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Vermont’s state parks make great wedding venues

ADDISON COUNTY — Those couples planning an Addison County wedding and who might enjoy a rustic setting for their ceremony with plenty of fresh air and pretty views could consider touring the area’s Vermont State Parks.
According to Rochelle Skinner, the Vermont State Parks sales and service manager, the four most popular of the county’s parks for weddings are Ferrisburgh’s Kingsland Bay, Button Bay and Mount Philo (technically in Charlotte), and the D.A.R park in Addison.
“They’re pretty much booked every weekend for the summer,” Skinner said.
Each of the parks has its own charms, and in some cases limitations, especially in the size of parties they can accommodate.
“They all offer something a little bit different,” Skinner said.
Button Bay can handle the largest party, and at a per-person rate offers the lowest cost. Its large, open pavilion can seat up to 300 people, and according to the park website it comes with electricity, grills, picnic tables and a nearby restroom.
It can be rented for $200 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and except for holidays can be reserved for free the rest of the week. More info about Button Bay State Park may be found at vtstateparks.com/buttonbay.html.
The pavilion is in a fairly open area, and like the other parks, Button Bay remains open during special events. Skinner reminds those who enquire about weddings that park-goers can wander by the festivities.
“The public is still going to be able to use the park,” she said. “It’s not exclusive.”
On the plus side, Skinner said the parks do not place certain limits on the caterers or wedding parties.
“We do allow alcohol,” she said.
A little to the north of Button Bay, Kingsland Bay can accommodate the next-largest party among the local state parks, and also offers separate facilities for dining, entertainment and the bridal party, as well as lakeside ambiance.
A weekend daily rental fee of $2,500 buys a colonial revival banquet hall and two other buildings.
The park’s banquet hall can seat 150 and has such features as a native-stone fireplace and a big porch. There is inside space for food preparation and serving, but a caterer would have to bring cooking equipment, as is the case in most parks.
Near the banquet hall, the Federal vernacular style Hawley House provides space for small meetings, dressing rooms for the wedding party, and a wraparound porch that according to the park website is a popular place for photos. The bride’s dressing room provides a full-length mirror, several chairs, a dressing table and provisions for hanging the bride’s gown and bridesmaids’ dresses. 
Also included is “The Theatre,” which the park website describes as “a warm, rustic structure” with a stage at one end and stone fireplace at the other. The building can seat up to 50 people and it offers space for a cocktail hour, dancing and  children’s activities
Or if the weather doesn’t cooperate, The Theater may be decorated and used for the wedding ceremony. The Theatre is included with the rental of other buildings Friday through Sunday or may be rented separately the rest of the week. More information about Kingsland Bay State Park may be found at vtstateparks.com/kingsland.html.
Both the Mount Philo and D.A.R. parks can only accommodate wedding parties of up to 60, but Skinner fairly pointed out that each park also offers its charms.
Mount Philo’s are obvious: Skinner cited the mountaintop’s “sweeping views” of the Champlain Valley.
As for the lakeside D.A.R. park in Addison, Skinner pointed out the fact it is a less popular destination for day use, which can make it a more desirable spot for a wedding party.
“If you do it in a small, quiet park like D.A.R, you’ll have more privacy,” she said.
The D.A.R. park’s pavilion offers electricity, a grill, picnic tables and a restroom and can be rented for just $100 Fridays through Sundays, and is free otherwise except for holidays. More information about the D.A.R. State Park may be found at vtstateparks.com/dar.html.
Mount Philo features a rustic, 1930s lodge that can seat up to 60 people, with electricity, grills, tables, chairs and a nearby restroom. It also has a connected and covered pavilion with a working fireplace and refrigerator that is included in a Friday-Sunday rental fee of $300 per day. The daily fee for the rest of the week is $200. More information about Mount Philo State Park may be found at vtstateparks.com/philo.html. 
Although many weekends this year are already booked, Skinner said it wouldn’t hurt for couples still looking for a site for this summer to check in at 888-409-7579, also the number to call for those looking ahead to next year.
“What I would say is just call us and see what’s available,” she said.
For couples planning for 2020, Skinner said booking 11 months to a year ahead is ideal, a timetable that will allow them the luxury of strolling around the parks to envision what it might be like to exchange their vows and celebrate onsite.
“People who are planning for a wedding next year would be going to the parks this year,” she said.

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