heart for good? Built on Mount Tecumseh (which boasts a summit elevation of a whopping 4,004 feet), this venue is nestled in the heart of New Hampshire, and has everything that the granite state could ever offer. Skiing (of course), golf, ice skating, hiking, biking, boating, bluegrass festivals, Shakespeare under the stars — you name it, Waterville Valley has it.

With the White Mountains being the perfect backdrop, it’s now time to take your pick from their 3 ceremony sites and 4 reception sites. First up, exchange nuptials either at the Garden Terrace Gazebo in the woods, the Town Square Gazebo in the enchanting New England town, or Osceola Arbor on the shores of Corcoran’s Pond. Want to feel like you are part of the surrounding nature? Have your reception under the stars in the garden terrace tent or the Osceola Arbor tent. Maybe indoors is more your speed? Then have your reception in their Brooksite Room or the Waterville Valley Ballroom, where you can listen to the sound of the babbling brook and waterfalls as you sip on your drinks and taste your appetizers on the patio, then retreat inside for a delectable feast.

Visit the Hitch for Waterville Valley Resort’s wedding costs, availability, and capacity.

Snapdragon Inn | Windsor, Vermont

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Snapdragon Inn’s 190-plus years in history make this grand brick getaway hold a special place on this list. Flashforward and 6 owners later, this little country house has grown to be the quintessential venue that is the Snapdragon Inn. After being home to artists, politicians, writers, painters and families for the past 200 years, this venue has finally opened its doors to the public so that they can enjoy the history, classic architecture, and modern renovations, just like the owners.

Located in the upper valley of Vermont, comfort, pure and simple, is what the inn has to offer. Easily accessible, yet private and intimate, the Snapdragon Inn is next to hundreds of protected acres and a pond. The manicured main lawn with picturesque views provides an ideal location for outdoor ceremonies and tented receptions. Additionally, the grand porches, common rooms and guest rooms on-site allow for a homely feel. This relaxing venue is home to Lake Runnemede and in close proximity to infamous Woodstock, Vermont, and Hanover, New Hampshire. Plus, because Dartmouth is just across the Connecticut River and Mt. Ascutney is in view, your guests will never be bored.

Visit the Hitch for Snapdragon Inn’s wedding costs, availability, and capacity.

Glacier Park Weddings | West Glacier, Montana

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Make your wedding a full on Montana destination vacation for your guests with Glacier Park Weddings. Their Great Northern Resort is modeled after a Swiss Chalet, which was designed to complement their “North American Alps”, otherwise known as Glacier National Park. Let the resort serve as your and your guests’ base camp as you enjoy the amenities of its grand lawn, fire pit, volleyball court, and horseshoes — perfect for a pre-celebration barbeque and just a short walk away from the ceremony site. Whether it be a white water rafting trip, scenic river float, a fishing trip, or horseback ride, your guests will never be short of activities to do.

The ceremony site has panoramic views of Glacier National Park’s peaks and their secluded reception meadow is surrounded by pine trees creating an intimate ambiance even in the middle of the mountains. Being able to savor every moment of your wedding is their priority, before and during your event. With two different packages to choose from, sleep stress free knowing that Glacier Park Weddings’ design and coordination services will help you plan your wedding down to the last detail — all the way that you have envisioned it.

Visit the Hitch for Glacier Park Wedding’s wedding costs, availability, and capacity.

Fox Canyon Vineyards | Marsing, Idaho

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A vineyard on top of a valley: Is there even a better way for your guests to enjoy a glass of wine? This venue creates a twist on a traditional mountain wedding venue. Picturesque settings are at every turn, and with over two acres of flowers and manicured grass, over 150 matured trees, and a vineyard, you are sure to be in awe (and get beautiful photos to last a lifetime). Located in Idaho’s Snake River Wine District, yet just a ride away from the lively capital of Boise, this venue is a match for those looking to escape into the country.

Fox Canyon Vineyard has a spectacular view of the valley and the river below (one of the benefits of being situated on a 200 foot cliff). If that’s not enough nature to surround your wedding, that’s okay, the venue site also has a waterfall, rock garden, vineyard and century old cottonwood trees, allowing you to be one with nature. Comfort is also key. The venue boasts a brides’ and grooms’ quarters, honeymoon suite, and professional staff dedicated to make your special day go off without a hitch, allowing you to be completely relaxed while still in the middle of it all.

Visit the Hitch for Fox Canyon Vineyard’s wedding costs, availability, and capacity.

Mountain Terrace | Woodside, California

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Stunning bay views through a redwood grove hundreds of feet high? Now, that is the paragon of the Pacific’s pure beauty. Located on the San Francisco Peninsula, and just a short ride away from the craziness of the city, this venue is a perfect oasis for those who want to retreat away from the city, yet still enjoy access to it.

Woodside doesn’t lack on activities either, especially if you crave the good ol’ outdoors. Here, horses are part of their culture, and there are numerous trail networks. If horseback riding isn’t your thing, there are multiple cycling routes and open space preserves, including Purisima Open Space and Skeggs Point.

Mountain Terrace marries the combination of California's natural beauty and stylish settings perfectly, and with a team ready to handle all the details, you can relax and enjoy the seasonal favors and award winning local wines right alongside your guests. A versatile venue, you can choose to have your reception on the expansive redwood deck, or have the cozy lodge in the background and have your events on its grounds. Only want a ceremony? This venue is unique in that it’s Mountain Terrace is one of the only venues in the San Francisco area that offers this option.

Visit the Hitch for Mountain Terrace's wedding costs, availability, and capacity. 

Barn Weddings: Trend of the Day, or Here to Stay? by Jackie Judson

Stonover Farm in Lenox, Massachusetts

Stonover Farm in Lenox, Massachusetts

With all the flash and elaborate trends that have come to surround weddings these days, it has become easy to get caught up in the craziness that is wedding planning. So it is no wonder that barn weddings have been on the comeback and are taking their spot as one of the latest fads in the industry.

But rest easy: this wedding theme isn’t only for hipsters. The simple, rustic elegance created by this trend is one that should be desired by all. Because sometimes you have to take a step back, take that country road home, and get back to the basics. And what better place to do that than in the countryside?

Stonover Farm | Lenox, Massachusetts

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Does a New England country inn sound like your version of home? Then Stonover Farm is your place. Lenox is home to Tanglewood, Shakespeare & Co, Ventfort Hall, and Edith Wharton, so it’s no wonder hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to the cultural, charming town each year. Located in the infamous Massachusetts Berkshires, this beautiful mountain oasis is fueled by music, arts and recreation— and Stonover Farm is right in the middle of all of it.

This 110-year-old cottage has served as a farmhouse and been renovated extensively to become a luxury estate. Enjoy the serenity of a grand country inn while having the amenities of a hotel. Choose between a four-acre field for a tent wedding or a vintage hay barn for your ceremony—either way your day is sure to be extra special. This inn stands next to a duck pond and is situated on ten country acres with towering trees, and lawns and forest, all while only being two miles out of Lenox village. If you’re looking for a traditional bed & breakfast along with the open, intimate feel of a barn and acres of rolling greens — look no further, this is your venue.

Visit the Hitch for Stonover Farm wedding costs, availability, and capacity.

The Barn on Walnut Hill | North Yarmouth, Maine

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To anyone who has ever been lucky enough to have been to Maine, you know there’s no where else quite like it. The Pine Tree State offers an impressive combination of spectacular settings, eastern hospitality, and breathtaking landscapes. Meet somewhere in-between its rugged coastline and rolling mountains at the Barn on Walnut Hill. Your guests will never forget the simple aroma that the true beauty of nature creates.

At the Barn on Walnut Hill, located conveniently twenty minutes north of Portland, your guests are able to escape to the countryside while being just a short ride away from all the wonders that the city has to offer. Whether your event be large or small, or somewhere in between, the Barn on Walnut Hill is a rare venue that can graciously accommodate your vision.

The 1887 post and beam barn was built in 1887 and restored in 2009 to its original charm. It boasts 1,750 square feet of event space equipped with wrought-iron chandeliers and dragonfly-etched sconces that radiate a warm glow throughout. Formerly a chicken coop, the Bar on Walnut Hill is completely open to the barn, designed with vintage tractor-seat bar stools, and not to mention any draught beer of your choosing on tap. Open two pairs of French doors, and you are staring at a beautiful granite patio and groomed grounds detailed with perennial gardens. This venue perfectly combines rusticity with refinement and will provide your guests with a setting that is at once “simply elegant and elegantly simple.”

Visit the Hitch for the Barn on Walnut Hill wedding costs, availability, and capacity. 

Beltane Ranch | Glen Ellen, California

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Historic family authenticity and vineyard views combo? Killer. While also being in the heart of wine country? Absolutely killer. Known as the birthplace of the California wine industry, the Sonoma Valley is everything that any wine connoisseur could ever dream of. Pair that with the rusticity of a working ranch and you have the sanctuary that is the Beltane Ranch.

This 1892 bed and breakfast is set on a hillside, surrounded by gardens, vineyards, and olive orchards overlooking the Sonoma Valley. Since 1990, Beltane has been additionally producing olive oils. You name it— Mission, Sevillano, Manzanillo, Lucca, Arbequino, Frantoio, and Piqual— these olives are here. Planted by early settlers and are located throughout the property, they truly do add to the character of this venue.  Uniquely enough, the cottage kitchen is supplied from the organically farmed gardens on the ranch’s ground, where you can taste the pride of its orchards.

Ceremonies can be held in the garden overlooking the valley under the spreading oak canopy or in other serene locations on the property. For your reception, create a romantic evening comprised of a rustic bandstand, dance floor and outdoor lighting. Located perfectly in the heart of wine country, other historic wineries, restaurants, boutiques and parks and preserves are all at you and your guests fingertips.

Visit the Hitch for Beltane Ranch wedding costs, availability, and capacity. 

The Barns at Wesleyan Hills | Middletown, Connecticut

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Travel further south in New England to our next stop, the Barns at Wesleyan Hill. Famous for its panoramic views willow trees view, authentic 150 year old barn and classic Connecticut charm, this venue is ideal for those who want a countryside wedding beneath the stars. The English Style Barn has become one of Connecticut's most sought after venues for weddings. Have your night start out with your exchange of vows taking place right on property. Panoramic views of gorgeous willow trees, white painted bridges, and ponds surrounding the ceremony site really do create a truly unforgettable experience.

Continue your wedding reception by dancing the night away in the authentic 150 year old dairy barn.  The Barns at Wesleyan Hill offer numerous decor packages to give this venue an additional touch of elegance. This recipe will make your wedding nothing short of extraordinary. David Tutera called The Barns at Wesleyan Hills "the best venue in America for a country themed wedding". Forget all the messy details, the Connecticut Wedding Group is the onsite catering company for the venue with seasonal, farm-to-table cuisine to enhance your wedding experience, leaving you to just enjoy your special day. Not to mention,  Executive Chef Stephen Lisitano won the 2013 Connecticut Restaurant Association's Chef of the Year— not too shabby if we do say so ourselves.

Visit the Hitch for The Barns at Wesleyan Hills wedding costs, availability, and capacity. 

The Plantation Barn of 1810 | Morristown, Tennessee

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Southern charm and rustic elegance are married here at the Plantation Barn of 1810 in Morristown, Tennessee. History is oozing through this barns walls. Built 203 years ago, it served as a young preacher’s family’s house until the reverend returned from the War of 1812 and was able to build up his estate to what it is today. Intricate craftsmanship and price has allowed this barn to weather extraordinarily through the years and has led to creating an ideal venue for a country style wedding.

This venue is more than just a barn, it comes equipped with a team of professionals who provide all inclusive services to deliver you the wedding of your dreams. Your special day will be highly personalized, all to the degree that you see fit. Choose from four packages, all with varying levels of personalization to cater to your specific wishes. The barn is a hidden gem surrounded by rolling hills and a beautiful natural landscape that overlooks a pond and a working ranch. Open the barn doors and start up a bonfire as you begin your newlywed life under the stars.

Visit the Hitch for the Plantation Barn of 1810 wedding costs, availability, and capacity. 

The Skinner Barn | Waitsfield, Vermont

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Theres no place that does quintessential country just like Vermont, and no place that is the Skinner Barn. If you are looking for a venue to host your New England country wedding, let the Vermont rolling green mountains, historic architecture, unobstructed view, and rural agricultural settings draw you in. Enjoy the amenities of a major resort destination (Sugarbush is right around the corner) while still having the homey ambiance of a rural community.

Originally used as a dairy barn milking Jersey cows in 1891, the barn has undergone an 8 year renovation. Sitting on 15 acres, the barn is neighbors to the Von Trapp Dairy Farm and has surrounding views of the infamous Northfield Ridge. The grounds offer three ceremony meadows to choose from — the back meadow behind the barn, reached by a crossing bridge over a clay brook, here you have views of the western ridge line with a postcard perfect pond backdrop; the lower meadow, is closest to the barn and equally as charming; lastly, take to your adventurous side, on the farmhouse side of the property take a modest hike to the vantage point and soak in the amazing view.

Visit the Hitch for Skinner Barn wedding costs, availability, and capacity. 

Tour Some of the Most Historic Venues Across America by Jackie Judson

Millennium Bostonian in Boston, Massachusetts

Millennium Bostonian in Boston, Massachusetts

We the people have some of the most exceptional venues in the world right here in the United States. Some of which, double as being some of the most historical venues. Rich in American history, these venues have lived through the journey of making America the country that it is today.

Do you want to go back in time at Colonial Williamsburg? Come to the coast that was the first sight to the immigrants who made this nation the melting pot it is today. Or, would you rather be in the heart of the city that our nation's leaders — John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Hancock — called their hometown? Ever dream of holding your wedding in the home of one of our very own presidents? Maybe even in the nation’s first capital?

Your own American Dream begins on your wedding day, and why not have it embody the core values that built this great country? Remembering your history is such a vital part of building your future; let these iconic venues serve as inspiration for you, venues that have lived through and survived some of the toughest parts of American history. Picking your dream venue is no easy task, so let us narrow your search by highlighting a few of our favorite historical venues.

Millennium Bostonian | Boston, Massachusetts

millennium-bostonian

Located in Massachusetts, which is said to be the birthplace of the United States, there is no better way to kickstart our journey than with the New England charm of the Millennium Bostonian. As one of the oldest cities in America, Boston has seen it all. From the Boston Tea Party to the Boston Marathon, rich history is intertwined in each cobblestone in its historic streets.

This venue is oozing with colonial elegance. With its stunning views right from its ballroom to its rich original art in its halls, this 200-room, Four Diamond-rated boutique hotel is perfect for those wishing to have an elegant affair right in the heart of Boston. Plus, a dedicated catering staff specializes in the infamous New England cuisine and oversees 7,000 square-feet of event space.

Situated right in the middle of the action in downtown Boston, you are just steps away from some of the most iconic landmarks in the country. Let your guests enjoy the accessibility of this venue. Let them take a stroll down to Quincy Market and the Boston Harbor, or even walk the Freedom Trail.

Visit the Hitch for Millennium Bostonian wedding costs, availability, and capacity. 

The Hermitage | Nashville, Tennessee

the-hermitage

Tennessee isn't just the home of country music— it's also the land that President Andrew Jackson called his own. Come down to Music City and enjoy the Southern grace of the Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson. Located just minutes outside of downtown Nashville, breathe in the fresh country air and step back into the days when one of our presidents roamed the halls. As a public museum and National Historic landmark, this venue mirrors the ever-changing history of American from the time of its inception in 1804.

Nestled on 1,120 acres of land, this venue has the perfect blend of a historic farm setting and rustic southern charm. The Hermitage boasts some of the most unique event venues south of the Mason Dixon. Choose to host your event from multiple sites on the grounds — from the main mansion to the quaint cabins or the beautiful gardens and expansive lawns, or even their very own historic church. There is every way at this venue to host your own, personal southern wedding, intimate or grand.

Visit the Hitch for The Hermitage wedding costs, availability, and capacity.

William & Mary Alumni House | Williamsburg, Virginia

william-and-mary-alumni-house

No better state to tie the knot than the one made for lovers— Virginia, and why not add some historic charm? First and foremost, no worries here: You do not have to be William & Mary alumnus to have your dream wedding at this historic gem in the heart of colonial Williamsburg. The 19th-Century building, with original parts dating as far back as 1871, is located right on the College of William & Mary’s campus. This is the premier wedding venue for those who want to go back in time and create a unique, colonial feel for their special day.

Colonial Williamsburg is a place like no other. Nowhere else can you see the combination of historic landmark and living history museum come to life. Horse drawn carriages line the streets to key landmarks such as the Governor’s Palace, Raleigh Tavern, and Bruton Parish Church. Also, don’t be surprised to catch a glimpse of some Revolutionary War Era fashion.

Have your wedding indoors within the historic walls or outdoors on its lovely green. Either way, your guests are sure to be enriched with the delight of the 1700s. With space and seating available for up to 250 guests, the house has been renovated and expanded in order to include modern amenities while still maintaining its original beauty. Step outside and you are directly facing Zable Stadium, paved with hundreds of engraved bricks that commemorate special people, places, and times in William & Mary history.

Visit the Hitch for William & Mary Alumni House wedding costs, availability, and capacity.

Point Arena Lighthouse | Point Arena, California

point-arena-lighthouse

Journey to the beautiful city of Point Arena on the northern coast of California to have your wedding at its infamous Lighthouse. Choose from either the Lighthouse Tower, Gazebo, or Fog Signal Building — either way your guests are guaranteed to have a truly unique, nautical experience.

This rustic and historic venue is famous for its coastal views (obviously), 115-foot lighthouse tower, and setup for those couple who want a storied setting with an absolutely stunning look at the Pacific Ocean. Have your ceremony on their beautiful grounds, with the sound of waves crashing against the cliffs and the soft wind as it comes up to the point. With cottages on site, you can fully immerse yourself in this Californian sea breeze and sunrays. Plus, its open year round, so you can enjoy the beauty of the ocean in any season of your choice.

Visit the Hitch for Point Arena Lighthouse wedding costs, availability, and capacity.

Prince George Ballroom | New York, New York

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Last stop (and our personal favorite) is the Prince George Ballroom, right here in the Big Apple. Located in Manhattan’s Madison Square North Historic District, your wedding will be right in the middle of the entire splendor that New York City has to offer. Tracing back to its roots in 1624, this city has grown from the trading post of New Amsterdam to being the cultural and financial capital of the world.

Restored back to its original architectural beauty, the Prince George Ballroom is the perfect venue for those who want a classic New York landmark wedding. With its golden columns, intricate design, and towering ceilings, this venue’s elegance is magnificent. Listed with the National Register of Historic Places, this venue is famous for its Beaux Arts-style and Neo- Renaissance flourishes. With over 9,000 square feet of event space, make this venue your ultimate wedding paradise while still being in the middle of all that Manhattan has to offer.

Visit the Hitch for Prince George Ballroom wedding costs, availability, and capacity.

Southern Hospitality: Our Favorite Dixie Venues by Jackie Judson

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Bless your heart: you’re planning a Southern wedding. Whether you’re looking to get hitched under the shade of Charleston’s infamous oak trees or on the grounds of an old plantation in Virginia — all Southern weddings are based around standards of elegance, beauty, grace, and, most importantly, tradition.

Incorporating tradition into your special day is no small feat. What’s your something borrowed? Have you picked your something blue yet? Southern weddings take traditions to a whole new level. Good luck voodoo doll? (Really?) Whether it’s selecting the perfect groom’s cake of your husband-to-be’s alma mater or creating the ultimate Southern cuisine (biscuits and mac and cheese sounds pretty good to me), the most important aspect is selecting the perfect venue to host your event. Below, we rounded up our favorite southern venues to get you under the Spanish moss in no time.

P.S. No matter what venue you choose, don’t forget to bury your bourbon upside down — who wouldn’t want to ensure sunshine and bright skies?  

The Creek Club at I'On

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Located in the heart of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, the Creek Club at I’On is nestled along the southern coast of the infamous Lowcountry. This location is known for its agricultural wealth and unique cultural history, which attracts millions of visitors each year and is the perfect spot to host the wedding of your dreams.

Southern charm is in full force here. Settled on over 5,000 square feet of space (1,000 square feet on the porch alone), this picturesque, intimate venue is known for its stunning creek and marsh views, wide, beautiful porches and unforgettable sunsets. Take a step inside to an open floor plan, which features tall oversized windows, high ceilings with exposed rafters, and grand fireplaces. While back outside the grounds are full of beautifully landscaped live oaks, palms and azaleas.

Though it is only a short ride away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Charleston, this venue takes you away from the big city and into the beauty of the countryside. Whether your guests are taking a breather under the shade of some Spanish moss or sitting on the porch watching the sun set over the docks, they are guaranteed to have an unforgettable experience.

Visit the Hitch for The Club Creek at I'On wedding costs, availability, and capacity

The Mill at Fine Creek

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Situated on 10 acres in the Fine Creek Mills Historic District, the Mill at Fine Creek is an idyllic wedding venue in Powhatan, Virginia. Once home to Thomas Jefferson, grandfather of President Thomas Jefferson, one of this country’s most distinguished leaders, and the site of Robert E. Lee’s last camp, this venue brings a whole new to the meaning of historic 18th Century charm.

No matter the season you choose (Virginia is known for experiencing the best of all four seasons) let the beauty of the granite creek, lush gardens, and 10 acre setting pull you in. Destroyed by a fire in the early 1900s, the grounds have been rebuilt to Southern charm perfection while also leaving a trace of the remains behind to create an archaeological paradise.

The main building boasts 6,500 square feet and the grounds offer three picturesque outdoor ceremony sites. A large deck and multiple bridges connect you and your guests to the historic grounds while also enjoying the modern amenities of the main facility. Privacy and exclusivity are characteristics at the core of this Virginian gem, and it’s perfect for those who want a historic venue in the countryside that is also just a mere half hour away from the capital of Richmond.

Visit the Hitch for The Mill at Fine Creek wedding costs, availability, and capacity.

Alexander Homestead Weddings

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For those who want to be free of the hectic and stressful planning, here is your ideal venue. This all-inclusive garden wedding venue possesses the true elegance of a Queen Anne Victorian venue in Charlotte, North Carolina, complete with the convenience of a staff willing to plan all the details down to the last rose. Take your pick between the beautifully restored Alexander Homestead Inn or the newly reconstructed Dairy Barn to create the perfect indoor-outdoor garden wedding.

Journey back into a bygone era and enjoy 1,400 square feet of privacy and intimacy. Host your ceremony outside under the gazebo and 200 year oak trees, and then conveniently retire into the open structure barn equipped with high ceilings and exposed wood for your reception just a few steps away. Let the beauty of this historical gem host your wedding day and “experience the elegance you deserve and the convenience you need.”

Visit the Hitch for Alexander Homestead Weddings wedding costs, availability, and capacity.

Morais Vineyards and Winery

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Looking for Southern charm with a Portuguese twist? How does wine trails, country scenery and beautiful architecture sound? Located in Bealeton, Virginia, Morais Vineyards and Winery is a perfect venue for a rustic, elegant winery wedding celebration. Family run, this venue embodies the tradition and value of family to all who step foot on the grounds. This unique combination puts a spin on the Southern wedding while still maintaining its core values at heart.

Choose to have your ceremony indoors in the intimate, Portuguese-style chapel furnished with rustic wooden pews and authentic red clay roof tiles or outdoors underneath the pergola on the grounds overlooking a fountain pond, island garden, and tree-lined field; either way, your special day is destined to be, well, special. Host your reception in the grand ballroom, where you’ll have plenty of space in the 4,000-square foot oasis, with Palladian-style windows, leaf grand chandeliers, private outdoor terraces, and a rod-iron staircase and balcony. Don’t forget to pop into the tasting room and witness the marvelous vineyard views while sitting at the bar tasting some of the Morais’ signature wines.

Visit the Hitch for Morais Vineyards and Winery wedding costs, availability, and capacity.

Magnolia Plantation & Gardens

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Step back in time to one of the oldest public gardens in America and Charleston’s most visited plantation. Magnolia Plantation & Gardens has been around since 1676 and has survived through the centuries. Witness the beauty of its grounds and a rich history that has survived the American Revolution and Civil War as you walk through its intimate garden walkways, magnificent azalea blooms, and famous long white bridge.

Take your pick of hosting your wedding from four unique yet similar locations on the grounds. Get entranced with the quintessential Charleston aroma, complete with grand live oaks, a riverbank, and manicured gardens, all rich with history and tradition. Whether you choose to host your event on the plantation house’s twenty-foot porch, which offers 360-degree views of the grounds, or on the banks of the river near the Carriage house, your event is guaranteed to capture the timeless charm of a Southern wedding with modern amenities.

Visit the Hitch for Magnolia Plantation and Gardens wedding costs, availability, and capacity.

John Marshall Ballrooms

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John Marshall Ballrooms in Richmond, Virginia, embodies the essence of old school glamour and is radiating with Southern charm. Its rooms have hosted iconic Hollywood stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Mary Taylor Moore, and Elvis Presley, and prominent political figures like President Nixon, President Ford, and President Carter. Recently restored to its original beauty, the John Marshall’s historic ballrooms, striking marble lobby, and vintage rooftop marquee are simply exquisite.

The extravagant elegance of this Southern beauty is overwhelming. Choose between two majestic ballrooms. The Marshall Ballroom is equipped with floor to ceiling 30-foot windows, nine vintage crystal chandeliers, and lead-paned glass encased in intricate handcrafted moldings. The Virginia Ballroom is where you can make your grand entrance down a split staircase that connects the main floor to a wrap around balcony. This unique venue ties together the charm of a traditional Southern venue with old school Hollywood glamour effortlessly, while still being conveniently located in the heart of Richmond.

Visit the Hitch for John Marshall Ballrooms wedding costs, availability, and capacity.

Announcing the New and Improved Hitch for iPad by Brady Donnelly

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Four months ago, we launched the Hitch iPad app to bring about the future of wedding venue search and discovery — and thousands upon thousands of couples quickly hopped on for the ride. Apple named it the Best New App, websites like Fast Company and Refinery29 gave it good marks, and hundreds of venues launched their profiles.

But there’s always room for improvement. And with that, we’re excited to announce to the launch of the new and improved Hitch for iPad. The features you love are still there — big, beautiful venue profiles, rich imagery, all the details you would ever need, instant contact — but we’ve tweaked the design for an even better experience. 

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Most importantly, we’ve redesigned our pricing for even greater transparency. Now, you can see buffet, seated, and cocktail reception prices side-by-side, adjust your guest count, and instantly decide if a venue is in your budget. In fact, you don't even need to click through to the profile — it's all right there in the search results.

Second of all, we’ve expanded our reach to wedding venues in the United States, into Canada, over the pond to the UK and Italy, south to Costa Rica, and all the way to India. Really, we're talking about hundreds and hundreds of new venues, from the traditional to the non-traditional, golf coursesglacierscountry clubs, and every other nook and cranny across the world. 

And of course, throughout the app, we've made design improvements, tweaks, edits, altercations — you name it. All in all, the experience is smoother, faster, and easier than ever before. Your dream wedding venue is just a few clicks away. 

But enough talking — go download the app and see for yourself. If you love what you see — and, really, we think you will — show us some love in the App Store.

Our Favorite Wedding Trends of 2013 by Brady Donnelly

Vista Hills Vineyard in Dayton, Oregon.

Vista Hills Vineyard in Dayton, Oregon.

For anyone on the East Coast, it both is and is not spring — and by is not, I mean it’s absolutely freezing in New York. Regardless, the Internet, being a weather-free zone, carries on without pause, and with that in mind, survey season has arrived. Yes, survey season is a thing. All of that data gathered has to mean something right? Certainly. It certainly does.

The Real Weddings Study is one of our favorites, and this year’s results are particularly enticing. Like many industries, we’re on the rebound. Creativity is on an upswing, wedding ideas are awe-inspiring, brides and grooms are spending like crazy, and state by state, the wedding industry is booming. The Real Weddings Study took a look at 13,000 couples to attach this excitement to some hard data, and we like what they found.

I. Wedding Budgets Are Increasing

Prince George Ballroom in New York, New York.

Prince George Ballroom in New York, New York.

The average wedding cost for 2013 was $29,858, a number that has increased steadily since 2008 and has now reached its highest amount ever. Sadly for us, New York is still the most expensive place to get married, where just under $87,000 is, believe it or not, average. On the other end of the spectrum, Idaho comes in at just over $16,000. But don’t let that deter you — Idaho has some beautiful, high quality wedding venues.

On a lighter note, only 20 percent of couples say the economy had an impact on their budget, down from 34 percent in 2009. To put this in perspective, 1 in 4 couples — that’s 25 percent, to be clear — didn’t even have a budget. A beautiful world, no doubt, where the wedding budget is a thing of the past, and slowly but surely, we're getting there. 

II. Guests Budgets Are Increasing, Too

loftSeven Penthouse in Los Angeles, California.

loftSeven Penthouse in Los Angeles, California.

Guess who’s contributing to that overall budget increase? You. Since 2009, the cost per guest increased $26 to $220, and the spend on rehearsal dinners, after-parties, and morning-after brunches is up. In fact, just in the past year, the cost of a rehearsal dinner has increased over $700. The fun that comes with an increased budget is good for everyone. 

III. The Seasons They Are a-Changing

Preston Ridge Vineyard in Perston, Connecticut. 

Preston Ridge Vineyard in Perston, Connecticut. 

Summer is the wedding industry’s gold rush, year after year after year, which makes for frustrating planning. But finally, couples are getting the hint, and the percentage of those planning a summer ceremony is down to 35 percent from 41 percent in 2009. What’s next? Spring, growth-wise – up to 26 percent — but fall weddings are still the second most popular, even though the season is down 4 percent since 2011. And lowly winter, with its chilling temperatures and indoor wedding themes, clocks in at a downtrodden 7 percent.

IV. Personalization Is What Really Matters

Chicago Botanic Garden in Chicago, Illinois. 

Chicago Botanic Garden in Chicago, Illinois. 

This is our favorite find: cookie cutter is out, self-expression is in. Unique, one-of-a-kind wedding ideas are on the rise. Signature cocktails, for example, rose to 20 percent this year, up from 12 percent in 2008. Interactive food stations, similarly, are up to 15 percent from 13 percent in 2010. Even officiating is becoming a personal touch — only 57 percent of couples hired a professional ceremony officiant, down from 63 percent in 2009.

Lo and behold, that’s what we love to see — more than an increase in budgets or interest in destination weddings, we love the idea of putting wedding planning in the hands of couples, as we've said many, many times before. After all, that’s why we created the Hitch, right?

Cultural Exploration: 10 Historic Wedding Venues You Didn’t Know Host Weddings by Christine Kolderup

Imagine this: Local wedding venues that feel like destination wedding venues without the added complexity and cost. Confused? We’re talking about cultural institutions: museums, universities, libraries, galleries, and even zoos that also host ceremonies. Architecturally interesting, rich in history and art, surrounded by beautiful gardens and natural landscapes, these are the venues that will take you and your guests on cultural explorations while still providing the warmth and comfort of a local celebration.

Win-win, right? One of the ten unique and old-world wedding venues listed below might be the answer to your search for the ideal venue. Each is a cultural institution: profound, high class, enormous, and of historical quality, all of which makes for a wedding you and your guests won’t forget.

Blanton Museum of Art

Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas, is the art museum of the University of Texas –– and one of the largest university art museums in the United States. With a permanent collection of over 17,000 artworks from Europe, the United States, and Latin America, its mission is to serve as a cultural gateway between the university and the community. This is the ideal venue for couples with a love for art and dramatic elegance. Blanton Museum of Art offers several unique and exclusive reception spaces for a celebration of the big day –– with the opportunity to access galleries for the amusement and delight of your guests. And if not for the love of art, maybe the views of the Texas State Capitol dome in the public plaza and garden will win you over?

Visit the Hitch for Blanton Museum of Art wedding costs, availability, and capacity. And if you’re another unique Texas wedding venue, join us!

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in the heart of Bentonville, Arkansas, is a breathtaking wedding venue famous for a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. Outdoor, indoor, ceremony, reception, or both, this magical wedding venue can hold between 150 and 275 people with the flexibility to make it a completely tailored experience. The museum's high arched ceilings and thus panoramic views of the ponds surrounding, give it a spaciousness and elegance ideal for couples who appreciate great architecture and culture.

Speaking of art, why not give your guests the opportunity to explore American history and heritage in one of the museum's galleries on the big day? In the spirit of southern hospitality –– and for those seeking a unique wedding venue –– get creative and start planning your dream wedding among art and nature at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Visit the Hitch for Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art wedding costs, availability, and capacity. And if you’re another unique Arkansas wedding venue, join us!

Evergreen Museum and Library

Evergreen Museum and Library is a historic house museum of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, with a rustic vibe. This old-world, charming wedding venue –– with its historic Gilded Age Mansion, rustic carriage house, and manicured lawns –– provides a variety of unique and elegant settings where the possibilities are only limited by your imagination. An Italianate structure surrounded by beautiful green gardens is a hidden gem oozing vintage glamour only worthy of a bride (and groom).

Visit the Hitch for Evergreen Museum and Library wedding costs, availability, and capacity. And if you’re another unique Maryland wedding venue, join us!

George Peabody Library

Traditionally used as a research library, the spectacular George Peabody Library in Baltimore, Maryland, is a once-in-a-lifetime wedding venue worthy of the particularly tasteful big day. The soaring stack room where the reception takes place, which feels intimate yet massive, rises 61 feet from its black and white marble floor to the top where skylight finds its way in. This is the ideal venue for couples who want a memorable day with an atmosphere full of history, elegance, and beauty.

Visit the Hitch for George Peabody Library wedding costs, availability, and capacity. And if you’re another unique Maryland wedding venue, join us!

Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum

In the heart of Austin, Texas, is an intimate and romantic oasis famous for its beautiful gardens, natural landscapes, and bronze sculptures: Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum. Surrounded by native Texas plants and great art in a casual setting, the museum is ideal for couples who want a shaded garden wedding in an urban city.

Visit the Hitch for Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum wedding costs, availability, and capacity. And if you’re another unique Texas wedding venue, join us!

Space Center Houston

Get a feel of space at Space Center Houston in Webster, Texas –– a wedding venue like no other, where you can take your guests on a trip to space on your big day. A mission control center, space-flown artifacts, and Astronaut memorabilia make for a venue that will be as exciting as it will be memorable. Space Center Houston is ideal for adventurous couples who want an out of this world experience shared with each other and with their loved ones.

Visit the Hitch for Space Center Houston wedding costs, availability, and capacity. And if you’re another unique Texas wedding venue, join us!

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium –– the ninth largest aquarium in the United States –– is a pinch-yourself-in-the-arm wedding venue and experience located in Seattle, Washington. This magical venue in the Pacific Northwest will be a reflection of your creativity, and your photographer will have a blast capturing your day in the most breathtaking ways. In particular, the sunset ceremonies and stunning indoor reception sites are accompanied by an outstanding cuisine. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience for couples who want a fun but sophisticated wedding that benefits our marine environment.

Visit the Hitch for Seattle Aquarium wedding costs, availability, and capacity. And if you’re another unique Washington wedding venue, join us!

Delaware Art Museum

Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, Delaware, is a classic and idyllic wedding venue in peaceful surroundings. The outdoor patio is perfect for an intimate ceremony before making your way through the sculpture garden to make a grand entrance to the sophisticated reception space, where the museum's award-winning chef will make your taste buds dance. Celebrate the beginning of your history among the American history and fine art at Delaware Art Museum.

Visit the Hitch for Delaware Art Museum wedding costs, availability, and capacity. And if you’re another unique Delaware wedding venue, join us!

Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal

Located in an old train station, Union Terminal, Cincinnati Museum Center is an original and historic wedding venue in Cincinnati, Ohio. The building's signature Art Deco architecture is full of charm and opportunities for an original wedding, and every part of Cincinnati Museum Center is available for the big day. This leaves endless of settings and opportunities open for an extravagant wedding with an award-winning full-service caterer.  

Visit the Hitch for Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal wedding costs, availability, and capacity. And if you’re another unique Ohio wedding venue, join us!

Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

Bring out the animal inside and celebrate your wedding at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Powell, Ohio. This is the ideal wedding venue for a couple that wants a romantic and outrageous setting in the city while still being blessed with the presence of nature. Several beautiful indoor and outdoor ceremony and reception sites are offered for the celebration of your big day. We'd recommend a boardwalk ceremony as a waterfront wedding in the city would definitely be a night to remember!   

Visit the Hitch for Columbus Zoo & Aquarium wedding costs, availability, and capacity. And if you’re another unique Ohio wedding venue, join us!

What's the Average Wedding Cost in Your State? by Brady Donnelly

The first item on your wedding checklist is — or should be, at least — your venue. It will dictate the shape and size of everything to come, from the band all the way down to your floral arrangements. These may seem like small items now, but when your venue cost goes over budget — and, honestly, plan on it — you’ll be pinching pennies by the time you’re near the bottom of your list.

In 2012, the average wedding cost was $28,427, and it's still rising, according to the Knot and Wedding Channel. Most expensive? New York venues, duh. Least expensive? Alaska venues, surprisingly, despite some of the most out-there venues we’ve ever seen, including glacier weddings and helicopter rides. But what do most states have that Alaska does not? Neighbors.

See, it might surprise you what a difference a couple hours drive can make. Sure, Connecticut and Vermont are just a skip apart, for example, but Vermont venues cost thousands of dollars less than Connecticut venues, and they truly measure up in beauty. Now extend that margin across every aspect of your wedding — photographers, bouquets, bands — and you’re looking at more than a few dollars saved.

Using data from the Wedding Report, the Huffington Post broke it down for us, state by state, line by line. Take a look, and let us know how your state sizes up.

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Ask the Expert: Chatting with Kate Schaefer of H&H Weddings by Brady Donnelly

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Who doesn’t love a wedding site that’s truly a sign of the times? As we've discussed before, the internet has truly leveled the playing field when it comes to finding resources for planning any type of wedding, from the budget ceremony to the over the top destination locations, ocean to city, coast to coast. There’s a whole world out there, waiting to be discovered.

H&H Weddings, based right here in New York, is a Hitch favorite. H&H is focused on same-sex wedding inspiration that couples beautiful aesthetics with the less-than-pretty challenges faced when planning — the complex etiquette, the tricky politics, the hard questions. Plus, the highlighted vendors are those with experience in the same-sex market, one that’s fortunately growing and will continue to do so.

We had a chance to chat with Kate Schaefer, who founded the site with Brenna Simmons, to learn about their beginnings, the state of LGBT marriages, and the wedding industry of our shared hometown.

Can you provide a brief history of H&H Weddings, particularly the initial inspiration behind it?

Brenna and I were working together at a restaurant when the idea of H&H Weddings came to us. At the time, I was also interning at Gothamist, where I spent a lot of time trolling social media. Via a Huffington Post article, I read the story of a woman who was newly engaged. Her girlfriend (now fiance) had proposed. The bride-to-be was so excited that she ran out and did what everyone in her position would do: she grabbed all of the bridal magazines on the shelf and went home to plan her dream wedding.

Her spirit was crushed when she realized that she was unable to use these publications because she was in a same-sex relationship. At the time, while I was reading this, I kept thinking to myself, “This is absurd, there has to be resources for this woman to use.” I did a bit of research and was completely disheartened when I found myself corrected. There were no aesthetically pleasing, modern resources for LGBT couples. I shared my disbelief and horror with Brenna at work and she (an avid wedding stalker) was on board to help me change things!

What type of content do you provide your readers? How do you go about generating ideas for that content?

Many wedding blogs focus solely on real weddings and styled shoots. For heterosexual weddings, this tends to be enough content, because the guidelines have been the same for so long. We wanted to provide beautiful decor and fashion inspiration to our couples, but also provide the less “pretty” stuff. Like, the etiquette questions that need answering, as well as a solid list of vendors from all areas who work with and have experience with same sex couples.

What void are you filling in the existing wedding market?

We are filling a big, gaping void that has existed for some time now in the wedding industry. There are plenty of wedding websites out there for LGBT couples, but they are filled with rainbows and are running in a template created in 2001. They don’t have a high-end look and feel to them. As I was perusing some of these sites, it seemed that they pointed out the glaring discrepancies between LGBT couples and straight couples. They truly made it seem like members of LGBT couples were second-class citizens. My favorite description of a few of these sites came from Brenna’s stepmom. She said, “They look like a Costco website.” So poignant, so true.

The political state of marriage rights for LGBT is constantly in flux, but progress is being made. Do you see the marketplace – existing blogs, publications, vendors, and so on — following suit?

We do see some progress. There are plenty of predominantly straight wedding websites that will feature LGBT work, but not often. These websites have digitally published gay wedding guides and will answer same-sex wedding questions. But, if that’s not the majority of your work, it’s probably not the subject that you’re most knowledgeable on. You wouldn’t go to a dermatologist to deliver your baby, even if they were capable of it.

Though there are underlying politics, as mentioned above, H&H seems refreshingly focused on the universal beauty of weddings, rather than any inherent cause, per se. Is that a conscious decision? Do you look for content that appeals to all types of LGBT couples, or do you have a specific aesthetic in mind?

It is certainly a choice on our part to stray away from politics. In a way, I think Brenna and I live our lives wearing rose colored glasses. We live as though everyone, everywhere has the right to love whomever they want and in whatever capacity they want. We run our website accordingly, because let’s be honest, your homophobic family might make things tougher on you, but they will not change who you fall in love with. Nor should they. We want to celebrate the beauty of love and what’s more beautiful than two people committing themselves to one another?

We hope to represent every facet of gender identity, sexual orientation, and loving commitment that exists. We want everyone to feel supported, validated, and celebrated by our site. We also want them to have killer celebrations. I suppose we have labeled ourselves as “high-end.” We stray away from work that feels very “DIY,” but it’s mostly because those types of weddings are everywhere. Before same sex marriage starting becoming legal, couples might not have felt like they could go all out and have a beautifully designed wedding. We want same sex couples to feel like they can have and deserve to have the wedding of their dreams. We want couples to feel like royalty on their wedding days, so we treat them as such.

What is personally your favorite type of content to post? Do any recent stories stick out to you?

We looooove inspiration shoots. We love them for two reasons. 1. It’s always a group of crazy-talented vendors that come together, so the work tends to be fantastic. 2. Inspiration shoots with LGBT couples show how much the climate is changing in the wedding world. Inspiration shoots take a lot of time, energy, and resources. When industry professionals dedicate their time to LGBT couples, they are taking a risk that we applaud them for. But when we get submissions of gorgeous real weddings, it is doubly amazing. It makes us super happy that vendors are coming together to make these weddings a reality and that we are providing an outlet for them to be showcased. Our favorites include this Bora Bora wedding and this Houston Zoo wedding!

What do you think of the wedding industry here in New York? Any favorite venues, vendors, or sources of inspiration?

The wedding industry in New York is a world full of possibilities. We have the best of everything here. We did an inspiration shoot at the New York Public Library, that was our personal favorite so far. In terms of vendors, there are so many! We love Mademoiselle Fiona, a fabulous photographer and our friend, Becca, from Suite Paperie creates the most intricate paper goods. In the midst of the tough, the gritty, the downright disgusting, there is always a ton of beauty in New York. If you can find that, you can find inspiration in just about anything.

What are your long-term plans for H&H? Anything we should watch out for?

Ah! The future! There are so many things we have considered. You’ll just have to hang tight to see what we come up with! Ultimately, we’d like to be considered the most reliable resource for LGBT wedding content. We’ll strive for that for now!

Simplify Your Wedding Checklist: The Top All-Inclusive Resorts by Brady Donnelly

Planning a wedding is no small feat. Planning a destination wedding — well, that’s a different conversation. Beyond the bits and pieces all great ceremonies require, destination weddings have the added steps involving flights and hotels for you, your family, and your guests, even if you’re not personally buying. Fortunately, when you’re lingering poolside after your big day, letting the breeze off the ocean lull you to sleep, the strain will have faded to some distant memory. Trust us: it will all have been worth it.

Let’s simplify things a bit, though. If you need a beautiful reception site and a place to stay, why not hit two birds with one stone? Luxury hotels and all-inclusive resorts are all about stress relief, and for them, checking as many steps off the wedding checklist as possible is simply par for the course. Grouping hotel rooms and reception venues within walking distance — plus, of course, beaches, restaurants, pools, spas, gyms, and so on — will simplify the start to your new life and keep planning tension to an absolute minimum.

At the Hitch, of course, we love a good destination wedding, and we have plenty to choose from. Below, we gathered our favorites nationwide to get you off the computer and onto the beach.

Viceroy Santa Monica

Viceroy Santa Monica in Santa Monica, California.

Viceroy Santa Monica in Santa Monica, California.

Viceroy Hotel Group has been around since 1999, when it first opened the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills. Since then, it has grown rapidly and deservingly around the world, opening luxury resorts across North America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. In each city, Viceroy builds its attractions around the cultural spirit and mood of its surroundings, creating an escape within an escape without sacrificing the underlying purpose of travel: discovery.

Two of these resorts, the Viceroy Santa Monica and L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, have captured the sophistication and class of two of California’s most polished cities. The Viceroy Santa Monica, which prides itself on its environmental responsibility, has all of the makings of an idyllic beach wedding: picturesque backdrops, top notch service, two plunge pools, ocean views, five-star food, and wedding reception ideas and expertise. Only at Viceroy Santa Monica weddings is proximity to globally renowned attractions and Hollywood itself a side-note, and certainly not an item to be overlooked.

L’Ermitage Beverly Hills

L'Ermitage Beverly Hills in Beverly Hills, California.

L'Ermitage Beverly Hills in Beverly Hills, California.

L’Ermitage Beverly Hills succeeds in perfecting a difficult combination — extreme privacy in a jetsetting city. Though Rodeo Drive, perhaps the most famous shopping stretch on earth, is just a few blocks away, L’Ermitage is nearly residential, tucked away on a tree-lined street with views of California’s rolling hills beyond it. On the roof, you’ll find a pool with city views and private cabanas, while on the ground, you and your guests will travel by way of complimentary car service. For everyone involved, L’Ermitage Beverly Hills weddings are as effort-free as they are emotional, and as far as ceremonies go, that’s about as good as it gets.

Wythe Hotel

Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, New York.

Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, New York.

What makes the Wythe Hotel perfect for Williamsburg, Brooklyn? To start, before it was a breathtaking 70-room hotel, the Wythe was a factory — we have a few of those around here — built in 1901. Fortunately, the conversion from abandonment to opulence was handled with near perfection. All the makings of Williamsburg-at-its-prime are here: restored brick, iron columns, timber beams, Brooklyn-designed wallpaper, and a three-story roof deck with sweeping Manhattan views. Alas, it's obvious why we named it a top Brooklyn wedding venues. Wythe Hotel weddings benefit from a remarkable range of reception options, including private (extremely so) dining spaces, a private theater, award-winning chefs, stellar service, and of course, those rooftop views.

Hotel Valley Ho

Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona, is mid-century-modern to a tee. Designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, it opened in 1956 and quickly built a reputation as a hangout for celebrities, athletes, and socialites drawn to its warm climate, fine dining, and poolside retreats. After falling, oddly enough, off the radar, it was added to the Scottsdale Historic Register in 2001 and renovated by Allen+Philp Architects in 2005 to much acclaim. Today, its seven-story tower includes guest rooms and condominiums, the widely celebrated ZuZu American restaurant, and five Hotel Valley Ho wedding sites: the SoHo Room, the Valley Ho Room, the Main Place Courtyard, Palm Court, and Sky Line Rooftop. All have regained their status as one of the Southwest's coolest and most romantic places to be.

Harbor View Hotel

Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown, Massachusetts. 

Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown, Massachusetts. 

The historical splendor of the East Coast lends itself to dozens of high profile vacation destinations, but few are as charming as Martha’s Vineyard. Even President Obama agrees. Since opening in 1891, the Harbor View Hotel has been Edgartown’s most prized resort, a celebration of the history and New England mood of the island on the whole. This spirit, of course, carries through to Harbor View Hotel weddings, which, in addition to fine dining and first-class service, offer guests the opportunity to golf, sail, deep sea fish, and cruise into the sunset. Don’t let the quaintness of Martha’s Vineyard fool you — Harbor View Hotel is as luxurious and up-to-date as resorts come.

Hotel Casa Del Mar

Hotel Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica, California.

Hotel Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica, California.

Hotel Casa Del Mar, also in Santa Monica, bills itself as an authentic California beach club, and it has the look to prove it. Beyond the grand staircase, the grand ballroom, even the two-story high ceilings, is the Pacific Ocean, which sparkles here beneath the light of the famous Santa Monica Pier. Hotel Casa Del Mar weddings are diverse in both their mood and era, ranging from the Bow — perfect for an elegant, albeit very social, gathering — to the Colonnade Ballroom, as grand as it is tasteful, and their pricing includes both food and the rental fee, with rooms at a reasonable (and worth it) additional cost. Rare are the places where you can spend the day in your swimsuit and the evening in your finest gown, and Hotel Casa Del Mar is one of them.

Bedford Post Inn

Bedford Post Inn in Bedford, New York.

Bedford Post Inn in Bedford, New York.

Bedford Post Inn is just a quick shot from New York City in Bedford, New York, but the mood suggests a distance much greater. As an inn, its intimate, with eight luxurious rooms, a yoga studio, and the Barn and the Farmhouse, two widely celebrated restaurants that book out months in advance. This warmth extends itself to Bedford Post Inn's outdoor weddings, during which guests can escape the city to the woodlands of Bedford, enjoying the amenities and surrounding quaintness before gathering for a reception dinner prepared by a Michelin-starred chef.

Are you also an all-inclusive resort that doubles as a beautiful wedding venue? Join the Hitch!

Behind the Scenes at UNION/PINE in Portland, Oregon by Brady Donnelly

UNION/PINE in Portland, Oregon.

UNION/PINE in Portland, Oregon.

We love Portland for many of the reasons we love Brooklyn: its creative core, its youthful spirit, its ever-present history, and, well, its wedding venues. While there’s a time, place, and crowd for a classic ceremony in a traditional venue, there’s a much different time, place, and crowd for the blank-canvas approach of the urban rustic trend. In New York, all signs in this direction point toward the 1896, 501 Union, and even the slightly-more-posh Wythe Hotel.

In terms of Portland wedding venues, it’s all about UNION/PINE, the converted warehouse founded by Summer Killingsworth, a commercial set decorator, and Patrick Triato, a product design engineer. They opened the 5,000 square-foot space to serve as a beacon of creativity and a meeting place for their like-minded friends, and demand quickly — and fortunately — rose for weddings. We spoke to Killingsworth on UNION/PINE’S early beginnings, the ideal couple for the space, and beauty of Portland in the fall.

How did UNION/PINE come to be? 

Patrick and I started UNION/PINE with a vision for forming a space focused on showcasing artists, photographers, designers, and various talented friends in Portland’s bustling creative community, and quickly began attracting couples looking for a fresh alternative for wedding venues.

We have done all the demo and build-out ourselves, with the exception of our bathroom and kitchen renovations, so it is a total labor of love for us. We put every moment we can spare into fine-tuning things, and 2 years in we feel really excited about the future, which includes developing a line of tables, chairs, and linens, and expanding our offerings to include wedding and event planning.

What do you consider to be its most unique features?

We designed the space with good event flow in mind, so rather than one big open room, there are 3 smaller areas. The sunken living room is ideal for intimate and casual ceremonies or meals, while the bar and cocktail area is centrally located for mingling. Separated from the front by rolling doors, the back of the venue is utilized for seated dinner receptions, or a larger dance area or ceremony alternative.

Clients appreciate the diversity that the layout offers, as well as the idea that the built-in character of the venue can either provide a backdrop for their elaborate decor, or stand alone if they’d like to keep it simple.

What is the ideal couple for your space?

We joke that our space has a type: People we’d like to have a beer with — and it really is true. We host a lot of design and service industry people in their 20’s and 30’s who immediately feel at home here, and who we have a lot in common with.

Our ceremony/reception size ranges from 50 to 150, with the most common being around 100.

What tips would you give to couples planning their ceremony at UNION/PINE?

We embrace an open policy on vendors because so many people have relationships with breweries, wineries, rental companies, etc., and we really want them to be free to personalize their celebration to the fullest.

Ask your favorite restaurant if they will cater, ask your friend who makes wine for a few cases, or ask us for referrals for some of the amazing folks we work with — bring the elements together that represent you and your partner, and have fun with it.

And then once all the pieces are in place, sit back and smile, and enjoy every moment of your day.

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How does your Portland setting contribute to the wedding experience? 

Portland is an amazing city, and we both feel so lucky to have found it four years ago. Patrick came from Cleveland, while I came from LA (originally Seattle), and we both fell in love with this city immediately. The community is so supportive, and it’s really cool to see people come together and make things happen for each other on every level.

I think the connection that most people feel here really impacts the wedding industry; we all know each other and recommend one another, and we have a great time collaborating and sharing insights on how to make things better for our clients.

What is the most beautiful time of year to be married in Portland, and why?

I love a fall wedding. The colors of the trees, flowers, and the sky are stunning, and the weather is just right.

Do any recent ceremonies stand out to you?

This photo from last weekend’s wedding really highlights our experience as venue owners. The couple is surrounded by their guests and everyone is beaming with joy, and you can see that the love these couples bring into our space totally fuels the good energy here.

Our office and loft are upstairs, so when we hear the crowd cheer and we know they’ve just kissed, or when we hear the faint music of their first dance, it’s a reminder that this is the biggest day of this couple’s lives, and we feel so grateful that they’ve chosen here to celebrate their union.

Take a look at UNION/PINE’s wedding costs, capacity, and availability. Are you wedding venue in Oregon? Join us!

Wedding Planning: What to Ask Your Wedding Venue by Mary Beth Kraft

Beltane Ranch in Glen Ellen, California.

Beltane Ranch in Glen Ellen, California.

About the author: Mary Beth Kraft is a Chicago-based event planner, public relations pro, and blogger. To contact her, get event ideas, or to delight in all things celebratory, visit her blog, she themes everything.  

Over the years, as I have helped to coordinate and execute weddings and events, one thing has become crystal clear: One of the biggest decisions in wedding planning will be where you and your fiancé say your I Do’s and party with your family and friends. The process of finding a location for either, let alone both, can be daunting!

So after you’ve searched the Hitch for your wedding venue, as well browed Style Me Pretty and Pinterest for wedding inspiration, it’s time to narrow down your venue choices and pick the One. In the process, make sure to ask some key — and, in many cases, largely unknown — questions before you sign your venue contract.

Is this really in my budget?

As other previous blog posts have reiterated: the budget is the first step! Before you even start looking at wedding reception venues, you and your partner should determine your overall budget for your big day. And then, you should assume the big three — venue, food, and booze — will take up about 40- to 50 percent of that overall budget.

Be realistic. The worst feeling is to dream of your wedding, then picture yourself getting married and celebrating in the venue you can’t actually afford. I have worked with brides with exceptional budgets, and some who executed a wedding ceremony and reception for 150 guests under $5,000. There are plenty of venues you will love at every price point.

Does this venue have the right capacity for my ceremony or reception?

Can this venue accommodate your guest list? Beyond being able to hold the correct number of people, you also need to assess further details about size and layout of your venue. There is nothing worse than squeezing people in, or having an echo in your reception room because it is too large. Not only does the wrong size affect your guests, it affects the service you receive.

If servers are squeezing between chairs to put down plates, bartenders can’t keep up with the 20-person lines, and the kitchen takes forever to pump out dinner for 200, your experience, and your guests’ experience, will be overshadowed.

Other aspects of venue capacity and layout to keep in mind:

  • Is the venue handicap accessible?
  • If you are planning to have both your ceremony and reception at the venue, is there space for both?
  • Is there a place for guests to move to for cocktail hour if the ceremony and reception will be in the same space?
  • Do you need a private room for the signing of a ketubah or marriage license?
  • How much parking space, if any, do you need?
Bedford Post Inn in Bedford, New York.

Bedford Post Inn in Bedford, New York.

What is included in renting this space?

You’ll want to know everything. Some venues include linens, tables, chairs, even coat check or bathroom attendants in their rental. Sometimes, an on-site coordinator is included as well. Bonus! And some venues are literally just a room, a blank canvas to use in bringing your vision to life.

Ask to see a proposal with the details of your day. Just because you’re asking for one doesn’t mean you need to sign a contract. And if food and beverage are in-house, ask to see a sample Banquet Event Order (BEO) from a wedding similiar in size. Looking at both of these documents will enable you to read the fine print on what is — or isn’t — included.

More specific items to double check include:

  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Linens
  • Facility director/coordinator
  • Coat check
  • Service charge/gratuity
  • Parking
  • Storage space
  • Candles
  • Cleaning or break-down fees
  • Any other additional fees

What is the worst wedding situation you’ve encountered day-of, and how was it dealt with?

So not to bring your wedding day into a negative light, but it’s inevitable that something will go wrong or off-plan. And the best way to prepare for that is to have good, experienced vendors who will problem-solve any emergencies and keep you and your partner out of it to the extent they can. The people are just as important as the place.

I coordinated a wedding for 250 people at Hotel Arista in the Chicago suburb of Naperville. When we arrived at the venue, the chair bows had all been tied incorrectly. Luckily, we had enough time before the reception to call the company back and have them come back to fix them. Guests were enjoying cocktail hour while the linen staff hurried to re-tie bows.

With literally two minutes before the ballroom doors were scheduled to open and with only one bow to go, one of the linen company staff took a misstep and fell backwards off the elevated head table. She couldn’t move, so an ambulance absolutely had to be called. Luckily, thanks to the catering director and her adept staff, we were able to bring the stretcher and paramedics through a different door of the hotel, through the kitchen and into the ballroom, without disrupting cocktail hour and without making the bride and groom panic. The staff person ended up being okay, and the bride and groom just had their cocktail hour extended a bit! They had no idea there had been an emergency.

You — as the bride or groom — will most likely have zero control over issues that arise, and so you want to make sure you’re in a place with people you trust to handle them effectively. So ask this question of your venue — and maybe all of your vendors!

How will our decor items, vendor drop-offs, and gifts be stored?

Some couples can drop off decor items the day before, and some venues only allow you a two-hour window for drop-offs and vendor load-ins. If you have any DIY aspects to your day, setting up or dropping things off a day beforehand may be more important to you.

If your venue space is segmented, where someone won’t be able to keep an eye on the gifts and cards the whole time, you’re going to want to know if they have a room where they can be locked up or not.

And at the end of your reception, the last thing you’re going to want to do is haul vases, your toasting flutes, or your cake knife and server home with you. Can you leave items overnight to be picked up the next day? This question will help you determine whether or not you assign someone special (read: sober) to help you bring things home at the end of the evening.

The Temple House South Beach in Miami, Florida.

The Temple House South Beach in Miami, Florida.

What are the venue’s restrictions, if any?  

Does your venue of choice allow candles? Alcohol? Music after a certain time? You’ll also want to make sure what the time restrictions are on your rental period. Some venues, like museums, cultural centers, and art galleries may also not allow certain types of photography in some areas. Make sure that the restrictions on decor and setup are clearly communicated as well, such as whether or not you can affix things to the wall or ceiling beams or if some areas can’t be blocked by tables or chairs.

Not to mention, some venues restrict you to a certain list of preferred vendors. Which in some ways can be so helpful in guaranteeing quality service and experience (see number 4). But some couples want to hire their own caterer or bar service and not be limited to what the venue alone can provide on-site or their list of preferred vendors. Make sure you clear this up right away.

Get it in writing.

Once you have discussed all the fine points of your day with your venue, and you are ready to book (yay!), make sure you get everything discussed in writing in your contract. Maybe your venue is allowing you to drop things off the night before, or you discussed paying for an extra hour beyond the standard rental time. In my experience, if you don’t ask for these to be put in the contract, there is a chance that specifics may not be upheld.

Use your experts.

Ask your friends who have been through the process, and ask your wedding coordinator to come along to your site visits. There have been many times where I have been able to point out things that the couple may not have noticed, or work with the venue to anticipate on-site logistics. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and use the expertise available to you.

Happy hunting!

From Curbed: 10 Stunning Wedding Venues From the 'Airbnb' of Nuptials by Brady Donnelly

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Last month, we caught the attention of one of our favorite architecture-centric publications: Curbed. They took note of our specialty — finding unique wedding venues that you may not have known host weddings at all — and highlighted it. From cultural institutions to private estates to country farms, they rounded up their favorites, which we’ve re-rounded up (our word) for your viewing pleasure.

10 Stunning Wedding Venues From the 'Airbnb' of Nuptials

Tuesday, January 14, 2014, by Spencer Peterson

The planning stage of a wedding: is there any widely shared, supposedly joyous life event more hair-tearingly fraught? Steve Lynch, of Brooklyn-based design studio Casserole Labs would submit that no, there isn't, which is why he developed The Hitch, which Co.Design has crowned "the Airbnb for wedding venues." Currently in beta, the site and accompanying iOS app won't plan out the entire thing for you, but it does make it easy to compare venues based on ZIP code, with an estimate of the rental price based on headcount. The Hitch's most valuable asset in this area is its user-friendly, photo-heavy interface, from which we've taken the liberty of culling 10 wedding venues that are stylish and architecturally interesting on their own (before their pristine interiors are mucked up by crazy uncle Fred).

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First up is Chesterwood, the Stockbridge, Mass. country home and studio of Daniel Chester French, the sculptor best known for the colossal statue of Honest Abe at the Lincoln Memorial. With teal accents and a healthy amount of vine coverage, this National Trust Historic Site is about as picturesque as historic wedding venues come. Estimated cost (for the location fee alone): $8K.

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The 19th-century Beaux-Arts-style home known as the Wadsworth Mansion at Long Hill Estate was designed by Hoppin & Koen, the firm behind Manhattan's James F.D. Lanier Residence. After the death of its original owner in 1941, the place changed hands many times until the city of Middletown, Conn. bought it in the early '90s, and gave its stately Gilded Age interior a much-needed restoration. Estimated cost: $4,750.

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A warm backcountry haven only an hour's drive from NYC, the Bedford Post Inn dates back to 1750 and is partially owned by none other than Richard Gere. According to the New York Times, the place is "so gorgeous that if you care about design, you'll find yourself examining every piece of furniture and every fixture and wondering how you can reproduce the look at home." Estimated cost: $15K.

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Ideal for a pair of bookworms who like the idea of getting married in a magnificent cathedral of learning, Baltimore's George Peabody Library sports ornamental cast-iron balconies, gold-scalloped columns, and 60-foot ceilings. Estimated cost: $4,750.

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Base your wedding at Bealton, Va.'s Morais Vineyards and Winery, and you'll be linking it to the hard-won endeavor that is Virginia winemaking, whose devotees are only driven on all the more by the capriciousness of the weather. A bit of an architectural anomaly for the state, with a Southwestern vibe and a toga-wearing marble statue out front, but pretty cool nonetheless. Estimated cost: $6,600.

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Get hitched in a stone medieval fortress in Tuckasegee, N.C. called Castle Ladyhawk and your ceremony might be the very dictionary definition of "unforgettable." Also, "weird." Estimated cost: $3K.

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Located on five wooded acres a short drive from uptown Charlotte, N.C., the Alexander Homestead dates back to 1903, and when not hosting wedding, this Queen Anne Victorian serves as an upscale bed and breakfast. Estimated cost: $5,200.

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Designed by architect Moshe Safdie, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark. has plenty of postmodern sculptures perfect for the inevitable round of goofy weddings shots, plus a pretty sleek-looking grounds centered around a man-made pond. Estimated cost: $10K.

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Rustic doesn't get much better looking than the farmhouse-turned dining area in Yarmouth, Maine's Barn on Walnut Hill. Estimated cost: $15K.

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Designed by one Hugh Bremmerman, the Mansion at Oak Hill in Carmel, Ind., is a rare Midwestern outpost of turn-of-the-century Southern architecture. Estimated cost: $1K.

Are you also a destination wedding venue? Market your venue with the Hitch! 

Ask the Expert: Jessica Bishop of the Budget Savvy Bride by Brady Donnelly

Jessica Bishop of the Budget Savvy Bride

Jessica Bishop of the Budget Savvy Bride

In wedding planning, one particular factor weighs heavily on all brides and grooms: the budget. Whether your ceremony is in your backyard or beachside on a remote tropical island, the costs accrued are daunting — from the venue to the invitations to the catering and every piece in-between. In short, it adds up. And quickly.

But fear not. The arrival of the internet and the recent economic downturn gave rise, finally, to the DIY bride and countless online resources to guide her. Jessica Bishop, editor of the Budget Savvy Bride, has been leading the charge since she turned to the digital world for a hand in planning her own big day. In the years that have followed, she’s become the de facto voice for anyone wanting a dream ceremony without a heartbreaking price tag.

We had the opportunity to chat with Bishop about the inspiration that guides her, from the early days of her blog to the universal steps all brides and grooms should take for smart wedding planning. Have a look below for lessons on why you always start your planning with your budget, hidden fees to watch for, the wedding trends of 2014, and the importance of an intimate guest list.

You launched your blog shortly after getting engaged, at which point you decided to keep a journal of your experience. Was there something you loved about the planning process that led you to continue even after your own ceremony?

So many aspects of planning my wedding and sharing it on the blog appealed to my creative side. I loved the connections that I formed with my readers, and the ability to create and share ideas that were helpful to them. It eventually turned into more than just a creative outlet for me, and I realized that the site had become a real resource for brides struggling through the process of planning a wedding on a tight budget. It gave me a sense of pride and purpose! I felt like I had a responsibility and desire to keep going with it (and it helps that it was something I enjoyed doing!).

In 2008, there weren’t many resources out there for brides with limited budgets. Has the internet changed this?

I feel like the internet has changed everything! When I was planning my wedding, I felt like as brides we were told that beautiful weddings cost a ton of money and you either had to pay up or go to a court house. The rise of DIY weddings and budget bridal resources was a side-effect of the country's economic state. Many brides and grooms (myself included) were losing their jobs and having to decide whether or not to postpone their weddings or just elope because of the financial burden a wedding would put on them. I think brides started questioning everything when it came to what things cost and how things could be done for less. Instead of purchasing wedding planning books or magazines, budget brides turned to the internet in search of ideas and resources because it was free! Now more than ever you're seeing DIY and cost-cutting tips everywhere because brides want to make smart decisions when it comes to their money. And of course with the help of Pinterest, DIY blogs and websites have exploded and made such a huge impact. There are so many more tools and resources now than when I was planning!

How do you manage to keep such focused content fresh and interesting? What’s your editorial process like?

Since I started the blog in a very personal, first-hand way, I've kept that same personal feel in the blog by bringing in real bride bloggers to share their own budget wedding planning processes. We take new brides every 6 months or so, and the girls each post once per week. Since they're each going through different aspects of planning at different times, it keeps things pretty fresh. My main editorial contributions are real wedding features which you can browse by budget, resource features, sharing expert advice posts, deal and special offer posts, fashion inspiration posts, etc. Our readers are all getting married at different times of the year so there's no real strict schedule for certain content on our site. We just do what feels natural and make sure that everything is helpful to our readers whether it's sharing a resource, a product review, a DIY project, a useful service, or a real wedding budget breakdown.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were planning your wedding?

There will be unexpected expenses, and there are plenty of times when you might forget to think about taxes, fees, gratuity, that sort of thing that adds to your total budget. That's a big tip that I probably could've used in the beginning!

Is it harder to have a budget friendly wedding in some parts of the country — say, here in New York — than others, or are there certain universal tips everyone can use to keep their costs down?

There are plenty of universal tips that help in reducing costs, but certain areas of the country are definitely more expensive than others. Most major metropolitan areas have higher average wedding budgets than the national average, with NYC being one of the highest! The biggest universal tip for keeping costs down is to keep your guest list intimate.

When it comes to planning a budget-friendly wedding, what are the first steps a couple should take? The budget? The theme?

Whether your budget is large or small, your first step should be figuring out your budget. Before you even think about looking at venues, picking a date, or tasting a cake — sit down with all contributing parties to figure out how much you have to work with or how much you'll need to save during your engagement. That budget you set will dictate every decision you make along the way, so it's important to make it a top priority.

What are the most common cost mistakes couples make?

Booking vendors before they've set their overall budget, not taking the time to compare all their options and price check, not really crunching the numbers in general and ending up over budget. The numbers part of it is not fun — it can be very stressful. But it's imperative that you get it hammered out early so to save yourself the stress of going over your allotted budget.

Where do you get your creative inspiration?

I recently moved to NYC and I get inspired just by walking around the city! I love people watching, reading magazines, and of course I love Pinterest. I've always been a craft-lover and savvy shopper, so I love recreating things on the cheap — whether it's home decor or a cute outfit I saw on a celebrity.

Lastly, are there any budget-friendly trends on the horizon that newly-engaged couples should keep an eye out for?

I really love the trend of food trucks for wedding catering. I think it's a super creative way to get a great meal of unique food with a fun twist! Gourmet grilled cheese or taco truck, anyone? YUM!

About the Expert: Jessica Bishop is the editor of the award-winning blog the Budget Savvy Bride, which she founded in 2008 while planning her own budget wedding. The site has been recognized by Glamour, Southern Weddings, and other publications as a go-to resource for brides planning a wedding on a budget. Visit TheBudgetSavvyBride.com for tips, tricks, inspiration, and DIY projects to help you save money on your big day!

The Best Destination Wedding Locations in the World by Brady Donnelly

Dusit Devarana New Delhi

Destination weddings are many things to many people, and their mention elicits fairytale-like dreams of distant escapes, resorts, yachts, pools, or mountains — often in combination. Unlike local celebrations, which benefit from a hearty, homey mood, destination weddings are cultural explorations of their own, providing an easy travel excuse — finances willing — to far-off, exotic lands.

For couples, the most expensive step of planning a destination wedding isn’t always the booking; very often, in fact, its the exploration. Fortunately, there are unique, affordable destination wedding venues out there, and the internet, with its rich imagery and interactive content, is your savior, an outlet that can give you a feel for just about anything but the weather on your wedding day. And who wants to worry about that, anyway?

But what if you did only had four days to look? Start at these four locations, our favorite destination wedding venues in the world, which span from the United States all the way across three continents.

Destination Weddings in Italy

Furnirussi Tenuta

Furnirussi Tenuta in Serrano Italy

Furnirussi Tenuta in Serrano, Italy, is a resort on a different scale. Beyond the walls of its luxurious rooms and shimmering pool, Furnirussi Tenuta sits on the largest organic fig plantation in Europe — 4,500 trees on 20 hectares of open land. The Mediterranean spirit is in full force here, as you might imagine, with the Italian countryside, its scents, and its sounds unraveling in all directions. Add suites with 70 square-meter terraces, chromotherapy showers, and panoramic bathtubs, and you’ve got a relaxed bride and groom — not to mention an extremely happy wedding party.

Take a look at Furnirussi Tenuta’s wedding costs, capacity, and availability. Are you a wedding venue in Italy? Join us!

Destination Weddings in India

Dusit Devarana New Delhi

Dusit Devarana in New Delhi India

India is growing rapidly in popularity as a wedding destination celebrated for its energy, history, and colorful charm. Dusit Devarana, a luxury resort in the heart of New Delhi, has the added strength of coupling new-world opulence and old-world taste: elegant rooms, private pool decks, manicured greens, Michelin-star dining, and an in-house spa. On top of it all, its unique architecture lends itself to other-worldly celebrations, rich in color, light, and cultural enlightenment.

Take a look at Dusit Devarana New Delhi’s wedding costs, capacity, and availability. Are you a wedding venue in India? Join us!

Destination Weddings in Hawaii

The Modern Honolulu

The Modern Honolulu in Waikiki, Hawaii.

The Modern Honolulu in Waikiki, Hawaii, is a contemporary resort with a rare, tasteful take on island life. Every inch is refined, sleek, and minimalist, keeping your attention on the surroundings at hand — swaying palm trees, luring views of the Pacific Ocean, the yacht-filled harbor, and a city skyline to match the mainland. With fine dining to boot — organic and local, homemade and artisanal — the Modern Honolulu is a dreamy escape for a bride and groom, not to mention the their hundreds of guests, who can relax in peace across the resort’s expansive estate.

Take a look at the Modern Honolulu’s wedding costs, capacity, and availability. Are you a wedding venue in Hawaii? Join us! 

Destination Weddings in Scotland

Loch Ness Lodge

Loch Ness Lodge in Inverness, Scotland.

Loch Ness Lodge in Inverness, Scotland, is an archetypal UK backdrop — an elegant, exclusive destination in the Scottish Highlands overlooking Loch Ness itself. Beyond the panoramic view of the water and the surrounding rolling hills, Loch Ness Lodge offers all of the amenities of an intimate bed and breakfast, with seven individual bedrooms, an in-house spa, and afternoon tea. As far as UK wedding venues are concerned — well, all of Europe, really — Loch Ness Lodge leads the way in deep, unwavering historical charm. 

Take a look at Loch Ness Lodge’s wedding costs, capacity, and availability. Are you a wedding venue in Scotland? Join us!

Are you a destination wedding venue? Join us at the Hitch - for free! To get started, visit our venue sign-up page, and join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

Your Wedding Budget: 10 Must-Ask Questions About Venue Costs by Brady Donnelly

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Spoiler: weddings are expensive. Between the rental cost, band, catering, and invitations, the numbers certainly add up — often astronomically — and catch even the most able-minded couples off guard. But shock and awe need not be part of your campaign for the perfect wedding budget, especially when it comes to your venue fees.

But why start with there? Simply, because your wedding venue will likely be the most expensive piece of the puzzle, and it will dictate everything that followers: preferred caterers, types of bands, peak and off-peak season pricing, and so on. But regardless of how you swing it, most venues share one common trait — complex, often-confusing rental prices (even if we're doing our best to change that with the Hitch wedding budget calculator).  

In short, you need to read the fine print to determine the overall cost of your rental. So we’ve gathered the top ten questions you need to ask in order to determine your wedding venue budget — in person, by email, by fax, by whatever means necessary — and get your wedding planning off to a strong start.

I. What is the average venue rental cost?

2. Over which dates is the venue available?

3. Do costs vary day by day, week by week, or season by season?

4. Are food and beverage included in the rental fee? If not, do you offer in-house catering, or do you have preferred vendors?

5. How long is a rental, and how much are your hourly overtime fees?

6. How large of a rental deposit do you require, and when is the remaining balance due?

7. What forms of payment do you accept?

8. What is your cancellation policy?

9. Is there a service charge?

10. What might we be overlooking that is excluded from the fee?

Anything we've overlooked? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or by email at brady@thehitch.com. And don't hesitate — we'd love to hear from you. 

Real Weddings: Cris and Abbie at Chicago's Greenhouse Loft by Brady Donnelly

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About the author: Mary Beth Kraft is a Chicago-based event planner, public relations pro, and blogger. To contact her, get event ideas, or to delight in all things celebratory, visit her blog, she themes everything.  

I love when brides begin their event consultation by saying, “We don’t want this to be overly traditional. We’re doing things a little differently.” Abbie and her groom Cristiano were one of those couples. For them, a traditional sit-down dinner just wouldn’t cut it, and they were looking for an alternative to the standard Chicago wedding reception locations.

Cris and Abbie began dating in 2010 and got engaged on a moonlit beach in Mexico two years later. Abbie, an Indianapolis native, and Cris, originally from Brazil, both settled in Chicago and wanted anything but ordinary for their nuptials. For their wedding, we needed to fuse Cris’ Brazilian background with their love for Chicago, travel, and good cuisine.

Luckily, Greenhouse Loft presented the perfect option for the nontraditional reception Abbie and Cris wanted: LEED certified and beautifully modern, with an in-house photo studio. “Greenhouse Loft was a great combination of location (our neighborhood!), an indoor and outdoor space, plus a conscious green outlook and a beautiful blank canvas to design our reception around,” Abbie said.

Using greenery, rustic wood branches, soft pinks and oranges, and candlelight, Cris and Abbie turned the blank canvas of Greenhouse Loft into a romantic and celebratory evening. Guests flowed from the ceremony right into cocktail hour, and then the entire 3,500 square foot Greenhouse Loft space was open for dinner and dancing, void of traditional 10-top tables and complete with highboy tables and lounge areas.

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The couple also wanted their event to be celebratory, rather than overly formal. “With our approach to the food, music, and the overall flow of Greenhouse Loft,” Abbie explained, “we created a real party.”  

Since Cris is Brazilian, the couple wanted to incorporate some of his heritage into the evening. Bossa Tres, a local Brazilian jazz band, played for the first two hours of the reception. While guests danced to the South American tunes, FIG Catering served up an international menu with passed small bites and delicious appetizer stations.  

The menu included blackened duck breast with cherry-jalapeno compote, seared beef crostini with beet-horseradish crème, mini lamb burgers with mint tzatziki, coconut milk halibut ceviche with jicama, and many other diverse delights. The dessert bar was full of indulgences like chocolate Pot du Crème, caramel apple galette, and cherry pie — a favorite of the bride.

With a focus on food, guests even left the wedding taking home “Eat, Drink, & Be Married” favor boxes filled with a handwritten recipe card, jam, cheese, and other foodie treats. In between hours of dancing, guests could take a break at Greenhouse Loft’s in-house photo studio for fun group pictures — props included — or a nice portrait. “My favorite part of the day was seeing close friends and family all there to celebrate our marriage — and of course the eating, drinking, dancing!”

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The moral of the story? Find a venue that is uniquely you, and don’t make plans for your wedding just because it’s what someone else wants you to have. Personalities can shine through while stepping out of the box. As Abbie suggested, “Look at unusual spaces — there are plenty of possibilities in Chicago!”

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The Best Wedding Venues in California by Brady Donnelly

Ever since the Gold Rush, California has been a land of enchantment, American dreams, and remarkable diversity — from its people to its landscape, and the flashing lights of Los Angeles to the mountainous retreats of Lake Tahoe. It should come as no surprise — and likely doesn’t — that it’s also one of the most popular places in the world to get married, and in its sheer size, it comes with no shortage of unique wedding venues.

Of course, a diversity of choice can make an already weighty decision even more difficult, so today, we’re presenting our first batch of the best California wedding venues. From historical estates to collegiate stadiums to beach escapes, these locations provide a glimpse at the breadth of California’s top offerings.

California Memorial Stadium | Berkeley, California 

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California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California, is the home of the University of California, Berkeley Golden Bears football team. Though it was renovated in 2012, the stadium actually opened its doors in 1923 as a memorial to Californians who lost their lives in World War I. As such, and deservedly so, it’s a member of the National Register of Historic Places and celebrated as one of the most scenic venues in football — a 63,000 capacity stadium with views of San Francisco Bay, Berkeley Hills, and Strawberry Canyon.

Visit the Hitch for California Memorial Stadium wedding costs, availability, and capacity. And if you’re another unique California wedding venue, join us!

 

Henry Mancini Estate | Palm Springs, California

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The Henry Mancini Estate in Palm Springs, California, was once the home of Enrico Nicola Mancini, one of America’s most fabled composers, conductors, and arrangers. Famous for film and television scores, including the Pink Panther theme and the Breakfast at Tiffany’s soundtrack, Mancini earned a reputation as a go-to source for Hollywood hits, and with his earnings, built a breathtaking estate: an Italian-villa style, 5,200-square foot mansion in Palm Springs, California.

For those seeking a particularly unique wedding venue, Mancini’s private estate provides a significant level of solitude without the sacrifice of glamour. The brick courtyard, fountains, Olympic-sized swimming pool, rich Hollywood history, and setting deep within the rolling hills of Palm Springs have enough to entertain your guests for a day — or week, or month, if you’re interested — so get creative when it comes to planning your ceremony here.

Visit the Hitch for Henry Mancini Estate wedding costs, availability, and capacity. And if you’re another unique California wedding venue, join us!

 

Firehouse 8 | San Francisco, California 

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Leave it to San Francisco — the creative capital of the West Coast, really — to build a venue like Firehouse 8: an historic Russian Hill firehouse, previously vacant for 30 years, now available for private gatherings. At over 8,000-square feet spread across three floors, Firehouse 8 can hold between 20 and 300 people with complete flexibility, and its team suggests you think of it as your blank canvas. The proceeds from your booking will go directly toward keeping it local, welcoming, and communal, all in the spirit of a public-turned-private landmark.

Visit the Hitch for Firehouse 8 wedding costs, availability, and capacity. And if you’re another unique California wedding venue, join us!

 

Beltane Ranch | Glen Ellen, California 

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Sonoma Valley is America’s most famous wine region, and the historic Beltane Ranch in Glen Ellen has been at its forefront since 1892. Its gardens, vineyards, and orchards circle an estate that includes private accommodations, tennis courts, and, of course, remarkable views. Meander freely on the grounds, and you’ll cross grazing horses and cattle, as well as organic gardens, out of which the estate pulls ingredients for its kitchens. In this, the ranch is a wedding venue with calming spirit of a rural escape, albeit one with a quality that can easily compete with its urban counterparts.

Visit the Hitch for Beltane Ranch wedding costs, availability, and capacity. And if you’re another unique California wedding venue, join us!

 

Clancy Lane Estate | Rancho Mirage, California 

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Clancy Lane Estate in Rancho Mirage, California, is a private, gated venue with dramatic touches at every turn: a dramatic infinity pool, indoor-outdoor patios and dining spaces, and fire pits abound. Its surrounding area — Riverside County on the whole — is plush with high class and high quality escapes of its own, particular for guests drawn to sweeping golf courses and sightings of the wealthy and powerful, from presidents to actors and beyond.

Visit the Hitch for Clancy Len Estate wedding costs, availability, and capacity. And if you’re another unique California wedding venue, join us!