Whether it’s on a faraway tropical island, at a secluded wine country villa or at a seaside manse, weddings at signature private properties top the charts for couples tying the knot—and we’re not just talking about celebrities.
You’ve visited a lot of potential wedding venues, and the private estate you’re considering for your Big Day has it all: it’s gorgeous, romantic, and, of course, totally private—truly your dream location! However, while it’s great to get swept away by the beauty of the place, make sure you’re aware of all the extras you’ll need to provide to turn your vision into reality.
A private estate can be a fantastic backdrop to the wedding of your dreams, but before you book one be sure to ask a few important questions first.
What makes a place “romantic” is different for every bride. To some, it’s a rustic barn or country estate…to others it’s a seaside resort or historic mansion with Old World charm. What do you envision? Here’s a peek at 10 of the country’s most romantic wedding venues.
Connecticut’s coastline makes an irresistible backdrop for events. Each of these waterfront wedding venues has its own style, but all of them possess the unique quality that being on the water bestows.
Sparkling fountains, waterfalls and reflecting ponds…acres of blooming rose bushes…quaint bridges and graceful statuary—these are just some of the things that make gardens so irresistible. If a romantic outdoor celebration is what you have in mind, here are a few of the best garden wedding venues from coast to coast.
I’m a lover of all things DIY, and a graphic designer with a teensy addiction to paper crafting. And I’m also a bride, so naturally I’m incorporating my obsession into my wedding details. One challenge came when my fiancé, Dale, and I wanted to come up with a creative way to ask our bridesmaids and groomsmen to stand up with us at our wedding. We felt that a DIY project would add a personal touch to let them know how much more meaningful our day would be if our “besties” were right beside us.
With so many charming places to get married in Connecticut, it’s hard to choose favorites! Offering a mix of options that include wineries, historic buildings, a resort and a farm, here are 10 of the state’s best wedding venues in no particular order.
Looking for an out-of-the-ordinary place to host your wedding? From a lakeside villa to a funky, fun restaurant with world-class comfort food, Austin is home to quite a few unique venues. Here are just a few of them to explore!
If you have your heart set on getting married in the great outdoors, then you’ll want to check out Washington’s great outdoor wedding venues! There are so many options to choose from: You can celebrate on the water, overlooking the water, in a garden, on a ranch or farm…. We promise you: At all the venues described below, Mother Nature is definitely front and center.
Chicago is fortunate to have a wealth of outdoor wedding venues. Want to get married in a gorgeous garden? On a yacht? At a historic private estate? Here are just a few of the al fresco ceremony and reception options you’ll find in and around the Windy City.
The Hill Country surrounding Austin may be known for its gorgeous scenery and thriving wine industry, but it’s also a mecca for rustic weddings. Whether you’re planning a down-home celebration with a casual barbecue or a cowgirl-chic bash with a silver-and-crystal reception, you’ll find the the natural beauty of the region on display at all of these venues.
Elegant, romantic and very photogenic, Austin’s mansions are popular wedding venues for good reason. There’s definitely something special about saying “I do” beneath a 100-year-old oak or sipping champagne on a shady veranda. Host your celebration at one of these historic places and you and your guests will be transported back to a more genteel time.
There are so many ways to get married al fresco, and Maryland’s outdoor wedding venues run the gamut. From waterfront hotels and museums to mansions, farms and yachts, this state is blessed with a multitude of open-air options. Here are a few you might want to check out!
If you want to get married in a setting that’s a bit more relaxed than Chicago proper but still close to the city, check out these wedding venues in the West Chicago suburbs. See our full list of West Chicago wedding locations…or, expand your search to the entire Chicago area!
With its prime oceanfront location, historic Art Deco district, trendy South Beach nightlife and multicultural flavors, Miami is a premier wedding destination as well as a top vacation hotspot. This city is truly a great choice if you want to have a beach ceremony, and here’s a list of some of the amazing places where you can not only say “I do” on the sand but also host an incredible reception.
If you want your wedding to have a taste of the tropics, head for Fort Lauderdale. Not only will you find pristine beaches, swaying palm trees and nonstop sun, the town boasts an average temperature of 77 blissful degrees year-round! Honeymooning from here is a snap, too, because the city’s Port Everglades is one of the busiest cruise-ship ports in the world. But before you dash off to the Caribbean, Mexico or another destination, consider spending some quality time with your new spouse at one of the following fabulous Fort Lauderdale wedding venues where you can tie the knot and have an amazing vacation.
Spectacular during the day and positively electric at night, the New York City skyline is famously photogenic. So why not make it part of your own wedding—not to mention your wedding album! If you’re looking for a place that will bring New York cityscape views to your celebration, here are some venues to check out.
If you’re wondering why we’re including a brief item about recycling it’s because parties and special events often generate recyclable materials and leftover food that the bride and groom don’t want to take home. Nowadays, you and the caterer can feel good by donating the excess, and recycling plastic bottles, glass, metal and paper. An added benefit is that food donations are tax deductible for either you or the caterer. And if you recycle, the cost for extra garbage containers (bins) can be eliminated or reduced.
Want to host your big day in a historic ballroom? Perhaps you’re leaning toward industrial chic…or maybe you’ve got your heart set on a gorgeous garden. If it’s an out-of-the-ordinary place you have in mind, Portland is home to some truly unique wedding venues. Here are just a few for your exploring pleasure…
Established in 1843, Portland has a rich past that’s been beautifully preserved in a variety of unique historic buildings. Fortunately for us, many of these architectural gems now host weddings and other special events. And whether you’re a fan of Victorian splendor, industrial chic or European flair, each of the following venues offers an opportunity to step back in time.
Seattle is famous for many things—the Space Needle, coffee (Starbucks originated here!), the movie Sleepless in Seattle, and Pike Place Market to name a few. But this vibrant port city is also a watery wonderland, with up-close views of Puget Sound, Elliott Bay, and Lake Washington. If you’d like some gorgeous liquid scenery to be part of your celebration, check out these popular Seattle waterfront wedding venues.
Seattle has so much more going for it than the Space Needle—especially when it comes to unique wedding venues. If you’re looking for an interesting place to tie the knot (and host a great party!), consider these out-of-the-ordinary locations.
What makes an event venue special? It could be any number of things, like a spectacular view, remarkable architecture, gorgeous gardens or topnotch cuisine. Northern New Jersey happens to have a selection of unique wedding locations, all of which offer one or more elements that make them exceptional. Check them out—you may discover one that fits your wedding vision to a T.
Who knew that Northern New Jersey is home to so many historic—and amazing—wedding venues? Each of the locations listed below comes with an interesting (or even notorious!) past, along with spectacular architecture and equally stunning event spaces. If you truly want a fairy-tale Big Day, visit any or all of these fabulous places. Hey, when your choices include mansions, a castle and a château you can’t go wrong.
Planning a rehearsal dinner in the DC Metro Area? The DMV provides a wealth of venue options! Want to dine amidst historic surroundings? In an elegant hotel? On the water? These venues offer some interesting choices.
Yes, it is possible to have an affordable Manhattan wedding. The following venues offer options that accommodate a wide range of budgets, and don’t forget: If you’re flexible with your date and can host your event on a weekday, Sunday or during an off-peak time, you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck.
There’s a reason so many couples opt to tie the knot in Upstate New York. When you celebrate in the Catskills, you’re surrounded by Mother Nature in a setting that’s tranquil, beautiful, and about as “un-city” as you can get. Here are some Catskills wedding venues you might want to explore.
Chicago is a diner’s paradise, offering some of the best places to eat in the country. This is great news if you’re planning a rehearsal dinner, because you’ll have plenty of choices. Here’s an enticing selection of the city’s restaurants—some are casual and some are more upscale, but all are happy to host your special event.
Next to playing with my dogs and sharing a chocolate soufflé with my husband, browsing wedding dresses is one of my favorite pastimes. Are you with me on this? I thought so. Then believe me when I say that one of the best ways to indulge your fashion passion is by attending a bridal trunk show.
Does it seem like everyone you know these days is a self-confessed Foodie? Satisfying the culinary expectations of the modern wedding guest can be little bit intimidating. But we have some good news: Current trends in wedding cuisine emphasize the local and the interesting (as opposed to the foreign and the fancy.)
Often called the “Heart of the Arts” by locals, Midtown Atlanta is home to a wealth of cultural attractions (museums, the symphony, theaters) as well as some of the city’s most iconic and historic buildings. With so much to offer, it’s an exciting place to host a wedding. Here are 10 venues that will help you tap into the area’s energetic vibe (listed in no particular order).
If an outdoor ceremony or reception is at the top of your wedding “must have” list, Atlanta offers a wide range of options.From mansions and private estates to historic landmarks and restaurants, here are some of the best places in and around the city for an al fresco celebration.
Established almost 200 years ago, Atlanta is home to quite a few mansions that reflect its history. And fortunately for couples who want to experience the charmed lifestyle of a bygone era, many of them are available for weddings. Here’s a selection of beautifully preserved venues where you can get a delicious taste of the past.
If your wedding fantasy has you getting married at a fairytale place, then you should definitely check out this selection of Boston Area mansions, estates and manor houses. They’re all within a short drive from Boston, and most give you exclusive use of the property during your event so you can have your own private domain for a day!
Waterfront weddings offer something extra—a refreshing tang in the air…expansive harbor, river, or cityscape views…in some cases even the opportunity to leave terra firma altogether and host your celebration afloat. Boston Harbor and the Charles River are home to many wedding venues that put you close to or on the water, click here to see a selection worth exploring.
Your rehearsal dinner is an opportunity to bring close friends and family together in a more informal way than during your wedding, and an Italian Restaurant can provide the perfect combination of ambiance and cuisine. The setting is often relaxed, and dishes can be served family style. Plus, Italian food is so popular it’s easy to include menu items that will satisfy all your guests. Check out these Bay Area Italian restaurants.
This super-chic Atlanta neighborhood is an upscale destination for fine dining, luxury shopping, art galleries, museums, and much more. Buckhead not only gives visitors an opportunity to experience the good life, it’s home to some of Georgia’s finest wedding and special event venues. Here are 8 of the area’s best.
When it comes to scenery, wedding venues in Georgia have a lot to offer. Whether you envision a down-home country celebration or a black-tie affair, there’s an authentic barn, charming farmhouse or historic home below that will fit the style of your event.
What’s so great about wedding venues in Boston? Everything! The range of options is amazing, from waterfront hotels and museums to a rooftop aerie and a fleet of tall ships. Here’s a selection of some of the city’s most interesting locations to tie the knot.
Trees are transformative: They can beautify a landscape, elevate the spirit, and bring nature into your wedding. All of these venues feature forest views, so you’ll be accompanied by trees no matter which place you pick.
Massachusetts offers some exceptional—and scenic!—country wedding venues. Whether you envision an informal celebration in a rustic barn or farmhouse or a black-tie affair in a historic inn, you’ll find a wedding location that fits the style of your event.
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Dear Here Comes The Guide: My fiance and I are considering a destination wedding somewhere in California. We aren’t sure what the expectations are in terms of covering the costs of our guests. Also, what do you think is the best place for a California destination wedding? Thanks!—Janet O., Clackamas, Oregon
Chicago is not only the most visited city in the Midwest, it’s one of the most dynamic cities on the planet. From its fabulous parks and museums to its world-class dining, shopping, entertainment and hotels, it has everything you (and your guests!) could want—including a long list of amazing wedding and special event venues.
San Francisco is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, which makes it a much sought-after setting for both local and destination weddings. And although it has a reputation for being pricey, there are quite a few affordable venues where you can host your event.
Dear Here Comes The Guide: We are planning a fairly upscale and costly wedding for our daughter. It is a destination wedding for our guests, but more local for the groom side. Therefore, our guests are not as likely to attend as the groom side. Do we have to split the guest list fifty-fifty? My thoughts are that we should have a thirty-seventy, or forty-sixty split. We are paying for the whole thing. What is the norm?
Bridal fairs offer an efficient way to review what’s in the marketplace—you can check out florists and photographers, sample the wares of cake makers and listen to the music of a variety of DJs. See videos of some bridal shows.
You can trust the wedding professionals on Here Comes The Guide. We don’t just let anyone get a listing on our website. We’re choosy. Find out why we’d recommend these wedding vendors to our sisters and friends.
My hands-down honeymoon pick (and I’ve thought about this a lot over the years, so trust me on this one!) is San Diego’s L’Auberge Del Mar. This place has all the amenities of one of those big-name resorts, but with an intimate, boutique hotel feel that I just love.
If you’re like me, you may not want to lift a finger on your honeymoon, except to order room service. The St Regis, Monarch Beach will help honeymooners accomplish just that. It’s the perfect destination for a honeymoon away from it all.
Right across the Coronado bridge is one of the most luxurious island resorts I’ve ever seen—the historic Hotel Del Coronado. This immense, Victorian-style hotel, capped with its iconic red turrets and white balconies, spans Coronado Central Beach.
When asked where my dream honeymoon would be in California I immediately knew the destination, The Carneros Inn in the Napa/Sonoma Valley Wine Country.
There’s something glamorous about getting all dressed up to dine alongside the massive fireplaces of one of these lodges. It’s a delicious counterpoint after an exhausting and exhilarating day of hiking in a magnificent park.
I fantasize about The Willows Historic Inn, a bed and breakfast steeped in the glamour of a bygone era. I’m attracted to the quiet and intimacy of this boutique hideaway that’s walking distance to town but in its own world atop a view-filled bluff.
The Hotel Kabuki is literally a zen compound in the heart of Japantown, San Francisco. The entire hotel was revamped in 2007, revealing a new serene, harmonious aesthetic that is reminiscent of a Japanese teahouse or a meditation garden.
Many of you received a very special gift this recent holiday season, and it’s sparkling on the ring finger of your left hand! If you’re like me, the first thing you wanted to do when he popped the question (after calling your BFF and Mom) was to go window shopping for your wedding dress. Just to look around and see what’s out there. We wholeheartedly encourage that pastime!
It was one of the few weekend getaways when I yearned for a lover. Yet even without one I still managed to be seduced—by Eagle Island, a private slice of unspoiled nature and an idyllic honeymoon destination 60 miles south of Savannah, accessible only by boat from sleepy Darien on Georgia’s coast.
1. Work out your budget and establish your top priorities—where to save/where to splurge. 2. Start browsing bridal blogs and magazines to identify your wedding style and color palette.
Four talented cakeries conquer tiers and tears in their efforts to produce the finest confectionary masterpieces that will take center stage at wedding receptions all over the country. From a Chicago wedding cake designed to look like stacked tea cups to a Southern California wedding cake with koi fish sculpted out of frosting, if you can dream it, these cake designers can make it.
The newest addition to WE-TV’s Wedding Sunday is “Girl Meets Gown,” an adorable show that profiles brides of all sizes and budgets shopping for their wedding dresses at Stardust, a Texas bridal salon. My favorite part? The tears of joy that signal, “It’s the one!”
Wedding budgets may be shrinking these days, but the number of tasks on a wedding to-do list never does. This video showcases one of our Certified By The Guide wedding planners, Amber Events, as she works her wedding magic.
Dear Here Comes The Guide: I had a destination wedding. Should I send a thank-you note to those guests that came to the wedding, but did not buy us a gift?
Thanks for your help,—Pauline M., Chicago, IL
Hosting a booth at a bridal fair isn’t just a good way to take a break from the office; it’s also a chance to meet our Guide Brides (and Grooms!) face to face, answer their burning wedding questions and hand out copies of our current Here Comes The Guide books along with our pretty pink bags.
In the name of that all-important wedding budget (and in the tradition of convenient combo products offered all across America!) what about one item that gives you both class and sass in one neat package? The answer is in the wedding transportation.
When the euphoria of the engagement begins to fade, you're struck by a flutter of panic—"I need to plan the wedding!" Bridal fairs are actually the most convenient way to learn about a myriad of event options. Here are some tips of making the most of a bridal fair.
His newest L.A. restaurant reflects the chef’s warm personality and culinary style—traditional Italian cuisine infused with a modern touch.
Leave it to Vera to bring lace into the 21st century, as she does so beautifully with her “Bouquet” wedding dress. Marrying the ethereal fabric to a modern silhouette, she adds a bold fillip to the waistline: A huge bow that is anything but demure. Read on for more details as Vera Wang goes “Behind the Dress.”
While the thought of marriage can be compelling, the headiest and most exciting part of a love story is always the proposal. That instant when you both just know. Whoever does the asking, the sheer thrill of being desired can be positively intoxicating, like the beginning of a new love affair; only this time with the added comfort and security of commitment.
In the first flush of joy after your engagement, you’ll probably begin browsing magazines and wedding websites…and soon feel buried by a blizzard of checklists and a daunting array of decisions. That’s when you and your fiancé might want to think about hiring a professional wedding planner.
We’ve got connections—and we’re passing along the benefits to you, dear Guide Brides. Print the PDF below, and you’ll have two free passes to any of the 2012 Festival of Brides, the Upscale Bridal Shows.
You’d think that working from a budget would be obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people, especially brides and grooms, are unrealistic about what they can afford. Part of the problem is that most people aren’t very experienced with event budgeting and don’t know how to estimate what locations, products and services will ultimately cost.
Planning a green wedding? Check out designer Hanna Hartnell as she goes for the green at her eco-friendly bridal salon.
As a recent bride, I’m still addicted to all those fun wedding TV shows I watched during my wedding planning, like David Tutera’s “My Fair Wedding” and even “Bridezillas” (just to keep my own bridal ego in check!). So I’m excited about the new season of “Platinum Weddings,” and want to share this sneak peak with you.
My colleague Jan invites me to spend the upcoming weekend with her at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, where she’ll be staying while profiling new locations for Here Comes The Guide. I jump at the chance for some quality Ritz time. It’s a well-known fact around the office that I ♥ the Ritzes. (What can I say? I have a soft spot for superior customer service and a swanky setting!)
Wedding designers have taken their cue from the sleek and chic First Lady, Michelle Obama. This year, designers got creative with uniquely beautiful interpretations of that now famous one-shoulder adornment. Here are some of our favorites from both seasons:
Yes, you will save money by hiring the cheapest vendors you can find or doing things yourself. But the old adage, “You get what you pay for,” really comes into play here. Skimp on services and you could end up paying a big price anyway. More info on saving yourself some headaches.
Think about it: rehearsal dinners include a high concentration of people you love who have gathered in your honor. So why not relax and let your hair down? With very little effort, you can assemble a pre-wedding event that provides some much-needed calm before the busy storm of your wedding weekend. Learn how to make the most of your rehearsal dinner.
Your friend is getting married and there’s only one way to celebrate—host a bachelorette party starring martinis and good friends. It’s not only her last night out as a single girl, it’s also a way to quit worrying about that bridesmaid dress you’ll be wearing for the big day. Throw the bride a party and show all your friends a good time to send her off in style!
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview celebrity wedding planner David Tutera at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena. Even though he’s worked on events with such VIPs as Jennifer Lopez and Vice President Al Gore, I was impressed by his enthusiasm for helping non-famous brides have equally stellar weddings.
These days, brides want wedding flowers that exude an authentic, down-to-earth feeling. Think less showy and much more “real.”
Your wedding invitations are more than just functional; they’re a formal announcement of your intentions. So since you’re going to use the U.S. Post Office to send out your invitations, thank-you notes and sundry other correspondence, why not get creative with it? Thanks to modern technology, you can.
Make it clear that this is your wedding, yet you also want to make your families’ customs a part of your day. If they’re not 100% happy with your choices, don’t sweat it. The important thing is you tried, and they’ll probably come around once they see the awesome party you’ve put together.
My father is Middle Eastern, my mother hails from Louisiana’s Cajun country, and I’m proud to say that both cultures have always been an integral part of who I am. I can make hummus and shrimp gumbo pretty darn well, and I can swear in Arabic and Cajun French if the need arises. We’re also Texans, so that means we all can whip up a mean barbecue, too. When I became engaged to Jon, who has Nordic and German roots, we just sprinkled a few more ingredients into our family’s melting pot.
There’s another annual tradition right around Valentine’s Day besides flowers and chocolate hearts—exclusive celebrity giveaway parties called “gift suites.” At these high-profile events, fashion entrepreneurs and high-end product purveyors lavish entertainment VIPS with bagfuls of goodies. This is where trends are set, styles take off and specialty items are given two thumbs up.
Salty air and beach breezes call for a soft, relaxed wedding hairstyle that looks casual, yet polished. This romantic up-do is a particularly smart choice; what with ocean mist or humid conditions, who wants to struggle to maintain sleek, straight hair?
A glossary of common printing terms.
The planets were aligned when San Francisco residents Chris and Nicole Spence met via online dating in 2004. But the sun and the moon never rose brighter over the verdant Tuscan countryside than when the two said their vows at 500-year-old Villa Buonvisi, a private estate in quaint Lucca, Italy.
While I’ve lived in the Bay Area for 30 years, I took my very first trip to Lake County only recently when I rented a house on Clearlake for a much-needed family vacation. Now that I’ve finally visited, though, I’m already starting to wonder when I can return to this peaceful region north of the wine country. Of course I managed to scout out some ideal wedding ceremony, reception and rehearsal dinner sites while there. A couple of my new favorite places:
I rarely go to weddings (maybe it’s because most of my social circle is either already married or never going to be), but a year ago a friend invited me to one.
As my friend’s date I wasn’t obligated to bring a gift, but I’d I’d been told the bride and groom liked to cook, so I got them a few of my favorite kitchen gadgets from Sur La Table as a wedding present. I put my present on a table with dozens of other gifts, and hoped that it wouldn’t get lost in the pile.
Through the front door swooped the lovely staff from Tarpy’s Roadhouse, there to make our dinner. But, more than that, they took care of us. They made us tea, they served us in front of the TV so we could watch Glee and they whipped up fantastic, comforting food: a salad with apples, pecans and gorgonzola, steak and garlic mashed potatoes, Chilean Sea Bass with a mango relish and, finally, strawberry shortcake—yum!!!
You’ve done it—found “the dress.” Now it’s time to pull the rest of your look together. Before you proceed, it is useful to identify which shade of white your dress really is. (This article should help.) Then you can begin to add the finishing touches like jewelry, shoes, and hair accessories.
It’s housekeeping time at Here Comes The Guide! We’ve reorganized our website a bit. If you’ve been reading our blog (thank you!), you’ll now find all our newest stuff over in Find Ideas, our online guidebook of wedding ideas, how-to’s, advice and lists of questions to ask prospective locations and vendors.
I paid $220 for my wedding dress. My colleague Jennifer? Got hers for $125. Since we were both footing the bill for our own weddings, there was precious little in the budget for our gowns (I had to make sure there were enough offerings at the pasta bar to satisfy my Italian relatives!). We both looked lovely, by the way, even without spending 2 two months’ rent on our wedding attire. Here are some of our dress-shopping secrets:
A Moveable Feast promises exactly what its company name implies. This is not your everyday catering company. Don’t believe me? Just 24 hours after returning to the States from my own adventure in Tuscany and Rome, I, along with the rest of the Here Comes The Guide ladies, had the privilege of being treated to Chef Michael’s 5-course culinary adventure (as he so dryly referred to it), along with 12 different appetizers and dessert. (Chocolate and sea salt, anyone?)
Remember Rami Kashou, the runner-up fashion designer in Project Runway Season 4? He was all about “the art of draping,” and occasionally took some flack from the judges for the overuse of his signature style. Well maybe Rami has a future in bridal, because the Goddess of Gown trends, Vera Wang, features draping in one of her romantic 2010 creations, “Dinah.”