Six romantic destinations for your waterfront wedding
Fair weather in Philadelphia can mean
everything from scenic walks along Kelly Drive to weekend jaunts to the Shore.
And because the region has so many
waterfront destinations, clear skies
can inspire many a happy couple to
step outside on their Big Day.
Here’s our guide to many
memorable waterfront venues
in the region that can suit any
party size or budget.
Fair weather in Philadelphia can mean everything from scenic walks along Kelly Drive to weekend jaunts to the Shore. And because the region has so many waterfront destinations, clear skies can inspire many a happy couple to step outside on their Big Day. Here’s our guide to many memorable waterfront venues in the region that can suit any party size or budget.
The Lake House Inn
1100 Old Bethlehem Road, Perkasie
Built as a stagecoach stop 200 years ago in historic Bucks County, The Lake House Inn was renovated last year by its new owners to take advantage of the surrounding state park — and 1,450 acres overlooking Lake Nockamixon — turning it into an upscale wedding venue and bed-and-breakfast. “There’s a panoramic view of the lake,” says Robyn Bell, the inn’s event coordinator. “In summertime, there are always sailboats going by.”
Outdoor weddings are held in a 300-seat tent perched right by the lake. The inn also houses a wine cellar and spa. Jeffrey Miller Catering Co., the exclusive partner of the Lake House Inn, creates sophisticated wine-tasting stations as part of the cocktail hour, and offers a wide range of dining options including buffets, plated dinners, and stationary and butlered hors d’oeuvres.
“The wedding party can check in, have their nails done, get a massage and have an after-hours party on the terraces after the guests have gone home,” says Bell. “There’s always a breeze coming across the lake. It’s very peaceful.”
1 Aquarium Drive., Camden 856-365-3300, www.adventureaquarium.com
You can go from being on the water to going underwater at the Adventure Aquarium. “We’ve hosted smaller wedding ceremonies and receptions in the Shark Realm,” says Denise Beaumont, the aquarium’s facility sales manager. “One couple even got married in front of the shark tank.”
Located on Camden’s waterfront, Adventure Aquarium showcases dramatic views of the Philadelphia skyline and shimmering Delaware River. The outside promenade is a prime spot for ceremonies, while the Jules Verne Gallery is a popular reception choice.
“All of our wedding receptions are private functions in the aquarium after hours,” says Beaumont. “Generally our receptions start with a cocktail hour where guests can wander through our exhibits.” The aquarium accommodates anywhere between 25 and 300 people, and guests can mingle among fish tanks, skyline views and a two-story waterfall. Currents Ballroom, the aquarium’s
newest entertainment space, is set to open this spring with a view into the Shark Realm.
“We also have a 14,000-square-foot dance floor,” says Beaumont, “right under an iridescent fish mobile.” She says because there’s so much eye candy at the aquarium — such as the 760,000-gallon tank filled with fish, turtles and stingrays — wedding planners rarely opt for more than centerpieces. “Our caterer is full-service,” she says. “We can do pretty much anything from sit-down dinners to action stations.”
Penn’s Landing, 401 South Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia 215-923-2500,
As the world's largest four-masted sailing vessel still afloat, the Moshulu is both a romantic and an adventurous wedding destination. Inspired by the South Seas, it makes you feel like you’ve set sail on an exotic vacation without leaving port.
Moshulu’s private dining rooms and outdoor decks take full advantage of the city and river views, with multilevel spaces on the ship for open-air entertaining. Wedding parties can choose from among several indoor dining settings, including the exclusive Chef’s Table and the Captain’s Table, which has a skylight view of the ship’s lighted masts.
Executive chef Ralph Fernandez creates a diverse, succulent array of American dishes with Southwestern and French flavors. Wedding parties can choose between formal dinners and creative alternatives, including sushi and fajita stations, and iced seafood plateaus. Moshulu’s
own pastry department creates wedding cakes and petits fours on the premises, whether you’re entertaining 2,000 of your closest
friends or an intimate guest list tucked away in a private room on this handsome seafarer.
“With the incredible views of the Philadelphia skyline, the waterfront, plus the beauty of the Ben Franklin Bridge at night, there’s nothing like it,” says Megan Eberz, Moshulu’s banquet director. She says guests “will remember it for years.”
211 South Columbus Blvd.,
Overlooking the Delaware River, the Independence Seaport Museum has two breathtaking ways for couples to forever remember their Big Day: by enjoying a panoramic view of the Philadelphia skyline and getting married right on the picutresque waterfront promenade.
“It’s a fantastic combination of indoor and outdoor entertaining,” says Mark Brown, the museum’s director of facility rentals. “The wedding can be held in the museum, on deck or in private areas.”
Wedding parties can celebrate with cocktails beneath a looming three-story replica of the Ben Franklin Bridge inside the Independence Seaport Museum. “The first choice is the terrace to start your evening,” says Brown. “But in the cooler weather, the reception can start in the exhibit area.”
For the main event, located on the top floor of this maritime treasure is the Spinnaker Room. This formal space is elegantly appointed for dinner and dancing (think inventive food stations and luxe martini bars), and the ballroom looks out onto Penn’s Landing and Philadelphia’s skyline, with a clear view of the New Jersey riverfront.
For smaller parties interested in a more informal reception space, the Dining Room on the Delaware is covered by an all-weather tent that makes it available from spring through early fall. A few steps away is the Captain’s Rotunda, which overlooks the river. “It’s a great combination of food, service and atmosphere,” says Brown. “Guests get the feeling that we’re giving the museum over to them.”
Frog Commissary Catering handles all food for the museum. “In addition to traditional wedding meals, we can put outdoor grills on the terrace,” says Brown, and serve sophisticated international fare, clambakes and kosher meals. “We can even do picnic food with hand-built hamburgers, Asian grills and skewers.” Drinks can be made to fit themes, too, with fresh fruit for warm-weather celebrations.
Bonnet Island Estate
2400 East Bay Ave., Bonnet Island, New Jersey 609-494-9100,
If privacy is your idea of an elegant wedding, the two-acre Bonnet Island Estate is a dream come true. The sprawling Barnegat Bay retreat is bordered by the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge between Manahawkin and Long Beach Island.
Taking a page out of New England style, the Gatsby-esque estate imported an authentic Boathouse Chapel one beam at a time from Vermont to perform quaint ceremonies in. There’s also a dockside veranda with a panoramic view of the bay.
The estate’s ballroom takes advantage of the natural surroundings with its floor-to-ceiling bayfront windows and soaring 30-foot ceiling that resembles the hull of a classic sailing ship. Wedding parties can choose between the estate’s two catering partners for formal black-tie cocktail receptions and gourmet sit-down dinners.
After the formal festivities have come to a close on the grounds and in the ballroom, the grand staircase and scissor-gated elevator leads the wedding party to 12 private suites, each of which includes an in-room fireplace, Jacuzzi and waterfront balcony for an after-party or romantic rendezvous right before the honeymoon.
Club of Philadelphia
300 West Second St., Essington
With a large collection of nautical artwork, the Corinthian Yacht Club of Philadelphia — home to the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University sailing teams — takes weddings as seriously as it does boating. The historic sailing and yacht club overlooks the Delaware River on 10 beautiful acres of land.
From the back lawn, wedding guests can take in the riverside view, watching ships pass by on the Delaware. There’s a veranda overlooking the pool that’s ideal for small cocktail parties or after-hours mingling.
Note: The club is currently undergoing renovations. If you’re interested in booking the club for your wedding, please call for availability.