My husband, Tom, and I share a lot of memories in Newport, RI. It’s where I grew up, where we spent many weekends together, and where we got engaged. It’s also just a wonderful destination that offers so much for guests to do and see, so we felt that it was the perfect location for us to celebrate our wedding.
With the location set, next up was finding our venue. A few things were essential to us, but most importantly, we knew we wanted a big outdoor wedding where we would be surrounded by nature and the ocean, in a location that could accommodate all of our family and friends. Our first stop was Blithewold Mansion, a historic estate set on Narragansett Bay on just over 33 acres in Bristol, RI. I had spent many happy hours there as a child exploring the botanical gardens, running through the bamboo forest, and hiding under the massive trees imported from around the world by the original owners. The short journey from Newport over the Mount Hope Bridge provides stunning views of the bay. We knew right away that Blithewold was exactly what we were looking for, and fell in love with its history, architecture, and natural beauty.
Images by Julia Elizabeth Photography
As with all weddings at Blithewold, the entire property was ours for the celebration, so it felt incredibly private and special. With its beautiful lawn sweeping down to the water, turn-of-the-century mansion, towering trees, colorful gardens, and sparkling tent, there are so many special areas at Blithewold that each creates a unique experience for you and your guests. The photo opportunities are also endless, from antique fountains, to stone paths through the woods, to sunsets at the water’s edge, and we happily took advantage of them all!
Couples can use the North Garden adjacent to the mansion for their ceremony, or if weather is gloomy, the living room inside of the mansion. The garden is surrounded by a blooming, seasonal array of flowers. While we decided to get married off-site at historic Trinity Church in downtown Newport, Blithewold’s ceremony site almost changed our minds!
Cocktail hour can be held on the lawn and terrace, on the covered porches, or inside the mansion’s own charming dining room. We were lucky to have clear skies, and opted to have cocktail hour and lawn games on the terrace and expansive yard. We really wanted guests to explore the mansion and enjoy the surrounding paths and gardens as well, so we set up our escort card table, guest book, and gifts/cards inside the sunroom, and offered our signature cocktail along the paths surrounding the mansion to encourage our guests to take in the full experience and the views. Food and drinks were served on the lawn as well, accompanied by a string duo, with tables and chairs for those who wanted to relax, leaving acres of room for others to play games and stroll the grounds.
Our guests were then escorted into the tent for dinner and dancing. The tent is a seasonal staple constructed on a permanent stone and wood floor, perfect for dancing (and heels)! We loved that it was surrounded by greenery and nature, with stunning views of the water. The tent comes with lighting and clear sides in case of inclement weather. We decided to add twinkle lights and lightly draped fabric, to soften the overall look for the romantic, whimsical mood I wanted to create. There is a designated area designed for caterers immediately adjacent to the tent. They are out of sight and earshot, but all the food arrives quickly while it’s hot. When guests weren’t dancing, we wanted them to be able to enjoy themselves throughout the venue after dark, so we set up an al fresco seating area with Adirondack chairs and market lights, a cigar bar, and a photo booth. Blithewold’s design allows a lot of freedom to accommodate any add-ons you may be considering.
The team at Blithewold truly ensured a seamless successful experience. Leading up to the wedding, the coordinators at Blithewold always seemed to be available, and were responsive to every one of my many emails and questions (and I mean many). On the day of our wedding, they were there alongside our planner to make sure that everything ran smoothly, helping to coordinate deliveries and services, and remaining available throughout the event for any questions or help when needed.
Choosing Blithewold was truly one of the best decisions we made in planning our wedding. One of my favorite experiences was during our reception, when we paused, sat back and took in all the happiness around us, watching everyone laugh, dance, and clink glasses under the sparkling lights of the tent. We also loved sneaking away for portraits by the shore as the sun set, and having that special time together. We were hoping for a great sunset, but were amazed by the cotton candy sky mirrored on the water in front of us. Walking back up from taking photos on the dock, we were surprised to see nearly all of our guests on the lawn cheering for us. They had been drawn out of the tent by the pink glow spreading over the Blithewold landscape and illuminating the tent. That was just one more wonderful moment that we will always remember.
Looking back on the start of our life together as husband and wife, we couldn’t have asked for a more enchanting place or a more magical day. If a Blithewold wedding sounds like what you are hoping for, we would love to help you plan your dream wedding there!
- Photographer: Julia Elizabeth Photography
- Videographer: Live Oak Films
- Venue: Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum
- Caterer: Blackstone Caterers
- Florist: Sayles Livingston Design
- Tent Decor: Exquisite Events
- Hair & Make-Up: New Leaf Hair Studio
- Dress: Severine by Monique Lhuillier