One of the best-kept secrets In wedding planning success has to do with selection of the venue. And as we got to thinking about the more spectacular places in which to hold one’s nuptials, we came across the decidedly offbeat suggestion of an airplane hangar wedding.
What are the advantages of an airplane hangar wedding? There are at least four that we can think of:
- It’s roomy – typically big enough to handle over 200 guests, seated in rows or at rounds.
- It’s dramatic – especially at sunset with huge shadows filtering in through the big door windows.
- It’s cost-effective – starting at just $2500 for the rental of the hangar.
- It’s spectacular – as the bride and groom arrive in a vintage, gleaming DC3 tail-dragger aircraft.
Why else should you consider an airplane hangar wedding?
In many of the traditional wedding venues — caterers, disc jockeys, and even the people officiating the ceremony — have strong financial ties to the venue owner.
Consequently, your costs will rise in accordance with the grandiosity of your event. Not so at most of the wedding hangar venues we checked with.
The bride and groom are free to choose whichever caterer they want, whatever disc jockey or band they would like, and, of course, if they want their local Pastor to officiate, that’s perfectly okay.
In this way, couples are able to really keep their costs down while still enjoying a premium venue.
When you say the venue is spectacular, what do you mean?
Where else in the world can you taxi right up to the front door of the church riding in a vintage DC3 chromium polished aircraft, as though you were a glamorous movie star and starlet arriving for the premiere of your newest film?
Red carpet can pave the way from the open hatch of the airplane right up to the canopy facing the assembled audience.
And your guests won’t be crammed into hard wooden church pews, either. They’ll likely be seated in premium white folding chairs beneath hundreds of glittering Christmas lights strung far overhead, protected from any inclement weather.
Give your wedding a totally unique flavor – from invitation to execution
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Then, one can easily imagine an articulate groomsman booming out the following message to those assembled, awaiting the bride and groom’s arrival.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome aboard this flight to an aviation wedding fantasy. Fasten your seatbelts and join Jeff and Laurie as they take off on their fantastic journey.”
Add to that the smashing arrival of the betrothed couple — he is wearing an airline captain’s blue suit complete with epaulets, and she is decked out in a form-fitting white wedding gown, worthy of a Hollywood femme fatale.
You could even suggest that wedding guests dress in period costume, as though they were coming to an event on a Hollywood backlot in the fabulous 1940s
Then, there’s the question of post-wedding entertainment
It will be a wedding photographer’s delight, capturing dad’s last dance with his daughter in a space cleared in the middle of a thousand-square-foot dance floor.
And, after the ritual cake cutting, garter throwing, and requisite speeches by the wedding party, the party can truly begin.
At the poshest hangar weddings we’ve heard of, a full 40-piece dance orchestra occupied a small corner of the enormous Hangar 21 in Southern California, while 1940s swing tunes reverberated off the rafters and reception-goers got terrifically tipsy on sparkling pink champagne.
And at the more intimate — but still spacious — Hangar 1 Distillery in Alameda, California, receptionees recently crowded the chromium and glass open bar for the libation of their liking.
And the final cost of this elaborate soiree?
As with any wedding, expectations of the bride typically trump a more level-headed analysis of costs.
But it’s safe to say you could start off your event totally low-key by just trucking in tables and chairs borrowed from a nearby church and foregoing any frou-frou flowers or mood lighting.
Hey! Mercury vapor lights offer a certain ambiance.
But most will opt for the much pricier packages offered by the more upscale hangar venues. These include just the basic package, involving chairs and a few standup tables (you bring your own booze.)
Then they go all the way up to the most elaborate scenarios involving a complete air show for the delight of attendees — complete with antique biplane rides and buzzes of the airport tower a la Top Gun.
A case in point
The bride, Lauren Rooney, 27, an account executive at a chic clothing design firm in Irvine, California, and the groom, an apparel designer at Nike, opted recently for a retro wedding at a small local airfield.
With a World War II era hangar as their backdrop, Lauren and Josh tied the knot amid nearly spartan — yet striking — surroundings.
For the big event, the aged facility was decked out in a palette of khaki and charcoal gray furnishings and banners, plus unexpected punches of bright colors like burnt orange.
Leather, metal and flight-inspired details rounded out the day’s overall design and the happy couple departed the still-partying attendees in a towering hot air balloon.
Ready for your own airplane hangar event?
It needn’t necessarily even be a wedding. Many of these venues report just as much business from corporate events as from weddings.
“They’re just way more fun,” said one event planner, who even arranged at one sales conference for go-cart races to be available on the tarmac outside the hangar.
It was a big hit.
You don’t have to just settle for a modest potluck dinner in the Church Fellowship Hall after your equally modest wedding anymore.
Why not throw an event everyone will remember and still be talking about at your 50th-anniversary celebration?
A hangar wedding in a cavernous — but atmospheric — metal building fills the bill nicely.