Name: New Bedford Whaling Museum
Location: New Bedford, Massachusetts
Tell us a little bit about the history of the space as a wedding venue. When did it open and how has it evolved over the years? Keeping with its mission to preserve the narratives of the past and pay tribute to the impact whaling had on the region, the museum has seen its collection—along with its space—grow consistently over its 107-year history. The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the largest Whaling Museum is the world! Weddings started here 15 years ago.
Can you tell us about the renovations? What are the range of improvements that were made? How will this help make it an extra special place for brides to say “I do”? The renovations are giving couples an entirely different view. The space includes two decks that overlook downtown historic New Bedford. It is an amazing view that showcases the harbor, all of the ships docked, and the old time feel of New England’s cobblestone roads. The Jacobs Family Gallery, where we used to hold most of our weddings, does not have this amazing view. The new gallery also features a built in projector for any picture slideshows the couple wants to show, hardwood floors, industrial style ceilings that fit the atmosphere of New Bedford, room for 180 people for a plated dinner and up to 200 for a cocktail style party.
These renovations still allow guests to see amazing exhibits while they are enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. We still hold our cocktail hour in the Lagoda Room which showcases a 59-foot ship that guests can venture on and exhibits throughout the room and mezzanine level. Guests will have the chance to see all of those and then head up to the Harbor View Gallery for a night of dinner and dancing. The new venue room gives more opportunities for couples because it incorporates the museum and the history of the artifacts, as well as a chance for out of town guests to travel up to a room that overlooks the fabulous views of downtown New Bedford.
What are some of the unique details that you’ve added to the space? The Harbor View Gallery features floor to ceiling windows overlooking the New Bedford Harbor and beautiful hardwood floors! It also features two spacious decks where guests may enjoy a cocktail or some much needed fresh air from dancing up a storm.
In addition to weddings, what other events is the space available for? In addition to weddings, we also hold company meetings, breakfasts, luncheons, and dinners. We also have venue rooms for baby and bridal showers, as well as hosting rehearsal dinners. Our Cook Memorial Theater is used for presentations and the occasional wedding ceremony. Our Plaza is used for wedding ceremonies and cocktail receptions. The other venue rooms we rent out for special occasions or meetings are The Cook Memorial Theater, Jacobs Family Gallery, The San Francisco Room, the Lagoda Room, and the Harbor View Gallery.
What makes the space so special–especially as a destination for getting married? What makes the museum so special for a destination wedding is many of the couple’s guests have never been to New Bedford or the museum. It gives them a history lesson while they are celebrating the couple! This space is so special because it really does bring you back to the old historic New Bedford atmosphere. Many times while giving tours, I have people say, “I never thought of having my wedding here, but this is amazing!” or “The last time I was here was when I was in elementary school or a museum tour. I have to come back!” We are so close to hotels and churches that it is almost a one-stop-shop for destination couples.
Do you have any advice or recommendations for brides that may be considering the venue? The advice I would give couples interested in booking the New Bedford Whaling Museum would be to incorporate the historic charm of New Bedford throughout the planning process and the big day. Having your ceremony right onsite is not only convenient for your guests, but it also sets such a wonderful backdrop for when you say, “I do.” Another recommendation is to take a tour of the museum before your wedding day. You will learn so much about the history and all of the different exhibits.