A bride and groom stand with arms outstretched in front of Branford House in Groton Connecticut.

Wedding Venue Feature: Branford House

Vibe and FeaturesOutdoor/indoor, waterfront historic mansion, three lighthouses on view
Guest Capacity500+
Location1084 Shennecossett Rd.
Groton, CT 06340
Similar VenuesEolia Mansion at Harkness, Inn at Mystic, Connecticut River Museum, Lion Rock Farm, Lord Thompson Manor, The Society Room of Hartford

Sticking out into Eastern Point Bay (right next to Long Island Sound) is the regal Branford House. This awesome wedding venue is on the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus in Groton, Connecticut just minutes from Mystic and I-95. If a waterfront wedding day complete with a mansion is one of your goals, you really can’t go wrong here. Read on for more Branford House wedding details and photos.

History and Other Info

The American flag flies in front of the Branford House mansion.

So, first things first: Branford House was built in 1903 by Morton Freeman Plant. This gentleman was apparently born into wealth, the son of Connecticut native rail and steamboat tycoon Henry Bradley Plant. Morton’s architect wife, Nellie, designed the mansion, which was actually named after Branford, Connecticut.

The property originally included Shennecossett Golf Course about a mile away (interesting tidbit: Shennecossett Yacht Club is right next door to Branford House and also hosts weddings). Another interesting fact is that a Cartier store now resides in Morton’s former New York City mansion on Fifth Avenue.

And like Inn at Mystic’s Haley Mansion at one time, Branford House is currently listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

In the background of an Avery Point wedding is Avery Point Lighthouse.

Branford House and UConn

So, what’s the relationship between Branford House and the University of Connecticut? After Morton’s death in 1918, the mansion passed through his children to the State of Connecticut. The state bought it for about $50,000; it cost $3 million to build.

Then in the 1940s, when Avery Point Lighthouse was built, the United States Coast Guard used the property. They moved out in 1967, leaving the land to the state, which allowed UConn to establish its campus there.

The Branford House wedding era began in 2001 when UConn renovated the mansion and started renting it out as an event space. As you’ll see in the Branford House wedding photos later, this venue should definitely be at the top of your list.

Venue Vibe and Features

Mansion Layout

Vendors set up the main room in preparation for a Branford House wedding.

The First Floor

The interior of Branford House consists of three rooms (PDF warning) on the first floor. As you’ll see in the linked floor plan, the L-shaped Main Room is about 1000 square feet. This ballroom-type area is super unique and fancy.

Next is the East Room, which is just about 850 square feet. Lastly is the West Room, an 860-square foot rectangle with several large windows. These areas of the mansion are reminiscent of the old-school stylings of Lion Rock Farm in the opposite corner of the state.

A newly married couple has their First Dance during their Branford House wedding.

Parking is plentiful. Keep in mind that you’re technically on one of UConn’s campuses, which helps with accessibility. Just behind the mansion is a long patio which is great for mingling or even dancing. Just outside the West Room is another smaller, brick patio. This one is partially covered, making it a great location to exchange vows for more intimate weddings.

The Second Floor

The mansion’s second floor contains an art gallery and small seating area. This is a nice area for a few couple’s portraits on your wedding day.

The art gallery on the second floor of Branford House.

Branford House Rear Grounds

In addition to the beautiful architecture, the reason you’d probably want an wedding at Branford House is to get outside. Traditionally, ceremonies are held outdoors. Smaller gatherings can take place on the aforementioned west wing patio, which is covered.

Larger wedding ceremonies take place on the lawn behind the mansion, looking towards Long Island Sound.

A couple walks along a brick page with a lighthouse in the background during their Avery Point wedding.

Mansion Backyard and Lighthouses Galore

Speaking of being outside, the waterscape views of Long Island Sound are epic. In the previous photo, you can see two of the three lighthouses (Avery Point on the left and New London Ledge on right, way off in the distance) which are viewable from Avery Point. (The third is New London Harbor, off to the right/west in this view.)

Guests enjoy the views of New London Ledge Lighthouse during the cocktail hour of an Avery Point wedding.

One thing to stress here is this: the Branford House “backyard” is huge. Like a couple of acres huge, just wide open to water views directly behind the mansion. Take advantage of this space during your wedding! For example, your guests could have plenty of room to spread out during cocktail hour or after dinner.

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Other Branford House Considerations

A bride and groom walk hand-in-hand during their Branford House wedding.

Here are some more factors to consider about your potential Branford House wedding:

High-level Factors

  • As it’s owned by the State of Connecticut, Branford House’s staff are generally UConn employees
  • One of the better mansion wedding venues in the state, it offers year-round weddings, with outdoor covered and outdoor open-air ceremony options
  • Weddings can run until midnight
  • The property is suitable for small and big weddings, with a maximum of about 500 people (that’s not a typo; Bethany Lagenbach, Branford House’s event space manager, let me know that they’ve hosted that many guests for an all-outdoor wedding in the past)
  • If you’re open to an outdoor dance floor (the venue has two sizable, paved patios), then 200 guests can fit inside for a Branford House wedding reception
  • Reasonably speaking, a little under 200 guests can be seated inside the mansion’s first floor for a Branford House wedding reception (it’s a good idea to speak with your wedding or event planner about seating logistics)
Guests dance together during a wedding reception at Branford House.

Branford House Catering

  • Choose your own caterer, subject to the venue’s rules
  • This includes a tasting for the two of you to check things out before you decide on food
  • Current policy dictates that you’re locked into UConn’s Department of Dining Services for your bar/alcohol service
Candles are next to a fried fish during a Branford House wedding.

Other Things to Think About

  • Since Branford House is on Connecticut state property, the public is technically allowed to be on the wedding venue grounds (but not in the mansion)
  • Regarding overnight accommodations, there are several hotels in Groton, Connecticut that would probably require some Uber rides (and don’t forget nearby Mystic for hotel options)
  • Branford House isn’t technically in Mystic, it’s located in Groton (downtown Mystic is 15 minutes away, Stonington Borough is 20 minutes away)
  • Lovers of small-band live music will love Branford House; this wedding venue is conducive to musicians and even has a piano on hand
A guitarist plays music during cocktail hour at a Branford House wedding.

Branford House Wedding Costs

While planning your wedding, here are some Branford House financial factors to consider:

  1. During prime wedding season (i.e. spring through fall), weekend weddings start from about $5000. This rental fee drops to about $3000 for weddings after Thanksgiving up to spring.
  2. UConn can provide tent service, too, for additional fees. Indoor use of furniture is included, but extra and/or outdoor use of furniture costs extra.
  3. There’s also a small rehearsal fee, if you elect to have one.
  4. Oh, and don’t forget to choose your caterer. The mansion has rules for them, too, as well as a kitchen for them to use.

Hotels Near Branford House

Groton, Connecticut is a great town with plenty of nearby hotels for visitors. Therefore, Branford House is a convenient destination wedding venue. Hotels near Branford House include Hilton Garden Inn Mystic/Groton, Hilton Mystic, Holiday Inn Express Mystic-Groton, Mystic Marriott, and Inn at Mystic.

A Real Wedding at Branford House

It’s always great to receive a word-of-mouth referral. This is especially pleasant when it’s from another wedding vendor. So, when Kristin and Rob reached out to me based on my own JP’s, Marie Tyler Wiley’s, recommendation, it was awesome! The three of us had a “small world” moment when I told Kristin and Rob that Marie married my wife and me.

Though it rained on their wedding day, Kristin and Rob had a great time with each other and their guests. Their Branford House mansion wedding was beautiful, too, including everything from the dress to their dinner choice.

What you’ll see here is a real example of how the mansion wedding venue idea can play out.

Wedding Vendor Team

Their Branford House Wedding Photos

In addition to many of images you’ve already seen throughout this post, here are some more of my favorite photos from Kristin and Rob’s beautiful Branford House wedding.

Learn More

Ready to start the conversation about your own wedding at Branford House? Then reach out to their staff today!

Bethany Langenbach
bethany.langenbach@uconn.edu

Citations

I used the following references at different points in this post:

  1. Branford House, Wikipedia
  2. University of Connecticut | Avery Point
  3. “Avery Point’s History and Timeline,” UConn
  4. “Branford House (1903),” Historic Buildings of Connecticut
  5. “Morton Freeman Plant,” Wikipedia
  6. “Plant’s Southern Empire,” Henry B. Plant Museum
  7. “History Around the Corner: UConn-Avery Point campus turns half a century old,” Phil Houk, The Day
  8. First floor plan sketch, UConn

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