Providence: A Small City with Big Appeal

When it comes to destination weddings, Providence has it all. It boasts a cityscape with sparkling skyline after dark, plenty of history, a vibrant arts community and one of the most vital food scenes in the country. Perhaps best of all is its convenient location and the ease in which visitors can get around to the various fun sites and activities the city has to offer.

Providence Opener_Nightime skyline

The Providence skyline lit up at night. (Photo by Marianne Lee)

“We’re between New York and Boston, so we’re very accessible,” says Kristen Adamo, vice president of marketing and communications for the Providence/Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We also offer that cosmopolitan feel without the expense of Boston and New York, so I think it’s a really practical choice.”

Adamo says one of the newly popular choices for wedding venues is the Providence Public Library, which has recently been redone and includes three choices of rooms. It’s a unique space with plenty of nooks and crannies and the Venetian Renaissance architecture is stunning. The sweeping staircase offers a perfect backdrop for wedding photos, as does the Garden Courtyard modeled after 19th-century, classic European estate gardens.

Those looking for a traditional reception with a historic flair might choose the Providence Biltmore Hotel, which originally opened in 1922. It is an ornate hotel with a grand rooftop ballroom that overlooks the city. The Botanical Gardens at the Roger Williams Park offer lush green fields, flowers, romantic swan boat rides and zoo. Also at the park is the historic and elegant Casino, with Ionic columns, verandas and porticos. “The Casino is a beautiful old building and there’s a little gazebo out back that overlooks a small pond,” Adamo says. “If you’re a Cinderella type you can have horse drawn carriages bring you up to it.”

Those visiting Providence will not want to miss the city’s signature arts event, WaterFire, with over 80 installations of braziers burning along the river from May to October. A venue such as the high-end waterfront restaurant, Café Nuovo, offers stunning views of WaterFire and a lovely rotunda that is perfect for smaller weddings or rehearsal dinners.

Event Planner Jessica Granatiero of The Savory Affair says cookie-cutter weddings are out of vogue. In recent years, couples are more interested in choosing a reception venue that is a unique space with plenty of character that reflects the personality of the bride and groom.
“The Dorrance is a really cool space,” she says. “Years ago, in the early 1900’s it used to be a working bank. It has two floors and the top floor is a mezzanine level. It’s beautifully ornate and they actually still have the old vault which can be used for a variety of purposes.”

Art lovers can plan a wedding at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. Those looking for a European flair can exchange vows or take a post-wedding ride on an authentic Venetian gondola courtesy of La Gondola. The romantic possibilities are truly endless.

Since all destination weddings usually involve travel for guests, Granatiero suggests planning your day around fun local events, such as the eat drink RI food festival in the spring or Providence Cocktail Week, a fun festival that promotes the art of vintage cocktails in the fall.

In addition to the amazing food culture offered by local restaurants and caterers, a hot new trend in Providence that is growing in popularity is food trucks. They are interesting for guests to visit before or after the wedding, but they are also able to go pretty much anywhere, making them an added snack option at receptions.

“Providence is fun,” Granatiero says. “It has unique venue spaces that have a lot of great history and there are a lot of fun things going on year round.”

Providence Opener

Clockwise from top left: Newlyweds celebrate at the Renaissance Providence Downtown Hotel (Photo by Sara Zarrella); Entrance to the Hotel Providence; Dramatic wedding decor at the Omni Providence Hotel; the lobby at the Renaissance Providence Downtown; A gondola ride in the city (Photo by Marianne Lee).

Want more city insight? Here are a few wedding venues in the area:

FOR SOMETHING A LITTLE DIFFERENT…

Providence Opener_Ledgemont CC

Ledgemont Country Club: 131 Brown Ave., Seekonk; 508-761-6600
Whether you choose a grand affair or casual celebration by the pool, Ledgemont promises to make your wedding highly personalized to your taste and vision. Ballroom can accommodate up to 200 guests.

FOR AN ELEGANT PLACE TO STAY…

These hotels offer a place to stay and a place to wed in one:

OMNI PROVIDENCE HOTEL
One West Exchange St.
401-598-8000

RENAISSANCE PROVIDENCE DOWNTOWN HOTEL
5 Avenue of the Arts
401-919-5000

PROVIDENCE MARRIOTT DOWNTOWN
1 Orms St.
401-272-2400

HILTON PROVIDENCE
21 Atwells Ave.
401-831-3900

HOTEL PROVIDENCE

139 Mathewson St.
401-861-8000

HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS: wed in any one of these true city classics…

Providence opener_Hilton Providence tablescape

A reception set-up at the Hilton Providence.

Providence Biltmore (11 Dorrance St.; 401-421-0700): Built in the “Roaring Twenties,” this Gatsby-esque historic hotel offers glamour at the heart of historic downtown Providence.

Providence Public Library (150 Empire St.; 401-455-80000: A great place to explore archives and architecture. The library is also available for private events (weddings included!), catered exclusively by Russell Morin Fine Catering.

Governor Henry Lippitt House (199 Hope St.; 401-453-0688): This Governor’s mansion, built c. 1865, features Renaissance Revival details and Italian Palazzo elements, including marble statues, colorful stained glass windows and ornately carved woodwork.

The Aldrich House (110 Benevolent St.; 401-331-8575, Ext. 149): Part of the Rhode Island Historical Society, this city estate was designed in 1822 for custom’s officer Robert S. Burroughs, offering two sitting rooms, a reception area, full kitchen, ballroom and spacious grounds.

Casino at Roger Williams Park (1000 Elmwood Ave.; 401-941-5640)  A landmark Colonial Revival mansion, the Casino, built in 1896, is a picture-perfect photo locale, complete with brick exterior, verandas and Ionic columns.

 Article published in Southern New England Wedding Destination magazine’s 2013 issue.

Visit our resource page for a list of more wedding venues in Providence, RI.

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