Attention, Newport Brides!

This is what Newport wedding perfection looks like. Photo: Sarah Pudlo & Co.

Getting married in the Newport area? Congratulations! It’s a great place to have a wedding. From the waterfront venues to the mansions to the beach and park options, Newport has a lot to offer for weddings. My company has been doing weddings since 2008, and the majority of them have been in Newport and Middletown (the town right next to Newport on Aquidneck Island). I’ve learned a lot about having a wedding in this area, and I think the right thing to do is pass that knowledge on to you.

Ready for some local, wedding vendor intelligence?

Festivals & Events. A tourist destination is nothing without its events, right? And Newport has a lot of them. Some are on the smaller side, and others bring in huge crowds. If you’re planning your wedding for an event weekend, you might want to let your guests know to tack on a little extra travel time. Also, you should be prepared in terms of hotel room blocks. The heaviest traffic events are usually the Newport Folk Festival (last weekend in July), The Newport Jazz Festival (first weekend in August) and the International Boat Show (mid-September). The International Tennis Hall of Fame Championship (early July), The Newport Flower Show (usually the third weekend of June), and The Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival (late September) bring some traffic to Bellevue Avenue and the Newport Marathon (usually the second Sunday in October) causes road closures and detours. Salve Regina University graduation (usually the third weekend in May) can make some dents in hotel room availability. The Newport St. Patrick’s Day Parade (the Saturday before March 17, or on March 17 if it falls on a Saturday) really affects the downtown area, as Thames Street is part of the parade route so it gets blocked off. Those are the biggest events that I’ve noticed that can have an impact on a Newport wedding. You can keep an eye on the Newport events schedule here. It also might be worth it to follow Newport Buzz, What’s Up Newp and Newport Patch on Facebook for local info.

The Newport Season. The Newport Summer Season technically starts on Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day, but it’s not a ghost town for all of the time before and after that. Newport is pretty quiet in January, February and March though, really only coming alive a little during February school vacation week and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March. April can start to pick up if the weather is nice. The last weekend of April has been a popular one for weddings because from what I understand, that’s the last weekend for off season rates at many of the venues. May gets busier, particularly on the weekends and then definitely on Memorial Day Weekend. June is also busy, especially once schools get out, as Newport is a popular family vacation spot. I consider Peak Season to be Fourth of July through Labor Day Weekend. After Labor Day, the weekends stay busy as long as it’s nice out, but it’s easier to get around and find parking on weekdays. Some restaurants close in late September or early October, then re-open in April or May. Beach weather is usually gone by October, which thins out the weekend day-tripper traffic. November and December are much quieter, with some holiday season shoppers on weekend but no big events. If you want your wedding in the busy, fun summertime Newport, aim for between Fourth of July and Labor Day. If you want that seem feel but a little quieter, Memorial Day until the Fourth, as well as the weekends after Labor Day in September, will do it for you. You can have a beautiful fall wedding in Newport (with lower prices at some venues) in October and November. If you like the holidays, Newport looks pretty in December, so that could be a good choice for you. The deep off-season months (January, February and March) definitely hold their own appeal in terms of pricing and likely vendor availability. And if you consider April the pre-season month, with its longer days and sometimes spring weather, that can be a good one. And now I’ve covered the whole year for you!

The Weather. New England weather can be unpredictable, but you know, that’s how weather works. January is usually cold and typically Newport sees some snow during it. And the last few years, January had a least a couple single digit days from what I remember from Facebook posts (I’ve been getting the hell out of RI and loving life in SC from January until April the last few years). February brings more cold and usually some snow, but at least the sun sets later each day! March has been the mean girl the past few winters, with cold temps and usually one last big-ish snow storm. Early April has been feeling like winter, but with little whispers of warmer temps. It is extremely rare to see any major snowfall in April. By late April, it’s typically in the 50s, but I do remember one glorious late April weekend a few years back that was in the low 70s. The temps begin to go in the right direction in May, starting in the high 50s and low 60s and ending in the high 60s and low 70s. June is usually mostly in the 70s, and the days are wonderfully long. July has been our warmest and most humid month the last few years, with temps in the 80s and occasionally low 90s. August is definitely summer too, although the cool air can start to creep in at night as early as mid-August. September tends to be beautiful. 70s during the day, little or no humidity and cooler nights. If there’s a hurricane in the southern part of the country though, we can get the tail end of it as a tropical storm or just a rainy, windy day, but a direct hit is rare. It’s still usually warm enough to wear open-toed shoes through mid-October, and you’ll get plenty of fall foliage photos opps that month. November is solidly fall weather, and in terms of photos, you might want to keep in mind what time the sun sets (most people end up doing First Looks and formal photos before the ceremony in fall and winter, due to the shorter days). December typically isn’t brutally cold in Newport and we don’t usually get big snow storms in December, but some light snow is common.

All of that being said, Mother Nature ain’t on nobody’s schedule. We’ve seen snow in October in Newport, and days in the 60s in February. Rain can happen any time, and sometimes September has more warm days than June. My advice to you is to pick a venue that has an indoor space you like as much (or almost as much) as its outdoor space, so if you plan an outdoor ceremony and the weather messes you up, at least you’ll be happy under a non-tented roof. Luckily, the Newport area has many venues that are beautiful both inside and out, so you have options.

Judging by our outfits, this could have been November, April, or anywhere in between.

Newport Bridge Work. There are two ways onto Aquidneck Island: over the Jamestown and Newport Bridges, or over the Sakonnet River Bridge to Portsmouth (what locals call “the back way”). If you or your guests are traveling over the Jamestown and Newport Bridges, you might want to check the status of work being done there. There is a multi-phase bridge work project that has been happening on the Newport Bridge over the past couple of years that has brought with it lane closures and backed up bridge traffic. They have to do the work during warmer months (something about the ground not being too cold), so it’s been starting around June and ending in the fall. If you have guests who would be coming into Newport over the two bridges, you might want to check out RITBA for info on the work schedule.

Newport Street Parking. Made it past the bridge work? Good job! Now it’s time to find parking. It’s usually not a problem for wedding guests to find parking, as all of the churches and venues have parking lots. But the getting-ready part of the day can be a different animal. If you’re getting ready at a hotel, your bridal party, beauty team, videographer, photographer, planner and whoever else will be with you shouldn’t have a problem (although I recommend checking with your hotel first in case they want them to park somewhere specific or get a temporary parking pass). But if you’re at a rental home in the downtown area, it’s unlikely that there will be that many (or any) off street spots available. That’s not really a problem during the off season (although October and April have been getting busier), but during the summer season, Newport street parking is extremely limited. People can get stuck circling around for 20 – 30 minutes, waiting for a nearby spot to open up. (Hair stylists, makeup artists, videographers and photographers tend to have a decent amount of gear to lug around, so parking a 10 minute walk away might not be an option for them.) The good news is, Newport has a lot of pay lots! If you can scout out a nearby pay lot beforehand or ask the property owner where one is, you can cross that off your list early on instead of dealing with it on your wedding day.

Middletown Street Parking. Middletown town is literally the middle town on Aquidneck Island, if you’re wondering where it got its name. (What, you don’t like Jeopardy type facts?) Newport is the southernmost city on the island, with Middletown to its north and Portsmouth above that. Middletown has beaches, wedding venues and a lot of rental homes near those wedding venues, so it’s popular spot for weddings and the getting-ready part of the day. What they probably don’t mention in those rental home listings is that there is no street parking allowed on some of the streets in Middletowns (specifically, from what I’ve experienced, those streets within a mile or so of the beaches). If you’re planning to get ready at one of those rental homes and it has a driveway that fits two cars, but you’ve got six bridesmaids, two hair stylists, two makeup artists, a videographer and a photographer who will be at the house, you’ll need to figure out the parking situation. Unlike Newport, there aren’t really any pay lots in that part of Middletown, so you might want to talk to the property owner ahead of time to try to figure that out. (Sometimes if your venue is near the rental home, they let you park there early and you can have someone from your group shuttle people to the rental home, and I have a vague memory of one AB Beauty bride calling the Middletown Police to get special permission to temporarily park a few cars on the street. And there can be other options too.) Better to straighten it out ahead of time than deal with a parking mess the day of!

Beach Traffic. Particularly around Easton’s Beach (that’s First Beach to the locals), there’s always traffic during the summer between 3:00pm – 5:00pm when most people leave the beach. That traffic also affects the westbound lanes on the Newport and Jamestown bridges, as well as the Route 4 exit off of route Route 1. It’s not major standstill–we’re not talking going-one-mile-in-an-hour-Boston-rush-hour type traffic–but it can add some time onto a drive.

If First Beach looks like this, it’s not the time of year you need to worry about beach traffic. But in the summer, be ready for it!

Venue Access. If there is a bridal suite at your venue, your first thought might be “Let’s get ready there!” But often access to those suites is only allowed two – three hours before your ceremony, which is usually not enough time for hair and makeup services. If there is a bridal suite that you’d like to get ready in, I would make sure to ask when you would be able to get in. Some that have that three hour rule also sometimes allow you to rent them out for the day, so that could be an option for you. The moral of the story is, look into it. Ask questions and find out what’s allowed before you make any plans.

Ocean Breezes And Then Some. Aquidneck Island is, you know, an island. That means we are surrounded by water, and with water comes ocean breezes. They’re lovely on a hot day, but things can get windy. And a strong wind will whip your hair back and forth, whip your hair back and forth. If are getting married on the water or taking pictures at the beach, just be aware of the wind and what it can do to hair styles (particularly down styles and half up styles). This is part of the reason we offer additional hair touchups for brides at AB Beauty. AB Beauty hair stylists can make your hair stay perfectly in place in regular weather, but strong wind guests during two hours of photos are a different story. It’s not that every day in the Newport area is windy–I mean, we’re not Chicago–but it’s worth a mention.

Off Season Weddings. If you love a venue in the Newport area but can’t afford a summer Saturday, try looking into a Friday or Sunday. If that’s still out of budget, it’s worth looking into an off-season date if you’re okay with a potentially less ideal weather day. If your ceremony and reception will be inside and the only real outside need you have is for photos, you might be able to make it work. I was a bridesmaid in a Newport New Year’s Eve wedding many moons ago and we took some photos outside. I’m an always-cold person and I don’t remember it being freezing because we did it so quickly. Other than lower pricing, an off season wedding means more hotel availability, less traffic and often more vendor availability. Just something to think about, bride-to-be.

I hope this has been helpful to you if you’re planning or even just considering having a wedding in the Newport area. If you have any questions, ask away. I’ve lived in Newport for most of my adult life and have had a beauty business here for the past 11+ years, so I think I’m pretty well versed in this area.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

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