Dreaming of a European destination wedding?
Have you ever, at any point in your wedding planning journey, considered if maybe a destination wedding in Europe would be possible for you? Maybe you envision raising a glass of locally made wine, toasting to your love under the Tuscan sun. Or dancing the night away with sparkling stars floating over the Aegean Sea as your guests spin round and round yelling “OPA!” on a seaside cliff in Greece. Or making the walk to your future spouse with a string quartet playing as you glide through an English garden. Or promising forever to one another as the Eiffel tower lights up in the distance behind you.
A European destination wedding is something many, many of my clients dream of….but they know it’s just not possible, for a myriad of reasons. Maybe Grandma is just too old to make the journey, or maybe your sister will be 9 months pregnant on your wedding day, or maybe you just know that all 200 guests could never make it and you can’t imagine not having your favorite people beside you.
I get it. I was there myself once, even before I was a film and digital wedding photographer, dreaming and wondering if I could somehow convince my friends and family to meet me in Europe as I said “I do” to my husband. Spoiler alert: I didn’t do the destination thing either.
But just because you’re not going to be able to get married in Europe doesn’t mean you can’t find the vibe you are looking for here at a wedding venue in New England. The states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont have some beautiful venues that really mimic the architecture and view in European wedding venues.
Below is a list of my top 5 favorite wedding venues with a European vibe on the East Coast, most of which are all in Connecticut, except for the last one that is in Rhode Island.
Arguably the most European of all the New England wedding venues, Eolia Mansion at Harkness State Park is the creme de la creme if you’re wanting your guests to feel transported into a different time period.
With it’s lush garden and jaw dropping facade, Eolia Mansion is exquisite and breathtaking. No matter what time of year or season you get married, the architecture and masonry of the mansion itself, as well as the pergola area, is a sight to behold. In the Summer months, the sunken garden is lush with a variety of flowers, and year round you’ll have the stunning view of the Long Island Sound.
The inside of Eolia Mansion is reason enough to get married there with towering ceilings, beautiful archways, a stunning parlor for the girls to get dressed, and an adorable three-season room that usually is set up for desserts.
If you love Downton Abbey and dream of a wedding set in a place like that, Eolia may be the perfect wedding venue for your nuptials.
At just seven minutes from my home in Connecticut, Wadsworth Mansion is a personal favorite to photograph at. As a high-end, luxury photographer, I never tire of this venue because it is so classic and timeless. Hidden behind the trees, you’re guests will be stunned and have their breaths taken away as they drive up the lengthy tree-lined driveway that leads to the mansion. In Spring, those trees are flowering, in Summer they are full and lush, and in the Autumn they sparkle like fire in the sky.
The exterior of the venue is stunning – both in the front and in the back. The front of the mansion will wow your guests as they walk up the driveway and are met with towering pillars that uphold the entrance. With the facade made of all an off-white plaster-type material, you can be sure your photos will look classic and timeless for years and years to come.
Inside the mansion holds one of my favorite getting-ready spaces of all New England. The tall ceilings that are rounded and covered in plaster make for the perfect visual backdrop as you put on your gown. And lastly, there is no other place in New England that has a sprawling lawn like Wadsworth Mansion does.
Set back off the coast of the Long Island sound, the Branford House is a masonry dream with its beautiful grey-blue stone, reminding you of a castle you would find on a seaside bluff in Scotland.
The interior of Branford House in Groton, Connecticut consists of rich, dark wood and a large staircase that cascades into the main foyer. This foyer can be used as your ceremony backdrop in the case of inclement weather, as a dance floor, or my preferred way of putting a long family style table for the bridal party. Regardless, your guests will be awestruck as they make their way inside and are treated like royalty.
Lord Thompson Manor
Lord Thompson Manor gives major French Chateau vibes. If you envision yourself walking down the aisle to a French quartet playing a classic song, a lush sunken garden as your backdrop, then this East coast wedding venue might be for you.
Lord Thompson Manor is a fantastic Connecticut wedding venue for clients who have friends and family traveling in for their weddings because you get it for the entire weekend, and they have places for your bridal party to stat on sight. The cottage for the girls is right around the corner and is a beautiful, all white, Summer-house feel cottage. The gentlemen usually stay at the manor, where the interior is full of rich tones and dark wood.
The exterior of Lord Thompson Manor is covered in beautiful ivy, the grounds impeccably cared for by the owners, Jackie and Andrew. You’ll have a variety of options for your cocktail location, and the dining rooms inside are always decorated exquisitely by Jackie herself.
Nestled in the heart of Newport, Rhode Island, Bois Dorè is a newer venue that boasts a variety of beautiful rooms for your wedding day, as well as a palace for your bridal party to stay on site. As you drive through the iron gates and make your way to the mansion, you will be greeted by a driveway lined with stunning and unique trees.
During the Summer months, the gardens of Bois Dorè are brimming with colorful flowers and between that and the seaside breeze, the smells at Bois Dorè will delight you and your guests.