For many couples, getting married in a house of worship is an absolute must. But some couples want something a bit, or even very different for their ceremony and / or reception. I, for one, got married at a zoo. Yes, that's right: a zoo!
Technically, it was in a beautiful mansion house that happened to be on zoo property. I wasn't in the cages with the monkeys, I promise! And a zoo setting could have given a whole new meaning to “monkey suit.” But it goes to show that brides can get married just about anywhere, with great results.
For couples not too far from a coast, beaches are a popular option. To lower the effects of bad luck with weather, look for a beachside restaurant with experience doing weddings – ask about their contingency plan in case storm clouds start brewing. If you’re landlocked, consider having a destination wedding, but be thoughtful about the resources available to family and friends for that kind of travel commitment.
If the countryside isn’t too far away, you might have the ceremony and reception on a farm or ranch. Imagine how rustic and beautiful that could be! One bride I know had the reception dinner in a (well-scrubbed) barn, and it was just lovely.
How about holding the wedding at an art gallery or museum? It's especially fitting if the bride and groom share an interest in whatever the gallery or museum focuses on. One pair of friends of mine, both artists, tied the knot at a local gallery.
Other landmarks, such as public parks, botanical gardens, picturesque colleges, or historic restaurants are other options. Out-of-town guests will particularly appreciate being able to see the couple's locale through their eyes.
A potential benefit to less traditional ceremony and reception venues is that they can be cheaper and less in-demand than hotels, country clubs and other more traditional wedding spaces. One word of caution though -- if you want to be married by clergy, be sure to check with him or her about denomination requirements for marriage ceremonies before booking anything.