Brandywine River Museum of Art
Route 1, Chadds Ford, Pa., (610) 388-2700, www.brandywinemuseum.org.
Nestled against Brandywine Creek, the museum resides in a renovated 19th-century mill. It’s also home to three generations of Wyeth paintings and the work of other American artists. And it’s part of the Brandywine Conservancy. The lush grounds—which you can see through the many floor-to ceiling windows—frame local flora and fauna.
The museum, which can hold up to 120 guests at a seated dinner throughout the space and up to 600 at a cocktail-only reception, is available from 6 p.m. until midnight. Instead of a formal sit-down affair, many couples prefer placing food stations on the three lobby levels, which all overlook the outdoors.
“Guests can enjoy the galleries, and it’s more relaxed,” says Rebecca Bucci, the museum’s private-events coordinator. “It lets the guest explore the museum.” The six galleries are open for two consecutive hours during the event.
If you’re planning a small wedding, consider the restaurant, which also overlooks the river, where you can seat 80.
For the ceremony, the cobblestone courtyard provides a rustic setting. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, guests move to a third-floor space.
Bucci says some couples hold scavenger hunts—“find Jamie Wyeth’s ‘Portrait of Pig,’ for instance—particularly if young kids are in attendance. Because the Brandywine Conservancy promotes native plants and sustainable gardens, one couple used herbs as flower arrangements. Says Bucci: “It smelled wonderful!”
Community Arts Center
414 Plush Mill Road, Wallingford, Pa., (610) 566-1713, www.communityartscenter.org.
Founded in 1949, the Community Arts Center is on the former estate of Henry P. Dixon, who built a summer home there in 1889. The stone facade resembles a stately English manor home, and the water tower looks like a castle turret. “It’s very fairy-tale like,” says Craig Zesserman, a sales representative with the venue’s exclusive caterer, Jeffery M. Miller Catering. “It’s very romantic.”
In 2008, the center opened the 3,100-square-foot Duke Gallery, an addition to the main building, which is the primary event area for wedding receptions with up to 250 guests (225 with a dance floor). The gallery features rotating exhibits.
Those who elect to marry at the center often select a spot on the landscaped grounds. In the event of inclement weather, a second-floor ballroom can seat 150. “The venue has an excellent ‘Plan B,’” Zesserman notes. Many couples also take advantage of the stunning grounds by setting up lawn games and using the castle tower as a backdrop for photos.
As for food, the caterer just added a clay-and-brick oven on site. “It’s just another amenity of the venue,” Zesserman says.
The Farmhouse at People’s Light
39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, Pa., (610) 647-1631, ext. 156, (direct line for sales and catering), www.farmhousepeopleslight.com.
More than 200 years old, this renovated farmhouse holds a restaurant and a ballroom extension that caters to events for up to 250 people. Technically, it is not an art venue. But it does benefit from being part of the People’s Light & Theatre Company, which has a set designer, workshop and prop collection. “I say that I need a trellis built around a pole, and the next day it’s there,” says Spencer Brennan, director of catering.
For a Hindu wedding, the scenery crew set the tone with silk lanterns and vibrant fabric wall hangings. “It was beautiful, nothing ostentatious,” Brennan says.
About half of the couples choose to get married outside on the lawn or under a tent. “Photographers have a field day here,” he says. “The venue has all the charm of an old property and all the amenities of a modern reception hall.”
And what it doesn’t have, the prop department can evidently create.
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