top 10 venues for your smaller, non-traditional, totally austin wedding

So you’re getting married and you don’t want to break the bank with outrageous over-the-top plans. 

 East Austin home wedding on New Year's Eve. Photo by Jessica Doffing Photography.

East Austin home wedding on New Year's Eve. Photo by Jessica Doffing Photography.

Maybe you’re a free spirit and traditional weddings are just so....traditional. Maybe this isn’t your first rodeo and you want to keep things simple this time. Maybe you’re a hopeless romantic and you want something personal and intimate. Regardless of your reason, you want something that stays true to the Austin way of life - beautiful, a little quirky, and uniquely Austin. Think food trucks, pedie-cabs, tattoos, bats, SUP, barbeque, craft beer...you get the idea.

I’ve gathered what I think are some of the best venues Austin has to offer for your perfect day. I based my choices on affordability, location, Austiny-ness (not a word , I know), and photographic potential. You want awesome photos, don’t you? (wink wink, contact my friend and fabulous photographer Martina Villarreal - Photos by Martina) Check out my list and let me know in the comments below if you have other great venue ideas.

1.    Lake Austin Riverboats

 The Commodore's Pup - Lake Austin Riverboats

The Commodore's Pup - Lake Austin Riverboats

Just think, your first dance can be to “I’m On a Boat”! Seriously though, how about getting married on beautiful Lake Austin and partying the night away under the gorgeous sunset?  I love their saying…”when it comes to hosting parties in Austin, we’re somewhere between Willie Nelson and 6th Street”. They handle catering, bar service, linen service, and live music, and the scenery can not be beat. 

 

2.    The Daniel H. Caswell House 

This is a beautiful, elegant turn-of-the- century home that is recognized as a Texas Historic Landmark, located near the Texas State Capitol and the University of Texas. Rates are reasonable, you can choose your own vendors (but they offer a discount if you choose one of their preferred caterers), and you can use the house for bridal portraits free of charge if you rent the house for your wedding. 

 

3.    THE PALM DOOR ON SABINE OR THE PALM DOOR ON 6TH 

Two of the most versatile event venues downtown. Sabine is an urban loft with an open floor plan and Sixth is a contemporary facility with indoor and outdoor space available. A little more on the traditional side but it's downtown so that makes it COOL! They can handle every aspect of your event or you can hire your own vendors and coordinate on your own.

 

4. The Chapel Dulcinea – THE FREE WEDDING CHAPEL 

Chapel_Dulcinea.jpg

“We dedicate it to couples who want their wedding day to be an intimate celebration (not a spectacle) because weddings shouldn’t have to cost a lot of money.” The views here are spectacular! Obviously they fill up quickly, so check the website for availability. They book in 2 ½ hour increments and have listings of nearby reception venues on their site, including The Canadian Diamond Pavilion, a 2-minute walk from the Chapel,  which is also available for no charge.

 

 

 

 

5.    THE ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE 

What could be more Austin-y? The Alamo Drafthouse is a unique venue for rehearsal dinners, receptions or the ceremony itself.  From a Princess Bride feast to a zombie wedding, they've done it all.  Work with their event planners to create a custom menu and ceremony or just celebrate with family and friends in a casual atmosphere.  

 

6.    Black Lagoon Art & Yoga 

 Photos by Singer Mayberry

Photos by Singer Mayberry

Touted as a ‘unique and fun location’, their monthly art exhibits add a cool, artistic element to your event. They are located in Hyde Park, just minutes from downtown and have free parking. That’s a big-time plus, huh? They have tons of information about rentals on their site. 

 

7.    AUSTIN PARKS AND REC 

Some need permits and some don’t, and they all have different regulations, but there are some beautiful locations within our Austin parks where you can tie the knot. The Zilker Clubhouse is perfect for small events with a stunning panoramic view of downtown. Mayfield Cottage is adorable and there are PEACOCKS!. Fiesta Gardens is also excellent for small, private events. Or choose one of the 33 picnic areas in 20 different parks. Contact the Office of Special Events at 512-974-6797.

 

8.    PINBALLZ ARCADE 

Ok, let’s get weird again. Would you rather play skeeball instead of dance? Air hockey instead of a formal, sit-down dinner? The arcade isn’t just for kid parties. Unfortunately they don’t allow outside food except for your cake, but who has time to eat when you’re about to beat the high score on Pac-Man? They can accommodate parties of 20 -500 and did I mention they have over 100 pinball machines? 

 

9.    Waller Ballroom 

 Waller Ballroom

Waller Ballroom

This is a multi-purpose event space settled nicely along Waller Creek in Downtown Austin, um….right on 6th Street…so the party could continue hardcore into the wee hours of the night. I would suggest booking hotel rooms in walking distance if you do. They are an unlicensed venue so you can work with them on logistics for bar operations, audio/visual packages, caterers, and various other items you may need.

 

 

10.  House on the Hill 

This place is a little more traditional, but a great place none-the-less. One of the coolest aspects IMHO is that because of their location, there is no requirement to turn music down or off early. Let the wobbling commence! You have the flexibility to set your own schedule, choose your own vendors, and stay within your budget. They can also accommodate 20 overnight guests for 2 nights. And don’t forget the waterfall and covered pavilion for those amazing portraits!

I hope this list helps you find the perfect place for your wedding, or at least gets the creative juices flowing. Add your favorite venues in the comments below and tell me about your big day plans. I want to hear all about it! :) Cheers Y'all!