Well, realistically, you’re never going to be the first bride to have your wedding at any of these locations — they’re all well-prepared to host your big day. But you don’t have to be the first to enjoy matching your event to your personal sense of style.
20th Century Theatre
This Art Deco-style movie theater was built in 1941 and was later transformed into an event venue. It holds both ceremonies and receptions (for 100-400 guests) with personalized marquee messages for each couple. Put your inside jokes in lights. All food is catered in-house and base rental, food, beverage, linens, valet, tax and labor costs $7,000-$12,000, depending on size. “Our main focus is to make sure that our food is amazing and that it is a good party,” says Lindsey Johnson, wedding and events director for the 20th Century. 3021 Madison Road, Oakley, www.the20thcenturytheatre.com.
American Sign Museum
“A hip and fun and vibrant couple would love to have their wedding here,” says Events Manager Sara Mulhauser. With more than 400 lit signs in the background, ranging from lettered to neon, no decorations are needed. Couples can even get individualized party signage on the Holiday Inn sign at the entrance of the museum. The museum has an indoor Sign Garden and outdoor Sign Garden in warmer months to accommodate up to 200 people. You can choose your own caterer and/or music. Rental rates are based on group size, length of the event and the staff support you need. 2515 Essex Place, Walnut Hills, www.signmuseum.net.
Five thousand square feet of majestic stone chateau nestled on 70 acres of a working winery — full of charm, rustic elegance and lake views — Chateau Pomije feels like a European castle. The chateau can accommodate groups from 10-150 in its turn-of-the-century winery, and for larger receptions its banquet facility seats 100-350. Food and beverage prices range from $3,500-$5,500 on Saturdays, with discounts on Fridays and Sundays. Chateau Pomije will even customize a bottle of its exquisite estate-grown wines for your event. 25043 Jacobs Road, Guilford, Ind., www.cpwinery.com.
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
Add some drama to your wedding and reception at the Playhouse in the Park. Although you can’t rent the Thompson Shelterhouse or the Marx Theatre, the Playhouse’s other unique spaces (like the Rosenthal Plaza for $850 or the Kaplan Lobby for $650) combined with the beautiful park setting and a view of the skyline provide an elegant, unique atmosphere. Receptions can accomodate 20-285 guests. Keep in mind, from September-June spaces are generally only available during the day and on Monday evenings. 962 Mt. Adams Circle, Mt. Adams, www.cincyplay.com.
As Executive Director Craig Niemi says, “Nothing is more romantic than a night under the stars.” The Observatory’s beautiful Greek Revival building is considered to be the birthplace of American Astronomy, which makes sense considering it houses the world’s oldest telescope. This location is ideal for more intimate wedding ceremonies and receptions. The Observatory rents for $750-$1,500 with an indoor capacity of 50-55 for dinner, table and chairs included, and 100 people outside. 3489 Observatory Place, Mt. Lookout, www.cincinnatiobservatory.org.
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
“One bride loved coming to the zoo ever since she was a little girl and could not leave without stopping off to visit the elephants before returning home,” says Carla Albrinck, the zoo’s group sales event coordinator. “Her fiancé contacted us and we were able to arrange the elephants to be a special part of his proposal. Several months later, they were married in front of the elephant house.” Rent the zoo for your reception for $750-$1,500. Package pricing begins at $40 per person. The zoo will also have one or two small animals visit your guests. You can even request more “dynamic” animals. 3400 Vine St., Avondale, www.cincinnatizoo.org.
With its wrought iron faade, Coney Island’s Moonlite Gardens and Moonlite Pavilion open-air banquet facilities resemble the French Quarter in New Orleans. Coney Island’s Wedding Reception Package includes a coordinator, two full-time executive chefs, four-hour rental of Moonlite Gardens, a buffet dinner, a three-hour open bar service, china, crystal, silver, colored napkins, complimentary cutting of wedding cake and free parking for all wedding guests.
6201 Kellogg Ave., California, www.coneyislandpark.com.
Built around 1899, this home has a covered wrap-around porch, a stone terrace and 1,025 acres of forest, fields and streams. Think wildflowers and meadows. The Lodge accommodates 100 guests inside and an additional 200 guests when using the porch and terrace. $400-$1,500 plus setup and breakdown. 4949 Tealtown Road, Milford, www.cincynature.org.
Little Red Schoolhouse
Set in rural Indian Hill, this authentic 19th-century, one-room schoolhouse is an unusual historical building with an amazing lawn. Once the building is rented, it may be used for both the wedding and the reception. It offers a full commercial kitchen and you can hire a caterer of your choice. Inside can house 80-125 people, but tents can be added to the front lawn to accommodate larger receptions. $350-$500. BYOB. 8100 Given Road, Indian Hill, 513-891-1873.
According to its Web site, “Chateau Laroche was built as an expression and reminder of the simple strength and rugged grandeur of the mighty men who lived when Knighthood was in flower.” If you want a wedding/reception that reflects these qualities, or you’re going for a medieval theme, cough up $550 for a 1-50 guest reception inside or $650 for 51-100 outside. Weddings are held after 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays only. Tables and chairs not provided. 12025 Shore Road, Loveland, www.lovelandcastle.com.
Mayday offers a quaint, urban location for weddings and private parties, with two full bars, a two-tiered patio and dance floor, along with a stage, PA system and caterer-accesible kitchen, all in the heart of Northside. 4227 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513-541-0999, www.maydaynorthside.com.
The Mockbee is a mid-19th century lager brewery in Cincinnati’s Historic Brewery District. “Brides interested in a historical, industrial or a gothic feel for their wedding would love our venue,” says William R. Howe of The Mockbee. For $250 and up you can package your ceremony and reception together with food, liquor, tables, chairs, sound system, DJs, etc. They also have an experienced, trained catering chef on staff. A romantic tale? “One couple who got married at The Mockbee met at an art opening some years before and decided to take their vows on the spot that they first saw each other.” 2260 Central Parkway, Brighton, firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
“An open-minded bride looking for a unique ceremony in a significant and beautiful setting would be the perfect person to book a ceremony at the Freedom Center,” says Rhonda Miller, private event coordinator for the center. “Also, we have a gorgeous terrace where our Flame of Eternal Freedom is placed that overlooks the river … And a bride who is looking for an intimate ceremony (80 guests or fewer) will be thrilled to see our third floor. The spirit of freedom and respect for humanity showcased within the Freedom Center also make it the perfect spot for a new couple to commit to one another.” Holds ceremonies and receptions. $500 for the ceremony and $2,700-$3,200 for receptions. 50 E. Freedom Way, Downtown, www.freedomcenter.org.
“The Riverside Room has a gorgeous view of downtown Cincinnati and the Ohio River,” says Rodger Pille, PR manager of the Newport Aquarium. “We can pipe music [into our patio area] and place bars so that guests can eat, drink and smoke.” For the $5,000 ceremony/reception fee, you also gain exclusive access to the aquarium after hours and a visit from African penguins, in their own, natural tuxedoes. 1 Aquarium Way, Newport, www.newportaquarium.com.
A combination of Georgian and Queen Anne styles built to rival the grandest houses of America and Europe, Peterloon is also home to walled gardens, terraces and lawns that extend to a circular pool overlooking an eight-acre lake. More than 250 guests can be accommodated outdoors on the great lawn under the tent and stars. Kitchen facilities are available for use by approved caterers in keeping with the Peterloon catering guidelines. Tables, chairs, and tableware (but not linens) for 120 can be provided. 8605 Hopewell Road, Indian Hill, www.peterloon.org.
The Redmoor’s “Weddings of Distinction” offer an elegant, customizable space with all the amenities a wedding could need. Rental fee includes full use of bar and dining areas; private room for dressing or meeting; full-service catering; linens and napkins; sound engineer; cake cutting and service; votive candles and table numbers; use of tables chairs, china, flatware, and glassware; spacious dance floor; and set up and clean up. Seating capacity is 225; room capacity 350. 3187 Linwood Avenue, Mt. Lookout, 513-871-6789, www.theredmoor.com.
Spring Grove Cemetery
Often called a “museum without walls” (or a cemetery, or an aboretum), Spring Grove offers its Garden Courtyard and Normal Chapel for weddings. Ceremonies may be held on Friday evenings, Saturday evenings or on a Sunday morning or afternoon for up to 1,000 outdoors and 200 inside the chapel. Spring Grove doesn’t permit food, beverages or alcohol on the premises, so look elsewhere for a reception venue. $695-$995. 4521 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, www.springgrove.org.
A spectacular example of Art Deco architecture, Union Terminal opened in 1933 as a train depot and is now home to the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children’s Museum, Museum of Natural History & Science and Robert D. Lindner Family Omnimax Theater. Enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the Cincinnati History Museum, with dinner on the movie set-like Public Landing. Areas that are open to the public during the day — the three museums and Rotunda — are available for rental after 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 p.m. on Sunday. 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate, www.cincymuseum.org.
Built in 1868, the building has been restored and remodeled to be a loft environment that still retains its original, historic character. Exposed brick and wood beam architecture, along with large windows with views of the city, are only part of the charm. A wedding/reception equates to 8 hours, including set-up/teardown time, for $1,975. Additional hours are $175 each. Can seat 125 for dinner and 220 for cocktails without tables. 222 E. 14th St., Downtown, www.venue222.com.
Wiedemann Hill Mansion
The mansion was built in 1894 by Charles Wiedemann, heir to the George Wiedemann Brewery. Receptions cost $1,750 on Friday, $1,950 on Saturday and $1,450 on Sunday. Food and alcohol must be provided and served by a preferred caterer. At the end of the night, the groom traditionally surprises his bride by asking her for the last dance of the evening. Book at least two years in advance for WEBN fireworks night. 1102 Park Ave., Newport, www.whillmansion.com.
Even more ideas
There’s also the Contemporary Arts Center (www.contemporaryartscenter.org), Cincinnati Art Museum (www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org) or Taft Museum of Art (www.taftmuseum.org) for arts-themed events. At Turfway Park (www.turfway.com) Chef Peter Haubi will cater your reception for up to 4,000 people; for 5,000, they’ll even open up the infield and put your name in lights on the infield board. Music Hall (www.cincinnatiarts.org/musichall) can house an audience of 3,500 or an intimate gathering of 20 or fewer. Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park (www.pyramidhill.org) offers two outdoor wedding chapels, with its larger amphitheatre overlooking the Great Miami River. And Hamilton County Parks’ Withrow Nature Preserve (www.hamiltoncountyparks.org) hosts intimate wedding ceremonies surrounded by nature’s beauty, where you can release native butterflies instead of throwing rice or rose petals. Adonis nightclub regularly hosts weddings and commitment ceremonies (www.adonisthenightclub.com). Or get married at Carew Tower’s Observation Deck and have your reception in the Tower Place Mall food court.