You don’t have to pack your passport to get married in an actual castle—some of the grandest estates are located right here in the U.S. And while they don’t boast the centuries-old histories of castles you’ll find abroad (most here were built during the Gilded Age, around the turn of the twentieth century), they are no less romantic.
The jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Biltmore Estate was built in the 1890s by George W. Vanderbilt II, thanks to a massive inheritance from his grandfather, industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt. On Christmas Eve, 1895, George threw a bash to officially open the castle’s doors to his friends and family, who gathered in the Banquet Hall beneath a 40-foot spruce lit with electric lights, a new innovation. Today, you’ll want to make your wedding a weekend affair—the 250-room castle is the largest privately-owned home in the U.S., its grounds outfitted with a spa, winery, six restaurants, and some of the best horseback riding around.
Pro tip: Plan an intimate wedding in the candle-lit Champagne Cellar, which sits beneath the estate and can accommodate gatherings of up to 30. Request the Biltmore Estate Romance Brut, a nod to the 1898 marriage of George and Edith Dresser, who drank the bubbly stuff at her wedding breakfast, a trend we can get behind.
Book it: From $10,000, biltmore.com.
Alexandria Bay, NY
Everything about Boldt Castle is steeped in romance: It was built by self-made millionaire George Boldt for his wife, Louise, whom he considered a princess—this was to be her fairytale castle, presented to her on Valentine’s Day. Construction on the castle—which sits on Heart Island (seriously) just across the St. Lawrence River from Canada—began in 1900, but when Louise tragically passed away in 1904, George put an end to it, unable to bear the thought of the castle without his beloved wife. In 1977, Boldt Castle was acquired by the Thousands Islands Bridge Authority and restored. Today, it’s surrounded by gardens, and wedding ceremonies occur in the courtyard off the main entrance that overlooks the St. Lawrence River in three directions.
Pro tip: Weddings can take place any day of the week. If during off-peak season (from the first Sunday in September to the second-to-last Saturday in June), you are not required to purchase the admission ticket minimum of 50 as you are during peak season.
Book it: From $250, boldtcastle.com.
Located in downtown Honolulu, Iolani Palace is the only official royal palace in the United States—from 1882 to 1893, it was the official residence of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s last two monarchs: King David Kalākaua and his sister and successor, Queen Liliʻuokalani, the last sovereign monarch of Hawaiian Kingdom. King Kalākaua built the palace as a symbol of hope for the Hawaiian Kingdom, and it featured Hawaii’s first first electric light system, flush toilets, and in-house telephones. The building’s unique style, American Florentine, blends Italian Renaissance and Hawaiian architecture. Today, the palace features a beautiful koa staircase, portraits of Hawaiian royalty, and royal gifts from around the world.
Pro tip: There are a handful of venues across the property, but for small weddings, it’s recommended to go with The Banyan Terrace, which sits amidst a large Indian banyan tree, believed to have been planted by Queen Kapiʻolani.
Book it: From $3,800, iolanipalace.com.
This 35-room home in the Gold Coast Historic Neighborhood in Omaha was built in 1903 for George and Sarah Joslyn, some of Omaha’s first millionaires and philanthropists. Vermont natives, they moved west after George landed a job with a printing firm. Their four-story, Scottish Baronial-style castle includes a reception hall, music room, ballroom, library, and gold drawing room (and at one time housed a bowling alley in the basement). Their daughter, Violet, was married in the castle in 1913. Today, weddings take place on the first floor or outdoors, in the castle’s gardens and grounds, which are a public green space located in the heart of Midtown.
Pro tip: From Monday through Thursday, the castle is available at the insanely cheap price of $750.
Book it: From $750, joslyncastle.com.
Hickory Creek, TX
A total newbie on the castle wedding scene, The Olana was built in 2000 by husband and wife Alan and Shirley Goldfield, who lived there for around two years following the completion of the build in 2006. The luxe mansion is one of the largest houses in Texas and was inspired by French baroque architecture, built as an homage to Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte. Inside you’ll find hand-carved spiral staircases, a gold-plated elevator, a tea room modeled after New York’s Tavern on the Green, and even a two-story Chanel-inspired closet.
Pro tip: Choose the Back Terrace for a more private, intimate setting for your ceremony.
Book it: From $15,000, waltersweddingestates.com.
A historic Atlanta landmark, this Romanesque Revival-style mansion offers its first floor for event use, as well as its lawn and front porch. The “Castle on Peachtree” offers a wedding suite and a changing room for the bridal party, and with its largest room able to hold just 40 people, is ideal for a more intimate affair. At night, step out onto the roof for sweeping views of the city and some romantic photo ops.
Pro tip: From Monday through Thursday, a six-hour rental rings in at just $1,500—and you can bring your own alcohol.
Book it: From $1,500, rhodeshall.org.
An oceanfront setting on the East Coast, this Gilded Age mansion sits atop manicured, sprawling grounds and features French baroque revival architecture, a bridal dressing suite, and a heart-shaped staircase perfect for portraits. Since its completion in 1902, Rosecliff has hosted many lavish gatherings—including a dinner with guest Harry Houdini—and has appeared in The Great Gatsby and 27 Dresses.
Pro tip: The mansion offers reduced midweek and off-season rates. For an intimate setting, book the Salon, which can seat up to 80 guests.
Book it: From $8,000, newportmansions.org.
Another Gilded Age gem, the English Tudor-style Searles Castle was commissioned by antiques collector Edward Searles, partly to pay tribute to his English heritage, and partly because he married widower Mary Hopkins, who inherited $61 million when her husband Mark, part owner of Southern Pacific Railroad, died. Completed in 1915 with marble imported from Europe, the 20-room castle features a bridal suite that was formerly the master bedroom, and includes a dressing room, parlor, private bathroom, and sun porch.
Pro tip: Searles Castle is only a half-hour from Boston, creating a convenient option for accommodations and entertainment for out-of-town guests.
Book it: From $6,000, searlescastle.com.