For the bride and groom looking for breathtaking ocean views, the sound of waves crashing, fresh seafood and watercolor sunsets, they need look no further than the beautiful shores of New England. Steeped in a rich maritime history, both Massachusetts and Rhode Island offer some of the best on-the- water venues in the country.
For the couple that wants it all, The Newport Experience offers the cream of the crop when it comes to weddings by the shore. A number of options are available, including OceanCliff, a historic mansion hotel located on 10 acres of lush, rolling lawns. OceanCliff has an outdoor patio for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and also features a tented upper deck and grand ballroom with panoramic views of Narragansett Bay and the Newport Bridge.
Brides and grooms can also choose the Regatta Place located on Goat Island, which offers scenery of Newport Harbor, Narragansett Bay and the historic Newport waterfront. This location provides a secluded experience and the option to hold a ceremony on the dock, with ocean views from every angle.
The Newport Experience does not stop there. Couples can end their evening in true seashore style by sailing away aboard Schooner Aurora. “The 101-foot schooner is a great way to get your out-of-town guests on the water,” says Kristen West, assistant director of marketing for The Newport Experience. “It has a spacious, open deck plan that accommodates up to 68 passengers, and food and beverages can be served onboard. It’s the perfect venue for a private charter after your reception.”
Also in Newport, Atlantic Beach Club is considered one of the city’s premiere wedding destinations. With amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean and the town’s famed Cliff Walk, this locale offers weddings year-round in a new, state-of-the-art banquet facility, just steps from the sand. Brides and grooms can choose between casual, clambake- style dining or a more upscale, sit-down dinner.
“We’re the only venue on Aquidneck Island that is located on the beach. We can use the patio area, which is right on the sand, and we also have a tent for cocktail hour. Then we bring guests upstairs for the reception,” says Elaine Holder, general manager. “Some brides have even said being upstairs is like being on a cruise ship with the view of Newport and the Cliff Walk.”
Easton’s Beach Rotunda Ballroom is also in Newport. Located only one mile from historic Bellevue Avenue, the venue features a wrap- around deck overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and a 1950s working carousel. “We have 365 degrees of water views, a ceremony site with an arch on the boardwalk, a gazebo area and a beautiful ballroom,” says Peggy Magner, special events manager at Easton’s. “A lot of our summer brides choose to exchange vows right on the sand, and you can use the carousel during the cocktail hour. It’s a great location for taking pictures.”
Another Newport venue with a water view is The Chanler, a European-style boutique hotel that boasts magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean. Couples have the choice of three different lawns for their ceremony and reception: the Cliff Lawn, Meadow Lawn and Woodland Lawn. However, the most popular option is to host their event on the terrace. “The view at The Chanler is different than other venues. We have sunrise and sunset views of Easton’s Beach, and on a clear day there’s a beautiful lighthouse that can be seen,” says Kate Wood, catering and sales manager. “The Terrace is open-air and has panoramic water views. For larger groups, the Cliff Lawn tent is a great choice. But really, there is no option without a great ocean view.”
Also in Rhode Island, located on the bluff of Watch Hill, is the Ocean House. This Victorian-inspired property offers the Seaside Terrace for a breath of ocean air during cocktail hour, then a choice of three different areas for the reception. The Seaside Ballroom, the venue’s largest space, boasts hints of classic colonial architecture, while the Ocean House Private Beach is for brides and grooms who dream of getting married with sand between their toes. Last but not least, the South Lawn, set high over the Atlantic, is an idyllic location for a tent wedding.
“There are countless options available at the Ocean House, and anywhere in the building there are great views of the water,” says Rachel Pope, director of communications. “We hold weddings all year round. No matter what – chilly winter air or hot summer – you still have those amazing ocean views.”
But Rhode Island is not the only place that offers magnificent views of the ocean. Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club is the perfect place to host a classic Cape Cod outdoor wedding. Located in Brewster, Massachusetts, this venue has a diverse lineup, including seven different areas to hold a dream reception. The Mansion, considered the crown jewel of Ocean Edge, is a popular choice for those seeking an intimate setting with amazing views of Cape Cod Bay.
For couples seeking an island getaway, both The Wauwinet Inn and the White Elephant located on Nantucket are a great choice. The Wauwinet has 32 rooms, immaculate cottages and charming grounds that can be turned into a private retreat for the bride, groom and their guests. The inn even offers lobster trips with “Captain Rob” for those looking to get out on the water. By comparison, the White Elephant can accommodate up to 300 guests. It offers a ceremony site on the Harborview Lawn and a reception under the stars on the Harborview Deck, both of which overlook the Atlantic.
For those couples looking for a beautiful, but affordable, option that gives back to the community, Shining Tides Weddings operated by the YMCA Southcoast is perfect. Located in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, overlooking the harbor, Shining Tides is on 25 acres of land with an expansive shoreline. The open lawn hosts the ceremony and cocktail hour. Then the reception takes place on the Pavilion Porch of the main house, which faces the water and offers the option of open or closed windows. “Shining Tides is actually the name of the beach and on a clear day you can see the Cape and Ned’s Point Lighthouse. It’s a great view,” says Nancy Bonell, vice president of operations for YMCA Southcoast. “Besides the water view though, our brides and grooms also feel good that their money goes back into the community to provide scholarships for our camp.”
By Courtney Toomey