East Coast Destination Wedding LocaleWords by Roger Sands
Photos courtesy of Skytop Lodge
Once known as the "Honeymoon Capital of the World," the Pocono Mountains have been the setting for thousands of both quaint and elaborate destination weddings.
Situated in northeast Pennsylvania only 90 minutes from New York City, the Pocono Mountains occupy 2,400 square miles of pristine landscapes. The vast region is home to rolling mountain terrain, breathtakingly beautiful waterfalls, thriving woodlands and 170 miles of winding rivers.
During World War II, many GI's took their leave with their girlfriends and families in the Pocono Mountains. The area took on a romantic appeal for these young people, and many returned after the war for their honeymoons. Plush resorts sprang up in the 1940s and 1950s and spurred the growth of a flourishing resort business. In 1963, the heart-shaped tub was introduced at Caesars Cove Haven in Lakeville. Several national magazines ran photos of this latest novelty and a flood of publicity followed, resulting in the naming of the Pocono Mountains as the "Honeymoon Capital of the World." The 1990s ushered an era of change to the Pocono Mountains as several venerable honeymoon resorts closed, while other accommodation facilities and tourist attractions made significant capital improvements to their properties.
Nestled on a picturesque hilltop, the stately Skytop Lodge has been catering to brides and grooms since 1928. With 5,500 acres of woodlands, a 75-acre lake and more than 30 miles of hiking trails, nature provides a breathtaking backdrop for an outdoor wedding. Should you decide on a winter wedding, when Skytop is resplendent with snow-capped trees and sparkling ice formations, the resort can accommodate.
Widely considered the "crown jewel" of the Pocono Mountains resorts, Skytop offers luxurious accommodations, impeccable service and epicurean delights. The resort stands as a beautifully maintained tribute of a bygone era and features 125 guest rooms and suites in three configurations. Each is uniquely furnished in English country-style designs, as well as charming accents like plaid wools and pillow shams. Streamside Cottages are elegant and very private, nestled between the 18th fairway and a clear mountain stream, and are ideally suited for destination wedding parties as each cottage consists of four interconnected bedrooms.
Couples from all over the globe choose Skytop for their wedding, including a Hong Kong bride a few years ago with another Hong Kong wedding and reception slated for June. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are strong markets for the resort as people from suburbia seek tranquility.
Skytop provides several options for the ceremony, including the secluded rooftop of the Main Lodge which can accommodate up to ten guests and offers stunning views of the captivating Pocono Mountains. The Streamside Lawn allows couples to surround themselves with up to 150 of their closest friends and family, while the lush Evergreen Garden can accommodate up to 350 guests. The Formal Gardens – the most popular choice for weddings – can host up to 300 guests. The South Porch can accommodate up to 250 guests and the Lodge’s Library comfortably seats 150.
Various reception sites are available. From clam bakes to formal celebrations up to 100 guests, Streamside Lodge is located near the waterfalls of Skytop Lake and is complete with a deck for moonlight dancing and also includes an outdoor fire pit. The opulent Evergreen Ballroom, with soaring ceilings boasting magnificent crystal chandeliers, is flanked by one wall of French doors leading to the Evergreen Gardens. It's the perfect banquet room for larger grand weddings and can accommodate up to 350 guests.
Food is serious business at Skytop Lodge and this is not your ordinary reception fare. Executive Chef Stevan Sundberg goes to great lengths to ensure perfection, personally meeting with couples prior to their big day in order to map out meal plans. Reception dinners run the gamut from a traditional buffet to a sit-down dinner which can include Surf and Turf if you opt for the Exclusive Signature package.
Not all destination weddings are created equally. Once you’ve found your dream destination, the ideal venue should follow soon after. Skytop Lodge proves that choosing the right venue can make all the difference in the world.
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