Sunday, December 26, 2010

Top 6 Wedding Castles in the United States

Prince William's engagement has everyone buzzing about next year's royal wedding. Your wedding can have just the same extravagance and glamour (even if you don't have any strings to pull at Westminster Abbey). Plus, you can stay stateside.
Here are our six favorite American wedding-worthy castles.
Belcourt Castle, Newport, RI

This 60-room castle built in 1891 was meant to be a bachelor pad for owner Oliver Belmont, which explains why the entire first floor is comprised of stables and carriage stalls. The ballrooms and banquet halls exude details of a romantic, bygone era, like the thirteenth-century stained-glass windows. On your wedding day, your guests can get a quick history lesson with a guided tour of the castle's art as they're shown to their seats. And the ambience won't be lost during dinner — meals are served on centuries-old antique tables.
Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC

With 250 rooms, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, an indoor pool, gym and a bowling alley, the Biltmore Estate is America's largest home. The 8,000-acre estate was built in 1895 by George Vanderbilt and modeled after the classic chateaus in France. Have your wedding there and you can exchange vows on the tented lawns with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and forests, and have your cocktail hour in the Gallery, which has amazing floor-to-ceiling windows. Want to arrive in true nineteenth-century style? The Biltmore Estate also offers carriage rides for brides and grooms.
Falkenstein Castle, Burnet, TX

Located 50 miles west of Austin, this 174,240-square-foot castle feels like something out of a dream. Modeled after the Neuschwanstein castle in Germany, Falkenstein Castle captures the romance and culture of a different period. You can exchange vows in dramatic fashion in the Gothic Chapel, with its arched doors, 35-foot-high ceilings and hand-carved French altar. Then proceed for scenic photo ops by the Lily Pond or Butterfly Garden.
Iolani Palace, Honolulu, HI

Truly a castle built for a king, Iolani Palace is the only official royal palace in the United States. King Kalakaua erected this extraordinary 104-room palace in 1882 in American Florentine style. You can host your wedding on the grounds of Iolani Palace, or for your reception consider the Iolani Barracks, which is adjacent to the Palace.
OHEKA Castle Hotel & Estate, Huntington, NY

Built in 1919 and named after Otto Hermann Kahn (the philanthropist who built it), this castle, an hour outside of Manhattan, is the second-largest private residence ever built in America (right behind the Biltmore Estate). The French-style mansion has 126 rooms, has been largely restored, and serves as a hotel, spa and a dramatic wedding venue. The castle has several rooms to accommodate parties of all sizes, from 450 guests for a ballroom reception to a banquet with 30 friends and family in the Addie Kahn Room.
Pythian Castle, Springfield, MO

Constructed in 1913, one highlight of this 40,000-square-foot castle is the theatre and ballroom, which are decorated in a royal purple, red, and gold color palette. For more intimate weddings, ceremonies can be held on the front steps with the castle as a backdrop. And to make sure you're on familiar ground during your first dance, you can take one of the dance lessons offered at the Pythian Castle.