The Great Venue Hunt

Venue hunting was definitely the hardest decision we made. We knew we wanted to be in the city, which was great, because that meant there were a LOT of possible wedding venues. It was also hard because”¦there were a LOT of possible wedding venues. Just narrowing down the options was, frankly, pretty exhausting. I didn’t realize until we started searching in earnest that our needs were somewhat weird”¦and most venues we contacted or visited had one or more of these issues:

  • Only one indoor space large enough for our group. Many brides (read: spring and summer) opt for an outdoor ceremony plus indoor reception, so venues cater to that idea. Wanting both indoors make us weird.
  • If we found a cool spot, it was inevitably nowhere near another one. We want to avoid breaking up our wedding with lots of shuttling and transportation time.
  • TOO big. Our guest list will be sub-100, and we wanted to take advantage of our size and have a cozy wedding. Renting out a hotel ballroom or convention space is silly, as we wouldn’t be able to use the space.

  • Too expensive! We’re paying for this shindig ourselves and know we need to keep the pricing within a reasonable range. So the ballroom at the Ritz and some of the swanky Georgetown mansions simply aren’t possible.
  • A little too far off the beaten path. Midway through venue hunting we decided we would rather stick close to the city than lose some of the urban feel by traveling to a suburb or isolated area. After a certain distance from downtown, it stops feeling like a city location. This was probably the hardest decision to make as we did find some great places elsewhere—but the idea of having our wedding plus nightlife and hotels all within walking distance trumped.

So, it was tough not only to meet these criteria, but also to make sure the venue met my “vision.” The problem was”¦I couldn’t really articulate that vision. I kept changing my idea of what our wedding should be depending on what venue we were looking at. I wanted a chic modern wedding”¦or did I want lots of vintage touches? An ornate mansion or a bare gallery? A large open space or lots of rooms to move around in? My ideas were somewhat schizophrenic—there wasn’t just one wedding I was picturing, there were dozens. I had to force myself to step back and think about what I actually wanted. Wolfman thankfully went along with this entire inner struggle and encouraged me to not only really consider those practical bullet points, but also think about exactly what I wanted our venue to do.

Finally, the answer was to incorporate our adopted city. Once I decided that, the choice was easy”¦and somewhat ironically, we went with one of the first venues we visited: the Whittemore House.


(Image via the Woman’s National Democratic Club)

It’s a 19th century mansion with a lot of amazing DC history (more pictures to come!). It actually also functions as the museum for the Woman’s National Democratic Club. Finding a modern space in the city wasn’t impossible, but in the end having our wedding in a house and neighborhood with its own rich history slowly gained more appeal that hosting in a blank gallery space. I mean”¦Eleanor Roosevelt used to give radio talks from there—how much more DC can you get? I also love that it was formerly a home, because we really want to use the combination of our venue, the season, and our wedding size for a cozy, intimate gathering.

What about you? Did you have one wedding vision”¦or a ton, like me?


Mrs. Gray Wolf

Washington DC
Wedding Date:
February 2013
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  1. graywolf Bee
    graywolf 725 posts, Busy bee @ 6:55 am

    @Blonde17Jess: haha no problem! i literally could have 100 different weddings and be happy i think!

    @KelannaDC: oh man, i’m having venue envy for you! the mayflower is amazing. its much better to have too much room – there’s a lot you can do with lighting and spreading things out to make it seem smaller if you need to.

    @des1982: my advice is just to pick something. once you pick it, don’t let yourself think of the other ones – just start planning for that and you’ll be happy! 🙂

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