Many of the couples we work with have longstanding ties to Philadelphia. Some are originally from the area, others spent their college years in the city, and then there are those who have chosen to move to here. No matter what draws couples to celebrate in our home city, they all have one thing in common: Everyone wants to share Philadelphia with their guests. And we completely understand why.
Philadelphia is home to some of the best history, museums, culture, restaurants, and even spas in the county. Between everything that’s within reach and the many weddings we have planned, we started thinking about a new concept: hosting a destination wedding experience in Philadelphia. Below, we’re sharing all of the wonderful things you and your guests can experience in the City of Brotherly Love, whether you’ve lived here for years or (more importantly) if you’re visiting for the very first time.
If you only visit one famed spot during a trip to Philadelphia, make it Independence Hall. Located in the historical section of the city, this is where the Declaration of Independence was signed. The buildings are beautifully kept, and there’s plenty to explore. Plus, it’s also a National Park if you like to keep track of the ones you visit!
The Liberty Bell:
While you’re visiting Independence Hall, you can also easily check off the Liberty Bell because both sites are within walking distance of each other. This is also considered a National Park, so plan make the Independence Visitor’s Center part of your visit.
National Constitution Center:
We’ve planned weddings set at the National Constitution Center, and we have to admit there isn’t a venue in Philadelphia that’s quite like this one. The museum is devoted to everything you could ever want to know about the U.S. Constitution, and it also boasts incredible modern architecture inside, along with stunning views of the city.
Betsy Ross House:
Betsy Ross is credited with sewing the first American Flag, and she also proudly lived in Philadelphia. You can explore her home on a self-guided tour, and there’s typically an impersonator onsite too. Plus, the galleries change often, so there’s always something different to see.
On the surface, Elfreth’s Alley doesn’t sound all that appealing (it’s a residential street), but one quick glance will absolutely change your mind. The street is one of the oldest streets in the country, and the classic architecture of the 32 homes is a delight to see. Plus, the cobblestone streets are so timeless and texture-filled. Couples love capturing photos here before their ceremonies!
Culture + Museums
One of the most unique things about Philadelphia is you can host your wedding in many of the most revered museums in the city. The Barnes Foundation has a gorgeous terrace and a large, modern open space that’s perfect for a complete transformation. The Franklin Institute invites guests to wander through a few of its most loved exhibits during receptions. And the Philadelphia Museum of Art barely needs an explanation as to why it’s an incredible spot for weddings, but we’ll offer just one: The interior architecture is second to none and makes weddings hosted there feel like the most luxurious event you could ever dream up.
The Academy of Natural Sciences:
If you have ever wanted to visit “the oldest natural history museum in the Americas,” this is it! Inside, you will find nine exhibits with plenty of artifacts in each one (the museum has 29 million artifacts inside!) that are designed around themes like evolution, biodiversity, human health, and climate change. The museum is so well done that it’s even recommended for kids!
We frequently visit the Barnes Foundation for weddings because it has beautiful outdoor spaces, including an airy deck perfect for ceremonies, and a modern interior that’s a favorite for receptions. When an event isn’t happening, it’s a world-renowned modern art museum that includes works from famous artists like Renoir, Picasso, Matisse, and Van Gogh.
The Franklin Institute:
The Franklin Institute is one of the most beloved museums in Philadelphia. It’s devoted to science and is home to 14 exhibits, including Your Brain, the Fels Planetarium, and The Giant Heart, which is always a favorite. The museum also always has a revolving specialty exhibit that oftentimes requires an additional ticket, but it is always worth seeing!
Philadelphia Museum of Art:
If there was a museum that was considered the “crown jewel” of Philadelphia, it would be the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The outside is home to the famed Rocky Steps, and the inside is home to an extensive collection of art that ranges from European art to contemporary pieces. Grace Kelly’s wedding dress is even on display! This is a museum where you can truly spend hours inside, so make sure to make a plan before you go. It’s definitely worth the visit!
We are also anxiously awaiting the opening of Calder Gardens in 2024.
The Rodin Museum:
The exterior grounds of the Rodin Museum are a popular choice for couples and wedding party portraits, so you’ll want to allow time to explore outside. But it’s primarily known as a world-famous museum devoted to Auguste Rodin. In fact, it’s the only museum devoted to his work outside of France.
Museum of the American Revolution:
The Museum of the American Revolution opened its doors in 2017, and it’s already made quite an impact. There are tours, exhibits, and screenings that go into detail about the American Revolution and the role that Philadelphia played, and it’s aptly located right by Independence Hall. Similar to other museums in the city, this one also encourages guests to explore galleries and exhibits during receptions, ideal for history buffs.
No one could ever say there’s a shortage of noteworthy restaurants to enjoy in Philadelphia! And that means there isn’t a shortage of spots to consider for welcome parties and rehearsal dinners. All of the spots we mention below are perfect for both, and they’re also fabulous suggestions to list to share with your guests if they have time to spend in the city before or after your celebration.
Starr Restaurant Group:
This is just one of many beloved restaurant groups in Philadelphia, but it’s also the group that’s behind many of the restaurants we recommend the most. If you’re hoping to experience a steakhouse while you’re in the city, look to Barclay Prime. You also won’t want to miss Buddakan, which specializes in “modern Asian cuisine, or El Vez, which is known for its Mexican dishes if you’re looking for a unique experience. Plus, The Love (seasonal American), Pizzeria Stella (Italian) The Dandelion (British pub), and Talula’s Garden (farm-to-table) should absolutely be on your short list of places to try.
Another epic restaurant group that calls Philadelphia home is Schulson Collective. If their name sounds familiar, that’s likely because you’ve heard about some of their top restaurants, including Harp & Crown, Giuseppe & Sons, and Via Locusta. If you’re looking for a culinary experience you won’t soon forget, you can’t go wrong with any of Schulson Collective’s restaurants, but we think Sampan (a favorite modern Asian restaurant for our team when friends are visiting from out of town), Independence Beer Garden (a 20,000 square-foot space overlooking Independence National Historic Park and the Liberty Bell) and Alpen Rose (a fabulous steakhouse) deserve special recognition.
James Beard Award Winners:
Not only does Philadelphia have a host of great restaurant groups in the city that are delicious in their own right, but the area is also home to an extensive list of James Beard Award winning restaurants and chefs. As you’re planning where you would like to dine throughout the city, make sure James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Solomonov’s Zahav (Israeli cuisine) is high on your list. Plus, Fork (modern American) High Street Philadelphia (bakery and café), Cicala (Italian), and Friday Saturday Sunday (eight course tasting menu), and Kalaya (Thai) also deserve visits. If you’re looking for a restaurant that’s housed inside on of the city’s most iconic hotels, don’t miss Vernick Food & Drink, which has a location inside the Four Seasons Philadelphia.
Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia:
If you’re hoping to stay at the most luxurious hotel in the city, the Forbes 5-Star Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia is it! It’s located atop the iconic Comcast Center in the heart of Center City, and it has beautiful rooms and suites. You’ll also find a relaxing infinity pool on the 57th floor that boasts incredible views, and you can choose to dine at one of four restaurants, including two spots helmed by Michelin-starred and James Beard Award-winning chefs, respectively.
Located steps away from the historic center (think: Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the Constitution Center), Hotel Monaco is an absolute gem that you need to know more about. It’s part of Kimpton’s line of unique properties in Philadelphia, and it has 268 guest rooms and a really fun rooftop bar. We love when our couples choose to get ready here because the natural light that spills into the rooms is incredibly beautiful.
The Logan Hotel:
The Logan Hotel is yet another favorite amongst our couples! Its name gives it more of a boutique feel, but this hotel is actually owned by Hilton. It has beautiful rooms that are spacious and well-appointed, and the location is perfect for our couples celebrating at locations along the Parkway. It’s just across the street from Logan Fountain, a favorite for photos, as well as the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul for ceremonies. Plus, the Barnes Foundation, the Franklin Institute, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art are located mere moments away.
Ritz Carlton Philadelphia:
Whether you’re hoping to capture photos by City Hall, take in a show at the Academy of Music, experience a performance at the Kimmel Center, or you love staying at Ritz Carlton hotels, the Ritz Carlton Philadelphia is a spot to put on your radar. The spacious lobby is home to a great bar and restaurant that’s ideal for happy hour, and the location is perfect for exploring the city and eating at many of the top restaurants.
The W Philadelphia is located minutes away from City Hall, which is just one of the reasons why it’s become a popular spot with couples and guests. Many people also love that it has a fun, contemporary feel (there’s a cool bar in the lobby that’s only opened at night); a rooftop garden that’s colorful with an artsy, urban feel for first looks; a pool that’s enjoyable (albeit busy) during the summer; and rooms that feel lush and modern.
Rescue Spa has locations in New York City and Philadelphia, and both are always mentioned as some of the best spas in the area. You can plan to have a traditional service like a manicure, pedicure, facial, or message during your visit, or you can opt to branch out and enjoy a Biologique Recherche treatment or choose to get your hair or makeup done. Trust us when we say you won’t be disappointed!
Victoria Roggio Beauty:
Victoria Roggio Beauty has been named as one of the best spas by Vogue, Philadelphia Magazine, and Martha Stewart Weddings. It relies heavily on natural ingredients, and you can expect to experience them in action during any of the treatments you choose to enjoy like a Hyper-Customized Facial, a therapeutic message, or even acupuncture. Of course, you can also book a hair, makeup, lash, or brow appointment! And the team is available for wedding makeup appointments too.
Nearby Areas to Explore
Cape May, New Jersey:
A trip to Philadelphia isn’t quite complete unless you take time to adventure to the Jersey shore, and our favorite point to experience is Cape May. You can plan to visit for a day to spend time at the beach or shopping in the quaint downtown area. If you want to spend even more time enjoying the area, eating at delicious restaurants, and simply relaxing, don’t miss the opportunity to stay at Congress Hall. We’ve planned several weddings here, and we simply can’t get enough of its quaint and luxurious feel! We also love Beach Plum Farm for breakfast or lunch, and we also highly recommend this farm-to-table spot for rehearsal dinners.
Longwood Gardens is located about an hour outside of the city, and it has acres of displays that offer some of the best intersections of art and horticulture. The exhibits change throughout the year in line with the seasons, so there’s always something to experience. The spring and summer are particularly beautiful as the peonies and roses bloom, and a performance in the Main Fountain Garden is also something you can’t miss.
If you would rather head south from Philadelphia, make the trip to Winterthur. The historic home and gardens are located in Brandywine Valley in Delaware, and you can plan to tour Henry Francis du Pont’s home, explore the galleries, and wander through the 60 acres of gardens. Because of all that’s located at Winterthur, it’s also a favorite for weddings because there are indoor and outdoor spaces.