Taking the worry out of an outside affair

Photo by Alison Dunn

Photo by Alison Dunn

Spin the Weather Vane

by Emily Kovach

We’ve all seen the photos on social media: the couple standing atop a grassy hill, backlit with golden-hour sunlight, slightly windswept and flush with love. To be sure, an outdoor wedding can be a romantic scene... if everything goes exactly according to plan. The trouble is that rain, excessive heat, strong wind—and even mosquitoes—can put a serious damper on an alfresco wedding. Then, there’s the question of restrooms (do you really want to spend money on a porta-potty?), accommodations for older guests, and so on and so forth, until the idea of a boring hotel or a good old-fashioned fire hall doesn’t sound so bad. Before you throw in the towel on dreams of an outdoor wedding, check out these three venues that split the difference on the indoor/outdoor debate. Each of them is also steeped in Philadelphia history, and will make for some gorgeous and iconic photos.

The Open Air Ceremony:
Awbury Arboretum

Tucked away in charming Germantown, Awbury Arboretum is home to 55 acres of meadows, wetlands and, of course, thousands of mature trees, including river oaks, sycamores and sugar maples. Every season here promises a stunning backdrop, whether that’s the cherry blossoms of spring, the abundant green of summer or the burnished leaves of fall. The historic Cope House on the property can accommodate up to 60 guests for an indoor wedding, and outdoor events may still make use of the home’s gracious porch, kitchen, bathrooms and lawn.

Trees and Stars Under the Greenhouse Roof:
Fairmount Park Horticulture Center

In a corner of Fairmount Park so verdant it’s hard to believe you’re still in city limits, the Horticulture Center is a seriously in-demand wedding venue in Philly. The space seamlessly blends the in- and outdoors, assuring that whatever the weather, guests will enjoy dinner and dancing surrounded by lush greenery and twinkly lights. The main indoor event space is in the center’s airy greenhouse, constructed almost fully of glass, letting in that glowy natural light even if it’s rainy. If the weather is fine, aspects of the event can be held outdoors, and guests are free to explore the surrounding gardens, fountains and fields.

An Outdoor Feel in Center City:
Colonial Dames Society

In 1891, a group of Philadelphia women founded the Colonial Dames Society of America in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to honor the colonial history of the country. Though their beautiful headquarters at 16th and Latimer streets in Rittenhouse Square is no longer used for meetings, the incredibly preserved (but still air-conditioned!) home can fit up to 120 guests in its period-correct upstairs ballroom. During cocktail hour or reception reveling, guests can also enjoy the highlight of the house: the sprawling outdoor gardens, designed in the 1920s by Marian Coffin, one of the first female landscape architects.