Welcome back!  This is part two (Check out part one here.) of an advice post on finding a wedding venue in the DC area.  To recap:  Liz (our bride reader) is looking for a wedding venue in Virginia that feels like home, but doesn’t break the bank.  I promise you, this post is full of some good venue search info!  Continue, Liz:

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Photo credits:  Vicki Grafton Photography

Earlier, I outlined resources and tips to help you find a great venue with an at-home feel, and now I’ll tell you what I found in my own search.  The journey is often more important than the destination, but for those brides who want to skip straight to the results here are a few places to get you started.

This is my list of the three places in Virginia that I visited.  (Remember from part one, I had seven venue tours scheduled and ended up only visiting three venues.)  All of these locations are within a 2-hour drive of DC, are current or former residences, and are priced under $4,000.

Murray Hill
Murray Hill is possibly the most beautiful home that I have ever been in.  Peggy and John Rust own and reside on the property, which has been in John’s family for generations.  Peggy is as perky and southern as they come, and you can tell she has put her heart and soul into her home.  The house is truly something out of a magazine, exquisitely decorated, but not so overdone that it feels uncomfortable.  But, it is the grounds that leave no question that this would be an incredible place to get married.  The 57-acre estate is perched above the Potomac River and it seems as if there is no one else around for miles.  It’s like Lewis & Clark discovered the world’s most perfect spot and invited Martha Stewart over to decorate.  There is a gorgeous in-ground pool and boxwood garden where larger weddings can set up a dinner tent, as well as a rustic barn that they hope to use for events in the near future.  For more from Murray Hill, visit their website.

Morven Park
If you know anything about Morven Park, you probably think I am crazy for including it in a list of “homey” wedding venues.  This is a palatial estate in every sense of the word, but Morven Park is a whole lot more than a big white mansion on a hill.  The property contains at least seven locations to choose from for the ceremony or reception.  The staff is incredibly flexible and willing to work with your vision, and since this is a museum a large portion of your rental fee is considered a tax-deductible contribution (parents rejoice!).  Even though the property could easily accommodate several events at a time, they have a strict policy to only rent to one group per day.  On our tour we discovered the most beautiful old magnolia tree in the formal gardens where a ceremony for over 200 people could be held, and a historic old stone carriage house that isn’t even listed on the website.  The carriage house, which has a barn-like feel and is partially open-air, is just past the mansion and available for receptions.  Any rental also includes passes for the history buffs in your group to tour the residence, and with a location just outside of downtown Leesburg, VA there are plenty of nearby options to keep out-of-town guests entertained.  For more from Morven Park, visit their website.

Zion Springs Bed & Breakfast
And, then there is Zion Springs.  This place sort of makes my heart sing.  It’s hard to describe why, it’s just so authentic.  This is a real house with a real family living in it.  The property is lovely and large, with a creek running through it and a well-tended garden and pergola just behind the house.  For a weekend wedding rental you get four overnight suites on Friday and Saturday nights, use of the entire property all weekend, tables and chairs for 200 people, a sound system, and plenty of parking for your guests.  There is a covered deck that can be used in the case of rain and they own propane heaters for chilly nights.  All of this is included in the most reasonable rate we found.   The owners Chris and Jon Tigges, and all six of their children, are about the nicest people you will ever meet.  They will all pitch in, from recommending local vendors, to decorating the yard with luminaries, to setting up equipment and directing traffic, so that your wedding is the weekend you’ve dreamed of.  The Tigges’ seem to take a personal interest in you and your event, which is where I think the singing heart part comes in.  Not only would you get a great location to share the weekend with your friends and family, but you would feel like you had made a whole family of new friends in the process.  For more from Zion Springs, visit their website.

If there is one thing I learned from this process, its that with all the incredible history in the DC area there are tons of off the beaten path venues to discover!  Happy hunting!

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Thanks so much, Liz!  We appreciate all of you words of wisdom and great venue research!  Be sure to look through our vendor guide for venues, or browse our virtual venue tours for more help with your DC-area wedding venue search.

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