Unique BOK Building Wedding

June 16, 2023

The BOK Building is a unique wedding venue in South Philly. This former school has a lot of features that make it the perfect place for playful, relaxed wedding photos. Gillian and Bradie’s non-traditional wedding celebration was right at home in these halls. 

A bride and groom walk across a rooftop holding hands at their BOK Building wedding.

The BOK Building: A Unique Philadelphia Wedding Venue

The BOK Building gives marriers a pretty inclusive experience. There are two getting ready suites on site. You also get endless opportunities for photos in cool spaces. Tall windows and high ceilings mean you get great light in the old offices, auditorium, and stairwells. The rooftop has an amazing view of the skyline, too. You can even have your ceremony and reception up there.

A groomsmen helps a friend tie his necktie.
A groom walks through the door of a getting ready suite in an old coach's office.
A bride stands in a hallway of the BOK Building.

Prices for a BOK wedding vary widely depending on the day and time of year you choose. During peak season, rental fees can cost up to $11,200. It can accommodate very large weddings of over 200 guests, but the space was flexible enough to feel just right for Gillian and Bradie’s more intimate celebration.

A bride and groom exit their suites for a first look at a Philadelphia wedding venue.
A bride and groom hold hands in a hallway of the BOK Building.
A bride and groom lean against a wall on a rooftop wedding venue with the Philadelphia skyline behind them.
A bride and groom sit on a vintage sofa holding hands.

Historic Details in a Non-traditional Setting

If you couldn’t tell from the photos, the BOK Building is actually a former school. It was built in the 1930s as a vocational school and served as a school into the 2010s. After a design firm bought the building at auction, they adapted the building to house businesses and artists’ studios. 

A bride and groom sit on an old school stage in front of a blue curtain.
A bride and groom walk through the auditorium of the BOK Building between rows of chairs.
A bride and groom hold hands and smile at each other in a sunny room in the BOK Building.

So many of the school’s original features remain. Bradie got ready in the basketball coach’s office. Even the chairs for the ceremony were cool and colorful. They reminded us of the ones we sat on in middle school. We took photos in the auditorium and stairwells. I prompted Gillian and Braide to pretend they were skipping class to hang out together. They really ran with it! 

A couple embraces in a stairwell before their BOK Building wedding.
A bride pins a flower to her father's shirt.
A groom holds his mother's hands and shows her a corsage.

Of all the businesses in the BOK Building, Irwin’s is a local favorite. Irwin’s was one of the big reasons that Bradie and Gillian chose the BOK Building for their wedding. They wanted their reception to feel like a dinner party with their favorite people. They definitely got that with the decadent open-air meal Irwin’s provided. This restaurant specializes in Sicilian food that’s meant to be shared. Its rooftop dining area gives an incredible view of the city. 

Wedding guests stand in a line listening to speakers at a ketubah signing.
A framed ketubah sits on a coffee table beside plush chairs in the BOK Building.
A bride and groom stand in a line with family members for a portrait.

A Relaxed Wedding Day

The BOK Building was a great Philadelphia wedding venue for Gillian and Bradie’s relaxed celebration. Originally, they weren’t planning to have a wedding. They thought an elopement made more sense for them, but then they realized that they wanted to celebrate with their close friends and family. 

A groom holds a cocktail glass beside two small wedding cakes in the BOK Building reception space.
Wedding guests sit in colorful chairs for a rooftop wedding in Philadelphia.
A bride and groom hold hands under a chuppah at a rooftop wedding at the BOK Building.

This wedding ended up having a lot of the same low-key moments that make an elopement so special. Gillian and Bradie spent the whole morning together. Instead of an official first look, they just exited their getting ready suites at the same time to see each other. The moment ended up being just as emotional with less pressure than a conventional first look. 

A bride and groom stand together with a tallit wrapped around their shoulders during a Jewish wedding in Philadelphia.
A bride and groom kiss at the end of a BOK Building wedding ceremony on the rooftop.

Gillian was not a traditional bride. She skipped carrying a bouquet. In fact, there were no florals. The venue provided all the color they needed. Gillian also bought a colorful wedding dress second hand. The blues and pinks of her skirt coordinated so well with the patina of this historic venue. 

Two long tables are set with colorful napkins and glasses at Irwin's.
A seafood dinner sits on a platter at a wedding reception table at Irwin's.
A bride and groom eat salads at their wedding reception at Irwin's.

Bradie also wanted to keep the relaxed atmosphere of an elopement by spending time with his friends. They played basketball on the old school court still accessible in the BOK Building. We ended up taking portraits on the court in addition to the auditorium. 

A bride laughs as a groom gives a speech at a BOK Building wedding reception.
A blue neon sign in the BOK Building reads "if these walls could talk."

Even though so much about Gillian and Bradie’s wedding was non-traditional, they kept the Jewish wedding rituals that meant the most to them. Before the main ceremony, they held a ketubah signing with family members. For the ceremony, they had a simple chuppah and tallit. Of course, their guests loved participating in the horah during the rooftop reception!

A bride and groom hold hands with wedding guests dancing the hora.
Wedding guests lift a bride and groom in chairs for the hora on the BOK Building rooftop at night.
Through a window, wedding guests gather for a Philadelphia rooftop wedding reception.

Would you like me to photograph your wedding? I’m a Philadelphia wedding photographer who documents candid moments on film and Super8. Get in touch with me here!

Thank you to the vendors who made this wedding possible:
Photographer: Jason Moody Photography 
Planner: With Wisdom 
Venue: Irwin’s at the BOK Building
DJ:  The Other Wedding DJ
Cake: Second Daughter Baking Company
Makeup & Hair: Jessica Saint
Rings: Emily Chelsea Jewelry