Why would someone want to get married on a college campus? I mean, there are so many other places that specialize in producing fairytale weddings…
Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, there was a brilliant girl sitting in Western Civ during her freshman year of college.
She was taking immaculate notes and absolutely getting straight A’s when a young man sitting behind her asked to borrow a pencil. The two insanely attractive students struck up a conversation.
They became fast friends. After many years of adventures, parties, broken hearts, and marathon study sessions, they realized they should’ve just married each other to begin with.
And so they did. A litter of children, a mortgage, and many pets later, they’re living happily in the suburbs. The rest is history. (Get it? Western Civ? History? I’m sure you get it…)
True story. Mostly. As I like to remember it, anyway.
He later confided he had been sitting behind me all year trying to get my attention. Still, I was oblivious, as all of my attention was focused on why the Middle Ages were the worst.
Our story isn’t really that unique. Like many young people, we grew into adulthood in college. Our experiences there (both together and on our own), shaped a big part of who we are today.
Maybe your ‘sitch is nothing like mine. Perhaps you didn’t go to college and met your partner-in-crime in line at the grocery store. Or on a jungle safari.
Regardless of where you met, there are a ton of good reasons to get hitched on a college campus.
In this article, we’ll look at why getting married on a college campus is a great idea. Oh, and, the crew at L&L got together and sniffed out some gorgeous campus settings all over the U.S. to share with you. Hopefully, they’ll give you some inspiration for throwing your own storybook wedding.
Chapter 1: Why Get Married on a College Campus?
Like I said, getting married at a college campus may or may not have anything to do with how you met, but there are a few other reasons why it might just be the right venue for you:
It Can Be Very Convenient (Particularly During School Breaks)
Depending upon the location and timing, holding your wedding on a college campus can be pretty convenient. Parking and lodging arrangements for guests may be easier to manage at a university-based venue. Also, many college campuses are at the center of bustling areas where restaurants and shopping are within walking distance.
It Can Also Be Very Budget-Friendly
Getting married at a university can be MUCH more affordable than traditional venues.
Now isn’t the most lucrative time for private universities. Many are looking for creative ways to generate some revenue with minimal spending. Capitalizing on the assets of a picturesque campus setting is an excellent way to do that.
This translates to providing a fantastic yet affordable location for hosting your wedding. Win/Win.
***Disclaimer*** Some of the venues featured here aren’t the most budget-friendly available, but we want you to see them. They’ll help get those inspirational juices flowing. Also, they’re amazing.
You Love Learning
Right? Of course you do. This is a good thing because getting married at a university provides plenty of educational enrichment opportunities.
Many universities are rich in history and culture. Some feature fascinating museums and house expansive libraries, making the wedding experience way more interesting for your guests and for you.
Many Have Beautiful Indoor and Outdoor Spaces!
Many universities feature manicured green spaces, architecturally impressive buildings, grand banquet halls, and ornate chapels. This provides you with a one-stop-shop for the ceremony, reception, photoshoots, and more.
Remember that scheduling a wedding at any venue is a little iffy right now, so some of these event spaces may not be ready to re-open quite yet. But don’t worry, they can’t stay closed forever.
Also, remember those schools we mentioned that host weddings we may or may not be able to afford? Check out these seven absolutely stunning college venues:
Pssst…a little further along in this article (Chapter 4,) we’ll show you some that are more budget-friendly.
Architecture, architecture, architecture
Try sayin’ that three times fast.
Some of the oldest structures in the U.S. are college campuses, and the architecture alone provides a majestic backdrop for a wedding:
With its rich walnut paneling, stenciled ceiling, and graceful trusses, Harvard University’s Annenberg Hall is a stunning space for an indoor wedding. Dedicated in 1874, Harvard Divinity students used the space for their early morning workouts in wintertime.
In 1996, after a ton of renovations, it became the first-year student’s dining hall and was renamed as Annenberg.
Leave it to Harvard to feed their freshmen in a hall that looks just like Hogwart’s. In fact, there’s a possibility that the historical portraits housed there may talk to your guests. Which is a pretty cool touch if you ask us.
If you’re looking for a flexible indoor/outdoor university venue, but still want that old-school (aa! get it?) atmosphere of history and culture, the Prospect House and gardens at Princeton are just gorgeous.
The gardens on the grounds are incredibly dreamy. Mrs. Woodrow Wilson herself planted the rear flower garden in the shape of the University’s seal. She also supervised much of the planting of the diverse array of trees on the grounds.
If you’d like to hold a formal ceremony in a church, many universities house gorgeous places of worship as well. In fact, some of the most architecturally-striking churches and chapels in the world are affiliated with U.S. universities.
Built in 1836, Saint Louis University’s College Church is unbelievably majestic. Its gothic revival- style architecture and vivid stained glass windows are enough to take your breath away. It’s open for public weddings, but only to those couples baptized as Roman Catholic.
Made entirely of stone and adorned with over 100 sculptures, this chapel’s gothic architectural beauty is overwhelming from the exterior alone. When you get inside, it’ll knock your socks off. An organ case featuring oak carvings, vaulted ceilings, art-deco style glazed tile mosaics, and pastel-stained glass windows make it a sight to behold.
The Chapel invites the University’s alumni, students, and full-time staff of any denomination or faith to use its facilities for wedding ceremonies.
Many universities house other indoor/outdoor spaces that are perfect for hosting a wedding. Some of the libraries, museums, theaters, and common areas found at universities all over the U.S. provide a unique and beautiful atmosphere to say your vows.
Of course UCLA has gorgeous outdoor options for hosting a wedding! The Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, Janss Terrace, and Wilson Plaza are a few worth investigating.
Whoever decided that the Penn Museum would make a good spot to throw a wedding deserves a medal. With multiple indoor and outdoor spaces to choose from, you can integrate your wedding seamlessly with some of the museum’s exhibits. How cool is that??
Wow. Pretty much speechless on this one. The main library is the most magical spot for a ceremony and reception. The Exhibition Room provides an ideal place for pre-wedding cocktail hour for your guests to peruse the rare books and curated artifacts on display from the library’s private collection. You really have to see it to believe it.
Chapter 2: Tips to Plan A College Campus Wedding
Now that you’re convinced that a college campus wedding is fairytale-worthy and checks all the boxes as the perfect venue for you and your beau, here are some things to think about when planning your big day:
Scheduling is everything
Obviously, getting married at a college means working around their schedule. It’s a school first, right? So book a time during breaks, and be sure to plan around academic and sporting events. If you time it right, you may even get some extra accommodation in the form of housing and parking options.
Secure your date WELL ahead of time
A year would be nice, but if you’re in a hurry, 9 months minimum. Communicate with the staff designated to schedule weddings and events to confirm that your university will still be hosting weddings when the date rolls around. Some schools aren’t as consistent as others when it comes to planning.
Confirm rules and restrictions that may be applicable
If you’d like to have your reception at the university, but it’s a dry campus, that could pose some problems if you’re planning on having an open bar. Or any bar. Similarly, many campuses are predominantly non-smoking. If your Aunt Marge is a serious smoker, she’ll need to know where she can and can’t light up.
There may also be rules around what you will and won’t have access to in terms of extra space. Make sure you have adequate areas for things like dressing and makeup/hair as well as a private room for the wedding party to prepare.
Take your vendors into consideration too. Your caterers (if not arranged through the university) will need adequate space to set up and take down your tables, seating, staging, etc.
Tell the story
If holding your wedding at a university venue has personal significance, share that with your guests and they’ll feel like they’re part of your story too. You can do this on your invites, during wedding party speeches, during the ceremony, whatever is appropriate.
When sending out info about logistics, highlight some cool things your guests may be interested in seeing or doing on campus. If there’s a fantastic spot for grabbing a cup of coffee and people watching or a Sunday brunch mecca you used to frequent, let them know.
Involve your vendors
Sometimes throwing a wedding in a non-conventional setting means a little extra communication with the people helping you make it happen. And a good vendor will be happy to work with you.
While most vendors are used to traditional wedding venues, they’ve probably got a few tricks up their sleeve when working around places that aren’t pre-fabricated for weddings. Brief them on what you have and don’t have available so they know what they’re dealing with.
Chapter 3: Incorporate Your Alma Mater
Suppose you can’t book a gig on campus but would like to give a nod to your alma mater. In that case, here are some other ways you can pay homage in a beautiful and tasteful way at whatever venue you choose.
Including your college’s colors in the decor palette for your wedding is an excellent way to show your school spirit. If they aren’t conventional wedding colors, even better. It could add a really cool and unique aesthetic to your floral and table settings.
Mascot Wedding Cake
The same applies to your cake. A good cake designer can incorporate pretty much anything into a wedding cake, while still keeping it stylish and ‘wedding-y’.
Paying homage to your school’s mascot will probably draw lots of smiles from your guests with no cartoons necessary. Unless that’s what you want. In which case, we want pictures.
Most universities have an anthem or fight song. It’s amazing what a live band or a string quartet can do when it comes to covering a request, so throw it in there!
If you and your sweetheart met at school or it plays a role in your love story in other ways, include that narrative on your memory board and display it proudly.
Head to campus for an engagement photoshoot! Go where you first met, or a tree in the courtyard you used to study under together and revisit some of those memories.
Have your rehearsal dinner or day-after brunch at a special spot on campus. It’s a fun place to recount your experiences there and why they’re meaningful to you both.
Chapter 4: Affordable College Campuses for Your Wedding
***Disclaimer: The rates and inclusions we’ve quoted here are subject to change. Check with the venue for the most updated prices and offerings.***
Want to get married in a castle in the middle of a metropolis? This Tudor Revival-style mansion overlooking the Charles River is the place to go. It features crystal chandeliers, mahogany paneling, a massive fireplace, and beamed ceilings.
The rental fee of $3,500 is for 5 hours of ceremony and reception time, but you can purchase extra time if you’d like. They do have some rules, though. Catering and beverage (including alcohol) must be handled by the venue, which may or may not be a good thing depending on how picky you want to get.
Packages start at $9,844 for 50 guests but include so much stuff, it’s bananas. Valet parking, day-of coordinator, coat check, dressing areas, dance floor – the list goes on and on. Check out their website for more information. Compared to more traditional venues, what you get for the money is well worth it.
The UV Alumni Building is the whole package if you want beauty, convenience, and southern style. Host your ceremony on the sweeping terrace overlooking the university grounds. Move into the grand Jefferson Ballroom, with its arched windows and shining hardwood floors, for the reception. Use the annex and photo gallery for an elegant cocktail reception or cake, favor, and gift tables.
Ceremony and reception rental packages start at $5,511 for 50 guests for up to 6 hours of the evening and 4 hours of daytime events. Ceremony-only rental rates range from $920 to $3,910.
Again, tons of amenities and a few very reasonable restrictions accompany these rates, so you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck with this space.
The botanic gardens at the University of Washington include two equally gorgeous venues – the Center for Urban Horticulture and Wisteria Hall.
We looked into the Center for Urban Horticulture because it provides the flexibility of having an indoor wedding or setting up the dining area outside under a stunning canopy of trees. Also, it was featured in Martha Stewart Real Weddings, so you know it’s going to be amazing.
The venue accommodates approximately 200 guests. You can rent the space for up to nine hours, including setup and clean up. Head on over to the website for more information on pricing and details on amenities offered in their packages.
This place is dazzling, and it’s absolutely enormous. White marble is used for the pillars and floors, as well as the main altar. The front door is solid bronze, and 50-foot barrel-vaulted ceilings create a dramatic atmosphere. The fountain in front of the church is also an excellent place for photos.
For a very reasonable $1,200 fee, you can use the chapel regardless of affiliation as long as one of the happy couple is of the Roman Catholic faith.
Fees don’t include services other than the wedding coordinator who leads the rehearsal and is present for assistance on the wedding day. You’ll have to book a reception elsewhere (we’ve heard there are plenty of lovely venues close by to host an exceptional par-tay).
The stained glass windows in this place are beautiful enough to make you cry, and the gothic exterior is the perfect place for fantastic photo-ops. Non-denominational, interfaith ceremonies are welcome and non-university affiliates can also rent the space.
Alice Millar Chapel fees range from $1,800 to $2,300, including an event manager available for scheduling the ceremony and rehearsal, a day-of-chapel coordinator, a musician, and a custodian before and after the ceremony.
Fees include 2 small preparation spaces for dressing and hair/makeup 30 minutes before the beginning of the ceremony. Parking is available as well.
This venue is intended for the ceremony only. The reception should be arranged elsewhere.
It’s been a really long time since that Western Civ class. And reflecting on it now, I think getting married at our college campus would’ve been quite romantic.
In fact, we’ve been thinking about renewing our vows for a while. Maybe it’s fitting we go back to the place where our own story began.