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A desirable destination for romance

Posted on 05/02/2016 by Jean Sexton

Even before construction of Biltmore House was officially completed, George Vanderbilt’s world-class hospitality and the romantic atmosphere of the surrounding mountains made Biltmore a destination for the newly-betrothed. In honor of our Fashionable Romance: Wedding Gowns in Film exhibition, we wanted to share another of the wonderful love stories that are part of our history.

George Vanderbilt with newlyweds Adele & Jay Burden and CedricThe first newlyweds to come to Biltmore were Jay and Adele Burden. Adele was George Vanderbilt’s niece, the daughter of his sister Emily. Adele had been a frequent visitor to the estate, even during early stages of construction, and her love of Biltmore is evident in her diary entries. Welcoming in the new year of 1894 at Biltmore nearly a year before the house officially opened, Adele wrote: “January 1, 1894  Only a word to begin the New Year with. I made my good resolutions last night sitting over a little dying fire. The window was wide open, and the cold night air blew in. The stars were all out, and there was a hushed stillness everywhere as if something were expected. It has been so gloriously beautiful out today; it made me feel wild.”

George Vanderbilt, the Burdens, and Cedric on the Biltmore ferryIn fact, 1894 would be a significant year for Adele. She was courted by a handsome young man, James ‘Jay or J’ Abercrombie Burden, whose family owned the Burden Iron works, one of the most successful such firms in the country. Adele had no shortage of suitors, but with his clean-cut good looks, Harvard education, and superior athleticism, Jay soon won Adele's heart. He proposed in December and the couple married on June 6, 1895 in what was reported to be one of the most costly American weddings ever held at the time. 

The Burdens at River Cliff Cottage at BiltmoreOf all the possible destinations far and wide, the Burdens chose Biltmore as the place to begin their honeymoon. They spent their first 10 days of their married life at River Cliff Cottage, which was built at the same time Biltmore House was under construction. Just before her wedding Adele wrote: “The next day we go down to Biltmore to spend ten days in the dear little house Uncle George has given to us. How perfect it will be!” Their time at Biltmore was just the start of a lengthy honeymoon that led the Burdens up the east coast, over to Europe, across to Japan, and back around the world.

They were only the first in a long line of friends and family to honeymoon at Biltmore, including the Vanderbilt’s only child Cornelia. After her 1924 wedding to John Cecil, the  newlyweds began their honeymoon at Buckspring Lodge on the slopes of Mt. Pisgah, which was part of the estate at that time.

These romantic traditions continue today at Biltmore, with a growing number of couples choosing the estate as a stunning backdrop to their wedding celebrations. And after all the excitement of such a special day, what could be more relaxing than enjoying your honeymoon just steps from where your life together began? With your choice of two hotels--The Inn on Biltmore Estate or Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate--you can make Biltmore your honeymoon headquarters, just as guests have done for the past century!

Featured image: Jay and Adele Sloan on the steps of River Cliff Cottage at Biltmore

Top image: George Vanderbilt and "Cedric" with newlyweds Adele and Jay Burden at Biltmore

Middle image: George Vanderbilt, the Burdens, and Cedric crossing the river on Biltmore's ferry

Bottom image: Close-up of the Burdens on the steps at River Cliff

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