Alternative DC Wedding?
April 24, 2010 9:36 AM   Subscribe

My fiancée and I are planning to have our wedding during the springtime next year in Washington, DC. Have any ideas for an interesting, DC wedding location (on the cheap)?

We'd like to do something outdoors, and we've looked at several wedding spots in DC, from Dumbarton Oaks, to the Tudor House, to Hendry House (in Virginia), and everything is just so expensive.

Lately we've had the idea to stage a guerilla wedding at the Tidal Basin while the cherry blossoms are blooming. We'd show up and meet our hundred guests under the trees, have a very quick ceremony, kiss, and head back to our H Street neighborhood for cake and dancing. Is this a great, novel idea, or a plan destined for disaster?

Any and all advice, crazy ideas, or anything else would be great!
posted by jacob to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I would look into whether you need a permit to have such a large gathering, and what the ramifications are for not having one.
posted by amicamentis at 9:41 AM on April 24, 2010

Be prepared to have your wedding be the focal point of photos snapped by hundreds of tourists if you go the Tidal Basin route.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:43 AM on April 24, 2010

I like the tidal basin idea a lot. Is it impossible to get a permit?

There are a lot of places in Rock Creek and along the C&O Canal where I've seen large parties, so it must be possible and inexpensive to get permits there. I can't think of any groves of flowering trees in either, but those flowers are very untrustworthy and hard to predict (the cherry blossoms even miss their own festival quiet often, and they have botanist working all winter trying to get the date right.)

The National Arboretum is another possibility.
posted by Some1 at 10:25 AM on April 24, 2010

Tidal Basin! Call The Office of Park Programs! If you're this organized a year in advance, I doubt you're heading for disaster. Also, you might enjoy this article.
posted by runtina at 10:45 AM on April 24, 2010

Looking at gudrun's links reminded me of Hains Point. That would be a great place and it does have cherry trees if you get lucky.

They removed my favorite thing from there though.
posted by Some1 at 10:47 AM on April 24, 2010

I once attended a wedding at the old DC War Memorial, which is across the street from the tidal basin. Name aside, there is nothing overtly war-like about the place, which is very pretty and one of the most peaceful, quiet places around the National Mall - almost no one goes there, so your wedding wouldn't be swamped with tourists. You need a permit from the NPS Division of Park Programs, but from what my friends suggested I don't think it's expensive.

Since it was late spring and there was no rain location, the couple gave out collapsible umbrellas as wedding favors, which I thought was a cute idea.
posted by unsub at 11:44 AM on April 24, 2010

An H Street wedding, you say? Funny you should ask...

MeFi's own MrMoonPie has presided over a number of weddings in the DC area, and might have some ideas for you...
posted by schmod at 2:00 PM on April 24, 2010

This week's Got Plans Chat also had some ideas for reasonably priced, outdoor, springtime, DC weddings.
posted by mcroft at 2:52 PM on April 24, 2010

If you have 75 or fewer guests, you could rent an entire canal boat for $770 and cruise up and down the C&O canal.
posted by carmicha at 5:15 PM on April 24, 2010

Just be careful since you are thinking about the Tidal Basin during peak season, especially over a weekend. This is a HUGE tourist attraction and traffic is going to be horrendous -- some folks sat in their cars for 2 hours just to get a peek at the trees this season, and didn't even get out of their cars! I imagine parking can be tough, too. If you're all metroing, it shouldn't be as logistically difficult, but if you may still have delays (especially if you're getting 100 people there) so leave early.

Good luck to you -- I hope your special day is as wonderful as your imagination can make it!
posted by onlyconnect at 8:14 PM on April 24, 2010

We got married at the Lee-Fendall House in Old Town Alexandria. At the time it was relatively inexpensive, especially compared to someplace like Dumbarton Oaks, but (1) the venue is not huge, so I'm pretty sure 100 would be your limit, and (2) the neighbors are close to the back of the property, so there can't be a heavily amplified band or DJ. So if you want a big ol' bash, it's not the place. If you want a historic building with a lovely outdoor space for an elegant ceremony and reception, it's great.

Aaaand having checked the website, I see that they now have special inflated rates for weddings. That seems so unfair. But maybe if it's a Sunday or something, they might be willing to negotiate. I think we paid $600 for the venue in 2001 -- now it looks like the listed price is $3200 for weddings, whereas the general party rate is closer to what we paid. Then again, Dumbarton was $3500 when we looked, so who knows what they're charging these days.

Maybe all this is just to nth the idea of getting married in a park.
posted by palliser at 9:38 PM on April 24, 2010

Glen Echo Park? If you haven't been their, it started out as a Chautauqua retreat, became an amusement park and has most recently been reincarnated as an arts center. You can hold events in several of the buildings, including cool places like the former bumper car area. There is a carousel. The web site isn't well-organized, so you'll have to poke around it.
posted by carmicha at 4:06 PM on April 27, 2010

and by "their," I mean "there." Duh.
posted by carmicha at 4:07 PM on April 27, 2010

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