I once had a conversation with a bride who was hunting for a location for her woodland-themed wedding. We discussed a few options and then I mentioned one location (#2 below!) and she hadn't heard of it before. I realized both my adventures as string quartet cellist and the vintage rentals had taken me to quite a few different locations throughout the Peoria area. So here's a list of a few of my personal favorites - this is not a comprehensive listing of every great location, just the ones that give me a smile! And if you skip these locations for your wedding, some are still perfect for a little afternoon picnic or photo session!
1. Kickapoo Creek Winery: The vineyard wedding is always beautiful and a ceremony next to row upon row of grapevine can create a sense of European country elegance. There are several local wineries but I've been to Kickapoo both as a guest and a vendor and I had a great experience both times. If you want my ideas on rustic-meets-elegance, send me an email. I have several ideas I'm dying to share. Eventually I'll do an entire blog post on "Stunning Ways to Decorate a Winery with Vintage Rentals". The vineyard is ripe (ha!) with inspiration.
2. Funk's Grove Chapel in the Trees: Located right off I-55 south of Bloomington, this historic community features an old church, picnic shelter and more. The "chapel in the trees" is a simple forest clearing with log benches. It's simple and perfect - and anytime someone mentions the words "woodland wedding" I automatically think of Funk's Grove. I can't help it!
3. Pettingill-Morron House: If you want that "garden wedding in the backyard of a mansion" but you don't have a great mansion or a great backyard, this is a perfect setting. I think over the years brides are allowed less and less access to the inside of the house, but I have seen a beautiful ceremony in the backyard and cocktails in the front yard. Landscaping is done by volunteers so if you are a high-detail bride you may want to volunteer some hours to yard work before your big day (there's no shame in being "Type A", by the way!).
4. Allerton Park: It's in Monticello, so not exactly "Peoria area" but definitely worth the drive. I've been here several times and I still feel like I haven't seen everything the park has to offer. Want a barn wedding? Allerton has one. Want a walled-garden wedding? Allerton has one. Want to pretend you are Lizzy Bennet walking around the grounds of Pemberley? You could get away with that here. I'm not really listing these locations in any certain order, but Allerton is my #1 location.
5. Grandview Drive: Gorgeous, gorgeous views of the river. Much more fitting for a small, intimate ceremony, the 'World's Most Beautiful Drive' doesn't even need traditional wedding decor. I attended one ceremony here and we just stood. It's a public area, so cars and dog walkers will be passing by, but if you are looking for a simple and sweet ceremony - this is it!
So five of my favorites - what's yours? Thanks to Kara Kamienski Photography for letting me use these beautiful photos!