I’m planning my sustainable wedding, and sharing all my meticulously researched findings with you! This is the first step in planning your eco-friendly NYC wedding: finding the venue. 

When it comes to your sustainable wedding, a venue is both paramount, and not that important. It’s paramount because it sets the tone and vibe for your wedding. But sustainability-wise, there’s not much that differs from venue to venue, actually. But when you’re visiting and calling and emailing, ask them these questions:

  • Who is your in-house caterer, or can I choose my own? Some venues cater everything in-house, so you might be forced into serving food that isn’t organic or local. Some venues have recommended vendors, and will charge you a fee if you bring in your own. Check to make sure you’re comfortable with the food situation.
  • How much decor will it need? Decor can be wasteful (even though it’s the best way to personalise the space) so if you go with a venue that doesn’t need any decorating, that is quite sustainable.
  • How was it built, renovated, or finished? You’re looking for – at the minimum – non-toxic and no-VOC finishes and paints. Bonus points if they used reclaimed materials or renovated the venue from something else instead of building it new.
  • What is the recycling situation? One venue told me they are legally required to recycle, or get fined, but I’m not totally sure all venues adhere to that policy. So double check.
  • Are the fixtures and appliances energy efficient?

With those guidelines in mind, I present to you 15 venues I think sustainable brides in Brooklyn would absolutely love. My fiancé and I wanted a special venue that reflected our relationship. We met in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on a rooftop. Our first date was in Williamsburg, at a rooftop bar. We’ve spent almost all of our weekends going out together in Bushwick to warehouse parties, McCarren Park for picnics, and clubs and bars in Williamsburg. He lived on the north side of Williamsburg when we met, and now we live together on the south side. We wanted a place that was simply-designed and well-constructed, a reflection of Illich’s day job as an architect, but also that had excellent acoustics, because he is a DJ and we both love electronic music, and would be throwing a big dance party to celebrate. And we wanted a venue that would allow me to express my passion for sustainability.

So, here are all the venues we visited, plus a few more that we didn’t visit, but you might want to. Which ones do you like the most? We’ll be finalizing our pick this week!

1896

The 1896

The neighborhood: Bushwick

Who it’s for: Couples who love a good warehouse party.

The whitewashed walls softens the grit of this cavernous Bushwick warehouse. With two huge rooms for rent, plus a courtyard in the back, the number of guests you could have to your wedding is limitless. (Well, 500, but were you planning on having a wedding with more than 500 people? Didn’t think so.) You get 14 hours, including set-up and breakdown, to hold your party. And because it’s in an industrial area, you can time your party to go as late as you want. It has bridal suite and kitchenette, and just a few props and rentals – you’ll have to bring in the rest. Because the warehouse isn’t marketed specifically for weddings, it tends to book up much more slowly than other potential venues, and there are also fewer rules governing how venue can be used. You can even drive a food truck right inside!

1896

The drawbacks: This raw, large space will require you to spend more on rentals and decor, and might encourage you to invite more people just to make it feel full. Also, if you hold your wedding in warmer months, you’ll have to bring in an air conditioning truck to pump cold air through the door – not very sustainable.

The price: $6,800 – $11,000

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Brooklyn Grange

The neighborhood: Brooklyn Navy Yard

Who it’s for: Cute foodie couples who are passionate about sustainability.

This has got to be one of the most special wedding venues in Brooklyn. Your guests will walk up the stairs in an industrial building and gasp with delight when they realize they are on an urban farm. (Hot tip, keep the venue a secret and have buses pick up guests from their hotel and ferry them to the farm, for maximum impact.) Couples get married with a view of the East River and Manhattan right behind them, while guests stand in between rows of produce and flowers. After the ceremony, sojourn to under a permanent awning, where you’ll feast at one or two strikingly long tables on farm-to-table food, some of it picked from a few feet away. You get five hours for your event, not including set-up and breakdown, and you have to be done by midnight. The venue organizer, Michele, is flexible and a treat to work with to make your day extra special and memorable.

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The drawbacks: You’ll have to rent a party bus to pick up your guests and bring them to this confusing no-man’s-land, which is far, far away from the subway. Ceremonies have to be short, since everyone except for a select few old or disabled folks will be standing. While you can wander all over the farm, the actually space for dancing and dining is a pretty small, and can only fit 150 at the most. Right in front of the view of the city is an industrial area. And the farm’s flower might end up dictating your wedding decor and colors – I hope you like sunflowers, because they will be in all your ceremony pictures.

The price: Starting at $2,500 for just the ceremony, up to $10,000 for 150 people for a ceremony and reception. Extend the event beyond five hours for $1,000 an hour.

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Dobbin St

The neighborhood: Greenpoint

Who it’s for: Simply classy couples.

This brand new venue situated a five minute walk from McCarren Park opens for bookings at the end of April 2016. The large main room, accessed by walking through large glass doors and down a striking black-and-white tile hallway, fits 275 people standing (165 seated) and has a mezzanine that would serve perfectly for pictures or to gaze down at your guests like a king and queen. It also has a small courtyard out back, which will be designed by beloved Brooklyn floral design company Sprout Home, and roof that fits up to 80 people with a view of Williamsburg and Manhattan that you can use for the ceremony, dinner, dancing … whatever! You get 12 flexible hours for your event, and have to be out by 1 am.

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The drawbacks: The mauve accent walls might ruin your color scheme. And since it’s a new venue, there are no reviews yet of what it’s like to have an event there.

The price: $6,000 to $12,250 depending on the time of year and day of week.

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Fitzcarraldo

The neighborhood: Bushwick

Who it’s for: Creative couples looking for an intimate vibe or two-tiered wedding.

This event space, which is owned by the people behind the restaurant Rucola and the farm-to-table catering company Purslane, is inside the old Third Ward warehouse, that famous artist’s collective that sadly shut down a few years ago. Now there’s a startup inside the warehouse, which retains its artistic vibe. The restaurant, Fitzcarraldo, has a vintage look, like it’s been there for 75 years, though. It was functioning as a farm-to-table restaurant before they realized there wasn’t enough foot traffic in this neck of the woods to keep it going. What’s left behind is an intimate venue complete with vintage, reclaimed materials and a fully-functioning, open-format kitchen and bar. The restaurant seats 50, but you can add on 40 more people by taking over the cool brick alleyway right out the door, strung with twinkle lights or covered with some tents. After dinner, let your guests into a large event space in the back for a banger of a dance party, complete with all the NYC friends you couldn’t afford to feed dinner but want to celebrate with all the same. Make sure to get some photo ops up on the roof, with a 360 view of Brooklyn and Manhattan twinkling all around you.

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The drawbacks: Because the restaurant is so small, you won’t get any hugely grand photos of your ceremony, and you might feel cut off from the half of your guests eating outside. It will take some some planning to elegantly transition from the restaurant into the dance party area. It’s located a bit out of the way – your guests from out of town might not view it as a cool neighborhood, so much as alarmingly quiet and industrial.

The price: Depends on your needs, but reflects a typical space rental, plus farm-to-table catering.

501union

501 Union

The neighborhood: Gowanus

Who it’s for: Vintage-classic couples who want a simple planning process.

This beautiful venue includes a large room with striking mid-century fixtures, a nice bar/lounge room, and a semi-outdoor space decorated with with plants. It’s sort of perfect for a Brooklyn wedding, requires minimal decor, if any, and the owners are old hat at pulling off the perfect event. They’ll provide you with a list of vendors, in-house rentals, a commercial-grade kitchen, and basically whatever else you need. Invite up to 200 guests, if you plan on having a stage and a dance floor. You can also have a food truck pull up right outside for dinner or dessert – a cute touch and money saver.

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The drawbacks: It’s quite likely there will be a wedding right across the street from your wedding at the Green Building, which makes it feel a bit less special. Also, if you don’t like to follow the crowd, you might be disappointed with how “already done” 501 Union weddings are – the prominent decor means most weddings there look quite similar. Also, there are lots of rules about timing, etc.

The price: $5,000 to $11,600 depending on the time of year and day of week.

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The Green Building

The neighborhood: Gowanus

Who it’s for: Creative couples who want a simple planning process.

Owned by the same group as 501 Union, right across the street, this is a more raw, warehouse-y space, with whitewashed walls and a courtyard out back that are ripe for unique decor. It can fit up to 250 guests for a cocktail party, or 160 for a dinner with a dance floor. Rentals are included in your contract, plus a commercial kitchen. Planning a wedding here will be a cinch.

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The drawbacks: Everyone knows about this venue, even more than 501 Union, so that combined with the fact that a wedding might be happening across the street might make you feel not-so-special. Also, there are plenty of rules about timing, etc.

The price: $5,000 to $11,600 depending on the time of year and day of week.

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Villain

The neighborhood: Williamsburg

Who it’s for: Creative music-loving couples.

Most of the time this venue serves as a badass music venue, with intimate concerts and some events by brands who want to burnish their reputation for being cool. Two large rooms – one painted white and one more like a garage – leave plenty of room for decorative creativity, and can fit up to 392 people standing or 250 seated. There’s a mezzanine you can choose to use or not, and a studio upstairs for getting ready. And the hours are super flexible. Rent it for long as you need until 4 am. This space lends itself to a kick-ass party.

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The drawbacks: Because it’s not normally a wedding venue, you won’t get a lot of hand holding. You’ll have to do the legwork finding vendors and rentals and designing the space to make it feel warm and welcoming to guests.

The price: $10,000

wythe

Wythe Hotel

The neighborhood: Williamsburg

Who it’s for: Upscale couples who want to impress.

The Wythe has become a locus of artisanal and creative activity in Williamsburg, so you can catch some of that vibe by holding your wedding there. The ceremony will be held outside in the courtyard, then cocktails outside in the adjacent courtyard space, and the dinner inside the hotel. Your pictures of you getting ready upstairs in one of the striking hotel rooms will be some of your favorites, and your guests will rave about the delicious seasonal farm-to-table food served by the restaurant, Reynard. The organizers at Wythe are nothing if not professional, and the large event space lends itself to either being kept fairly plain, or kitted out with a profusion of flowers or lights. Your choice.

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The drawbacks: Because the courtyard opens to the street, you might have your ceremony punctuated by roaring trucks, yelling bros, or maybe even the muffled bass of of the club Output next door.

Price: Starting $211 per person for food and drink, with minimums ranging from $15,000 to $40,000, depending on the day of the week and season.

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House of Yes

The neighborhood: Bushwick

Who it’s for: Progressive couples with a cheeky attitude.

This new feminist nightclub (nope, not an oxymoron) features aerial performers swinging about in a fantastical and huge main room. The bathrooms are lavishly decorated with creative adornments, and there is a little outdoor garden as well. Have your ceremony (up to 175 people in the main room, your meal reception (up to 100) in the restaurant-style attached room (their restaurant or your own caterer), then migrate our guests over to the main room (up to 425 people) for a roaring party they won’t forget.

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The drawbacks: They only offer Sunday wedding rentals, since all of the Brooklyn music scene is clamoring to hold weekend parties there, and you have to stay in the main room until their Sunday brunch concludes at 5 pm. Oh, and they won’t book more than eight months ahead right now.

The price: $5,000 for the main space, $2,000 for the front restaurant (after 5pm), and $1,000 for the private suite.

OfficeOps

Office Ops Rooftop

The neighborhood: Bushwick

Who it’s for: Thrifty, casual, creative couples.

By far the most affordable option, this roof comes plain as can be, except for the astounding 330-degree view of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Decorate it however you wish, or leave it simple and just have a relaxed party for 300 people.

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The drawbacks: The rain contingency plan cuts down down the size of the party to 125 people spread out across a few rooms downstairs, unless you want to rent a tent and have it lifted onto the roof for about $4,000. The party has to end at 10 pm (though, afterparty nearby at House of Yes?). Also, the bathrooms are two floors down, so your grandmother will have trouble getting up and down.

The price: $2450-$8500

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Brooklyn Winery

The neighborhood: Williamsburg

Who it’s for: Wine-loving couples who want an easy wedding planning process.

This unique spot will not only provide the food, locally-made drink, and rentals (just bring yourself and the flowers), but also great photo opps between those big barrels. While I didn’t visit this spot, my friend is having her wedding there and has nothing but great things to say.

winery

 

The drawbacks: 125-person minimum.

Others to Consider

While we didn’t talk to or visit these venues, I did research them as potentials, and think my sustainable readers would be interested in knowing about them!

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Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The neighborhood: Crown Heights

Who it’s for: Nature-loving couples.

The serenity and natural beauty of this venue can’t be beat. After having your ceremony surrounded by flowers, head either to the glass-walled Palm House for a reception of 275 people, or to the sustainably designed Atrium, which is covered by a green roof, for a reception of 130.

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The drawbacks: If it rains, bring umbrellas for the rain-or-shine ceremony, or move it inside. The food is provided by a catering company that usually does museum and conference food, so it’s nothing special.

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Greenpoint Loft

The neighborhood: Greenpoint

Who it’s for: Couples searching for an authentic Brooklyn vibe.

This large space can be easily transformed into a gorgeous wedding venue with just a few rentals and select flowers (or a lot, if you prefer), and will afford you and your 185 guests gorgeous views of the city. It’s owned by the same people who have Dumbo Loft, 26 Bridge, and Dumbo spot, so they are professionals at helping you plan a wedding.

Drawbacks: No outdoor space.

The price: $7,500 on Saturdays.

 

foundry

The Foundry

The neighborhood: Long Island City

Who it’s for: Classy, creative couples.

This reclaimed factory has several rooms of raw space with vaulted ceilings available for rental, a rooftop terrace with views of Manhattan, an indoor greenhouse, and industrial kitchen for feeding 180 of your guests. You can choose to use their rentals, or bring in your own. You get 12 hours for the party, and guests need to be out by 12:30 am. (My fiancé DJed a wedding here, and he said it was quite nice!)

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The drawbacks: The sound can be a bit echo-y.

The price: $6,500 to $11,800 depending on the day of the week and season.

metropolitan

Metropolitan Building

The neighborhood: Long Island City

Who it’s for: Shabby-chic couples.

This venue lets you choose from either a more traditional, cupcake-style level with mint green walls and white trim, or a more raw loft level. Catering is done in-house, and the raw space can accommodate up to 200 people, even including a dance floor and stage.

CLY Creation

CLY Creation

The drawbacks: Lots of pillars block guests’ views of the ceremony. The owners sort of hate technology. No outdoor space.