How to Transform a Gym Into a Dream Wedding Hall

Updated April 17, 2017

Every wedding should be a special and memorable event, regardless of the size of the wedding budget. Using a gym as a reception location is a great alternative to expensive reception halls or hotels, and can help you save money for other wedding expenses or decrease your overall costs. Although it might seem like a less elegant choice, careful planning can transform a gym into a beautiful place for your celebration.

Scout gym locations in your area. Many churches have gyms and are able to let couples use them as a reception hall for little or no cost if the wedding is taking place there. Keep facilities that you already have an affiliation with in mind. If you belong to a health club, see if its gym is available after hours. Military couples might be able to use the gyms on base or off base at armories.

Confirm what extras come with the gym. Many might have draperies to cover the walls, tables and chairs and even lighting and decor. Having these items ready to use will save you time and money. A gym that has a PA system for your wedding music might be more attractive to you than one that does not. Paying for these extras can add up.

Call or visit local party supply stores. If your gym location does not provide all of the additional items you need, comparison shop stores that will allow you to rent the items you need. Sit down dinners will require tables and chairs for everyone where finger foods can be eaten while guests mingle. You may want arches or topiaries to fill open space. Lighting, flowers and audio equipment can be rented to help transform the gym.

Imagine what you would like your reception to look like. Keep in mind ideas you have picked up from weddings you have attended and things you have seen on television and in magazines. Colours and textures can add a luxurious look to any space. Think of how you can use your wedding theme and colours to keep your reception all about your special day. If available, use draperies to cover the walls so the gym looks less like a gym. If that is not an option, dim the lights. Soft lighting sets a romantic mood. Turn off the overhead fluorescent lights and use white holiday lights and votive candles to set the tone. Small details, such as floral centrepieces and linens on tables and tied on chairs, keep attention on the reception itself and not the location.

Anticipate that you might be responsible for the set up and break down of whatever you bring to the gym. On such a busy day, it will not be possible for the bride, groom or anyone in the wedding party to help. If your budget allows, the best option would be to hire someone to take care of this for you. Last minute changes will be easier to do with someone who is not attending the wedding. If you will need to use friends or family to help, be certain to have everything ready to set up with specific instructions explaining how you would like things to look. It is easy to get frustrated on your wedding day and the last thing you will want to deal with is your reception set-up.


Keep your reception unique to you. Sacrificing your vision and personality when planning can lead to disappointment on the big day. Talk to your creative and budget-savvy friends for their tips on how to dress up your reception without breaking the bank.


Leave electrical set ups and decorating that involves ladders or scaffolding to professionals.

Things You'll Need

  • Reserved gym
  • Wedding-specific decor
  • Set-up and removal labour
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About the Author

Samantha Gillihan has been writing professionally since 1999, with a focus on business writing. She has written and edited regional human resources and sales materials for Blockbuster Video, as well as life insurance and trust presentations for The Legacy Network. Gillihan is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Idaho.