Dumbarton House wedding DC

Dumbarton House Wedding Costs: How Much Should I Budget?

How much will your wedding at Dumbarton House cost? This is what you want to know, what you need to know, right? I’ve planned my fair share of weddings at Dumbarton House over the past half-decade, and I have a firm grip on the cost of weddings there. So, today I’m going to do a deep dive into the costs associated with a wedding at Dumbarton House. I present: a sample Dumbarton House wedding budget!

dumbarton house wedding cost - sample budget

First, please note that the wedding budget below does not include any costs for wedding attire, accessories, or alterations. There is simply no way for me to predict what you will spend on those items.

Second, this wedding budget is based on 130 guests. Dumbarton House publishes higher numbers as their max capacity, but having worked many events there, and having created many floor plans for the Lower Terrace and Belle Vue Room, I feel strongly about head counts.

Dumbarton House Wedding Floor Plans

Dumbarton House wedding reception floor plan 152 seats
152 seats with a DJ and dance floor
Dumbarton House wedding reception floor plan 136 seats
136 Seats with a Band and Dance Floor

If you’re having a band, 136 is your maximum capacity. If you are having a DJ, you can accommodate 152 as a maximum headcount. When you are maxing out seating capacity at Dumbarton House, there is no space for a dessert buffet, a coffee station, a photo booth – all you’re putting up are your dinner tables, a dancing area, the entertainment, and a bar. Don’t forget that the staircase in the rear of the Belle Vue room is the main path to the restrooms and needs to remain clear. If you want to read more about RSVP response rates, check out my previous post on real wedding statistics.

Dumbarton House wedding DC outdoor ceremony

Dumbarton Wedding Cost Break Down

Dumbarton House wedding rentals are by the hour. Nine hours really is the minimum here. You need 2.5 hours before your ceremony call time, and 90 minutes to load out on the back end. If you have a lot of different companies all trying to load in at the same time, you may need more than 2.5 hours on the front end. Dumbarton House hosts many events every day of the week, and you cannot count on earlier access unless you book it in advance.

There are quite a few options when it comes to tents. You can do a white top or a clear top. You can do a basic lighting package or upgrade to bistro lights or twinkle lights. I recommend you add the tent leg drapes. And you may want to add heaters or fans, depending on the weather. All of these options will drive up your tenting costs. It is also required for a catering tent installed in the parking lot, just off the Lower Terrace.

Dumbarton House wedding DC clear top tent magnolias

Catering for weddings has a lot of variables, but given the difficulty of working at Dumbarton House, leading to a need for a lot of staff, I think $185/person is a minimum spend here. This will include rentals like linens, tables, chairs, and china/silverware/glassware. It should also include ice, bar fruit and all your nonalcoholic beverages. Sometimes you can squeeze dessert costs into your catering budget. Dumbarton House allows their wedding clients to bring in their own alcohol, and this can be a savings of thousands of dollars. Be sure to schedule it to be dropped off and picked up during your rental time period.

There is a lot of variances out there in photography costs. You could spend half this, you could spend double this. But I do think the specs are the minimums that you will need from a photographer.

Wedding stationery is a place where you can spend a lot more than I noted here. And you could probably spend less than I listed as well.

Dumbarton House wedding DC bridesmaids magnolias

Flowers are completely unpredictable these days. This is a nice budget to cover a lot of ground at Dumbarton House for your wedding.

Wedding entertainment is a very personal choice, so I’ve noted a few options here. I recommend cocktail hour entertainment that does not need power, as there is only one power source near the North Terrace and the location is a little awkward.

I am biased, but I think you should at least have an experienced, professional wedding coordinator for your Dumbarton House wedding. If you are interested in partial or full planning wedding services, it will cost more.

You could hire 2 buses or you could hire valet services and spend about the same amount. Either way, you need to think about how your guests will get to and from your Dumbarton House wedding.

In DC, you do not need to hire a professional wedding ceremony officiant, as anyone can get one-time permission from the city. You have to list your officiant on your marriage license application so their steps need to be taken earlier than yours – make sure this is on your planning schedule. DC also now offers the option to “self marry” where you can sign your own marriage license as the officiant. If you decide to get married offsite, I would estimate that your church costs will be around $2000.

Micro wedding DC Dahlgren Chapel Georgetown ceremony

Favor and welcome bags are completely optional, but I put some placeholder figures in here that I think are fair.

MUAH stands for Make Up and Hair, aka beauty services. I included a minimum spend for one bride only. My clients are often spending around $2000 to cover services for their wedding party as well.

Gratuities are never expected but so appreciated. So budgeting for them in advance is always smart. Catering staff, bands, set up teams, and more are often tipped at weddings.

Specialty rentals are totally optional, but a nice touch for your North Terrace cocktail hour. You can expect a lounge and a bar/bar back to have a minimum spend of $2500.

I always include a miscellaneous line item. I keep it at $500 for secular weddings, and it can include your marriage license and your guest book. For Jewish weddings, I bump it up to $1000 so that we can cover items such as the kippot and ketubah.

Many venues require that you carry an extra layer of insurance for the wedding. I put this on all my clients’ budgets as a placeholder, and most opt to get it, even if the venue does not require it.

You do not “need” uplights in Belle Vue, but they can be a nice addition; this line item is for informational purposes.

Dumbarton House wedding DC dancing
Kate Headley Photography

All photos by Kate Headley except the Dahlgren Chapel is by Steve & Jane.

If you enjoyed reading about DC wedding costs, I have more for you: Decatur House wedding costs, Meridian House wedding costs, Hotel Monaco DC wedding costs, Woodend Sanctuary wedding costs, and DAR wedding costs. I also wrote a post about how much different wedding decor pieces cost.

You can fill out this form and I will send you a DC wedding budget custom to your specifications!