Rich in history, elegance and photo-ready backdrops, a wedding at a castle is straight out of a fairytale-- the perfect start of your own happily ever after. Though Europe is the epicenter of turrets and Great Halls, the U.S. is home to many unique castles. From the country's largest private residence (originally built for a Vanderbilt) to a manor house imported piece by piece from Britain for an industrialist's young bride, these three properties offer a storybook setting for your most romantic day.
The Biltmore, North Carolina
Photo courtesy of The Biltmore Company
Opened in 1895, and modeled after a 16th-century French chateau, this Asheville property was originally the home of George Vanderbilt-- grandson of Cornelius-- who spent his time here indulging his passions for art and horticulture. The Biltmore's property features a historic 250-room main house, a working winery, walled gardens, vast parks and the 290-room Inn on Biltmore Estate. Weddings can be held anywhere except inside the main house; popular ceremony spots include the front lawn and the Lioncrest Courtyard or Veranda, which overlook the woodlands. Reception meals, featuring produce from local farms and on-site gardens, may be held in the rustic Antler Hill barn, the intimate Champagne Cellar, the Grand Ballroom or in outdoor tents. Romantic extras, such as horse-drawn carriages, can easily be arranged. The Inn's Cecil Suite, housed in the turret and boasting sweeping Blue Ridge Mountain views, is a wedding night favorite. (Wedding packages start at $150 per person and include passed canapes, custom menus and a cake, a four-hour open bar, a champagne toast and wedding night accommodation for the couple; Facility fees start at $2,000.)
Thornewood Castle Inn and Gardens, Washington
Photo courtesy of The Thornewood Castle
In the early 1900s, when the wife of a local businessman, Chester Thorne, expressed a desire for a castle, her doting husband obliged. Built between 1908 and 1911 and located just outside of Tacoma, Washington, Thornewood Castle is comprised of original materials shipped from Europe, including red-brick facing from Wales, a grand staircase and oak doors from an Elizabethan mansion, and painted-glass panels from the collection of a duke. Today, the restored property includes an antique-filled main house, with 10 guest suites, plus sprawling, gorgeous gardens. The castle can accommodate any celebration, from an intimate elopement to an indoor sit-down dinner for 125 and a 300-plus bash in an outdoor tent. Favorite ceremony sites include the Great Hall and the covered porch, while honeymoons are off to a good start in suites like the Lord Byron, with lake views and a heart-shaped hot tub. (Facility fees start at $2,000.)