From the time the first cherry blossoms show through early summer when the temperatures begin to soar, D.C.’s wedding season is in full swing. Today, we explore five great venues for a wedding in the nation’s capital, some traditional and some a bit more unique. We’ll offer suggestions for the wedding or commitment ceremony as well as any details to consider for the big day.
Top Venue For A Georgetown Wedding- Dumbarton House
What you’ll get: A spectacular brick Federal-style mansion and gardens on 27th and Q Streets in Georgetown, this private home turned museum is one of the city’s most popular for elegant, yet intimate weddings. Guests walk through the home to the back garden — which features a lovely setup for outdoor ceremonies flanked by high stone walls and a flat green lawn with shady trees — before proceeding to a flagstone patio for a cocktail hour. Walk down a short flight of stairs and enjoy a small back patio (often tented) and host an indoor/outdoor reception.
How many guests? A maximum of 70 guests can be seated in the Belle Vue room, which leaves space for a dance floor and band, or a maximum of 180 guests can use the room and a tent in the courtyard for a ceremony or reception.
To note: The home does have some restrictions, namely that red-colored beverages (red wine, tomato juice, cranberry juice) cannot be served at any bar. Insurance is also required, as is a Washington, D.C. liquor license. For a wedding night hotel, we’d suggest one of three luxury properties in Georgetown – the new Capella Washington, D.C., Georgetown, the Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C. (the city’s only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star property) or the intimate Ritz-Carlton, Georgetown, a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel.
Costs: Weekend weddings begin at $700 per hour.
Top Venue For A Downtown Wedding- The Hay-Adams
What you’ll get: Offering spectacular views of the White House and a glass-enclosed top-floor event space, The Hay-Adams, a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel, is not only one of the city’s most elegant and historic hotels, it’s one of the most popular for weddings. Brides and grooms often select the hotel’s “Top of the Hay” event space for receptions because of its panoramic vistas of D.C. landmarks and near wraparound outdoor terrace. Elizabethan and Tudor motifs and Italian Renaissance architecture lend the space an elegant and historic feel.
How many guests? The hotel can accommodate up to 350 guests for a seated reception.
To note: The hotel’s intimate bar, Off the Record, would be a great post-wedding cocktail spot for guests. Much of the city is walkable from the hotel, making this a prime choice for weddings with a large out-of-town guest base. Brides and grooms will want to plan an overnight in one of the posh guest rooms and suites overlooking the White House.
Costs: The per plate average is between $200 and $275 per person, although discounted Sunday packages are available.
Top Venue For A Waterfront Wedding- The Mandarin Oriental, Washington D.C.
What you’ll get: Perhaps the best location in Washington, D.C. for a waterfront wedding or a cherry blossom ceremony, this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel is ideal for large wedding parties and a grand entrance — its large circular drive can (and frequently) accommodates horseback or horse-drawn entrances. Bride, groom and guests can enjoy a well-appointed ballroom space, and the hotel’s back garden, with its beautiful cherry blossoms and waterfront views, is popular for ceremonies. Small weddings or rehearsal dinners could also take over the famed Four-Star CityZen by Eric Ziebold restaurant.
How many guests? The spacious Grand Ballroom, standing at an impressive 8,300 square feet, can accommodate more than 700 for a seated banquet. The more intimate Oriental Ballroom, with a spectacular pre-function marble foyer, can accommodate 350 for a seated reception.
To note: The hotel offers one of the only Forbes Travel Guide-rated spas in the city — the Four-Star The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Washington D.C. — and it provides a spectacular setting for pre-wedding relaxation or a post-wedding couple’s treatment with a signature and individualized “Time Rituals” therapy. The brand new Jefferson Suite, a 1,900-square-foot, two-bedroom suite overlooking the Tidal Basin, waterfront and Jefferson Memorial also makes an ideal bridal party suite, offering ample space (and a full kitchen) where the wedding party can spend their day primping and pampering.
Costs: Saturday weddings begin at $175 per plate.
Top Venue For A Historic Wedding- Carnegie Library — Mt. Vernon Square
What you’ll get: Dedicated in a 1903 ceremony attended by President Theodore Roosevelt and Andrew Carnegie, this library has become one of the city’s hottest destinations for weddings in recent years. Featuring awe-inspiring architecture (think massive columns and a 150-seat theater), the versatile event space is a modern event planner’s dream. Many guests opt to host their cocktail hour or ceremony in the scenic Map Room before moving to the larger Literary Hall for a seated reception and dancing.
How many guests? The main Literary Hall can accommodate up to 150 for a seated reception, and the smaller L’Enfant Map room can seat 100, or up to 80 with a dance floor.
To note: The lack of public parking might be difficult for some guests, but the area is well-served by public transportation and there are numerous parking garages nearby. The building also requires that parties purchase their own liquor licenses and arrange for event security.
Costs: Rental fees start at $16,000, depending on the space rented. A portion of the rental fee is considered a tax-deductible donation.
Top Venue For A Washington-Area Wedding- Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore
What you’ll get: Although not technically in Washington, D.C., the East Coast’s newest Four Seasons, a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel is a popular wedding location for Washington-area couples. The spectacular glass-fronted building offers several indoor and outdoor spaces for wedding venues, plus catering by celebrity chef Michael Mina and impressive sunset scapes of the Inner Harbor. The spectacular grand staircase leading from the first floor lobby to the second floor event spaces features a dramatic glass chandelier and makes a prime location for photos.
How many guests? The largest event space, the Grand Ballroom, can accommodate 700 for a standing reception or 300 guests for a seated dinner with a dance floor.
To note: The on-site spa is one of the best in the area. Bridal parties should be sure to reserve time to experience signature treatments or to relax in the hydrotherapy circuit, which includes steam, sauna, whirlpools and experiential showers, as well as cold therapy. Rehearsal dinners could be held in the on-site Wit & Wisdom tavern, or the more casual Pabu, a Japanese izakaya (a type of drinking establishment). Nearby New York Times acclaimed Charleston restaurant is also a popular pick.
Costs: Cost hovers around $200 per person, but select dates may be as low as $165.
Photos Courtesy of Wendy Hickoc Photography, Four Seasons and The Hay Adams