Making Wedding History

From that first breathless entrance to the last glowing dance, your wedding will be a landmark event in your life. So why not hold your nuptial celebrations in a landmark venue?

From that first breathless entrance to the last glowing dance, your wedding will be a landmark event in your life. So why not hold your nuptial celebrations in a landmark venue, enjoying the beauty and tradition of the city? Reaching from colonial days through the years of the East Indies trade and beyond, the Greater Boston area provides a wealth of special places for your most important day.

“We wanted our wedding to be a celebration of who we are as a couple,” says Newburyport newlywed Amanda Smith. “For us, that’s Boston.”

Which is why, after a courtship of “Red Sox games and walks along the Charles,” says Amanda, she and her new husband J.J. (for “James Jr.”) chose to marry last July in the North End’s historic St. Leonard Church—and host their 200 guests at a gorgeous reception at the Omni Parker House. Located on the historic Freedom Trail in Boston, this Omni also is America’s longest continuously operating luxury hotel.

Opened in 1855, the Omni Parker House is known for its rooftop ballroom, as well as its namesake invention, the Parker House roll. But the downtown hotel is rich in history as well, according to David Ritchie, director of sales and marketing: John F. Kennedy not only gave his first speech here, he proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier in Parker’s Restaurant.

“We wanted to give our guests a taste of Boston,” says Amanda. “We wanted something stately, traditional, with charm and history. And it’s obviously right in the heart of downtown.”

But tradition doesn’t end with Boston’s great hotels. The stately Boston Public Library, for example, has long dominated Copley Square, and individual rooms, such as the Abbey Room with its marvelous Edwin Austin Abbey murals, have long been popular for receptions.

Recently, the library’s board of trustees has begun to make the entire building available for complete weddings on a trial basis—and for students who met in the stacks or dancers who see the vestibule’s pink marble floors as the perfect ballroom, this expansive building, filled with statues and sweeping arches, may be the perfect landmark.

For weddings, says Ruth Kowal, chief of operations for the library, temporary exhibits and shelving can be hidden away. This allows brides to make their entrance down the sweeping gray marble staircase or enjoy cocktails by the bronze Bacchante and Infant Faun fountain in the secluded courtyard. “It’s a phenomenal and beautiful place,” says Kowal.

Would you rather have a Green Monster on your guest list? Sports fans, and those romantics who loved the movie Fever Pitch, may consider Fenway Park the most important site in town. For such couples, the Red Sox have designed several wedding packages, all of which include a ceremony on the grandstand roof deck with a view of the field—that infamous green wall—and beyond. Interested couples do have to work around the team’s schedule, which is posted each November, says sales manager Peter Pachios. But the historic park, which opened in 1912, is becoming a huge hit. And not just with sports-obsessed grooms, says Pachios. “That’s what I thought,” he says. “But a lot of times, it’s the bride who’s first on board.”

Rather hear the “shot heard ’round the world”? Whether or not you choose to have your ceremony at the Minute Man National Historic Park in Lexington, Concord’s Colonial Inn brings Revolutionary romance into focus.

The inn (which also hosts ceremonies in its many rooms or its small private garden) dates back to 1716, and was used as a hiding place for ammunition during the Revolutionary War. Philosopher Henry David Thoreau’s grandfather purchased the inn, which sits right on the Concord Green, in 1799.

“Young Henry liked to sit in the Gothic window and watch the flight of the crows,” says Elizabeth Gemelli, the Colonial’s catering manager and in-house justice of the peace.

New England’s heritage has always looked beyond the city’s borders, and that means overseas as well as over city lines.

The Peabody Essex Museum, for example, got its start in New England’s glorious 19th century, when Yankee clippers sailed around the world to bring riches back home. Why not rejoice in the beauty and treasures these explorers, merchants and brave seamen found?

New sections, such as the glass-covered atrium, provide modern, open spaces for ceremonies or receptions. But history buffs will gravitate toward the East India Marine Hall, the museum’s original building dating from 1824, with high arched windows that have shed light on dignitaries from President John Quincy Adams and Nathaniel Hawthorne to the Queen of Denmark.

“The Peabody Essex Museum’s founders were global entrepreneurs who brought back beautiful and fascinating objects from their sea voyages,” says Natalia Laskaris, the museum’s functions and rental sales manager. “The East India Marine Hall [where many of these findings are still displayed] served as a window on the world.”

Harvard, founded in 1636, may be across the river from Boston in Cambridge, but it counts as a top area landmark, and a beautiful one.

Whether or not you or your intended are Crimson alumni, you may want to have your reception at one of the university’s museums, such as the Fogg Art Museum. Established in 1891, it houses Boston’s most important collection of Picasso’s work. The Fogg’s elegant Calderwood Courtyard, for example, reproduces an Italianate Renaissance courtyard indoors, complete with travertine columns and archways. The museum’s collection—including works by Rembrandt, Bernini, and Van Gogh—only enhances the romance.

All too much? Why not take in the entire city: The State Room, which occupies the 33rd floor of 60 State Street in downtown Boston, offers panoramic views as well as complete banquet facilities. Whether it’s cocktails with sails as your moving backdrop in one of the Harbor Suites, or dinner and dancing in the Great Room, which features a wall of glass, 20 feet tall and 120 feet across, the State Room puts the city—and all its landmarks—at your feet.