While the structure of weddings has not changed in the traditional sense, the places where they transpire are transitioning from the conventional cornerstones of a church, a gala or a lakeside location.
Venues such as the Geneva Historical Society's Rose Hill Mansion and the Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum of Canandaigua are promoting more and more wedding-oriented events in their vintage facilities.
Rose Hill Mansion
As of this season, Rose Hill Mansion is now available for rental use, particularly for small weddings with a maximum number of 75 guests.
The first part of the house was built by Robert Rose in 1809. It consists of a two-story house with an attached kitchen. The property functioned primarily as a wheat and sheep farm, spanning across 1,100 acres.
Over a few decades, the mansion was occupied by a series of families for short stays. A Greek-inspired mansion addition was constructed from 1837-39. The Swan family then took possession of the household, claiming the longest residency of all families who ever resided there, from 1850-90.
In 1965, a descendant of the Swan family bought the property and provided it to the Geneva Historical Society. In 1968, Rose Hill Mansion opened as a house museum. It currently encompasses 27 acres.
Kerry Lippincott, executive director of the Geneva Historical Society, is excited that weddings at the Rose Hill property have been added to the Society's rental portfolio of services.
“While the city and town of Geneva are financially invested in the Geneva Historical Society and are entirely grateful, we still seek and need to diversify our income,” Lippincott said. "But most of all, we are striving to serve our community."
The Society, which also oversees the Johnston House in Seneca County, is often challenged with keeping all three of its historical sites maintained.
While the wedding-related rental of Rose Hill exclusively covers the cost for the physical space, members of the Society will assist patrons in parking and even provide recommendations for food and winery services in the Finger Lakes. Additionally, two staffers will be stationed at the property during the event to assist in any capacity on a couple's special day.
Lippincott expresses how there is a little bit of something for everyone in the Finger Lakes, which makes this region truly romantic for weddings and couples with popular industries of vineyards, water sports, shopping, farmers markets, visual-performing arts and, especially, history.
“Geneva is uniquely positioned in between Rochester and Syracuse, at the heart of the Underground Railroad, Women’s Rights Movement, creation of spiritualism, among other things," Lippincott said. "Like these historical spots, we are stewards of this mansion and wish to make wedding events memorable to be a part of that tradition. Our mission is to tell Geneva’s story, and couples who join us at Rose Hill will really become part of this and our history, our story.”
Those who are interested can visit www.genevahistoricalsociety.com for more details on event rentals. Lippincott urges and recommends couples to schedule a walk-through tour of Rose Hill with a staffer before reviewing and signing a contract for the venue.
Another historically rich residence for local couples is the Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum of Canandaigua.
Gideon Granger served as Postmaster General under the authority of presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. After resigning, Granger began construction of his retirement home after moving to Canandaigua in 1814 with its completion two years later. Four generations of the Granger family lived at the residence until an all-girls academy opened in September 1876 and remained in business for 30 years.
Afterwards, the addition of the Carriage Museum transpired during the 1950s with the collection of 100 carriages.
Wedding services have been offered since 1946, when the Granger Homestead Society was founded. Averaging 6-10 events annually, special events include bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, wedding ceremonies and receptions, guests’ brunches, even bridesmaid’s tea parties. Additionally, the mansion and grounds may be rented for photographs.
This mansion can accommodate as many as 100 people, but an additional tent hikes that number to 450.
Granger Homestead Social Director Coleen Smith offered insight about wedding services.
“The homestead is unique when offering tours," Smith said. "Couples are guaranteed that there is one event on the homestead when their wedding occurs. Tours are stopped and the grounds are for their own.”
She refers to the homestead as a very welcoming and relaxing environment.
“If a couple plans to host their wedding ceremony and reception here, there are no worries for traveling to a new venue or reception hall," Smith said. "Guests are able to walk freely throughout the house, rest in historic rooms and on the porch.”
She explained that rooms are provided to the bride and attendants, and at least one or two staffers are always on hand to serve guests with historical knowledge about the homestead.
“It’s a timeless venue and about whether a venue speaks to you or not,” Smith concluded.
One aspect that makes the Granger Homestead truly timeless is how some carriages are available for couples to use from the museum. If the bride and groom desire to have a horse-drawn carriage ride incorporated into their marriage proceedings, they are more than welcome to do so by scheduling it with the homestead.
“At a recent wedding in August, a couple used the Granger Homestead," Smith explained. "A grandmother was at the same facility 70 years ago. Together they were able to replicate the grandmother and granddaughter’s wedding photos on the stairwell railing.”
Those interested may visit www.grangerhomestead.org for more information on event details.
Memories are made during the symbolic moment of a wedding, the time when two partners unify their will to one another, exchange vows and rings, all in the effort to enter the embrace of eternity.
Organizations such as the Geneva Historical Society and Granger Homestead Society are manifesting the meaning of matrimony through their facilities.
When couples stage their nuptials at historical sites, they are shaping their presence at these places of historical importance, and actively partaking and contributing to the collective archives of Geneva, Canandaigua and the rest of the Finger Lakes.