Biltmore’s Historic Honeymooners

Did you know Biltmore has historically been the site of many honeymoons and romantic occasions?

Perhaps it’s the warm, pink glow of the mountains as the sun sets over the Deer Park, the way the wind carries a sweet perfume from the gardens into the air, or the subtle whisper of a bottle of sparkling wine being masterfully uncorked nearby, but one thing is for sure—love is certainly in the air at Biltmore.

From before construction of Biltmore House was completed all the way to our modern day guests who visit, there is no denying that this historic estate offers a desirable destination for a romantic getaway any time of year.

Get to know some of Cupid’s earliest captives and the historic honeymooners who spent their precious time together at Biltmore many moons ago.

Jay & Adele Burden’s Honeymoon

Jay and Adele Burden honeymooned at River Cliff Cottage on Biltmore Estate, c. 1895
Jay and Adele Burden honeymooned at River Cliff Cottage on Biltmore Estate, c. 1895

One of Biltmore’s earliest guests included newlyweds, Jay Burden and Adele Sloane, George Vanderbilt’s niece. The darling young couple spent their honeymoon with a romantic retreat to River Cliff Cottage at Biltmore in June of 1895, months before Biltmore House was completed.

“Adele, actually Lila Sloane’s older sister, wrote about Biltmore being terribly romantic years before she married Jay Burden—it seems her opinion didn’t change!” says Meghan Forest, Biltmore’s Archives and Curatorial Assistant.

Ernesto & Edith Fabbri’s Honeymoon

Biltmore Honeymooners Ernesto and Edith Fabbri, c. 1896
Biltmore Honeymooners Ernesto and Edith Fabbri, c. 1896

Ernesto Fabbri and Edith Shepard, another one of George Vanderbilt’s nieces, celebrated their nuptials with a honeymoon at Biltmore after their 1896 wedding.

Records indicate that Biltmore remained a special place for the Fabbris as they visited Biltmore six more times together over the next nine years, bringing along their children after they were born.

George & Edith Vanderbilt’s Homecoming

George and Edith Vanderbilt on the South Terrace of Biltmore House, c. 1900
George and Edith Vanderbilt on the South Terrace of Biltmore House, c. 1900

George Vanderbilt was a bachelor when he first moved into Biltmore House. It would only be a few short years before he met his bride-to-be, Edith Stuyvesant Dresser.

After whirlwind courtship abroad, George and Edith were married in Paris in a 15-minute civil ceremony on June 1, 1898. The couple honeymooned in Italy for three months before arriving home to Biltmore in October.

Ever the romantic, a 1910 correspondence shows that George coordinated some modifications to Biltmore House as a surprise for Edith when she returned home from a trip abroad, including adding stairs by the Porte Cochere to provide access to a forest trail.

Willie & Lila Field’s Honeymoon

Biltmore Honeymooners Willie and Lila Field, c. 1902
Biltmore Honeymooners Willie and Lila Field, c. 1902

One of George Vanderbilt’s closest comrades, William B. Osgood Field, was a frequent guest at Biltmore. During subsequent visits, “Willie” was introduced to one of George Vanderbilt’s nieces, Lila Sloane. It seems there was some matchmaking at play as the duo may have been deliberately encouraged to do activities together. The couple became engaged at Biltmore and spent their honeymoon on the estate, as well.

An interest piece about the Willie and Lila Field honeymoon from society columnist “Cholly Knickerbocker” read:

“[George Vanderbilt] is fond of paying this particular kind of compliment to his young relatives, and Biltmore, one of the most fairy-like country seats in this country, has been the scene of quite a number of honeymoons, and of the inauguration of what have turned out to be happy marriages. In this case the selection of Biltmore for the honeymoon will be especially appropriate. For it was there that Willie Field and Lila Sloan first plighted their troth and became engaged.”

Cornelia & John F.A. Cecil’s Wedding

Portrait of the Honorable and Mrs. John F.A. Cecil’s wedding party inside the Tapestry Gallery, c. 1924
Portrait of the Honorable and Mrs. John F.A. Cecil’s wedding party inside the Tapestry Gallery, c. 1924

Wedding bells rang as Cornelia, George and Edith Vanderbilt’s daughter, married the Honorable John Francis Amherst Cecil at All Souls Church in Biltmore Village on April 27, 1924.

No detail was spared in this elaborate celebration that welcomed notable guests from around the globe and intrigued society columns.

Biltmore is a Romantic Getaway for the Ages

Romantic sunset view of the Deer Park from Biltmore's Library Terrace
Romantic sunset view of the Deer Park from Biltmore’s Library Terrace

Whether it’s warming up together by the fireside at The Inn on Biltmore Estate, taking a mini tropical vacation inside the Conservatory, marveling at the grandeur and history inside Biltmore House, sharing a sweet treat in Antler Hill Village, or spending time exploring the gardens and grounds at dusk, we can say confidently that Biltmore’s reputation as a romantic getaway for sweethearts has aged like a fine wine.

No matter the time of year, we invite you to find, rekindle, or celebrate your love at Biltmore. For the ultimate romantic getaway, join us as an overnight guest at our four-star Inn, cozy Village Hotel, or one of our private historic Cottages and enjoy the beauty of this “fairy-like” country estate as George Vanderbilt intended.

Reflections of The Gilded Age at Biltmore

Reflections of the Gilded Age at Biltmore takes on new meaning with the recent focus on the era in pop culture with the release of Sir Julian Fellowes’ latest production, The Gilded Age, and the 2022 theme for “fashion’s biggest night out,” the Met Gala.

Best known for Downton Abbey, the lavish PBS Masterpiece series detailing the lives of the fictional Crawley family and their ancestral home that kept viewers spellbound for six seasons and one feature film, Fellowes now turns his focus to the other side of the Atlantic for a look at a similar time in America.

“Gilded Glamour” hits the red carpet at the 2022 Met Gala, where attendees “embody the grandeur—and perhaps the dichotomy—of Gilded Age New York,” according to Vogue.com.

What is the Gilded Age?

“The Gilded Age is an era in American history from the 1870s to the turn of the century. It was marked by rapid economic expansion, particularly in industries such as railroads and manufacturing,” said Leslie Klingner, Biltmore’s Curator of Interpretation.

“Families such as the Vanderbilts rose to new social prominence during this time, marking their ascendance with some of the grandest homes and most glittering parties the country had ever seen,” Leslie said.

Photograph of George Vanderbilt, a scholar, collector, and patron of the arts who came of age during America’s Gilded Age
Envisioned as a private oasis for family and friends, George Vanderbilt’s magnificent Biltmore House would become known as America’s Largest Home. In addition to the house, this circa 1910 photo shows a view (L-R) of the Italian Garden, Esplanade, Front Lawn, and Stable Complex designed and landscaped by Richard Morris Hunt and Frederick Law Olmsted.
George Vanderbilt and Cedric the St. Bernard with newlyweds Adele and Jay Burden at Biltmore. Adele was George’s niece, the daughter of his sister Emily Vanderbilt Sloane. The couple married on June 6, 1895, in what was reported to be one of the costliest American weddings held at the time, and began their honeymoon at a cottage on the estate grounds, several months before Biltmore House was officially ready for guests.

Gilded Age Fashions

Fashionable ladies of the Gilded Age, such as Edith Vanderbilt, followed magazines like Les Modes for the latest stylings from couture design houses in Paris and London. Thanks to our archives at Biltmore, we know that the Vanderbilts favored designers like Jeanne Paquin, Jacques Doucet, and the House of Worth.

From strolling in the gardens at Biltmore to attending “fancy dress” balls, every ensemble worn by the ladies and gentlemen of the era would have been perfectly tailored and adorned with elegant accessories.

Below you’ll find archival photos of the stunning Gilded Age fashions actually worn by the Vanderbilts and their friends which were recreated from archival photos and notes for A Vanderbilt House Party exhibition displayed at Biltmore in 2019.

Gilded Age fashions of Edith Vanderbilt, recreated by CosProp, London, for Biltmore’s 2019 exhibition, A Vanderbilt House Party – The Gilded Age.
Gilded Age fashions of Edith Vanderbilt, recreated by CosProp, London, for Biltmore’s 2019 exhibition, A Vanderbilt House Party – The Gilded Age.
Recreation of a House of Worth gown worn by George Vanderbilt’s sister, Florence Vanderbilt Twombly, for Biltmore’s 2019 exhibition, A Vanderbilt House Party – The Gilded Age.
Gilded Age fashions of Jay and Adele Burden, recreated by CosProp, London, for Biltmore’s 2019 exhibition, A Vanderbilt House Party – The Gilded Age.
Glamorous fashions on the cover of the April 1912 and inside of the February 1913 issue of Les Modes magazines in Biltmore’s collection.
Gilded Age fashions of Edith Vanderbilt, recreated by CosProp, London, for Biltmore’s 2019 exhibition, A Vanderbilt House Party – The Gilded Age.

The Gilded Age series

The Gilded Age showcases the highs and lows of a wide cast of characters ranging from old New York and Newport families to the newly wealthy members of their society–and everyone in between.

“It is interesting to see the differences and the similarities between the British world of Downton Abbey, its American counterpart in The Gilded Age, and our own story here at Biltmore,” said Leslie.

This silver Tiffany & Company tea set was gifted to George Vanderbilt by his mother to serve guests on his private train car.
The grand Banquet Hall table set as ut would have been for a grand Gilded Age gathering at Biltmore House during the Vanderbilt era
The soaring Pellegrini Ceiling in the Library at Biltmore House. Depicted is “The Chariot of Aurora.”

Plan a Visit Biltmore!

Experience George Vanderbilt’s magnificent Gilded Age estate for yourself with a visit to Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

Featured image: Cornelia and Edith Vanderbilt in riding clothes, with horses and a St. Bernard, at Biltmore, ca. 1917

Experience Our Annual Biltmore Blooms Celebration

Enjoy this archived Biltmore Blooms content from Spring 2021!


Experience our annual Biltmore Blooms celebration across the estate as winter loosens its grip to make way for spring!

Gardens and grounds

From the earliest flowering shrubs and vivid blooms in the Walled Garden–including this year’s colorful kaleidoscope of yellow, white, pink, purple, and red tulips in the patterned beds–to the glorious progression of color along the Approach Road, we’ve been delighting guests with our annual Biltmore Blooms celebration for more than three decades.

Azaleas along the Approach Road in spring
The Approach Road to Biltmore House is lined with azaleas each spring

The splendid spring show isn’t limited to the outdoors, however; our Floral and Museum Services teams have worked together to develop an “Art in Bloom” theme featuring beautiful arrangements throughout Biltmore House.

Inspired by Biltmore’s collections

“This year for Biltmore Blooms we are celebrating the fact that George Vanderbilt envisioned Biltmore not just as a home, but also as a platform to showcase the incredible works of art he collected,” said Leslie Klingner, Curator of Interpretation.

“Vanderbilt developed a passion for art early in life,” Leslie said,” and he amassed an impressive collection. To highlight some of these amazing pieces, our floral team has created designs inspired by works throughout Biltmore House.”

Art in Bloom

“Each year during Biltmore Blooms, our floral designs reflect not only the welcome return of spring, but they also showcase the scale and grandeur of America’s Largest Home®,” said Lizzie Borchers, Floral Displays Manager.

Biltmore Blooms arrangement for Third Floor Living Hall in Biltmore House
Floral designer Cristy Leonard creating a larger-than-life arrangement for the Third Floor Living Hall (design inspired by a painting of a ship in that room)

“For ‘Art in Bloom’ in 2021, we envisioned flowers as the paints, pastels, and pencils of spring, turning our arrangements into works of art themselves,” Lizzie said. “When you visit this season, see how our designs highlight the colors, textures, shapes, and forms in the artwork.”

A sneak peek at Biltmore Blooms details!

In the Breakfast Room, Biltmore floral designer Lucinda Ledford drew inspiration from two works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Young Boy with an Orange, painted in 1881, and The Young Algerian Girl, painted in 1882.

Biltmore Blooms floral arrangement highlighting Renoir's
The vibrant colors of Renoir’s “Child with Orange” painting inspired the details of this floral arrangement for the Breakfast Room

Giovanni Boldini’s lovely 1910 portrait of Edith Vanderbilt that hangs in the Tapestry Gallery near the entrance to the Library inspired floral designer Jodee Mitchell to create a sweeping arrangement featuring delicate white flowers and greenery.

Lily of the valley with a sketch for a Biltmore Blooms design
Design sketch for a Biltmore Blooms arrangement featuring lilies of the valley and other white flowers, inspired by Giovanni Boldini’s stunning portrait of Edith Vanderbilt

Based on the series of mid-16th-century Renaissance tapestries detailing the history of Roman mythological gods and goddesses in Biltmore’s Banquet Hall, floral designer Cristy Leonard developed a glorious spring centerpiece befitting the massive table in that room.

A Biltmore floral designer creates an arrangement for the Banquet Hall
Cristy carefully selects each element in an enormous Biltmore Blooms floral arrangement for the Banquet Hall table

These are just a few of the wonderful arrangements in Biltmore House this spring; there are countless others to discover!

Experience Biltmore Blooms this spring

Explore our favorite outdoor rooms
Visit now and enjoy spring across our 8,000 acres!

Experience all the excitement of Biltmore Blooms included with your daytime admission to Biltmore.

Make required Biltmore House reservations now while your preferred dates and times are still available, and experience the spectacular seasonal show in our historic gardens.

In addition to Biltmore Blooms, enjoy the delights of Biltmore Gardens Railway in the Conservatory and Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty in Antler Hill Village, also included in daytime admission.

More than a Hostess: Honoring Edith Vanderbilt

At the age of 25, Edith Vanderbilt married the nation’s most eligible bachelor and assumed her role as lady of America’s Largest Home®, responsible for ensuring the comfort and entertainment of Biltmore’s many guests. And yet, she was so much more than a hostess.

Let’s take a look at some of Edith Vanderbilt’s most incredible efforts and achievements.

School of Domestic Science students
Students of the Biltmore School of Domestic Science, ca. 1901

Biltmore School of Domestic Science

In 1901, Edith Vanderbilt established the Biltmore School of Domestic Science, which trained young Black women in professional housekeeping. The intention behind this initiative was two-fold: to help satisfy the increasing demand for efficient domestic service in the area at the time, and—more importantly to Edith—to help women with socio-economic challenges to become gainfully employed.

Coursework covered the duties of a maid, waitress, laundress, cook, and housekeeper; if a student showed a preference for a special line of work, she was given the necessary training to develop that skillset. Additionally, the school created a network to increase its graduates’ prospects of finding work:

“The graduating classes form a society for houseworkers. The purpose of this society is mutual help, by raising the respect of the general public for such work and workers…Any positions that are vacant if in good families will be reported, and an effort be made to fill them from among the members of the society.” 

The Home Science Magazine, Volume XX, October 1903March 1904

Archival documents of Biltmore Estate Exhibition
Archival list of 1906 Biltmore Estate Exhibition prize winners and first and second prize ribbons

Biltmore Estate Exhibition

In order to nurture a sense of community among estate employees and their families, Edith organized the Biltmore Estate Exhibition, also referred to as the annual fair, in 1905. She distributed seeds as needed to all of the employees to ensure everyone could participate in the competitions.

Some of the initial categories included vegetables and herbs, field crops, domestic products such as breads and preserves, needlework, and baskets. Categories later expanded to include flowers, hogs, and poultry as well as a miscellaneous category to include eggs, honey, and various other items. Prizes included ribbons and a variety of garden books.

Though Edith was in London during the 1907 event, estate superintendent Chauncey Beadle wrote to her: 

“Not another day shall pass without a full report to you of the Exhibition, which was celebrated in the grove above the Farm Cottages yesterday afternoon with the most auspicious weather that it was possible to have. The attendance and exhibits were very satisfactory, and, I believe all who participated enjoyed the day, the social intercourse and objects which were displayed.”

Thanks to oral histories, we know that the fairs continued into the 1940s.

Biltmore Dairy Moonlight School students
Students of the Biltmore Dairy Moonlight School, ca. 1920s (Photo courtesy of the McCarson Family)

Biltmore Dairy Moonlight School

In 1914, Edith founded the Biltmore Dairy Moonlight School to teach illiterate estate workers how to read and write. Her larger intention was to attack the underlying causes of economic inequality and disenfranchisement. Classes were taught by Columbia University interns and graduates, who were receiving arguably the best teacher training in the nation at the time.

Edith Vanderbilt personally selected the textbook used at the school and even taught a class from time to time:  

“It is an interesting picture: one of the world’s richest women… teaching dairy workers how to read and write in a horse barn in the mountains of North Carolina.”

– “Aristocracy and Appalachia: Edith Vanderbilt and Her Moonlight School” (2011) by Wilkie L. Whitney

While Biltmore’s was certainly not the first moonlight school, the model Edith pioneered was so effective, it inspired the foundation of many similar programs across North Carolina—all with the support of Edith as their most vocal advocate.

Edith Vanderbilt and Red Cross
Edith Vanderbilt (second from right) and her fellow Red Cross volunteers, ca. 1917–1919 (Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress: American National Red Cross Collection)

Red Cross Efforts during the Great War

When the United States became involved in the first World War, Edith Vanderbilt was splitting her time between Biltmore and Washington, DC—but no matter where she was, she always found ways to support the Red Cross during this turbulent time.

While in Asheville, she sponsored a golf tournament to raise funds for the Red Cross.

The trophy was the gift of Mrs. Edith Vanderbilt, the rules providing that all entrance fees went to the Red Cross, and that no trophies should be given unless donated.

– “Carolina Mountains Having Great Season,” The Times Dispatch, 19 August 1917

While in Washington, DC, she volunteered with the Red Cross as part of a Canteen Unit, which provided hot coffee, light refreshments, and mail services to troops at railroad junctions. True to form, Edith was recognized for going above and beyond at her Canteen’s encampment:

“Mrs. George Vanderbilt is quite wonderful, so cool and collected and executive. She took her motor and went off shopping, bought some extra equipment, a table for the tent to hold the telephone, some camp chairs, a rake to rake up the trash, a pump to pump the water into the cauldron, a mail bag, stamps, wire baskets; besides, she organized the post-office.”  

Presidents and Pies: Life in Washington 1897–1919 (1920) by Isabel Anderson

Edith Vnaderbilt State Fair
Edith Vanderbilt arriving at the first State Fair during her tenure as president, ca. 1921

First Female President of the North Carolina Agricultural Society

In 1920, Edith Vanderbilt was elected the first female president of the North Carolina Agricultural Society as well as the 60th State Fair. Her first address in the role was one for the books.

“Anti-suffragists who have feared woman’s entrance into politics found themselves happy today when Mrs. Edith Vanderbilt made about the smartest 15-minute speech to a joint session of the general assembly heard within the historic walls of the state house in a long time…explaining in the outset that it would be like the modern skirt, to the extent that its length would cover the subject and its brevity attract attention. She was right.”

– “Woman Makes First Address to Legislature,” The Charlotte Observer, 3 February 1921

Under her leadership, the State Fair focused more on agriculture as opposed to sideshows. Edith traveled and wrote widely to promote the event and help attract exhibitors. She also led initiatives to improve the fairgrounds.

She would ultimately be re-elected to lead the 1922, 1923, and 1924 fairs, and then continued to serve on the executive committee following her tenure as president.

Edith and Cornelia Vanderbilt
Edith Vanderbilt (center) and her daughter Cornelia (left of center) greet guests arriving in Biltmore Village, ca. 1924

More than a Hostess

Beyond her duties as wife, mother, and lady of the house, Edith Vanderbilt felt a great responsibility towards her community. She was passionate about education, agriculture, and literacy. She was active in civic affairs at the local, state, and national level. Perhaps most impressive, she used her privilege to support those in need and the causes in which she so strongly believed.

Cheers to this extraordinary woman!

Feature image: Edith Vanderbilt gathering letters from soldiers while volunteering for the Red Cross, ca. 1918 (Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress: American National Red Cross Collection)

Biltmore Wines Have Big Personalities

From flavor to food-friendliness, we’ve always believed that Biltmore wines have big personalities.

To highlight North Carolina Wine Month in May, we’re pairing five of the estate’s historic VIPs with a distinctive Biltmore wine that best matches their own larger-than-life personalities!

~ George Washington Vanderbilt ~
Antler Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

George Vanderbilt as a thoughtful collector of wine
George Vanderbilt was a thoughtful collector of wines

Mr. Vanderbilt was known as a thoughtful collector of wine, often bringing back cases of his favorite discoveries from his world travels to share with friends and family at Biltmore.

Handcrafted from exceptional grapes grown by phenomenal vineyard partners in California’s Napa Valley, our full-bodied Antler Hill Cabernet Sauvignon is as refined and elegant as George Vanderbilt himself.


~ Edith Dresser Vanderbilt ~
Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay North Carolina

Edith Vanderbilt paired with Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay
Our Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay is an elegant match for this glorious Boldini portrait of Edith Vanderbilt

Handcrafted from North Carolina’s finest locally grown Chardonnay grapes, this wine is full-bodied with good acidity highlighted by citrus and tropical fruit flavors.

Only vintage wines worthy of the Biltmore Reserve name earn this select honor, and the excellence of this Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay North Carolina reflects the gracious character of Edith Vanderbilt who, in turn, symbolizes the heart of Biltmore and all that the estate represents.


~ Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil ~
Biltmore Estate Blanc de Noir

Biltmore wines have big personalities, like Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil
Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil exemplifies the Roaring Twenties spirit of our Biltmore Estate Blanc de Noir

Born in 1900, Cornelia Vanderbilt would come of age in the Roaring Twenties, a time characterized by the effervescent enthusiasm of the American Jazz Age.

Our Biltmore Estate Blanc de Noir sparkling wine captures the joie de vivre of this exciting era in a crisp, sparkling wine with a delightful light pink hue and flavors of cherries and strawberries.


~ Richard Morris Hunt ~
The Hunt Red Blend Sonoma County

Richard Morris Hunt and The Hunt wine
The Hunt Red Blend is named in honor of Biltmore architect Richard Morris Hunt

The name of our richly-layered and refined Bordeaux-style red blend already honors Richard Morris Hunt, the architect of America’s Largest Home®, so it’s no surprise that it also represents his dynamic personality!

Aging for 18 months in French and American oak barrels gives The Hunt great structure, just like Biltmore—the magnificent estate that Hunt designed for George Vanderbilt.


~ Frederick Law Olmsted ~
Biltmore Estate Limited Release
Sauvignon Blanc

Frederick Law Olmsted and Biltmore wine
Biltmore Estate Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc reminds us of Biltmore landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted

Known as the father of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted planned the breathtaking gardens and grounds that surround Biltmore.

With classic grassy and herbal varietal characteristics, Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect partner for such an accomplished horticulturalist, and our Biltmore Estate Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc—refreshing and unexpectedly creamy with hints of toasted coconut, key lime, and oak—is no exception.

Find our award-winning wines online

Bucket full of Biltmore Wines
Put Biltmore wines on your “bucket list” for summer sipping!

Stock up on your favorites Biltmore wines now and discover new varietals at estate shops, local retailers, and online.

Featured image: Photograph of Edith Vanderbilt paired with Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay North Carolina