Our guide to planning your wedding in Detroit

Getting married at a museum, an art gallery, the Belle Isle Casino or some other hot or cool Detroit location and still looking for some tips on how to do it just right? Getting nervous just reading this? Take a look at what we put together for you below. Trust us, it'll help take some of the edge off.

  • Have your budget and guest list figured out before looking at venues; you’ll avoid the disappointment of seeing a fabulous location only to find out that it’s out of your price range. If you have your heart set on a pricey place, keep in mind that you may be able to get a discount for off-season and/or Friday and Sunday weddings.
  • Know how much work you’re willing to put in. Many nontraditional venues don’t have their own catering, linens, furniture, bar service, etc; are you willing to coordinate these vendors, or able to hire a planner to do so? We (editor's note: the other half of "we" is Lothamer's marriage partner, Model D photographer Marvin Shaouni) saved money by piecing these things together ourselves for our wedding at the Piquette Plant, but it was a lot of time and effort.
  • Prioritize what’s most important to you, and focus on that to narrow your search. Some couples want a grand historic space or a view on the water; others are obsessive with the menu or décor. For us, great local food and drink was the top priority, so we narrowed our list down to venues where we could bring in our own caterer.
Here’s our roundup of some nontraditional wedding venues in Detroit; this is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully it will get you thinking about the possibilities.

Restaurants and bars: Most restaurants are available for event rentals. You could go for a Jazz Age theme at Cliff Bell's, a garden wedding at the beautiful and historic Whitney, or a stunning view from Coach Insignia

Museums: From the grandeur of the DIA to the more humble Detroit Historical Museum, just about all of the city’s museums can be rented. Celebrate your "chemistry" at the Detroit Science Center, your heritage at the Charles H. Wright Museum, or your love of modern art at MOCAD.

Historic and Cultural Spaces: The Ford Piquette Plant, Scarab Club, Masonic Temple, Detroit Athletic Club and the Colony Club are all great places to show off Detroit’s rich culture and history to your guests. 

Theaters and Concert Halls: A dramatic event deserves a dramatic setting; the Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit Opera House, Fox Theater, Fillmore Detroit, or Gem & Century could lend themselves to an event of theatrical proportions.

Outdoor Spaces: If Michigan weather doesn’t scare you, you could get hitched in Campus Martius, on the roof of the Park Shelton, or in front of Scott Fountain on Belle Isle. Sports fans can even have a ceremony at Comerica Park or Ford Field. Or go for a semi-outdoor, mobile, floating venue -- the Detroit Princess.

Arguably the city’s most beautiful public space, Belle Isle deserves a category unto itself. You can have a wedding or reception at the Conservatory, Casino, or Flynn Pavilion. And although it is more conventional, don’t forget the Detroit Yacht Club.

Urban & Warehouse spaces: If you’re ok with doing a lot of the planning yourself, your options can open up quite a bit. Think Eastern Market, or a loft space like Flat 151. And don’t be shy about inquiring into spaces that may not have been used for weddings -- you never know what places might be happy to host you.

Additional links and resources:

My Detroit Wedding: Although slightly outdated, this site offers a great list of potential venues, with pros and cons for each.

Love in the D: A blog dedicated to socially responsible Detroit weddings.

And here are a couple articles from HuffPost Detroit and Detroit Curbed highlighting some top city venues for weddings.

Best wishes and congrats to all you lovebirds who choose to do it your way, and do it here. 

Noelle Lothamer is a frequent contributor to Model D.
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