Thanks to Visit Rhode Island, last month, I had the opportunity to experience the smallest state in America through a wedding-colored lens. And well, friends, I'm calling it now. Rhode Island is totally Virginia's BFF. With the immense local pride Rhode Islanders have as well as their love for all things nautical and close-knit wedding community, it's a match made in travel heaven. I met so many new industry friends (and hugged it out with my Aisle Society gal pals Glamour and Grace and Love Inc.), saw incredible places, and got to learn about some great things for Virginia couples looking for a coastal destination either for their weddings, honeymoons, or even weekend getaways. So without further ado, here are my 5 reasons why the Ocean State is perfect for those hailing from Old Dominion!
1. Nautical vibes everywhere.
Especially in Newport, there is an underlying urge to go find a sailboat and set sail around Narragansett Bay. With monkey knots, lifestyle brands like Kiel James Patrick, and fresh seafood galore, nautical isn't just a style; it's a way of life here. One of my favorite wedding venues we visited in Newport was Castle Hill Inn, a 19th century shingle-style summer home of a Harvard marine biologist turned coastal getaway and event venue. Nestled upon a cliff overlooking the Narragansett, the main Inn is beautiful, but it's their private beach cottages that charm their way into your salty air loving hearts along with its famous Castle Hill Lighthouse built in 1890 by the highly celebrated American architect, H.H. Richardson. Major ahoy here!
2. Just like Virginia, you throw a stone and you'll definitely hit some history.
Both hotels that we stayed at plucked the strings of my born-out-of-my-proper-time heart and are listed on the Historic Hotels of America. Steeped in local society history, the Providence Biltmore opened its doors in 1922 as the swanky place to go for luxury accommodations, entertainment, and events in the heart of Rhode Island's capital. Now part of the Hilton Curio Collection, it is absolutely perfect for that classic bride or groom seeking glamorous elegance of era bygones for their wedding day and chic relaxation on the other days (particularly in the Spa where I had an Island Bliss pedicure!).
[photo provided by Hotel Viking]
And then beyond the capital, we traveled over to the resort area of Newport where The Hotel Viking romanced the socks off my old soul. Beholding the coveted 1 Bellevue Avenue address with a modern vintage aesthetic that paid homage to its community-built beginnings, you see a constant play of old versus new throughout the entire hotel... and it's done well. The moment you walk into the lobby you are greeted with a panel of old skeleton keys that were the original hotel keys from the late 1920's. And it just snowballs from there in the very best way possible: framed antique photos as room decor, contemporary wallpaper patterns that nodded to another time, and fun reminders that this was the "people's hotel"... quite literally because the local mansion owners saw the need to host even more guests that came into town at the dawn of the automobile age and therefore funded the initial investment to build.
Gorgeous timeless architecture abounds in this City by the Sea, and it's no wonder why couples flock to the Newport Mansions for historical locations to exchange vows and celebrate. If you're obsessed with the 1920's Gatsby era, there really is no other American option for you; this is the glitz and glam mecca for all Roaring Twenties aficionados.
[photo: Snap!Weddings for Rosecliff Mansion]
3. Foodie heaven for all foodies!
With my bucket load of food allergies and dietary restrictions, it can make traveling a bit complicated at times. But everywhere we went in Rhode Island, I was absolutely spoiled with an always full and satisfied tummy! Gracie's in Providence hits the highest mark as they truly rolled out the red carpet when it came to gluten-free accommodations. From the roasted ruby red beets to the macaron crunch bars, the flavors of the meal and knowledgeable staff left me with some very fond memories. And for breakfast or lunch? Gracie's sister restaurant, Ellie's Bakery, is just as delightful! With the head baker also having Celiac, you know the gluten-free treats are top notch!
HUNGRY FOR MORE?
I also loved experiencing...
The Dorrance, Providence
Gourmet elegance housed in a historic bank. Space available for weddings and events.
Del's Frozen Lemonade, multiple locations
Iconic Rhody summer treat. Lemonade car available for weddings.
22 Bowen's, Newport
Nautical dining at its best with fresh seafood and waterfront views. Space available for weddings and events.
Matunuck Oyster Bar, South Kingston
The go-to place for local farm-to-table oysters. Oyster bar catering options available for weddings.
4. Little state, mighty talent.
The wedding community in Rhode Island is mega-talented and reminded me so much of Hampton Roads. From a bespoke wedding fashion designer like Harper Della-Piana of Seams Couture to trend-forward, creative wedding designs by John Orton Flowers & Events, the wedding world packs a powerful punch for any couple getting married in the Ocean State. We especially loved that Seams Couture is accommodating to all couples from gowns to bridal suits and can be experienced in person or via the Seams Couture Etsy shop! Harper's family is originally from the South, so of course, she also has a ton of monogramming options!
[photo by Kristen Chalmers Photography via Seams Couture]
5. So easy to travel to and from!
Whether it's by plane, train, or car, there are a ton of ways to get to Rhode Island... and that means happy out-of-town guests. Eons ago, I went to grad school in Boston, so I'm familiar with all of those transportation methods when getting into Providence, and I highly recommend any of them for a myriad of reasons! I love the train, so if I had more travel time, I'd likely take the Amtrak from Williamsburg into Providence. If I wanted to do a ton of sight-seeing around the state, I'd drive up so I could have my car on hand. And if I had limited travel time (like I did for this particular press trip), I would fly into T.F. Green Airport (PVD) from Richmond or Norfolk. Not many places have a variety of transportation options that allows for a variety of budgets, so this definitely puts Rhode Island on a top destination list for Virginia couples!
Want more about the Ocean State? Keep your eyes peeled for a future feature on parts of Rhode Island on Tidewater and Tulle Travels! But in the meantime, head over to VisitRhodeIsland.com and our new Rhode Island lifestyle blogger friend Patty J to get inspired by this coastal BFF of Virginia.
Lil Disclaimer: Airfare, accommodations, meals, transportation, and activities were provided to Tidewater and Tulle for the immersive Rhode Island wedding-related experience. All opinions are our own. All photos in this post were taken by Chelsea LaVere unless otherwise credited. Some of the above links are affiliate-connected and purchasing through these links helps support future blog projects. You can find our full affiliate disclosure policy here on Tidewater and Tulle.