Lights, Cameras, I Do’s: Getting Married in a Vintage Movie Theater
Have you and your spouse-to-be ever been known to:
· Watch certain movies multiple (10, 15…too many to count) times?
· Quote dialogue in real-time during movies?
· Weave movie lines into day-to-day conversations?
· Have (and express) strong opinions about the best movies and performers of all time?
· Feel an irresistible urge to share trivia about a film and its cast — while it’s showing?
If even a few of these tendencies describe you, then a vintage movie theater may be the perfect setting for your upcoming wedding.
Increasing numbers of couples are taking their movie-themed weddings to the next level by exchanging vows in real theaters. These settings can add personality, creativity, and a touch of whimsy to ceremonies and receptions. And, when you opt for a vintage movie house, you also get the benefits of gorgeous architecture and elegant design features.
Intrigued? Let’s move in for a close-up.
Unless you have a specific theater in mind, I suggest looking for locations that specifically offer to rent their space for weddings. They’re more likely to have staff, services, and amenities geared for your needs.
The Majestic Metro in downtown Houston, for example, is a former movie house (the Ritz) that has been transformed into an event venue. It features a large dance floor, state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, and a restored grand marquee.
The building also is imbued with a rich sense of history.
“Its grand opening was held on April 15, 1926, with the Buck Jones feature, ‘The Fighting Buckaroo,’ a Cinema Houston feature on the building reports. “The Ritz was an ornate but intimate theatre, with a seating capacity of 1,260. A very affordable admission of 5 cents and 15 cents would remain in place through the thirties, eventually to be proudly displayed in bright lights on the exterior marquee.”
The restored building has been an event venue since 1990.
A few other examples of vintage movie theaters now hosting weddings include:
Alabama Theatre Complex: At this 1927 building in Birmingham, silent films were accompanied by the theater’s ornate Mighty Wurlitzer organ, which remains in the theater today. The restored and expanded complex includes a catering room, dressing rooms, and on-site sound and lighting equipment.
Kim Sing Theatre: Originally a stage for vaudeville performances, the Alpine Theatre opened in Los Angeles in 1926. It later became a Spanish movie house and then the Kim Sing Theatre. Willard Ford, actor Harrison Ford’s son, bought and renovated the building in 1999. The site, no longer owned by Ford, now includes an event venue with a bar area, outdoor breakout space, and in-house amenities.
The Rapids Theatre: This movie house, named The Bellevue Theatre when it opened in 1921, has a notable legacy in early 20th-century entertainment. In addition to showing silent films, it also presented vaudeville acts, including The Three Stooges. These days, the renovated building is an indoor concert and event venue known for its columned walls, grand balcony, and sculpted ceiling.
Vox Theatre: When this theater opened as the Rosedale Theatre in 1922, the Kansas City, Kansas, art deco venue was a silent movie house. It was renamed The Vox Theatre in the 1940s. Renovations in 2009 included refinishing the original pressed-tin ceiling, adding a catering prep kitchen, and the installation of custom sound panels to enhance acoustics.
Researching vintage movie theater sites for your wedding is similar to looking into any venue, but I do have a few questions to add to your list:
· What are their policies about working with vendors? Are outside caterers permitted?
· What can you expect in terms of sound and lighting systems as well as Wi-Fi service and tech support?
· If your venue still shows movies or is used for concerts and other live performances, it could impact your scheduling options. Ask about this early in your research process.
Scripting Special Touches
If you are going with a theater venue, you might as well make the most of it. You can incorporate your movie theme into practically every aspect of your wedding — nearly every sight and sound — to create a truly cinematic experience.
A few ideas to get you started:
Showcase the movie theme on your save-the-date announcement or invitation. Create movie-ticket-style invitations, complete with a tear-away section for sending RSVPs. Additional possibilities include designing the invitations to look like movie posters, publicity photos, clapperboards, or theatre marquees.
Welcome your guests to Casablanca, Emerald City, or aboard the Millennium Falcon. Name your reception tables after your favorite films, characters, or settings. And if you want to go all-out, create some atmosphere with related centerpieces, table runners, and props. For your “The Phantom of The Opera” table, for instance, you could display roses, opera programs, and phantom masks (sold online).
Add a soundtrack. Have your band or DJ play your favorite movie songs, especially during key moments. You might want to walk down the aisle to “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers from “Ghost” or sway to “I’ll Be Seeing You” by Billie Holiday from “The Notebook” during your first time on the dance floor.
Offer movie snacks. A popcorn or movie snack station with classic candy counter treats is a natural fit for a theater wedding. More food for thought: Showcase your favorite flicks with a movie-themed cake (or cupcakes) and your meal selections, from Greek salad a la “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” to crab cakes, a nod to “The Wedding Crashers.”
Display romantic movie quotes. Pick a few of your favorites and display them on invitations, centerpieces, photo booth signs, or signage.
And these are only a few of the many options available to you. If you combine a stunning theater setting with your movie knowledge and some creative touches, chances are great your wedding will be a hit.
About the Author:
Roger Igo is the founder and CEO of special events venue, The Bell Tower on 34th, along with Houston catering service Excellent Events, and research resource, Venues in Houston. He is the author of “Keep On Going, The History of The Bell Tower on 34th,” a former radio host, a graduate of CEO Space International, and an alumnus of The Disney Institute.