Rhode Island Wedding Venue Reviews – Finding the Perfect Place

[Edit:  Nov 8, 2013 – This blog post was published over 1 year ago and was based on my real life, honest experiences at the time of being a Rhode Island bride trying to plan her wedding. Prices and venue coordinators may have changed since that time. Please use this blog post as a guideline to help you consider some different options for RI venues but keep the date in mind.  I do not mean to offend any one company or its employees.  As the owner of newly established Emily’s Enchantments – a Rhode Island wedding invitations company – I’ve gained more recent feedback from real RI brides whom I’ve worked with, so I have new details of venues in RI and I will give you a new, up to date post with more venue choices very soon. Thanks guys!]

Ok so I thought wedding planning would be as easy as yawning. I’m organized, detailed-oriented, and all about making plans ahead of time. So I figured if we started planning in January, we could easily slap something together and walk down the aisle in the fall of the same year. Right?

Well, now that I’ve lived through some tough couple weeks venue-hunting….I have gained serious respect for the brides who spend 12-18 months at the very least planning and figuring out the perfect place for their wedding. I didn’t realize how quickly places filled up and how soon you would have to put money down and book to secure the date.

I didn’t have an emotional attachment to any particular time of year – I thought late summer or early fall would be nice, but I also saw some winter weddings around Christmas and the holiday decor was spectacular. So I knew that the knot would probably be tied sometime between late August and mid-December. But finding a Saturday evening within less than a year is harder than it sounds…

Our Guest List:

130

Our Venue Price Range (for renting only):

No more than $5,000

Places I Looked At:

1. Hotels

2. Country Clubs

3. Restaurants

4. Historical Sites

5. Vineyards

6. Barns

My Style:

I wasn’t sure what I was going for. I have seen beautiful rustic outdoor weddings with backyard, DIY decor that looked beautiful and charming. But then I’ve also seen the city chic glamorous hotel weddings and have loved the luxe look of them. I knew that I wanted to throw in my craft-making skills somehow, but I still wanted to keep it sophisticated and elegant.

Here are some of things I encountered (pros & cons) when viewing all the places in my area, Rhode Island, so in case you happen to get married in the Ocean State, you have an idea of what you might run into:

RHODE ISLAND VENUE REVIEWS:

These are all very different, but I wasn’t sure what I was going for and had to try them all out.

1. The Biltmore Hotel, Providence, RI

Type: Hotel Wedding, City Wedding

Very pricey but pretty! I would say if you can afford $10,000 – 15,000 on renting your venue (not including any food) and have your heart set on a hotel setting for the convenience of having out-of-town guests, then go with the Westin in Providence instead. While I loved the beautiful, charming look of the Biltmore Hotel, it just didn’t really go with the style I was looking for and it didn’t really fit my budget.

2. The Village Inn by Almalfi Catering, Narragansett, RI

Type: Beach Wedding, Ocean View Wedding, Restaurant Wedding

Village Inn RI Wedding Review

I happened to know someone who worked at the Village Inn and texted him asking how he felt about it as a wedding site. His exact words, “DON’T USE THEM. It is run by scumbags and wicked overpriced.”

I decided to just go and see for myself, so I contacted the coordinator, Jim. Of course, like 50 other Rhode Island wedding vendors, he ignored the questions I asked and said “please call me for more details.” Well, ok….but I work all day during the week. So I would call him after work and get his voicemail. And then he would call me back the next day while I was at work in a meeting. And it was an endless cycle. The two of us had emailed back and forth about 5 or 6 times in total. Each time, I was asking him basic questions like pricing, availability, number of guests allowed, etc. and each time he would just say “please call.” It was so frustrating! Why can’t you just email me the information so I can review it first? I live about 85 miles from the location (I’m currently in MA) and didn’t want to drive all over the place to view a site that I know nothing about because the coordinator couldn’t even email basic info. This is the 21st century for goodness sake!

3. Castle Hill Inn, Newport, RI

Type: Restaurant Wedding, Ocean View Wedding, Newport Wedding

castle hill wedding cost review

This location is absolutely spectacular. Anyone who is able to afford it should seriously consider this venue. It is incredibly first class and the staff and food are phenomenal. My family has been to Castle Hill for years for Easter and Thanksgiving dinners and it is just impeccably wonderful. Only thing that was holding me back from this? Well…it starts at $55,000 minimum for a Saturday evening! An average wedding at Castle Hill Inn costs about $75,000-100,000! Yikes! I very quickly learned that this was way out of price range and we would have to stick to this Rhode Island gem for the holiday dinners instead.

4. Crystal Lake Golf Club, Burrillville, RI

Type: Golf Course Wedding, Country Club Wedding

Crystal Lake Wedding Review

Crystal Lake is lovely, picturesque, affordable ($950 to rent), and has fantastic food. It is also on a lake so you can have water view pictures. You can even have your ceremony and then have a romantic boat ride across the lake to arrive at your reception and greet your guests. Very cool! The coordinator, Tracy, is awesome and very quick at responding to emails and leaves detailed voicemails. She is very patient and answers all questions thoroughly no matter how many hundreds of times she has probably had to answer the same one. Also, a good thing about this place is that they allow you to place a hold on the date without putting any money down. They simply pencil down your name and notify you if someone else asks about the date (after 3 weeks), then will ask if you still are interested in it. The only reason why I didn’t book this place is that they are about 50 minutes away from my church location and it would be too far and too out of the way for out-of-town guests to figure out and navigate to and from.

5. Mount Hope Farm, Bristol, RI

Type: Farm Wedding, Rustic Wedding, Barn Wedding

Please see our updated blog post for more current information about this location as this post is outdated.

mount hope wedding

This location was beautiful and definitely a charming idea but there were many cons to this location. First, the coordinator, John, was rude and difficult to reach by email and never called back. I always had to call him back to get more info and hunt him down. This place was $5000 to rent, which was the top of the budget and that doesn’t include anything else. But it also comes along with all types of strict rules – like no dancing in the barn but only outside so you have to rent a separate tent if you want to dance (which I mean, of course you want to dance at your wedding!), you have bank on the weather being warm enough to be outside and pay for tent rentals and setup fees. It is also in Bristol which is tough to get to from southern RI where my church is located.

6. Whispering Pines, West Greenwich, RI

Type: Campground Wedding, Rustic Wedding, Woodland Wedding

Whispering Pines RI Wedding

I read online on someone’s blog that this was a great affordable location for a rustic wedding. But then when I inquired with them, I found out it is $5900 just to have your wedding there! That doesn’t even count the minimum $75 per person price for food which only they provide. You also have to get all of your guests to stay there overnight. It was pretty but not that pretty…I will say that they were very informative, thorough, and easy to get a hold of though.

7. Sakonnet Vineyards, Little Compton, RI

Type: Vineyard Wedding, Ocean View Wedding, Rustic Wedding

Sakonnet Vineyard RI wedding Review

This is a beautiful location but you need to rent a tent if you want more than 75 guests. That means, you can’t have a wedding in the off-season and you have to deal with tent rental setup – which actually is pretty pricey around RI! You also have to end music by 9PM which isn’t what I was looking for…and the price was kind of high for what you get…$4500 for just the vineyard. You don’t even get a building you can have your guests seated in. The bathrooms have to be all outside.

8. Country Gardens, Rehoboth, MA

Type: Garden Wedding, Rustic Wedding, Outdoor Wedding

Country Gardens Wedding Review

I visited this place before I determined that the church location would be in southern RI (way too far away). But it sparked my interest because the website shows a very impressive looking, all-inclusive package (with the exception of photography). But what disappointed me the most is that it was such false-advertising! When I showed up in person, I found out that the rental fee is $4500. It’s a garden that is part of a yard owned by a couple who also have a B&B. So you are basically spending that money to use their yard for pictures and a tented-reception. Turns out, the food was completely separate (even though it makes it sound like it’s all apart of the package) and so was the cake. I will say though that Ralph is fantastic and very sweet. He is very easy to talk to and get a hold of quickly. It just wasn’t the place for us.

8. Waterman Grille, Providence RI

Type: Restaurant Wedding, City Wedding

Waterman Grille RI wedding

I was so torn about this place. It was a restaurant where my fiancé and I had one of our first dates, so it has sentimental meaning to us. It is also part of Newport Restaurant Group which is known for being a restaurant with top notch service and top notch food (Castle Hill is actually part of Newport Restaurant Group as well). The Waterman Grille provides a unique, charming, and intimate location with a water view for an affordable $850 room rental. The food prices started at $38 per person – and this place has food that will blow your mind away. It also has a patio right on the river and lovely lounge area for cocktail hour. Only problem – it is very small. It can seat up to 100, but that is without a dance floor. You have to have tables broken down and removed after dinner to free up space for dancing. With our guest list of 130, we just wouldn’t be able to do it. Even if we cut it down to 100, we realized that it would just be too tight. Plus, the low ceilings make the room feel even smaller. Kim was such a great coordinator, and very on top of her emails. I think we will use this place as a rehearsal dinner though…it’s definitely a top choice.

9. My Fiance’s House – Cumberland, RI

Type: Backyard Wedding, DIY Wedding, Outdoor Wedding, At-Home Wedding

Yes, we even discussed having a wedding reception right in my fiancé’s backyard. He is in the process of completing a beautiful stone patio that wraps around the entire back side of the house and the lawn is large enough that we could fit a tent, dance floor, DJ booth, bar, etc.

The problem – It was too expensive! Yes, I kid you not. Having a backyard wedding is not as cheap as you might think. We would need to rent outside bathrooms, a dance floor, a tent, tables, chairs, extra flatware, china, glassware, napkins, the whole nine yards.  Just renting the bar setup, the dance floor, portable bathrooms, tent lighting, and the tent itself would cost around $4000 alone. Plus a lot of the caterers charge extra for having to go to your house instead of a regular venue. He also doesn’t live on a great street for 130 people to park. The yard is picture perfect, but we just weren’t ready to drop thousands on an outdoor, backyard wedding…I had this nightmare of me in my wedding dress, with an apron and my rubber gloves scrubbing down the kitchen at the end of the wedding day. Yeah….it just wasn’t going to happen.

Here is what we chose for November 17, 2012:

Glen Manor House, Portsmouth, RI

Glen Manor House wedding

Glen Manor wedding RI

Glen Manor Wedding Garden

Why we chose it?

* Rental fee: $3750 (Off Season November – April)

* Accommodates up to 200 people, and 130 fits ideally

* It looks like a mini Newport mansion

* Has unbelievably beautiful, historic, Gilded Age interior decor and perfectly manicured grounds

* Has ocean views and flower gardens

* Has 2 dining rooms that connect through french doors making it one room

* Has 1 giant ballroom separate from the dining rooms

* Has a grand foyer and marble staircase that leads up to a second floor where the wedding party has access to 2 additional rooms

* It’s unique, classy, sophisticated, and breathtakingly beautiful

* Katie, the coordinator is fantastic to talk to do and easy to communicate with

I am SO excited to have our special day at Glen Manor!!! I feel a sigh of relief now that we have officially secured a venue, church, and a date. It feels like it’s really happening now, and I’m getting butterflies already!! It can be stressful finding the venue, but once you have it, the rest can be done at a leisurely pace.

Good luck to all the new brides out there!

35 thoughts on “Rhode Island Wedding Venue Reviews – Finding the Perfect Place

  1. Pingback: Busy Bride Guide – Stress Free Wedding Planning « Emily Things

    • Hey sorry if I made it seem confusing! I meant that I didn’t want to spend more than $5000 on renting a place. The total wedding budget is definitely not $5000. I’ve been trying to keep it low though. We are saving a lot of money with our caterer by having a buffet style meal and limiting the number of appetizers. Also, with more of a focus on candles instead of flowers, our centerpieces are super cheap and we’re saving a lot of money there. Maybe I could do a post on the cost breakdown to help give other brides and idea of what it’s all costing and how they can save money on things here and there.

      • Could you give a cost breakdown! That would be fabulous and who you used for catering.
        Thanks so muck,
        Laura

      • Since posting this, it appears that the Glen rental pricing has gone up for the off-season from 3750 to 4500, and I’m not sure if the other vendors’ prices have gone up as well since I booked with them in January/February of this year. We are using Pranzi for catering and I would not have anyone else do our wedding. They are affordable and the owner Lisa, is pretty much my wedding planner for every other little detail. She is extremely knowledgeable and has done buckets of Newport/East Bay Rhode Island weddings. I completely trust her knowledge and judgment on things. She provides chairs, linens, decorations, cakes, goes over the place settings and the whole flow of the evening. Her assistant, Linda, is the one who I communicate the most with because I’m an email-lover and Lisa is usually tied up running other things. But if you just make an appointment with Lisa you will know right off the bat that she is excellent. We are doing a buffet style so that has really saved on the costs.

  2. Thank you for this post!! My fiancé and I have just started wedding planning and this was super helpful. I definitely want to look into the place you chose and also the Waterman Grille, (although the Grille might be better for a rehearsal dinner than a wedding.)

    • Thanks Courtney! I’m glad that you found this post helpful! When I had started the venue hunting, I was desperate to find reviews from other people and see what they had run into. It’s hard to find the basic price info and feel for a place from their websites alone so I wanted to compile them all in one place. Good luck with your wedding venue search and all the planning!

  3. This was so incredibly helpful!!! I swear that I could hear myself talking while reading your reviews. I have been running into all the same issues , in addition to “the no music after 9 or 10 pm rule ” which is just not an option :) Anyway I was thinking of the Glen Manor house too and became really excited when I read that you choose this venue! I was wondering if you could tell me who you would recommend for catering , music , flowers and photography …I am living on the west coast right now so its difficult just through photos. Thanks again and congrats :)

    • HI Kerri! Thanks for your feedback! The Glen is a beautiful location. I highly recommend Pranzi Catering and Sayles Livingston for flowers. The photography is going to be done by a good friend who is a professional, Jillian Knight, and the music is going to be La Bella Musica (string quartet) and Rhythm Productions (DJ). If anything I’d say absolutely choose Pranzi for your catering. I cannot say enough good things about Lisa, the owner. She has been a helpful wedding planner in addition to just being a caterer. She went out of her way to get an extra piece of cake for my grandmother who couldn’t make it to the tasting and let me take home several tablecloths so that I could show my mother who couldn’t be there to see how the tables would be set. She is very close with Sayles Livingston too and it’s nice knowing that the two of them are so comfortable with working together and know Glen Manor so well. Sayles is a little pricey…but I can honestly say that she is willing to work with your budget without sacrificing quality. She is incredibly talented! Ask the Glen for their preferred vendors’ list because Lisa and Sayles are both on there. They have vendors who know the Glen like the back of their hand and are really high caliber group of people to have working for you. Good luck with all your planning! Let me know if you have any other questions that come up about Glen Manor or having your wedding here in RI!

  4. Thank you for this review!!! I have been looking everywhere for reviews and they are so hard to find! I will definitely be checking out a couple places you mentioned but all the info you have here will save me a lot of time! And if anyone needs a photographer, check me out, you may just help me plan my own big day teehee…. Thanks again!

  5. Hi Emily
    I am very close to choosing the Glen for my wedding as well. My fiance and I are paying for it ourselves so we are on a budget. Would it be possible to learn how much your total came to and the budget breakdown. I am just wondering so I can see if this really is a viable option for us.
    Thanks again!
    Brianna

    • Hi Brenda,
      Our wedding is in November, so we received a significant discount for having the wedding in the off-season (Nov-April). Our total comes to: $3750 for the rental for 5 hours and then $343 for a police officer for 7 hours and $150 for insurance (based on 130 people). Then we will pay a $500 damage deposit which we will have returned after the event if nothing is damaged. We didn’t rent any chairs – we are doing that entirely through Pranzi (our caterer, who is absolutely amazing and is basically my wedding planner now because she does so much more than just cater an event). And because our wedding is 130 people, we did not have to pay for a fire marshall. Have you met with Katie yet? She goes over all of this with you in detail when you meet with her, before you have to decide. She was very clear on what is what and responds to emails pretty quickly if you have a question. Another big plus about Glen Manor is that they have a full kitchen, which will really help your caterer and ensure that everything is nice and hot. I think in-season rates for the Glen are around $7000 or something. If you can have an off-season wedding it would save you a lot – not just on the Glen rental, but on just about everything else related to your wedding. Hope this helps!
      Emily

  6. Hi Emily-
    Yes we met with Katie yesterday. We are looking at having 100 people in November 2014. Good to know that you can rent your chair through the caterer. I know Katie said for tables and chairs directly through the Glen it would be about $300. Does that seem like more than what your caterer is charging you?
    Thanks for your help!
    Brianna

    • Sorry I didn’t see this right away! I have been swamped with all the little things that come up in T minus 3 months until our wedding! I have so many updates to post and share on this blog. Anyways, I think Katie’s pricing is around $2/chair for white garden chairs. If you are having your wedding in November 2014, you will probably want something like dark cherry wood chivari charis or the gold chivari chairs which are really pretty. Our caterer has a similar price of $2/chair for the white chairs, but the darker chairs are around $5/chair. She estimated about 20 extra chairs just in case so ours is 150 x $5. It’s pricey :-/ but I didn’t want the white. You can also check out RI Rental. They don’t have prices on their website, which is kind of annoying, but my friend who is getting married this year at Mount Hope Farm used them and said if you email them they will send you a packet of all the things they offer for rent. I’m pretty sure they have some more reasonable pricing. I just went with what my caterer was offering since it was convenient and she already had everything lined up – knew exactly what style would look the best at the Glen and she was going to take care of the whole picking up, dropping off etc from her own rental place. Only down side of RI Rental is that you have to pay them to deliver (unless you have your own U-Haul vehicle and someone who is able to deliver them 2 hours before the wedding and remove them after your 5 hours is up). I’ve reached a point in the planning where I’ve realized that everything is just crazy expensive. Even if you try to be reasonable and not let the “bridal-brain” take over and convince you to make unnecessary, frivolous buying decisions, something always ends up costing more than expected. We have seriously kept everything pretty low key and have tried to cut back wherever we can but we’ve found ourselves a bit beyond our budget. I just wanted to let you know that even as a practical bride, going over budget is definitely bound to happen. :-/ at least you know at the Glen it is going to be absolutely beautiful and since it is already so lovely it doesn’t require much decorating. I hope everything goes well with the rest of your planning! You have time! Congrats :)

  7. Pingback: Rhode Island Wedding Venues – Places You Would Never Think to Look « Emily Things

  8. Hi! I’ve been reading your website for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Huffman Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent job!

  9. Emily Thanks so much for all this info!!! Its been extremly helpfull. How was the actual Weddng ?? Was there anything you would have changed ??? I

    • Hi Jillian!
      I’m glad that I was able to help you out in sharing some of my wedding-planning info from around RI. As corny as it may sound, and everyone says this, but it is 100% true – the wedding was truly the most unbelievably happiest day of my life. Everyone says it goes by so fast, and they are not kidding, it definitely does. I’d recommend – enjoy every millisecond of the day and take it all in. I wouldn’t have changed anything – all of our vendors were truly amazing and did a fabulous job. There wasn’t a single mishap and no one was stressed out. Everyone raved about the food from Pranzi and the Glen Manor is a spectacular venue. I would just say to you and to all brides, please just cherish every moment of the planning, engagement, and the wedding day. It goes by incredibly fast and you pour all this time and energy into one day and within a blink of an eye it’s all over. I hired a videographer at the last minute because I was on the fence and told myself, what the heck. Because it was last minute, he gave us an awesome discount. I wasn’t going to do a video originally, but now that the wedding has come and gone, I am SO happy that we did it. The photos are beautiful and our photographer is amazing, but having a video too helps you remember things that you may have forgotten or see the parts of your reception that you didn’t even know were happening. It’s not that you forget what happened on the day, but you get into a bubble of your own and you can miss certain things. So I highly recommend that you get a videographer in addition to a photographer, and absolutely book with Pranzi catering because you just can’t do any better than them with food and beverages. http://jillographyblog.com/2012/mr-mrs-guerin-newport-ri-rhode-island-wedding-photographer/

  10. Dear Emily,
    With crystal lake you said that they allow you to place a hold on the date without putting any money down. They simply pencil down your name and notify you if someone else asks about the date (after 3 weeks), then will ask if you still are interested in it. That is false, my fiance and i had to put down an $850 deposit for them to hold our date. Which is this year August 10, 2013. We withdrew our date 10 months ahead of time and now we may not even get our $850 back.

    • Hi Brian,
      Thank you for sharing this updated information about Crystal Lake. They reserved a date for my fiance and I, and we moved it around a couple times, then ultimately we ended up backing out and going with a different venue. They never once asked for us to put down money. In fact, I had specifically asked if they required money up front to hold the date, and they said no. Granted, we were planning our wedding in 2011. Perhaps their policies changed. Thanks for sharing this advice. I will edit this in the post. You should argue with them to refund you. I was really pushy about getting a refund from a wedding stylist place and they finally gave in. These people in the business feel like they can do whatever they want and that they have brides & grooms by the balls. It’s so unfair and I will blog about them separately if you want. Maybe a post about wedding sites and vendors to watch out for? Never ever give any vendor money and expect to get your money back if you change your mind!!! Please remember that throughout the rest of your planning. I hope that everything else works out well for you both.

      • Thank you i just wanted to put the record straight about them. I think a site about venues to be cautious of or even avoid would be an excelent idea.

  11. Hey Emily,

    Our wedding will be around the same size and we would want to go with Buffet. After all is said and done, how much (if you don’t mind me asking) is Pranzi charging for foodand everything?

    Thanks!

  12. I enjoyed all you shared here about Wedding venues, and was wondering, is it possible for an “Intimate Wedding of about 20 to be at the Glen and how much would it cost for all, including flowers and photography. The cost would still be the same right? I like your run down here and again, thank YOU for sharing! Many Blessings, Sheila

  13. This has been by far the most helpful webpage I have read yet (and I have scoured through A LOT). Thank you so much for including details and cost. Everyone always seems not to want to talk about the money, but as a couple who is paying for the event ourselves, it is one of our first questions. Thank you thank you thank you!

  14. This page was SOOOOO helpful! Thank you so much!! My finace and I have an even smaller budget than you had for our venue, so finding a nice place that isn’t overly priced has been a nightmare!! The Crystal Lake Golf Club is simply beautiful and very reasonably priced!! This might be the place and I’m really excited!
    Also, I can finally show my father in writing how expensive it can be for a backyard wedding since he’s been hounding me about “saving money” and just doing one of those; yeah right!

    Thank you again and all the best wishes on your marriage!!

  15. This is so interesting! I just toured Mount Hope Farm today and the coordinator, Jennifer, was incredibly helpful and pleasant. She responded immediately and was very accomodating. For example, I’m worried about losing the available date, and when I called yesterday, she was able to meet at 9 am today. The price must’ve decreased since this article was written: the Barn is between $4,000 for a Saturday May-Nov and $2,000 on a Friday or Sunday off season. They also do dancing inside, as you can see on this blog: http://rebeccaarthurs.blogspot.com/2011/11/glen-jessica-mount-hope-farm-wedding.html

    • Thanks Caroline! The price most likely decreased for sure! $2000 for a rental is a FANTASTIC deal at Mount Hope. I want to put together a summary of current details to give RI brides more recent information since this I wrote this in January 2012. But thanks again and I really hope you were able to secure your wedding date!

  16. Hi there everyone! Wow, Emily, amazing blog and so much info. I am the (fairly) new Director at Mount Hope Farm. Since coming on to the Farm, we have made significant investments in staffing, the venues themselves and in improving our communications and resources for brides. MOST IMPORTANTLY, I need to clarify that there IS dancing IN the Barn at every event and no one is happier to see happy feet on the floor than the staff at Mount Hope Farm!…Come along and have a look…We’re ready to make your special day MORE special! Jennifer Bristol, Executive Director

    • Thanks Jennifer! I added an edit to the top of this blog post to give people an understanding of the fact this was published a long time ago and to keep in mind that many changes may have taken place at each venue. I appreciate you letting me know the updated info! Mount Hope is truly gorgeous and I would love to do an updated post reviewing venues with more up to date information. You can email me if you have new prices and details to share. Thanks!!! emily@emilysenchantments.com

  17. Pingback: Rhode Island Wedding Venue Review: Mount Hope Farm « Emily Things

  18. Pingback: How Much Does a Mount Hope Farm Wedding Cost? | HowMuchIsIt.org

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