Wedding Planner

Herb Lyceum offers fragrant marriages for spicy lovers

Most weekends, from spring through late fall, the Herb Lyceum in Gilson’s, central Massachusetts, is packed with wedding parties, taking advantage of the beautiful location in the small rural town of Groton, about 80 km northwest of Boston.

The Gilson family has operated this four-acre farm since the 1800s and it’s been an herb farm since 1989. During the season, the daily life of the Gilsons here takes a back seat to wedding bookings, so families and friends can make themselves at home and celebrate in the private sunken garden, or the newly renovated greenhouse, designed especially for large parties of 150 guests.

Additionally, the beautiful 1800s barn fitness can accommodate more intimate gatherings of approximately 30 people.

Outside of wedding bookings, the beautiful converted barn is where the communal chef’s seasonal whimsical dinners take place, hosted by chef and restaurateur Will Gilson, who grew up here.

It was a family affair for Herb Lyceum chef and restaurateur Will Gilson, who married Molly Kravitz there.
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Exterior of Will Gilson and Molly Kravitz at their wedding.
Happy newlyweds Will and Molly had a “perfect day” at the farm.
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However, “the wedding business takes over the farm every weekend once June rolls around,” he said. “It’s the perfect setting for a rural and intimate wedding.”

The Herb Lyceum wedding business is an extension of Gilson’s duties as head of five restaurants and cafes in Cambridge, Mass.

But that’s where the James Beard Foundation-appointed chef’s cooking career began at the age of 16, when his father, David, opened the Herb Lyceum barn as a restaurant in 1999, and he volunteered to be a chef.

Exterior of a table on the lawn at Herb Lyceum.
Savor fine dining in the Herb Lyceum greenhouse.
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Gilson caters to most tastes and dietary restrictions, but a typical menu, crafted from farm-grown herbs and seasonal produce, might include appetizers such as lettuce wraps with fried oysters, truffled arancini or artichoke and pea falafel with mint yogurt, enjoyed with drinks as guests mingle in the fire pit and sunken garden in front of the barn (reception price starts at $40 per person).

The family-style sit-down dinner includes, after a choice of entrees, entree choices like semolina orecchiette with pesto, pecorino, and kale; seared organic salmon with sautéed greens and salsa verde; and grilled rib steak with herb butter, zucchini and truffle jus.

Drinks are crafted with the Beverage Manager, who will arrange wine, beer and cocktails to suit your budget and tastes.

Interior shot of a table at the Herb Lyceum.
The rustic setting lends itself to informal elegance.
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Wedding packages include rental of the grounds for five hours (close friends and family have access to the venue for the whole day), staff, on-site event planner, cutting and presentation of your cake, rental two sets of chairs (one for the ceremony, one for dinner), linens, cutlery, glassware and a very chic portable toilet.

For lodging, Groton is best known for being home to some of the oldest preparatory schools in the United States and also for its Groton Inn, founded in 1678 and considered the oldest inn in America until it burned down in 2011.

A new one, replicating the colonial white clapboard style of the original, has since been built, adding convenient accommodations for Herb Lyceum wedding parties.

Interior of a renovated farmhouse on the farm.
The Massachusetts farm has a recently renovated barn.
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“We’re in the business of creating great memories,” Gilson said of his work. That includes for family and friends – many years ago when Gilson married his wife Molly, he knew he had the perfect place to celebrate. “Marrying my wife where I grew up was the perfect day,” he said.

Wedding prices for 150 guests at herbal high school from $75 per person plus food and drinks. Receptions start at $40 per person, dinners at $65 per person plus drinks. 5% administration fee, taxes and rental of any additional items are extra.

Groton Inn room rates start at $189 per night.