By: Riki Altman
Miami is known around the world as a place rich in culture, pulsing with color, music and flavors. Thanks in part to the annual Art Basel event, we are also known for being an artistic city like no other, where our local artists and museums work hard to keep the enthusiasm going year round. Therefore it should come as no surprise to hear the latest trend with regards to weddings taking place in The Magic City is to host them inside either an art museum or gallery or even outdoors in unique spots where the views make for striking, shifting backdrops.
Our newest venue is perfect for those who feel green is their scene: HistoryMiami, our impressive 70-year-old cultural institution, just opened the adjoining Miami Circle for outdoor events. This open space park was recently recognized as a National Historic Landmark and it's also an archaeological site, featuring a 38-foot circular footprint of a prehistoric structure. (If you read between the lines, that means brides and their event planners will have to work closely with the HistoryMiami folks to make sure they aren't damaging the space, capiche?) A huge tent is probably a must here, but even with that, reps say up to 500 guests can fit. The spectacular view provided is of where the Miami River meets Biscayne Bay. Cons? No bathrooms, so you'll probably have to spring for a fancy porto-potty. Pros? Since it's an outdoor venue, pets are welcome, so Fido and Fluffy can walk down the aisle, too.
Another truly Miami-esque outdoor venue is the classy Coral Gables Museum, the former home of the city's police and fire station. The building's unique coral stone façade features Art Deco-style profiles of firemen. A few small indoor areas are available for cocktails or intimate receptions, but most brides take the party outside—especially if they expect up to 300 guests. The coral stone structure was built in 1939, but recent renovations have made it bright, airy, neutral and well suited for a formal or informal event. Areas available include a rooftop terrace, courtyard deck, and loggia. Green brides will also be happy to know this site is LEED certified, so those who want an environmentally friendly wedding will feel right at home. That's right, they can call up their own organic catering company, use recyclable table settings, and decorate with findings from local gardens, if they'd like.
Reflecting Pool Terrace
Brides searching indoor/outdoor options should investigate the Bass Museum of Art. Its new front entrance was designed by Chad Oppenheim and there's a lovely park outside. Ceremonies and receptions can take place in a café or gallery, while the Arthur & Alice Adams or Reflecting Pool terraces are lovely if Mother Nature behaves. Surprisingly, events can be held during regular museum hours or when other events are being held on the premises, but the good news is oftentimes guests are allowed to tour the galleries if you discuss it with the administrators in advance.
Another place providing excellent eye candy is The Wolfsonian-Florida International University, housed in a striking Mediterranean-Revival building on Miami Beach. The Wolfsonian's roots trace back to the 1920s as a storage space for the valuables of Miami's wealthier winter residents, but today it is a museum, library and research center with approximately 120,000 objects dating from 1885 to 1945. It's also a really cool venue for a wedding, where guests can mingle in the entry hall amid tall vaulted ceilings, ornamental stonework and an elegant Art Deco fountain. Unlike other venues, The Wolfsonian has its own in-house caterer, Shiraz Events, which also handles design, production and staffing.
Now if you are the artsy type who wants to actually tie the knot inside a gallery, The Bakehouse Art Complex (BAC) may be your speed. Built in the early 1920s to house the American Bakeries Company, this multi-level building remained unoccupied until BAC took it over in early 1987. Today it houses over 70 contemporary artists, but up to 200 guests can fit in the Audrey Love Gallery. (Now isn't that a fitting name for a wedding venue?) Only 85 of them can squeeze in, if seated, but 1,000 guests can wander around the building at one time. The BAC staff is pretty flexible, so brides can bring their own food, alcohol and music. And, obviously, they won't have to worry much about décor since the painters, sculptors, photographers and such have already displayed their best works on nearly every square inch of free space. But don't even think about hosting an event on the second Friday of the month, since that's when BAC hosts its opening receptions.
Maybe you are one of those gals who wants to be completely in control of her environment. If that's the case, the Moore Building may work for you. Located in the heart of Miami's famed Design District, this 1921 historic venue boasts four floors of arcaded spaces totaling more than 20,000 square feet. The soaring central atrium accommodates up to 1,100 guests, but wedding parties can utilize all four floors if needed. Aside from being an entirely clean canvas, with light wood floors and white walls, a massive, dynamic white sculpture, Elastika, reaches diagonally across the banisters, connecting the open spaces. An adjoining garden lounge can also be used for overflow, or an intimate cocktail reception. Bridge House Events handles production and catering services here, so they'll give you recommendations on everything from haute cuisine to fierce lighting.
We hear a lot of locals are drawn to The Newman Alumni Center at the University of Miami, too, especially those of us who find ourselves tempted to wear an orange-and-green garter. Not only is the space loaded with memorabilia, but it's also a very flexible venue designed to host really large groups. Its multipurpose room can hold about 500 folks for a reception, or the room can be broken down to accommodate 280 for banquet-style seating. Twenty-foot ceilings and wood floors add to its charm, along with a view of the Arellano Courtyard, which can hold up to 300 people, even when tented. There's no need to worry about finding a caterer, either, as the spot has a catering director and executive chef at the ready.
Speaking of top toques, Chef Andrew Rothschild, who has cooked at numerous award-winning restaurants, is the man behind the gorgeous meals being served at the new Soho Studios in the Wynwood Convention Center, the perfect place for a massive party. Nearly any facility manager in the city would shudder if you mentioned the need to accommodate 2,500 of your closest friends and family for a sit-down meal followed by dancing that may go into the wee hours. But since this versatile event space is totally raw, as is the neighborhood surrounding it, this offers an incredible opportunity for brides with vision. Comprising more than 70,000 square feet, the building used to be a dry cleaning facility for Miami Beach's finest hotels, but now it's an expansive area ready to be customized.
A one-of-a-kind event space is located in the heart of Coconut Grove, The Cruz Building oozes charm from every angle. Its New Orleans-style façade is ornamented with iron-grilled balconies which welcome you into a fabulous French inspired three-story building boasting an ornate stained-glass ceiling, dark woods, antique chandeliers and multiple dining spaces. The Cruz Building can accommodate the wishes of the most detail-conscious bride-to-be. A sweeping staircase where you and your groom can officially be announced as "Mr. & Mrs."? Check. Strolling musicians to serenade your guests from a balcony? Check. An outdoor terrace for cutting the cake? Check. An onyx-topped bar for pre-dinner cocktails? Check. An ornate wood-carved fireplace for after-dinner drinks and an elevator for Aunt Matilda and her walker? Check and check.
Let your creativity flow, Miami-bound brides. With a touch of inspiration and the backing of a professional event planner or two, you can make your wedding into a real masterpiece.