From the Forum – Help: Wedding Venues for approx 250 people in Washington area

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Help: Wedding Venues for approx 250 people in Washington area:

“Any ideas?

We’re looking to have a wedding in DC (also open to nearby venues in MD and VA) for approx 250 people… we both have LARGE families. I don’t really know where to start so any kind of help would be greatly appreciated!

I’ve looked at previous posts on the topic but they’re concerning either fewer guests or are relatively outdated…”

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49 Comment

  • where to start would be wedding wire.

    to answer your question specifically, i would suggest American Institute of Architects. It is a pretty modern feel and reasonably priced.

  • If your families are fabulously wealthy, the Mellon Auditorium in the EPA building is great for this. Rates here:
    Or the Portrait Gallery courtyard in the picture, which I think goes for $15K – $20K.

    • It was my understanding that the Portrait Gallery (or other Smithsonian venues, including many government, or government-related venues [like House of Sweden]) do not rent space for weddings or other potentially religious or “personal” events. Of course, you could always lie and say its a fundraiser 🙂

      • Oh, interesting. I wonder if there’s a distinction between the ceremony and the reception? I guess the writer didn’t specify whether the ceremony would also be at the same venue, but now that I re-read, it seems to be implied.

  • The Darlington House located in Dupont Circle; really elegant but not too fancy townhouse mansion like, multiple floors, great space not too large, not too small worth checking out:

  • The Postal Museum is beautiful and ~6k donation (so tax deductible). Not sure how many people they can accommodate.

  • I’ll also recommend searching through WeddingWire for venues. Also look around at local hotels, many of them have big ballrooms that can accommodate large weddings. It’s easy for out of town guests and hotels often have good wedding packages where everything is included, so you won’t have rent additional stuff like linens or chairs.

  • Not sure about pricing, but the National Building Museum is breathtaking and available for hosting large private events.

    • jim_ed

      Agreed, although 250 might be the bare minimum in that space – it is massive. I think rental rates for the space alone start around $15k. However, if money is no object, it’s a beautiful space inside and out.

  • The Women’s Art Museum

  • Look into renting 9:30 club or the Howard Theater. The Mayflower Renaissance on Connecticut Avenue is a very cool old school ballroom so is the Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo. Long View Gallery on 9th Street and Union Market Dock 5 can both hold 200+. Just be warned that both of their in house staff are truly useless and the acoustics suck big time. Any venue with wood floors is going to be far more enjoyable than one of these shrill cement chambers. Look for an enormous barn, they are the most relaxed venues by far. Restaurants / hotels will be much easier to deal with as the kitchen is in house and they are designed for this and have chairs and table settings and a million other things you won’t have to think about, like will the portable toilettes trip the breaker and plunge your wedding into darkness… Get a wedding planner or have fun herding cats on your wedding day.

  • I’m getting married at Longview Gallery ( in the summer, so obviously that would be my vote. Also looked at The Toolbox in dupont.

    Good luck!

  • We got married at Union Station and had a really good experience. It’s in the Columbus Club venue. They should have no problem with 250+, though we didn’t have that many.

  • I second Longview Gallery. I was married there in 2011 and it was amazing. You do need to find your own vendors including catering, music, furniture/lighting, security, etc. There is so much you can do with that space to make it a really unique event.

  • National Museum of Women in the Arts is gorgeous and on the less expensive (but still pricey) for DC. Gorgeous venue, Great Hall can easily accommodate 250. No outdoor space, but staircase, ceilings, details lend it self to a gorgeous spot.

  • Regardless of your venue choice, if you can pick your own caterer, I would recommend Occasions Catering -very- highly. They were the only caterer that seemed to effortlessly understand what we wanted and delivered it perfectly and on budget.

    • We got married in 2014 at the Carnegie Institute. Reasonably priced (for DC that is), you can use any caterer you want as long as they have the right insurance, and they don’t have restrictions on red wine or other dark colored beverages like many historical buildings do. As for caterers, highly recommend Eat&Smile.

      • Carnegie Institute is a super nice venue. I organized a grad school formal there a few years ago and they were really accommodating. We got to bring in our own caterers and provided our own booze (served by the caterers’ licensed and insured bartenders), which really cut down on costs. The venue rental fee is quite reasonable too. We sold around 250 tickets and the venue was nearly maxed out. It might be tough to do a 250 person seated dinner in there, but definitely worth exploring the option.

  • You should definitely get in touch with – Roger and his team have helped me with numerous events in the past and always have fantastic ideas for creative event spaces! Good luck!

  • My husband and I were married at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria. We still get comments from guests on how unique it was. I think they can host a wedding of that size, and their fee is fairly low for a large venue.

  • I wish I had thought to do this. I don’t know about anyone else on this thread who’s planned a wedding, but I noticed that The Knot and Wedding Wire’s search engines do not show you all of the results for venues that fit your needs. I am not sure why, but both sites have profiles for venues that accommodate 200+ that won’t come up in your search. The geo/map search on Wedding Wire could be useful, but it’s also not fully populated with all the profiles on their site. This means there are quite a few other options out there. Hotels are always a good place to start, but if like me you didn’t want a wedding in a hotel, I can give you some ideas.

    Some of my favorites have been:

    1) The Spanish Ballroom or Bumper Car Pavillion at Glen Echo Park
    2) Potomac View Terrace at the APhA building downtown
    3) Toolbox in Dupont Circle (you can’t do a seated dinner here for your guest size but you can do a mixed seating event, which is totally awesome)
    4) Trump National Golf Club in Sterling VA
    5) Mead Center at Arena Stage
    6) Eastern Market North Hall

    • the more a vendor plays the more they are promoted on wedding wire or any of those sights. So it’s not the big picture.

  • We actually just went through this same situation (although we’re closer to 210, not 250…). It was actually pretty difficult to find a place that would meet our needs. Most of the nicer hotels in DC can accommodate that size of party though, so that may be a good place to start. But if you wanted somewhere a bit more unique, Longview was beautiful, but you would have to use both rooms – not everyone can be accommodated in one room. Union Market/Dock 5 was $20k just to rent for a Saturday night. The Newseum and Arena Stage may come close to fitting that size. Both have pretty hefty rental fees though too (above $10k just for the rental). We ended up going out of town…..

  • Bobby Van’s Grill at 1201 New York Avenue has a wonderful space for a wedding for 250 guests seated with a private bar for a reception area and a separate space for a dance floor all located on the private level of the restaurant.

    Bobby Van’s Grill
    1201 New York Avenue NW
    Washington, DC 20005

  • Another idea: get married in Baltimore. Your money stretches A LOT further and there are tons of interesting venues in the city and around the county. I’ve been to a few wedding up there and have always had a fun time. If lots of people are coming from out of town, it really doesn’t matter if you host in DC or B’more, TBH.

  • We had our wedding at the University of Maryland, for about 225 people, with plenty of space to spare. Memorial Chapel ( for the ceremony, and then the Alumni Center ( for the Reception. More than enough space to accommodate your guests in both venues, and solid staff to work through the event. You can also host your reception at the Stamp Student Union, and I think you get a 10% discount for doing the chapel/union combo.

  • We got married at DAR.

    Awesome location and the portico is absolutely stunning. I think we had 150 or so people? There was definitely room for more people. It wasn’t cheap, but worth every penny in my opinion.

  • Comus Inn, Dickerson Md. It’s about 45 minutes from DC and beautiful, although I am not sure if they can accommodate 250 guests, but I think they can. The food and alcohol is done in house and they also basically assign you a “wedding planner” and ours has been very helpful and responsive. Once we picked this venue and put a deposit down our wedding came together within weeks and is basically 90% done. It’s also pretty affordable as far as weddings go.

  • we held our wedding reception at the Reagan building – they have in-house planners that are super-helpful and most of the basics you need (tables, glassware, etc., although I did choose to upgrade with rented linens from elsewhere). The main atrium area can hold 250-plus, there are pics on their websites of what a reception of that size looks like.

  • There are so many great options! First, congrats!

    If you want upscale / traditional:

    Check out the Portrait Gallery for sure
    Meridian House is beautiful (200 max)
    NBM is pricey but huge and cool
    Anderson House / Society of the Cincinnati (standing reception)
    Any of the fancy hotels — W, St. Regis, Mandarin Oriental

    Glen Echo
    Union Market

    If you look outside of DC proper there are all the vineyards and Inns in Virginia. Nothing is more scenic than Pippin Hill. Clifton Inn is amazing, Early Mountain, Keswick.

    Have fun and good luck!

  • I had my wedding at the DC courthouse and then just had a party at my house that weekend. It was $45 for the wedding, $300 for the food. Granted, we had about 30 people at our party. So extrapolating that to 250 people, that’s about $2500 in food. Spending tens of thousands of dollars on a wedding will probably be one of the biggest regrets you’ll have in life. Use the savings for a more meaningful purchase like a house, car, vacation, kid’s college tuition, etc…

    • Thanks for the life lesson, but I’m sure the OP is more than capable of making their own financial determinations.

  • The City Club of Washington has an atrium that can definitely fit 250 guests. I believe their rental rate is only $1,000 and then there’s a food/bev minimum. It’s a great space if you like a more modern look.

  • Try!

  • My final choice for a venue was between the Museum of Women in the Arts and Carnegie Library. I chose the later. Downside- You have to bring everything in ( tables and chairs). You need valet parking ($$$), . But….. metro accessible (you can walk to a nearby hotel for the wedding night and out of town guest walked to their hotel after).
    No restrictions on alcohol- we saved money by buying the alcohol ourselves and our caterer provided bar service. With the right pipe and drape, lighting you can create the wedding and reception you want. We had the cocktail hour up stairs and the reception on the main level. We had seating for 250, room for dancing and a quartet during dinner service. The DJ was set up on the landing ( some people put additional tables on the landing). The cost to rent was about the same as the Museum for Women in the Arts and also a tax deduction. The difference is the blank canvas. The building was pretty (marble grand staircase, some gold leaf) but with out all the art work on the walls it wasn’t “stuffy” even with all the formality of the event. Our guest loved the location for the dc vibe.

  • We were in the same boat 3 years ago, and wound up going out of town for various reasons. In addition to the places suggested by others, though, consider the National Press Club (for a very DC vibe) or the Nationals Stadium (for a super fun vibe — you can even include bp for your guests!).

  • We had a great wedding reception at the new Shakespeare Theater. Granted, they’d only been open a couple months and it was pre-Inaguration (Obama pt. 1), so I know their rates have increased, but it was a super fabulous locale. We did seated dinner for about 150, but if you skip the seated formal part, they can easy do 250.

  • glen echo park! limited on caterers (only 8 or so options – we used main event – they were awesome) and no liquor (kind of a blessing $$ wise), but space was about $4k for an entire Saturday, and the lighting on site was so nice we didn’t end up adding any of our own. just beware the 10% fee on catering that the venue charges – main event didn’t hide it, but i’m sure others do. and i think it is a donation, so probably tax deductible…

  • We got married five years ago this October out at Woodlawn and it was exquisite (if I do say so myself). I highly reccomends it if you are looking to do the historic and/or outside thing. They can handle up to 300 and now you can get your farm-to-table on with Acadia out there, too.

  • my husband and i got married in october and needed a venue for 225 with a seated dinner, PG county parks actually has historic homes on a few of their parks that are beautiful. we ended up at the Newton White Mansion, 25 minutes out of town (going towards Annapolis on 50). And it totally met our needs. Their prices are pretty reasonable and include table and (hideous) chairs (though we figured out a way around that). Bonus, if you have someone who with a Montgomery County or PG County address, you can get a discount. We got the house on a Saturday night for $3200. Plus brought in our own caterer and bought our own alcohol and saved a ton.

  • We had an awesome wedding at the Briar Patch B&B in Middleburg,VA. They can easily accommodate 200 people. Highly recommend it.

  • We got married at the 1840s Plaza in Baltimore.

    We had a cocktail reception in the Cabaret floor, and our reception in the City Lites Ballroom. Both venue floors should hold well over 250. We chose this place because it was not a cookie-cutter wedding location, it was GORGEOUS and more reasonably priced than anything else we saw.

    If you’re Catholic, you can have your ceremony at the Saint Vincent de Paul Church down the street, which has a tremendously meaningful outreach program in Bmore, and an amazing priest, with many progressive views.

  • Riverside on the Potomac — we got married there at the end of August and it was amazing!

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