Small Venues for Weddings
For many, the perfect wedding is a small, intimate affair held in a small, intimate venue that welcomes parties of two to 200 and shines especially bright in spring and summer. All the better if it offers reliably excellent food (for a complete list including those where you bring in a caterer, see “Reception Sites”) and has an outdoor feature—lawn, garden, porch, patio, pool area—that lends itself to photos, cocktails, even the ceremony or reception. A river, lake or some other scenic to look out on, as well as guest rooms and other amenities, would be icing on the cake. If all this is on your wish list, consider the following, which also welcome showers, engagement parties and rehearsal dinners. Call for pricing.
Farmington, 860/673-5405, apricots.com
At this Hartford area landmark, a 19th-century trolley barn on the Farmington River that chef-owner Ann Howard converted to a restaurant in 1983, ceremonies and/or cocktails are often by the river’s rapids (tenting is advised), receptions in a river-view dining room: the newer Garden Room, which can seat 70, and/or the original River Room, which seats 60. The old-time Trolley Room, without a view, can seat groups of 10 to 40.
The Bee and Thistle Inn and Spa
Old lyme, 860/434-1667, beeandthistleinn.com
Innkeepers Linnea and David Rufo have given new life to this 1756 country house-turned-inn, set back from the road on five acres along the Lieutenant River. Enhance your day by drawing on Linnea’s many talents—as pastry chef, floral designer, songstress, party planner. Ceremonies for just two have been held in the sunken garden or by the lazy river, though 65 can be seated in the beautiful dining room, more in an outdoor tent. Nine charming rooms and a small spa await overnight guests.
Bernard’s Inn at Ridgefield
Ridgefield, 203/438-8282, bernardsridgefield.com
Down a shady lane in Ridgefield, Bernard’s showcases chef-owner Bernard Boissou’s four-star French cuisine, gracious interiors and four dining rooms (three on the first floor, one up a graceful stairway), which can seat as few as 10 or together as many as 120. Outdoors, a lovely “wedding garden” abloom in pink, white and blue is a natural backdrop for ceremonies or cocktails and can be tented for receptions.
Copper Beech Inn
Ivoryton, 860/767-0330, copperbeechinn.com
The 1899 landmark inn has been brought back to its heyday over the past decade by owner-innkeepers Ian and Barbara Phillips, and most recently by celebrated chef Noel Jones, formerly of Hartford’s ON 20. The terraced garden with its lovely fountain is favored for ceremonies, the awninged porch and/or stylish brasserie Pip’s overlooking the garden for cocktails, the main dining room (seating 65), adjacent Comstock Room (28) and “snug” (12) for your reception. 22 elegant rooms and suites await overnight guests.
Southport, 203/259-2800, delamarsouthport.com
The little sister of Delamar Greenwich Harbor offers three luxurious event options: the presidential suite (seating 25), Cunningham Room (70) and Folly (60 to 100), the latter an indoor-outdoor space with sparkling Venetian chandeliers, a hand-painted floor and pergola-covered, gossamer-curtained entrance open to a courtyard that invites dancing under the stars. Cuisine is overseen by celebrated chef Frederic Kieffer of Delamar’s Artisan restaurant. 44 stylish rooms and suites await overnight guests.
Golden Lamb Buttery
Brooklyn, 860/774-4423, thegoldenlamb.com
Katie Bogart continues the hospitality of her late great grandparents, Jimmie and Bob Booth, at this unique 1,000-acre hilltop farm. Many couples wed on the grounds, then hold a reception indoors—in the barn’s studio (seating 40) and loft (30), hunt room (30) or main area (50). A farm-fresh menu and bushels of country charm (a flock of resident sheep, hayrides with a silken-voiced singer, views as far as the eye can see) combine to create golden moments down on the farm.
Greenwich, 203/698-6980, jhousegreenwich.com
The high style—outdoor living room, glass-walled fireplace—of the new J House is attracting couples from hip 20-somethings to older couples thinking outside the box. The hottest warm-weather wedding venue is the Riverside Room, which overlooks the pool/cabana area and seats 100, while the smaller Putnam Room seats 60. Top toque Francois Kwaku-Dongo of LA’s Spago oversees both the Eleven14 Kitchen and irresistible “Chocolate Lab.” 86 sleek, high-tech rooms and suites await overnight guests.
The Hopkins Inn
Warren, 860/868-7295, thehopkinsinn.com
This hilltop charmer, built in 1847, offers an incomparable setting overlooking Lake Waramaug and a distinctive continental menu courtesy of Austrian-born chef-owner Franz Schober and son Toby Fossland. Couples often opt for a ceremony on the lawn, cocktails on the patio or in the parlors, and reception in the Victorian dining room, with wide windows looking onto the lake and seating for 60; an upstairs dining room (also with a lake view) seats 40. 11 cozy rooms and two apartments await overnight guests.
The Mansion at Bald Hill
Woodstock, 860/974-3456, mansionatbaldhill.com
Weddings at this grand English Tudor on 100 acres, built as a summer home for Pullman heiress Roxanna Wentworth and her husband Clarence Bowen in 1892, recall the gracious lifestyle of a bygone era. Up to 75 can be seated indoors, more in an outdoor tent, while a half-acre formal garden can be used for ceremonies and a patio for cocktails. Six elegant rooms await overnight guests.
The Mill on the River
South Windsor, 860/289-7929, themillontheriver.com
Connecticut Magazine readers have voted The Mill on the River Hartford County’s most romantic restaurant, so why not hold your reception here—in the lower-level River Room, which seats 65 to 90 and overlooks the waterfall, or the upper-level Rafters Room, which seats 80 to 120 and has a deck overlooking the pond. A grace note is a lovely gazebo suitable for ceremonies.
Pond House Cafe
West Hartford, 860/231-8823, pondhousecafe.com
For a late spring-early summer event, a natural is Elizabeth Park, that 100-acre garden oasis on the Hartford/ West Hartford line whose two-acre rose garden is at its blooming best at that time. The park’s Pond House Café is actually a fine restaurant whose garden room has floor-to-ceiling park-view windows and seats up to 200; brides describe the setting as “magical.” The rose garden itself, with rose-clad archways leading to a centerpiece gazebo, is a likewise magical spot for ceremonies and photos.
Salisbury, 860/596-0555, ragamont.com
At this splendidly restored Greek Revival manse, guests can luxuriate in a country manor whose dining room, library and hall together seat 38, cuisine courtesy of chef Bruce Young, protégé of a Michelin-starred chef. A private back porch overlooks a lawn and garden area that can be tented for up to 60; a second lawn is available for larger parties. Four lavishly decorated rooms await overnight guests.
West Redding, 203/938-3388, reddingroadhouse.com
Redding’s popular old watering hole has gotten a new lease on life thanks to new owners. They’ve not only renovated the dining room (seating 85), taproom (34) and Mark Twain Room (65), but added a patio and patio bar for 130 that overlooks a wooded area and is a natural for informal spring-summer events. Chef-owner Wirt Cook puts his own spin on classic American comfort fare.
Morris, 860/567-9600, winvian.com
If you’ve been dreaming of an extravagant wedding with a lush sylvan backdrop, consider this Relais & Chateaux gem on 113 acres. Events are held in the Gordon Brown House, which seats 120 with dancing, while patios can be tented to accommodate more. Five-star cuisine is provided by award-winning chef Chris Eddy, who grows much of his produce on-site. 18 fantasy cottages, one suite and a spa await overnight guests.