Wedding Venues in Washington, DC
Whimsical, vintage-inspired weddings are all the rage, and no one does vintage whimsy like Glen Echo Park. Glen Echo was an actual amusement park until the late 1960s; now an arts foundation, it still echoes with decades of amusement park joy. A typical wedding day at Glen Echo might start with a ceremony under the big "Cuddle Up" sign, cocktail hour featuring rides on a working 1920s carousel, and dinner and dancing in the Bumper Car Pavilion or the beautiful 1930s Spanish Ballroom. The lovely Art Deco buildings can support an elegant event, but why not use the park's strengths to their fullest? Rent a photo booth, pass out candy and caramel corn, set up tables with carnival-style games. Imagine the photo possibilities! Huge reception? Consider the Spanish Ballroom, which holds up to 800 people (450 for dinner and dance). Depending on the date and what you're renting, site fees range from $3,500 to $8,500 or more.
Do you dream of an outdoor wedding amidst DC's iconic monuments, perhaps while cherry blossoms bloom gently around you? Or do you just dream of finding a ceremony space that only costs you 50 bucks? Either way, a wedding on the National Mall may be right for you! Wedding ceremonies are allowed at three specific spots on the Mall. A special use permit from the National Park Service is required ($50 application fee). The permit allows only two hours from setup to cleanup, so plan to skip most decorations and focus on your ceremony. The Mall is a popular tourist destination and you'll end up in a lot of strangers' photo albums, but tourists are generally respectful of wedding ceremonies and their joy at seeing your wedding is all part of the fun. One warning: tents are not allowed, so be sure to make a back-up plan in case of downpour.
There's no getting around it: most wedding venues in the DC area are very expensive. If you're having an intimate event, the Athenaeum in Old Town Alexandria is one affordable option, in a lovely historic building with the all the charms of Old Town as its backdrop. Built way back in 1851 as the Bank of the Old Dominion, the Greek Revival building is now a nonprofit art gallery owned by the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association. The event space consists of one large, light-filled room lined with local art, plus an additional small gallery and a charming enclosed brick patio out back. There's space for 80 for a seated dinner, up to 150 for a standing reception. Rental rates range from $150/hour (off-peak weekdays) to $450/hour (Saturdays in prime months). Food must be cooked offsite, but there's prep space in the basement and any caterer is welcome.
Ah, the romance of train travel. DC's Union Station is stunning in its own right, and better yet it carries the memory of 100+ years of people going places. Union Station has hosted multiple Inaugural Balls in its beautiful Beaux Arts interior, so why not your wedding ball? The largest rental location is East Hall, an elegant space with 30-foot ceilings, gold-leaf adornments and marble floors. There's also the Columbus Club, a large private room that once served as the station's luxe soda fountain (think brass chandeliers and clerestory windows, not swivel stools and metal counters). Either room can be combined with a cocktail hour in the Main Hall's Palm Court. The Columbus Club holds 160 for seated dinner and dancing and the East Hall holds 400; site fees range from an amazingly reasonable $1,500 for the Columbus Club to $13,000 for the East Hall and Palm Court. Union Station works with a single caterer.
DC is full of classic buildings. The Carnegie Institution for Science may be lesser-known, but it's as stunning as the best of them. Built at the start of the 20th Century by the architects behind the New York Public Library, this impressive neoclassical structure features an open two-story rotunda with a striking marble floor. Other highlights include libraries stocked with old tomes, murals celebrating scientific advancement and all the architectural adornments of a grand Beaux Arts building. Whether you have a special love for science or just love a pretty building, it's a grand place to hold a wedding. The building holds 170 for dinner and dancing, with site fees around $5,000 for an 8-hour rental. There is a catering kitchen, and any established caterer is welcome.