Rhode Island Wedding Venues – Places You Would Never Think to Look

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

Reservations at Tallulah on Thames in Newport, RI

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

views of The Meeting House grounds and events

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, Wakefield, Rhode Island

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.

IMPORTANT!

  • 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!

Pranzi Catering

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!!!

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!