Venues: Rooms With a View

Six romantic destinations for your waterfront wedding.

EVERYONE’S ALWAYS TRYING TO wrangle a waterfront view—whether it’s from a restaurant table or a hotel room. You can’t blame them. There’s just something inherently romantic about a view of the water—from the wide-open horizon hinting at faraway destinations, to the way light sparkles when it hits the surface. Here are six unique reception sites with dazzling water views sure to make you and your guests swoon.

Boston Harbor Hotel
70 Rowes Wharf, Boston 617-439-7000,

JUTTING INTO BOSTON HARBOR, THE Wharf Room at the Boston Harbor Hotel, in the heart of the city, could not be any closer to the water’s edge. This formal, elegant ballroom, with floor-to-ceiling windows covering three sides of the room, provides unparalleled views of Boston Harbor, plus the planes arriving at Logan Airport and the twinkling lights of Charlestown. The whole room has a modern, minimalist feel and is decorated in neutral shades of cream and taupe.

Nicole Jenkins, assistant director of catering at the hotel, says that brides incorporate the views of the Wharf Room into different decor elements, using different shades of blue to reflect the water. It gives the room a light, beachy feel—which is something you couldn’t typically get away with in downtown Boston.

For an elevated view of the water, the hotel offers the Atlantic Room, which also has floor-to-ceiling windows and overlooks the harbor from the second floor. Rich mahogany paneling, custom wool carpeting and Scalamandré wall coverings and drapes give the room a warmer, more traditional ambiance than the Wharf Room below. The Atlantic Room also is the perfect setting for a smaller wedding (up to 180 guests for a plated dinner with entertainment), compared to the Wharf Room, which can hold 350 guests.

And to really use your location on the water to your advantage, think transport: Jenkins once worked with a couple who arranged for the groom to arrive at Rowes Wharf via water taxi from his home in Charlestown.

Chatham Bars Inn
297 Shore Road, Chatham 508-945-0096,

THE QUAINT CAPE COD TOWN OF Chatham is the destination for a waterfront wedding, and the Chatham Bars Inn doesn’t disappoint. “The view is breathtaking,” says Clarissa Davis, catering manager at the Inn, referring to the uninterrupted vista of the Atlantic from the resort’s 25-acre property—the occasional fishing boat returning from sea is often the only dot on the horizon.

The historic hotel offers several different locations for wedding receptions—the most popular being the Beach House Grill, the Boat House and the Main Dining Room. The Beach House Grill, located just steps from the beach, exudes casual Cape Cod elegance, while the Main Dining Room, located in the hotel, is more formal and provides elevated views of the Atlantic. The Boat House, which hosts smaller weddings, is located steps from the resort’s own sandy beach—perfect for that seaside wedding photo.

Commandant’s House
Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston 617-263-6490,

BUILT IN 1806, THIS HISTORIC HOME once housed the naval commandant in charge of Charlestown’s Navy Yard. Today it provides brides and their guests amazing views of the Boston Harbor, the downtown skyline and the USS Constitution, which is docked right outside.

While Michelle Minasian, the house’s general manager, acknowledges the home’s views are a big draw to brides, the property’s 10,000-square-foot lawn also catches their attention. “It’s very difficult to find green space this close to downtown Boston,” she says. Typically brides use both for their reception by having guests move inside for cocktails and outside for dinner and dancing under a tent. Guests on the lawn can catch a peek of the Constitution, the oldest Naval battleship still in commission, as they walk up the porch’s graceful, curving stairway to see the harbor beyond.

376 Hale St., Beverly 978-232-2129,

Boston’s 19th-century Brahmans would hightail it to Beverly for its stunning shoreline and restorative ocean breezes. Today, you don’t have to come from old money to enjoy the same shoreline views. Brides and grooms can host guests at their own oceanfront estate for the day at Misselwood—a historic waterfront property that once belonged to Boston Brahman Susan B. Cabot.

Your wedding party and guests have the run of the entire 4.5-acre private estate—they book just one wedding per day—which offers striking views of the Atlantic and walking paths throughout the grounds. Receptions are held in a state-of-the-art tent complete with chandeliers, heating and cooling systems, a dance floor and high-end bathrooms nearby (read: no port-o-johns marring your lovely ambiance). “It’s the ultimate outdoor wedding,” says Eileen M. Geyer, director of event and conference services at Endicott College, which owns Misslewood. Catering options include an on-site facility and Creative Catering in Beverly.

Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center
One Seaport Lane, Boston 617-385-4212,

TRANSPORTING GUESTS FROM THE ceremony to the reception via water taxi, hosting a rehearsal dinner on a nearby boat or arranging a fireboat salute in Boston Harbor are just a few ways brides and grooms have taken full advantage of the Seaport Hotel’s location on Boston Harbor.

“It’s a unique vantage point,” says Nikki Wescott, the hotel’s director of weddings. “We have the great skyline views because we’re slightly removed from the city, but we’re surrounded by water.” Many couples choose the Seaport Hotel because they want a seaside wedding, she says, but don’t want to ask their family and friends to travel to the Cape. The hotel and World Trade Center (which is owned by the hotel) offer four ballrooms with views of the harbor and city skyline.

State Room
60 State St., Boston 617-854-5000,

YOU MAY HAVE TO FORGIVE YOUR guests if their attention strays from you and your groom when they enter the rooftop Great Room in downtown Boston’s State Room. With its 20-foot-tall glass wall overlooking the harbor, the Custom House and the North End, guests will be treated to a water and city view unlike any other.

“Guests are drawn to the window like a magnet when they first walk in,” says marketing director Susan Verge. The State Room also has two other ballrooms that can host wedding receptions: the Harborside Room, which also provides views of the water, and the Cityside Room, which has a small water view but looks out mostly onto downtown Boston and the Public Garden.

Verge says brides try not to compete with the view when planning the reception’s decor. Often all it takes are candles to complement the sparkling city skyline at night. And you never know when nature will decide to show off a bit—occasionally, says Verge, a rainbow appears over the harbor during some lucky bride’s reception.