Choosing your site can be a socially conscious decision!
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The location a couple chooses for their nuptials is one of their most important wedding planning decisions, reflecting both their values and personalities. A socially conscious wedding location is one where the site itself is dedicated to public good, and proceeds from weddings go toward maintaining the site. For example, the fee to host a wedding at a nature preserve, botanical garden, museum, or historical society helps to pay for the maintenance of the location and often the educational programs that take place there.
The great news is that choosing a socially conscious wedding location can actually help couples save money. These locations generally cost a lot less than most traditional wedding venues, may require less decorating, and, because they are not the first places couples usually consider for a wedding, are usually easier to book than traditional wedding venues.
Artistic Expressions: Museums and Galleries
Couples can create a dramatic backdrop for their event and give their guests something to think about when they choose an artistic venue, such as an art museum or gallery. The Art Museum Network (http://www.amn.org) has listings of museums around the country, as well as information about their collections and exhibits for couples who would like to coordinate their wedding theme with museum exhibits.
History in the Making: Historical Sites and Homes
Hosting at wedding at an historical location helps to both educate guests and, in many cases, to support educational outreach programs for elementary and high school students. The Directory of Historic House Museums lists hundreds of historic houses in every state, some of which have special events planners on staff. Couples can click on the website of the location for information about event planning, or contact the sites directly to speak with an event planner. (www.preservationdirectory.com/housemuseums_main.html)
Stop to Smell the Roses: Parks and Botanical Gardens
Parks and botanical gardens offer beautiful settings for weddings with little need for more decoration. The National Park Service website, www.nps.gov, hosts a directory of local, state, and national parks from which couples can select by natural formation (glaciers, volcanoes, and wildflowers to name a few choices!), activities available, and park type. By typing "weddings" into the search field of the NPS website, couples can also find a range of pre-organized wedding services in different parks. The American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta (http://www.aabga.org/) also provides a national listing of botanical gardens and arboreta searchable by state.
A Community Affair: Community Centers and Not-for-profit Buildings
Community centers and nonprofit organizations often open their doors to couples looking for a unique wedding venue. For same sex couples, The National Directory of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Community Centers website, www.lgbtcenters.org/directory.asp, provides a listing of community centers in almost every state.
Where the Wild Things Are: Aquariums and Wildlife Preserves
Couples can take their guests for a walk on the wild side by hosting their wedding and reception at an aquarium or wildlife preserve. The rental fees for ceremony and reception spaces go toward maintaining the animals' natural habitat, care, and, in some cases, preservation of endangered species. The Directory of World Aquariums (http://www.mr-to.com/aquarium/world.html) lists aquariums in the U.S. and abroad.