Dear PoPville – Reasonable Wedding Venues?

Photo by PoPville flickr user TheRobbStory

“Dear PoPville,

I am writing to you to hopefully gain some insight into some reasonably priced wedding venues in DC. I have seen some threads on here from a few years back but thought I might write again to try and get some new ideas. We are looking to have a very small ceremony (20-40 people) and low key reception (possibly at the same place), while keeping it on a very low budget. Is this even possible in DC?! Staying downtown is in our best interest since most family/friends live or will stay in the city. Obviously, outdoor venues would be excellent! Help!”

51 Comment

  • We had something similar at the Tabard Inn and loved it.

  • Outside at Meridian Hill park, then across the street at the Josephine Butler Park Center might be nice. It’s a lovely venue, but was built as the vice president’s residence (never used as such), so the rooms are better for small groups like yours.

    • I work for a caterer and we do weddings at JBPC all the time! It’s a really great venue. I haven’t got the slightest idea how they do their rentals , but the upstairs space near the stairs (amazing photo spot) and the room with the piano would be great for a small event, especially with the balcony that overlooks the park (might be big enough for your guests… ceremony-wise).

      • The JBPC is a fantastic venue, which is why I picked it for my wedding this coming fall.

        With the small numbers (20-40) this person mentioned, they can even get a permit to hold the wedding in Meridian Hill Park.

  • We got married at the Columbus Club venue in Union Station, and I recommend it. Ceremony in the room, cocktail reception in the main hall while they flipped the room, back up to the room for the reception. The price was very reasonable compared to some others we looked at. We decided against outdoor, but the Sewall-Belmont House Museum has a nice outdoor space on Capitol Hill that would likely accommodate in case of bad weather.

    • that’s interesting – was it a while ago? i just looked at the Columbus Club and while the rental fee was super low, the outrageous catering prices (you had no choice of caterer) jacked the price up to be twice as expensive as anywhere else. bummer, ’cause we love the space.

      • It was October of 2012. Yes, there was one choice of caterer, and I’m sure there are cheaper options out there. But at the same time they handled a lot of the load and made it very easy on us, whereas we were on our own at some of the other venues we looked at. And ain’t nobody got time for that.

  • St. Francis Hall is beautiful and very reasonable – that’s where we did our ceremony and reception, but we were right around 100 people.

  • Another interesting idea for a small ceremony would be to use a roof deck of a condo building. I know you can reserve a portion of the Kenyon’s if you’re a resident and I’d imagine other buildings would have a similar policy. Then you can control literally everything!

  • McLean Gardens Ballroom is beautiful and reasonable. I found with certain small venues that they were only licensed for beer & wine, but if that’s not an issue for you, mazel tov.

  • I would encourage you to check out AIA headquarters – they have a ton of options, including the Octagon House and the beautiful outside area between the two. Not to mention, the events manager, Amy Medawar, is fantastic to work with!

  • Check out Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital by Eastern Market. A Civil War-era historic building, beautiful outdoor gardens, metro accessible and reasonably priced.

  • Here are some possibilities based on our wedding venue search plus a more recent search to find a space for a memorial service for a good friend of mine.
    I’ve seen or heard good things about:
    1. Washington Ethical Society,
    2. 6th and I St. Synagogue: IIRC is very reasonable
    3. The Mansion on O St: The quote was very reasonable).
    4. The upstairs space at Meze in Adam Morgan is cheap and a nice space. Friends did their reception there.

    Others I have heard of but not seen:
    The National Portrait Gallery has an event space
    Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square
    Carriage House at Mathematical Association of America:
    Hillyer Art Space:
    University Club DC:

    good luck and congrats!

    • NPG and the Carnegie Library are both huge (and expensive). I’m a caterer and recently worked a dinner at the Portrait Gallery for 530 people 🙂

    • Second Hillyer. Only issue is that there is just one bathroom, but with 20-40 people, that shouldn’t be an issue. Think they charge 1k for the night.

  • While looking for engagement party venues I stumbled on a couple restaurants that also do weddings – Teddy and the Bully Bar, Churchkey, etc.. Also you might want to consider an “event space” like some of the studio space on 14th or in H st NE where you can get a caterer.

  • Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar has a beautiful space for a small ceremony and reception. Check out Darlington House too.

  • The Arts Club of Washington has both outdoor (courtyard) and indoor space. Similar to the suggestion of the Tabard Inn, I liked that they handled everything other than flowers, officiant and photographer – much less work for me. We had our ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception there. It was an awesome party.

  • I am not sure who owns the space exactly, but on top of the building that the bar The Exchange (1719 G Street NW) is located in has an amazing roof deck. It has views of the mall and the capital. My alumni association had a great event up there. I would contact the Exchange because that is who appeared to control the space. It was a nice little surprise considering how… well.. fratty (nicest word I could think of) the bar itself is.

  • It might be more than you need, but Toolbox Pilates/Art Studio is a gorgeous space RIGHT in Dupont Circle. Their event rates are quite low since they’ve just opened and there are several different areas that might suit…

  • I went to a great wedding at the American Legion hall near Capitol Hill. Not sure on the pricing, but I would imagine it’s reasonable.

  • My husband and I got married at Darlington House and absolutely loved it. You get the entire third floor library to yourself, which is plenty of room for the wedding and a sit down dinner. We had 45 people and didn’t feel cramped at all. Food is through their restaurant, which we found delicious. There’s a bar in the library. Can’t recommend highly enough.

  • A friend had her wedding in a little park in Cap Hill. I do not know what it cost, but it can’t have been expensive. (The photos are on WaPo, conveniently:

  • I’m not sure what “very low budget” means for a wedding, but check out Heurich House in Dupont Circle – beautiful garden space and rooms.

  • We had our wedding at Darlington House in Dupont Circle. Small, elegant, and perfect. Perfectly inexpensive too and you can do both ceremony and reception in the same space quite nicely. All our guests loved it and the food is fantastic. Highly recommend!

  • We had our wedding at Darlington House in Dupont Circle. Small, elegant, and perfect. Perfectly inexpensive too and you can do both ceremony and reception in the same space quite nicely. All our guests loved it and the food is fantastic. Highly recommend!
    I would also recommend you consider a weeknight wedding- cuts your costs considerably!

  • Try Hendry House in Arlington. It was beautiful for a friends wedding! I think it’s run by the county and the bride said it was really reasonable.

  • GW City View Room, on top of one of the academic buildings – it’s a conference center that holds 100 people with a rooftop that has amazing views of the city.

  • epric002

    it’s not in DC, but in april 2012 we had a very small (21, including us and an infant) wedding at green spring gardens in alexandria. it was $55/hr with a minimum of 2 hours. then we had a reception dinner at 1789 in the middleburg room. i was so pleased with how all of it turned out and definitely recommend both. good luck!

  • If you want to get creative, EPIC Yoga in Dupont is a really cool event space, exposed brick and lots of space. STROGA in Adams Morgan can also be gorgeous for small events (they don’t have a ton of bathrooms) We got married at the Whittemore House in Dupont and loved it. If you join the WNDC (who own it) the rental fees are really reasonable, and they were easy to work with.

    • Stroga is gorgeous but keep in mind that there is no elevator – a) not good for elderly family members and b) catering tends to be very expensive there because you have to hire extra staff to haul all the shit up the stairs. It as a reputation as the toughest venue in DC for catering.

  • A couple quick notes from inside the industry…1) don’t say wedding, at least up front. When asking for rental prices or food&beverage minimums, just say a family event or a social event. For some salespeople, the word wedding sets the salivary glands going and rates can instantaneously double 2) if you haven’t set a date, take a look at the congressional calendar. Not to see who you can send an invite to, but to get your best rates. DC goes “dark” when congress is out of session and you generally will get a better rate at hotel & restaurant venues…but others too 3) Don’t be afraid to name your price (especially in those down times)! You never know unless you ask & prices are often more flexible than salespeople initially let on.

    • Hmmm, I would definitely think hotels venues would be cheaper during recesses since you not only have Members out of town but most organizations schedule conferences and lobby days when they’re in session. But I also think, a lot of people who work on/with the Hill schedule their weddings during off weeks so they can take time off before or after.

  • I went to a really nice wedding + reception at the American News Womens Club and know that reasonable price was one of the main factors in their choice of venue. 22 St/Mass Ave/Florida. Near metro for guests without cars, lots of hotels (and places to go after the event) in easy walking distance, great outdoor photo ops (e.g. Spanish steps) very close by.

  • We had it at Woodrow Wilson House

  • The mansion on O street sounds reasonable…until you sign the contract. Then, every single thing you want is an upcharge and you end up spending the same as you would anywhere else but without the professionalism and quality. I had fun at my wedding there, but would not recommend it to anyone else. Also, be prepared for last minute hurdles. For instance, we were told we could get better beer that miller and amstel. The week of our event, we had to fight tooth and nail to get beers that are available everywhere, like dogfishhead.

  • The national park service will let you hold your ceremony in a few spots including 2 in Georgetown for only $200.

  • We loved our wedding at the Sewall-Belmont House in Capitol Hill. They have an tented outdoor area.

  • I want to second the Darlington House comment. We got married on the mall (just $50 for the permit!) but if the weather had been bad the room was free right before the ceremony and they said they were cool with short notice. I think it would’ve been under $1000 for the ceremony. They have a beautiful bay window that you stand in and a cool staircase the bride (or brides/grooms/etc) can come down.

    Our reception was under $7000 for everything. We did beer and wine only by consumption (cash for liquor) and it was great. We paid for their buffet menu for I think $50 a person, but we had their max of 60 or so people so they actually ended up doing it as a plated meal (3 options, plus appetizers and salad). That was because while it wasn’t crowded, it would’ve been just a little too busy to set up a buffet station and have everyone moving around.

    Decor is gorgeous, needs very little. They include tables/chairs, linens, set up, printed individual menus, and pretty votives in mercury glass holders. We got flowers wholesale and just did big vases of bulk tulips which they set out for us. Cake was from Costco (just order with white frosting sans decorations and add your own topper/flowers) which they cut and served for $2 a person.

    Last few pics here kind of show the room but I think they have some better ones on their website

    • Oh and we did it on a Friday night. I can’t recall if that made a difference to Darlington price wise, but I think it helped with availability as we booked only about 6 months before our date.

  • The suggestions for historic houses are spot on, and I think Tabard Inn is a great fit too. In general, look for places that include equipment – even a place that only throws in tables and chairs will still save you upwards of $10/person.

  • Not the OP, but uno- thanks to the OP for asking. Dos- Thanks POP for posting, and Tres- Thanks for all of the excellent suggestions. Spent the evening looking into these and figuring out what will work for my fiance and me. So very helpful!!

  • There’s a new event space called The Loft at 600 F that’s pretty nice and reasonably priced. 40 would probably be the max to do both ceremony and reception. I would definitely check it out!

  • DC War Memorial is a $50 permit, and I believe Jefferson Memorial lawn is the same. With a group of 20-40, there are many restaurants that would have a private room to accommodate you. Old Ebbitt’s private rates weren’t too bad. I’e also seen small wedding parties on the roof at the Hay Adams, but I’m guessing they were not cheap.

  • My wife and I got married at Rockwood Manor in Potomac, MD last summer. It’s outside of town, but all of your guests can stay there in hotel-style rooms, and it ends up being very inexpensive, particularly if you do one of their packages.

    Find a friend that lives in Montgomery County and use their name/address. They’ll give you the local rate.

  • Carnegie Institute for Science….not sure if you’d consider it reasonable, but I found you got a lot for your money there compared to other traditional DC venues. Great location on 16th & P, gorgeous library for pictures (or go to meridian park), and a great indoor/outdoor layout for both ceremony and reception.

  • Mootje1

    The International Student House at 1825 R St is right in Dupont and is beautiful. It’s a converted mansion and they have a nice outdoor space/garden area as well. (Full disclosure, I lived there for 1.5 years and have seen some pretty beautiful events.)

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