Love is in the air! Looking for unusual, unique, out of the box locations for a wedding ceremony or reception near the Sanctuary of the Great Lakes? From lighthouses and museums, to islands, a rooftop, and even a historic flour mill, the Alpena area offers a multitude of unique destination venues.

1.) The Presque Isle Lighthouses

Old Presque Isle Lighthouse Wedding, Photo Credit Paul Retherford, Flickr

Old Presque Isle Light  Paul Retherford Photography  (Flickr)

(Location Presque Isle)
Enjoy the romance of lighthouse life! Choose from two different lighthouses as the location for your outdoor wedding. The Old and New Presque Isle Lighthouses are enchanting venues for your wedding with their private settings, charming atmosphere, historical ambiance, and an endless number of breathtaking photo backdrops that will help make your event memorable. The Old Presque Isle Lighthouse is the oldest accessible lighthouse on the Great Lakes and the New Presque Isle Lighthouse is the tallest. The sprawling grounds at the New PI Light offer a dining hall and a covered pavilion at the doorstep of Lake Huron.

2.) Presque Isle Lodge 

(Location Presque Isle)

Presque Isle Lodge Reception

Presque Isle Lodge Reception

Presque Isle Lodge, with its large stone fireplace and hand-hewn pine logs, offers a cozy and inviting atmosphere with a pioneering spirit. Whether you hold your ceremony in front of the fireplace surrounded by family and friends, outdoors on the hill near Grand Lake, or in a wooded area with serene Lotus Pond as a background, the Presque Isle Lodge will provide an unforgettable backdrop for your wedding ceremony, rehearsal dinner and reception. Have your bridal party stay the night in the delightful rooms upstairs, and enjoy brunch together the morning after the wedding. Constructed during the “golden age” of rustic architecture of the 1920s to 1940s, the lodge houses the largest known collection of Habitant furniture.

4.) Fireside Inn


Fireside Inn’s sprawling covered porch looks out onto gorgeous Grand Lake

(Location Presque Isle)
Founded in 1908, this relaxing bed and breakfast resort is located on beautiful Grand Lake in Presque Isle. Ideal for a unique and intimate wedding celebration, all of your guests can stay for the night at one of the 19 quaint cabins, or in private rooms at the Inn. For the reception dinner choose from the smaller dining room area, or set up a tent outside near the lake for more space. Wrap up the special day with your family and friends by enjoying a bonfire under the stars on the shores of Grand Lake.

4.) Hemlock Hills on Mill Pond


Elowsky Grist Mill, Sarah Sanders Photography

(Location Posen)
Create everlasting memories at the historic Elowsky Grist Mill and Hemlock Hills on Mill Pond.  This newly renovated property offers elegant, rustic ambiance with modern amenities. Hold your ceremony on the banks of the Thunder Bay River with the mill as your backdrop, and your reception in the majestic wood planked barn adorned with wagon wheel chandeliers. Hemlock Hills provides beautiful photo opportunities with the river winding through the property, rolling fields, and the historic Grist Mill standing tall. 

You will also find a spacious indoor pavilion with a serving kitchen, dining area, bar and bathrooms, all constructed in barn wood. Invite your guests to stay the night at Hemlock Hills, with sleeping accommodations for 60 people. Enjoy the large fire pit and wooden porch swings tucked in along the river, listen to the river run, inhale the fresh country air, and gaze into the starry night.

5.) Thunder Bay Resort

(Location Hillman)

Thunder Bay Resort

Thunder Bay Resort

This elk preserve is set in the unparalleled beauty of the Northeast Michigan woodlands. The dedicated staff at Thunder Bay Resort help make your dream come alive on your special day. Have the fairy tale wedding you’ve always wanted, complete with a horse drawn carriage and elk grazing in the background. Thunder Bay Resort strives to ensure your table settings are sparkling with china, crystal and silver. Graceful yet rustic, the charming antiques and trophy mounts keep the feelings of serenity and reverence in the forefront on your special day.

6.) Northern Shore Lodge


Northern Shore Lodge, Paul Retherford Photography

(Location Hillman)
Northern Shore Lodge is nestled peacefully between two beautiful lakes, Long Lake and Ess Lake. The crystal clear waters surround the groomed grounds of this English style mansion. Hold your ceremony on the lake shore, and your reception under a tent on the other side of the mansion.  With nine guest rooms, five bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, dining area with large open deck, indoor hot tub, parlor, and spacious entertainment room with natural fireplaces, your guests are sure to enjoy a relaxing weekend celebrating your marriage.

7.) Churchill Pointe Inn


Large deck at Churchill Pointe Inn looks out onto Hubbard Lake

(Location Hubbard Lake)
Churchill Pointe Inn is a historic 1920’s era country inn centered on a picturesque peninsula, overlooking beautiful Hubbard Lake. Use the sparkling lake as your backdrop and Churchill Pointe Inn as your stage. Hold the ceremony either at the arbor or along the lakeshore. An in-house chef will help you design a personalized menu for your reception dinner that can be held on a large outdoor deck, on the lush lawn, or in the Inn’s dining room. There are eight rooms available for overnight lodging.

8.) Alpena Antique Tractor and Steam Engine Club

(Location Alpena)

Courtesy Rachel Truman

Courtesy Rachel Morasky

Just a few minutes north of Alpena, the Alpena Antique Tractor & Steam Engine Club showgrounds offers 35 acres of private country woodland and open field for your wedding event. A rustic barn with a stage, an indoor pavilion food hall, along with the rolling fields, tall trees and campsites provide a blissful and effortless location for your ceremony and wedding reception needs. The setting for the annual Thunder Bay Folk Festival, this venue provides feelings of peace and harmony for all.

9.) Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan


Historic Spratt Church behind the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan

(Location Alpena)
Take a step back in time and hold your wedding ceremony in the historic Spratt Church behind the Besser Museum. These eight acres of peaceful grounds are located in the North River District of Alpena next to Alpena Community College, and close to lodging properties. Always wanted a night at the museum? Create a night to remember and host your wedding reception or cocktail party inside the 42,000 square foot Besser Museum building. Built in the 1960’s, this facility features architecture with a retro-flair and includes a two-story swinging pendulum, a planetarium, an avenue of circa 1800’s old Alpena shops, and a remarkably unique outdoor fountain.

10.) Rotary Mill Island


Charming gazebo on Rotary Mill Island

(Location Alpena)
This small hidden island is tucked away on the Thunder Bay River, near the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Cross the charming foot bridge and find yourself enveloped in quiet respite with blooming flowers, a canopy of trees, peaceful water, and a delightful gazebo. Hold your intimate ceremony on the Island and reception at one of the nearby facilities just across the river. (#9, #11, #12, #13, #15)
Call the Alpena City Clerk’s Office at 989-354-1720 for park information.

11.) Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Heritage Center


TBNMS Heritage Center, photo  courtesy TBNMS

(Location Alpena)
Host your ceremony or reception on the Heritage Center’s rooftop for a first class view of the Thunder Bay River. If you would rather be under shelter, arrange a cocktail party style reception right inside of the maritime museum, or place a tent behind the center along the river. The life-sized recreation of a historic Great Lakes schooner inside the center makes for one-of-a-kind photo opportunities. You can utilize the indoor theater for special slideshows of the bride and groom. Take advantage of the Lady Michigan glass bottom boat (#12) to give your guests something truly unique to remember.

12.) Lady Michigan Alpena Shipwreck Tours


Lady Michigan Glass Bottom Boat

(Location Alpena)
Arrange a private charter out into Shipwreck Alley! Whether it be a rehearsal dinner, wedding ceremony, or part of a wedding reception, the Alpena Shipwreck Tour Cruises offer an experience not to be forgotten! You’ll find the captain and crew very accommodating on this double decker boat. Enjoy the wind in your hair and the sun on your face on the upper deck, with seating ideal for a smaller ceremony. Have a cocktail hour right on the boat to celebrate! With two bathrooms, an enclosed bottom deck, and glass viewing wells for gazing into the clear water, this will be one festivity you won’t forget.

13.) Art in the Loft


Stunning reception at Art in the Loft

(Location Alpena)
Art in the Loft fine arts center and gallery is located on the third floor of the historic Center Building in downtown Alpena. The gallery has over 7,000 square feet of open loft space with original wood floors, brick walls, and a stunning bird’s eye view of Thunder Bay through the plethora of large windows. Between the authentic old industrial style and the great art pieces adorning the walls, it doesn’t take much effort to turn this loft into a sophisticated wedding paradise! A modern kitchen area is also available for catering use.

14.) Island Park

(Location Alpena)

Stephanie Loewe Photography

The bridge to Island Park, Stephanie Loewe Photography

A true hidden treasure, the 17-acre Island Park is surrounded by a 500-acre Thunder Bay River wildlife sanctuary in the middle of the city. A stately handcrafted wooden water tower and covered bridge mark the entry to the island.

Each time you cross over the walking bridge and step foot on the island, you feel as though you are miles away from your concerns; finding refuge deep in nature’s wonderland. Hold a small outdoor ceremony on the bluff overlooking the stunning sanctuary, and then host a larger reception celebration at one of the other nearby locations listed. Call the Alpena City Clerk’s Office at 989-354-1720 for park information.

15.) The Fletcher Street Depot

(Location Alpena) fletcher-street-depot
The Fletcher Street Depot is the perfect pairing of elegance and industrial design. The old train depot is located on the Thunder Bay River, just an easy walk from downtown Alpena and the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The large sunny windows and spacious lawn create an ideal environment for a classy yet playful wedding. Take it one step further and join forces with the neighboring Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary or the Lady Michigan glass bottom boat tours to make your special day a true northern Michigan adventure.