What’s so special about New Bern as a wedding destination? After a recent visit and look at some of the remarkable venues in the historic downtown district and on the riverfront, it’s easy to see why couples are so drawn to New Bern to celebrate their nuptials.
There is certainly something entertaining for everybody on your guest list to do and see – all within the walkable downtown district. Tours are offered in many of the prominent historic homes. Many of the homes on the historical register also serve as Bed & Breakfasts, which we highly recommend for a true taste of Southern charm (although there are also full service hotels – including a Doubletree with a riverfront view). Delightful restaurants, antique shops and clothing boutiques are scattered around the downtown area. For a romantic evening activity, take your pick between a trolley or horse & buggy ride.
New Bern-Craven County Riverfront Convention Center
The most popular draw to New Bern aside from its rich history is the gorgeous riverfront. This makes the town’s Convention Center extremely unique. Not only does it have large ballrooms for large-scale weddings and events, it also has a lobby with a riverfront view. A sweeping floor to ceiling wall of windows invites in natural light and a full view of the harbor, and is a beautiful place for a cocktail reception. Guests will also enjoy the outdoor patio, which spills out onto the riverwalk. This also makes for a beautiful bride and groom portrait backdrop!
Historical Homes Around Town
The History Center has several historic sites and gardens around town that are available for wedding ceremonies and small receptions. One place that charmed us was the Stanly House, which was the birthplace of two men who fought on opposing sides of the Civil War. The home later became the headquarters of a Union commander, and eventually a convent for nuns who worked as hospital nurses. The home has a beautiful 18th-century style garden in its back lawn, and its neighboring Carraway Garden has blooming flowers year-round.
NC History Center & Tryon Palace
In 1770 NC’s Governor Tryon moved into the elaborate mansion that he planned and had built for himself, which soon came to be know as Tryon “Palace” because of its opulence and elegance. Tryon Palace served as the first capital of North Carolina, and housed the state governors for many years. In 1798, a fire destroyed the original building. After a 30-year campaign to rebuild this important piece of our state’s history by the people of New Bern, the reopening of the palace – built to match the original specs – took place in 1959.
Tryon Palace has been a museum since the reopening. The NC History Center was opened in 2010 to add to the experience of our state’s premiere historic site. This is a wonderful place to send guests for a tour. As one of the “greenest” public buildings in the state, it has a modern look with lots of natural light, and is itself an impressive event venue.
The Palace itself was made available for weddings only about a year and a half ago. We took a tour of the property, which boasts 16-acres of gardens with a plethora of sites for wedding ceremonies and small receptions (some photos below of some of my favorite spots). There are endless opportunities for stunning portrait backdrops within the grounds as well – including the sculpture gardens, the horse stables, and in front of the palace itself. The most popular sites for larger weddings are in the front or back of the Palace. Wedding receptions can take place in a tent in designated areas, or the couple may choose to use the palace for the ceremony only, and then move to another venue such as the History Center or Convention Center for the reception.
A big thank you to our friends at the New Bern Convention Center, and the staff at Tryon Palace who took us on such an incredible tour! New Bern has a very special place in my heart after really delving into the history and sites for the day!