Vermont Historic Home Wedding at Sumner Mansion
We love capturing images like this one where a wedding day detail is paired with an aspect of the venue, and we especially love doing so at Sumner Mansion in Hartland, Vermont, as we have a very special personal connection to it.
Of all the superb wedding venues in Vermont, none stand out to us more than the Sumner Mansion Inn, the site of our own wedding in 2010. A lot has changed at Sumner in the years since our wedding, but the appeal of the location has been attracting visitors since it was a private home, completed in 1807. Sitting atop a small hill, the historic home overlooks the tiny town of Hartland and all three of its stop signs. Em lived just down the street from here for her high school years when she was a teenager, giving us a great personal connection to the area. When we first considered Sumner Mansion as a possible wedding venue, Em’s family went there and took a few photos so we could see what the place looked like at that time. It’s funny to look back now, since the original photos were taken in February with snow on the ground and we were married on a pristine summer day in mid-August.
Sumner Mansion has personality and history both inside and out. We selected the grand bedroom downstairs as our room for the weekend, allowing us easy access to all parts of the house. Yes, we had the entire mansion for the extended weekend, which allowed us to do set up and break down on Friday and Sunday. This kept our actual wedding day fun and relaxed for the entire duration, which stretched late enough to actually end early the next morning. The library room served as our dance floor and was thankfully unused as our backup plan for dinner in case of rain. The centralized room hosted half of our guests for dinner with the other half stretching outside onto the patio. This was also the site of our brunch the next morning, which we admittedly missed most of, both by sleeping in late and practically falling asleep at the tables. We are not really morning people but we are photographers, and we were looking at our own photos of the wedding (captured by friends and family on our pocket-sized Lumix camera) late into the night. A piece of advice to everyone out there getting married: don’t do this! Relax, enjoy your day, and check out the photos later.
Outside Sumner Mansion’s walls, the grounds are dominated by the giant maple trees, the tallest of which is believed to be the second largest in the state of Vermont. We chose to have our ceremony under this tree’s branches, which provided enough shade to cover our party of 80 with plenty of room to spare. Steve entered from the side, taking the route through the back garden, over the checkerboard stones, and to the right of our guests. Em, escorted by her father, came out of the main entrance to the house, offering them a view of the giant tree looming largely over the entire group of guests. She may have been born in Vermont, but she has lived in Florida long enough to pick up a few Palm Beach traits, demonstrated by the fact that she wore towering stiletto heels across the grass for the ceremony. We had a blast at our wedding and we like to share with people all the things we learned along the way. Em now strongly advises against wearing heels to outdoor ceremonies that involve long walks across Vermont fields.
On the Northern side of the property, by what is technically the front door to the house, recent landscaping has given this space a clean, manicured, and inviting ambiance. When we were married here, this area was somewhat neglected and overgrown, but we actually liked the wild and natural Vermont feel it provided. We chose to use this spot as the location for our first look since it was secluded, fully of greenery, and incorporated a facade of the house that would not be in the background during any other parts of the day. The steps from the front door lead down to a well worn path, letting Em walk away from the house onto sold ground while still in heels. Today this lawn is visible from the street below, also giving passers by a glimpse of the house itself. We walked out of a tree tunnel that existed at the time, giving us a chance to wander out to the front lawn for ten minutes, during which time seemingly everyone in town drove by us and waved. (Several days later we had multiple people at the general store nearby ask if we had just gotten married; word travels fast in small towns!)
Sumner Mansion Inn is on the top of a small hill, but the slopes around it and the path leading up to it were all used during our wedding weekend as well. To minimize the visibility of cars throughout the day, the ground level has enough space cleared to handle parking dozens of vehicles onsite. Some antique farm equipment is strategically placed around the property to complete the desired rustic feel and create a few interesting artifacts to see during the walk from the parking space to the house itself. One of these in particular was used as the background for a photo of Em’s bouquet, which is one of our favorite detail images from the wedding day. While not specifically encouraged, guests often wander a few hundred feet over to the only other house on the street to see some of the alpacas present on the farm. We waived to the neighbors and apologized if were we causing any noise, but they were exceptionally nice and welcoming toward us, going so far as to bring us a few fresh eggs from their farm during our stay at the mansion.
Each time we return to Sumner Mansion, whether it be to photograph a wedding there or to just pop by quickly while we are in the area, we are reminded of our memorable weekend we spent there years ago. We also feel an instant connection with couples who inquire with us about photography and have already booked Sumner Mansion as their venue, since that tells us immediately that we have similar tastes. Over the years we have seen the property, both inside and out, transform into a clean, well restored vision of its original state. We were one of the first couples to be married here under previous ownership and watching it grow into what it is today has been a thrill for us to see.
Location: Sumner Mansion Inn, 4 Station Rd, Hartland, VT 05048. 1/320; f/8.0; ISO 1000; 100.0 mm.