Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
A Storybook Wedding at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
By Breanne George
Encompassing 70 acres of picturesque gardens and five historic buildings, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens provides a storybook setting for weddings. From lush gardens to tranquil lagoons, vast meadows to scenic overlooks, the natural surroundings of this historic estate provide breathtaking beauty at every glance. Whether a bride prefers a dramatic or more intimate wedding, Stan Hywet offers an array of ceremony and reception options in one convenient location in Akron.
“We have spectacular gardens that are popular destinations for wedding ceremonies,” says Bob Ulm, Director of Rentals & Guest Services at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens. “In addition to the vibrant colors in each of our gardens, the historic Manor House, which features Tudor Revival architecture, serves as an amazing backdrop. This beautiful setting sets the stage for one-of-a-kind weddings.”
The house that rubber built
Built between 1912 and 1915, Stan Hywet Hall is the sixth largest U.S. historic home open to the public. A shining example of the American Country Estate movement of the early 20th century, Stan Hywet is the first and largest National Historic Landmark in Akron.
The estate was originally home to F.A. and Gertrude Seiberling and their family. F.A. Seiberling started The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, along with his brother C.W., in 1898. The company soon became the largest rubber company in the world, leading the city of Akron to be known as the “Rubber Capital.”
The Seiberling family welcomed many notable guests to Stan Hywet Hall over the decades. Famous guests included Helen Keller, Will Rogers and Presidents William Howard Taft, Calvin Coolidge and Warren G. Harding to name a few.
Reflecting the generous spirit of F.A. and Gertrude, their children gifted the estate to the city of Akron in 1957 so it could be enjoyed by future generations. The unique history of Stan Hywet, coupled with the unrivaled beauty of the gardens, attracts thousands of visitors to the museum each year for tours, community events and special occasions.
Great options for garden weddings
Originally designed by well-known landscape architect Warren Manning, Stan Hywet’s impressive grounds are truly a work of art. With each new season, the gardens transform with the vibrant colors of the plantings. “Our gardeners are assigned to different gardens and will plan the plantings for the year, from tulips in May to chrysanthemums in October,” Ulm explains. “Each garden’s color themes always work so beautifully with weddings.”
According to Ulm, about 50 percent of Stan Hywet’s wedding ceremonies take place at the teahouses at the end of the beautiful Birch Tree Allée, a 550-foot-long pathway with more than 100 gray birches lining both sides. “We call this our wedding aisle – the birch trees lean into the pathway creating a breathtaking canopy of leaves. In the spring, the pathway is lined with vinca and lily of the valley, known for its sweet scented flowers.”
Two stone and slate teahouses, or garden pavilions, are located on a breathtaking overlook with views of the Lagoon below and the Cuyahoga Valley in the distance. Brides walk down the Birch Tree Allée to their ceremony, which is held between the teahouses in front of a bubbling fountain. This setting is ideal for weddings under 200 guests.
Another popular setting for larger wedding ceremonies is the West Terrace, which provides spectacular views of the back of the Manor House. “This is a truly royal place to get married with stained glass windows and the grandeur of the house as a backdrop to your wedding ceremony,” Ulm says. “During the ceremony, the bride and groom are elevated on a terrace, while guests are seated on the lawn below near an impressive fountain.”
For brides preferring a rustic setting for their wedding, the Dell is a secluded location shaded by a canopy of tall trees and surrounded by wild flowers. Beyond its natural beauty, the Dell has historical significance as well. The youngest Seiberling daughter, Virginia, was married in this location in 1919.
Suitable for smaller weddings of up to 50 guests, the English Garden is a hidden gem redesigned by renowned landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman in 1928. In fact, it is one of the only restored Shipman gardens open to the public. The secluded, walled garden features a reflecting pool, the statue The Garden of the Water Goddess and more than 3,000 perennials. The ceremony is held under a lichgate with a canopy of Dutchman’s pipe, a flowering vine with large heart-shaped leaves.
A wedding reception to remember
Located on the lower level of the Manor House, the Manor House Auditorium is a warm and inviting space featuring a wood floor, painted brick walls, skylights and a post-modern ceiling with exposed metal pipes. Accommodating 175 guests, this space also has a fireplace hearth and balcony, which is a perfect location for the band or D.J. The auditorium was once used as the Seiberlings’ gymnasium.
“This historic venue is truly a blank canvas where a bride can create the wedding of her dreams,” Ulm says. “By adding bright colors, beautiful linens, flowers, and suspending lights and globes from the ceiling, the space transforms from your basic vanilla to cherries jubilee.”
During warm weather months, cocktail hour is often held in the historic outdoor Service Well and Drying Yard. This expansive brick area is an ideal location for setting up a bar and appetizer station with the Manor House serving as a backdrop.
For smaller receptions, the Carriage House Auditorium offers a charming space with French doors leading to a tented patio. The climate-controlled tented patio features chandeliers and an array of windows. This venue holds 85 guests (125 guests with the tented patio).
Lastly, Stan Hywet offers several locations on the property for tented outdoor receptions, including the Great Meadow in front of the Manor House. “Tented receptions are popular and provide spectacular views of the Manor House,” Ulm says. “We can accommodate as many guests as a bride desires for large weddings.”
Stan Hywet’s staff of experienced, creative wedding consultants works with the bride every step of the way to bring her vision to life. From extravagant to more modest affairs, the events team has the talent and expertise to create any wedding imaginable. In addition to ceremonies and receptions, the events team will assist in planning bridal showers and rehearsal dinners.
“We pride ourselves in our exceptional attention to detail,” Ulm says. “On the wedding day, a team of three wedding consultants is dedicated to the bride and groom, the bridal party and family to ensure everything runs smoothly.”
For cultural weddings, the events team will work with a couple to ensure important traditions are incorporated throughout their special day. “We hosted an Indian wedding that was absolutely spectacular,” Ulm says. “We were honored to be part of this three-day event, and it gave us an opportunity to learn more about the unique culture.”
The team has relationships with many local vendors who are familiar with the historic nature of the property. “We’ve vetted these vendors and know they are the truest professionals in their industry, from caterers to florists,” Ulm says. “A Stan Hywet bride will have the highest quality vendors at the most reasonable prices.”
Create a page in your history
For many couples who get married at Stan Hywet, the museum has been a part of their lives since childhood. Even after their wedding day, couples often return to the museum with their own family — whether to tour the Manor House, attend special events or spend an afternoon meandering through the gardens.
“Over the years, both brides and grooms have told me they first came to Stan Hywet on their fourth grade field trip and wanted to get married here ever since,” Ulm says. “Now they are creating a special page in their own history at this historic venue.”