We’ve all seen at least one barefoot bride walking up the beach, hand-in-hand with her new husband, several bridesmaids trailing behind making sure her dress doesn’t get terribly dirty from the dusty sand… all while sitting and watching from our beach chairs or beach blankets. Living on the coast, we have an opportunity to watch more weddings than just ones we have been invited to. We can sit on the side lines, in our bikinis and board shorts, and watch a couple make lifelong vows to each other ocean-side.

Who doesn’t like seeing a wedding on a public beach? It’s almost like being a guest – a really casual sand-covered guest. There are other opportunities to witness public weddings on the shore, too. Weddings at Seacrets and other bayside restaurants, on large hotel pool decks, at golf courses, local churches, vineyards – you name it. Recently, more and more couples come to the beach to vacation, decide to get married, and treat our home as a destination for their destination weddings.

Throughout Down the Aisle – Eastern Shore Style, we’ve been reaching out to brides and grooms with an offbeat style, and ones who have an original approach to planning their big day. If searching for a wedding or reception venue that’s a little out of the ordinary, there are plenty of options.  The venues mentioned below are sure to be pleasant, and won’t allow for any bikini-clad ‘guests’ making their way into your wedding photos. Can you imagine looking back at your wedding photos from your magical day on the beach in Ocean City and noticing that shorebilly wearing terrible neon boardies, showcasing a hairy back, and jogging down the beach in the background of the photo of your first kiss as a married couple? If that sounds horrific, check out these wedding venues for a pleasantly memorable bridal location…

Rackliffe House
The Rackliffe House was constructed in the 1740’s and beautifully restored in 2011. The original 18th century grandeur of the gabled brick building that overlooks the Sinepuxent Bay would provide the perfect backdrop for any Eastern Shore wedding. Through the efforts of the Rackliffe House Trust and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the estate has preserved the life and times of the early seaside dwellers; complete with wooden mantels, brick fireplaces, tall ceilings, and plenty of natural light inside.

The Assateague Island Visitor Center is literally just over a quarter of a mile from the home. Guests are encouraged to park at the visitor’s center and walk down Tom Patton Lane to enjoy the bay views, wooded lot, and serenity of the area.

Indian River Life-Saving Station
The Indian River Life-Saving Station was built in 1876 for the United States Life-Saving Service. Since then, the station has been turned into a museum commemorating those who saved lives on the coast, the many local shipwrecks, and history of the Eastern seaboard. One hundred years later, the station was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Currently, the landmark is restored to its 1905 appearance; one that would make for a million wedding memories. The white sandy beach and the historic station offer a relaxed setting for a bride and groom to enjoy. A beach wedding with a tented reception on site is recommended. The museum will be open for self-guided tours, indoor dressing areas, and restrooms.

St. Martins
Historic St. Martins is an 18th Century Flemish brick church located in Showell, Maryland. The Colonial design of this church has been meticulously preserved. The brick floor has been preserved, the pine box pews have been restored, the barrel vaulted ceiling is beautiful, and the raised pulpits are exactly what you'd expect to see in the 18th century. Historic St. Martins is a traditional venue to host a wedding and a reception. Couples can choose their own wedding officiant and have them perform their ceremony at St. Martins. This stately church could be the romantic wedding site for any reasonably priced Eastern Shore wedding.

Merry Sherwood
The Merry Sherwood Plantation is a stately 3-storied home that sits proudly overlooking farmland off of Route 113 south of Berlin, MD. The home stands out on the lower Eastern Shore as being one of the most distinctive and personal interpretations of the Italianate style. The imaginative nature of many exterior and interior finished of the plantation point clearly to the local vernacular expression of ‘high-style’ design.

The Merry Sherwood innkeepers encourage newlyweds to reserve the Purnell Room. The Purnell Room is a honeymoon suite dedicated to one of the plantation's original homeowners, Col. Harry Selby Purnell and Elizabeth Kenly Purnell who made the estate their home in 1933.The several acre lots that surround the home are perfectly manicured. During the spring and summer months, the green vegetation and colorful floral blossom will add natural elegance to any ceremony.

Nassau Valley Vineyards
Nassau Valley Vineyard was the first vineyard in the entire state of Delaware. The mature gardens, fields, and orchards produce a wide variety of regionally grown fruit. The vineyard produces their own Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc. What could be better than toasting with a fresh glass of sweet wine?

The vineyard can accommodate a range of 20 – 400 guests and allows for several options when it comes to a wedding ceremony. The location, on the outside of Lewes, DE, allows for easy and convenient access to the beaches, the country, and local hotels.

Baywood Greens
Baywood Greens hosts some of the most beautiful weddings in the DelMarVa area. The grounds, located in very close proximity to the golf-course, boast gorgeous gardens year round.  There are many stunning photo opportunities on the Baywood Greens property.  The grand staircases leading to the ballroom and stunning views of the golf course create the perfect place to celebrate your special day with family and friends. Located in Long Neck, DE, Baywood Greens is the ideal spot if you plan to host a large wedding.

Heritage Shores Club
The 28,000 square foot Heritage Shores clubhouse is Nantucket inspired and a great setting for a reception. The main ballroom can seat up to 300 wedding guests. The clubhouse overlooks the beautiful Arthur Hill designed golf course and can be rented as an outdoor wedding space. If planning on getting married outside, the patio can sit up to 250 guests.  Heritage Shores provides a list of recommended wedding vendors that will deliver personalized hospitality to couples who choose to get married at the Bridgeville, DE club.

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All photos in article are from various sites/photographers noted on image.