Room with a View
These oceanfront venues reign supreme…
The sea itself is compelling but add the warm memory of a beautiful wedding held near or in view of the shoreline and you have a hit. We compiled the best beachside wedding venues in southern New England that deliver on service and atmosphere, as well as location.
Rhode Island has no shortage of beautiful waterfront settings that offer plenty of opportunities for customizing your day. Warwick’s 70-room, French château-style Aldrich Mansion blends European sensibility with a view of Narragansett Bay. The 75-acre estate, which was built for Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, hosts one event a day to ensure total focus on the bridal party. Aldrich Mansion can hold 230 guests, and an on-site chef helps make preparing the menu a seamless process.
Twenty-five miles away in Newport, The Chanler at Cliff Walk offers unique weddings that are carefully tailored to the bride and groom’s personalities. The hotel’s general manager, Christine Sullivan, and her staff help wedding groups book a sunset sail instead of the traditional rehearsal dinner, which allows guests to see Newport in a different way. Guests can also customize their menu for the entire wedding weekend, with dishes that are special to the couple or remind them of a favorite memory or moment together. Some couples offer their guests lawn games like bocce ball, ladder golf and corn hole for some lighthearted fun during cocktail hour.
“Our intimate size affords us the opportunity to have a wedding take over the property and provides our staff the opportunity to focus on the couple,” says Sullivan. “We don’t have multiple events in a day, so the focus is solely on the one wedding taking place that day or weekend and meeting the specific needs of each bride and groom.”
Close by, the Hyatt Regency Newport has a host of different options that fit every bridal party’s needs. Start with a ceremony at the Newport Harbor Lighthouse, where the Newport Bridge and Newport Harbor provide unrivaled backdrops to the dreamiest of weddings. Afterward, proceed to the Waterfront Pavilion, which seats up to 150 (and is also a great alternative for a rehearsal dinner); the Rose Island Ballroom, with a dance floor, outdoor deck and views of Narragansett Bay; or the 8,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom, which can hold up to 400 guests.
Nearby, OceanCliff offers the opportunity for a large wedding in an intimate waterfront mansion and hotel with 10 acres of lush lawns and 24 guest rooms. The Grand Ballroom, with views of Narragansett Bay and the Newport Bridge, can fit up to 230 guests for the main reception while an adjoining patio is a perfect spot for guests to enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. The tented Upper Deck with bay views is another option that allows for the best of inside and outside parties. One of OceanCliff’s most unique offerings is the Aurora, a 101-foot classic schooner that wedding parties can rent for rehearsal dinners or day-after-wedding fun.
OceanCliff’s sister property, The Regatta Place, is situated on Goat Island Marina. The tented venue can hold 180 people and offers on-site catering and a separate ceremony site.
In Bristol, the Bristol Harbor Inn’s Waterfront Deck can accommodate up to 140 guests and comes with a 30- by 60-foot tent so you don’t have to worry about the weather. The Diman Room seats up to 80 people and the recently restored DeWolf Room has a historic feel to it with wide-plank floors and space for 120 guests.
On Cape Cod, the Sea Crest Beach Hotel in Falmouth has a multitude of options for weddings, from Nauset Center, where rooms can hold up to 180 people, to three ballrooms and the more intimate 60-guest three-season porch. With sweeping views of Buzzards Bay and Old Silver Beach, the Sea Crest allows guests the chance to make a weekend out of the wedding and leave with sand between their toes.
Farther down the Cape, Chatham Bars Inn boasts panoramic sea views from nearly every location on the historic property. Choose from reception sites like the South Lawn, which can host up to 400 guests in a tent, or the Boat House Lawn, which is the perfect location for a ceremony, with its stairway entrance and unique arch facing the ocean. The resort’s most sought-after indoor venue is the Beach House, where the Monomoy Ballroom can be used for a formal reception or after-party. The ballroom’s sound-insulated walls allowing weddings to last as late as 1 a.m. At the resort’s luxurious spa, 600-square-foot spa suites accommodate the bridal party with a private space for a pre-wedding massage before strolling down the aisle.
Also on the Cape, Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club in Brewster has the region’s largest ballroom, the Mansion Ballroom. Or couples can opt for the 2,500-square-foot Linx Pavilion, which is perfect for smaller weddings (80 to 100 people). For those desiring classical appeal and an intimate setting, the original mansion, which was built in 1912 and is on the National Register of Historic Places, suits weddings of up to 50 people. Have a larger party but still want that historic feeling? Plan for a tented reception on the lawn, under the linden trees with the mansion and carriage house as picturesque backdrops.
For true Cape Cod ambience, host your wedding at Harwich Port’s 20-room Inn on the Beach overlooking Nantucket Sound. Guests (and couples) will enjoy the inn’s private beach, chaise lounges and hammocks set up in the sand. Fly a kite, play volleyball or collect seashells during your wedding weekend. The outdoor patios and deck can hold up to 80 people for the ceremony or a casual cocktail reception, and you can chose a more formal reception or clambake on the beach.
At the tip of the Cape, the Harbor Hotel in Provincetown represents prime waterfront space for wedding receptions. Couples can chose either the lounge area, which holds up to 150 guests and offers plated and buffet-style dinners (its floor-to-ceiling glass doors open towards Provincetown Bay), or a tent that accommodates up to 250 people in the courtyard near the outdoor pool and Cabana Bar. The Harbor Hotel’s 129 rooms, including 10 suites, make staying on the property an easy option for guests. Who would say no to waking up to the sound of waves crashing on the beach?
Off Cape, but still in Massachusetts, White Cliffs Country Club in Plymouth has a tent that can hold 220 people and connects with the Bay Room, used for dancing. It’s situated on a 175-foot cliff overlooking Cape Cod Bay. During warm weather, the gazebo is an ideal place for outdoor ceremonies, while off-season weddings take place inside without sacrificing any water views. A new addition to the country club, a “funicular” (an elevator) takes bridal parties down to the private beach. Weddings are only open to members, but social memberships can be purchased for a one-time fee of $250.
In Mattapoisett, Shining Tides, a former summer home built at the end of the 19th-century, effortlessly blends history and refined elegance. For receptions, wedding parties and guests have access to the newly expanded front porch, the front lawn, the beachfront on Mattapoisett Harbor and the 20- by 20-foot dance floor.
The Madison Beach Hotel on Long Island Sound in Connecticut is a seaside resort with 32 guest rooms. The hotel staff takes a comprehensive but relaxed approach to weddings. “A typical wedding for us means yoga on the beach the morning of the wedding for the girls, lunch for the groomsmen in Spinnaker Lounge and a couple’s massage the morning after,” says Libby Rutty, director of catering for weddings and special events. Most couples have their reception in the ballroom, with a dance floor that has room for 150 guests. “If the weather does not cooperate, our ceremonies take place in a separate room inside overlooking the water, with a covered porch and lounge for cocktails. Some couples opt for cocktail hour on the Grassy Strip, the lawn by the dunes.”
Whether celebrating your wedding in Massachusetts, Rhode Island or Connecticut southern New England’s varied array of seaside ceremony and reception venues are sure to please.
(This article originally appeared in the 2015 edition of Southern New England Weddings, written by Jessica Laniewski)