We fell in love with Manchester, Vermont the first time we visited its quaint shops, perfectly manicured streets, historic hotels, and the formidable Hildene. Manchester serves a a blend of Steve’s home area around Palm Beach and Em’s birthplace in the Vermont mountains. This vacation destination, tucked away near Southern Vermont’s ski country, mixes high-end yet laid-back shopping opportunities with a variety of lodging for that "home away from home" feel. Walking down granite sidewalks on 7A and Main Street, the fresh mountain air rejuvenates your spirit as you watch the sun set beyond a quintessential Vermont horizon.
We love staying at The Wilburton Inn on the south side of town and visiting our friend and colleague, Melissa Levis. Located adjacent to River Road Farm, The Wilburton Inn itself is an impressive historic building perched atop a hill, but the surrounding cabins come in a variety of shapes and sizes, perfect for gatherings of nearly any size. Many of our brides have implemented some of the various locations scattered across the Wilburton property as spectacular backdrops for photos during their hair and makeup preparations on their wedding days.
Close to the center of town, The Inn at Manchester balances rustic charm with modern amenities while conveniently being set back from the main road. Nancy Ess and her staff may technically be innkeepers, but we like to think of them as wedding coordinators who host celebrations at their own home. The largest red barn on site lies just feet from the inn itself and provides a beautiful reception space with a built in bar, self-contained kitchen, and a large open space capped with wooden beams and panels. Candlelight flickers and glows off of the interior walls and ceiling while guests watch dusk settle in through the glass windows and doors lining the western wall. Fall weddings may be the first thought here, but winter weddings feel homey and warm from inside as snow flurries fly outside.
Trading bucolic resplendence for swanky modernization, a short walk north will lead you to The Equinox, A Luxury Collection Golf Resort. Whether you prefer to sip a cocktail or follow our lead and opt for the cheese and charcuterie plate paired with a glass of pinot noir, you can do it at the Marsh Tavern. For dinner, The Equinox contains the Chop House if you don’t feel like driving, but if you do, The Perfect Wife is just a short drive away. The fact that the sister restaurant is upstairs and called “The Other Woman” may give you pause on your wedding weekend, but we hope you share our somewhat inappropriate sense of humor and dive right into it.
Manchester has no shortage of wedding venues, including River Road Farm, The Southern Vermont Arts Center, and the newly erected Taconic, A Kimpton Hotel, but the one that rises above the rest is the iconic and enchanting Hildene. Venue and wedding coordinator extraordinaire Nicole Brock, our “Brockstar,” is in complete control of the sprawling 412 acre estate and imposing mansion, constructed in 1905. Trying to rattle off all of the photographic possibilities here based on light, location, season, and the personalities of our clients might take a few years, but suffice it to say we would never be able to photograph the same wedding twice.
We encourage everyone to visit Manchester, VT at least once, whether you are looking to plan a wedding, snap some great photos, or take in some of the splendor Vermont has to offer.
Location: Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home, Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests, 1005 Hildene Rd, Manchester, VT 05254.1/800; f/2.0; ISO 400; 135.0 mm.