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Planning a Boston Public Library Wedding: A Complete Guide

Marcela Diaz



I'm a New England-based fine art wedding and engagement photographer. With my unwavering commitment, my objective is to skillfully encapsulate the intimate moments that unfold during your wedding day.

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Bride and groom rest their heads together on their wedding day. Image overlaid with text that reads Planning a Boston Public Library Wedding?

Are you planning a Boston Public Library wedding? As a New England wedding photographer, these are some of my absolute favorite Boston weddings to photograph. So, if you’re wanting to have your wedding there, I think you’re making a great choice!

History of the Boston Public Library

The Boston Public Library (BPL) was founded in 1848, and it was actually the first large public library in the country. The library has been at its current location in Copley Square since 1895, meaning the building is over 100 years old!

The original building is known as the McKim building, and it is home to some of the most iconic wedding location options at the library. The Boston Public Library expanded with the Johnson building in 1971. It went through major renovations in 2016, making the Johnson building extremely gorgeous and modern.

Today, the Boston Public Library has over 23 million items in its collection, including over 6 million books in circulation! It is definitely one of the most classic and historic wedding venues in Boston. 

How to plan a Boston Public Library wedding 

There’s a lot of details to figuring out for a Boston Public Library wedding, so it’s important to start planning far in advance. That’s why I put together this guide with you in mind!

Here is all of the essential information you need to know in order to plan a Boston Public Library wedding.

Contact the Boston Public Library to secure your date and time

You’ll want to start by contacting the Boston Public Library’s Special Events team as soon as you have some wedding dates in mind. The library books up fast, so the sooner you can put in your event request, the better! The best way to get in touch with BPL’s events team is to either email or call 617-859-2212.

Once you call with your potential wedding date(s), the Special Events Office will tell you which rental spaces are available on which dates (and which times they’re available, if applicable).

A groom holds his bride as they stare into each others eyes.

In general, most Boston Public Library weddings are held at 6:30 pm or later (once the library has closed to the public). However, some rooms are available for weddings during daytime hours, including the Guastavino Room, Map Room Tea Lounge, and Courtyard Tea Room. 

Note: If you want to have your ceremony at the Boston Public Library, keep in mind that the venue’s policy is that you must have both your ceremony and reception there. However, if you’d like to host your ceremony elsewhere, you can still book the library for your reception only. 

Decide which venue is right for you

There are many different locations throughout the Boston Public Library where you can host your wedding ceremony and reception. When you contact the Special Events Office, they’ll be able to confirm which ones are available for your special day. 

Both the McKim and Johnson buildings have great venue choices depending on the size and aesthetic of your wedding. Here are some of my favorite options…

McKim wedding venue options

Bates Hall is recognized worldwide as an architectural masterpiece. Its elaborate, domed ceilings are carved with intricate designs, and the hall also includes a gorgeous limestone balcony. This majestic venue space is as classic and elegant as it gets!

The Chavannes Gallery is an actual work of art. Iconic murals line the marble walls of this space, which encompasses the McKim building’s grand staircase and second-floor gallery. These murals represent things like philosophy, science, and poetry. The golden, soft lighting and renowned artwork make this the most romantic and ornate venue spot. 

The Guastavino Room is absolutely beautiful as well. It has tall, vaulted ceilings made with gorgeous terra cotta tiles. Bookshelf-lined mezzanine balconies overlook the room, which perfectly incorporates the library feel into this classy event space. You can’t go wrong with this wedding location, as it’s one of the most desirable spots in Boston! 

Boston Public Library’s Courtyard looks like it is right out of a fairytale. This interior courtyard has perfectly manicured greenery throughout the grounds and a charming water fountain. This wedding venue is pristine and peaceful, which is a rare find in the busyness of downtown Boston! 

A bride and groom rest their heads together during their portraits at their Boston Public Library wedding. Image by Marcela Plosker, Boston wedding photographer.

All of these venue locations within the Boston Public Library are great for larger weddings of around 200 guests. However, the Abbey and Boylston Rooms are breathtaking options for smaller, more intimate weddings. 

Johnson building wedding venue options

Boylston Hall is the dreamiest venue for classy, modern weddings in Boston. It has a wave-patterned wooden ceiling, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Boylston Street, and shining stone floors. At night, it looks especially magical, making it the best spot for an evening reception. 

Deferrari Hall is a smaller space perfect for a small ceremony and/or cocktail hour. It is surrounded by a stunning grand staircase, made of gorgeous stone. Plus, skylights cover the ceiling above, allowing soft beams of light to flow down to the ground level where Deferrari Hall is located. This location provides a great ambiance for the sweet intimacy of a wedding ceremony. 

Finally, Newsfeed Cafe serves as the library’s cafe (open to the public) during the day and can be transformed into the ideal wedding reception spot at night. It has floor-to-ceiling glass walls overlooking the city streets. Its modern, vibrant lighting gives this spot a club-like feel where you can have the ultimate dance party during your wedding reception. 

Select your wedding vendors

One benefit of having your wedding at the Boston Public Library is that they already have designated wedding planning and catering services through The Catered Affair. The venue requires that all weddings held at the library use The Catered Affair for their food and beverages, and any outside food or drinks have to be approved by them. They offer incredible gourmet meal options and delicious signature cocktails, as well. 

Plus, The Catered Affair also provides wedding coordinating services, which is a huge lifesaver for your own sanity during the wedding planning process. The Catered Affair’s event coordinator will help guide you through wedding planning decisions and will be there to make sure that all the logistical aspects of your wedding day go off without a hitch.

Finding a good wedding planner and caterer for your wedding are two of the most important decisions you’ll make during your wedding planning process. It is so nice and stress relieving knowing that you can combine both services into one vendor that is extrememly knowledgeable about Boston Public Library weddings!

Note: You are more than welcome to choose your other wedding vendors on your own (such as a wedding photographer, florist, makeup artist, officiant, videographer, etc). 

Bride and groom smile at each other during their Boston Public Library wedding photographed by Boston wedding photographer Marcela Plosker.

Familiarize yourself with the unique details of a Boston Public Library wedding

There are a few other important things you should know about planning a Boston Public Library wedding.

  • Parking: The Boston Public Library does not provide parking on-site for weddings. However, there are some parking garages nearby that your guests can park at. Additionally, the library does allow you to book a valet service if you’d like. 
  • Included costs: When you book your Boston Public Library wedding package, there are some staff and equipment fees included, such as a day of coordinator, security guards, custodial services, some tables and chairs, and staff available for catering setup and breakdown. 
  • Additional costs: However, there are other services and fees that are not included in your initial package. Depending on the set up of your wedding and specific location, these costs may or may not apply to you. Make sure you clarify with the Special Events team which (if any) of these costs apply to you so you’ll know in advance what you’ll need to pay for. Such costs include:
    • extra restrooms
    • a bridal suite
    • extra hours of venue use
    • Courtyard furniture removal
    • Bates Hall furniture removal
    • McKim lobby use
    • other misc setup services
  • Budget considerations: The venue cost alone for a Boston Public Library wedding can range from $6,000-$23,000 for four hours of use (as of November 2020). This does not include catering charges or fees for additional services. If you have your heart set on having a Boston Public Library wedding, it is best to plan for a wedding budget of around $50,000. While this may seem to be on the pricier side, it is definitely worth it for the iconic backdrops and all of the features that are included!

You will love your Boston Public Library Wedding

With so many places to get married in Massachusets, I can say with confidence, you won’t regret getting married at the Boston Public Library. It has something for every type of Boston bride, from intimate ceremony spots to stunning ballrooms and classic artwork and architecture. I hope this guide has given you the confidence you need to plan your Boston Public Library wedding and see why it is SO worth it! 

If you’re looking for an experienced Boston fine art wedding photographer to capture your special day, I’d love to chat!

Xoxo, Marcela

North Shore, Massachusetts and Boston Wedding Photographer Marcela Plosker sitting in a chair with a cup of coffee

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