There’s no need to stand on ceremony when you walk down the aisle at one of these rustic Central Florida venues.
This unassuming College Park locale is a hidden gem. Your family and guests will be surrounded by a mix of ivy-covered and distressed structures in a naturally landscaped, one-acre urban sanctuary. Seal your union in the distinctive chapel hall, embellished with stained glass, a simple porch and a brick fireplace; or recite your vows under an oak tree beside a quirky trailer. The Acre also has a barn reception hall with a built-in sound and light system and indoor/outdoor bar access.
“The somewhat undeveloped property was once a farm built in the 1930s and 40s; so while our renovated historic buildings are eclectic, they feel relaxed and can be customized for desired aesthetics,” says owner Tim McMahon.
Pricing: $1,000 for 3 hours; $2,500-$4,000 for 8-hour packages.
Dressing rooms: The bridal suite is a large open room on the second floor of the kitchen house with a wraparound balcony. Once a mule barn, the groom’s lounge is a modern-day man cave with a barber chair.
Guidelines/restrictions: There is an additional $500 charge for Saturday bookings; firewood is provided on request; use of a preferred vendor list is suggested, but not required.
Rain plan: Chapel and barn hall
Nestled on Gotha’s preserved rural lands, this campground is a scenic spot for weddings. Its simple white chapel, suitable for either indoor or outdoor ceremonies, has cushioned chairs and a piano. However, most couples choose the lakeside circle, a unique stone seating formation illuminated by greenery and vibrant sunsets.
Following the ceremony, guests can gather in the spacious Kramer Dining Center constructed with heavy timber trusses. “It is the perfect space for building community among families and celebrating the new bond between newlyweds,” says camp director Mike Neff. For an even more rustic environment, the unfinished Heritage Hall boasts a central fireplace and lake views. Kids can keep themselves entertained in The Basement facility with Ping-Pong, billiards and arcade games.
Capacity: 200+ depending on space selection.
Pricing: $1,800-$2,200 (includes kitchen, tables and chairs).
Dressing rooms: Simple space, ideal for up to 6 people, includes shower, makeup mirrors and high dress hooks.
Guidelines/restrictions: Alcohol is not permitted; event must end by 11 p.m.
Rain plan: Chapel and dining halls
Altamonte Wedding Chapel
This little white church has stood the test of time. It was originally built in 1885 on Lake Brantley and relocated, in 1969, to its present location in Altamonte Springs. “We have a peaceful corner conveniently located off State Road 436. It’s remarkable to have such tranquility within an urban area,” says Pastor Bob Melhorn, who performs about 75 ceremonies a year. The graceful chapel exudes classic style with a red door and original pews, furnishings and stained glass windows. After tying the knot, couples are encouraged to pull a rope to ring the church bell. There’s a brick roundabout and small grassy area with a fountain that can function as an outdoor reception site.
Pricing: $950 chapel service (includes officiate, music, unity candle and coordinator), plus $650-$1,050 for 4-hour reception.
Dressing rooms: The bridal suite, which is located across from the chapel in the education building, is an elegant living room for up to 10 people. Groomsmen typically get dressed off site, but gather in the church library.
Guidelines/restrictions: Additional $200 booking fee; beer and wine only is preferred.
Rain plan: Chapel and hall
LIFE IN MOTION PHOTO AND FILM
Florida Federation of Garden Clubs
You’ll find three secluded acres of both wild and manicured grounds adjacent to Mead Botanical Garden in Winter Park. Recite your vows under a jasmine-covered arbor, sip cocktails on a sunlit patio and dine at long wooden tables under the stars near the wooded glen.
“Bright camellias naturally warm up winter weddings,” says office manager Dawn Murphy. “Pink and white azaleas illuminate the patio in springtime and tropical bromeliads flourish during the year.” There are lots of beautiful photo ops throughout, including brick-lined paths, iron benches and in the rose-filled butterfly garden.
Pricing: $995 for 8 hours of exclusive use of the grounds and facility (includes tables).
Dressing rooms: Two-room bridal suite with closets, mirrors and entrances to garden and reception areas.
Guidelines/restrictions: This non-smoking venue requires use of approved vendor list. Renter is responsible for set-up and return to storage.
Rain plan: Modern, mid-century inspired hall with high wood-beamed ceiling, French doors and windows overlooking the patio.
Club Lake Plantation
This 43-acre ranch in Apopka has beautifully sectioned fields with two open-air ceremony options. Invite your guests to sit on wooden pews as you say “I do” under a pergola shaded by majestic oak trees. Or have your ceremony in front of the lakeside gazebo chapel. Afterward, take your wedding photos by the old wagon, the Long Branch Saloon brick structure or in the secret garden.
“Our mission is to have happy brides and smooth and joyful celebrations here in our country setting,” says event manager Natalie Perche. Head to the barn-style hall or the horse stable for a rustic reception site like no other. Part of the fun for your guests is the Lucky 13, a brick- and exposed-beam playroom filled with slot machines, a poker table and a juke box.
Pricing: $2,500 for ceremony only; $12,500-$15,995 packages (may include seating, tables, DJ, flowers, catering, day-of coordinator, rehearsal, and grounds access for engagement photos).
Dressing rooms: The two-room bridal suite has showers, a steamer and sofas.
Guidelines/restrictions: Additional $250-$400 clean-up fee; renter must provide alcohol.
Rain plan: Barn buildings
Couples looking for a nontraditional wedding venue can say “I do” aboard the Barbara-Lee, an authentic sternwheeler paddleboat departing from downtown Sanford. Charter a private dinner or lunch cruise on the St. Johns River or, for smaller celebrations, anchor up on the second deck. Your party passengers will get up-close nature views of Florida’s abundant wildlife, including alligators and “snakebirds.”
“The ceremony is brief so wedding guests can enjoy a three-hour boat reception with food cooked from scratch, live entertainment and three dance floors,” says Captain John Sternberg. “It’s not like renting a hall. Everything is cooked to order and enjoyed with a true Florida view,” says Sternberg of the family-run love boat.
Pricing: Approximately $50-65 per person, plus $125 wedding coordination fee and $100 captain/officiate fee
Dressing rooms: No
Guidelines/restrictions: Multiple seating options (150 minimum for private charter, otherwise semi-private); renter must provide cake.
Rain plan: Interior decks and dance floors
STEVEN MILLER PHOTOGRAPHY
Built in 1903 with a fireplace in every room, this rustic 11-acre grove was once the Victorian-style home of Thomas McBride, Apopka’s pioneer medical doctor. Today, couples can celebrate as a married pair on the mature lawn with views of roaming peacocks. A paved path winds to a serene seating platform ideal for sunset ceremonies facing the lake, a majestic oak tree or the manor. Once a stable, the aged cedar chapel has a steeple and bell.
Dine in the Crystal Ballroom, ornately decorated with chandeliers, a backlit bar and floor-to-ceiling windows. Indulge in a dessert buffet on the verandah overlooking the fountain. “The house includes original pineapple lighting accents, which symbolize hospitality and wealth. The long-standing decorating tradition reflects our welcoming environment,” says venue manager Bonny Bailey-Finck.
Capacity: 250 for full dinner service; 350 for cocktail seating.
Pricing: $395-$1,950 rental (includes tables, chairs, linens, day-of coordinator and bride & groom butler service), plus catering (starting at $50 per person).
Dressing rooms: The second-floor bridal suite has an antique vanity and heavenly views. The groom’s room has a pool table and dartboard.
Guidelines/restrictions: Dubsdread Catering is the exclusive producer of weddings here; no sparklers; floral must be real (to protect wildlife).
Rain plan: Crystal ballroom or oak room and chapel
The Secret Garden
Situated on the shoreline of Lake Ruth in Longwood, this “secret” garden is a popular outdoor wedding destination for couples looking to elope or host an intimate ceremony. The renovated 1963 home retains its old-fashioned allure, with a timeless garden configuration of gardenia, jasmine and seasonal flowers, a delightful stone bridge and a small tree platform. Walk through the lakefront garden to meet your groom in front of a beautiful, rustic wood structure and tall bamboo. A short cocktail hour with passed hors d’oeuvres or cake can be accommodated.
Capacity: 50 (including bridal party)
Pricing: 40-minute (starting at $150) to 3-hour (starting at $950) packages includes photographer, chairs, music, flowers and officiate.
Dressing rooms: The bride’s room is cozy and ideal for final preparations. The groom’s room is a vibrant red parlor.
Guidelines/restrictions: Appointment-only policy. No outside vendors unless approved.
Rain plan: Screened-in porch patio