The North Shore
Salt marshes, seaside shanties, and bustling harbors provide the quintessential backdrop for a wedding north of Boston. But to give your guests a true taste of the region—think fresh lobster rolls and fried clams—kick off the weekend with a boisterous dinner at the legendary Woodman’s of Essex. For your reception, the Willowdale Estate, tucked away in Topsfield’s Bradley Palmer State Park, just underwent a $2 million renovation. The 1901 house is a fairy-tale setting worthy of a princess (with enough dark wood detail to appeal to your knight in shining armor). On the water, the Crane Estate in Ipswich offers three venues: the Great House, a manse overlooking manicured lawns and the sea; the Casino, a series of Italian-style villas; and an oceanside lawn at Steep Hill Beach. For a more low-key celebration, the barn at Brooksby Farm in Peabody, decorated with farm tools, can host a hoedown—or, with a little imagination and a few well-placed candles, an elegant affair. –Julie Suratt
Venues: Willowdale Estate, 24 Asbury St., Topsfield, 978-887-8211, willowdaleestate .com; Crane Estate, 290 Argilla Rd., Ipswich, 978-356-4351, craneestate.org; Brooksby Farm, 38 Felton St., Peabody, 978-531-7456, essexheritage.org.
Rehearsal Dinner: Woodman’s of Essex, 121 Main St., Essex, 800-649-1773, woodmans.com.
Local Planner: Tangorra Wedding Planning, Newburyport, 978-809-0275, linneatangorra.com.
Photographers: Glenn Livermore, 978-462-1686, glennlivermore.com; Karl Blaser Photography, 978-764-7628, karlblaser.com.
Want an easy-to-get-to wedding that feels like a great escape? Called the "Bermuda of the North," Block Island sits just 12 miles off the Rhode Island coast but feels a million miles away from everything. The speck of land boasts picturesque harbors and beaches, Victorian inns, and—best of all—a delightfully slow rhythm. When it comes to wedding planning, however, act swiftly: With only a few major venues in town, the sites can book up two years in advance.
The isle’s largest hotel, the Spring House, brims with blueblood lore—the seaside estate hosted Ted Kennedy Jr.’s 1993 nuptials on its sprawling, wildflower-covered lawn. Just down the road, the Hotel Manisses offers a quaint garden setting for daytime vows, while its sister property, the 1661 Inn, provides the perfect ocean view for a lobster-bake rehearsal dinner. Fill guests’ welcome bags with pure, old-fashioned products from Island Mist Natural Bath and Body, or Chapel Sweets’ beloved chocolate shells. After a weekend packed with 19th-century charm, your guests will understand why the friendly locals like to ask visitors, "So, when are you going back to America?"–Brigid Sweeney
Venues: The Spring House Hotel, 52 Spring St., 401-466-5844, springhousehotel.com; Hotel Manisses, One Spring St., 401-466-2421, blockislandresorts.com.
Rehearsal Dinner: The 1661 Inn, One Spring St., 401-466-2421, blockislandresorts.com.
Local Planner: Stasia Anthony, Exquisite Events, 174 Bellevue Ave., Ste. 310, Newport, RI, 401-846-3254, exquisiteeventsofnewport.com.
Photographers: Ken Lopardo, 401-261-2503, kenlopardophotography.com; Picture Everything by Kristin Studio, 401-709-3796, kristinstudio.com.