20 Enchanting Castles in the U.S. Where You Can Say "I Do"
Get married in royal fashion.
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Castles Where You Can Be a Queen/King on Your Wedding Day
Ever since America’s most beloved royal, Meghan Markle, became the Duchess of Sussex, there’s been a whole lot of talk about grand nuptial unions. No one would be surprised to hear that a whole lot of Americans have been seeking out stately palaces across the globe to celebrate their big day. Here’s some big news: one need not leave the U.S. to wed in a castle. Here are 20 U.S. castles where you can tie-the-knot in true royal fashion.
Alexandria Bay, New York
Talk about a romantic place to join together in holy matrimony. In 1900, George Boldt built his namesake castle as a symbol of love for his wife Louise. Four years later, construction of the grand Chateauesque home ceased when Louise suddenly passed away. George left Heart Island, never to return. Nearly a century later, the crumbling historic abode underwent a $15 million effort to restore the island and the home back to its original beauty. Its main hall now features a stained glass dome, marble floors and a grand wood staircase. Outside, where couples can hold their marriage ceremonies, there are numerous gardens boasting thousands of flowers, as well as several stone structures, including the Power House (pictured above) that towers above the St. Lawrence River.
Castillo de San Marco
St. Augustine, Florida
The oldest and largest masonry fort in the continental United States, Castillo de San Marco started going up in 1672, 107 years after Saint Augustine was founded by conquistador Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. The historic citadel was constructed with coquina, a type of sedimentary rock made from ancient shells that have bonded together in the shape of a star. The building is pretty awe-inspiring on its own, but its grass-covered grounds that overlook Matanzas Bay are absolutely gorgeous. Your guests and photographer will be overjoyed by the ancient (for America) scenery. Because the landmark is a National Monument, there is a permit process for hosting a wedding on the fort’s lawn, but for those royal couples who would prefer to assign the grunt work to someone else, local planners like Sun and Sea Beach Weddings are available to perform all the private secretarial work.
Newport, Rhode Island
Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs commissioned architect Stanford White to design her summer “cottage” in 1899. He modeled the glistening white terra cotta mansion after the Grand Trianon, the Garden retreat for French kings at Versaille. The stately home was the site of many honorable feats during its peak, boasting the largest private ballroom in Newport. Its eight acres of manicured grounds offer jaw-dropping views of the ocean and nearby coastal cliffs. The spectacular scenery has earned an impressive abode of cameos in numerous Hollywood movies, such as True Lies, 27 Dresses and The Great Gabsy. Celebrate your big day with a customizable indoor or outdoor reception at this Gilded Age masterpiece.
Sands Point, New York
Modeled after Ireland’s Kilkenny Castle, this 100,000-square foot (yes, that is the correct number of zeros) limestone building features a Great Hall decked out with wrought-iron chandeliers, soaring windows that look out toward the Long Island sound and giant clock tower. When it was finished in 1904, actress Katherine Clemmons, wife of Howard Gould, decided she didn’t like it, so Gould built another castle on the estate (more on that on the next slide). This expansive manse was turned into a carriage house and home for staff. Not too shabby, huh? These days, it’s a lauded museum and event space. You can wed your S.O. in the Medieval-feeling hall or in the 7,000-square foot Black Box, a New York State-certified sound stage that can accommodate a whopping 500 guests.
Sands Point, New York
If the 100,000 square foot, Irish fortress-inspired Castle Gould doesn’t suit you, as it didn’t suit Clemmons, say “I do” at Hempstead House. The Tudor-style castle served as a summer residence for the Gould-Clemmons and later the Guggenheims, who hosted grand Gilded Age parties with world-class artists and the powerful elite. Channel the Gatsby-era – and multiple groups of American aristocracy – with a fete in one (or several) of the stunning home’s chichi rooms. From the intimate mahogany-paneled dining room or the sunken palm court with its cute cherub fountain, to a grand gala for 300 throughout the entire floor and spilling out into the elegant garden, this resplendent dwelling is sure to make your guests feel like they witnessed a royal event.
Asheville, North Carolina
George Vanderbilt, grandson of infamous industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt, started construction on his country house in 1889. That family getaway just so happens to be the largest home in the United States. The 250-room French Renaissance chateau is basically the American version of Versaille – so it’s a great place to fulfill a regal French fantasy. It’s truly gorgeous, which is why the home has become a top wedding venue for couples who want to celebrate their big day like royalty. All wedding packages include a selected menu, four-hour open bar, customized wedding cake and Champagne toast along with a complimentary overnight stay at The Inn on Biltmore Estate for the illustrious couple.
Albert Loeb, the acting president of Sears, Roebuck and Co., built this European-style chateau back when the company was raking in cash for its kit homes. This grand 1918 structure took its design cues from the stone barns and castles found around Normandy, France. While it looks like it could’ve been a Gilded Age summer cottage, it was actually erected as a dairy farm with 200 Holstein-Friesian cows and 13 pairs of Belgian draft horses. Since 2002, the property has been considered one of the top wedding destinations in the state. It boasts five different venues ranging from light-filled garden rooms to regal stone-clad spaces with elegant arched cathedral windows that look a bit like the ones in St. George Cathedral – the place where Harry and Meghan wed.
Castle in the Clouds
Moultonborough, New Hampshire
It sounds like the title of a movie, but this historic mansion, originally named Lucknow Estate, was built for Tom and Olive Plant in 1913. The estate boasts stunning panoramas of the Ossipee Mountain range and is an extraordinary example of Arts and Crafts architecture in New England, expressing the design movements focus on ordinary materials like stone and tile, and its philosophy of living in harmony with nature. Couples seeking a fairytale wedding in the clouds can host up to 200 guests for a garden ceremony, perched 2,000 feet above Lake Winnipesaukee, before moving to the Carriage House Terrace under the wood-beamed ceiling in The Winnipesaukee Room or in a fairy-lit tent in the Meadows.
San Simeon, California
Hearst Castle is one of the most infamous odes to extreme wealth to come out of the early 20th century. The 60,645 square foot palatial estate was designed by newspaper magnate and inspiration for Orson Wells’ satirical Citizen Kane, William Randolph Hearst and Julia Morgan, the first licensed architect in California. The grandiose domain has been preserved in its original state with Heart’s extensive art collection, opulent furnishings and recently restored Neptune Pool. However, it’s not easy to plan a wedding at this National Landmark and California State Park. Dates are extremely limited and costs are high, but there’s no better way to play out your royal fantasies than by donning your full wedding day regalia on this enchanted hill overlooking the ocean.
New York, New York
In one of the most iconic spots in an already iconic park, Belvedere Castle towers over Central Park’s Great Lawn. Designed by Jacob Wrey Mould and Calvery Vaux in 1865, the castle was originally made to be Victorian Folly, a purely ornamental structure with no real use. (It’s been a meteorology station since 1919.) The tower looks like something from a fairytale with a mix of Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles and two balconies that overlook the park. It’s an ideal backdrop for an ethereal marriage ceremony. Wedding parties can’t use the interior of the building, but the site does have covered areas that can protect you and your guests from the elements – and your photographer can catch some epic shots from below as you and your betrothed look out from one of the turrets with the city skyline behind your backs.
This “Concrete castle for the New World” was constructed between 1908 to 1912 by archaeologist, scholar and artifact collector Henry Chapman Mercer. His grand abode, a unique mix of Medieval, Gothic and Byzantine architectural styles, is a significant example of pored, reinforced concrete design. The structure is absolutely gorgeous in and of itself, but the structure was designed as a showplace for Mercer’s collection of tiles and prints, many of which were embedded into the concrete of house. The ambience is palatial and the backdrop is bursting with color, creating a resplendent backdrop for a grand wedding befitting an emperor.
Tarrytown, New York
Lyndhurst is hailed as one of America’s finest Gothic Revival mansions. The exterior of the stately home is adorned with fanciful turrets, a classic asymmetrical outline and grand double castle doors. Inside, the palace is filled with period furnishings and tons of art. It’s just about as luxurious as it gets. Oh, and did we mention the gorgeous views of the Hudson River? Ceremonies and receptions of 250-plus guests can be accommodated in six different sites, indoors and out, spread throughout the 67-acre property. From the art-filled halls to the lush gardens and lawn, the majestic wedding day photo ops are endless at this National Historic Landmark.
Iolani Palace was built in 1882 by King Kalakaua. The unique American Florentine-style structure served as the royal residence for Hawaii’s monarchs until they were overthrown in 1893. The elegant interior features ornamental plaster, a throne room and grand hall facing a beautiful koa wood staircase. The 11 acres of the palace grounds features a handful of event spaces that can accommodate impressive wedding receptions, including the castle-like Barracks (Haleokoa), Barracks Lawn and the Coronation Pavilion and Lawn. Couples who really want to feel the majesty of the island tend to gravitate toward the lush Banyan Terrace, a slightly elevated space set amidst a large Indian banyan tree that was most likely planted by Queen Kapiolani herself.
Chippewa Bay, New York
Frederick Gilbert Bourne, the fifth president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, wanted to surprise his wife Emma and their children with an island hunting retreat when he purchased Dark Island on the St. Lawrence River in 1902. To make it as grand as possible, Singer tasked American beaux-arts architect Ernest Flagg with designing the four-story, 28-room castle and its four towers. Then Singer hired Italian stonemasons to form the granite for the elaborate tunnels, turrets and other intricate architectural details. Outdoor ceremony sites throughout the island create a picture- perfect background for a stately marriage ceremony. The ambiance certainly will fulfill even the most over-the-top imperial wedding fantasies, but the discounted overnight stay in the mansion’s Royal Suite is sure to make the special day extraordinary.
Pollepel Island, New York
Set on a 6.5-acre island in the Hudson River a few miles north of Cold Spring, Bannerman Castle looks like rich, ancient ruins rising from a forest. Though it looks like it was some sort of mansion, the formerly grand structure wasn’t actually a home. A Scottish entrepreneur built it as an arsenal for his collection of weapons. You can still see Civil War bayonets and decaying pieces of Irish linens strewn about the tangled vines and crumbling walls. It’s kind of creepy but it’s also pretty darn cool – and extremely private. Your guests will have to be shuttled to your nuptial site (100 feet away from the building) by boat and can feast on a five-course dinner prepared by a local catering company.
Symmes Township, Ohio
Boy Scout troop leader, WWI vet and medievalist Harry D. Andrews built this historic fortress, officially Château Laroche, as an ode to the strength and grandeur of the mighty knights of Europe. To this day, the castle is the world headquarters and residence of the Knights of the Golden Trail. (For the record: any man who wants to save civilization is invited to join.)
The looming fortress combines three styles of medieval architecture (French, German and English), four types of towers, a dry moat and hand-tiled ceilings inside. So, there are ample sets to stage your monarchical wedding portraits. Ceremonies (no receptions) are restricted to 50 people inside or 65 outdoors. No matter where you chose to exchange your vows, it’s sure to feel like a Medieval fantasy.
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
The most iconic castle in all of the United States, Cinderella Castle is the crown jewel of Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom in Florida. The 183-foot tall structure, surrounded by a moat, was inspired by a variety of real and imagined palaces and chateaux such as Versailles, Chambord and the Alcazar of Segovia; however, it most obviously took cues from the spires and romanticism of Ludwig the II of Bavaria’s Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany (a Romanesque Revival style palace in case you’re wondering). Couples who wish to host their own fairytale wedding can tie-the-knot at “the most magical place on earth” once the park shuts down for the night with a celebration custom-tailored to your heart’s desire.
A nuptial rite at this national landmark would certainly boast a status befitting a king or queen, but with a hearty dose of American patriotism thrown in. “The Castle” now serves as an anchor for the National Mall, though it was isolated from the city when it was completed in 1855. Designed by architect James Renwick Jr. in the mid 19th century, the Norman style structure (the 12th-century amalgamation of late Romanesque and early Gothic themes) was constructed of red sandstone from nearby Seneca Creek, Maryland. It’s become a go-to venue for resplendent events. Couples can pick from three gorgeous indoor spaces, such as the Majestic Commons with its neo-gothic details and soaring vaulted ceilings, and, when the weather suits, the elegant Enid A. Haupt Garden.
Coral Castle is an only-in-Florida sort of place. For more than 28 years, Ed Leedskalnin carved the oolite limestone palace by himself with nothing but handmade tools. The guy stood just over five feet tall and weighed right around 100 pounds, which is why local lure claimed he had some sort of supernatural powers. To this day, it’s a mystery how Leedskalnin pulled it off, but the mortar-less mansion was so skillfully constructed that not a single ray of light passes through the joints. It’s an awesome sight with its two-story castle tower (Leedskalnin’s abode), working sundial, heart-shaped table and, most importantly, throne – a proper seat for your royal portraits. One would be hard pressed to find a more interesting castle to start your life together in natural harmony than in this mysterious place.
Between 1926 to 1929 inventor John Hays Hammond, “The Father of Radio Control,” constructed his medieval style castle as a wedding present for his bride Irene. He also wanted a grand place to hold his collection of artifacts, from ancient Rome through the Renaissance. Call it a twofer. It’s a palace befitting an art connoisseur and it boasts gorgeous views of Gloucester’s rocky coastline that could inspire anyone – including those who couldn’t care less about antiquities – with deep feelings of awe. Expose your court to culture and capture your own magnificence with a ceremony at this historical mansion. You and your entourage will be able to wine and dine throughout the beguiling Great Hall, Renaissance Dining Room, Courtyard and Oceanside lawn, offering plenty of opportunities to capture your union with illustrious photos.