Granite Proposals

With many venues within an hour’s drive of downtown Boston, the Granite State offers something for everyone: cozy inns surrounded by woodlands, grand mountain resorts, and restored seaside hotels that are sure to please you and your guests.

When Julie Struble of Rye, New Hampshire, was looking for the perfect place to hold her November 2003 wedding, sophistication and elegance were tops on her list. And despite living in Boston, where upscale options were in abundance, she had grown up in New Hampshire, and she knew the Granite State was the answer.

“If people were going to remember my wedding, I wanted them to describe it using the word ‘classy,’ ” she says. “And I knew New Hampshire could show it.”

But when it comes to getting married, you don’t need to have a history with New Hampshire to reap its rewards. With many venues within an hour’s drive of downtown Boston, the Granite State offers something for everyone: cozy inns surrounded by woodlands, grand mountain resorts, and restored seaside hotels that are sure to please you and your guests.

Located alongside Little Harbor and Great Bay in New Castle, The Wentworth by the Sea, A Marriott Hotel & Spa, had just the level of sophistication Struble was looking for. The 1874 grand hotel earned its place in history by hosting delegates who signed the Treaty of Portsmouth, which ended the Russo-Japanese War. After narrowly escaping the wrecking ball in 1996, the Wentworth was completely restored to its former grandeur in 2003.

Offering a full catering menu, the Wentworth has three ballrooms for brides to choose from. The intimate Garden Ballroom has floor-to-ceiling French doors and Swarovski crystal chandeliers, while the Wentworth Ballroom, the hotel’s largest, allows guests to enjoy cocktails in the window-lined concourse that overlooks manicured gardens. The Grand Ballroom, original to the hotel, oozes with elegance in the form of swagged draperies, original wood moldings and a staircase leading from a suite to the ballroom. “The history of the Grand Ballroom was a big part of our decision to have the wedding there,” says Struble. “I wanted to share in the history of so many other amazing events that took place there.”

To keep the opulence flowing, brides and grooms looking for grandeur among the mountains will strike gold farther north at the Mount Washington Resort at Bretton Woods. This National Historic Landmark was built in 1902 and has been luring visitors north ever since. “The setting itself, with a backdrop of the Presidential Mountain Range, is like a castle,” says Kim Labnon, sales manager and wedding coordinator.

Couples can choose from an assortment of settings, from an intimate outdoor ceremony under a covered veranda to a 300-person reception in the Grand Ballroom that offers a Broadway-style stage, oak dance floor, ivory pillars and panoramic views of the Presidential Mountain Range. Wedding cakes (including everything from traditional cakes to a cupcake tree decorated with edible flowers) are included in the wedding package, along with a champagne toast, white wooden chairs for the ceremony and an ice carving for the cocktail hour. “We try to provide everything you need,” says Labnon, including a two-page list of preferred vendors to help couples find everything from photographers to florists.

In the southern part of the state, the Bedford Village Inn in Bedford attracts Boston brides and grooms with its award-winning cuisine and quintessential colonial setting. “We actually have more couples from Boston than from our area, it’s so easy to get here,” says Susan Foster, property manager.

The Inn, a former working farm built in 1810, can accommodate wedding parties as small as 12 in one of its eight intimate dining rooms, or grand receptions of 225 in the Great Hall—a former barn with pumpkin-pine beams spanning the ceiling’s vaulted arch. Entrees such as green olive-crusted Atlantic salmon and orange basil vinaigrette and prime Black Angus sirloin steak with a red wine demi-glace impress, while the 750-label wine cellar received Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. The Inn books only one bride on the property at a time to ensure she is receiving everything she needs. “From the moment the bride arrives for a site tour, we work through every detail with them until the end of the wedding day,” says Foster. “There’s lots of hand-holding, hugging and crying.”

The Colby Hill Inn in Henniker also makes weddings a weekend event. The cozy inn, which dates to 1797, has an eye-catching perennial garden, gazebo, 140-year-old apple trees and an antique barn complete with a bar inside. “We are absolutely the brides’ helping hands,” says Cyndi Cobb, who co-owns the inn with her husband, Mason. “We only do one wedding a weekend and we’re your wedding planner.” They provide couples with a list of preferred vendors, but will do anything to make the couple’s day special. “We’ve sprinkled flower petals on the walkway to the gazebo, made golf tee-times and even coordinated dance lessons for one group of dance enthusiasts.”

Many couples choose to spend their wedding night in one of the inn’s luxury suites with two-person rainwater showers,
gas fireplaces and French doors that lead to a deck overlooking the pool, while guests turn the wedding into a weekend getaway, with hiking, kayaking, boating, and skiing all nearby at Lake Sunapee and Mount Sunapee.

Outdoor activities are also easy to come by at The Grand View Inn & Resort in Jaffrey. Situated at the base of Mt. Monadnock, the inn’s 330 acres are prime for hiking, biking, croquet and badminton, while a full-service spa occupies the non-sporting types. There’s also an equestrian center on the premises as well as a polo field.

The Grand View Inn’s function hall is housed in a former barn that once held 50,000 bales of hay and still has floor-to-ceiling beams and a 30-foot-high peaked roof. Marie Mitchell, owner and wedding coordinator of the inn, says she’ll cater to whatever kind of wedding the couple is after. “If the bride is flexible, we’re flexible,” she says. “And if a Boston bride wants to feel like the inn is her own home where she is hostess, but where she has lots of help and is pampered, this is the place.”