In my post: Rhode Island Wedding Venue Reviews – Finding the Perfect Place, I reviewed several venues based on my experience trying to hunt them down and get initial, bare bones information from the coordinators with0ut having to schedule an on-site visit first. While I am 2 months away from having my wedding at the Glen Manor House in Portsmouth, RI, it occurred to me that there are many, many wedding locations that I had spent time looking at and investigating but I hadn’t mentioned them in my post. I was surprised that some of these places even hosted weddings and never would have thought to look there. I felt like it might help some of you New England or Rhode Island brides who are still looking for the right venue. I will share with you some of my notes from early-on in the wedding planning when I dedicated a few solid weeks to venue-hunting.
Here are some places that you may never have thought to look that would be worth checking out, depending on your wedding style, guest count, and what you have your heart set on.
1. The Lippitt House
This was one of the first places I thought about in Rhode Island. It’s old fashioned and unique and I was intrigued by its charm from the pictures online. It is very affordable to rent $2000 as of January 2012, and the entire building is yours for the day (no other weddings can take place the same day). It’s located right in the East Side of Providence which is very scenic and pretty. But visiting in person though changed my mind. I think the problem was that although there are multiple rooms, you cannot fit many people in each room comfortably. This place is good for a rehearsal dinner, shower, or small wedding of no more than 50 people. The owner, Dave, says that more can be accommodated, but based on what I saw, no more than 50 would be good for this place. It is, however affordable and unique, and it is perfect for pictures. I also believe it was recently added as a Knot pick. If you are looking for a small wedding venue in Providence that is different from a hotel or your average place, I’d recommend checking out Lippitt House.
2. Aldrich House
This is not to be confused with the Aldrich Mansion located in Warwick, RI. The Aldrich House is another lovely venue located on the East Side of Providence. I would say this one is a lot better for larger functions than the Lippitt House and you still get the same historical, charming feel. The Aldrich House can accommodate up to 200 guests, but I’d say that’s pushing it too. Realistically, it can hold about 130 comfortably. You probably have noticed that the Aldrich House doesn’t have many photos online and they don’t have much for a website. It’s hard to really get a feel for it over the internet (which makes it frustrating, especially if you cannot take the time to visit every single site in RI, I mean…can these wedding venues cut us busy brides some slack??). But I will tell you that it’s big enough for a medium size 120-130 guest wedding and has a beautiful interior. They are also reasonably priced at $2000 to rent as of January 2012 and they even offer discounts if you join the RI Historical society which ends up working out to your advantage because I think you save $500 by doing so. One thing is for sure – you really can’t rent this place if you are having a fall/winter wedding. It is ideal for summer months since you can really only accommodate guests by opening up the reception to the grounds (which will also require a tent rental, so keep that in mind). Renata is a great coordinator and she’s really responsive by email so I don’t think you’ll have any trouble getting you questions answered by her. I got a good vibe from her.
3. Kinney Bungalow
If you live in Southern Rhode Island than I’m sure Kinney Bungalow is not one of those “places you never thought to look” but for city brides, this might be one of them. Honestly, I grew up in South County and had never heard of this place until I started the wedding venue search.
This venue is adorable and rustic but only for weddings taking place during the late spring – early fall months. Even though the space is large enough inside to have the entire reception indoors, it is not able to be heated, this means that if you had your heart set on a fall, rustic wedding – this is not the place for you. Lisa explained that they close up for the season after Columbus Day, so you’ll have to get your wedding in earlier in the year. The pricing is decent $2500 to rent as of February 2012 and they have ample parking and space for guests to eat, drink, and dance – something that Aldrich House and Lippitt House are lacking in. Everyone can be in one room for the reception and the grounds are really pretty for pictures. Also, it’s not too far from Scarborough beach or Narragansett beach, so you could also have a few wedding party photos over by the sea wall or down in the sand.
4. Centro Restaurant
Ok fellow RI brides, this place is AWESOME. So here’s what I love about it that makes it so different, unique, and chic:
- It is a lounge – this means that instead of those same old chivari chairs or garden chairs that you see at everyone and their mother’s wedding, this place has real, comfortable lounge furniture making your venue look like a high-end, celebrity-like event.
- It’s a restaurant, but you have the option of having the entire place to yourself for the evening – I mean, what restaurant would actually consider that?
- There is plenty of space to sit, eat, drink, and DANCE
- It is in the Westin hotel, so your guests don’t have to drive anywhere after the party ends
Only down side…it’s pricey (about $150-$200 per person when it’s all said and done – including alcohol) But, I will say that honestly, it doesn’t come out to that much more than if you rented a venue and had a reputable caterer do all the food and alcohol. That’s about what’s all going for these days. Honestly though, if you can do it and are turned off by the attitude from Scott (the wedding coordinator at the Biltmore), and don’t want to do just your average hotel wedding, I would highly recommend this place. It is gorgeous, unique, and screams city-luxe. Love, love, LOVE it.
5. Tallulah on Thames
This came up in one of my many wedding searches when I went through a restaurant venue phase (this was before the guest list exceeded 75 people). I had never heard of this place but was intrigued since it said it was in Newport.
Here is what I like about this place:
- Excellent food and great Yelp reviews
- Looks gorgeous inside and has a quaint, bright, sunny appearance
- Great for a vintage style wedding of around 40-50 guests
- Right in Newport on Thames St. close to touristy places and shops that your guests can enjoy if they are from out of town
- Affordably priced and a unique wedding venue choice
What I didn’t like….is that it’s right on Thames St and the outside looks kind of… disheveled. I was surprised at first when I walked by the place and had to do a double take and say “That’s Tallulah on Thames??” But in all honesty, the inside is pretty and food is great. And Thames St isn’t necessarily a bad thing. To avoid having your wedding guests stuck in tourist traffic, waiting to have your wedding here after the busy season. I’d recommend fall after Columbus Day. Even though most tourists depart after Labor Day, don’t forget about those Tall Ships! You can’t catch a little breather in Newport until at least mid or late October.
6. The Radisson Hotel Warwick
Ok, so you are probably thinking…Really Emily? The Radisson?? I know, I know. This isn’t exactly “unique” but hear me out on this.
- The wedding coordinator at this place, Linda Martin, is awesome. You want to talk about someone who is willing to go above and beyond for your wedding? I could tell from the very first email I sent that she is one of those people who just takes extra special attention on brides. She went out of her way to send me tips for bridal dress hunting and ideas for centerpieces – even though I wasn’t a booked & paid for client. Usually you expect people to start paying attention to you once you’ve put down the deposit, but Linda takes interest in everyone and is just a really diligent person. I got a really great vibe from her and I’ve heard nothing but the best reviews of her from personal friends who have had their wedding there.
- The Radisson is actually really pretty inside and it’s close to the airport (making it great for out of town guests)
- It’s very affordably priced and Linda provides SO many options for decorating and really works with you every step of the way.
- Sure, it’s not unique like a little restaurant tucked away in Newport or a historical house on the East Side, but it’s a beautiful hotel location and you get a site coordinator who can take the place of any wedding planner you come across in the state of Rhode Island, hands down. If you want a hotel wedding and were turned off by some of the city prices, I highly recommend that you check this out.
7. The Meeting House, Tiverton
So if you like Mount Hope Farm in Bristol but hate John’s attitude and the fact that he has dozens of rules like “no dancing in the barn” and what have you, then I would recommend checking out The Meeting House in Tiverton, RI. This is a beautiful location for that rustic, vintage, backyard style wedding. It is absolutely adorable and located in a beautiful area of Tiverton (which is rather redundant since, what part of Tiverton isn’t beautiful?)
- It’s ideal for a wedding that is 100 guests or less
- You can have your ceremony and reception all in one place
- It is reasonably priced at $2500 for a Saturday night as of last checking Sept 2012.
- It’s close to beaches, wineries, and other nice attractions that are great for out of town guests
8. Eden Manor
Eden Manor is another South County favorite of mine. It is a beautiful estate and has beautiful grounds. It is located right near historic Wakefield and close to Rt 1 to access the beaches. The manor is reasonably priced and can accommodate small parties inside and larger parties outside. It has charming, quaint touches and the family who own the manor / bed & breakfast are very nice and helpful. You do have to rent your own tent if you want a larger party of around 100 guests (so that they can be outside) but this is a little Southern RI gem that isn’t your typical country club, hotel, or beach style wedding. Definitely check it out!
Other Ways to Find Unique Places to Having a Wedding in Rhode Island (or anywhere really):
- Search historical sites on The RI Historical Preservation Society page and start emailing or calling up places that look interesting. Even if they don’t list that they have weddings on their website, it doesn’t hurt to ask! When I found Lippitt House, they were not yet on The Knot, and the only way I found them was through the RI Historical Preservation Society.
- Instead of googling “wedding venues” you want to search for places that may not typically have weddings – like bed & breakfasts, museums, libraries, cottages, or rental houses by the beach.
- Lots of restaurants and banquet halls can accommodate weddings and you may not necessarily be searching for “restaurants” since you are probably strictly looking for wedding reception places. But restaurants can be perfect for small weddings and best of all you know that their food is going to be as good as it always is. Lots of restaurants on Federal Hill have weddings and even Spain Restaurant in Narragansett, RI does as well.
- Avoid Massachusetts Boston area if you can….unless you want to be hit up with either extremely high costs or lots of tight rules (particularly in regards to alcohol….Boston bartenders are maniacs about carding, even if your wedding party bridesmaid doesn’t have her driver’s license on her…I mean really? She’s a bridesmaid first of all, and she’s 30. Yes, I’ve seen this happen before while attending a wedding as a guest in Boston).
- If you are having a rustic style wedding (which is a seemingly popular trend these days), your options are almost limitless. Look for camp sites and house rental sites with large enough yards that will allow you to host a back yard wedding (if your own back yard isn’t large enough to fit your needs). Whispering Pines is beautiful but remember (as I said in my previous post), they are EXTREMELY expensive ($5900 just to rent the place). Really charming, but really expensive. And don’t forget that often times, back yard / at home weddings can really add up too with all the rental costs.
- If you end up renting a place that doesn’t provide food or end up having the wedding at home – I HIGHLY recommend that you choose Pranzi Catering. I doubt that I even have to tell you that because I’m sure that if you live in Rhode Island like me, you’ve probably heard nothing but the highest praises of Pranzi Catering and Lisa Mattiello (the owner). I’ve heard that she is the best of the best from not just friends and coworkers but even impartial acquaintances I run into and start striking up a conversation about my wedding and mention Pranzi. Even Bostonian friends I know have phenomenal things to say about Lisa and her business. If you want the best food in RI at the best price and with the absolute best caterer and coordinator – you HAVE to go with Pranzi. I don’t think I would be feeling so relaxed as I do now if I didn’t have Lisa and Pranzi on my side and knowing that they are going to treat us all like guests and take care of every detail. Don’t forget, you can also use Pranzi for showers, rehearsal dinners, and any other event!
My biggest advice is to trust your gut. If you so much as have the slightest unsettling feeling about a place – whether it’s because of its size, style, or price tag, don’t do it. Your venue is one of the most important decisions in the wedding planning. It makes or breaks it for your and sets the tone for everything else. Yeah, yeah, it’s important to fall in love with a wedding dress, but it’s even more important to have a love addiction with your wedding venue. Make sure it is special and unique to you and makes you feel proud to have the wedding there. Choose a place that makes you feel comfortable and will make your guests comfortable, but also at price that doesn’t make your stomach churn.
Take a deep breath! If you are still looking for your wedding venue then chances are, you are still in the baby stages of wedding-planning and are just starting to turn on your “bridal brain.” Don’t worry, you’ll find the perfect place before you know it and then the real fun will begin 😉 Happy planning RI brides!!!