Local Wedding Venues Offer Unique Experiences

Staircase in the Royal Sonesta (Photo provided)

After, of course, choosing the person to marry, choosing a venue can be one of the most important decisions of a wedding.

Luckily, the Baltimore area offers a wide variety of different venues to fit almost any taste. Thinking of a pretty small wedding? Check out The Oregon Grille.

The Hunt Valley steakhouse prides itself on its class. David Derewicz, its general manager, said the restaurant sees not only small, intimate wedding receptions, but also frequently rehearsal dinners. The Oregon Grille probably hosts about 80 to 100 weddings and rehearsal dinners a year, he said.

“We’ve got a lot of elegance and a lot of charm,” he added. “So, people who want to do something a little different come to us,”

According to Derewicz, couples are coming in more educated and with specific tastes than in the past. They want a wedding to be unique and remembered, he said, a sentiment echoed by other venues.

Jay Day, director of catering for Royal Sonesta, agreed, adding that those planning a wedding often want it to be customizable based on their desires.

“I think what the trend is is that there’s not really any discernable trend,” Day said, “because wedding clients are much different today than years before. Everything is much more individualized.”

The Royal Sonesta is a smaller hotel near the Inner Harbor that is the “least hotel-like hotel,” as Day called it. It features three separate ballrooms, which often means couples can have the ceremony in one, a cocktail hour in another and the reception in the third. The hotel’s main front staircase is also a big draw for all the wedding party photos.

“The advantage to a hotel is that it’s a blank slate, but the basics are always provided,” Day said, adding that because they do about 35 to 40 weddings a year, he is able to be the one point person for each couple’s wedding and planning.

Part of that individualized wedding might be looking for the wedding weekend to be an experience. La Banque de Fleuve in Havre de Grace is ready and willing to provide that, said owner and operator Kimberly Barth. La Banque de Fleuve actually has two venues — one by land and one by sea.

1840s Plaza (Photo provided)

By land, there is the converted old First National Bank of Havre de Grace (built in 1905), now a reception hall with vaunted ceilings, decorative wrought iron and marble walls. By sea is the outdoor waterfront setting, where couples and guests can dance the night away under the stars. Even more adventurous? The bride can arrive by sea plane and coast right up to the venue dock.

“It’s a beautiful waterfront venue with a view of the Chesapeake,” said Barth. “I think the number one thing brides want is something that no one else has, which we have. I think exclusivity is really big right now.”

Barth said nearly 40 percent of the weddings there are not from the area. Havre de Grace is a charming waterfront town, she said, that also offers the best of shopping as well as catering and bridal boutiques, making it a one-stop shop for couples — and a destination.

Those looking to go even more historic can hit up the 1840s Plaza in Baltimore. The building, which once housed the Baltimore City Life Museum, now has three floors used for events, including weddings. The top floor is the traditional, formal ballroom. The second floor includes vestiges of museum exhibits, including the historic White Tower Diner, and murals on the walls. The first floor is more of a banquet and dancing setting, with Latin-inspired décor.

“Overall, what I think attracts people [to us] is the feeling of Baltimore and history of the city,” said Kelsey Spriggs, event manager.

According to Spriggs, 1840s Plaza hosts a number of weddings, but also rehearsal dinners, particularly from people of the region since the space inhabits so much of Baltimore’s history and spirit.

Many couples these days want their weddings to be as unique as they are, and these local venues are all working to ensure just that.

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