Photos courtesy Scarborough Renaissance Festival

A different kind of destination wedding, this one takes you back in time

By Rich Lopez | Staff writer

For those who really fantasize about getting married to their knight in shining armor or having that fairy tale ceremony, well, that’s not an unrealistic idea. For the most part, Scarborough Renaissance Festival could create almost any type of wedding within its grounds. And all the couple would really have to do is show up.

Every season, the festival hosts up to 35 weddings in its 17 days. That’s quite a feat, but its wedding operation is a well-oiled machine. The festival can host a complete ceremony that includes everything from the officiant to the cake and food.

“We are a one-stop shop,” public relations director Helaine Thompson said. “Our venue lends itself to go with any theme. Plus, we have a number of things that make weddings here unique. We like to promote our weddings as a destination wedding to the 16th century.”

Fairies, Celtic garb, dragons, a literal knight in shining armor are just some of the themes the festival can provide. And if the couple isn’t prone to tuxes and wedding dresses, the festival even has an onsite costume rental participants can use.

“First and foremost, we make weddings completely turnkey,” Thompson said.

Which is perhaps a reason that weddings have increased at the festival. Scarborough’s only caveat is that it takes place during the festival but that at least narrows down the date selection. But with all the pieces in place thanks to the festival, wedding planning isn’t so bad.

Pretty much, the festival’s wedding planner will do that for the couple.

“Our dedicated coordinator will walk through every step with the couple, and she’s theirs for the day as well,” Thompson added. “We can coordinate just about 100 percent of the wedding.”

Scarborough provides different wedding packages at different price levels. Every wedding package includes the ceremony in its Wedding Garden that features a gazebo and rose bushes surrounded by a stone wall for privacy.

Packages also include tickets for the couple and all guests to attend the festival.

Options on packages can include receptions, music for the ceremony, a banquet, flower garlands and even a Pike Arch by a Scottish regiment.

While Scarborough can provide most everything, the couple still has a say on some aspects.

“We’re completely open to people’s own choices on florists or bakers. They can have their specific officiant,” she said.

“The one thing they wouldn’t be able to do is the food which is done onsite. But we also have partners to recommend such as this one great baker we’ve worked with and photographers. And many of our performers here can also officiate.”

Ceremonies are allocated 30 minutes and about an hour to an hour-and-a-half for the reception.

Queer weddings are nothing new to Scarborough Renaissance Festival either. Thompson assures that the place has always had an inclusive flair.

“We are very welcoming to the community, and that’s our goal,” she said. “We are an accepting place that I think makes our weddings even more unique.”

Perhaps another selling point for a Renaissance wedding is the price.

“Our top of the line with alcohol included is under $6,000,” Thompson said. “For more basic weddings, we range from about $700-$1,200.”

Just think ahead on planning. Most scheduled weddings are set a year in advance. They are already booking for 2023.

“People can start by going to the site and then reaching out to our coordinator and go form there,” Thompson said.

“Our objective is to make it easy and give the couple a magical day in a beautiful setting.”

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