Wedding photographers don’t really get to choose which wedding venue we photograph at, of course it’s something that’s usually already chosen when we’re hired. But if we could choose what would be the deciding factors? For Birch Blaze Studios, our favorite features for the best wedding venues would have to include charming historic character, spectacular natural beauty and friendly, helpful staff (great food doesn’t hurt, either!). When it comes to what we would consider the best wedding venues in Vermont, particularly wedding venues in Burlington, VT, Shelburne Farms Just might be number one on that list.
We love Vermont! It’s amazing how different it is from NH despite being right ‘next door.’ Photographing a wedding on the shores of Lake Champlain is pretty spectacular on its own, never mind throwing in a brilliantly designed turn-of-the-century farm with a rich agricultural history. Here’s the Farm’s history in a nutshell taken from Shelburne Farm’s Website:
“In 1886, Dr. William Seward and Lila Vanderbilt Webb began acquiring farmland on the shores of Lake Champlain to create a model agricultural estate. Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. created conceptual designs for the landscape. Prominent architect Robert H. Robertson designed four major buildings: The Farm Barn, Breeding Barn, Coach Barn and Shelburne House. By the early 1900s, the Webb’s 3,800-acre farm was renowned for its innovative practices, hackney horse breeding enterprise, and grand family residence.”
The name “Olmsted” is especially noteworthy to us as passionate Yosemite National Park lovers; Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. was an unheralded forebearer of Yosemite, writing a preliminary report on Yosemite in 1865 which included “…characteristically thoughtful suggestions for managing the Park for human access with minimal harm to the natural environment.” (—From “The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920,” American Memory, Library of Congress) He also played an integral part of the design and establishment of New York City’s numerous parks and parkways, including Central Park. This thoughtfulness, as referenced above, certainly carried over to his work at Shelburne Farms along with that of architect Robert H. Robertson. The vision of original owners Seward and Vanderbilt-Webb along with these 2 men are still in full effect and enjoyed by all who visit this beautiful property for a wedding, education or simply for sightseeing in the Lake Champlain/greater Burlington area.
Speaking of Lake Champlain and Burlington, both make Shelburne Farms a great location for your Vermont wedding. The Farm is a mere 15 minutes from Burlington, which offers you and your wedding guests a plethora of lodging, dining and transportation options (including an international airport and ferry service across Champlain), not to mention topnotch sightseeing, shopping and nightlife. Getting to hangout and play around in Burlington will also make your photographers quite happy 😉
There are two options for weddings at Shelburne Farms; the Coach Barn is a step back in time and right on the shores of beautiful Lake Champlain with the Adirondack Mountains punctuating the horizon. The early 20th century design includes a romantic courtyard perfect for open-air, European cafe style dining complete with cafe string lights. Design elements include spacious halls, a outdoor clock cupola overlooking the courtyard and original wood wainscoting and floors inside. On summer evenings guests tended to divide their time both inside and out, in either the Coach Barn courtyard or on the shores of Lake Champlain enjoying remnants of that evening’s orange-glow sunset over the Adirondacks and one another’s company.
We did not have the pleasure of photographing the other option for Shelburne Farm weddings, the English tudor-style Inn at Shelburne Farms. This area is reserved for smaller, more intimate weddings of up to 32 guests. What it lacks in size, however, it more than makes up for in charm and character with its formal gardens, elegant North Porch, overlooking Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains and the East Dining Room. You may also be interested in lodging opportunities right there at the Shelburne Farms’ Inn. Guessing you would have to plan pretty far ahead if you need a room block. Check with the Inn or wedding coordinator for more info.
We photographed the wedding of Lauren and Steve on a spectacular Vermont summer day, the beauty of which lasted on into the night. The staff was friendly and welcoming, the food, amazing. The entire day went very smoothly we captured some gorgeous imagery and beautiful moments. It was clear that Steve & Lauren, family & wedding guests all had a wonderful time. We certainly did even though, technically, we were “working!” We definitely hope to return to Shelburne Farms to photograph another breathtaking wedding on the shores of Champlain, perhaps yours? Drop us a line today, we’d love to hear about your plans and get started on capturing your ‘masterpiece!’ Here’s a few more images from our Shelburne Farms wedding photography…