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The 5 Best Unconventional Wedding Venues In NYC

You want to throw a gorgeous event, of course, but we can do better than the same old stuffy hotel ballroom. Take advantage of New York's uniqueness. Fortunately for the indie bride, whimsical, quirky elegance is abound in this city. Book now, before someone steals your new idea to make all your bridesmaids wear bespoke buffalo plaid strapless dresses. By Nina Pajak.

See Also: NYC Wedding Gown Shopping Guide | 5 BestTraditional NYC Wedding Venues | Tri-State Celeb Wedding Photos

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

Housing Works Wedding

It's a charming bookstore! No, it's a gourmet caterer! Wait, it's a gorgeous old room with mahogany furnishings and balconies and a spiral staircase! But, it's a steadfast bastion of independent local business? No, it's a charity thrift store. Wrong! It's all of that, plus it's where you're having your super hiptellectual wedding. The Works can help you throw anything from a cocktail party to dinner and dancing, with an extensive menu selection available. The books that line the walls are as beautiful a backdrop as any could be, and you and your group can dine and dance carefree, knowing that all the profits went to help homeless people with HIV/AIDS. Everyone will leave feeling smarter and happier AND more karmically at peace.

The Bronx Zoo

Bronx Zoo Wedding

That's right -- even if you don't smell like a monkey and look like one, too, you can get married among them. For all the animal nuts out there, this is your chance to prance around like Jane Goodall in a white gown. The options are many, from the handsome, newly, greenly renovated landmark Lion House (near which your guests can mingle around the Sea Lion pool or with the lemurs of adjacent Madagascar), to the leafy gorilla jungle to the flamingo pond. Go formal or picnic-style, wear a veil or a safari hat. Or both! Whatever makes you happy. Just don't let Druncle Steve get too close to the tiger exhibit. Plus, all the proceeds go to the Wildlife Conservation Society! Good deeds + wedding = double points.

American Museum of Natural History

Yes, this museum is certainly home to some more traditional wedding venues, but use your imagination! A shockingly large selection of rooms and exhibits are available for event rentals, so whether you're a lover of dino bones or century-old dead mammals, the AMNH can host your most unique reception. Dine with the T-Rex and that other big guy in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda, dance under the giant, terrifying blue whale in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, sip cocktails in the moody, blinged out Hall of Meteorites, Minerals and Gems or the teeming Hall of Biodiversity, enjoy the view from the Astor Turret, surrounded by the skeletal remains of prehistoric mammals and their extinct relatives. No, whimsy like this doesn't come cheap, but what price can you put on originality, really? But. Nobody. Touch. ANYTHING.

City Hall

New York City Hall
(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Oh yeah, that place? It's not just for green card-hopefuls and pregnant college kids anymore! In fact, it's pretty spiffy. Renovated back in 2009, it's no longer a drab, seedy post-apocalyptic pre-Giuliani institution and is now bright, lovely, deco...institution. For only $25, you can get married in an intimate, low-key ceremony with your closest friends and family around you, quick and dirty and totally lovely. You can even plug in your iPod and provide whatever soundtrack you please (just remember that Rihanna song may not be forever). Then take the party to a nearby group-friendly bar + restaurant, like Schiller's Liquor Bar on the Lower East Side or Bubby's in Tribeca, and celebrate your wedded bliss with blissfully little to plan.

Queens County Farm Museum

Queens County Farm Museum Wedding Venue

What little girl hasn't dreamed of a Green Acres-style wedding? It's farm living just east of Park Avenue at the Queens County Farm Museum in Floral Park. Dating back to 1697, it's the longest continuously farmed land in the whole state. And just because it's within the five boroughs doesn't mean it's not legit -- they've got livestock and everything! Plus, they offer country prices in a city zip: it's only $1,600 for a 4-hour event in the indoor barn complex, or half that for the outdoor pavilion in warm weather. Yeehaw and soo-ey and so on and so forth.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living on the Upper West Side.

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