Weddings at Historic Sites

Thank goodness it’s summer, which means a few months without homework! And it’s wedding season. Some of the most important considerations in choosing a ceremony/reception location (to me) are: 1) that it’s historic, 2) that it’s not a typical sit-eat-dance ballroom setting, 3) that it’s in beautiful Vermont – or where you’d want to get married, 4) that it’s not too far away so we can actually meet with the necessary vendors, etc. for planning, 5) that poor weather will not ruin anything, and of course 6) that it’s within our budget. Maybe it’s because I’m letting the preservationist in me take over (okay, and the budget), but most places just do not fit with everyone.

So, fellow preservationists and those attached to preservationists, how did you go about choosing a wedding location? Did it have to be historic? Did you make sure to choose a venue that is part of a non-profit? What restrictions did you have? Or, did a historic venue not matter for your wedding? I did not spend my childhood dreaming of my fairytale wedding; I must have started once I uncovered my love of historic preservation. And thus, I am finding the task of choosing the perfect place to be very difficult, even with the beautiful inns and barns throughout the state.

Well I bring up this atypical subject on PiP to ask for advice from fellow wedding planner preservationists. And just for some fun stories about planning, venues, decisions, and the actual day. How did preservation fit into your wedding? Please share; I’d love to hear. Or, what would you do? Plan a summer wedding.

Of course, flamingos will be involved in our wedding.

4 thoughts on “Weddings at Historic Sites

  1. Missy says:

    Ah, how well I remember the frustration of finding a wedding venue. I too had lofty dreams of an historic site as the backdrop for my nuptials, but then reality, availability and budget had other ideas. The site we chose was not historic, but it was at least an adaptive reuse so that appeased my preservationist soul. There were four main reasons why we were unable to have our wedding at an historic site: 1. Budget…um, no I’m not going to shell out over $3K just to have my wedding on your historic grounds, and have that fee not even include a tent or sheltered space! 2. Bathrooms…a lot of our guests (i.e. grandparents) have mobility issues, and in most historic sites the bathrooms were often inaccessible and inconvenient to get to. 3. Flexibility…a lot of sites had set vendors you had to use and many of those vendors weren’t budget friendly or serve the type of food we wanted. 4. No connections…I was still relatively new to Charlottesville when we started planning our wedding and didn’t have connections in the preservation community. Now I know some people with gorgeous houses and property who may have been happy to have us get married on their property. Do you have any connections in Vermont? Other options could to have it in an old library or maybe even a bank would let you use their lobby. Maybe you could get married in one of the barns you documented? In the end the decision came down to what did I really wanted out of my wedding. For me it was to have a crazy fun celebration with my family and friends, and I realized that were that happened didn’t matter as much. That said I may force one of my kids to get married at an historic site so I can live vicariously through them.

    • Kaitlin says:

      Missy, thanks for the thorough response. It is ridiculous how many places want at least $3K for just using the site and nothing else. Then you still have caterers and everything else to think about. Even barns have the nerve to charge that much money! I’ve been looking everywhere and am trying to be creative. My concerns are quite like yours. I’ll keep you posted! And your wedding was tons of fun!! =)

  2. Jen says:

    Did I mention St. Albans Bay to you yet? I was there awhile ago taking photos for Sec 106 stuff, and there is a really cool stone bath house on the waterfront, CCC constructed, and part of a public park. 30-40 mins north of Burlington, potentially affordable, motels by the highway for the guests? I took pics for you but I may not have actually emailed. Coming soon!

  3. Elyse says:

    I know it’s inconvenient for us broke preservationists, but speaking sort of from the “other side” of things, site rentals have become a saving grace for a lot of historic sites and museums who are strapped for cash from all other sources of income, especially now. I agree that $3K is a bit steep for simply using a site, but the organization is probably paying for extra maintenance and clean-up costs, security (that’s a BIG one), and their insurance (another big one), plus trying to make money. I think there are good and bad ways to approach this, and it’s a big issue that we museum/historic site people are going to have to address creatively and with understanding. We shouldn’t discourage people from using our sites.

    That being said, I don’t know anything about Vermont’s state parks — what are they like?

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