Courtyards were brought to the United States from European designed villas and buildings. However, the earliest courtyards were found in Iran and China dating back to 3,000 BC. The purpose of a courtyard varied, from a place to cook food or keep animals at night, to a private space for entertaining and escape the feel of crowded cities.
Courtyards were especially significant for urban areas where they became the only place a family might have privacy. Courtyard weddings by extension could become a private affair for the bride and groom and select family and friends. Courtyards have always been greatly prized in crowded European cities and now are prized in the United States for their beauty, style and elegance
One of the key elements of a European courtyard is the use of stone and brickwork. Unlike the traditional notion of a grassy courtyard, these architectural creations incorporate greenery through potted plants, columns and arches with flowers growing up around them. The design is in the architectural elements as opposed to grassy courtyards that focus on the landscape instead of the architecture.
Today's courtyards often might bring in hand cut brick and lay it out in a herringbone pattern, or it might have marble columns salvaged from historical buildings. Hand quarried marble from across the country may also add to the architectural elements of the place.
Stone fireplaces can create a focal point at one end of a courtyard. The fireplaces may be carved through the building to provide an indoor/outdoor fireplace. Other places may use water fountains for ambiance, both auditory and visual. This harkens back to Roman statues adorning water fountains, or Greek gods and goddesses frolicking in water.
Another benefit of a courtyard is it allows an intermingling of the indoors and outdoors. When fire pits were set up in ancient days, the purpose was to ventilate the smoke so it wasn't contained in living quarters. Today, the pleasure of being outside is much more simplistic. We like to see the days pass by. A courtyard wedding allows for a private enclosure while still having access to the outdoors. Manicured landscapes and hardscapes can create a timeless feel.
Today there are wedding venues that have re-created traditional European courtyards. Having a courtyard wedding creates a sense of privacy, seclusion and beauty. From Italian style villas to Parisian courtyards, the hardscapes provide a dramatic backdrop for wedding photography. There are many venues through the US and Europe – the only decision becomes whether one wants an destination wedding, or a wedding close to home.
When looking for a wedding venue, be sure to consider a place that has a courtyard wedding space. They offer an ambiance that can't be matched by other venues. When you add the privacy of the area to the beauty of the hardscapes, it creates an atmosphere that can't be beat.