The Inside Scoop
FROM THE KNOT EDITORS
The First Look
Engaged couples in Virginia dreaming of an outdoor wedding appreciate the scenic beauty offered by the Hermitage Museum & Gardens, an Arts-and-Crafts estate built in the early 1900s. Perched on the banks of the Lafayette River in Norfolk, Virginia, the museum showcases a historic home, a substantial art collection, several galleries and a visual art studio. The grounds deliver 12 beautifully-manicured acres of lawns, florals, foliage and trees. Five outdoor settings offer prenuptial pairs a variety of choices for a memorable wedding ceremony, reception or both.
The Grotto. Located on the back lawn's northeastern corner, the Grotto features brick walls, a massive live oak tree, a charming cherub and dolphin fountain, lush lawn space and bright florals. With seated accommodations for 100 guests, this makes a popular area for a small ceremony or cocktail reception.
The Rose Garden. Located in the estate's front lawn, the Rose Garden features a lovely fountain surrounded by an array of roses, a cobblestone pathway, rounded brick walls and a small pergola. Heirloom roses like Ophelia, Red Radiance and White Killarney make this setting particularly fragrant in May, late-August and September. This standing-only area accommodates up to 60 guests for small wedding ceremonies or cocktail receptions.
The East Garden. Adjacent to the Lafayette River, the circular East Garden features a cobblestone border, open lawn space, slate patios, wrought-iron fencing and shady trees. This area accommodates up to 200 guests.
The Shoreline. Many couples use the Shoreline for ceremonies and receptions. Accommodating up to 200 guests, it features direct river views and a large slate patio for dancing. Sparkle lights strung through large trees offer a picturesque evening setting.
The Central Lawn. For large celebrations of 200 or more, the Central Lawn offers beautiful estate and river views. While part of the area can be set up for the ceremony, another portion can be tented for the reception. A grouping of large trees in the area offer cool shade and the vehicle for string lighting.
What You Should Know
To book any of the spaces at the Hermitage Museum & Gardens, couples must be members of the museum at the Caprice Level, an amenity which is included as part of the rental fee. While couples and their wedding guests receive access to the museum during the wedding festivities, all ceremonies and receptions at the Hermitage Museum & Gardens must be held in one of the five outdoor spaces mentioned. Wedding festivities must take place between the hours of 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Spouses-to-be must hire their own wedding coordinator, caterer, cake baker, photographer, musicians, rental company and other vendors and provide the Hermitage Museum & Gardens with contact information for all. Caterers must be fully insured and licensed. Couples and their guests have access to 150 parking spaces and two restrooms. Music and the service of all food and beverages must end by 10:15 p.m. and all guests must vacate the property by 11 p.m.
While the Hermitage Museum & Gardens allows couples to put their own stamp on a wedding celebration by hiring their own vendors, the site does offer some valuable amenities. These include:
- An extensive list of proven and preferred vendors
- A one-hour photo shoot on the property scheduled in advance of the event date
- A wedding rehearsal scheduled in advance of the event date
- A gift table and cake table for indoor display
- A bridal party powder room for ceremony preparation
- Two indoor and two outdoor site attendants
From the Vendor
A Picturesque Venue for Your Special Day
The grounds of the Hermitage are sure to enchant guests on your special day! Featuring breathtaking gardens and stunning waterfront views, your occasion will be truly extraordinary! Choose from the intimate Rose Garden, the waterfront, grotto, or under the beautiful setting of trees by the river.
Amenities + Details
Outdoor - Covered
For more details about amenities, please message the Venue.
$$ – Affordable
Waterfront, Museum, Historic Venue, Tented
Rentals + Equipment, Service Staff
June WeddingReviewed on 7/08/2013 Susan D
If you are looking for a unique venue in Norfolk, you must go check out the Hermitage museum & gardens. After looking at (not joking) 33 VENUES (!), my now husband and I found the Hermitage and it had everything we wanted. It was extremely tough to find a venue where we could get married and have the reception at the same location, which the Hermitage allows. All of the staff at the Hermitage are amazing, especially Lil with any and all questions you may have and taking care of all the details. They aren't pushing or tough to talk to either which was great for an out-of-town bride. All of our guests absolutely loved the venue as well. It was absolutely perfect! We are so happy!
Beautiful LocationReviewed on 7/09/2013 Stephanie F
After searching for a venue with beautiful water views and a vibrant garden we found the Hermitage Museum and Gardens. They had a great spot for the ceremony and the reception was held on the water under a tent. All the guests raved about the gardens and the breathtaking sunset over the water; many locals didn’t even know it was there. The process beforehand was very smooth and they were more than willing to work with us!
Perfect outdoor setting!Reviewed on 7/01/2012 Natalie H
This place is gorgeous! We had our wedding ceremony and reception here on June 9th 2012. After reading the other reviews I must say there are a few things I would agree with. The Hermitage is a Museum first..therefore you should keep in mind that when you originally book the event you will need a lot of rentals. I had no idea it would cost so much! I had 130 guests and it was about $10.000 for the venue fee and everything we needed to rent in order to hold the event outside. Of course they would push you to rent a tent, the weather is unpredictable and you would rather have the back up plan just for peace of mind. It didn't rain on us but it did end up being slightly hotter than expected and the tent provided shade. Also Lil who is the event coordinator is very nice, she responded to all my emails and my phone calls promptly. However you must keep in mind that she works for the Museum. She is not a wedding coordinator! If you want one of those you will need to hire one. Our wedding was planned in about 8 months which is insane but after everything was said and done and the dust settled we couldn't of had a more perfect wedding! We even got to see the fireworks from Harbour Fest! This location is top notch and although we almost doubled our budget it was totally worth it!
My fiancee and I had our engagement session here with our photographer, Bryan of EyeCaptures Photography (go check him out!). We did our session the last weekend of April, which worked out perfectly as all the rain brought almost everything into bloom so the gardens were gorgeous and very lush & green! We chose the Hermitage Gardens because we liked that were so many different aesthetically pleasing spots throughout the grounds. Which held true during our session! We had a game plan at the beginning of the session, which changed as we walked around, and at the end on our way home, my fiancee and I were like "Oh, we didn't do pictures in that one spot" but neither of us regretted it because every spot we took pictures in was gorgeous so we really didn't feel like we were missing out just cause we didn't get the rose garden. Right now would also be a unique time to go picture wise as the Stickwork sculpture by Patrick Dougherty is up (and will be until approx Oct 2018 I think??). We also loved that we were allowed to have our dogs on the grounds. Our session lasted from 430PM to 630PM, which was worked out well with lighting. Perhaps, my only "complaint" would be that the mosquitoes were quite bad in the wooded areas but I don't really care all that much, because our photos turned out phenomenal and we had a great time! I would recommend Hermitage in a heartbeat as a location for your engagement shoot.
The Hermitage is stunning!! Unfortunately I have to cancel my date and reservation. If you are looking to have your event Saturday 8/20/2016 please let me know. Im willing to sell my reservation for 150 guests.
My wife and I were so excited to hear we were one of, if not THE first, same-sex weddings. Our experience was fantastic from the moment we met Lil, the venue coordinator. She was easy to contact and responded to our questions in a timely and friendly manner. They work well with their preferred vendors and are willing to accommodate those they aren't familiar with. They site was perfect, private and exactly what I envisioned.
My husband and I grew up in Norfolk and wanted the perfect place to celebrate our special day. The Hermitage was beyond perfect! It is a hidden gem and has some of the best water views of the area. The staff was super friendly and easy to work with...especially Lil. They were very responsive to any questions we had leading up to the day of our wedding. I highly recommend this beautiful venue!
My husband and I were married at The Hermitage in September of 2013. It was absolutely gorgeous because it's right along the water, had beautiful and well maintained gardens, and had the perfect scenery for our vintage look. Lil Acosta was really easy to work with and kept me on schedule each step of the way. Also, the venue was able to provide a list of preferred vendors, which was great because each vendor was familiar with the venue and handled everything with ease. Plus, we loved every single vendor they suggested. My friends and family are still telling us what a beautiful wedding we had at The Hermitage.
Our wedding at the Hermitage was simply perfect!! The venue is georgeous and feels very intimate even though it can accommodate large parties. The only down sides: The weather on our big day was perfect but the need for a tented rain plan is a downside. The 'getting ready room' was small and dimly lit. the price for a Saturday 'high season' wedding is steep for Norfolk, VA. Despite those small things, our wedding was MAGICAL!!
Beautiful, but frustratingReviewed on 10/02/2014 Carmen A
It was a bit difficult to work with the Hermitage, although it was perfect and so beautiful, the woman in charge was hard to get in contact with, and I felt lazy. She waited until the day before to tell us our layout had to change completely. She was rude, and I have nothing positive to say about our interactions.
STUNNINGReviewed on 6/11/2014 Stacy C
It's always changing, visit the first of the month, then the last, and you'll see what I mean. It is never not beautiful there. Talk about picture opportunities, views, perfect May weather :) Plus, Lil is great to work with. The Hermitage was our first venue visit, and our last - one visit and we knew it was it. Talk about saving on decorations - who needs it with views like this?
Beautiful but priceyReviewed on 10/21/2013 Patty H
I fell in love with the hermitage the moment I set foot there, the grounds are gorgeous and it's the perfect setting for an outdoor wedding. Only downside was that choosing this venue made me go drastically over budget in the end. There is a large fee to simply rent the venue, then there is the cost of all the rentals you need to actually have an event there. They also have exclusive contracts and a list of preferred vendors that you're encouraged to use to avoid the hassle of insurance and approvals. So you don't get to shop around for the cheapest vendors and rentals. Overall I loved the place and the photos are gorgeous, but be prepared to spend a little bit.
Pricey but absolutely beautifulReviewed on 7/19/2013 Jennifer L
You will not need many decorations or flowers if you choose to get married in this beautiful garden. The scenery is second to none. Lil, who is the wedding coordinator, is professional and welcoming. Be aware that you will need your own planner for this venue, as it will reduce any stress that comes with a difficult outdoor venue like this one. It can be costly when you include the fact that you have to rent EVERYTHING for the wedding (tables, chairs, etc.)That being said, pictures are amazing, and the Hermitage is a stunning backdrop for a lovely day.
HermitageReviewed on 10/11/2012 Stephanie R
Absolutely beautiful! Loved the site and the general atmosphere
beautifulReviewed on 6/07/2012 Ashley D
the hermitage was soo beautiful. The attendents that they had were not as helpful as i thought they would be. A lot of my guest complained about them.
Beautiful setting, but there's are catchesReviewed on 9/19/2011 Whitney H
The Hermitage Museum and Gardens was an absolutely beautiful place to have a wedding. We decided to have both our ceremony and reception at the Hermitage, and with a little help from Mother Nature, we could not have asked for a more beautiful setting for our special day. If you are looking for an outside wedding, this is the place to do it. HOWEVER, brides be warned, because the Hermitage does not provide anything other than the venue and beautiful setting, you must buy or rent everything (literally) for your event. Which can make it an expensive decision (a tent can cost up to $2,500 and there is no rain alternative option other than more tents), not to mention it can spread you in a million directions trying to organize it all. That said, I highly recommend getting, at least a day-of, wedding coordinator to help execute all the details and make sure all the moving parts come together for your special day. There are a lot of vendors to coordinate when you have your wedding outside of a physical building/hotel, and making sure all the hands are talking can be quite a challenge for a bride. (I used As You Wish Weddings and Events, and Julie was heaven-sent!) Also, the Hermitage's wedding/event manager does very little to help you with your wedding other than collect the necessary paperwork. And if you can deal with her somewhat-blah attitude (or put your planner on her), you will have an amazing event.
VReviewed on 11/24/2010 JoAnn A
We lived in Ghent for many years and loved this place. Its like having your own historic home on the water for a day - it had sentimental value for us since my grandmother was a buyer for the Sloane family in Manhattan in the turn of the century. HOWEVER, please be aware you need to hire in your own power ($3000 minimum), a tent and they encourage you to use their vendors. We lucked out since we loved them. It is extremely difficult to find someone to talk to while planning. I had to go to the director of the museum in order to get anything moving which was ridiculous after the amount of money we have them. I was even asked to send out insurance forms for all my vendors. Then, I had to change the contract 5 times since phone numbers, addresses etc were incorrect. If not for Pearl Taylor our wonderful planner, Cuisine & Co, and Blue Steele I would have changed my location since it took forever to get a contract that was correct (3 months ladies). The staff (with the exception of Colin and Melanie(the director) who we love...was rude to our guests that night. You have to pay them to be there which is fine its a museum, it must cost extra for them to smile though) I would recommend the Chrysler Museum, Founder's Inn or Inn at Warner Hall all places we considered.
Wedding on the riverReviewed on 9/15/2010 Alethea T
Absolutely amazing place to be married. We were married under a huge magnolia tree right on the Elizabeth river. No weddings can be held inside the museum but they have a great back up plan. The pretty much force you to reserve a tent, but look at it as wedding insurance. No dogs allowed, so if that is an issue, you might want to consider something else. I cannot say enough nice things about the place, friendly staff, beautifully maintained grounds. Perfect outside wedding if you want to be near water but not on the beach.