Parks & Beaches
There is no more romantic backdrop than the natural beauty of a beach on the East End. The North Fork, including Riverhead, Shelter Island, and Southold Townships, has beaches on the Long Island Sound and Peconic Bay. Inlets and coves abound and there are even a number of ponds and lakes. Of course there are risks: the weather, noisy swimmers, off shore boats and even some pushy seagulls! It might be wise to have an alternate plan such as having the ceremony performed at your covered reception site. All shorelines have locations that offer access to non residents, though you should check with the town halls about parking and other permits required. Although no individual homeowner can lay claim below the high water mark, waterview property owners do control the area above. Access to a beach through private property is not permitted.
Riverhead town extends from the west in Wading River to the east in Laurel. A town noted for its agriculture and horse farms, it is also blessed with some lovely shorelines on LI Sound and Peconic Bay. In addition, there are some lovely parks here. One park overlooking Peconic River which has its headwaters in the town of Riverhead offers some great "photo ops." If the idea of a casual funloving wedding appeals to you, you might consider Wildwood State Park in Wading River. It has over 600 acres of hardwood forest, high cliffs overlooking LI Sound, picnic areas and pavilions.
For a listing of town beaches and all parks, go to www.riverheadli.com.
A useful website for Riverhead businesses is www.riverheadchamber.com.
The township of Southold extends from Laurel to Orient Point. Within its boundaries are town beaches, park district beaches, and Orient State Park. Each has its own regulations. There are a number of establishments on the water and you may make arrangements with them directly. (See Lodging and Restaurants) For town regulations, permits, etc. contact Southold Town Hall, Main Street, Southold (631) 765-1800.
You are welcome to have your ceremony on any beach, but tents etc. are not permitted nor is alcohol. Although the town has no official guidelines, large weddings are frowned upon. (The Gazebo, located in the hamlet of Southold, is often used for photographs, but it's best to get a permit from the town to ensure availability.) For a full listing of Town Beaches click here: http://southoldtown.northfork.net/parks-beaches.html
All parks in this category are limited to residents except for a true jewel: Horton's Point Lighthouse. Located on a high bluff, the historic lighthouse is now a maritime museum and the grounds provide a stupendous view of LI Sound. The Wharf House at Founder's Landing, so named for its historic significance, is available for rent to property owners within the park district. The views across to Shelter Island are magnificent and the building and grounds are available for rent. For photos and a full listing click here: www.southoldparkdistrict.com.
Orient State Park
This gorgeous park boasts pristine beaches overlooking Gardiner's Bay and all the amenities you would expect from a state park. There is a pavilion available for private events. You really should go see it! For information call (631) 323-2440.
This is one of the most beautiful islands you will ever visit. It has rolling hills providing spectacular views of both the North and South Forks. You can only get there by boat so there are ferries that run continuously to both Greenport and Sag Harbor. The ride takes less than 10 minutes. The ferries carry cars as well as passengers, but on busy weekends, the car line can be extremely long. There are a few public beaches, but they are right along the roadway. It would be worth your while to visit Shelter Island.
The Shelter Island Chamber of Commerce also has a website, though it is not particulary dynamic. Still, it does offer useful information. The address is http://www.shelter-island.net