15 New England wedding venues, from beachy to industrial
The answer to the big question was yes. Now, where to tie the knot?
Brides fancying a dramatic descent on a formal stone staircase from a columned mezzanine lined with gilt-framed oil paintings will delight in the arched main courtyard of the Currier Museum of Art. For the reception, the architecturally acclaimed wing that opened in 2008 offers a fresh juxtaposition to the 1929 courtyard, and modern sculptures outdoors make playful backdrops for photographs. A bonus: During the event, guests can browse the special exhibition galleries.
150 Ash Street, Manchester, New Hampshire, 603-669-6144, currier.org
Just 10 miles from Boston but a world away from city life, the Habitat Education Center & Wildlife Sanctuary is a 90-acre oasis maintained by the Mass Audubon Society. Here, couples can wed beside a lush formal garden designed by the Olmsted brothers (sons of Frederick Law Olmsted) and surrounded by woodlands. After pictures under the pergola and cocktails on the bluestone patio, dine on the lawn, in a tent under the oaks, or in the property’s brick Georgian-style mansion with solarium and fireplace.
10 Juniper Road, Belmont, 617-489-5050, massaudubon.org
The Beach Plum Inn & Restaurant is a longtime darling of the Vineyard, thanks to its rustic ambience, farm-fresh fare, and straight-from-the-docks fish. Following an open-air ceremony overlooking Menemsha Harbor, receptions can be held in the recently revamped dining room with reclaimed barn-wood tables and Mason jar glasses or in grassy fields with a water view. The inn’s rooms and cottages make for lovely accommodations for the couple and the wedding party. The nearby Homeport restaurant can host rehearsal dinners, or you can plan a clambake on the beach. 50 Beach Plum Lane, Menemsha, 508-645-9454, beachpluminn.com
For sophisticated nautical nuptials, head up the coast to Kennebunkport for a riverside wedding at David’s KPT at the Boathouse Waterfront Hotel, where Portland chef David Turin presents modernized Maine fare, including a killer raw bar. The sleek 200-seat restaurant, which opened in spring 2013, boasts maritime-blue banquettes, mahogany furnishings, and a curved wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto a wraparound deck overlooking the pretty-as-a-picture view of the boat-filled harbor. The hotel’s 25 guest rooms, perfect for the couple and wedding party, offer similar views and decor. 21 Ocean Avenue, Kennebunkport, Maine, 207-967-8223, boathouseme.com
Some 250 acres of orchards and conservation land surround Smith Barn in Peabody, an ideal escape for couples seeking a pastoral setting that’s still an easy reach for their Boston-based guests. After the happy couple exchange vows in the Woodland Gardens, the party (for up to 240 people) begins at the red clapboard barn, which was built in 1904 and is strung with fairy lights. To match the setting, ask your caterer for hard-cider drinks for the grown-ups. 54 Felton Street, Peabody, 978-204-6345, peabodyhistorical.org
With five vessels, several routes, and plentiful menus from which to choose, couples can customize low-key or lavish wedding cruises with the Charles Riverboat Company. For example, an authentic 75-foot paddleboat accommodates up to 130 guests for a seated New England clambake during a cruise of Boston Harbor, while a 97-foot yacht can host 60 for a seated brunch during a sail along the New England coastline. As of October, some boats began docking at Rowes Wharf, right next to the Boston Harbor Hotel. 100 Cambridgeside Place, Cambridge, 617-621-3001, charlesriverboat.com
For couples craving an authentic kumbaya vibe, the Woodbound Inn, situated in the woods on a large lake with a sandy beach, is a rustic paradise. Cabins and campfires are what it’s all about at this family-owned establishment, which changed hands in 2013. Ceremonies can take place lakeside or in the arbor with a view of Mount Monadnock. While there is an indoor function room for larger parties, the Playbarn, which can accommodate 70 seated diners, is the most atmospheric option, with its gnarled wood walls, plank floors, beamed ceilings, and flagstone fireplace.
247 Woodbound Road, Rindge, New Hampshire, 603-532-8341, woodbound.com
Couples with a grittier, urban aesthetic may fall for the steampunk vibe in play at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation in Waltham. Built in 1814, it’s recognized as the country’s first factory. It once produced textiles and watches and now showcases steam-powered machinery and such from that past, which a docent can describe during cocktails. The upstairs reception space has wood floors, exposed brick walls, and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Charles River. Ceremonies are often held in the adjacent Landry Park on the banks of the river, by the stone walls or wooden footbridge. 154 Moody Street, Waltham, 781-893-5410, crmi.org
Blending serene gardens with shady trails, Giving Tree Wedding & Events is an artistic coastal Eden on Cape Cod. The 4-acre property features elegant sculptures, signs with quotes from the likes of Buddha and Andy Warhol, and a meditation garden in a bamboo grove with smooth glass pebbles from a local studio underfoot. There’s also a covered bridge and a 52-foot suspension bridge. While owner Judith Smith has always welcomed visitors to the grounds, less than two years ago she began playing host to brides and grooms with guest lists of up to 50 people. Smith will even rent out her shingled home, which has an airy, all-white interior and a porch overlooking the marsh, and which sleeps six. 550 Route 6A, East Sandwich, 508-246-4428, givingtreeweddingandevents.com
In 2012, Amy LaBelle opened the LaBelle Winery, with seven varieties of grapes planted on 3 acres, and began inviting couples to marry amid the vines. The 10,000-square-foot manufacturing facility boasts five stainless-steel Italian fermentation tanks that soar 23 feet high, rising up from the cellar to the first floor and providing a popular backdrop for photographs. Receptions take place in the modern post-and-beam great room with vaulted ceiling, which opens onto a terrace overlooking the vineyard. Menus incorporate the vintner theme with offerings like wine barrel-smoked salmon and filet mignon with red-wine demi-glace.
345 New Hampshire 101, Amherst, New Hampshire, 603-672-9898, labellewinerynh.com
Marrying amid enormous whale skeletons and what’s billed as the world’s largest model boat — a whaling ship that guests can actually climb aboard — introduces nautical charm to any couple’s big day. The century-old New Bedford Whaling Museum, located downtown by a thriving seaport, offers a number of spaces for rent, including a hilltop courtyard with a picturesque view and bilevel galleries. You can even arrange for guests to explore the museum prior to your fanfare.
18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, 508-997-0046, whalingmuseum.org
Cambridge’s stately red-brick Multicultural Arts Center, designed in the 1850s by Charles Bulfinch as a courthouse and renovated in 1985 by Graham Gund as a visual and performing arts center, is elegant with a bit of funk. Couples often exchange vows in the brick-paved courtyard surrounded by the historic buildings of Bulfinch Square, then have dinner in the theater. The dramatic double-height space has tall arched windows that look out into the courtyard, an ornate ceiling, and fanciful railings that grace an interior balcony. Perks include lighting as part of the fee, the chance to rent a baby grand at an affordable price, a large parking lot, and easy access to public transportation.
It’s classic Cape Cod at the Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club, where couples can exchange vows on the sand of the private bayside beach. Reception sites include the property’s 1890 Nickerson Mansion, historic carriage house (renovations are slated for completion this spring), gala ballroom, pavilions overlooking the golf course or swimming pool, and a tent on the rolling lawn. Accommodations on the mansion side of the resort, which were renovated in 2013, are most desirable in terms of proximity to the resort’s many amenities, including swimming, biking, golf, and tennis.
2907 Main Street, Brewster, 508-896-9000, oceanedge.com
Hosting a wedding at the Berkshires’ storied Wheatleigh Hotel is akin to taking up residence at a Florentine estate, private staff included. The palazzo, built as a summer “cottage” in the Gilded Age, sits on 22 acres of park-like grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. It’s probably best enjoyed for an entire weekend, with multiple events, from celebrations the night before — perhaps dinner in the glass-enclosed portico or a casual barbecue by the pool — to a farewell brunch on the terrace. Ceremonies can take place indoors or out, as can receptions, for which the critically acclaimed restaurant custom-designs the menus, featuring contemporary French cuisine. 11 Hawthorne Road, Lenox, 413-637-0610, wheatleigh.com
The West Mountain Inn offers a quintessential country setting with its rustic barn, grassy meadows, gardens surrounded by stone walls, private hiking trails, and romantic canopied beds in a clapboard farmhouse, all nestled on 150 acres overlooking the Battenkill Valley and Green Mountains. The 1850s barn, which has wide plank flooring and exposed beams, can accommodate 200 guests for a seated dinner. Couples with smaller parties can host dinner at the inn and move to the barn for dancing, while those who opt for tented weddings may choose to exchange vows in the barn.
144 West Mountain Inn Road, Arlington, Vermont, 802-375-6516, westmountaininn.com