Wedding Venue Feature: Branford House at Avery Point

Vibe and FeaturesOutdoor/indoor, waterfront historic mansion, three lighthouses on view
Guest Capacity500+ (see details below)
Location1084 Shennecossett Rd.
Groton, CT 06340

Sticking out into Eastern Point Bay (right next to Long Island Sound) is the regal Branford House at Avery Point. This awesome wedding venue is on the UConn Avery Point campus in Groton, just minutes from Mystic and I-95. Sporting early 20th-century Jacobean stone architecture, the building is surrounded by acres of outdoor space to spread out and take in the views. If a waterfront wedding day complete with a mansion is one of your goals, you really can’t go wrong with this venue.

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. The main family business, Plant System, spanned many states and contributed to American transportation and commerce. Morton’s architect wife, Nellie, designed the mansion.

At its inception, Branford House was actually named after Branford, Connecticut. This is where both Plants were born (and it’s also home to some great beer). The property originally included Shennecossett Golf Course about a mile away (interesting tidbit: Shennecossett Yacht Club is right next door to Avery Point and also hosts weddings). As a wristwatch fan myself, here’s an interesting fact: a Cartier store now resides in Morton’s former New York City mansion on Fifth Avenue. And oh yeah, 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.

So, what’s the relationship between Branford House and UConn? Good question. 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 Avery Point campus there.

The Avery Point wedding era began in 2001 when UConn renovated the mansion and started renting it out for events. 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

Branford House’s Layout

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

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 with an additional First Dance-type area. 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.

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 Branford House 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 useful ceremony rain location for smaller weddings.

Avery Point

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

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 on Avery Point, the waterscape views are epic! In the photo above, 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” area of Avery Point 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.

Other Considerations

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

  • Year-round weddings with outdoor covered and outdoor open-air ceremony options
    • While open-air ceremonies on the Avery Point lawn are the norm, I would imagine that something under a tent would be possible
    • About 65 people or so can reasonably fit on the west brick patio for a ceremony; while you two, the officiant, and roughly three dozen people would be covered, the rest of your guests would have to stand off to the side uncovered
  • Suitable for small and big weddings, with a maximum of about 500 people
    • You read that right; Bethany Lagenbach, Branford House’s event manager, let me know that the venue has accommodated 500 guests for an all-outdoor Avery Point wedding in the past
    • Reasonably speaking, about 150 guests can be seated inside the mansion for a Branford House wedding reception
    • If you’re open to an outdoor dance floor (Branford House has two sizable, paved patios), then 200 people can fit inside for a Branford House wedding reception
  • 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
  • Regarding overnight accommodations, there are several hotels in Groton that would probably require some Uber rides (and don’t forget nearby Mystic for hotel options)
  • Weddings can run until midnight

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 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.

For more info on Branford House wedding costs, be sure to contact their staff and inquire!

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Kristin and Rob’s Summer 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 wedding was beautiful, too, including everything from the dress to their dinner choice. Here’s how their wedding went!

This Summer Branford House Wedding’s Vendor Team

Their Wedding Day and 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 and Avery Point wedding.

Learn More

Ready to start the conversation about your own Avery Point 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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