Something a little different

Wedding venues for alternative tastes

For couples looking for something beyond church bells, golf courses, casino lights or blue lakes, these three wedding sites can provide an unforgettable backdrop to your wedding.

The River School

Those searching for an outdoorsy, down-to-earth, riverside wedding with an eco-friendly focus may do well to look here. The River School is on a secluded, roughly two-acre site along the Truckee River. Native vegetation, organic gardening and artistic natural touches run throughout. Ceremonies are often held in the meadow overlooking the river then move to the outdoor amphitheater for the reception. Also available are an outdoor kitchen for easy food service, indoor rooms, ample parking, and audio and visual equipment. The River School recently hired a wedding planner, Sara Gray, to provide a range of services—from a simple consultation to a complete planning package covering every element. The school is focusing on “green weddings,” and while they won’t stuff it down your throat, they can help you find environmentally-friendly alternatives for the wedding details. The site itself is eco-friendly, with sustainable landscaping and solar power. Reservations are $1,000 for the day; wedding planner fees vary according to package. 7777 White Fir St., 747-3910;

Nevada Museum of Art

If chic, contemporary and glamorous is more your style, the Nevada Museum of Art serves it up. Expect striking lighting, clean architectural lines and vibrant colors at an NMA wedding. Most ceremonies are held on the rooftop, which can accommodate 300 people and features panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains among large outdoor sculptures. Some ceremonies are also held in the 180-person theater on the first floor. Receptions typically take place in the well-lit and spacious Reynolds Grand Hall on the first floor. Café Musée is the exclusive caterer for weddings at the museum, although they don’t make wedding cakes. Full wine, bar and beverage service is available. Rooms on the third floor can also be used for wedding party preparation, or a smaller wedding. Wedding coordination is through Café Musée owner Debbie Branby and includes basic rental equipment, such as chairs, linens and tables. The museum accommodates most equipment and personal touches the couple wants to bring themselves. Wedding packages are currently being revised, but recent estimates were a $3,400 rental fee with plated dinners beginning at $38 per person. Book the event six months to two years in advance. 160 W. Liberty St.; call Debbie or Krista at 332-1848 for wedding coordination,

Gold Hill Hotel, Virginia City

From an old opera house to cemeteries, ranches, train cars, and art centers, there’s no shortage of out-of-the-ordinary wedding venues in the Comstock area. Gold Hill Hotel, Nevada’s oldest working hotel, is one classic site for weddings. Built in 1861, up to 125 guests can stay in one of 20 antique-themed rooms, cottages or housing units. Most weddings are held in the Great Room, an intimate area with a large rock fireplace and staircase from which the bride descends. The gazebo is another option. A reception at the adjoining Crown Point Restaurant provides full catering, from a sit-down dinner off the menu to a buffet or hors d’oeuvres. The chef can also make the cake. The hotel has nearly everything needed for the wedding except flowers and photography, but they can refer you to local services. The spirit of the Old West often takes hold of people here, with western costumed weddings being popular.

“The beauty of the whole place is just that hometown cozy feeling,” says hotel manager Melody Reynolds. “It’s not the sterile casino environment. It’s like you’re walking into someone’s home to have a beautiful wedding.” The hotel works within a number of price ranges. To reserve a date, a $500 nonrefundable deposit is required. Located one mile south of Virginia City on Hwy 342; (775) 847-0111;