June 24, 2024
Beautiful garden venues for an outdoor wedding in CT

Do you dream of tiptoeing through the tulips or dancing with the daffodils on your day of days? Well then, dear brides-to-be, you are in luck, because Connecticut has some truly spectacular options when it comes to garden weddings. Read on for some of our favorites, get out there and explore — and don’t forget to send us some pictures. Wishing each and every one of you blue skies ahead!

Secret garden: The Garden House at the Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center in Ridgefield was built by celebrated architect Cass Gilbert, who purchased the circa-1713 former tavern and its surrounding acreage as a summer retreat in 1907. Gilbert — best known as the architect of the Supreme Court building in Washington — designed his garden house specifically for entertaining, which means it’s ideally suited for weddings as well. It seats 80 guests and boasts 20-foot ceilings framed with detailed crown molding, sparkling chandeliers, hardwood floors and a wood-burning fireplace. It also happens to be framed on three sides by French doors that open to a sheltered terrace and a brick-walled garden replete with rose-covered arbors, quiet pathways lined with lush blooms and an open swath of green with a reflecting pool and fountain — we’re talking pure magic here, ladies. 203-438-5485

Wickham Park, Manchester + East Hartford 

Wickham Park, Manchester + East Hartford 

John Munno Weddings

Decisions, decisions: Wickham Park, a private nonprofit foundation whose property extends into both Manchester and East Hartford, contains 280 acres of gardens, open fields, woodlands, ponds, picnic areas, sports facilities and, yes, multiple glorious options for April-through-October garden weddings. The Cabin at Hilltop Garden, located at the highest point in the park, offers panoramic views of the Hartford skyline and can accommodate up to 150. The Irish Garden, set inside six-foot-high stone walls, features brick walkways with shamrock inlays and can host up to 98 guests in its Emerald Room. Additional rental options for ceremonies or photos alone include a formal English Garden, an enchanting eight-acre Oriental Garden with a teahouse and an arched “moon” bridge, an Italian Shrine with grand stucco pillars set on a grassy knoll and a serene Lotus Garden complete with a pagoda. 860-528-0856

Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme 

Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme 

Shaina Lee Photography

First impressions: The artists of the Lyme Art Colony liked to paint en plein air. Indeed, Childe Hassam, William Chadwick, Matilda Browne and their peers spent much of the early 1900s interpreting the glory of the Old Lyme landscape in Impressionist style. Their hostess was one Miss Florence Griswold, who ran a boardinghouse for artists that’s known today as the Florence Griswold Museum. Miss Florence also happened to be a passionate gardener  who chose to “paint” the landscape in her own way: with flowers. Weddings at the revered museum set on 11 acres along the Lieutenant River can include ceremonies along the river’s verdant banks, cocktails on the veranda of Colonial Revival-style Marshfield, access to exhibits in the Krieble Gallery and Rafal Landscape Center, and en plein air receptions for up to 150 seated guests on the Adrian P. Moore Garden Terrace overlooking the river. Miss Florence’s restored garden, overflowing with old-fashioned varieties of everything from phlox to peonies, lavender to lilies, is, of course, the spot for a “first look” and/or photos. 860-434-5542

Elizabeth Park, Hartford 

Elizabeth Park, Hartford 

The Flash Lady Photography

Elizabeth Park, Hartford 

Elizabeth Park, Hartford 

The Flash Lady Photography

Rose-colored glasses: The Helen S. Kaman Rose Garden is not only the centerpiece of Hartford’s storied Elizabeth Park, it’s also the first municipal rose garden in the U.S. and the third-largest rose garden in the country. When the one-acre garden debuted in June 1904, it had approximately 190 varieties of roses. Today, the 2½-acre garden boasts 800 varieties of old and new roses, including everything from hybrid tea, climbers and hybrid perennials to floribunda, shrub and pillar roses. Intoxicating ramblers, meanwhile, grow on arches that radiate from a magical gazebo/summer house covered in Virginia creeper, where ceremonies for up to 75 guests can be held. Alas, receptions are not allowed among the roses themselves, but for that there’s Pond House Café, whose bright and beautiful Garden Room boasts floor-to-ceiling cathedral windows on the park and can host up to 165. Elizabeth Park: 860-757-9526; Pond House Café: 860-231-8823

Roseland Cottage, Woodstock 

Roseland Cottage, Woodstock 

J. Marie  Photography

Pretty in pink: Weddings at Roseland Cottage are centered around a boxwood-edged parterre garden installed just four years after Woodstock native/New York businessman Henry Bowen built the circa-1846 Gothic Revival-style masterwork as a summer retreat for his family. Its 21 restored beds bloom bright with many of the same varieties of perennials and annuals that were there back in the day — and, in fact, a receipt has been found that shows that much of the dwarf English boxwood that remains today was purchased by Bowen from Raspberry Hill Nursery in Brooklyn for the whopping sum of $75. Garden ceremonies are held from May through October, and the South Lawn is used to accommodate a tented reception for up to 150 guests. And, rest assured, they know how to throw a party here: Henry Bowen used Roseland to entertain friends and political connections, including four U.S. presidents. 860-928-4074

Stone Acres Farm, Stonington 

Stone Acres Farm, Stonington 

Terrence Irving Photography

Stone Acres Farm, Stonington 

Stone Acres Farm, Stonington 

Terrence Irving Photography

Flower power: The fact that Stone Acres Farm in Stonington, a working farm since before the Revolutionary War, includes among its community supported agriculture (CSA) programs spring- and summer-flower CSAs, whose members are blessed with weekly bouquets made up of a riot of florals grown on the rolling 65-acre property itself, speaks volumes about the botanical beauty and life of a Stone Acres wedding. The folks here, whose mission is to “celebrate natural farming, sustainable food, culinary education and the preservation of open space, cultural landscapes and historic structures,” even grow many of the flowers on the farm among herbs and vegetables in order to promote biodiversity and provide a habitat for beneficial species. As for your blooming wedding, perhaps you’d consider exchanging vows in the formal garden framed by boxwood that dates back to the early 19th century? Cocktails and farm-inspired hors d’oeuvres on the farm’s historic croquet course? Dinner and dancing for up to 250 in a meadow surrounded by stone walls and tall grasses? Oh, the possibilities. 860-245-4414

Meadowlands, Darien

Meadowlands, Darien

Shaina Lee Photography

House beautiful: A big draw of a wedding at Meadowlands, the two-story regency-style mansion that’s home to the Darien Community Association (DCA), lies outside its white-clapboard walls and in its formal gardens. Designed in 1939 by noted landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman and meticulously maintained by the DCA Garden Group, the gardens have a fountain at their center, wisteria trees in each corner, a secret walled-garden nook laden with ivy (first looks!), a rhododendron arch, and are seasonally colored with everything from dainty pink snapdragons to fiery orange daylilies — there’s even an adjacent four-acre bird sanctuary on the property. In a nod to the garden splendor, Meadowlands is designed so that all ground-floor rooms have French doors that open onto the gardens. Period rooms like the McKitterick room, which has a fireplace at each end, and the library are commonly used for cocktail hour; receptions for up to 150 seated guests are held in the Garden Ballroom. 203-655-9050

Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington 

Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington 

IRIS Photography

Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington 

Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington 

IRIS Photography

Sunken treasure: The sunken garden at the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington was designed circa 1920 by celebrated landscape architect Beatrix Farrand. Set in a natural depression surrounded by rustic stone walls, the glorious one-acre octagonal retreat can be utilized for both ceremonies and cocktail hours from May through October and features a summerhouse, brick walkways for strolling and 36 garden beds bursting with more than 90 varieties of blooms whose ever-changing colors reflect the palette of the Impressionist art found within the museum itself, which was designed in 1901 by pioneering female architect Theodate Pope Riddle to house the art collection of her father, Cleveland iron industrialist Alfred Atmore Pope. The Grass Court (once the estate’s tennis court) across from the garden can be tented for seated receptions of up to 225; the West Lawn adjacent to a Mount Vernon-style veranda can host up to 350.  860-677-4787

Eolia Mansion, Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford 

Eolia Mansion, Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford 

Alicia Ann Photographers

Eolia Mansion, Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford 

Eolia Mansion, Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford 

Alicia Ann Photographers

Theme from a summer place: The gardens at Eolia in Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford are as show-stopping as the mansion itself — and it’s a tough act to follow. Rental of the shoreline landmark, once the summer home of philanthropist Edward Harkness and his wife, Mary, who purchased the 42-room Italianate villa in 1907, is available from March through December for up to 150 guests and includes use of the first floor of the mansion, highlights of which include an ornate “living hall” with grand Palladian windows that deliver knockout views of Long Island Sound. Those magnificent gardens, which in recent years were awarded a prestigious Millennium Medallion Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects, were originally developed by Boston firm Brett and Hall and later given a painterly update in color, composition and texture by rock star landscape architect Beatrix Farrand, said to have been the U.S.’ first female landscape architect. Ceremonies in the grand stone pergola dripping with wisteria are an absolute must. 860-443-5725

Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park, Providence, R.I. 

Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park, Providence, R.I. 

Janet Moscarello Photography

Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park, Providence, R.I. 

Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park, Providence, R.I. 

Janet Moscarello Photography

Crossing the border: The Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park in Providence, R.I., was built in 2007 and has 23,000 square feet of greenhouse space, making it the largest indoor garden display in all of New England. We’re talking hundreds of different plant species and cultivars, including 40-foot palm trees, 10-foot cacti, succulents, carnivorous plants and orchids — not to mention fountains, a koi pond and a small waterfall. Receptions for up to 160 seated guests are held within the towering walls of glass and steel of its two main greenhouses: the Mediterranean Room and the Conservatory, whose temp is kept at 70 degrees year-round in order to create a tropical ecosystem. Outside the glass walls, a rose maze blooms from June through September. 401-680-7240