Setting The Scene: Boston, South Shore and South Coast Wedding Venues

Reception venues to complement your couple personality

By Jessica Bowne

You have pictured this moment your entire life: the music starts, your names are called as a married couple for the first time and you enter into your wedding reception to an emotional crowd of friends and family on their feet, applauding. Finding the right reception space can be daunting, especially when it is a joint decision, but picking the right spot for your day can simply mean choosing what makes you the most comfortable as a couple.

From sea to city to barn and everything in between, these reception spots in Boston and on the South Shore and South Coast have something to offer everyone.

THE CHARLES HOTEL

Dream of a ballroom wedding where guests can move seamlessly from one space to the next? Wedding receptions at The Charles Hotel, set right off Harvard Square, can host up to 300 guests in over 18,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. Couples have an extensive list of fine culinary options to choose from when deciding on their wedding menu, whether it is lobster bisque to start and then on to a cod dish or a duet entrée of petite filet mignon with seared sea scallops.

DUXBURY BAY MARITIME SCHOOL

Get back to the sea at this on-the-bay reception hall. The 2,400-square-foot Clifford Hall sits on the second floor of the Duxbury Bay Maritime School’s Smith Building and has 600 square feet of deck space overlooking Duxbury Bay. Opt to host cocktail hour on the front porch overlooking the water before heading into the hall for a seated dinner of up to 150 people before dancing the night away.

INDEPENDENCE HARBOR

Get a personalized experience at this private 20-acre estate. The main reception room fits up to 250 guests and has extensive views of the expansive gardens, a stone fireplace, elevated stage and an inlaid parquet dance floor. Take advantage of the private patio with wicker furniture or the garden gazebo for photos. Couples have a wide range of options for the reception, including specific wedding packages or the more traditional “non-package,” which allows brides and grooms to choose all the details on their own.

NEW ENGLAND AQUARIUM

Say “I do” at this picturesque spot overlooking Boston Harbor with the sound of seals in the background. “The New England Aquarium offers stunning waterfront views and unique access to an iconic and beloved cultural institution to create a truly memorable wedding experience,” says Teri Davidson, director of marketing. The main exhibit gallery (where the 200,000-gallon Giant Ocean Tank sits) can hold up to 325 seated guests for dinner and 800 for a cocktail reception. The west wing gallery, which holds the tank with sharks and stingrays, can host a more intimate dinner for 48. Want to be outside? Opt for the Harbor View Terrace and Tent, which can hold up to 300 guests for a seated dinner and 400 for a cocktail reception.

THE PAVILION AT PINEHILLS GOLF CLUB

The best of land and sea come together at The Pavilion at Pinehills, a reception site that hosts weddings for between 70 and 220 people. After the ceremony, guests will enjoy cocktail hour on the private terrace overlooking the 18-hole golf course before moving into The Pavilion Room for the reception with food by East Bay Grille of Plymouth. The elegant space has vaulted ceilings, exposed wood beams, oversized chandeliers and mahogany Chiavari chairs. Specialty wedding packages include everything from the cake and upgraded linens to a late-night nacho bar.

PLIMOTH PLANTATION

Stroll down the aisle where America’s forefathers once walked at historic Plimoth Plantation’s English Colonial setting. Choose from an outdoor ceremony in the Hornblower Garden, an intimate gathering at the Peabody Pavilion or the Accomack Room or a larger celebration in Gainsborough Hall. Couples can choose from three packages that include a three- or four-course meal or food stations and extras, such as a chocolate fountain or cordial bar.

PUBLICK HOUSE HISTORIC INN

This full-service venue is where history and charm meet a commitment to great cuisine. The 115 rooms on the multi-acre property will allow you and your guests to have an uninterrupted weekend in quaint Sturbridge Village. Choose from packages that include a reception under the outdoor tent with dance floor that can hold up to 220 people or Paige Hall, which can accommodate up to 200 guests.

SHINING TIDES

Couples will want to snag a coveted date at this Mattapoisett estate, a former spacious summer home built at the end of the 19th century that can hold up to 220 people. Wedding parties can book the expanded front porch, the front lawn and beachfront on Mattapoisett Harbor as well as the 20- by 20-foot dance floor from May through October. Couples can even have lawn games set up during the cocktail hour for guests before they move to the porch for the reception.

ZUKAS HILLTOP BARN

Have the venue you want among rolling hills in central Massachusetts and the fine cuisine to match at Zukas Hilltop Barn, a chef-owned and -operated wedding site. The cuisine is a big focus for the team at Zukas and ingredients are sourced from the produce and herb gardens as well as fruit trees and berry bushes on the property. Receptions are held from May through October under a 40- by 100-foot tent strung with tiny white lights. From November through April, wedding receptions are hosted indoors in front of the double-sided fieldstone fireplace.

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