5/11/2011 - Not too late for a royal wedding, American-style
by Caroline Costello, IndependentTraveller.com
Unless you've been lost on a deserted island for a couple of months, you've no doubt at least seen the highlights of the recent Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. Wanna get married at a castle here in America? The article below shares some info on a few places you can do just that. And Asheville, North Carolina has one! Click on the link in the "Biltmore Estate" section to read a little more about Asheville. Brides - June is fast approaching! These castles and estates are spectacular settings for a fairy-tale event.
Just like Kate, you can walk down the aisle of an iconic historic treasure to marry a prince. Okay, we can't guarantee the prince part (a partner with princely qualities is a good substitute), but we do know of a few historic attractions that are the perfect places for a fairy tale wedding in the style of European royalty -- and a ticket across the pond won't be required for the event.
Castles built by America's royalty, from Gilded Age robber barons to, well, authentic royals (think Hawaii), make for spectacularly impressive weddings. Your event may not be viewed on YouTube by half the world, but it will be an occasion to remember, with a grandiose 250-room chateau, splendid gardens or a six-story medieval-style castle setting the scene for your nuptials.
Don't feel left out if you aren't walking down the aisle anytime soon. These attractions are open for tours as well as weddings.
Hearst Castle, San Simeon, Calif.
When a newspaper tycoon of the Gilded Age builds his dream home, moderation is negligible. Fifty-six bedrooms and 61 bathrooms are a must. A world-class collection of priceless art, a private zoo and two lavish swimming pools are obligatory. And perfectly manicured gardens bursting with color? William Randolph Hearst had to have them, so he surrounded his American castle with acres of exotic plants, from elegant cypress trees to vibrant pomegranate hedges, inspired by gardens in Italy and Spain. All in all, the place makes a sensational backdrop for a royal-esque wedding. Couples can tie the knot on one of the castle's many terraces, with the surrounding emerald San Simeon hills and the castle's white Mediterranean Revival-style towers stretching to the sky behind them.
Biltmore Estate, Asheville, N.C.
Biltmore Estate, the largest privately owned home in the United States, seems straight out of a fairy tale. The Vanderbilt mansion was built in the 1800?s in the romantic architectural style of French chateaus, with tall spires and steeply pitched roofs. The gardens of Biltmore, where weddings are held amidst cool lily ponds, stone walls, ancient cypress trees and blooming beds of delicate flowers, extend for nearly 8,000 acres. Read more about Asheville.
Boldt Castle, Heart Island, N.Y.
Nestled in New York's Thousand Islands region, Boldt Castle is a living tribute to love. The six-story castle was commissioned by American hotelier George Boldt to honor his wife, Louise. Construction began in 1900, and the Boldt family visited the castle regularly as it was built, staying in nearby Alster Tower. But work on the structure ceased suddenly in 1904 when Louise died and a heartbroken George Boldt abandoned the project that he had shared with his beloved partner. The incredible 120-room castle was left unfinished for 73 years until it was restored in the 1970s. Today, couples can arrange a wedding on the appropriately named Heart Island, where the Boldts' massive medieval-style castle stands as a magnificent monument to marriage.
Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Hawaii
The United States is home to a single royal palace, about which American travelers can proudly brag to British locals on trips to the U.K. It's Honolulu's Iolani Palace, the former home of King Kalakaua and Queen Lili'uokalani. The palace, built in 1879, sits on land that is believed to be the site of an ancient Hawaiian place of worship, a sacred area known as a "wahi pana." Weddings can be held on the royal palace's lawns beneath swaying palm trees and Indian banyan trees.
Rosecliff, Newport, R.I.
Dance and dine under painted ceilings in the ballroom at Rosecliff, the only Newport mansion that is available for weddings. Newport is the storied site of some of the United S tates' most lavish mansions. The area was the summer vacation spot of choice for Gilded Age American elites like the Vanderbilts and the Astors; their opulent homes sit on acres of beautifully landscaped gardens near dramatic coastal cliffs. (There's even a 19th-century topiary garden with bushes cut into the shapes of animals nearby.) Rosecliff, built for the Oelrich family in the style of Versailles, was featured in the film "The Great Gatsby."