Behind the Scenes: Newport Weddings
With its mix of beach town, sailing capital, and world-class resort, plus the backdrop of colonial and gilded age history, it is no wonder that Newport became a top wedding destination. Not to mention, the magical quality of the natural light — best seen in wedding photos from Castle Hill Inn!
Follow in the footsteps of Gertrude Vanderbilt who wed Harry Payne Whitney at the Breakers — her parent’s summer villa — in 1895; Jacqueline Bouvier who wed then Senator John F. Kennedy at St. Mary’s Church on Spring Street in 1953, with a reception at Hammersmith Farm — her step-family’s Newport estate (just a stone’s throw from Castle Hill); and most recently, Jennifer Lawrence, who brought a little Hollywood to Newport when she wed at Belcourt in 2019. But you don’t need a family estate or a Hollywood wedding planner when you can turn to the event professionals at Castle Hill Inn for the realization of your wedding dreams!
The Castle Hill Sales and Events team is headed by Marie Charles, Director of Sales for all of Newport Restaurant Group and Marketing Director for Castle Hill Inn. Our Sales Office is located on Thames Street in the heart of downtown and much of the activity emanating from there is focused on events and weddings at CHI. Stephanie Nelson is our Senior Sales Manager for the Castle Hill Inn, as well as the Bohlin, a tented wedding and event venue directly on Newport Harbor. Stephanie is from Sutton, MA and graduated from Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI. She cut her teeth on sales and event management working for the Ocean House Management Collection out of Westerly, RI until she decided that Newport had more to offer. She describes Newport as the cleanest, booming little city and the Castle Hill Inn as providing the best old-fashioned hospitality in a setting that is quintessentially New England. The property, she says, sells itself, with its stunning natural beauty, elegant appointments, and unrivaled food and service.
Once you’ve decided on a Castle Hill or Bohlin wedding, the adventure truly begins! You are paired with your own event manager to guide you through all the details — from your tasting, to coordinating with vendors for décor and entertainment, right up to assuring the smooth flow of the big day itself.
In addition to Stephanie, I spent time with Jackie, Event Manager for Castle Hill Inn and the Bohlin, Maria, Event Manager for CHI, and Molly, Sales Assistant for CHI and the Bohlin.
Jackie is from N. Kingstown, RI but graduated from the University of Alabama! She worked for several years at the Viking Hotel in downtown Newport. She explained how perfect Newport is not only for your wedding ceremony and reception, but for all the events that might accompany a wedding, from available lodging to excursions on the water. She believes that the views, food and service at Castle Hill Inn and the Bohlin put us in the best position to deliver your distinct wedding experience.
When it was time to meet with Maria, I had to catch her on the go, as she was coordinating an event at the Castle Hill Chalet. Maria is from New Jersey and graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, which serves as the gateway for many into the hospitality industry of our little state. Fresh out of school, she worked in wedding planning at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, RI and joined our team in January 2019. Complications of the pandemic aside, she is grateful to perform her duties amidst the history, beauty and uniqueness that she always finds at the Castle Hill Inn.
Last, we have Molly, who is often the initial point of contact for wedding and event inquiries as Sales Assistant for the team. She is from Pittsfield, MA and is a 2019 graduate of Salve Regina University in Newport. Molly handles many of the administrative tasks but has recently had some hands-on experience working with the event managers. She is not sure whether she will focus her career on sales, events, or marketing, but she says that living in Newport is like being on vacation all the time. Sounds like a great mind set for someone beginning their career in hospitality in our City by the Sea.
I asked Stephanie, Jackie, Maria and Molly about wedding trends and each one of them had the same answer: the trend is individuality and customization, making the wedding experience reflective of the couple, with the benefit of hands-on planning offered by the team. Now that’s a trend that could stay in style forever!
– Shea C Nelson