The Duke Mansion. Photography by Lauren Roseneau Photography.
Many factors come into play when choosing a wedding day venue, from location to size to style to sentimentality. And while some couples gravitate toward sleek, modern options, others may be more drawn to a locale with a bit of history. For those who are considering making their wedding location their “something old,” we’ve rounded up three historic wedding venues on the East Coast that will serve as the ideal backdrop for the special occasion.
The Duke Mansion // Charlotte, North Carolina
The Duke Mansion. Photography by Kristin Byrum Photography.
The background: The Duke Mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is operated as a nonprofit with all proceeds being used to preserve and protect this community treasure. Built in 1915, North Carolina entrepreneur James B. “Buck” Duke purchased the home in 1919, later founding Duke Energy and Duke University. Upon his death in 1926, the home passed from family member to family member and eventually landed in the hands of some of the Charlotte community’s most prominent philanthropic families. The Mansion currently operates as a four diamond inn, meeting, and event space.
Fun historical facts: The Cannons, a wealthy textile family, lived in the house in the 1950s. Their daughter, a true southern belle, fell in love with a Yankee Catholic, and the strong Baptist family just couldn’t stand for the partnership, so they sent her away on a cruise hoping she’d fall in love with someone else. Indeed, she did fall in love with John Hershey, and when she later married him at her family home, she invited that ex-boyfriend to attend. To this day, her ex, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, is one of the most famous guests to have attended a wedding there.
What makes it an ideal wedding locale: The Duke Mansion is a sought-after venue not only for its history, but for the lovely indoor/outdoor aspect of the property. With four and a half acres of stunning gardens, and 27 garden rooms, it’s truly an urban oasis. When couples rent the property for the wedding, they gain possession of all 20 guest rooms on Friday and Saturday nights, and it truly feels as if you are hosting the wedding at your personal home. An on-site executive chef and culinary team that includes a horticulturist customize the hyper-local southern menu for guests, with an organic garden full of heirloom tomatoes, beans, kale, and cabbages adding to the offerings.
Glen Gordon Manor // Huntly, Virginia
Glen Gordon Manor. Photography by Jumping Rocks.
The background: Glen Gordon Manor traces its hospitality roots back to the 1860s when it was a Wells Fargo stagecoach stop. The main house brims with nostalgic spaces, including a fire-lit entrance hall, baronial oak hunt room, stone wine cellar, and a charming country kitchen. Located just one hour from Washington, D.C., and major airports, the Manor feels a world away in its gorgeous hunt country setting.
Fun historical facts: Fans of The Crown will appreciate that the Manor has housed British Royalty. King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, infamously known for their scandalous romance, once visited when the historic estate served as a hunting retreat for the royal family. Their stay allowed their romance to blossom, and they became the namesake for the Manor’s luxurious suites. Earlier in its history, during the Civil War, Union troops marched right in front of the Manor, and guests can tour many historic Civil War sights in the area during their stay.
What makes it an ideal wedding locale: With breathtaking views of the Shenandoah mountains and surrounding valleys, this intimate yet spacious manor home is the perfect spot for a hunt country wedding. Prior to the big event, the wedding party can enjoy the on-site spa, and wedding couples have the run of the entire property for their wedding, with the ability to host guests for an intimate gathering fireside in the Hunt Room or outdoors for a larger, tented reception. The meal is sure to be memorable as well, as award-winning chef/owner Dayn Smith customizes the reception menu to the bride and groom’s specifications.
Foxfire // Monkton, Maryland
Foxfire. Photograph courtesy of Foxfire.
The background: A luxurious private estate, Foxfire is situated in a historic area of Monkton, Maryland, known as My Lady’s Manor, which was established more than 300 years ago when Lord Baltimore gave the land to his wife as a gift. Foxfire itself was built in 1932, and has since been regarded as a renowned horse racing and breeding farm. With its close proximity to Washington D.C., and New York City, it’s also served as a retreat for tastemakers and high society over the years.
Fun historical facts: The original 1930 Vulcan stove was built to last—it still has pride of place in the kitchen, and works like a dream. In addition, the estate is home to a long line of renowned racehorses that were bred and raised on the grounds.
What makes it an ideal wedding locale: Foxfire limits large events to four times a year, so if you’re seeking an exclusive venue, it fits the bill. Every detail on the grounds, as well as indoors, had been thoughtfully designed to enhance the guest’s experience and surround them in a luxurious yet approachable setting. The property impresses from get-go—ancient maples line the quarter-mile driveway, along which visitors will pass a duck pond, a quarry, barns, paddocks, and pastures with grazing horses as they make their way to the main house. During the winter, the quarries on the property can freeze and have long provided opportunities for outdoor ice skating. The pristine countryside and crisp exterior of the Manor House offers the perfect backdrop to endless design palettes, whether you wish to highlight the historic estate or focus your event concept on a different source of inspiration. Couples can also opt to rent the property for the entire weekend and host up to 21 guests onsite (events can accommodate up to 300 people), along with a full range of events beyond their wedding, including a welcome reception, rehearsal dinner, or a Sunday brunch.