‘I do’ at VU? Vanderbilt’s campus as an unlikely wedding venue

Pre-COVID, Events at Vanderbilt hosts between 30 and 50 weddings a year

Vanderbilt+serves+as+a+unique+space+as+a+wedding+venue+for+alumni+and+Nashville+visitors+alike.+Photo+courtesy+Weddings+at+VU

Vanderbilt serves as a unique space as a wedding venue for alumni and Nashville visitors alike. Photo courtesy Weddings at VU

Julia Tilton, Staff Writer

Picture this: You really hit things off with your Vanderbilt Marriage Pact match, and now it’s time to start planning (or dreaming about) your wedding. All you need is a perfect venue. You’re in luck—look no further than Vanderbilt’s very own campus. 

The anthem “ring before spring” is something that pervades throughout many U.S. universities, but before speaking with Assistant Director of “Events at Vanderbilt” Jordan Hajacos, we didn’t think it was common for couples to want to tie the knot at this alma mater. Per Hajacos, we thought wrong, and the university labors to facilitate this possibility for post-grad Commodore lovebirds. 

Established as a subset of “Events at Vanderbilt” in 2014, Weddings at VU offers a variety of options for your special day. Since the onset of the pandemic, however, it has not hosted any events. Hajacos said they are looking forward to resuming weddings soon, although they are still waiting to hear what will be allowed in the coming months as more of the population is vaccinated and public health restrictions are lifted. 

And when that time comes, you and your boo can choose between three different venues on campus to host your milestone. Feeling spiritual? Benton Chapel is the perfect, non-denominational location to host your service and small reception. Want something with a more collegiate feel? Alumni Hall’s gorgeous high ceilings and chandeliers are sure to fit that dark-academia vibe. Inviting everyone you know? The Commodore Ballroom in the Student Life Center can accommodate up to 360 of you and your significant other’s closest friends. 

“The cool thing about the Commodore Ballroom is that it’s like a blank canvas, so you can really transform it to look however you want it to look,” Hajacos said.

Alumni Hall decorated and prepared for a wedding event. Photo courtesy Weddings at VU

She said that some couples get really creative with the space. A few years back, a bride and groom hosted a Star Wars-themed wedding in the Commodore Ballroom, complete with a battleship-themed cake and lightsaber decorations on the dance floor. 

“It was so quirky and fun, and the couple was really fun to work with,” Hajacos said. 

If Darth Vader isn’t your thing, Benton Chapel and Alumni Hall are popular venues for slightly smaller parties. Unlike the Commodore Ballroom, which is limited to hosting events when students are on breaks, both Benton Chapel and Alumni Hall typically have availability year-round. Many couples, especially those composed of faculty or former students, choose to host their rehearsal dinners at Alumni Hall, Hajacos said.

Benton Chapel is a popular space for the wedding ceremonies themselves. 

“One of the advantages to Benton Chapel is that you can just put some decorations along the aisles and you really don’t need anything else to make it pretty,” Sarah Hamilton, an event manager training with Hajacos, said. 

Should you choose to tie the knot on campus, you will be joining the ranks of other members of the Vanderbilt community. Alumni, graduate students and faculty from both the university and the medical center have all hosted weddings on campus.

In addition to Commodore alumni, the campus serves as an attractive location for other couples as well. 

“Something that’s cool is we’re really close to downtown, but not in the middle of all the craziness,” Hajacos said. “It’s a great place to have a wedding because it is so accessible to downtown.”

Pre-COVID, Weddings at VU attended between one and two wedding shows a year to promote their spaces to the Southeast’s bridal market. This includes the Pink Bride Wedding Expo, which serves Tennessee, Alabama and Missouri. Before the pandemic, Vanderbilt hosted between 30 and 50 weddings a year, according to Hajacos. 

If you and your special someone are super eager to walk down the aisle together, Weddings at VU is already taking inquiries for 2022. They are excited about opportunities to host weddings in some of the outdoor locations on campus, such as the Commons lawn. 

Before you worry about ruining your budget to celebrate your wedding day, you should know that being a Vanderbilt student or alum qualifies you for a discounted price on your big day. 

“We are happy to have a space for the Vanderbilt community to celebrate their milestones with us, whether it be weddings or rehearsal dinners, so that we can be there for them in those big moments,” Hajacos said.

You can learn more about Vanderbilt’s wedding spaces and get a headstart on inspiration for your Pinterest board by visiting their Instagram and Pinterest pages.