From off the beaten path to off the mainland
Choosing a venue is the first of many decisions you’ll make when planning your wedding, but what happens when you can’t seem to find “the one”?
The Seacoast is bursting with quintessential wedding spots. You’ll find breathtaking views, rolling green fields and impressively renovated barns. However, if you’re looking for something a little different for your special day, you have plenty of places to choose from. Did you know you can get married in a grand historic castle in Massachusetts? At a brewery in New Hampshire? Or on your own private island in Maine?
Stop Googling “perfect wedding venue” and check out our picks that include spots from off the beaten path to completely off the mainland.
With one of the most spectacular ocean views in and around York, the Cape Neddick Lobster Pound offers a distinctly Maine feel to celebrations. The restaurant is a beautiful post and beam structure with expansive windows overlooking a quaint working harbor, where lobster boats and fishermen ply their trade daily. “Right behind the restaurant is a lobster shack,with all the buoys hanging on it,” says Melissa Young, the restaurant’s wedding and events manager. “Brides are photographed there all the time.”
The restaurant offers two floors of dining and entertainment space; downstairs seats up to 125 guests, the upstairs area is appropriate for small receptions or rehearsal dinners up to 50. Late fall and summer are the Pound’s busiest wedding seasons. “People can’t believe how beautiful our space is and how gorgeous our views are,” says Young. “The food is excellent, too.”
What could be more romantic than escaping to your own private island? At the Inn at Cuckolds Lighthouse, you can do just that.
The 1892 offshore lighthouse has been restored to be historically accurate on the outside and completely renovated on the inside, providing lush accommodations and awe-inspiring views. “It’s the only really high-end, elegant restored lighthouse in all of Maine,” says Janet Reingold, co-founder and vice president of the nonprofit Cuckolds Council. The island just opened to visitors in 2014. It’s ideal for intimate weddings, and don’t even think about leaving after you exchange vows. You couldn’t ask for a more secluded honeymoon destination.
Reingold says all proceeds go right back to sustaining the lighthouse. “If someone has a wedding here,” she says, “they’re doing a great service to an old lighthouse.”
With exposed brick walls, rough wooden beams and breathtaking views of Portland’s working harbor and Casco Bay, the Portland Company has delighted brides since the space opened several years ago. Called “gorgeous” and “great for DIY weddings,” the building, originally part of the Portland Company Marine Complex at the foot of Munjoy Hill, was established in the 1840s as a foundry to build railroad equipment for the connection between Portland and Montreal, Canada. The venue has two rooms with seating for 80-120 people and access to a full kitchen and full catering services. It’s steps from the bay and located right in downtown Portland.
At the Seashore Trolley Museum, you can create a wedding experience that can be – quite literally – moving. As part of the festivities, you and your guests can ride in one of the trolley cars. “As the world’s oldest and largest electric railway museum, we have a unique collection that provides entertainment for guests and amazing photo ops,” says Sally Bates, executive director of the New England Railway Historical Society.
If you’re considering a themed wedding, such as the Roaring ’20s, this might be just the right venue for you. Bates says the museum recently hosted a speakeasy as a fund-raiser and can work with couples to produce a themed reception if they choose.
Rows of lavender and vibrant blooms will greet you and your guests at Marianmade Farm, a working lavender and flower farm, on the water in mid-coast Maine. “When guests pull into our driveway and round the bend, they’re typically stunned by the beauty of the farm,” says MacKenzie Henry, venue operations manager.
The grounds include a waterfront ceremony site and an event barn, which is also the lavender drying house. Owner Michelle Peele is a floral designer, using many of the flowers she grows on the farm in her creations. In addition to lavender, flowers grown on site include hydrangeas, sunflowers, Echinacea, dahlias, snapdragons and many more. Kate Martin, owner of Beautiful Days Event Planning in South Berwick, ME, notes that the spot makes a great backdrop for a couple’s special day. “It’s a pretty piece of property,” she says.
If art is your muse, then The Currier Museum of Art, in downtown Manchester, NH, is an unforgettable backdrop for a wedding ceremony, reception, or rehearsal dinner. The museum’s galleries and special exhibition spaces are open to guests attending events at the museum so your party can enjoy a tasteful selection of fine art, including must-see works by Picasso, Matisse, Monet, O’Keeffe and Wyeth.
Love and flowers are in full bloom at Fuller Gardens, a public botanical garden across the street from the Atlantic Ocean. Brides can choose one of four gardens for ceremonies or receptions. Meticulously maintained formal rose gardens, a Japanese garden and English perennial plantings provide a colorful backdrop for events from spring until fall. The original rose garden was commissioned during the late 1920s by then Massachusetts Governor Alvan T. Fuller.
Say “I do” in the ocean breeze as you cruise to the Isles of Shoals with your closest family and friends on board the M/V Thomas Laighton. The 340-passenger Victorian steamship also offers majestic views of the harbor, lighthouses, Great Bay and more.
You don’t have to head home after the ceremony, either. Tanya Gahara, cruise coordinator/sales at the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company, says the all-in-one cruise can include the ceremony, a cocktail hour, the reception or any combination of the three. “It’s a nice cruise. Just being on the boat itself is a unique experience,” she says. “It’s a little taste of New England wrapped up in one little package.”
Heidi Hamblett, owner of Flowers by Leslie in Portsmouth, says the steamship offers couples a nice romantic vibe.
“You can have a view of the Isles of Shoals with the sun setting,” she says. “It’s a neat time for the bride and groom. They don’t have to worry about anything.”
You’ll feel like you’ve been whisked away to Italy without ever leaving the Granite State at the Tuscan-inspired Zorvino Vineyards. The grounds encompass 80 acres tucked away in the New England forest. “Its simple elegance comes out when you come up our driveway and see our facility,” says Amanda Ferdinando, office manager/coordinator.
In addition to the lush vineyard, the property includes a mahogany gazebo, a heart-shaped Koi fish pond and a bocce ball court. Ceremonies are held outside at the gazebo or inside the post-and-beam manor house at the brick fireplace centerpiece. You can carry the wine theme throughout the wedding by offering a cask of wine during the cocktail hour for guests and adding wine bottles to the reception tables. The cocktail hour for the bridal party takes place in the vineyard.
Nestled right on Gloucester’s rocky coast is a medieval-style castle with a love-filled history where you can begin your own happily ever after. That’s what inventor John Hays Hammond Jr. did when he built Hammond Castle in the late 1920s as a wedding present for his wife. “People are looking for the romance,” says Linda Rose, functions director. “It’s a fantasy. Every little girl wants to be married in a castle.”
Grand European archways, stone towers and a drawbridge are set against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. Access to the great hall, Renaissance dining room, the courtyard and the ocean-side lawn are all included.
The Boston Public Library may be just the right spot to start the next chapter of your life. The venue offers many options for you to design the storybook wedding of your dreams. “We can accommodate everything from an intimate ceremony to something quite grand,” says Elaine Twombly, director of business development for The Catered Affair, which works in partnership with the library. “You custom design every element to reflect your style and taste. Not one wedding is alike.” There are a variety of rooms to choose from, each with different sizes and functions. For example, you can hold the ceremony and cocktails in the courtyard, dinner in Bates Hall and end the night with dancing in the Abbey Room.
Transport your wedding to a bygone era in the historic mansion and gardens of Glen Magna Farms. The property, owned and maintained by the Danvers Historical Society, gives you a peek into the life and style of the early 20th century. Grounds include an old-fashioned garden, a flower garden, a wisteria-covered pergola, the Peabody Gazebo and Lover’s Walk and a gigantic weeping beech tree that is more than 100 years old.