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Feb 022016
 

Hello, hello! Today I’m soliciting your feedback on some of the recent wedding venues Fabio and I checked out. I’d love to hear which one you think we should choose!

To give you some background information, we really prioritize the atmosphere of a place; we want people to remember how much fun they had during our event and we don’t care as much about things like food or additional decorations too much. Ideally we are looking for a place where people can spend a long weekend together – almost like a mini destination wedding – although it’s not necessarily a deal breaker for us if a place isn’t set up that way. With all that being said, here are some of the ones we saw!

Chesapeake Bay Beach Club

Ok – so we didn’t actually go see this one, but I am including it on here since it’s been recommended to me by so many people (including many of you!). Fabio and I are already going to a wedding at this venue later this year, and we didn’t want to get married at the same place as two of our close friends. Also, since it’s been recommended to me by so many people (I bet 30 people have mentioned it to me so far) I think I would rather get married somewhere a bit more unique. That being said, I’m sure it’s gorgeous!

Maria’s Love Point

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This was a beautiful bed and breakfast in Kent Island, MD, situated right on the water with beautiful views. The owners of the bed and breakfast would coordinate everything related to the wedding including setting up the tent, ceremony site, parking, etc. We would work through their caterer, and it seemed like logistics would be pretty easy here. When I looked this place up online, I thought you could rent out the whole house and have it to yourself for your event. When we got there though, we realized that the owners live there year-round, and although you could rent a number of rooms it wouldn’t quite be the same as having the place to yourself. Since this venue would basically involve getting married in someone else’s backyard (which we could do just as easily at my grandparents’ house, which I’ll talk more about below), we decided to nix this place. It was very beautiful though, and the owners Ed and Maria seemed like they’d be great to work with.

Swan Cove Manor

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This venue in Cambridge, MD, is more of a house rental property (in fact we found it on Home Away) and it includes three big houses and a smaller bridal suite house that, all together, could sleep 48+ people. It was right on the water with gorgeous views, including the one above which was taken from the living room in one of the houses. Gorgeous! While we liked the houses here, it would require a lot of coordination on our part. Basically we would be renting the property (which was cheap, but not that cheap) and then have to do everything else ourselves. It was also really far away, way out in the middle of nowhere, and you had to drive through a sketchy neighborhood to get to it. We decided to nix this one too.

The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay

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The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay in Cambridge, MD, was absolutely beautiful, and we really liked this venue. We liked that everyone would be able to stay at the same hotel as us, and that there was plenty to do (there was a pool, golf course, small beach, and dock where we could bring over my dad’s boat). The ceremony site we liked best was way out on the water (gorgeous!) and there was a tented pavilion where we would most likely hold our reception (although it would be a tight squeeze with 150+ people). At the end of the tour the kind coordinator Molly took us into the ballroom, which is where the ceremony and reception would be held in the case of inclement weather. I think the ballroom would have been fine for a reception, but I really, really didn’t like it for a ceremony. It looked too much like the conference spaces I go to for work! Molly had told us that if there’s any thunder or lightning at all then the wedding has to be moved indoors, and the decision to move indoors has to be made by noon the day of the wedding. This was a huge downside for us, and that coupled with the high costs of rooms for our guests (about $300/night) and the distance from DC, Baltimore, and New York ultimately caused us to nix this option too.

My grandparents’ house

Photo from over the summer!

My whole life I thought I wanted to get married at my grandparents’ house. It’s right on the water (beautiful) and also holds special sentimental meaning for me since I spent so much of my childhood there. While my grandfather seemed totally fine with us having the wedding there, my grandmother has been a little more hesitant (my aunt got married there a while back, and a hurricane came through and flooded the lawn right before the wedding. It was a lot of work for my grandparents to fix everything up after that). That being said, we still wanted to consider it as an option, so we met with a tent rental company to discuss having it there. While a tent would definitely work on the property, we would again be on our own for many of the logistics, and even if we took care of everything ourselves it would probably still put a lot of pressure on my grandparents. For example, we would need a bathroom trailer brought in so people didn’t go into the house, and that would require backing a big truck out onto the lawn. The dance floor might also damage their grass a bit, and we don’t know how their neighbors would feel about such a big party in a residential neighborhood. Hotels for our guests would also be a big problem, which I explain a bit more below. Because of all these factors, I’m pretty sure we’re going to nix this option too, although it could still be in the running if we decide it makes the most sense budget-wise.

Brittland Estates

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This is the venue that we visited last week and fell in love with! All the time we were looking at venues, we asked ourselves if we liked it as much as Brittland. The answer was almost always, “nope!” Brittland Estates in Chestertown, MD, consists of 500+ acres on the Chester River, and we would be renting out two giant houses for Friday – Sunday of the wedding weekend, which would sleep about 40 people. This was exactly what we were looking for because we could have family and the bridal party stay right in the houses with us, while the rest of the guests stayed in a hotel about 5 minutes down the road. We would get a shuttle to bring the hotel guests over, and encourage everyone to spend a three day weekend with us at Brittland. The grounds included a pool, and we would be able to bring our boat over to take people tubing during the day. We would have a rehearsal dinner BBQ right by the water, and Jack would be allowed to stay there and be in our wedding as the ring bearer. 🙂 Out of all of the houses and grounds that we saw, I think Brittland was definitely the prettiest. The biggest downside was that you’re only paying to rent out the space, and then have to coordinate a tent, caterer, florist, etc. on your own. After thinking it over, I think it would probably be too stressful because if/when something went wrong, I would have no one to call to help me. If people are hanging out by the pool and boat all day, who is going to corral them into getting ready for the wedding? Who is going to tell me when it’s time to walk down the isle? There are just too many variables here, and that, coupled with the hefty price tag of just renting the space alone, is causing us to most likely nix this one too (though we haven’t officially decided on that yet).

Silver Swan Bayside

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Sigh. This place! Silver Swan Bayside in Kent Island, MD, was probably my favorite of the “traditional” wedding venues we saw. It was right on the water, the sun would set right behind the ceremony location, the wedding planner helps to take care of catering and decorations, they have a great rain plan, etc. etc. etc. It was just great. We left this location feeling like this was the place for us, but the more we thought about it, the more downsides we saw. Here’s the biggest one: the hotels closest to Silver Swan are the same hotels used by tons of other wedding venues (Chesapeake Bay Beach Club, Maria’s Love Point, my grandparents’ house, and a couple of others). These hotels sell out very, very quickly, and also cost about $300/night for just a Best Western and a Holiday Inn. If these hotels fill up with other weddings (which they will) our guests would either have to stay in Annapolis, which is not very close and on the other side of the often-traffic-jammed Bay Bridge, or get creative and find some sort of Air BnB somewhere. While we haven’t totally ruled this option out, we are very worried about the hotel situation. It’s also not set up to be a mini destination wedding at all, which was something I was really hoping for.

Aspen Wye River Marriott

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Last but certainly not least, we have my current favorite: the Aspen Wye River Marriott in Queenstown, MD. This one totally caught me off guard; I initially found it when searching for other hotels near my grandparents’ house (to avoid the issue mentioned above) and didn’t even consider having the wedding there. For some reason they have less of an online presence than the other venues, so we just didn’t see that many reviews or pictures of their weddings online. As soon as we got there though, we all fell in love! While the Wye River is technically owned by Marriott, it’s totally different in that it’s only 50 rooms and it can only be rented out to groups (you can’t get a room on your own for just one night). When people have weddings there, they have the whole hotel – which really looks more like a bunch of cute brick houses – to themselves. The grounds are beautiful, and they still have a pool and a dock where we could bring our boat up. They also have a golf course, volleyball net, bikes, a game room, fitness center, and more. The rooms are much more affordable for guests ($200/night) and we would still get the feel of a mini destination wedding by having all our guests here. I’m pretty sure there are cheaper hotels in the area for any guests that don’t stay in the Marriott, and they would be much more affordable. Jack is also allowed! Woohoo! There is also a wedding planner on-site who caters to your every need, and the Marriott takes care of the food, tent, etc. so I wouldn’t have to do any of that myself. Also, the rooms offer a little more privacy than Brittland since they are real hotel rooms (no one has to share a bathroom), and you get the intimacy/fun of staying in a place with all your favorite people with just a little more personal space. Currently this is the leading option, but we haven’t seen the price yet (gulp!) so that could change when we get the estimate later this week.

Phew! And there you have it, a summary of all the wedding venues we considered/are considering. I should mention that while the venues that I nixed might not be exactly what we were looking for, I totally understand how they could be perfect for someone else. We are just trying to find something that fits our own personal preferences. 🙂

Question of the day: Which one do you like best??

 Posted by on February 2, 2016

  16 Responses to “Help Me Choose A Wedding Venue!”

  1. What a fun post! Congrats on your engagement btw!
    I recently got engaged too (back in October) and we live in Fairfax and I work in DC but we’re actually getting married in Nashville as a destination type wedding so seeing some venues you have looked at in this area is fun!

    It sounds like you really like Brittland Estates and it sounds perfect for what you’re looking for. Even though there isn’t anything included maybe you could cut costs here or there and be able to hire a wedding planner or at least a ‘day of/month of’ planner. I hired a wedding planner in Nashville since there’s no way I could plan something down there while living in DC and it is so helpful! I know some planners offer services for just those last minute times for like the last 30-days before the wedding.
    Just go with your gut. It sounds like you have things prioritized which is most important. Anything you choose people will love it regardless and it will be a fairytale.

    However, I say all this but I am terrible at making decisions so I should take my own advise! Enjoying the process of planning is something my fiance and I value so just have fun girl! Looking forward to reading about your planning and what not through your blog since i can relate to the emotions and excitement surrounding the event.

  2. I was reading your post and thinking the same thing. A wedding planner / day of coordinator has been the best money I’ve spent so far. Although all our vendors are incredible and our venue takes care of everything, it’s great to have a neutral party who has the entire schedule and vision, and can get everyone to the right places. Plus, if anything weird comes up, she’s going to take care of it. I feel like I need total control, or to be “all out” so this is the best way for me to enjoy the entire day. They can usually help with advice, discounts, etc too. Someone may be able to even help you narrow down the venue from the start. Good luck and keep us posted. It’s fun to follow along!

    • I agree, having a wedding coordinator was a HUGE help for the wedding! We had a destination wedding in the Caribbean, and our coordinator took care of basically everything for us! She was so helpful in coordinating all the vendors and also telling people what to do. It was SO nice to not have to worry about the guests while I was getting ready, etc.

      Also, I know you’re worried about hotel room price, but I guarantee that most people won’t care that much about $200 vs $300 a night…it’s your wedding! If it’s a “destination” weekend, they will look at it like a mini vacation for themselves too 🙂 I think as long as there are more reasonably-priced options within 30 minutes or so, that would be ok with guests.

      So excited about your wedding planning!! 🙂

    • Thanks, Chelsea! Maybe I’ll see how much coordinators cost and see if it’s in the budget if we choose one of the options without a coordinator.

  3. I just got engaged in October, and I am LOVING these wedding posts! Unfortunately, I don’t really have any advice because I’m really struggling with picking a venue myself. I feel like it’s like buying a house. But just wanted to say congrats, good luck, and keep the wedding posts coming!

  4. What gorgeous places Chelsea!! I’m sure wherever you pick will be the right choice!

    If it were me, it would be either Brittland (and hire a day of wedding coordinator) and Aspen! Your grandparents house is beautiful, but they want to enjoy your wedding, not worry about guests, etc!

    No matter what you so, make sure you have that wedding coordinator on the day of! Seriously though!

    Good luck – can’t wait to see what you decide!

  5. Oh I love wedding planning. I would seriously do it all over again every year! (If we could afford it haha!). Sounds like you have a direction, but one other suggestion is the maritime museum in St. Michaels. My girlfriend got married there last year and it was amazing. You can definitely get a slip to pull the boat up. But you’d be in the same hotel situation as you’ve mentioned above. Most folks stayed in B&Bs (we drove home) bc the Inn at Perry Cabin and other hotels were so expensive.

    One other suggestion to still incorporate your grandparents’ place – if it’s not too far away do your first look there and/or take some pictures there! That way no damage to worry about but you still get to include it. Just a thought!

    Also – a lot of caterers will serve as a day of coordinator – or you can easily find one if you feel like you need the extra help!

  6. Hi Chelsea! What an exciting time for you guys! I wanted to echo the recommendations for a planner or day of coordinator – I felt that working with a planner was the best investment we made for my wedding last spring. From the expert guidance re: vendors and run of show, to the peace of mind (and I have some complicated family dynamics that were rather stressful!) our planning team gave us on the big day, our planning team was an absolute dream and made sure our wedding was flawless. My other piece of advice is to pick the place that you both feel is really true to you – your friends and family are there to celebrate your love and will support you no matter what, but I think it’s much easier for guests to do that when they see/feel how the details of your wedding tell your story. Not sure if that all makes sense but happy to chat if you have any questions!

  7. I commented on a previous post and noted that I loved Chesapeake Bay Club in person and Brittland Estates. I would echo that sentiment of having a wedding coordinator is super important- its such a fast moving and stressful day. What set my venue apart from others was the amazing customer services we had on our first visit- they were amazing and able to work with us on having some special accommodations and I never felt worried about how things would be organized. They did such an awesome job on everything so I would say go with your gut on who will provide the most seamless day for you- no matter where you get married (and all of these options are beautiful) it will be the best day of your life! Good luck 🙂

  8. All of those locations are beautiful! I am not sure you can really make a bad decision for your venue with those being your options! I can help you with a wedding photographer though. We used Amanda Gilley http://www.akgfoto.com/ for our wedding, and she was by far one of the best wedding decisions we made, I send her information out to anyone in need of a photographer, especially for a wedding! Good luck!

  9. All beautiful options! I was in a bridal party for a wedding held at The Oaks in St. Michael’s MD. They have a beautiful waterfront ceremony option and guests can stay onsite at the B&B. My friends parents hosted a brunch at the venue for everyone the next morning too! St. Michael’s has a maritime museum, winery, brewery, distillay and cute shops that could entertain your guests until wedding time! Good luck with the rest of planning!

  10. The Aspen Wye River Marriott is gorgeous!! It sounds like you have so many great options. I got married 3 years ago and we did a tented wedding at a property in PA. The one thing that I would say is logistics are everything. If it seems like you have to do most of the out sourcing it can be a major pain in the you know what. It is definitely nice to have a planner on site and to not have to worry about all of the minute details!

    Side note- have you heard good things about Home Away? I am looking to rent a house for a bachelorette party and hadn’t heard of this site!

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