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One-of-a-Kind Wedding Venues
When you reach a certain age, it seems like you’re attending a wedding every other weekend. So when it comes to your own, it’s only natural to start wondering how to stand out from the crowd—not to mention express your personality so that your event truly feels like your own.
Well, here’s a hint: It starts with choosing the right venue. And here in Austin, we have a huge selection to choose from, whether it’s super-traditional or out-of-this-world. Still, when it comes to memorable, interesting weddings, a few venues rise to the top. Read on for our picks for Austin’s 11 most unusual wedding venues. Whether you’re looking for a historic limestone amphitheater where you’ll say your vows, a colorful event space that adds more than a dash of whimsy and magic to the proceedings, or a boat where you can celebrate your love while floating past the sparkling lights of downtown, there’s a little something for everyone here.
Blanton Museum of Art
The Blanton Museum’s 56,000-square-foot gallery building was the talk of the town when it opened in 2006, and well over a decade later it still holds an undeniable allure. Home to almost 18,000 works, from ancient Greek sculpture and paintings by European masters to abstract expressionist gems and installations by contemporary Latin-American artists, the museum also hosts weddings for couples who want a sleek, modern space and, it goes without saying, stunning art. Of particular interest are Teresita Fernández’s Stacked Waters installation—the striking blue bands of custom-cast acrylic covering the wall behind the Rapoport Atrium staircase, and Thomas Glassford’s Siphonophora, 40 feet of white cement aquatic creatures suspended from the ceiling. A wedding at the Blanton is elegant and stylish, and the setting is sure to keep guests entertained. Not to mention the stunning setting for your photos.
(Courtesy of Blanton Museum of Art, photo by Lisa Hause Photography)
The Infinite Monkey Theorem
Self-described as “back-alley winemaking at its finest,” this 6,000-square-foot urban winery in the South Congress District serves wines made from Texas-grown grapes, sourced primarily from the High Plains. Started in Denver, The Infinite Monkey Theorem one of the first urban wineries and are known for their unconventional and unpretentious approach. They put wine in cans and kegs—they have no use for wine snobs who might say they shouldn’t, especially since the result is so darn good. The space is modern, hip, and designed to make you feel comfortable, so it’s perfect for couples unconcerned about the status quo. It’s colorful and arty, with huge windows—ideal for a relaxed, fun and slightly tipsy wedding.
Mercury Hall’s chapel has been in use since 1904, when it was built as a church in the ill-fated town of Mercury, Texas. Shortly after the chapel was built, two fires nearly destroyed the town, but the chapel survived. In 1997, it was moved to a new home on a hilltop in the Galindo neighborhood of South Austin, and in the years since it has become a beloved event venue both for its indoor space with stained-glass windows and white shiplap walls, and for its current setting on 4 acres with wildflowers, oaks and other native plants. These days, the most popular ceremony location is on the 300-square-foot limestone terrace shaded by 200-year-old live oaks, though larger ceremonies can also take place on the 3,100-square-foot upper lawn. Afterward, move to the rock garden courtyard for cocktail hour, then head inside to the serene banquet hall for the dinner and reception. Weddings at Mercury Hall feel relaxed and rustic, with the small-town charm of its origins shining through.
(Photo courtesy of Mercury Hall)
Casa Rio de Colores
Brought to you by Jenna Radtke, the owner of popular quirky costume shop Lucy In Disguise, this brightly colored house on the San Gabriel River is decorated with mosaics and fountains outside, and an almost overwhelming tapestry of street signs, rugs, posters, photos, license plates and art inside. As Radtke herself admits, Casa Rio de Colores is not for everyone—but those who love it are besotted. During the day, swim, canoe, fish or float on the river, explore the nature trails or relax in a hammock. At night, watch as the mirrors hanging in the trees throw colored light everywhere, making this memorable space even more mystical. Plus, you’re in the country, so you don’t have to worry about making too much noise. The venue can sleep around 100 people, so no one has to drive home after a big night—and you can keep the party going until you simply can’t keep your eyes open.
The Sanctuary Event Space
You won’t feel like you’re in the heart of central Austin when you’re at the Sanctuary Event Space. On weekdays, the space hosts yoga classes and serves as the office for the Amala Foundation, a nonprofit dedicating to bringing together youth from different backgrounds and helping them to grow, recover from trauma and learn to help others. On the weekends, it hosts weddings and other events for up to 150 guests in this calm, beautiful space with wood floors and lots of natural light, and a canopy of live oaks outside. During weddings, the front house is used for catering, the studio becomes the dance floor and the loft serves as the bridal suite. Event rentals benefit the Amala Foundation, so this is a perfect venue for service-minded couples going for a relaxed vibe.
(Courtesy of Sanctuary Event Space, photo by Amy Dang Photography)
Hold your ceremony and/or reception on the lake with a cruise through downtown Austin. Capital Cruises has been in business since 1991, and their all-electric boat fleet is the Highland Lakes’ largest. The boats pick up right on the shores of Lady Bird Lake, near the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue and the South Congress Bridge where the famous Mexican freetail bat colony lives, so if you’ve ever dreamed of a uniquely Austin wedding photo that includes the black ribbon of bats streaming out from under the bridge for dinner, you’re in luck. You can customize your experience, so if you want to say your vows in front of the downtown skyline or be introduced as newlyweds in front of the sheer limestone bluffs of West Austin, you’re all set. They also offer catering and entertainment options to make wedding planning super-simple.
(Courtesy of Capital Cruises photo by Chris Sherman Photography)
This is a tiny, romantic outdoor-only chapel southwest of Austin on the Wizard Academy grounds. Chapel Dulcinea's claim to fame is that it’s completely free; in fact, it was the world’s first free wedding chapel when it opened in 2005. A few caveats, though: For one, because it’s all outside, you may have to deal with less-than-ideal weather—couples have been married here in temperatures ranging from 17 to 112 degrees. And while it’s free, they do charge a no-show fee, which means it’s all the more important to be sure weather’s not a deal-breaker. If you can all handle that, you get a gorgeous, gas-lit chapel and patio area for a small wedding ceremony, sitting at the edge of a Native American trail and overlooking the Texas Hill Country. After you say your vows, ring the bell in the tower to let those nearby know that another union has taken place.
This scenic nature preserve in West Austin is a great place to spend a breezy spring afternoon and an even lovelier place to say your vows. Cobblestone paths connect lily-filled ponds, palm trees provide shade from the Texas sun, and an 1870s stone cottage will make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time. But Mayfield Park is best known for the family of peacocks that live on site. They spend their time sunning on the cottage’s roof, perching in the trees or strolling through the gardens. Schedule a late-winter or spring wedding to see the males fanning their majestic tails to attract mates, a late-spring or early summer wedding to catch a glimpse of a young peachick, or a July or early August wedding—if you think your guests can stand the heat—for your best chance at finding a long, colorful tail feather as a memento of your big day.
This picturesque 325-acre ranch northwest of Austin was designed to feel like an Old West town, complete with a chapel, saloon, general store, gun range and live animals. Bridesmaids get a little too rowdy? There’s even a sheriff’s office with a small jail. The town is pretty much ready-made for photos, but additional touches such as the hand-carved cedar tables and chairs, décor options such as chandeliers and candelabras, and vintage pickup trucks for photo staging make a good thing even better. Twisted Ranch’s event planners will help you create the wedding of your dreams, with your choice of several indoor and outdoor ceremony sites.
(Courtesy of Twisted Ranch, photo by Sterling Images)
Austin Scottish Rite Theater
If you’ve ever wanted to get married on stage, the Austin Scottish Rite Theater might be a great fit. A performance venue built in 1871 (the same year Austin became Texas’ capital), the theater began as a German opera house, and in 1914 became the home of the Scottish Rite Masons. In 2004 the group turned it into the nonprofit theater organization it is today. Located just north of downtown, the organization focuses on theater performances for school groups and kids’ summer camps, but is happy to rent their venue for weddings. Such rentals can include the theater, a kitchen, dining room and lobbies. Charming touches in the building include wood floors and doors, and vintage hand-painted backdrops.
Officially called Jane Dunn Sibley Symphony Square, this complex of four historic limestone buildings and 350-seat amphitheater in the heart of downtown Austin houses the Austin Symphony Orchestra. The amphitheater frequently hosts events, and the space is special not only because it can host so many guests in an outdoor, downtown space (at 11th and Red River), but also for its rich history. The triangular building, for example, was built in 1871 by Jeremiah Hamilton, a black legislator who served in Texas for a two-year term. Thanks to its central location, Symphony Square wedding guests can stop by the Texas Capitol a short stroll away before or after your event, and the location is perfect for couples who plan some bar-hopping for their wedding after-party.