Help, my Google-fu is busted: How to turn Google into your wedding venue search engine

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Sara got married at a vintage movie theater!

I know there are already lots of suggestions on Offbeat Bride for unique venue ideas. What I really want to know is HOW DO YOU FIND THEM?!

Be sure to check our Vendor Guide for unique venues in your area…
Be sure to check our Vendor Guide for unique venues in your area…

I'm convinced I could save some money if I could find a venue not typically used for weddings. I started on Google, of course, but gave up after several hours. I can't get a search engine to pull up any options like that because they aren't typically considered a wedding venue, and if I search for anything that includes the word venue, I just get the places I can't afford. It's like I need a special wedding venue search engine!I tried talking to family and friends. Then I went to Craigslist. Both were dead ends.

Does anyone have any creative suggestions for finding that perfect secluded park, hidden gallery, or plot of land? I can be completely flexible about the TYPE of venue as long as it fits our budget. I just don't know how to search or where to look for spaces that don't market themselves as a wedding venue!

We totally hear you on this. While we feature some of our very favorite affordable venues in the Offbeat Bride Vendor Guide, we don't have every region covered. It's hard to know what to search for, and the word “venue” will immediately get you results that are mostly spaces focused on weddings that can therefore be more expensive.

A few ideas to get your Google-fu juices flowing… we can help you turn Google into your own wedding venue search engine

Indoor options

  • Schools: not just universities, but junior highs and high schools, vocational, music schools, dance studios, culinary schools, etc.
  • Museums and art galleries
  • Concert venues
  • Vintage or antique shops in small towns
  • Dance studios and ballrooms
  • Community centers
  • Theaters and playhouses
  • Libraries or city halls
  • For smaller weddings, try AirBnB

Outdoor options

  • City & County Parks
  • Summer camps
  • Ask around at Farmer's Markets
  • Public gardens
  • Ranches
  • Fairgrounds
  • For smaller weddings, try AirBnBs with large backyards!

We'd love to hear from y'all: how'd you find your unusual wedding venue?

Comments on Help, my Google-fu is busted: How to turn Google into your wedding venue search engine

  1. I am having the same problem.. but mine differs slightly. I am in Las Vegas, so looking for anything out here on google is either a super ritzy expensive place or club that I couldn’t afford in a million years, or a really cheesy chapel that isn’t our style. You would think the wedding capitol would be an easy place to find a unique cheap spot, but it’s near IMPOSSIBLE!!

  2. My trick was to search for other *kinds* of venues. I did searches for things like, “birthday party venues,” “best places to have a bar mitzvah,” “graduation party locations,” etc. Search for places used for other types of events, and you’ll probably track down some smaller, less mainstream, more affordable venues. I found my (very reasonable, Los Angeles-area) venue after doing a search for wrap party locations. 😉 Good luck!!!

  3. I got married at the bar where my husband and I met. They have a great outdoor yard with fencing and picnic tables that I fancied up with pom-poms, balloons, and checkered table cloths. I only paid the bar for a $750 limited open tab and they closed the place off to the public until 8pm. That more than made up for what they would have made on any other happy hour. Our original venue was going to be a picturesque vacation home. Another couple I know married at a different bar in town that had a great outdoor patio with vines and lights, etc. My friend’s sister got married at the city zoo. I also looked at lake houses, cabins, ranches, etc. There’s a historic firehouse with neighboring park and gazebo that seems to host quite a few weddings here, too.

    • The firehouse/park makes me wonder if you’re in Houston, by any chance. Mind revealing where you got married?

      • I am! 🙂

        I got married at Big Star Bar. The other bar I mentioned was Avant Garden. I also know a few couples who got married at the Gardens of Bammel Lane, and that place looked lovely. Wish I had known about it before I went through the stress of DIY-ing our bar wedding.

  4. I drove around my town, and wrote down anything that looked interesting, or big enough for the amount of people I was planning for. Then I just started calling, asking if they had parties or events there (don’t say “wedding” at first). If they said yes, then I asked if anyone had ever had a wedding there. I was pleasantly surprised at the willingness from almost everyone to work with me, the parks dept was actually very helpful. I also googled “places in interest” in my area for ideas, that helped too.

    Writer Boy and I wound up using a church, for cost and convenience factors, so I did not use any of the options I researched. Good luck, I’m sure you’ll find something amazing!

    • This is what we ended up doing. Our planner had some great (and not so great) ideas, but driving around the city and looking for what we wanted worked out way better. I had an “ah ha!” Moment on the way to work one day. Gr aviation museum where everything went down is a place I drive past every day, a place I love, but I’d never thought about it for our wedding until we were getting frustrated and fed up.

  5. We booked a room at our old student union for the ceremony for $200 or something, the only catch being that we had to be out by 2pm. After that, there was an INSANE minimum catering order for Saturdays. We’re holding the reception elsewhere to save $ and have more control.

    We also looked at two breweries/beer gardens that were really reasonable. And I’ll add another vote for city parks! Crazy cheap, at least where I’m from.

  6. I found our venue on something like page 5 of Google’s responses to ‘Unique wedding venue Bristol’ – but if I had been thinking outside the box, I would have found it by looking up ‘bar restaurant Bristol’, which makes a lot more sense!
    We needed somewhere that would be flexible with catering but also let us have a serious party, and all the normal wedding venues were really uptight about midnight curfews and wanted us to only choose from their very limited and expensive food menu. A bar restaurant was the perfect answer.

    • Hi, I saw your post and I’m searching for the exact same thing! Where did you get married in Bristol?


  7. I found my venue (a restaurant with an event space that could hold up to 50 people) on, searching for private dining options. The place had done a couple weddings but not many and was incredibly affordable for downtown DC!

    • I did the same thing! I found a beautiful brick restaurant in an old part of town that had a nice patio area large enough for a ceremony. They let us take over the entire restaurant and staff for only the cost of food and gratuity. We live in Denver which is not a cheap place to get married and it worked perfectly.

      • Oooh, where at? We’ve already got our venue in mind, but I love seeing what other CO brides are doing. 🙂

  8. I found my unique wedding venue by searching just the word “wedding” in for my city. Someone had written a review of my venue and the review was about a wedding they had attended there. My venue is the Historic Fifth Street School in Las Vegas. It used to be a grammer school but is now just a cultural affairs venue for the city. I had been to both a jazz and book festival there but didn’t know you could book it for your wedding until I “accidentally” found out on Yelp. Good luck!

  9. Ask your landlord (if you privately rent) if he has any vacant lots. I know it’s a longshot, but C’s and my landlord practically cried “You can have your reception in the lot next door to you!!” when we told him we were engaged. The lot next door is pretty shady with oaks and there’s plenty of room for everyone to hang around.

    On the same page, maybe it could be a block party if your neighborhood is close like that. I’ve attended weddings in Mexican-Catholic neighborhoods where the entire street for about three blocks is shut off from traffic.

    For the most part, look around the places you like or think look neat, then start asking – it’s how friends of mine were able to get married at a fish camp, a garden center, and the local comic book shop.

  10. I found several “Aw, MAN; why didn’t we think of that!” venues while looking at photography sites for a friend’s wedding. Even just checking out local photographers and seeing where they’ve photographed their couples at can help give you a few ideas you might not have thought of. Hopefully they will have blogged about the wedding and given the basics; but if you see a photo that catches your eye, I bet if you asked nicely the photog will let you know what the venue is, even if you don’t use their services. (Well, the photogs I know would, but maybe that’s not a appropriate thing to do—would this be a professional faux pas?)

    • Yes! This! That’s how I found my venue. It’s an old historical fort down by the river, and I would never have thought of doing a wedding there until I saw it on a photography blog (they actually do lots of weddings & events there!). For that matter, I probably wouldn’t have been able to envision how cool a wedding there could be if I hadn’t seen the pictures.

    • I used this method, too, in searching. Not how I found mine specifically, but it’s a great way to browse for venues by “look.”

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