Barns, warehouses, breweries, hangars, galleries and factories…

Choosing a raw space or dry hire wedding venue has never been more popular, as more and more couples look for unique ways to celebrate their wedding.

But having a completely blank slate on which to create your perfect party can be overwhelming – there’s a lot to consider. But Tonia Adleta, of Aribella Events is here to help.

As the Owner & Creative Director of an award-winning event-planning and floral design company, Tonia has planned weddings in all sorts of different ‘unweddingy’ spaces.

And she’s been kind enough to put together her top tips for finding inspiration and planning the logistics for your own raw space wedding – so if you’re dreaming of an industrial warehouse wedding or a rustic barn bash, make sure you listen up!


Everyone wants their wedding to be a day to remember. One way to make yours stand out? Transform a raw space into the venue of your dreams.

By choosing a raw space, you can design a venue that hasn’t been created before and won’t exist again.

Many couples are exploring raw spaces – such as an industrial loft, a brewery or even an airport hangar – as a way to use a sentimental space, (sometimes) keep costs down or avoid a “cookie cutter” wedding.

Getting Started

Your first step in customizing your space is to think about who you are as a couple. What is your love story? What lights you up and makes you different? This is your day, and every aspect of the event can reflect that.

Adding personal touches will make your wedding more than just something from a Pinterest page, although Pinterest can be a helpful place to start.

This is also a great place to bring in a professional; even if the lightbulb of inspiration hasn’t quite lit yet.

What starts off as fragments of ideas can be transformed into reality with the help of a design-savvy planner or by paying careful attention to the details and requirements of your space.

Below are a few things to consider if you are considering a raw venue:  

Setting up and Planning Your Space

Make sure to do an on-site visit with your planner/designer, if you have one, since they will be the main liaisons communicating with the vendors.

If you can, plan your visit for the same time of day the wedding will take place. If it is going to be an early ceremony, make sure to make your appointment for earlier in the afternoon.

If the event will take place in the evening, try to book a later time slot. This will ensure that you know what the natural lighting for the space will look like for that time of day.

If you’re thinking of ways to break up a large space, consider draping curtains or other fabric for an easy way to make a significant impact. You can also do some construction to create temporary walls and divide the space.

Anything is possible with an unlimited budget and time. However, this is very rarely the case, so make sure to prioritize your budget items, your time, and your friends and families’ time if you’re relying on their help to DIY certain elements.

While the natural lighting and acoustics of the space during the time of your wedding won’t really be flexible, there are plenty of ways you can customize the ambience for the big day.

If you want to soften an industrial space, consider different types of artificial lighting to play out the hard edges and create a softer atmosphere.

You can also consider how different types of music or performers can help set the stage for the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception.

Communications & Logistics

With a raw space, it’s important to think through all aspects of the guest experience, from helping them find your venue to setting the right temperature.

This is often one of the most difficult aspects of utilizing a raw space, which is why it can be helpful and reassuring to hire an experienced wedding planner and leave the logistics to them.

When planning for your raw space venue, consider the following:

Restrooms: Are there restrooms on site, or will you have to arrange for temporary facilities – like executive restroom trailers –  to be available?

Heating and Air: Whether the event is indoors or will take place outside, you will want to make sure your guests are comfortable. Consider both the natural temperature as well as other heating and/or cooling sources to make sure both you and your guests are stress (and sweat!) free throughout your big day.

If your wedding will be in a month like April or September, you may need to have both cooling and heating options available depending on the weather for that day.

Transportation: Work with both your wedding planner and your transportation vendors to coordinate transportation.

Materials for the wedding itself will need to be transported before the event with plenty of time for setup. If possible, consider transportation and parking needs for guests as well.

Kitchen: Will you have a working kitchen, or will you need to work with your caterer to ensure they come with the food prepared and ready to serve? Do you need a separate kitchen tent, equipped with additional power or a backup generator?

Accessibility: Do you have handicap accessibility, with ramps or elevators if needed? Will the parking be clear and easy to navigate?

Your wedding day is a beautiful time to reflect your love story and celebrate your commitment. If you so choose, a raw space can be a unique and fun way to showcase your personalities in an untraditional space.

Two of my favorite such weddings involved a carnival-themed wedding in an airport hangar (the groom and bride’s father were aviation buffs) and an upscale wedding at a working equestrian farm (the groom’s career includes race horses and the couple met at a country rock band’s shows during their long-distance courtship; that same band wrote their first dance song and performed at the reception.)

Both were unusual ways to share the couple’s passions and history with their guests.

In my 20 years as a wedding planner, trust me when I say that any venue can be a beautiful, personalized backdrop to your wedding day. And whatever space you decide to use for your wedding, I hope it makes your day one to remember.