Wedding Venues: Planning Your Rooftop Wedding

On your wedding day you want to feel like you’re soaring above it all–so why not start with a wedding venue at the very top of a building? Rooftop weddings are the perfect solution for couples who want to be married under the great blue sky, but don’t want to risk muddy grass or other inconveniences of a wedding in the park.

Rooftop Venues or Just Plain Rooftops?

As you research possible rooftop wedding locations in your area, you’ll quickly realize that there are two kinds of rooftops. Some buildings (commonly hotels, resorts, and restaurants) already have their roofs set up for special events. You may see rooftop tables, bars, fire pits, landscaping, and even swimming pools.

Other buildings have never hosted a rooftop event before–all they have is a flat open space on top of their building. You’ll certainly get a better rental discount if you choose the second type of building, but if you choose the first type of building, you’ll have the comfort and security of knowing what to expect.

If you’re dead-set on building your wedding reception from the ground up, and you don’t mind doing extra legwork yourself, a plain rooftop can be a surprisingly affordable venue. Get ready, however, to spend hours calling and visiting local buildings before you find a property owner who also thinks a rooftop wedding is a good idea. For insurance reasons alone, hosting a rooftop party can be very risky.

You need to find a rooftop with a solid railing around the edge and roofing material that can safely hold your guests and furnishings. It’s also a good idea to check in with neighbors (or even invite them) to make sure your party won’t get cited for excessive noise. Check your city’s zoning regulations, too. Nothing squelches a wedding reception more quickly than getting busted by the cops.

Although cold-calling sometimes works, the best way to find an amenable property owner is to ask around your personal network of friends and family. Property owners are much more likely to rent their property to a somewhat risky venture if they know the hosts personally.

The flip side of this, however, is that you shoulder more responsibility. If one of your guests’ high heels punches through the roof tar on a hot afternoon, or if (fingers crossed this never happens) a guest falls and breaks his arm, you may end up paying far more than you would have paid to rent a ready-made rooftop venue–and you may end up in court, too! Most couples find it safer and more comfortable to just rent a rooftop that’s already set up for special events.

Roof top wedding with a View

The best part about getting married in an elevated location is the view. Give special thought not only to the rooftop itself, but to the quality of the view once you’re atop it.

A skyscraper will give you and your guests a stunning cityscape of lights for nighttime photos, whereas the top of a winery will give you rows of grapevines stretching behind an afternoon of pastoral beauty.

Be sure to take the sun into account, too. A setting sun behind the couple getting married will only result in blinded guests and backlit silhouette photos, whereas a setting sun behind the guests will bathe the couple in flattering, golden light. Arrange your rooftop wedding setup so you take advantage of the best views without running afoul of the sun.

A Weatherproof Wedding

Since rooftops, by definition, don’t have roofs of their own (the exception to this is rooftop patios that have been especially built as an indoor-outdoor venue solution), it’s important to have a rain plan. Just like an outdoor garden wedding, rooftop weddings are vulnerable to thunderstorms.

Even if it’s not actively raining, high winds can present a problem for weddings (picture a dozen balloons battering against a wedding cake), and there’s the ever-present threat of lightning when you’re standing on an elevated point.

The ideal way to weatherproof your wedding is to use the rooftop of a building that also has available indoor space. That way you can enjoy the freedom of an open-air celebration along with the assurance of a protected space just steps away. If you’re decorating the roof with furniture or other additions, make sure they’re made of materials that won’t get ruined if your guests have to run inside and leave them out in the rain.

Wedding On a Pedestal

When you get married on a rooftop, your wedding celebration gets placed on a pedestal–literally! If you crave the spotlight, this part is just icing. After all, no one is likely to forget a reception surrounded by such an impressive view. However, the flip side is that you’re likely to become a view yourself; expect the surrounding buildings to sprout curious eyes peeking through the curtains and, yes, the obligatory deluge of cameras.

Don’t let it dampen your enjoyment of your big day, however. You’ve done all the work to make sure you look great and you’re having the wedding you want. Just smile and wave to your fans as you enjoy your perfect rooftop wedding.