Weddings In The Woods

More couples saying “I Do” at URI’s Alton Jones

Brooks murmur, birds chirp, and even the chipmunks sit up and take notice when brides and grooms exchange vows at the Whispering Pines Conference Center, which is nestled among 2,300 acres of secluded forest at our W. Alton Jones Campus.

Weddings are generally held in the lodge or at lakeside late in the afternoon. “Most couples choose to be married outdoors,” says Thomas H. Mitchell, director of the West Greenwich campus.  The first wedding at the Jones campus was held in late 1994. Five weddings were held the following year. Now more than 40 couples a year say: “I do.”

“We are experienced in providing food and customized service for conferences and campers. Weddings help fill out our dance card. Besides, the physical setting of the campus is made for weddings. Guests enjoy dinner, dancing, and campfires,” adds Mitchell. Different wedding packages are available. Saturday’s package comes with 32 rooms, which accommodate 90 to 130 guests. Sunday has two packages, one with rooms, and one without.

Unlike other weddings where guests often book rooms at scattered hotels, guests at Alton Jones stay in one setting. “It really becomes one, big family reunion,” says Mitchell. After the officiants, florists, photographers, and band members have retreated, guests often relax in comfortable clothes under the stars while their kids’ smiling faces are reflected toasting smores.

Before his heirs donated the pristine site to the University of Rhode Island, W. Alton Jones, a president of Cities Service, parent company of the CITGO gasoline stations, owned the site and used it as a private hunting and fishing retreat. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the King of Nepal were once guests. Nowadays, Mitchell and his able staff see that all couples get the royal treatment.

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