It takes courage to plan a wedding during a global pandemic; some would say that it takes even more to open an entire wedding venue during said pandemic and keep it going strong — there is so very much to lose. And so with the threat of COVID-19 ever looming and a backlog of postponed weddings making it increasingly difficult to book the venue of your dreams, we went on a mission to seek out some new possibilities for Connecticut brides to consider, and were oh-so-pleasantly surprised to find that courage is not in short supply within our fair state’s borders. Read on for some exciting new options for your day of days; some are new, others are established facilities reimagined — all are spectacular.

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Testo Farms

All in the family

Pigs, goats, alpacas, a yoga studio … there have been many new additions to Milford’s Testo Farms since it was established in 2019 — and there are more to come. This nine-acre family farm and equestrian center that focuses on training equestrians in the hunter/jumper discipline just so happens to have a handsome viewing lounge above its stable that can seat up to 80 guests; it overlooks the center’s 20,000-square-foot indoor riding arena on one side and has an adjoining deck that overlooks an outdoor arena and hunter/jumper course on the other. Better yet: Plans are in the works to begin renovating a vintage barn that will be able to accommodate larger weddings (possibly for 2022 bookings). 203-500-9254, testofamily.farm

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The Hinterland, Avon

Hidden acres

Kristyn LeBarron and Patryce Cintron are two best friends with a vision. “We want to bring rustic and modern farm style to life,” explains Kristyn — especially for brides struggling with all the regulations necessary in this pandemic age. The Hinterland in Avon, a “hidden land” set on five acres of fourth-generation Miller Farms, is the happy result. Hinterland weddings center around a vintage 2,100-square-foot white barn that can seat up to 75 guests. Outdoor options include a wooded clearing that overlooks distinguished members of the First Company Governor’s Horse Guard grazing in the fields next door, and can be used for ceremonies or tented for receptions of up to 100 guests. Insider tip: LeBarron, a licensed cosmetologist, also happens to be a coordinator for Larissa Lake and Co. salon in Wethersfield, so she is the one to talk to when it comes to hair and makeup. 203-903-7412, thehinterlandct.com

I’m falling again

When Kristene and Paul Cotter purchased Sterling’s Falls Creek Farm in October 2019, one of the first orders of business was to renovate the Grady Barn and turn it into a polished wedding venue capable of seating up to 250 guests. How could they not when a magical stone chapel, constructed by local artisans using granite corner stone salvaged from local mills, natural fieldstone, white oak beams, cathedral windows, granite columns and sturdy oak pews to seat 100, was already a key component of the sprawling 345-acre Sterling estate? And then there are manicured lawns and meandering stone walls for miles, ponds to dream by and breezy pastures, glorious gardens and four on-site farm-stay retreats that will soon accommodate up to 20 … need we say more? 401-262-7861, fallscreekfarmct.com 

Marygolds On Main

Marygold's on Main, Newtown

Talk of the town

Nineteen Main Street in Newtown made history once again with the January 2021 opening of MaryGold’s on Main. Indeed, the new restaurant/boutique events venue owned by Clark and Kate Neugold, who also operate Sandy Hook’s beloved Foundry Kitchen & Tavern, sits on hallowed ground once occupied by the Inn at Newtown and, way back in the day, the home of Newtown benefactress Mary Hawley. The landmark structure, which has been renovated to both honor history and showcase contemporary design, can seat up to 150 guests for a wedding. 203-491-2998, marygoldsonmain.com

Tash + Kyle | Married

Wyndcrest Estate, Bethlehem

Gone with the wynd

Wyndcrest Estate in Bethlehem, which hosted its first event in May 2021, is located on a finely manicured horse farm in the hills of Litchfield County. The newly built but classically styled red barn it uses to seat weddings of up to 200 guests between April and October, sits at the top of a hill overlooking the equine facility and rocks a post-and-beam look with a grand chandelier, bistro-style string lights, walls of French doors on both sides and sliding barn doors at either end. The 30-acre property also has a gazebo for ceremonies and plenty of manicured sweeps of green for cocktail hour; overnight accommodations for eight are available at an adjacent Airbnb with an indoor pool. 203-528-7724, wyndcrestestate.com

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BlueBird Farm, Willington

A little bluebird told me

Bluebird Farm in Willington is a family-owned working farm with more than 40 acres of open fields and pastures surrounded by woods. Its renovated 1918 barn can accommodate receptions of up to 100 seated guests between April and mid-December and boasts an attached outdoor deck ideal for cocktails and dancing under the stars. Owners Joseph and Carmen Hall, who purchased the property with their son in 2015, held their daughter’s wedding there in 2017 and opened to the public in 2019, also have two farm stays on site (a sprawling barn loft and a way-cool treehouse with a honeymoon loft on high) that can accommodate 16 for a wedding weekend. 860-788-5885, bluebirdfarmct.com

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Hope Lodge, Moosup

Hope floats

Hope is another key component of opening a wedding venue during COVID — just ask Emmanuel and Liza Esperance and Susie Bernado, who in November 2020 purchased what was once Moosup’s local VFW and turned into the handsome event venue now known as Hope Lodge. “Everyone thought we were crazy,” Liza admits. Nevertheless, they persisted, and the circa-1888 building’s dramatic 5,000-square-foot, second-floor ballroom with a built-in stage, stained-glass windows and coffered wood ceiling is now available for weddings of up to 170 guests. Meanwhile on the main level, the “Bella” ballroom is being renovated for 2022 and will feature a more industrial look with exposed brick and sleek cement floors. 860-317-1149, thehopelodgevenue.com

The Wedding of Kaitlyn + Brenden Crutchfield

Sweet Hill Farm

How sweet it is

Sweet Hill Farm was established in 2018 on 18 acres that was once known to generations of Gales Ferry residents as Alice Acres. Sweet Hill, which now includes sunflower fields, a wildflower meadow, boutiques that offer everything from gourmet meals to one-of-a-kind treasures from Connecticut artists, a farm market and an educational center, has partnered with Rustic Boutique Catering & Events to host weddings for up 100 seated guests in extraordinary rustic-chic open-air or covered (and heated) greenhouses; outdoor ceremony sites and tented receptions for up to 150 seated guests are also available. 860-394-9349, sweethillfarmct.com

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Salem Herbfarm

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Salem Herbfarm

 

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme

Anne and Joe Duncan have owned the 12 acres known today as Salem Herbfarm since 1991, but the homestead has been in Anne’s family since ol’ Uncle Fred purchased it in 1915. In 1997 they established a successful retail plant nursery, and in 2020, since the times they were a-changin’, they finished converting Salem Herbfarm into one of the state’s most picturesque new wedding venues. Farm weddings are available from May through October and include exclusive use of the grounds and a restored circa 1867 timber-framed barn with American chestnut posts and beams and original pine board-and-batten siding, which can seat 140. A restored greenhouse is also available for outdoor receptions of up to 200 seated guests, while a 1,000-square-foot bluestone patio serves as a ceremony site with seating for 100. 860-861-5100, salemherbfarm.com

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The Clerestory 

Let there be light

The history of Manchester’s Hilliard Mills complex dates back to 1672 when one Mr. John Allen was issued a land grant by the colony of Connecticut to build a sawmill. His is said to have been the first “official” business in what is now the town of Manchester; a brand-spanking-new events venue called The Clerestory, set to open in the fall of 2021, may be the town’s most recent. Once known as “Building Four” in a complex said to have processed the wool to make George Washington’s inaugural suit and kept Union troops outfitted during the Civil War, the 6,000-square-foot Clerestory will be available to host industrial-modern weddings of up to 250 seated guests between February and December. Think exposed brick, white-washed beams, custom chandeliers, 26-foot ceilings and windows upon windows to let in the light. 860-604-0212, historicevents.co

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Powder Mill Barn

Swing your partner

Built in 1845, the Powder Mill Barn in Enfield’s Hazardville Historic District was once the horse barn of the Hazard Powder Company, which is said to have supplied 40 percent of all the gunpowder used during the Civil War. In 1959, however, Ralph Sweet, a square dance caller from Uncasville who was searching the state for a barn he could turn into a dance hall, bought and renovated the eight-acre property along the Scantic River and turned it into the place to be on a Friday night. In 2019 the barn was renovated once again, this time by Ralph’s daughter Polly, to make it suitable for weddings of up to 150 seated guests — whether they know how to “do si do” or not. 860-698-6987, on Facebook