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Tying the Knot on Campus: Why Your Alma Mater is the Perfect Wedding Venue

By: Inn at Virginia Tech / 05 Jun 2024

When it comes to choosing the perfect wedding venue, the sentimental allure of your alma mater can be hard to resist. 

From nostalgic photo opportunities to the convenience of familiar surroundings, hosting your big day on the grounds where you and your partner created so many memories can add a deeply personal touch to your celebration.

But, like any venue choice, there are pros and cons to consider. 

The Pros: Sentimentality and Convenience

Nostalgic Photos and Unique Backdrops

As Bianca Norton, Director of Catering at the Inn at Virginia Tech, aptly suggests, "Nostalgic photos are the best! If you and your significant other have pictures together or even separate at local places before you got married, you can have a re-creation photo shoot."

The campus you once roamed as a student offers a myriad of unique backdrops for your wedding photos. Imagine recreating a photo in front of the dorm where you first met or capturing a tender moment in the lecture hall where your paths frequently crossed. The familiar coffee shop where you spent hours studying together can now serve as a charming setting for your engagement photos.

First Look with a Personal Touch

Choosing a spot for your first look that holds special memories adds an extra layer of meaning to this intimate moment. Norton highlights the significance of such locations: "Choosing a spot for a first look that holds any special memories or significance can make the experience even more magical."

Whether it's the quiet nook in the library where you shared secrets or the bustling quad where your eyes first met, these familiar spots are imbued with a personal history that will make your wedding day truly unforgettable.

Rehearsal Dinners and Morning-After Breakfasts

Incorporating favorite campus hangouts into your wedding itinerary can lead to heartwarming moments of reminiscing and reliving old memories.

You can hold these pre- and post-wedding events at beloved campus eateries or local bars, creating a relaxed and familiar atmosphere for your guests.

Planning Convenience and Local Knowledge

One of the significant benefits of choosing your alma mater as a wedding venue is the convenience it offers. Familiarity with the area can be a tremendous asset when planning events such as bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, and guest accommodations.

"Familiarity with the area helps in planning events such as showers, dinners, hotel accommodations, and experiences to suggest to guests who may have some downtime before, between, or after wedding activities," says Norton.

Boosting Guest Attendance

Planning your wedding around campus events can also enhance your guests' overall experience.

According to Norton, "If you can plan your wedding around events on campus that would be of interest to your guests who might arrive early or plan on staying an extra day, without taking away any time from the wedding, you may see an increase in the response."

Events like sports games, cultural festivals, or alumni gatherings can offer additional entertainment and make the trip more appealing for your guests.

The Cons: Scheduling and Logistics

Limited Availability

One of the main challenges of hosting a wedding at a university is the limited availability of dates.

Norton explains, "Having limited availability to certain weekends based on the school's calendar. For example, home football weekends sound like a great time to get married; however, people want to go to the game, hotel room rates are at a high premium, traffic can be challenging, and finding a venue that is not already hosting an Alumni event or tailgate may not be easy."

Universities often have packed event calendars, and securing a date that aligns with your plans can be difficult.

Crowded Accommodations and Events

Universities frequently host large events that attract alums and visitors, which can impact your wedding plans.

Norton points out, "Universities are always planning big events that bring in other alum, taking up hotel rooms, and crowding the area, which could impact your plans significantly."

This influx of people can lead to crowded accommodations and increased competition for hotel rooms, which may inconvenience your guests.

Turning into a Mini-Reunion

While having many alumni guests can be a nostalgic and joyous experience, it can also pose challenges.

"If a large part of your group are alums of the same school, the wedding can turn into a mini-reunion," Norton warns. "This can be a plus as well as a con, depending on how well-behaved the group can be and what activities take place outside of the wedding plans."

A reunion-like atmosphere can sometimes lead to guests being more focused on catching up with old friends than participating in wedding activities. Additionally, late-night gatherings at popular campus bars might result in guests who are not in top form for the wedding day festivities.

Making the Decision

Choosing to host your wedding at your alma mater can be a beautiful way to incorporate your shared history into your big day. The sentimental value, unique photo opportunities, and convenience of familiar surroundings can create a deeply personal and memorable experience. However, weighing these benefits against potential challenges such as scheduling conflicts and logistical issues is essential.

By carefully considering both the pros and cons and planning accordingly, you can make your alma mater wedding a truly magical event that celebrates your future together and the journey that brought you to this moment.

Curious about hosting your wedding on The Inn at Virginia Tech campus? Reach out to us here >>

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