Block Island is a beautiful place for a wedding, and can also be a little tricky. Hosting a wedding on island can come with its fair share of quirks, but it’s worth it when you’re basking on the beach watching the stars after your wedding reception. As a Block Island wedding photographer, we have a bit of an inside view of the best wedding vendors.
Planning for a Block Island Wedding
Step one when planning out any wedding is truly identifying your values and what’s most important to you on your wedding day. Want to run down the aisle to dirty dancing? Go for it. Keep in mind that on the mainland most wedding venues have indoor and outdoor event space for both wedding ceremonies and reception. On island, there’s truly only one wedding venue that offers an indoor dining room and ceremony location — the Spring House Hotel.
Being on Block Island RI gives you plenty of flexibility to do whatever you want on your wedding day, and enjoy the beauty of the island. Whether you want to go small and rent a private AirBnb for the weekend or go big and rent out the whole Block Island Beach House, there’s plenty of options and things to do to make your wedding feel yours.
Having a Wedding Weekend… Or Week
The beauty of having an island wedding is that you’re never just here for the day — you can come for the night or the weekend or the week. The longer you stay, the longer you get to celebrate your wedding and the beginning of your marriage. This is in large part why I adore island weddings — there’s ample time to really connect with friends and family throughout your weekend (or week) long stay. Loaded with New England charm, spend a weekend (or a week) connecting with family on island.
Activities to Incorporate into Your Weekend/Week
Whether your guests have been to the island many times before or never to the island, it’s nice to either host activities together or to help folks figure out some options of things to do. Plenty of these options have been used for bachelor/bachelorette/bachlorx parties on the island or just family get together.
Keep in mind being on the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll have the perfect setting for a regular family vacation. Newport Harbor isn’t all that far, and you can sail from there to get out on island or take a ferry from Newport Rhode Island.
Here’s our favorite list of fun on island:
- Flower Crown Sessions — Reach out to Seas Mtns Co or Farmer Florist
- Beach Day
- BIMI Tours
- Hiking on the Greenway Trails
- Surf Lessons with Blue Diamond
- Parasailing, Banana Boating
- Helicopter Tours
- Fishing Charters
- Spa days
- Private yoga classes with Elevation
- Horseback Riding with Rustic Rides
- Seeing exotic animals at the 1661 Inn and Farm
- Movie night at the Empire Theatre
- Grab a disposable film camera from Seas Mtns Co to document your weekend — processing and scanning incuded.
Rehearsal Dinner and Welcome Event Options
Instead of just another dinner at some fancy restaurant try these options on for size for your welcome event or rehearsal dinner:
- backyard barbeque at your rental house with lawn games
- clambake on the beach with Block Island Bonfires, and lobsters from Howarth Family Lobsters
- Tours around the island
- Dinner with the exotic animals at the 1661 Inn (Contact Seth Draper at the 1661)
Favorite Block Island Vendors
Although there are many local vendors on island, these are some of our favorite to work with, and are queer-affirming. A few we don’t touch upon here are the Atlantic Inn, and the Rose Farm Inn.
Block Island Wedding Venues
The Spring House Hotel
The Spring House Hotel is one of the bigger, more established wedding venues. Whether you choose the back patio, or the indoor room there are plenty of different options onsite for your cocktail hour, reception, and more. The hotel also has plenty of rooms, suites, and rental properties for your guests to enjoy. It’s within walking distance to town, oceanfront, and has some of the best views on the island.
Champlin’s has had a huge renovation this past winter after new ownership took over in December. With fully renovated rooms, your guests will be living the life, dockside in New Harbor. An inclusive oasis hidden away, you can bring your boat out, and book out the resort for your favorite friends, and family.
The Resort is pushing to be the perfect Block Island wedding venue. With a ceremony spot overlooking the harbor, Champlin’s has a one of a kind view over New Harbor for your ceremony. Tie in when the canon booms with your ceremony or reception start (right at sunset!), and bring in all of your favorite Block Island wedding vendors to have the best New England wedding.
The Sullivan House
Up on a hill across from Town Beach, the Sullivan House has 360 ocean views, and an almost 100% outdoor wedding venue. Perfect for small micro-weddings or 200 person bashes, the Sullivan House also hosts many island fundraisers.
The Cushman House
A rental property up the Neck, the Cushman House is within walking distance to Mansion beach. The property is a perfect way to have a backyard wedding on the island. The open floor plan on the first floor is ready to host all of your family welcomings and get-togethers on your wedding week. It’s available for rent by the week and has enough space for the wedding party and your families.
There’s a small cottage on the island as well that’s perfect for a getting-ready suite, and hang-out spot. With paths, beach views, and more, there isn’t ever a reason to leave the property.
The 1661 Inn
A small island boutique inn just walking distance to town, The 1661 is the perfect spot for a small elopement. The suites are absolutely incredible — some with fire places, and large balconies to relax on. All have been recently renovated, with spa tubes, infinity shower drains, and more. With a champagne brunch, what more can you ask for.
A little different than the other venues, the Manisses offers a beautiful and expansive garden space for your ceremony. The hotel is walking distance to town and offers large suites, and a quiet oasis from the busy downtown. A wedding venue located between Spring St and High St, this venue is one of the most unique on island.
The Atlantic Inn
Up on High Street overlooking town you’ll find the Atlantic Inn. Here you can host small weddings on the hill, with reception under a tent or inside. The hotel is centrally located, walking distance to town and to several of the other hotels.
The Block Island Beach House
The Surf Hotel is one of two properties at the Block Island Beach House. It’s a favorite island spot for us, we’re a little biased having summered here for 18 years. The hotel is the only beachfront hotel on the island, with a large restaurant, and separate small dining space. The Block Island Beach House is the perfect setting for a week-long get away for you and your closest friends.
The second property is being renovated this winter and we’re so excited to see what the new space will offer.
Some good things to know about hosting your wedding or elopement:
You can have a wedding ceremony on any beach with under 75 people without needing a permit. Rental houses (whether through AirBnb or a real estate agency) won’t allow for receptions that include folks not on the reservation for the rental house.
Most reception venues close at 10PM — most of the bars will welcome wedding parties who want to keep the party going. You can make a map for your guests of a bar crawl starting at the National, heading down to Nick’s, Poor People’s Pub, Old Island Pub, Kitten’s, and then Club Soda. Another option to keep the party going, is to hold a bonfire with the help of Block Island Bonfires.
Block Island Wedding Planners
Summer Sisters are the best full-service planners to use for a Block Island wedding, or other special events. The ladies at Summer Sisters know the island like the back of their hands. As they should, they have been living or summering here their entire lives. Whether it’s figuring out what to do in case of a hurricane, or what’s the best rental house to get ready in, the two are absolutely the best at guiding clients through a wedding.
Hair and Makeup Artists
Koru Eco Spa
Koru offers all of the spa-needs you could possibly want — massage, pedicures, manicures, hair, makeup and more. It’s a great spot to get ready at, or hideaway to get your nails done.
Further into town is Salt, run by Kinga and nextdoor to the island seamstress. A longtime island resident, Kinga offers both hair and makeup services in a quiet, natural setting.
Block Island Caterers
On island there are a few catering options. Give Tiger Fish or Poor People’s Pub a call for a pig roast or family style take out orders perfect for intimate gatherings. Sediment is a local favorite and offers lobster bakes on island. The company catches fresh lobsters from the waters off Block Island for all of their lobster bakes and take care of set up to breakdown.
Block Island Photographers and Videographers
I’m the only wedding photographer living on the island year round. That said there are more than a few other companies in Rhode Island, and beyond that do travel to the island or live here part time. With the only studio on island, I also offer boudoir services and wedding portrait sessions before your wedding day.
Aisha McAdams, and Thea Monje all summer on Block Island and are available for photography services.
Wedding Officiants on Island
There are a few wedding officiants on Block Island:
- Eli Holmes (they/them)
- Rev. Peter Preiser
- Rev. Eletha Buote-Greig
- Rev. Joseph Protano
- John Sisto
Getting married on island requires a few general processes — as does legally tying the knot anywhere. Fortunately, the town is well versed in getting folks hitched, and have provided this lovely document to help guide you. You can also just call the Town Hall at 401-466-3200.
Wedding Florists on Block Island
The only florist we work with is Mimi, of the Farmer Florist. Mimi uses local island plants for all of her creations, grown, and foraged by Mimi herself. Her intentional process creates a styled look for your wedding day, as your florals match the natural flora and colors in every image.
We work with Mimi for Flower Crown Sessions — a great way to welcome your crew for the weekend and celebrate your special folks.
Block Island Bakers
Block Island Cakes
Run by Alicia, Block Island Cakes offers limited availability for wedding cakes, and treats. From the Cracked Mug, you can also order a variety of desserts for your wedding day.
Other Wedding Vendors
Ryan Designs is the only local decor and wedding design company. The crew offers beautiful options from more boho to very glam, and are absolutely incredible at what they do. The company also offers mainland services.
Block Island Babysitters
The only babysitting service on the island, Block Island Babysitters could be a lifesaver for any parent joining your wedding. From group babysitters services, to carseat rentals, the company offers everything a parent visiting the island could need.
Our Favorite Timeline Templates
Morning ceremonies are a great option for someone who isn’t too into the party, and maybe wants to spend part of their wedding day on the beach.
If you’re looking for a more chill, relaxed day, here’s a great option for a timeline:
- 8:00 AM Hair + Makeup // Getting Ready
- 10:30 AM Ready for the Ceremony
- 11:00 AM Ceremony
- 12:00 PM Brunch Reception
- 3:00 PM Portraits
- 4:30 PM Beach Time
Early afternoon ceremonies are the most frequent option we see for couples on Block Island (and off the island). For me, I always enjoy doing portraits long before the ceremony, that way clients can enjoy time with their friends and family after the ceremony.
Here’s a typical early afternoon ceremony timeline for a Block Island wedding:
- 9:00 AM Hair + Makeup Arrive // Getting Ready
- 11:00 AM First Look with Family/Friends
- 11:30 AM First Look for the Intended
- 12:15 PM Family + Wedding Party Portraits
- 1:30 PM Ready for Ceremony
- 2:00 PM Ceremony
- 3:00 PM Cocktail Hour
- 4:00 PM Start of Reception/Entrances
- 4:15 PM First Dance, and other formals
- 4:45 PM Dinner
- 5:30 PM Dancing
- 8:00 PM Move to After Party
A later ceremony means you’re more likely to hit Golden Hour during your ceremony/portraits depending on the time of year. Here’s what a later afternoon ceremony could look like:
- 9:00 AM Hair + Makeup Arrive // Getting Ready
- 1:00 PM First Look with Family/Friends
- 1:30 PM First Look for the Intended
- 2:15 PM Family + Wedding Party Portraits
- 3:30 PM Ready for Ceremony
- 4:00 PM Ceremony
- 5:00 PM Cocktail Hour
- 6:00 PM Start of Reception/Entrances
- 6:15 PM First Dance, and other formals
- 7:00 PM Dinner
- 7:45 PM Dancing
- 10:00 PM Move to After Party
Preparing Your Guests for the Experience
If your guests have never been to Block Island before, you might want to prep them a bit. As part of the invitation package, you can include an FAQ that helps explain some of the following things for your guests:
Being on an Island
- Block Island is a literal island, not connected to the mainland. You’ll need to either take a ferry or a plane to Block Island. You can take a ferry out of Point Judith, RI, Newport, RI, Fall River, MA, New London, CT, or Montauk, NY.
- If you’re considering going by plane, you can fly out of Westerly, RI. There are also helicopter options out of Connecticut.
- The only way to bring a car over is through the Block Island Ferry out of Point Judith. Visit the linked websites for rates, length of ferry, tickets, and schedules.
- Once on Block Island, there are a few quirks to visiting the island. There’s one gas station that is typically open from 9-5 in the summertime, and then has more limited hours in the off-seasons. There is one grocery store, the Block Island Grocery, that has the basics you could need.
- Make sure to educate your guests that the internet service is not great on the island no matter where you go. The best option if they require internet service for work or other reasons is to go to the Block Island Beach House (or stay there!), or use the library WiFi. Both are accessible outdoors at their locations.
What about an emergency?
- If you are in need of medical attention on the island, you can reach out to the Block Island Medical Center; calling the BIMC directly at 401-466-2974 for urgent matters is the best option. If it’s something that is more of an emergency call 401-466-3220 which will directly connect you to a dispatcher at New Shoreham Public Safety.
- Because it is an island, mail is a little quirky. Letters and USPS doesn’t deliver directly to addresses, but rather to the post office in town. If you need to receive something on island, keep in mind that it can take an additional business day (or two) to reach you. Lambs Package Service is the mail delivery service on island.
- There really isn’t an option for restaurant delivery on island. If you’re looking to have something special sent to someone else on island, Seapod is your best option.
- Many island businesses use only cash — remember to bring some spending cash if you wish to spend time in town, go out to restaurants, etc. ATMs have pretty high rates, and are few and far between. The most accessible ATM is the one at the bank on island.
- There is limited shopping available on island — if you forget things like underwear, nice khaki pants it may be difficult to find replacements on the island.
- If you have specific intolerances like gluten and dairy, there are a few restaurants that are more friendly than others: Persephone’s, Three Sister’s, Block Island Beach House, the Spring House, and Cracked Mug are great options.
If you haven’t already check out our blogs on Block Island by clicking here.