Venue Report: Finger Lakes Wedding Goals at the Inns of Aurora

Situated on the banks of Cayuga Lake are the Inns of Aurora, a collection of luxurious historic inns. Together they make up one of the most beautiful properties in the Finger Lakes. When my husband and I were deciding how to celebrate my upcoming 35th birthday, we didn’t know where to go. Should we go to Hudson Valley? The Catskills? Staycation somewhere local? We chose the Inns because we wanted a romantic destination close enough in case our interns needed us, but far enough to feel like we were on vacation. At just over 1 hour and 15 minutes, it was perfect!

According to BRIDES, the Inns of Aurora is the “perfect place for a weekend wedding.” Country Living named it “America’s best-kept secret.” So we booked a stay to find out for ourselves. Read on for the behind-the-scenes of our stay and find out why it just might be the ultimate Finger Lakes wedding venue.

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The Aurora Inn

The Foyer at the Aurora Inn. Photo by the Inns of Aurora

We began our weekend visit with a site tour with Nancie Arquette, Sales Manager for the Inns of Aurora. Nancie has been with the Inn for 15 years and is well-versed in the properties and the town’s history. We met at The Aurora Inn, which Colonol E.B. Morgan built in 1833. Most weddings take place on the shores of the Inn with a cocktail hour in the Lakeside room and patio, and the dinner reception under a seasonal tent on the North Patio.

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Ceremony. Floral by Stacy K Floral. Photo by Clark + Walker Studio.
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Inns of Aurora wedding tent. Photo by Mary Dougherty Photography.

Our first stop on the tour of the Inns of Aurora was the Lakeside Room where members of the wedding party wait before walking down the aisle. The Lakeside Room is also where part of the cocktail hour takes place after the wedding ceremony. It is also able to accommodate up to 96 for an intimate wedding through the end of October. Guests enjoy their meal inside the room and dance under the stars on the patio. During the winter months, the Lakeside Room can accommodate up to 60 with dancing.

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Lakeside Room. Photo by Mary Dougherty Photography.

Then we ventured onto the patio where all the partying happens. Remember, it was a wintery March day, so I’ll share these photos with you instead (but you can see more in my Instagram highlights under Inns of Aurora.

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Inns of Aurora Wedding Reception. Photo by Mary Dougherty Photography.
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Sunset wedding kiss. Photo by Mary Dougherty Photography.

What I really love about having a weddin at the Aurora Inn is that everything is a short walk, making for a very nice flow from one event to the next for all the guests. The ceremony is held overlooking the water. Guests enjoy cocktails 50 feet away, and transition to the tent for dinner. And with views like this and a tent like that, it’s no surprise couples AND their guests love getting married at the Inns of Aurora!

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The Rowland House

We continued our tour of the Inns of Aurora with a stop at the Rowland House. The house comprises 10 contemporary sleeping rooms and sitting areas to enjoy your stay. Each guest room is impeccably decorated in vibrant color schemes and original modern art.

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Rowland House Parlor. Photo by the Inns of Aurora

If a couple reserves all the rooms at the Rowland House, they may opt to host their rehearsal dinner there. The private dining room seats up to 22. The whole first floor (which, again, is gorgeous) has room for 50 for a standing reception. Guests can sit inside and spill outside on the porch or expansive back lawn.

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Rowland House Dining Room. Photo by Alexandra Elise Photography.

Couples may also have their wedding ceremony behind the Rowland House as well, as captured by Mary Dougherty.  For more intimate weddings, the Rowland House can accommodate up to 22 seated in the Private Dining Room or up to 50 for a standing reception style wedding. This is great for smaller or destination-style weddings that want to limit the size of their wedding to a more manageable guest count.

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Rowland House Wedding. Photo by Mary Dougherty Photography

Finally, the E.B. Morgan House is the third property that’s able to host intimate weddings and events. Stay tuned for updated capacities and details!

The Schoolhouse Activities Center

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The Schoolhouse at the Inns of Aurora. Photo by Inns of Aurora.

Our last stop on the tour of the Inns of Aurora was the Schoolhouse. The Schoolhouse is the property’s hub for learning, exploration, and socialization. It contains a yoga studio, fitness center, and classrooms for gathering and learning. The Inns of Aurora have anticipated and addressed their guests’ needs. They provide plein-air easels, adorable green Hunter boots, and other equipment for guest adventures. You may also use the space for custom classes and activities for your wedding guests.

Ithaca and Taughannock Falls

After we said goodbye to Nancie and Tracy, we ventured south to Ithaca for lunch and hiked to Taughannock Falls. Currently, there are 43 total sleeping rooms at the Inns of Aurora. Thus, many weddings have guests stay in Auburn and Ithaca and shuttle them to the wedding. The Hilton Garden Inn in Auburn is about 25 minutes North of Aurora. Forty minutes South are a Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn, and other properties in Ithaca.

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Room 5 @ the Rowland House

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Room 5 @ the Rowland House. Photo by the Inns of Aurora.

After our scenic hike, we checked in to our room for the evening.  Our Innkeeper Sean Corbin took us on a short tour of the home and pointed out all its amenities, from quiet reading nooks, games, to complimentary wine, and Biscoff biscuits (my favorite!). Each property at the Inns of Aurora comes with its own innkeeper. They are on site 24/7 and see to all your needs. Sean’s welcoming demeanor and attention to our comforts is a shining example of the quality of service you will receive at the Inns of Aurora.

We chose to stay in Room 5 as most wedding couples prefer this room. It has a beautiful view of Cayuga Lake and is tastefully decorated in the most cheerful palette. I was so happy when we walked in. The coral couches coordinated with the textured wallpaper in the marble bathroom. Sometimes I find myself planning how I can add that textured wallpaper to my own home. Did I mention that the bathroom had HEATED marble floors, too?

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Details at the Rowland House. Photo by the Inns of Aurora.

Dinner at 1833 Kitchen & Bar at the Aurora Inn

After basking in the beauty that is Room 5, we enjoyed some birthday champagne and watched a B list movie. We could do that because the interns were babysitting Grandma and Grandpa. Then it was off to dinner at 1833 Kitchen and Bar at the Aurora Inn. We would have walked, but it was windy and only in the 20’s, so we drove the short distance. We enjoyed cocktails and a sumptuous dinner made from local purveyors. It was decadent. We finished with a celebratory chocolate, coffee, and hazelnut bombe . . . and more complimentary champagne. We were so stuffed, we fell asleep before 10:30 pm and slept like babies in our designer linens in Room 5.

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Conclusion

I honestly can’t think of a more picturesque location for a wedding weekend in the Finger Lakes. The Inns of Aurora has transformed this historic town into a luxury resort spread out among the various buildings. If you want beautiful natural scenery, lake views, and best in class service, definitely consider the Inns of Aurora. I would love to work with you to make your wedding weekend a relaxing and beautiful reality. Revel in the company of your wedding guests knowing there’s a team of hardworking individuals that will see your wedding is everything you imagined.

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It’s no surprise that the Inns of Aurora was nominated for Travel and Leisure’s 2019 World’s Best Awards. Each property is impeccably decorated. The service and staff are amazing. And the setting is the best in class for a wedding weekend in the Finger Lakes. Let’s plan your modern wedding there together!

Fast Facts:

Max seated capacity in the Aurora Inn Tent: 200
Max seated capacity in the Lakeside Room: 96 (May-October) or 60
Max standing capacity in the Rowland House (for buffet): 50
Max seated capacity in the Rowland House private dining room: 22
Total guest rooms at the Inns of Aurora: 43 (with plans for expansion in 2019 and 2020)
Neary places of worship: St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and the United Ministry of Aurora Presbyterian Church are a short walk from the Aurora Inn
After Party Location: Fargo Bar & Grill
Local Points of Interest: MacKenzie-Childs and Jane Morgan’s Little House Ltd.
Nearest Airports: Ithaca (37 mins), Syracuse (1 hr 06 mins), and Rochester (1 hr 20 mins)

PS: Don’t forget to pin this post so you can come back to it later!

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Image credits:
Title images by Mary Dougherty Photography.
Inns of Aurora images by Inns of Aurora unless otherwise noted.


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