The great venue search (part two)

15 September 2011

Yesterday I told you about the more common Connecticut venues we considered for our reception (to recap: Harkness, the Branford House, Jonathan Edwards, Saltwater Farm, the Inn at Mystic, Florence Griswold, and Mystic Seaport).

Again, we were looking for three things in a venue:

1) Scenic, by the water, and able to be tented.
2) Freedom.
3) Not terribly expensive.

Oh yes, and an available date in September. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to satisfy all of those requirements with any of the more traditional options. So, we quickly forged ahead into less-charted territories.

Island Farm at Elihu Island, off Stonington

Our first stop was Elihu Island, which I had extremely high hopes for. From photos and descriptions I had read, it looked fabulous — a blank, extremely scenic slate, and less-well-known (and therefore more likely to have September dates available). Unfortunately, our hopes were dashed pretty quickly when I heard the cost to get in the door. I can’t put my hands on the brochure they sent over, but I believe it was about $14,000. That buys you a full planning package with their wedding planner, the use of the site (which still needs to be tented, not included in the cost), and the use of the house for three days (the house sleeps 22). They are also very strict about required vendors. Sadly, we had to let this one go.

The Inn at Lower Farm in Ledyard

The Inn at Lower Farm is a lovely venue which doesn’t actually advertise that they host weddings, since the owners only want to host couples who “love the property as much as they do.” I love that sentiment! Unfortunately, the price was a bit too much for us ($3,500, which includes two nights in the four rooms of the Inn), and we probably wouldn’t have been able to squeeze under the guest limit of 100 people.

Ayer Mountain Farm in Franklin

Ayer Mountain Farm is actually my family’s farm, which means it would have been free for us to use! Besides that obvious plus, it also has sentimental value. The drawbacks? It would have taken some serious sweat equity to get the wedding spot in guest-ready shape, and it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere, which means it would have been a hike between it and our church.

Private residence in Mystic

This option was more of a fantasy than anything else, but indulge me. For years, I told anyone who would listen that I was going to get married on the lawn of a particular waterfront house in Mystic. It’s been my favorite house in all the world for many years, and I always figured I would just write the owners a letter explaining the situation, and that miraculously they would immediately sense my earnestness and good intentions, and would agree to let me borrow their house for the weekend. I even had a plan worked out for parking!

As brilliant of a plan as that was (ha!), in the end, we decided to go with something a little more traditional. But before we landed on our ultimate location, we began to get very worried we would never find a spot to celebrate…

To be continued on Monday!

Photo of Elihu by Corinna Raznikov, other three personal photos

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September 15, 2011 12:39 pm

AH! How can you leave me hanging over the weekend?? The suspense….!!

emily – loving following your blog :) good luck with everything!


Meredith Perdue
September 15, 2011 12:40 pm

I've loved reading the great venue search, but the suspense is killing me, Emily!

September 15, 2011 5:42 pm

All in good time, ladies! :)

January 25, 2013 10:17 am

Loved reading through this page! I want Elihu Island SOO bad for my September wedding in 2014, is there any way they would give you just a Saturday reception? I’m having a hard time finding the perfect venue… I’m from Waterford and my fiance is from No. Stonington, so we love the farms and the sea… But we also can’t go broke with a guest list of 150+!! Anxious to hear what you settled on!

July 10, 2013 11:57 am

Hi Emily – I was reading your blog and for a second, thought I was the one writing it! It looks like from a wedding stance you and I are looking for the same thing and its been quite the task. I just stumbled upon Elihu Island on Style Me Pretty, but can’t seem to find a contact for them. I saw that you got a brochure. Can you please share your contact there for wedding inquries? Thank you!