How to Have a Wedding in Philadelphia

How to Have a Wedding
in Philadelphia

Philadelphia couple in front of city hall.

Whether you say ‘I do’ in your hometown or an exotic destination, your wedding location holds priceless memories. If you’re currently researching venues and vendors in your wedding locale, we’re making the planning process easier by showcasing real weddings that capture the spirit of cities across the U.S.

We’re kicking things off in BHLDN’s hometown: Philadelphia! BHLDN bride Lauren and her husband Jeff fell in love in Philly, so they wanted their wedding to include iconic city locations, from the neighborhood bar where they had their first date to famous sights like Broad Street and the Magic Gardens. They also celebrated in one of the most unique wedding venues in Philadelphia! We’ll let Lauren tell you the rest…

First things first—tell us a bit about you and your husband! Lauren: Jeff and I connected on a dating app—he seemed too good to be true based on his profile, and he still does now. He’s a wonderful human being and I couldn’t have dreamed up a better partner. For our first date, we met at Dirty Frank’s and embarked on a spontaneous, self-directed pub crawl through Center City. Jeff proposed on August 3, 2018 (exactly one year before our wedding!). We keep a memory box of mementos from our life together, and he suggested we look through it to reminisce since we hadn’t in a while. The ring was hidden at the bottom of the box!

What does Philly mean to you as a couple? Lauren: We both grew up in the area, and each moved to Philly a few months before we met. We’d both dreamed of living in the city someday, well before we had any idea it would be the backdrop for our love story. It’s where we had our first date, moved in together, and got engaged, so it felt natural to get married here and showcase the places we love. Neither of us wanted a big, traditional wedding, so we planned a celebration that was unique to us and highlighted our favorite things—good food for Jeff, and dueling pianos for me!

Your photos capture so many famous Philly destinations—the Magic Gardens, City Hall, Reading Terminal Market. How did you choose these places to be a part of your wedding day? Lauren: We wanted to include a mix of iconic locations and places that held significance for us as a couple. The apartment I lived in when we first met was near the Magic Gardens, and I’ve always loved Isaiah Zagar’s work, so we took our first look photos in front of the mosaics. Since our first date kicked off at Dirty Frank’s, we thought it would be appropriate to drop in for a quick toast before heading to City Hall. The Broad Street shots were requested by my mom, who loved photos she’d seen of other couples there. (They ended up being some of my favorites—thanks, Mom!) Finally, Reading Terminal is a photo-op all its own, so being there without the daytime crowds was surreal.

How did you decide on Reading Terminal Market as your venue? Were there any unexpected benefits or challenges to choosing a non-traditional space? Lauren: When a friend mentioned a wedding she’d seen at the Market, we loved the idea—we live nearby and go there often. While we did a lot of research, we also accepted the risk of choosing a space that wasn’t primarily event-focused. We had no idea how a wedding there would work, or if our guests would “get it.” Food and drinks would be no problem, but we weren’t sure what to expect when it came to ambience or logistics! I still have no idea how they pull it off, but the Market team cleans and sets everything up in just an hour after it closes to the public. I was in awe of how quickly they transformed the space, and our expectations were absolutely exceeded!

Reading Terminal Market is known for its food. Can you tell us about your menu? Lauren: We largely chose Reading Terminal for the food! Narrowing down the menu was tough, because you can essentially choose any item offered by any vendor. We ate a lot of meals there in the name of “research!” Our menu included Philly classics, like cheesesteak-filled soft pretzels from Miller’s Twist, DiNic’s roast pork sandwiches, dumplings from Sang Kee Peking Duck, and Bassett’s ice cream.

Did you work with any local vendors you’d recommend to other Philly brides? Lauren: I would recommend every single vendor we worked with! They made the planning process simple, kept our stress levels low, and were truly lovely before, after, and day-of. Here are the ones we worked with most closely:

Photographer: Noreen Turner Photography
Dueling Piano Band: The Philly Keys
Wedding Planner: All About Events
Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: L. Priori Jewelry
Photo Booth: Philly Snap Booth
Florist: Gina Amato

What was your favorite part of the day? Lauren: Jeff and I gave a welcome toast after our first dance. We talked about each other and our relationship, thanked our family and friends for their love and support, and ended with a toast in honor of loved ones we were missing that night, including my late dad (Coors Light—his drink of choice—in lieu of champagne). There was so much love in the room; I can’t put into words how grateful I felt to have all the people I love gathered together so I could tell them how much they mean to me.

What is something most Philly brides may not know? Lauren: In Pennsylvania, you can marry yourselves! It’s one of the only places where you can have a self-uniting wedding (sometimes called a Quaker wedding). You just need two witnesses to sign in place of an officiant. You can apply for a self-uniting license with your marriage license at City Hall. Our marriage was technically self-uniting, though we asked a close friend to be our celebrant during the ceremony.

Finally, let’s talk about the dress! How would you describe your bridal style, and how did you choose your gown? Lauren: I wanted a wedding gown that was somewhat traditional but felt appropriate for our non-traditional venue. I’d describe my bridal style as “breezy,” because I needed something lightweight and cool to be out in the city in the August heat! BHLDN was the only place I made an appointment. I tried on seven dresses, and the Quillen Gown was a clear favorite; my mother and mother-in-law had such strong reactions when I walked out in it! I loved that it was comfortable but still beautifully detailed thanks to the beaded bodice and tulle skirt.

Thank you, Lauren! Feeling inspired by Lauren and Jeff’s Philly wedding, or planning your own I do’s in the city? Take a peek at our list of the best wedding venues in Philadelphia, plus florists, photographers, stylists, planners, and more.

Explore our favorite moments from Lauren & Jeff’s Philly wedding, captured by Noreen Turner Photography.

by Gina Amato

Floral bouquet in bride's hand.

First Look at
Philadelphia’s Magic

Couple hugs in Philadelphia's Magic Gardens.

Broad Street &
City Hall

Bride and Groom embrace, showing off engagement ring by L. Priori Jewelry.

Reading Terminal

Bride and groom smile together in Reading Terminal market.

Engagement Ring by
L. Priori Jewelry

Couple kisses in front of Philadelphia City Hall

Magic Gardens

Bride and Groom smile outside Reading Terminal Market.

Broad Street &
City Hall

Bride and Groom embrace, showing off engagement ring by L. Priori Jewelry.

Reading Terminal

Bride and groom smile together in Reading Terminal market.

A Toast at
Dirty Frank’s

Bride and groom pose in front of Philadelphia's Magic Gardens.

Bouquet by
Gina Amato

Bride shows off bouquet of flowers by Gina Amato.

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