IH Blog

Independence Harbor Blog

March 15, 2021 Reopening Update

Brian Dunning - Monday, March 15, 2021

Dear Friends of Independence Harbor,                                                       March 15, 2021
On February 25, 2021 Governor Baker announced the March 22, 2021 reopening of indoor event venues for groups of 100: “Provided public health metrics continue to improve, effective on March 22, all communities in Massachusetts will move into Step 1 of Phase IV of the state’s reopening plan. This will open a range of previously closed business sectors under tight capacity restrictions that are expected to be adjusted over time if favorable trends in the public health data continue.” His announcement also noted that dance floors will be permitted at weddings and other events.
Subsequent to the Governor’s February 25 announcement, Independence Harbor submitted a request for a timeline of increasing capacities for wedding venues beginning with the March 22, 2021 reopening date. The proposed timeline details event capacity increases of 25 persons at three-week intervals:
Phase "4" Proposed Reopening Projection for Professional Wedding and Event Venues
   (Each step of Phase 4 is to last three weeks based on continued positive public health data. Negative public health data may require
    adjustments to Phase 4 step intervals.)
Step 1, March 22, 2021, Indoor Gathering Maximum of 100 guests (as per Commonwealth's February 25, 2021 declaration)
Step 2, April 12, 2021,   Indoor Gathering Maximum of 125 guests maximum or 60% venue capacity (whichever is lower)
Step 3, May 3, 2021,      Indoor Gathering Maximum of 150 guests maximum or 70% venue capacity (whichever is lower)
Step 4, May 24, 2021,    Indoor Gathering Maximum of 175 guests maximum or 80% venue capacity (whichever is lower)
Step 5, June 14, 2021     Indoor Gathering Maximum of 200 guests maximum or 90% venue capacity (whichever is lower)
Step 6, July 5, 2021        100% venue capacity
This timeline has been submitted to Lieutenant Governor Polito and to Secretary Michael Kennealy of the Department of Housing and Economic Development, both co-chairs of the Reopening Advisory Board. The timeline has also been submitted to our Freetown State Legislators and to several other decision makers. Approval and implementation of this timeline is requested to be commensurate with continued improvement of public health metrics. We are hopeful for a quick and positive response to this timeline proposal or to a timeline proposal of like intent. We encourage our wedding couples and anyone with interest in this matter to contact the "reopening decision makers" to act on this proposal. 
We also anticipate that a gradual easing of pandemic restrictions may be forthcoming in response to the continued favorable trends in public health data. Impressive decreases in Covid cases and hospitalizations since early January, and an ever-expanding distribution of vaccines is at last moving us toward a resumption of normalcy. According to an announcement by President Biden on March 11, 2021 all American adults are to be made eligible for Covid-19 vaccination by May1, 2021. Massachusetts has to date vaccinated 2.5 million adults. At the present rate of vaccination, and with further improvements to the supply and delivery of vaccines, all American adults may indeed be vaccinated this Spring.
Since pandemic restrictions on our industry were first issued, we have repeatedly communicated our ability and commitment to stringently facilitate the Commonwealth’s sector-specific reopening guidelines. Wedding and event venues and the restaurant industry in general have been held to high standards relative to hygiene, sanitation, cleaning, food and alcohol safety, crowd control and more, far before the onset of the pandemic. We have the ability, the will, and the resources to safely and responsibly operate at heightened levels of safety protocols and industry best practices.
We eagerly await a timely response to our timeline proposal and for the issuance of updated and less restrictive “Phase 4” reopening guidance from the Commonwealth.
Sincerely, Brian Dunning
Owner/ General Manager
Independence Harbor Inc.

February 2021 Update

Brian Dunning - Friday, February 19, 2021


Dear Friends,                                                                                                            February 19, 2021

Thankfully 2020 is in the rear-view mirror. And, although 2021 is certainly presenting its share of challenges, we are optimistic that Independence Harbor will be permitted to reopen early this Spring. Vaccine distribution is expanding daily, and effective therapeutics are improving and expanding as well.

We continue to appeal to the Commonwealth’s Reopening team, to our State and Federal legislators, and to our local authorities for reopening approval and guidance. Restaurants have just recently received approval for increased operational capacity (from 25% to 40%). We anticipate these capacities to increase commensurate with continued decreases in Covid-19 statistics. More than 40 States throughout the country offer a minimum of 50% capacity for restaurants right now. We expect that Wedding and Event Venues will be considered for reopening soon and with progressively increasing capacities as pandemic numbers continue their decline.

We have recently requested of the Governor’s Reopening Team a minimum capacity approval for Independence Harbor and for Wedding and Event Venues in general to 50% by April1, to 60-70% by May 1, to 70-80% by June 1, and 100% by July 1, 2021. Approval of 50% would allow Independence Harbor a capacity of 150 guests, 70% would allow a capacity of 200 guests, and 80% would allow for a capacity of 230 guests. It is our hope that even greater numbers will be approved. We have implored the Commonwealth to recognize the advance planning nature of weddings, that a timeline for reopening is needed now! Wedding couples need time to plan and organize.
We have received confirmation from the Reopening Team that our request is being reviewed and considered. As soon as we receive any word, we will pass it on to all of you.

Our Independence Harbor crew is eager to get back to work. We are so fortunate to have such a talented and devoted team of professionals who have stuck by us over this extraordinary year. The pandemic has challenged everyone both personally and professionally. Anne and Connie have worked tirelessly in helping our wedding couples navigate through these difficult times, doing their very best to accommodate our customers, while maintaining the viability of Independence Harbor. Dale, Ed, Matthew, Ethan, Aaron and Susan have been waiting in the wings ready on a moment’s notice to fire up the ovens and ready our facilities inside and out for our reopening. Our servers, bartenders, kitchen helpers and groundskeepers are equally eager to round out our long awaited reopening.

As always, Anne and Connie are available to assist you with your wedding planning. They are accepting “in person” appointments and they are available by phone and email. Our temporary office hours are Monday through Friday 10AM to 3PM and on weekends from 10AM until 4PM. If you do wish to visit “I.H.”, appointments are required.

Best Regards,

Brian R. Dunning

General Manager


Sunday Weddings in 2021

Brian Dunning - Thursday, December 10, 2020

A great option to consider for your Wedding is a Sunday Wedding at Independence Harbor! Sundays ore offered at a lower guest minimum and a lower pricing structure than a Saturday Night Wedding. AND! You get to choose any 5 1/2 hours from 10AM to Midnight!

Our grounds are spectacular and Sunday Weddings give you flexibility with timing (think twilight photos, fabulous garden photos), and of course more of an opportunity to really share our grounds with your guests.

Give us a call and set up a private tour to find out more. 1-800-287-8300 or info@ihweddings.com

Brunch Wedding

Brian Dunning - Saturday, December 05, 2020

One of our favorite wedding packages is our Wedding Brunch Ceremony and Reception Package.

Included with our package is your choice of a complimentary "Garden" Wedding Ceremony amidst Independence Harbor's glorious garden landscape, or a Fireside Wedding Ceremony in front of the Harbor's grand stone fireplace in the main reception room.

And, following your ceremony, your guests will be treated to an elegantly presented cheese and cracker and fruit buffet and your selection of passed hors d'oeuvres, passed beverages and a champagne toast. Our sumptuous brunch buffet follows with your choice of a Baked Ham or Roast Beef Carving Station, an abundant assortment of fruits and salads and breakfast and luncheon entrees. An amazing Dessert Bar follows the Wedding Brunch and perfectly compliments your wedding cake. 

Beautifully decorated and presented, your Brunch Wedding will long be remembered.

"I.H." Update "Looking Forward"

Brian Dunning - Monday, November 23, 2020

Dear Friends,

The year 2020 has been devastating for so many of us. Our business has ridden a roller coaster for months and months, never certain what the next week would bring. Would we be allowed to reopen? What restrictions would reopening demand of us? Would we even be able to operate under the new restrictions? The most difficult aspect of our roller coaster ride has been the Commonwealth’s lack of response to our endless pleas for dialog. We just never knew what to expect.

Despite the Commonwealth’s communication blackout of the wedding industry, we continued to fight everyday in every way possible to accommodate our wedding couples, to take care of our “I.H.” team, and to preserve the viability of Independence Harbor.

Anne and Connie have been amazing these past eight months. They have managed our sales office every day, answering the many calls and emails from our wedding couples. I’m sure you can appreciate that some of those calls and emails were difficult to hear and to read and to answer. Although some of our 2020 weddings were cancelled, the vast majority of our wedding couples opted to reschedule their weddings to 2021.

As the end of 2020 approaches, we look forward to 2021 with optimism and enthusiasm. With the imminent approval and distribution of vaccines, we look forward to a gradual easing of restrictions over the coming months, and a return to a much more normal life certainly by winter’s end. Our team is ready, willing and eager to get back to work. Matt, Ethan and Aaron have taken great care of the “Harbor’s” lawns and gardens over these past months. We all look so forward to a Spring 2021 renewal of our gardens…. and of our weddings!

Our chefs, Dale and Ed will be fine tuning our menus over the coming months, with added emphasis on our vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free offerings. We also hope to re-start our monthly Sunday Brunch program before long. No one will be happier than Ed and Dale when they can get back into the “I.H.” kitchen and create their amazing brunches.

We can’t wait until our doors are open again to all of you, and to our wonderful team of chefs, servers, bartenders, kitchen workers and groundskeepers, as well as our suppliers, sales reps and support system workers.We continue to stay on top of all things “pandemic related”. We will be ready to jump back into business as soon as we get the word!

In the meantime, Anne and Connie are available to assist you with your wedding planning. They are accepting “in person” appointments. And, as always, they are available by phone and email. Office hours are Monday through Friday 10AM to 3PM and on weekends from 10AM until 4PM. If you do wish to visit “I.H.”, appointments are required.

We wish you all good health and happier days ahead.


Brian R. Dunning

General Manager

"Faith and Hope"

Brian Dunning - Friday, October 30, 2020

Yesterday while walking to the office, we noticed a perfect White Iris in full bloom amongst the late October garden Mums. Iris generally bloom in June and sometimes rebloom in later summer, but reblooming in late October somehow felt like a "sign". We looked up White Iris in our trusty garden guide and found that White Iris symbolizes Faith and Hope. What a perfect and welcome symbol for all of us right now and certainly a perfect addition to any bridal bouquet.

Perfect Planning

Brian Dunning - Monday, October 26, 2020

This is the perfect time to plan, plan, plan. As we spend more time at home in the winter months, why not get as much wedding planning behind you as possible. Work on fine tuning your list, your décor ideas and color selections. Why not create a simple wedding web site so that you can easily communicate with your guests about any questions they may have about your wedding.

You can also start to work on your "I.H." wedding questionnaires. Go to:

www.ihweddings.com/mywedding/index  to get started. Fill in and save as you make decisions.

Anne or Connie are available by phone and email daily and are happy to answer questions or to help in any way.

Happy Planning!





A Challenging Year!

Brian Dunning - Thursday, October 22, 2020


October 22, 2020

It goes without saying that 2020 has been a challenging year... to say the least!

But, regardless of these crazy times, our dining room has been beautifully appointed for fall and our gardens are resplendent with hundreds of magnificent fall mums and the trees have turned to gold, orange and red as always at this time of year. Life goes on! We so look forward to getting back to doing what we do best...hosting your perfect wedding!


Stay at Home Advisory Update

Brian Dunning - Wednesday, April 01, 2020

April 1, 2020

Friends of Independence Harbor

Anne, Connie, Matt and I send our best regards to all. Anne and Connie are staying in touch with our wedding couples, responding quickly to all questions and concerns. They have been alternating coverage of the office seven days a week. Their understanding and compassion combined with their wedding planning expertise is a blessing to Independence Harbor and to our clients. They have been successful in rescheduling weddings that have been interrupted by the Massachusetts Stay at Home Advisory. And, now as I am sure you are aware of Governor Baker’s announcement of the “Stay at Home” extension to May 4th, Anne and Connie are continuing with that effort. Our April couples have all been accommodated with alternate dates later this season. Some of our May couples have opted to postpone to later this season as well. We are doing all that we can to ease the transition to alternate dates, and we cannot thank you enough for your patience, cooperation and understanding.

Matt and I will be taking care of the “I.H.” physical plant including the grounds for the next several weeks. Matt has been in the greenhouse diligently transplanting thousands of tiny summer annual plant plugs. I’ve been readying our mowers and trimmers and blowers etc. Before long, we will be mowing and weeding! All will be in top notch shape as soon as we receive the “All Clear”! The gardens are exploding in beautiful yellow daffodils and pink hyacinths! Wish you could see it for yourselves.I will take plenty of pictures and post them soon.

Our facilities have been closed to the public for more than two weeks now, and will be until May 4th. We can’t wait until our doors are open again to all of you and to our wonderful team of chefs, servers, bartenders, kitchen workers and groundskeepers, as well as our suppliers, sales reps and support system workers. Each of us is severely impacted by this horrible virus. Please follow “social distancing” protocols carefully and religiously. It is our best defense against a longer-lasting and wider spread pandemic. Be safe, be well, take care of yourselves, each other, your loved ones and your communities.


Warm Regards,

Brian Dunning

Owner, General Manager

Covid-19 Update

Brian Dunning - Sunday, March 22, 2020

Friends of Independence Harbor

Connie, Anne, Matthew and I have been keeping up with all office related activities, as well as doing all that we can to prepare for the re-opening of our facilities. As I’m sure you are aware, we are currently under government mandate to be closed through April 6, 2020. We have been working closely with couples whose events have been interrupted due to the COVID-19 crisis. Thankfully, these events have been successfully re-scheduled to dates later this season. It is our fervent hope that further closing of our facilities will not be necessary. We will continue to closely monitor all matters related to this virus outbreak, and will continue to work diligently toward resolving any further interruptions. Please accept our sincere appreciation for your patience and understanding throughout these difficult days. We are truly all in this together, and together is the way we will overcome this crisis.

Our office is open for business every day. We are practicing appropriate and responsible “social distancing” measures with visitors to our facilities. We are scheduling private tours and meetings so as to allow for only one meeting at a time. We are maintaining the highest level of cleanliness and disinfection of our facilities at all times. Do not hesitate to contact us directly with any questions or concerns you have about your upcoming weddings.

The health, safety and welfare of our customers, our employees and our families are of the greatest importance. and continue to be our primary focus. We pray for a speedy return to life as it was before Covid-19.

On a bright note, our perennial gardens seem to be jumping out of the ground. Everyday more daffodils and crocus burst into blossom. It is such a welcome sight!

We are also in the process of applying beautiful new clapboard siding to our entire building. It looks amazing! The project is expected to be completed by the end of this coming week.

And, we are expecting our first shipment of thousands of summer annuals this upcoming week, which we will be nursing in our greenhouse toward ground planting readiness in May.Speaking of “expecting”, we just got word that one of our chefs became the proud father of a beautiful baby boy last night! Congratulations Ed and family!



Warm Regards,

Brian Dunning

Owner, General Manager