These days, weddings are not always held in the family church and receptions in the local firehall.
Today's couples have lots of options for tying the knot.
Although this area doesn't give us the opportunity to have a ceremony on the beach or at the remains of an ancient castle, there are plenty of unusual wedding venues to choose from in this region.
According to brides.com, choosing a location should be the first decision a couple makes, so, while this list is by no means complete, here are some local options to make that choice easier.
Barn weddings have gained in popularity over the past several years, but that doesn't necessarily mean guests will be seated on hay bales, eat naked cake and drink from canning jars. Today's brides are still increasingly choosing rustic weddings, but trends are leaning toward more elegant country weddings. Call it shabby chic.
Here are some choices for the perfect rustic wedding:
The Barn at Ligonier Valley
This Ligonier-area venue has a Civil-War era barn with modern amenities – including climate control. The barn, which can hold up to 250 guests, has a 650-square-foot dance floor.
The Event Barn at Highland Farms in Somerset
The Event Barn at Highland Farms is described on its website as “a rustic, yet elegant barn located in the middle of a gorgeous 300 acre farm.”
Located on one of the five highest points in the state, the outdoor areas offer large vistas and are perfect for wedding photography.
The barn seats up to 325 guests.
The Farm on the Ridge in Hooversville
This 117-acre farm features a 4,000-square-foot, free-span barn with original flooring that holds up to 242 guests and a rustic bathhouse. “Large or small, the ambience of a moonlit evening on our grounds under the grape arbor, on the decks, or around the fire ring, surrounded by friends and loved ones is sure to be memorable,” the website states.
The Hayloft in Rockwood
The Hayloft has a unique island gazebo that many couple use for their wedding ceremony.
The 150-acre farm is centered by a 1886 barn made of hand-hewn beams with original plank floors.
It seats up to 250 guests. The property also has a log cabin chapel, tavern and courtyard.
Oak Lodge in Stahlstown
Oak Lodge is described as “a beautiful country estate located on 800 acres of wooded seclusion in the heart of the Laurel Highlands.” Guests often refer to Oak Lodge as a “storybook village from the past.” Couples can choose to be married in a log cabin church and the reception hall holds up to 150 guests.
Sanaview Farms at Roaring Run
Billed as a 52-acre historic landmark organic farm, SanaView is located near Seven Springs in Champion. Couples often rent the farm for the weekend and can have use of the original 1800s farmhouse, the fully renovated barn and bunkhouse as well as a springhouse that provides the property with filtered natural spring water.
Whispering Hollow Estates in Pleasantville
A creek runs through the 40-acre property of Whispering Hollow Estates and guests cross a covered bridge to get to the outdoor wedding site. The lodge seats up to 255 guests.
Woodhaven B&B and Event Venue in Schellsburg
The 15-acres of Woodhaven surrounds a farmhouse built in 1796. The property includes an 19th-century barn and covered bridge dated 1886. The venue offers a variety of indoor and outdoor options for both ceremonies and receptions and can accommodate up to 200 guests.
Hosting a wedding in a museum can be the perfect way to infuse history and some additional entertainment into the event. In addition to enjoying the food and fun of a traditional wedding, guests are invited to explore the space and discover something new and interesting.
Here are locations where guests can take in an exhibit while waiting for dinner to be served:
Bottle Works has interesting opportunities for weddings – inside and out. A new rooftop garden can accommodate around 80 guests and the new 1st National Bank Pop Plaza is the center's outside festival lawn. With lighting on the three bridges that lead from the newly renovated parking lot as well as lighted gabion walls and benches, the outdoor space should be perfect for daytime or evening weddings.
“It is a perfect blend of outdoor meets urban living,” says Melody Tisinger, director of operations and advancement. “The scenery is beautiful with the mountain behind you and the river.”
Tisinger says the site can have everything the couple needs. “The wedding can be held outside, the cocktail hour on the roof and the reception in the event center where we can open the oversized garage doors for that outdoor feel.” The space can hold up to 175 guests.
The Tulip Building next door can be perfect for a more intimate wedding. It can seat up to 45 guests.
Another nice thing about both buildings is that guests can enjoy gallery exhibits that are ever changing, Tisinger says.
Heritage Discover Center
Heritage Discover Center in the Cambria City section of Johnstown was built in 1907 as the Germania Brewery Company.
The courtyard at the center is an enclosed area within the museum that features a stage and seating for 150 guests.
“The brick walls surrounding the courtyard are the first thing the brides comment on,” says Kim Baxter, vice president of operations and rentals for Johnstown Area Heritage Association.
“Weddings at the Discovery Center in the Second Floor Galleries are for a smaller wedding. The seating is limited. However, most of these brides are interested in the historical aspect and enjoy the idea of their guests seeing the exhibits as part of their special day.”
For lovers of history, the area offers several unique wedding venue options. Take a step back in time to the years when steel was king, ride the world's steepest vehicular inclined plane to a venue with an amazing view, say your “I do's” on the grounds where Amelia Earhart once stood or dine and dance in a 100-year-old train station. Those opportunities any many others are available to you in Johnstown.
Here are some perfect spots for the past and the present to come together:
The Grand Halle
Grand Halle, which operated for over 100 years as Immaculate Conception Church, is now one of the most popular sites for weddings and/or receptions. Built in the Victorian Gothic Revival style, the former German Roman Catholic Church was closed as part of a parish consolidation in 2009. It was reopened as The Grand Halle on Broad Street in 2012 by a not-for-profit corporation, 1901 Church.
Much of the original church décor, including magnificent stained glass and a pipe organ with 2,000 pipes, remains in the building.
"The Grand Halle is that fairy tale castle that so many brides fantasized about as little girls,” says Dave Hurst, general manager. “(In fact), the most-popular decorative theme for receptions here is Disney.
“Couples are welcome to have both their ceremony and reception here. We point out that The Grand Halle is a beautiful and meaningful place for a wedding ceremony then becomes a great place for a party.”
The grand hall can seat up to 250 guests.
Johnstown Train Station
Perhaps one of the more unique and beautiful venues for an unusual wedding is the Johnstown Train Station. Although the station remains active for rail passengers, the waiting room, which is closed to rail passengers, is available for private events. For lovers of history, this is one of the more beautiful locations for a truly unusual wedding.
Masonic Temple, opened in 1938, is quickly becoming a popular place for wedding receptions. With a grand ballroom that can fit up to 600 guests, it is one of the largest venues in the area.
Architecture style of the building includes Egyptian, Italian Renaissance, Byzantine and Romanesque periods. The ballroom floor is tongue-and-groove hardwood and the lobby floor outside the ballroom is terrazzo exposed aggregate, making a stunning entrance and a beautiful area for pictures.
The chapel is distinctive, with gothic church-style chandeliers and brass frames with glass. The floor is made with slate tiles. The Egyptian Room has hand-painted murals on the walls, elaborate plaster work, and vivid blues and golds.
The Mirage Banquet Hall
Not many venues can boast a view quite like those available from The Mirage Banquet Hall at the top of Johnstown's Inclined Plane. And where else can guests take a ride on an inclined plane to arrive at the reception site?
Opened in 2012, the 3.5-acre park is gated and fenced. The Oilhouse is a former industrial building that was completed renovated and can seat several hundred guests. The Polacek Pavilion provides outdoor seating under roof.
“At the PNG Park, the main comment I hear is the love of the 'industrial look' of the park,” says Kim Baxter, vice president of operations and rentals for Johnstown Area Heritage Association. “When a couple rents the park they have the use not only of the Oil House and the Polacek Pavilion, but also the surrounding grounds. Many of them bring games such as corn hole and Jenga or even a volleyball net to set up for the guests to play.
“The park is not for the bride who wants a formal event. It has a much more relaxed feel to it. Brides typically say they want their guests to have more of a 'party' feel than a typical reception. Dining inside the Oil House, dancing under the Pavilion and games in the grass.
“Brides can also have the Stone Bridge lit for the evening in their bridal colors.”
Sunnehanna Country Club
Sunnehanna Country Club opened Sept. 8, 1923. With sprawling views and a elegant clubhouse, the country club is a popular venue for weddings. Wedding couples do not need to be members of the club to have their wedding reception in the clubhouse. The main ballroom seats up to 300 guests.
ROOMS WITH A VIEW
Resorts offer more than a beautiful venue for wedding receptions. These centers can house wedding guests, provide entertainment and spa treatments without leaving the grounds.
Here are some resorts that cater to wedding couples:
Chestnut Ridge Resort in Blairsville
Chestnut Ridge Resort boasts of beautiful vistas and elegant and versatile banquet rooms. Guests are welcomed at the front door with a large fountain – a popular spot for wedding photos. The resort seats up to 400 guests.
Hidden Valley Resort in Somerset County
Hidden Valley was originally a stone farm house built in 1850. These days, in addition to its skiing and golfing, the resort offers a wedding couple everything they need for their perfect day, including lodging, on-site spa services, gardens and lakes and 30-mile vistas. Seating is available for up to 250 guests.
The Lodge at Indian Lake in Central City
The Lodge at Indian Lake offers vistas of the Laurel Highlands and Indian Lake. It is described on its website as having “rustic charm, scenic landscape, quiet solitude.” There is an open-air photo booth for guests to enjoy. The Lodge at Indian Lake seats up to 250 guests.
Omni at Bedford Springs Resort & Spa in Bedford
Packed with history, Bedford Springs offers wedding couples the complete package – from reception dinner, to spa treatments, to golf, to outdoor ceremonies in spa gardens or manicured lawns to receptions in the Colonnade Ballroom
Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Champion
Seven Springs Mountain Resort sits 3,000 feet above sea level. With 5,000 acres of stream-lined valleys and breathtaking views, the resort offers four different venues for weddings and six options for wedding receptions. The Grand Ballroom, with seating for 500 guests, is the largest of the venues.
OTHER SPECIAL SPACES
Of course, there are other places that offers couples everything they could want for their perfect day.
Among them are:
Ace's, located just outside Johnstown, is a popular wedding venue. There is a ballroom that can seat 500 as well as a smaller room for 150 guests.
Crown Ballroom at the Holiday Inn Downtown
The Crown Ballroom is a full-service wedding facility that can host a reception of up to 225 guests. “The advantage of having your reception at the Holiday Inn is that we are a one-stop shop for overnight
accommodations and the rehearsal dinner to the reception and Sunday brunch; the guests never need to leave the building,” says Melissa Radovanic, director of marketing and community relations.
Fresh Harvest at Laurel View Village in Davidsville
Wooded nature trails, flowerbeds and grassy lawns on the grounds of Laurel View Village offer wedding couples perfect spots for photography. “Weddings are our specialty at Fresh Harvest,” the website reads. “We delight in helping you create a celebration to remember.”
Fresh Harvest can accommodate up to 300 guests at a reception in the banquet room.
Green Gables in Jennerstown
If lush gardens, meandering streams, a natural waterfall and a lake sound like the perfect location for a wedding, consider Green Gables. The grounds offer five different locations that can be used together or individually – both inside and out.
The Tuscany Room, the largest space, features a 27x34-foot hardwood dance floor and can seat up to 400. Fireplaces can be lit on cooler evenings.
Main Event on Main Street, opened less than seven years ago, is becoming a popular wedding reception option. The main hall offers seating for 300 while the Rose Room is perfect for smaller parties or even the ceremony.
“We can do everything for you,” says Donna McCutcheon, manager. “We can do the decorating, set up the cookies, the food. All you really have to do is walk through the door and everything is finished for you.”
McCutcheon says Our Sons does catering for Main Event and the venue has its liquor license. “When you book with us, we include our Rose House. Built in 1894, it can be used for the rehersal dinner or the shower and is free of charge. We have very affordable packages.”
A six-lane bowling alley and an additional bar downstairs can be used after hours.
Pasquerilla Conference Center
The Pasquerilla Conference Center is a full-service wedding facility that can host a reception of up to 700 guests. “The advantage of using the conference center is the abundance of space,” says Melissa Radovanic, director of marketing and community relations. “We can host a ceremony, the cocktail reception and the dinner with dancing in different areas of the building without having an overlap.
“The lobby is the most requested space because of the picturesque hillside outside.”
This Is It
This Is It is another popular wedding venue located just outside the city. The building was opened in 1941 as Skate-A-Way Roller Rink. These days there are four different-sized rooms for weddings with 75 guests up to those with 350 guests.