Dear PoP – Outdoor Wedding Ideas?

DSCN0394, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

“Dear PoP,

My partner and I are looking for a good DC spot to host our wedding reception. We’d like a place that can seat about 325 people (with room for dancing) and is not fancy. Something like a YMCA, a high school, or a community center could be perfect, as long as it has a really large open space. Have you run across anything like that in your explorations of our city?”

Hmm, I’m thinking a wedding at Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park could be pretty awesome. Anyone know if that is possible? If you are looking for indoors you might want to check with the folks at EL Haynes Charter School. They have a nice new gymnasium. Anyone else have any good “not fancy” wedding spot suggestions for somewhere in DC?

30 Comment

  • Try St. Paul’s Rock Creek Church (yes and Cemetery); they have a large community center/parish hall that is quite beautiful.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    I posted this on twitter which feeds to my facebook and folks are leaving comments there. So here are a couple more suggestions:

    “Josephine Butler Center & Malcolm X/Meridian Hill Park. Or the Arboretum.”

    “the aethenium (sp?) in Alexandria is fairly inexpensive. See this blog for more info–she got married on a budget in DC at the Aethenium

  • I can’t imagine having 325 friends….

  • There’s also Brookside Gardens in Wheaton. I know not DC but…

    I’ve had a few friends get married there. Very pretty and apparently not that expensive. All weddings were fewer than 150 people, but I felt like the capacity could certainly be more than that. Oh, plus there are almost always tons of butterflies around – can’t put a price on that.

  • 1) Rock Creek park at various spots, but near the horse stables is loveliest.
    2) The DC Armory.
    3) The Franciscan Monastery.
    4) The National Arboretum.

  • It’s going to be very diifficult to find a outside place that seats that many people for cheap. I’d check with all the schools in DC and see if you can’t work something out. Of course you can’t have alcohol at any of them. If you graduated at a college nearby most will let alumni rent out places on campus. Another good option would be to rent a reception hall at a hotel just outside the city.

  • Not in DC either, but the Audubon Society HQ in Chevy Chase can be rented out for weddings. They have a nice outdoor garden area, and a patio that can be enclosed.

    I think you’d have a hard time fitting 100 people into the Aethenium, let alone 350.

  • What about the old soldiers home? I wonder if they would let you put a tent up on the grounds.

  • Josephine Butler Center is very nice and reasonably priced. I was going to get married in Malcolm X, but did a Saturday morning walkthrough and was turned off by the condoms, human poop, and pee smell. Love the park, but maybe not for a wedding.

  • @monkeyerotica
    The Audubon Society HQ is gorgeous, but nowhere near big enough for 325.

  • Josephine Butler Center is really nice and reasonable, but I doubt they can accomodate 325 – yikes thats a lot of people!

  • I’d look at MD State Parks. With that many people it will be hard to hold it in DC proper. Most large spaces in DC that would be appropriate for that big a crowd are in demand enough I think they’d be expensive.

  • It is possible (and would be lovely!) to get married in Meridian Hill Park – but only if you are having a small wedding with less than 50 people. You need a permit. You can see the full requirements here:

  • I am not sure where they allow weddings in the Arboretum, but there are some really beautiful spots

  • The Butler Center is pretty tiny and is optimal for weddings in the 50-75 range. Anything more and it gets claustrophobic.

    Having a wedding at the Arboretum is something I’m a bit skeptical about. downside of have a wedding at the Arboretum is that the costs quickly add up. I thought it would be nice to have a wedding there, but after researching it a bit I realized that with bringing in outside catering with no facilities, having to hire security (part of the contract requires you paying for security), no liquor served until after hours and having to get permission from the arboretum to have certain flowers (though that’s something I respect and totally understand) that having a wedding there was not worth the headache to me after all. Yet, if I was a millionaire and budget was no problem, I would want to get married there in a heartbeat.

  • Malcolm X Park is limited to 75 people and you can only have the ceremony there, not the reception. But it is a lovely spot.

    Another option is the National Arboretum, but I’m not sure they can accommodate that many peoplel

  • @K: Both the church and parish hall at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church/Rock Creek Parish are available only for weddings of church members.

  • We had our ceremony and reception at All Souls Unitarian on 16th and Harvard. The ceremony space seats 700 and Pierce Hall fit our group wonderfully. I don’t know the capacity limits on the reception space. Also — loved the courtyard for pictures, the natural light without sun in your eyes made the best pictures. link:

  • I second the suggestion of Brookside Gardens in Wheaton. I went to a wedding there and the grounds are beautiful, and not all that expensive relatively speaking.

  • We had our reception at Brookside Gardens. Beautiful, but the building maxes out at 125. If you want to have more guests, they allow it, but you must rent a tent. They have a wonderful lawn for a tent (actually several location options), and you can have a cocktail hour in any one of the numerous garden spaces (provided it doesn’t rain) – I recommend the fragrance garden because it offers formal and informal seating. They have a wedding gazebo, though we did not use it. If you plan to have dancing inside, you must rent your own dance floor since it is carpeted. Also, no red wine (because of the carpet) or hard liquor (because of their license). Otherwise, it is an absolutely gorgeous place and we had a great experience.

  • What about Glenn Echo Park… ferris wheel could be great… I know they’ve done receptions there before (I saw on Ace of Cakes they had a wedding they were baking for, in the old bumper car floor and made bumper car cakes for every table)… I don’t know the capacity, but as a former bride (last year) you’re freaking insane to plan a wedding for 325 “on the cheap” (which I am assuming because you’re willing to have your reception at the Y) and in the DC area… freaking insane…

  • Check with your friends who live in fancy apartment buildings to see if they have common space, such as a courtyard or rooftop, that you could reserve.

  • The main hall of Union Station can be rented for wedding receptions and is a gorgeous venue.

  • I would second Glen Echo park – we did our engagement shots there and it was an amazing venue, and I think I saw something where they did the meal in the bumper car pavilion – though I’m afraid I have no idea how expensive it would be or what the capacity is… Also – I’m hoping you maybe mean you’re inviting 325 so just want the capacity in the bizarre case that everyone says yes… we have a big invite list so I also needed a larger venue, but am keeping fingers crossed on a 60, 75 percent RSVP rate since most people are out of town… so maybe your number isn’t quite as ‘insane’ as other commenters have said!!

  • I just had to check – you can rent the Main Hall of Union Station, but it will cost you $40,000!

  • I know a lot of people who have had receptions at the National Museum of Women in the Arts on NY Ave. downtown. I think it seats 500 or so, and it’s less expensive than the other museum-type large spaces (like Union Station, the National Bldg Museum, LOC, Corcoran, or Mellon Auditorium). Plus, when you rent out a place like that, a large portion of the rental fee is tax deductible, since it’s essentially a contribution to a c3.

  • Getting in a bit late on this…

    Nichole’s got it- the NMWA building is absolutely gorgeous. You would have to rent all kinds of crap to make it wedding-worthy, but it could be worth it.

    These are not in DC, but- The Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore (at Federal Hill) has the coolest space for weddings and other events. Totally amazing, funky, and beautiful. Not a bad price. And also, Westminster Hall, where Poe is buried, is really neat.

  • Uh, honey – sorry you got that wrong. You can do a standing reception at Brookside for as many as 175. We invited 200 and crossed our fingers that they wouldn’t all say yes, especially when we realized we hadn’t counted ourselves, the band, or the caterers in our count of people who would be in the room that maxes out at 175.

    All Souls Church is also a good option. That’s where we had our ceremony. Not outside but one of the more affordable places you’ll find for that size crowd. It’s really hard to get a deal for that number of people in this area. Consider cutting your numbers or doing something really casual in a park pavilion if budget is really an issue.

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