dc wedding venue

The first steps in researching a wedding venue

Photo by Jess Latos

Photo by Jess Latos

This week we're talking about all the things to consider when picking a wedding venue.

Your Budget

The first thing is: have a budget. You cannot start looking at venues without one. Do not torture yourself with venues you can't afford - it's not worth it! You will find one that's right for you and your partner, your vision AND your budget

Get Organized!

The next step in your venue search is to get organized! I love all of the various venues this area has to offer, but the unfortunate thing is, much like the college application process (!), they all provide different information, in different formats, in different locations. To avoid going crazy, create a venue spreadsheet with all the major details so you can easily see what each venue has to offer. And don't be afraid to reach out to them for more info - many offer limited immediate info on their websites, but have packets of details ready to sent you. You can learn more about what that spreadsheet could look like here.

Venue Availability

The third step when beginning your venue search is the venue's availability! Were you dying to get married in the fall so you can have the foliage as your backdrop? Make sure they're free then. Alternatively, maybe you have a venue you want more than anything, but don't mind getting married in the winter if it means you can get wed there. Keep the time of year, which year (!), and your priorities in mind.

Consider your wedding guest list

Does this venue’s capacity fit my estimated guest list? Sometimes venues stretch what’s possible in order to make themselves more attractive to all couples. So you've got to make sure your venue can handle all of your guests. One way to discreetly figure this out is to ask at the site visit: “What number of guests is most successful in this space?” Just because you CAN fit 150 people into a room, doesn’t mean you should.

Venue layout

The final question to ask when looking for a venue, is does this venue’s layout/available space fit my needs? For example, if you’re doing ceremony, cocktails, and reception all in one venue, does it have three separate spaces for all of those events? If not, do they recommend a “flip?” The typical “flip” is changing the ceremony space into the reception space during cocktail hour, when guests are in another area. Flips are a great way to make a venue work for you. However, make sure they are done at the venue often, and ask how they are done: Where are the reception tables and decor stored? Will it require renting pipe and drape (a faux fabric wall to hide these items from guests)? Does it require a space that is weather dependent (such as an outdoor space)? This is where you can recognize potential hidden costs and hidden issues.

John and Jonathan's Long View Gallery, Washington, DC wedding

Susan Hornyak Photography

Susan Hornyak Photography

John and Jonathan were referred to me fairly last minute by some other clients of mine. I jumped in, super excited to work at Long View again and with this awesome couple - and on the day of DC pride, no less! Such a fun touch for their wedding day! 

John and Jonathan really wanted their evening to feel like a party - and they made some lovely small decisions that helped that vibe follow through. One of my favorites is that they greeted guests at the door prior to the ceremony. A reverse receiving line of sorts, I thought it was such a lovely touch that made guests feel welcome and made it an intimate affair. Their ceremony was also laid out with two aisles - an awesome decision that allowed the room to physically embody these two lives coming together, joining into a wonderful partnership and marriage. 

Post ceremony we had cocktails in the back gallery (with a champs bar, to boot), followed by a meal in the front gallery that featured three different stations for guests to visit which encouraged mingling and chatting. The room was stunning, with an awesome layout and rentals that really reflected the industrial vibe of Longview. 

Post dinner we all headed back to the gallery for The Bachelor Boys and the guys and their guests danced the night away!

Congrats again, John and Jonathan! And big thanks to Susan Hornyak Photography for the wonderful photos.

John and Jonathan's Vendors:

Coordination: Katie Wannen, The Plannery

Venue: Long View Gallery

Caterer: Occasions Catering

Photographer: Susan Hornyak Photography

Band: The Bachelor Boys

Draping: Fabrication Events

Lighting: John Farr

Floral: Uncloudy Studio

Dock 5 // DC event space

Last week I attended the launch of Dock 5, a great new event space in DC. Dock 5 is a very raw, warehouse-type space, and features over 12,000 square feet, 22’ high ceilings and glass garage doors. The venue is directly above the artisanal marketplace, Union Market, which houses over 30 of the top food producers in the region. By the way, the excellent photos, below, are taken by Mary Kate McKenna - the bad ones are by me (I was having too much fun to focus - isn't that the sign of a good party?) Dock 5

It was a really fun event. Buffalo Bergen provided wonderful cocktails and sodas. Dolcezzo Gelato had a Gelato truck with a choice of salted caramel gelato and blood orange sorbet.  Spilled Milk catering provided tasty passed hors d'oeuvres - but my favorite item was the bacon garden in which candied, spicy bacon was available on a stick. It was awesome. I've decided all events should now have bacon on a stick.

Spilled Milk Catering Bacon Garden

Rappahonnock Oysters also had a raw oyster bar (delicious and decadent) and we may or may not have taken some of Spilled Milk's bacon and used it as a topper on an oyster. Just saying. Maybe. And maybe it was delicious.

The space has a ton of possibilities. It is quite raw, so one definitely needs to consider lighting, decor, and furniture to create various spaces and help create a flow for your evening. The huge bonus is that it's very large for DC - it's hard to find venues this size in the area, so anyone with a large guest list and a modern sensibility should definitely check it out.

Big thanks to Dock 5 and the whole team for a really fun evening!

p.s. Sarah of Val & Sarah also most definitely created the next bridal trend. Two words: bacon bouquet

bacon bouquet