June 8, 2017

9 Dream Wedding Locations Inside Historic Hotels

Whether your special day will take place in “The Wedding Capital of the South”—Eureka Springs, Arkansas—or at the island destination of Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands, we know that you'll want your venue to be chock full of charm and character.

To make choosing the perfect historic wedding location easier, the National Trust, in partnership with Historic Hotels of America, has curated this list of nine dream weddings inside America's historic hotels. These historic hotels share a penchant for spacious ballrooms, scenic views, locational quirks, and, of course, some excellent wedding stories. Read on to discover the venue for your dream wedding, no matter if it’s tomorrow or ten years away.

This couple chose the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, located in "the wedding capital of the South," for their wedding.

photo by: 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa

This couple chose the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, located in "the wedding capital of the South," for their wedding.

1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa—Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The National Register for Historic Places-listed 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa has the good fortune of prime mountaintop real estate in Eureka Springs, Arkansas—“The Wedding Capital of The South.” This historic village was the location of more than 3,000 weddings in 2016, over 300 of which were conducted at the Crescent alone.

The Crescent can accommodate weddings both large and small inside its Crystal Ballroom, window-wrapped Conservatory, or on the Gazebo Boardwalk, East Lawn, or botanically sculpted Fountain Garden. However, according to the hotel’s sales director, Jodie English, “It seems like many of our brides want to get married here at the Crescent not only for its quality reputation and lovely, romantic setting, but also for the simple fact that the bride’s mother or grandmother got married at the Crescent. They want to continue the tradition.”

A somewhat surprising version of that tradition occurred just a few years ago. A recent bride had gotten engaged to her husband during a friend’s wedding reception at the Crescent Hotel. Of course, the couple chose the same historic hotel for their wedding location, surrounded by close friends and family. Shortly after the bride began planning her wedding, she discovered that both her mother and grandmother were married in the Crescent, decades before.

Classic, elegant ballrooms with ornate ceiling detail sets the historic Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin apart from the wedding venue crowd.

photo by: The Pfister Hotel

Classic, elegant ballrooms with ornate ceiling detail sets the historic Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, apart from the wedding venue crowd.

The Pfister Hotel/Hilton Milwaukee City Center—Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Since opening in 1893, The Pfister Hotel has hosted more than 6,500 weddings in some of the most beautiful ballroom spaces in the state of Wisconsin. The hotel’s ballrooms are styled with elegant architectural and design details including antique chandeliers, rich draperies, and marble accents. The Pfister’s classic fairytale charm has attracted many brides and grooms throughout its 120-year history, including a fourth-generation wedding in 2015.

Downtown Milwaukee’s Hilton Milwaukee City Center offers unforgettable Art Deco architecture from the time of its completion in the late 1920s. From its Crystal Ballroom, adorned with crystal chandeliers, to its outdoor event space, bordered with multicolored shrubbery and seasonal flowers, the Hilton is ideal for many happy couples. This hotel can host a variety of events, from extravagant weddings to intimate gatherings, to bring couples’ dreams to life.

Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort—Tucson, Arizona

The Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort has maintained an air of luxury and classic Tucson charm since its inception in 1929 as a ranch school for young girls. The school was converted to a guest house in 1948, when it began to attract some of the Silver Screen’s most notable stars. It may even have been a hideaway for the likes of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.

Today, guests are drawn to the resort’s Santa Catalina Mountain views, vibrant botanical gardens, one-of-a-kind art collection, and unique culinary offerings. Couples have hosted a variety of wedding themes at the venue, including one inspired by Hacienda Del Sol’s unique blend of traditional Southwestern and modern decor. The bride and groom matched their wedding colors to the tiles adorning outdoor stairways, while the resort’s gardens and artwork inspired subtle accessories at the ceremony site and on tables during the reception.

Couples often choose to match their wedding décor to Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort's uniquely southwestern architecture.

photo by: Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort

Couples often choose to match their wedding decor to Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort's uniquely Southwestern architecture.

Outdoor wedding venues at Hotel Galvez & Spa, located in Galveston, Texas, show off its classic, turn-of-the-century charm.

photo by: Hotel Galvez & Spa

Outdoor wedding venues at Hotel Galvez & Spa, located in Galveston, Texas, show off the hotel's classic, turn-of-the-century charm.

Hotel Galvez & Spa—Galveston, Texas

Historic Hotel Galvez keeps couples coming back again and again, thanks to its annual vow renewal each June. Many couples who’ve held their wedding at the Galveston hotel return for this one-of-a-kind group ceremony, free for all to attend. After the ceremony is complete, the Galveston even hosts a charming reception for participating couples.

The hotel itself is a throwback to its original 1911 furnishings—take note of the wicker seating lining the Terrace Ballroom/Veranda and the Music Hall. The only historic hotel on the Texas Gulf Coast, Hotel Galvez offers guests a romantic view of the Gulf of Mexico and a world-class Sunday Brunch, the perfect way to conclude a wedding weekend.

The Hanover Inn—Dartmouth, New Hampshire

Owned by Dartmouth College, The Hanover Inn overlooks one of the prettiest campuses in America (according to Condé Nast). The inn’s picturesque location has been home to lodging establishments since 1780, but the property added over 100 AAA Four Diamond boutique guestrooms and a farm-to-table restaurant after undergoing a $43 million renovation in 2012.

While the inn’s nostalgic location is the preferred wedding site for Dartmouth alumni, its spacious Grand Ballroom and Hayward Room featuring a prime view of the Dartmouth Green are perfect for anyone hoping to add some classic New England charm to their special day. The only AAA Four Diamond Hotel on the Appalachian Trail, The Hanover Inn is also the perfect rendezvous spot for dedicated thru-hiker couples. Couples planning to recreate a significant moment from their journey on the trail will be pleased to know that it runs straight through the center of town and just past the inn’s front door.

The Hanover Inn's Rollins Chapel features arched ceilings and other distinct architectural features.

photo by: Hanover Inn Dartmouth

Dartmouth's Rollins Chapel is a favorite for Hanover Inn weddings.

Outdoor weddings are the perfect choice for many couples who use La Fonda on the Plaza's historic facade as a backdrop to celebrate their special day.

photo by: Insite Foto

Couples seeking an outdoor wedding venue can use La Fonda on the Plaza's historic facade as a backdrop to celebrate their special day.

La Fonda on the Plaza—Santa Fe, New Mexico

La Fonda’s history can be traced back over 400 years and, as the oldest hotel on the historic Santa Fe Plaza, it emits a timeless, elegant aura. Embracing its New Mexican heritage, La Fonda on the Plaza leaves a lasting impression for all who use its considerable array of venues to plan their special day. Many families share a generations-long history visiting La Fonda, and the site is a popular wedding destination because of its nostalgic, historic atmosphere.

While each historic venue at La Fonda on the Plaza is unique, everything from the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi (built between 1869 and 1886) to the colorful New Mexico Room effuses Santa Fe charm. Look for architectural gems like hand-sculpted fireplaces, tin and glass chandeliers, French doors, hand-carved beamed ceilings, and terra cotta accents if you choose this romantic site for your wedding.

Shimmering Otsego Lake is one of many views The Otesaga Hotel offers weddings guests.

photo by: The Otesaga Hotel

Shimmering Otsego Lake is one of many views The Otesaga Hotel offers weddings guests.

The Otesaga Hotel—Cooperstown, New York

Since 1909, friends, family, and loved ones have used The Otesaga as a gathering place to celebrate meaningful moments in life. The venue is brimming with tradition and gracious hospitality, making it a top-rated spot for destination weddings in New York.

The venue’s East Lawn and East Veranda incorporate views of shimmering Otsego Lake, lush hillsides, and majestic, centuries-old oaks as backdrops for picturesque outdoor ceremonies and wedding receptions.

The Grand Ballroom features soaring 20-foot ceilings, elegant crystal chandeliers, 15-foot windows, and pre-Raphaelite murals that date back to the hotel’s origins. Upon visiting the Otesaga, guests often feel they’ve stepped back in time to celebrate an enduring event.

A baseball-themed wedding is not uncommon at The Otesaga, either, since nearby Cooperstown is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Past wedding guests have hosted a dessert reception in the Hall of Plaques and planned photo ops at Doubleday field, just steps from the resort.

One of the most beautiful aspects of the Palmer House, this breathtaking ceiling fresco by French painter Louis Pierre Rigal makes an excellent backdrop to couples' wedding photos.

photo by: colros/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

One of the most beautiful aspects of the Palmer House, this breathtaking ceiling fresco by French painter Louis Pierre Rigal makes an excellent backdrop to couples' wedding photos.

Palmer House—Chicago, Illinois

How many historic hotels can say that their hotel was, in fact, a wedding present from the founder? Palmer House founder Potter Palmer’s wedding gift to his bride, Bertha Honore, was the house itself. This Hilton Hotel has been a landmark of love from its romantic beginnings. From the lavish ballrooms to the inspired catering to the discerning decor, few other wedding venues boast such a legacy of romance. Centrally located in downtown Chicago, the Palmer House has hosted over 9,000 weddings, with each bride choosing the Palmer House as her something borrowed—from its very first bride, that is.

The Buccaneer—Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands

The Buccaneer’s original 1733 sugar mill serves as a reminder that its property was once a sugar plantation, along with many of the other historic estates on Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands. Visitors with a keen eye may notice the mill’s walls are inlaid with coral alongside its traditional Dutch brick, and that molasses and crushed seashells pulled straight from the island’s shores serve as bonding cement. Staff decorate wedding ceremonies and other special occasions with native flowers grown directly on the property, and guests may even find animal friends—from falcons to iguanas—in and around the 1600s-era resort.

More intimate ceremonies often take place inside the sugar mill, where couples can share a romantic dinner for two after the main event. Larger groups can utilize the mill as a backdrop for their ceremony, then move a few paces away to the resort’s main building for the reception. The Buccaneer is a beautiful retreat for any wedding, and the mill ties perfectly into the resort’s long, rich history.

A couple shares an intimate moment outside The Buccaneer's historic, 1733 sugar mill.

photo by: The Buccaneer

A couple shares an intimate moment outside The Buccaneer's historic sugar mill constructed in 1733.

Carson Bear is an Editorial Assistant at the National Trust. She’s passionate about combining popular culture with historic places, and loves her 200-year-old childhood farmhouse in Pennsylvania.

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