Like brides, museums come in all sizes, and they’re just as full of wonder, mystery and beauty. No longer a stuffy, dusty home to boredom, museums can bring a wedding reception to life like no other venue can–with artwork, sculpture, artifacts and the past. And you’d be surprised how many museums rent their fantastic facilities for events, both large and small.

At the left is a wedding at the American Museum of Natural History. Bet those wedding guests talked about that affair for days! Needless to say, the rental price at a museum like this is pretty pricey, but there are wonderful, small museums throughout the country, many with amazing architecture and intriguing exhibits–all there for you and your guests.

Here are four museums around the country that are fascinating and open to wedding receptions:

The Heard Museum in Phoenix, AZ is home to spectacular Native American art. The Spanish Colonial-style architecture of the Heard Museum and its arched walkways, spacious galleries, outdoor bricked patios and fountains, and lush desert landscapes create a completely romantic ambience for your reception. Collections feature textiles, katsina dolls, pottery, jewelry, baskets, cradleboards, paintings and sculpture. The Heard is a true southwestern jewel.

If you’re a modern southern belle, you may want to hold your reception at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History not far from downtown Atlanta, where you can eat, drink and be married in the shadow of one of the world’s largest dinosaurs–or his skeleton, to be exact (and I’m not even sure if it’s a “him.”) Incredible features, including limestone fossil floors and the twinkling Star Gallery, simply add to the elegance to your reception.

For brides in the Northwest, let me turn you on to a sweet, little museum that makes choosing a theme–and wedding favors–easy and fun. The C.M. Russell Museum is an amazing place where the old West is still alive. Artist Charles Marion Russell, a true Renaissance man of long ago, was a historian, advocate of the Northern Plains Indians, cowboy, outdoorsman, writer, philosopher, environmentalist, conservationist, and last but not least, an artist who captured the landscapes, the spirit, and the culture of the West during the late 1800s and early 1900s. His artwork is part entertainment, part history lesson–and his museum welcomes wedding receptions!

Now we’ll head back down South to Key West, FL, where the Ernest Hemingway Mansion is also a museum that makes a terrific wedding venue! You’ll have all an ocean full of unbelievable activities, water sports and the charm of Key West to entertain your wedding guests, and your reception is surrounded by literary history. Not a bad way to start off your own family history, is it? And you thought it was just a museum…

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