The Top 12 Waterfront Wedding Venues in the U.S.

Whether you're getting married by the ocean, or along a lake or river, a waterfront venue guarantees breathtaking views on your big day.
Sarah Title
by Sarah Title
Updated Aug 09, 2021

There's something oh-so-romantic about being by the water. Perhaps it's the sunlight glistening on the water, the to-die-for sunsets or the inevitable cool breeze the blows thru your hair at just the right moment. Whatever your favorite part is about being near the water, one thing is for sure—it's bound to make your special day that much more special. From an oceanfront beach resort and a lakeside estate to a seaside museum and urban chic riverfront venue, there are plenty of waterfront venues worthy of your consideration that match both your style and budget. Whether you want an outdoor ceremony and an indoor reception or vice versa, your desire for waterfront views won't be comprised. On the list below you'll discover some of the most romantic and picturesque waterfront venues from around the country. Head to The Knot Marketplace if you just can't get enough of the views (we won't judge!).

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center in Santa Barbara, California

This waterfront California venue is truly one-of-a-kind. The unique setting offers water views, beach views and mountain views all from the historic Stearns Wharf, where the museum is located. The reception hall boasts two-story walls of glass and life-sized California gray whale models, which are truly a sight to behold. The east side of the reception hall offers coastal views towards East Beach, Montecito and the breathtaking Santa Ynez Mountains while the west side of the reception hall gives guests a breathtaking view of the spectacular California sunset and the gorgeous, sun-soaked Santa Barbara harbor. You have the option to rent out indoor areas only like the entrance hall, Marine Mammal Mezzanine and unstaffed exhibits, or, you can rent the entire facility including the outdoor pier area. The outdoor space right on the wharf can accommodate 200 guests for a cocktail hour or 150 for a seated reception dinner if you want to admire the unique views all evening long. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center is not your typical California wedding venue, which is a great reason why you should consider it for your big day.

The Edgewater in Madison, Wisconsin

Situated right on the edge of Lake Mendota, this historic hotel first opened in 1948 in the heart of downtown Madison, just steps from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While it offers lakefront views, it's also close to eclectic shops and vibrant downtown locations. Grand ballrooms, a plaza, two penthouses with panoramic lake views and private dining areas--this 202-room hotel offers a little bit of everything. The Grand Plaza is a unique and flexible location that can accommodate an intimate outdoor wedding ceremony, a grand tented reception or anything in between. The aptly-named Grand Ballroom boasts 16-foot windows with sweeping lakefront views. Just outside is the Nolen Gallery, which has access to an outdoor terrace, is equipped with a fireplace and lounge seating making it an ideal cocktail hour setting. Like the sound of all three event spaces? They can be combined for an indoor and outdoor vibe. At The Edgewater you can leave the wedding planning to them as their on-site wedding concierge team is ready to help you with every detail.

Cheeca Lodge & Spa in Islamorada, Florida

If you envision yourself exchanging "I do's" in a tropical paradise, this beachfront event space in the Florida Keys is just what you're looking for. On your wedding day you'll be surrounded by the natural beauty of palm trees, golden sand, ocean breeze and picturesque ocean views. You'll have the option to have an outdoor wedding ceremony with your toes sinking into the sand with the Atlantic Ocean behind you. Having your destination wedding reception right on the beach is an option, however, if you'd prefer to move inside you can choose from two ballrooms for your wedding reception. The Bougainvillea Ballroom features island decor and 12-foot ceilings. This event space can accommodate 120 guests seated and boasts gorgeous French-style doors and an adjoining open-air courtyard. The Sunrise Ballroom and Oceanfront Terrace offer gorgeous views of the Atlantic, making it an ideal location to celebrate. The Sundeck event space is also a spot for a reception, rehearsal dinner or a post-reception celebration as it features lounge seating, a wall fountain and sweeping views of the lagoon and ocean. A bonus at this tropical venue? There are two rows of angled lush palm trees at the Cheeca Lodge & Spa, which offer a one-of-a-kind backdrop for wedding photos.

Allegria Hotel in Long Beach, New York

If you want luxury and beachfront views, this elegant hotel perfectly combines the two. At Long Island's only oceanfront hotel you can have the best of all worlds with a beach wedding, cocktail hour on the rooftop during sunset and a glamorous reception in the magnificent ballroom. Exchange vows in an outdoor ceremony with the sounds of the Atlantic Ocean waves rolling behind you and the offshore breeze in your hair. Watch the sun go down during cocktail hour while sipping on a handcrafted cocktail and then make your wait to the luxurious ballroom to celebrate your big day. The clean, minimalist event space is surrounded on all sides by floor-to-ceiling windows filling the room with plenty of natural light and offering sweeping ocean views. Work with the on-site gourmet chef to create a mouthwatering meal your guests will always remember. From appetizer stations and passed hors d'oeuvres to dinner stations and plated entrees, you can customize your menu to be exactly what you envisioned. At the Allegria Hotel, your special day will only be made that much more memorable with the spectacular waterfront view and service.

Windows on the River in Cleveland, Ohio

An industrial chic venue with high ceilings, exposed brick walls and an urban aesthetic is not one you'd expect to be a waterfront event space. Leave it to this banquet hall located in the FirstEnergy Powerhouse in the heart of downtown Cleveland to defy your expectations. Sitting on the edge of the Cuyahoga River surrounded by historic buildings and bridges is a cool and contemporary venue boasting picturesque river and city views. Choose from three event spaces, the first offering both riverfront and Cleveland skyline views and complete with a balcony level for cocktail hour and an outdoor patio. The second event space offers views of the industrial bridges and offers an adjacent room for cocktails and appetizers. Lastly, a more elegant and traditional event space offers a private entrance and an outdoor patio. Choose from three different wedding packages based on your wedding planning needs and budget. All three packages from Windows on the River include bar service, hors d'oeuvres, a Champagne toast, house centerpieces, complimentary coat check and house table linens among other perks.

Crescent Park in New Orleans, Louisiana

This riverfront wedding venue sprawls 20 acres across one-and-a-half miles and features several open-air event spaces that can be customized by couples to fit their style and event plan. The park filled with manicured gardens offers views of the New Orleans skyline and runs to the banks of the Mississippi River. The Mandeville Shed and Ellipse Lawn is a former industrial wharf space that has been converted to an event space with exposed steel and concrete accents and features a raised grass lawn. This event space is located right on the river and is conveniently located near the French Quarter. The Piety Wharf is another industrial wharf that is perfect for a mid-sized event and has been renovated and offers gorgeous river views. In order to claim one of these event spaces at Crescent Park, fill out a rental application and provide details about the event, how many vendors and guests will be present and you'll be one step closer to your perfect special day.

Lakeway Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas

Be fully immersed in the natural beauty of Texas Hill Country while you exchange vows at this beautiful resort perched on the edge of Lake Travis. From the grand Ballroom to the intimate Sunset Room and more laid-back celebrations in the Rio Grande Ballroom, this lakeside wedding venue has something for every wedding style and budget. Host your wedding reception in the Vistas Ballroom, which sits high above Lake Travis and boasts a wrap around terrace and floor-to-ceiling windows, so no matter where you are you can take in the spectacular lake views. The vaulted ceilings and plethora of natural light pouring in at all times give the ballroom an open feel. The Colorado Ballroom is slightly smaller in square feet and doesn't sit as high over the lake, but offers equally stunning lake views. A few of the perks included in your wedding at Lakeway Resort & Spa are getting ready rooms for the couple, banquet tables and chairs, wooden dance floor, glassware and silverware, complimentary lake view balcony room for the newlyweds and a dedicated catering manager to create a custom menu.

Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island

This magnificent luxury hotel sits right on the coast overlooking the vast Atlantic Ocean. The Victorian-inspired property is known for its timeless elegance and gracious hospitality. This breathtaking beachfront hotel is also right next door to pop star Taylor Swift's vacation home. While you can't pop by and say hi, you can see her seaside mansion from the hotel's property. Tie the knot on the South Lawn with the crashing waves as your backdrop. If you want to really take advantage of the location, have your ceremony on the private beach with your toes in the sand. The private beach is also an ideal location for a rehearsal dinner. Host cocktail hour on the East Lawn and move into the Seaside Ballroom, which accommodates up to 18 guests, if you'd prefer an indoor wedding reception. The floor-to-ceiling windows will make you feel like you're right on the beach, and the covered terrace gives guests a chance to take in the fresh ocean air. If you want to remain outside for your big day, there is space for a tented reception on the South Lawn. Make your wedding a weekend getaway for guests by inviting them to stay on the property. The Ocean House's resident wedding planner can also coordinate activities for the whole guest list all weekend long, so your special day becomes a full-fledged vacation for everyone involved.

River Roast in Chicago, Illinois

Situated on the edge of the Chicago River and between the historic Reid and Murdoch building in downtown Chicago, this waterfront wedding venue boasts an urban flair and stunning river views. The self-proclaimed "social house" offers multiple unique event spaces to celebrate your big day or you can rent the entire property for a larger celebration. The two indoor event spaces both come with outdoor areas sitting right on the river, which are perfect for a smaller gathering or cocktail hour. The tavern offers three wedding packages for a variety of budgets. All three include a custom designed wedding cake, a three-course dinner menu, complimentary house tables and chairs and a standard open bar. For breakfast lovers out there, consider River Roast for a brunch wedding where you can indulge in everything from bagels to mimosas after you say "I do."

Basin Harbor in Vergennes, Vermont

Nestled on the edge of Lake Champlain on 700 acres of natural beauty is a waterfront wedding venue that's to die for. The 135-year-old resort features 74 unique cottages, water activities such as waterskiing and kayaking, and a relaxing golf course right on the shoreline. Say your "I do's" lakeside with the Adirondack mountains in the background of your wedding photos. The resort offers a number of locations for an outdoor wedding ceremony. The Wedding Arch event space is complete with a white marble aisle, circular patio and gazebo in the middle of lush greenery. The Lodge Lawn offers breathtaking views of Lake Champlain and is nestled among the New England trees. The Orchard Garden is perfect for a more intimate gathering and offers the opportunity to get married surrounded by gorgeous blooms. When it comes to wedding receptions, there are a plethora of options. The North Dock is located over the lake and features a tent so you can feel the lake breeze without fear of getting wet. Celebrate on the Homestead Lawn under a tent with views of the expansive property and unmatched lake views. If you'd prefer to host your reception inside, they've got that covered. The Ranger Room boasts a wood bar, hardwood floor and is complete with a marble terrace. Lastly, the Town Hall is a reception space that boasts 17-foot ceilings and overlooks the golf course. No matter your style or preference, Basin Harbor has something for everyone.

Inner Banks Inn in Edenton, North Carolina

This quaint and charming inn is located on 2.75 acres of gorgeous land in the historic district of Edenton and sits on the peaceful and relaxing grounds with views of Edenton Bay. Edenton was named the "prettiest small town in the south" by Forbes Magazine and the bayside location of this historic inn proves that to be true. The inn features a wraparound porch which is perfect for cocktail hour and wedding photos. Make a weekend out of it and have your guests or wedding party stay in the 20 rooms and suites on site. There is also a private honeymoon suite available for you and your partner to spend your first married night together. Work with the award-winning chefs at The Table Restaurant at the Inner Banks Inn to customize a wedding reception menu that you'll always remember.

Saranac Waterfront Lodge in Saranac, New York

This one-of-a-kind waterfront venue sits right on the pristine Lake Flower and is situated right in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. Complete with a charming town that's walking distance from the lodge, this is the perfect escape for you and your partner to say "I do." Right nearby is Lake Placid, another must-visit town known for its delicious food and Olympic sites. This waterfront wedding venue is perfect any time of year and offers two event spaces to choose from. If you want an outdoor ceremony and reception, consider the Lakeside Lawn. Lake Flower will serve as the backdrop for your vows and your celebration, which can be weather-proofed by adding a tent. If you'd prefer to move inside after exchanging vows, there is the Pontiac Bay Ballroom which offer sweeping views of the lake thru floor-to-ceiling windows. The French doors open and allow guests to wander outside during cocktail hour or to take a break from the dance floor. The Ballroom also connects to the Boathouse Pub, the perfect after-party location. Saranac Waterfront Lodge also offers a variety of wedding packages that work for any budget.

The Wayfarer Whidbey Island in Langley, Washington

Rustic charm meets natural beauty at this lakeside venue. Just a 30-minute ferry ride from Seattle is a 100-year-old farm, 5 acres of lush, rolling grounds and an old growth orchard—perfect for intimate celebrations of no more than 100 guests. Tie the knot in the white-washed barn and celebrate under a natural canopy of apple and cherry trees, which provide a majestic and romantic site for an outdoor wedding reception. There is also an indoor/outdoor venue which features string lights and a built-in bar. The rental of the farm comes with rustic farm tables, chairs, chandeliers, outdoor heaters, lawn games, fire pits, dedicated event staff and on-site coordinator to help you create the day of your dreams. The Wayfarer Whidbey Island also offers access to a pier for some great wedding day photos.


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