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.

A Desirable Destination for Romance

Even before construction of Biltmore House was officially completed, George Vanderbilt offered world-class hospitality—and a desirable destination for romance—to family and friends who visited his estate.

Destined for romance

In honor of the romantic traditions of Valentine’s Day, let’s take a look at some of the very first Biltmore visitors: newlyweds Jay and Adele Burden.

Adele was George Vanderbilt’s niece, the daughter of his sister Emily Vanderbilt Sloane. She had been a frequent visitor to the estate, even during early stages of construction, and Adele’s love of Biltmore is evident in her diary entries.

George Vanderbilt, the Burdens, and Cedric the Saint Bernard crossing the river on Biltmore's ferry

George Vanderbilt, the Burdens, and Cedric the Saint Bernard crossing the river on Biltmore’s ferry

Words in a diary

Welcoming in the new year of 1894 at Biltmore nearly a year before the house officially opened, Adele wrote:

“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.”

A courtship begins

In fact, 1894 would be a significant year for Adele. She was courted by a handsome young man, James “Jay” 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 costliest American weddings held at the time.

Jay and Adele Burden on the steps of River Cliff Cottage at Biltmore

Happy honeymoon!

Of all the possible destinations far and wide, the Burdens chose Biltmore as the place to begin their honeymoon. They spent the 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!”

Adele and her husband Jay were the first in a long line of friends and family welcomed as guests at Biltmore to experience what would become George Vanderbilt’s legendary hospitality.

Experience Biltmore Estate as destination for romance

Couple with sparkling wine by a fireplace
Celebrate your romantic occasions at Biltmore

Join us to experience the rich history of hospitality and romance at Biltmore Estate, located in Asheville, NC.

Whether you’re visiting for Valentine’s Day or simply want to shake off winter’s chill while enjoying an exciting glimpse into the past, the estate is always a great destination for romance!

Featured image: George Vanderbilt and Cedric the St. Bernard with newlyweds Adele and James Burden at Biltmore