5 Historical Theaters You MUST See in the Puget Sound


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Rialto Theater by Ross Griff

I didn’t grow up dreaming about the big, perfect wedding I’d have one day. I never imagined myself in a white dress or thought about flowers or gave a single second of thought to what song I’d want played for my father/daughter dance. I always assumed I’d head down to the courthouse, say a quick “I do,” and that would be that.

Guess what? I was wrong.

All of a sudden, I want it all. I want the whole darn fairytale. I’m not even sure how or why my perspective changed, but it did. I wouldn’t call myself a bridezilla, but I wouldn’t say that I’m not a bridezilla either.

Which is why I’ve been scoping out the granddaddy of all wedding venues: large theaters. I mean, there’s just something so charming and whimsical about a ceremony held in a venue with so much history.

Here are five of the best I’ve found around my hometown, Seattle. Perhaps this will get you thinking about creative venues for your own wedding.

Rialto Theater by Ross Griff
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ross Griff.

1. Liberty Theater

I absolutely love this venue. The Liberty Theater is just a short drive outside of both Seattle and Tacoma in the quaint little town of Puyallup. Smack dab in the middle of its downtown, amongst the antique stores and flanked by hundred year-old Victorians, sits the Liberty Theater. When it was built 85 years ago, the theater was originally used as a city gathering spot and hosted vaudevillian entertainment.

Recent preservation efforts have helped revive the theater and repurpose it as a special events venue. This place is use to hosting weddings and they do it well.

2. Pantages Theater

In its early years, Tacoma was the quintessential embodiment of the wild American West. But as the city grew, it became more cosmopolitan. By 1908, when Alexander Pantages arrived in the city, it was ready for its own vaudeville theater.  It took ten years to secure financing and build, but many agree that the theater, which is an ornate homage to a theater in the Palace of Versailles, is stunning. Imagine a wedding at the Palace of Versailles!

After only eight years as a stage theater, the Pantages was repurposed as a movie theater. Eventually, it was bought by the city of Tacoma and restored. Since 1983, it’s served as the cornerstone to a revitalized downtown Tacoma and a performing arts venue.

3. Moore Theater

The oldest theater in Seattle, the Moore Theater is located in the Belltown neighborhood at the northern edge of downtown. Originally built as a gathering spot for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Expo fair, the Moore Theater was home to traveling stage productions and vaudevillian acts. With seating for 2,436, it was among the largest theaters in the entire country at the time it was built.

In the 1970s, the theater was repurposed as a movie theater and was the home of Seattle International Film Festival. Today, the theater is once again used as a venue for plays and larger musical shows. I think the beautifully preserved theater would make a wonderful backdrop for a theater.

4. Paramount

Located on the edge of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, the Paramount Theater’s glowing sign, a reproduction of its original, seems more like a welcome beacon to downtown. Built in the mid-1920s, the theater was used as a movie house that would occasionally also host vaudevillian shows.

Today, the venue is used to host music, comedy, and stage events. Its seats can also be removed and the space is Seattle’s largest ballroom. This is the kind of space you want if you want the world’s most elegant dance floor.

5. Rialto Theater

Originally opened in 1918 as a film house, the Rialto Theater incorporates design elements of the era such as an orchestra pit and small stage for variety and theater acts. Over the years, the Rialto slowly deteriorated.

In the 90s, however, the city of Tacoma stepped in and restored the theater. Once again, the theater’s ornate plaster flourishes, such as cupids and intricate shapes, are lit up in the heart of downtown. I like this theater for its quirky charm.

This post was written by Rebecca Bridge, a writer and artist who lives in Seattle. When she’s not trying to devise ways to trick the sun to come out and play, she can regularly be found at cultural events around the city. 

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