Ah, the ladies of Atlanta, the most polite and good-natured Southern belles - except of course when it comes to getting everything their heart desires on their wedding day. As a recent Atlanta bride, I had the chance to become familiar with and visit many of Atlanta's top wedding venues. Based on tireless hours of research, here are some of the top venues I've come across and my impressions of their offerings.
We'll look at a few different categories: Hotel Venues, Outdoor & Garden Venues, Southern Style Venues, Unique Venues and Platinum (with a price tag to match!) Venues.
Top Hotel Venues: Emory Hotel & Conference Center
The Emory Hotel & Conference Center is a beautiful property with rustic touches and offers several wedding options. There are two traditional ballrooms, the Silverbell Pavillion (a stand alone building with huge windows all around) and the Hamilton Mill House (a charming house with a European patio). This hotel offers all-in-one convenience, great rates for your guests and a full-service package. Catering is done in house. Ceremonies can be held in the outdoor courtyard before moving to the reception venue of your choice. The gardens on the grounds offer plenty of opportunity for beautiful outdoor photos.
Bonus Tip: A super fun retro bowling alley in the hotel is available to rent out for rehearsal dinners or other pre-wedding activities.
Top Hotel Venues: Hotel Palomar
The Hotel Palomar is a nice alternative to some of the more traditional hotel venues. It has a modern flair and fun, upscale decor. The ballrooms are standard issue, with some unique and artful touches, but the really impressive venue at the Palomar is the rooftop terrace area. This is home to bar and lounge AltoRex by night but can be used for events during the day - so if you're flexible enough for an afternoon shindig or perhaps Sunday brunch nuptials, you'll wow your guests with a bright white and green terrace wedding overlooking the Midtown skyline. The accommodations here are gorgeous, ensuring your guests will sleep comfortably in the lap of luxury.
Top Outdoor & Garden Venues: Park Tavern
Park Tavern offers two great venues - the Piedmont Room indoors and the Garden Tent outdoors. This location has a few quirks - it is a restaurant in Atlanta's most popular park - so you'll need to be aware of the challenges presented by outside influences. However, the wedding areas are set apart from the restaurant and offer privacy. The meadow is perfectly situated to offer the best park views of the Midtown skyline. The outdoor tent is grand, with chandeliers, lanterns, gold chairs and a checkerboard dance floor. The indoor Piedmont Room is on the second level and overlooks the park, offering some of the best views of the skyline I've seen. It is stunning lit up at night and offers a little more privacy than the lower-level garden tent.
Top Outdoor & Garden Venues: Greystone & Magnolia Hall at Piedmont Park
The Piedmont Park Conservancy runs several venues with historic flair and modern comforts in Piedmont Park. Greystone is the restored bath house overlooking the pool and lake. A huge venue with a large covered patio, Greystone provides a wedding with an indoor and outdoor element. Greystone is the best of the best, sparkling new with everything you need including a lovely bridal suite for wedding day preparations.
For a more intimate wedding, there is Magnolia Hall, a mission style venue with dark woods, hanging lanterns, warmth and charm. This venue offers the perfect flow between wedding day events - a manicured meadow for the ceremony, a patio for the cocktails and the hall for the reception. The hall allows for a built in rain plan!
Top Outdoor & Garden Venues: Cator Woolford Gardens
Cator Woolford Gardens is also known as Atlanta's Secret Garden. Tucked away just off of Ponce de Leon between Poncy-Highlands and Decatur, you'll wind up a hidden drive and land in a garden cloaked in romance. The gardens has a series of event areas for a seamless progression from ceremony to reception as well as a paved area perfect for dancing and a convenient, though small, building equipped with easy catering access and an air-conditioned area for guests who need to escape the heat. The garden features beautiful architectural details left over from days gone by that make for wonderful photo opportunities. The garden can be tented in case of a light rain or The Frazer Center, also on the grounds, can be used for a rain backup.
Top Southern Style Venues: Primrose Cottage
It seems wrong to not include at least one OTP venue on our list, because there are a number of locations outside of the city that offer a charming and lower-cost alternative to their in-town counterparts. Primrose Cottage, located in historical Roswell, offers a lovely garden setting as well as an Antebellum mansion steeped in sweet tea and southern charm. The main hall has floor to ceiling windows, bringing an outdoor feeling to an indoor (and weather-proof!) space. Primrose Cottage is run by Atlanta catering company Magic Moments, who also run Flint Hill and The Atrium, popular event venues in Norcross. These folks are wedding experts and can make the planning experience a seamless one.
Top Southern Style Venues: The Biltmore Ballrooms
It would be hard for any bride to pass up the absolutely gorgeous Biltmore Ballrooms, located off of West Peachtree Street in Midtown. This is one of Atlanta's most popular wedding venues - and for good reason. There are two formal, art deco ballrooms to choose from and just entering the room you can envision it decked out in true formal, southern style and almost see a beautiful bride twirling around the room. The ballrooms can accommodate both the ceremony and reception, with dramatic arches, a built-in bar and the more spectacularly decorative ceilings you've ever seen. This is the epitome of elegance and glamor.
Unique Venues: The Fox Theatre
The iconic Fox Theatre is a classic, yet creative, choice for Atlanta brides. Imagine your name in lights on the marquee, your guests entering through the amazing, dramatic lobby and then dancing the night away in the splendor of the Egyptian Ballrooms. This space has been wonderfully cared for and restored to preserve its original character and glamor. The bride and groom can even take photos on the stage - I have seen this done and they are breathtaking and so different than your typical wedding portraits. The Fox Theater also offers the convenience and cosmopolitan atmosphere of Midtown, one of Atlanta's most vibrant neighborhoods, and is convenient (even walkable!) to Marta as well as numerous hotels.
Unique Venues: Fernbank
Most Atlantans have been to Fernbank and seen the gigantic dinosaurs in the Great Hall, but you may not have known the Great Hall is available for event rentals. Imagine the towering dinosaurs as the backdrop to your classy affair and you instantly know this event will make an impression. The rental includes use of the outdoor terrace, which is the ideal setting for a romantic ceremony before heading inside to the reception. Smaller events can be held in the Star Gallery with hundreds of glittering fiber optic stars overhead. A wedding at Fernbank is a unique way to infuse some culture in to your wedding while not compromising the class.
Unique Venues: Paris on Ponce
This really and truly is Atlanta's most out-of-the-box event space. Le Mansion Rouge at Paris on Ponce is a Moulin Rouge-themed event space attached to the quirky Paris on Ponce antique shop off of Ponce de Leon in Midtown. This space is all about drama, drama, drama. Everywhere you look you there are creative accessories and antiques and dark red and black decor to bring in the feeling of a vintage Parisian burlesque show. While it may not be for the traditional or faint of heart bride, a wedding at Le Mansion Rouge is sure to keep guests talking for years to come!
Bonus Tip: Complete the package by hiring Kingsized and the Dames A'Flame for a real rockin' party!