Today we are handing over the reins to Bellwether Events’ Janice Carnevale so she can discuss how to design your wedding around the venue of your choosing, instead of trying to fight against it with decor, florals, lighting, and more! Thank you to Kristi Odom Photography for the spectacular photos of Janice’s event.


I’m excited to be on United With Love today talking about how to work with your wedding venue when creating your wedding design. This is not a post about how to turn a bland ballroom into an eclectic French garden, or how to transform a rustic working barn into an elegant and traditional ballroom. (That is a wedding advice post for another day!) I’m here today to talk to you about the importance of working with what your wedding location has to offer and to give you a few tricks for getting the most out of your wedding location.


Picking a venue for your wedding that compliments your desired wedding day design vision is important if you are on any sort of budget. Most engaged couples don’t have unlimited funds to create a total transformation of their wedding venue. So if you can, select a wedding venue that ties into the look, feel and vibe you are going for already. The less you have to do to transform a space, the happier your budget will be.


First, identify the style of your desired wedding venue and determine how it fits within your wedding celebration’s design. Do you want a formal, more elegant wedding? Or, do you want to get married outside in a garden setting? Before you sign on the dotted line with a wedding venue, put some thought into your wedding’s design. Make sure that your wedding venue fits into your overall design. If you booked a rustic barn, I hope you are planning to use natural textures and loose, mixed flowers. If you secured a historic mansion, I hope you’ll consider metallics and soft neutrals for your wedding.

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Second, look at what already exists in your wedding’s location and work with what it already has to offer. Dramatically changing a space can be done, but it is expensive. You will save yourself money by making the space work for your wedding, not against it. Does you your wedding location have tall or low ceilings? Expansive windows with a rooftop view? (I’m thinking of the Newseum in downtown Washington, DC.) How about architectural features such as columns or chandeliers? (The Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC comes to my mind.) Maybe there is a bold carpet in the wedding reception room (Such as the carpet in the Paris ballroom at the Hotel Monaco in DC) or beautiful hardwood floors? (I’m thinking about DAR right near the White House in Washington, DC.)

Once you have a good assessment of what your wedding venue has to offer, decide what you want to point your wedding guests’ eyes towards and what you want to distract them from. Tall ceilings in an event space typically beget tall centerpieces, unless you don’t want to obstruct a rooftop view. Conversely, low ceilings generally feel less claustrophobic with low centerpieces. A bold carpet can be muted with the use of a dark, coordinating linen on all your tables. Are you in love with the dark hardwood floors of your wedding venue? Use a light colored linen for your reception dinner tables to contrast and draw the eye to those beautiful floors.With your wedding location, talk to your wedding planner, florist and rental company about what their recommendations are. What will work in your wedding space? What can you take advantage of and play up for your wedding?

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Third, be sure to ask your venue about the props, decor, rentals and other items that they already have in their inventory for you to use on your wedding. Take particular note of these smaller things that your wedding venue offers, such as tables and chairs or mounted decor. The less you have to do and rent for your wedding, the more you invest in other areas of your guests’ experience.

My clients saw that Riverside on the Potomac had a whole bunch of fun small props like the wooden chicken and the metal rooster and knew that we would be able to incorporate them in the tablescape. And since the venue provides perimeter benches in the cocktail hour space, we brought in some DIY throw pillows that also played on our rustic theme. Another great example of making use of what a wedding location already has is the Hay-Adams Hotel near the White House in Washington, DC. They recently renovated their ballroom and built the event space’s ceiling to accommodate rigging for hanging decor. If you are dreaming about a hanging chandelier of flowers or a wave of ribbons for your wedding, then this is a wedding venue you could consider.

Maybe it is as simple as using the chairs that come with your wedding venue. If you’re on a budget for your wedding and the gold chivari chairs are free at your wedding location, then use them, even if it means tweaking your decor plan a little bit! Whether it is already installed or you can rent it directly from your wedding venue, you’d be penny wise to take advantage of the “perks” that your chosen wedding location already has.



The last piece of wedding planning and budget advice that I have for you about how to work with your wedding location is to consider lighting. Flowers, props and rented decor are not the only ways to accent a wedding venue. Lighting is a great way to highlight or downplay areas of your wedding venue. Hate the chandeliers? Don’t turn them on. Instead use uplights, pinspots and a dance floor wash to light the room instead. Does your wedding location have beautiful columns or a ceiling that you want your wedding guests to notice? Shine a light on it. It doesn’t even have to be a light with color; sometimes a simple white light is best.

There are so many different wedding locations here in the DC area to choose from that there is no need to force your location into your desired vision. From big to small, indoor to outdoor, rustic to traditional, there is just about every style of wedding location in the DC area to choose from. Engaged couples can find just about any type, style and budget location for their special day and then make that venue work for their wedding!

Thank you to Bellwether Events’ Janice Carnevale for taking the time to guest write for our blog today! Check out our other advice posts with the help of our local DC area wedding vendors!

Photo Credits: Kristi Odom Photography

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