There is nothing like the feel of a big city; it’s the rush of all the city elements and the eclectic vibe that transcends through you. Our couples love the experience that Washington, DC offers from the national monuments and museums to the nightlife, vast history, and unparalleled dining cuisines offered within 68-square miles. It is the city that gives the unexpected energy that you didn’t know you deserved. When planning your wedding you want to bestow upon your guests this ultimate city-experience because it is the city you adore. Preparation is essential when hosting a city wedding and I want to lend some guidance on things to be aware of that will elevate your celebration while minimizing havoc.
The city is not like the suburbs when it comes to parking. So, you can imagine when guests arrive that are acquainted with the ease of parking and arrive in a city, and they are challenged with what to do when navigating their arrival for an event. Parking not only becomes a concern for your guests but also for your vendors who also are seeking ease of access.
Plan in advance by knowing your parking garages in the area. In a city such as Washington, DC, there is usually a minimum of two-(2) parking garages per city block. The garages are privately managed and can be contacted to get detailed information such as the name of the garage, hours of operation, costs, exact address, height restrictions, and if you can reserve parking in advance. If your wedding is at a hotel or venue that has its own parking garage, determine the available types of parking such as self-parking or valet parking, and the costs. Inquire if you can pay for the parking for your guests if budget allows. Another option is to hire private valet service such as Marc Parc Valet or Unipark Valet (two of the most recommended companies in the DC area for valet parking for events). This is pertinent information you can provide to guests who would be driving into the city for your wedding.
Reserve street parking with city permits is a frequent part of logistics in my role as a planner especially if my couple has reserved chauffeured transportation or food truck at the end of the night. With limited parking, I eliminate this dice throwing game of parking by reserving parking spaces (temporary occupancy permit) through the city government. This is an online process in which you complete a series of questions regarding your wedding location. To complete this form, you will need to know the exact street address (from block to block) of where you want to reserve spaces and the number of spaces. Submission should be done at minimum 15-days in advance of your event. Once you receive approval, you will have to pick up at a local kiosk location which is usually a police station. The signs are heavy duty but due to inclement weather, I recommend laminating the signs at your local print store. Lastly, post your signs in the designated areas 72-hours in advance to your wedding that gives ample visibility of notice for individuals to know not to park on your day. There is a minimum fee of approximately $50.
Enjoying the city elements and hosting one of the most important days of your life, doesn’t mean that you are the only person hosting an event. Research and inquire if there are any major sporting events, parades, marathons, movie-sets, scheduled protests, etc., in your area. As a Planner in Washington, DC I have experienced all these unique situations and more. Plan accordingly with identifying alternate routes and providing ample timing of travel for private transportation, offsite picture opportunities, informing vendors and guests, on how to navigate through the external events not related to your wedding. It is essential to have a meeting with your vendors to review this information with them so that you can eliminate any delays on your wedding day.
Washington, DC serves as an open canvas of endless opportunities for monumental locations to host a wedding ceremony. One of the most popular monument locations my couples love to host their wedding ceremony is at the DC War Memorial. This picturesque landscape provides the perfect moment to state that you had a DC wedding! Because it is a monument regulated by a government entity, the National Park Service which is part of DC Department of Parks and Recreation (an agency of the United States federal government), a “Special Use Permit” is required (fee approximately $90). Unlike a private venue, monuments have limited access and comes with a host of restrictions so be aware of these details. At our local DC monuments, you are limited to only 2-hours of event time which includes, setup, breakdown, and event time. Applications are accepted up to one year in advance and a minimum of four days from the day of your wedding. Be sure to have your permit on hand with you on wedding day as the park police are constantly on patrol and they do inquire!
After your wedding ceremony, you want to continue to take advantage of the picturesque landscape that your city provides by taking your wedding portraits at monuments or historic buildings. A city such as Washington, DC a “filming and photography permit” is required to photograph/video at any federal government building to include national monuments. The costs for special permits are based on the number of persons participating in the photo/video; approximately $50 to $150. If you have hired a professional photographer, they will usually take on this task and pass on the cost of the permit to you.
Navigating city streets can be a little intimidating if you have guests that are residents of small towns or suburban areas. To give them a relaxed and enjoyable experience, hire chauffeured transportation to transfer guests to and from you’re their hotel to your wedding location(s). Based on your guest size, you can reserve either 30 or 55-passenger buses to provide continuous pick-up times for your guests for the start of your wedding and after the wedding to take them back to their hotel. To enhance the travel experience with your transportation company, add these essential details:
Signage is added on the main window of the bus with your event name; example – Smith/White Wedding. This signage is visible to your guests so they can easily identify the bus that is coming to pick them up. This is a request you can put in with the transportation company that they can provide, or you can make your own branded wedding sign.
Give exact pick up and drop off times to your transportation company, the hotel, and post on your wedding website visible to your guests.
Have a transportation coordinator to travel with the bus to manage your guest’s pickup and drop-offs, and this person will walk into the hotel to make sure that they are identified by your guests. This person can be hired through the transportation company, or as an added service from your Planner (it is a service we provide to our clients).
If your budget does not allow for chauffeured transportation, inform your guests through your wedding website to utilize a ridesharing service such as UBER, Lyft, Alto, etc., to coordinate their transportation to and from your wedding day activities. Encourage your guests to reserve their service in advance through the app, as this is an excellent feature in which they do not have to worry about coordinating on actual wedding day. In addition, this is a service you can use for your wedding party and for yourself with an elevated service such as UBER BLACK. UBER BLACK provides luxury vehicles for occasions such as weddings that you can also schedule in advance. You can provide your wedding party with UBER gift cards to use so they can schedule their own or provide this as a task for your best man and maid of honor to coordinate. Ridesharing services eliminates the challenges of searching for parking and allows you and or your guests to be dropped off at the front door of your wedding venue.
With living in any city, nonetheless, planning an event, there is the challenges of heavy traffic and unexpected delays (construction, major sporting events, parades, marathons, movie-sets, scheduled protests, etc.), so it is essential to make sure that you have allotted appropriate timing and have identified alternate routes to navigate through your day. So, be aware of the surroundings of the city. Inquire with your venue of their knowledge, research on the internet, and the local news to stay informed of what’s going on in the city. Breathe and relax and give grace as these things are out of your control no matter how much you plan.
City weddings are an open canvas to an infinite array of entertainment for your guests that you do not have to create yourself. Simply provide them with a list of some of your favorite locations and links to key resource pages for them to explore on their own. In Washington, DC the city yields major sporting events, national monuments that are rich in history, unique pop-up experiences related to culture, retail therapy, hotels of various price points and levels of hospitality experience, an array of dining experiences, nightlife, and so much more. These are things that can be accessible to your guests by placing this information on your wedding website or inserts inside of your hotel welcome gifts.
Secondly, cities provide the best photo opportunities to capture the full experience of your wedding and providing variety in the look of your day. From monuments to city streets, to photographic murals painted on the side of buildings, to incorporating your favorite casual hang-out locations in your wedding photos. The photographic options in a city are endless and it allows you to embody the culture and vibe of your wedding day.
When it comes to planning a city wedding, it is essential to think of all the elements that will affect your wedding day. Create an effective timeline that encompasses all details. Map it out and work out the logistics and communicate with all necessary parties about any challenges that you may face on your wedding day.