Wedding Night at the Museum

Museums in Raleigh and Durham that make Great Wedding Venues – by Amber Watson of Bites of Bull City Durham Food Blog 

Wedding venue museums in Raleigh, NC and the Triangle Area are teaching us a lesson in love! It’s not rocket science, it’s basic math – museums capture that contemporary vibe, sophisticated charm, and built-in entertainment. These non-traditional wedding venues are full of unique and beautiful photos opportunities. Indoor and outdoor rooms and exhibits at museums in Raleigh provide multiple sites for each part of the evening, from the cocktail hour to the ceremony and the reception. Moving from space to space will make it feel as though you are traveling to different sites without having to leave the wedding venue!

An added bonus is that in many of these museums in Raleigh, there is built-in entertainment for your guests! Many museums in Raleigh allow private access to an exhibit or to the whole museum. Couples are encouraged to use the artistic centerpieces as captivating elements in their wedding photos. Please note, restrictions may apply.

A variety of museums in Raleigh, NC and the Triangle make incredible, modern wedding venues. Let’s explore and learn about Heart of NC Wedding’s favorite options! 

For the Playful Bride and Groom – Marbles Kids Museum & IMAX Theatre Wedding Venue 

For the playful pair, Marbles Kids Museum & IMAX theatre is the perfect wedding venue museum in Raleigh, NC. Marbles offers a colorful, energetic and entirely unique wedding backdrop. With almost 40,000 square feet of event space that can accommodate up to 2,000 people throughout the entire museum. Marbles Kids Museum has two large reception areas that can accommodate up to 450 guests, as well as both indoor and outdoor event spaces to host a ceremony. They have been hosting weddings since opening 11 years ago.

Many Marbles couples host cocktail hour in the event spaces adjacent to the exhibits because it provides a natural entertainment source, and the majority choose to take wedding photos in the exhibits and outdoor graphic installations, after all, who can pass up a pirate ship or yellow submarine photo-op?

For the Curious and Eclectic Engagement – 21c Museum Hotel Durham Wedding Venue 

Have you ever wanted to step inside a secret historic bank vault? 21c Museum Hotel in downtown Durham is one of the coolest and most curious museum wedding venues in the Triangle. 21c Museum Hotel gives couples access to 24/7 art galleries, and the ability to have everything onsite — including hotel rooms, and catering from Counting House, the onsite restaurant. 

Nestled in a former bank building, the bride and groom can host both their ceremony and reception at 21c Museum Hotel. Try hosting your ceremony in the teller room turned distinguished ballroom, and capture unforgettable wedding portrait photos in the original bank vault turned chic lounge. With three floors of contemporary art galleries, the eclectic options are limitless. 

Explore the World of Love and Learning at The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Wedding Venue  

Ever wonder what the science behind love is? The NC Museum of Natural Sciences wedding venue might just have the answer you’ve been looking for. Located in downtown Raleigh the NC Museum of Natural Sciences has two wings (or buildings) — the Nature Exploration Center and the newer, more contemporary wing: the Nature Research Center. During after hours, the two buildings function as separate venues so guests can have the museum to themselves. 

Within each building, brides and grooms can rent the museum by exhibit space or floor, choosing the space that best matches their wedding vision. With seven floors of exhibits, plus a separate event space and outdoor green terrace, there are many options! The exhibits allow guests to enjoy their night while surrounded by anything from prehistoric dinosaurs and a 20-foot waterfall to whale skeletons and friendly fish; rooms without exhibits are available as well. The NC Museum of Natural Sciences works with their exclusive caterer, Rocky Top Catering, who designs a custom layout amongst the exhibits.

The Museum of Life and Science, Wedding Venue Full of Wonder and Beautiful Event Spaces in Durham, NC

Get married at The Museum of Life and Science! This one-of-a-kind family museum is a beloved location in Durham, NC. Beautiful natural landscape and whimsical science exhibits make this wedding venue a perfect entertainment space.

Imagine getting married in a treehouse surrounded by the birds and the bright fall leaves. Or sipping on a glass of wine when suddenly a monarch butterfly lands on your shoulder in the museum’s butterfly house! Grab your partner for a first dance beside a spaceship. The options for dreaming and discovery are limitless at this museum wedding venue.

North Carolina Museum of Art – Wedding Venue Museum with Modern Elegance and Ambiance

The North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) provides a modern event space with crisp white galleries and outdoor sculptures that many couples use as a blank canvas, incorporating their own colors and style.

NCMA wedding ceremonies typically begin outside in the North Courtyard, a beautifully landscaped sculpture garden with trees and a reflecting pool. Guests then head into the Great Hall of the West Building (open since 2010, this space holds the museum’s permanent collection of artwork that spans nearly two millennia) for the reception.

Another benefit is turnkey service and planning; at the NCMA this includes day-of coordination, linens, flowers for the ceremony and reception, custom cakes, dance floor, tables, chairs, glassware, flatware, and napkins; and the Museum’s restaurant provides all event catering.

Love and Inspiration at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University Museum Wedding Venue 

Another unique and modern museum on a university campus is the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. When most people think of weddings at Duke, they envision the chapel, but Nasher should not be overlooked. Tucked away between the gorgeous green canopy of pine trees on Duke’s campus is the Nasher Museum of Art. It is available for public rental and has a light and bright open-air lobby, perfect for setting the scene. The Nasher’s vaulted glass ceilings not only offer natural light, but beautifully dramatic modern photos. For guests, it is an accessible space to explore, with all exhibits located on the same floor.

You Are Ready to Plan Your Museum Wedding! 

When considering a museum venue, keep in mind that it requires a bit of creativity and imagination.  If you visit during regular museum hours, it may be challenging to envision your special day while the place is teaming with strangers. Floor plans are typically unique, and of course, there are a lot of artifacts in place that may or may not fit with your “theme.”

Venue coordinators at these museums are fantastic at helping couples see past that by offering site visits and showing pictures with possibilities from past events.

Museums can host all types of brides and grooms, but they often attract couples who are looking for something eclectic and unconventional. It is also ideal for couples who want their wedding to be an investment into something they believe in – as these funds contribute to the operating budgets of these institutions. Museum settings provide the perfect marriage of an evening that is upscale and very photogenic, yet also comfortable for a variety of family dynamics—no matter who comes to a museum wedding, everyone will find something to love and will leave with lasting memories.

By Amber Watson, freelance writer and blogger, @bitesofbullcity

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