Wedding couples are choosing to go outside the norms with out-of-the-box venues.
When brides walk down the aisle these days, it’s often not past church pews.
More and more engaged couples are choosing wedding venues that don’t necessarily meet traditional wedding norms. But for an adventurous bride and groom, a unique venue is the key ingredient to pulling off an out-of-the-box wedding.
When Jamie and Jeff Kattrein said “I do” on Oct. 21, 2017, they were surrounded by close family and friends — and beer taps — at JDub’s Brewing Co. & Tap Room.
“We wanted something more casual, low-key and something that comes with a lot of love, a lot of fun and a lot of chill,” Jamie Kattrein says.
Jamie was never the type to envision her wedding. So while she was planning her big day, all she wanted was something that represented the two of them. After meeting with the JDub’s crew about their rehearsal dinner, the Kattreins knew they had to have their wedding there, too.
With two-and-a-half months until their big day, all prior plans flew out the window as they moved their wedding ceremony and reception to the brewery.
“Everybody was comfortable with being at JDub’s already — it’s where a lot of our demographic goes — but to add the twinkle lights and the wedding dress and all the special touches that come with getting married just took it to the next level,” Kattrein says.
There are even more unexpected places to get married in Sarasota than a brewery, however. Thanks to the Patterson Foundation’s Entrepreneurial Initiative — Margin & Mission Ignition 2018 — Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary is working to turn its space into a competitive wedding venue.
Although the sanctuary was already hosting private events for clients it got through word-of-mouth, there wasn’t a business plan in place for large-scale events. Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary founder, President and CEO Kay Rosaire and Initiative Director Nancy Nallin say the space is a unique setting that will provide the bride and groom, as well as their guests, with an experience they can’t get elsewhere.
“The Patterson Foundation told us ‘dream big,’” Nallin says. “It was kind of hard because everything we’ve dreamed big about has been for the animals, and now we are going to spend money for the comfort of the guests.”
The Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary says its venue will be open to different wedding themes depending on the bride and groom. The space, backdrops and animals open up possibilities for a formal setting, exotic, safari theme or something more mystical.
“Not many venues in town can provide such a unique setting with animals where you are having a glass of wine and there’s a tiger splashing water on you from his pool,” Nallin says.
The sanctuary is a nonprofit organization housing more than 150 animals on its Palmer Boulevard campus in Sarasota.
“They are helping a great cause, too,” Rosaire says. “So on top of a great venue — unique and romantic and an amazing wedding — they are supporting all the animals here.”
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is another fun place for animal-lovers to get hitched. It, too, is a nonprofit housing marine life on its City Island property, and has been hosting weddings for 40 years.
Wedding planner Brittany Eagans of Be Wed by EK Event Design says planning a wedding at Mote Marine is fun for her, the couples and their guests.
“Mote has a built-in entertainment factor,” Eagans says. “They have volunteers to help with touch tanks, allowing guests to embrace themselves in the aquarium. They can also see the sharks throughout the night and pet stingrays, which is an added benefit.”
For Eagans, one of the best parts of her job is planning unique weddings, whether it’s at Mote, a barn, open landscape or a winery, because they give her the freedom to build the wedding from the ground up.
Nontraditional venues take “a little more creativity to make it more wedding-oriented and adds a little extra charm to it,” Eagans says.
Traditional or not, each venue provides a unique experience for the brides and grooms who choose it.
“It was my own perfect fairy tale,” Kattrein says of her brewery bash. “It doesn’t look like anyone else’s fairy tale, but for me, it was perfect.”