Veritas Vineyard wedding ceremony

Ceremony-Only Wedding Venues

Here is the truth: in the age of Covid-19, almost all venues would consider being a ceremony-only wedding venue. I’ve been getting at least 2 micro wedding inquiries each day for the last month. Because these couples all have different needs and visions, I’ve been reaching out to many DC wedding venues. Almost all of them are open to hosting a ceremony only, and almost all of them have modified their pricing structure to be hourly versus a fee for the whole day. The hourly pricing structure is much more appropriate for a ceremony-only wedding celebration.

Anderson House wedding ceremony
Anderson House | Sincereli

Ceremony Only Wedding Venue Timeline

Consider this sample timeline for a ceremony-only wedding at a DC venue:

11:00 am: Set up begins for chairs, flowers, musicians.

12:00 pm: Guests begin to arrive for the ceremony

12:30 pm: Wedding ceremony time!

1:00 pm: Wedding ceremony ends. Photos are taken, and then guests depart

1:30 pm: All guests are gone, chair breakdown begins.

2:00 pm: All vendors are out of the venue.

As you can see above, you will need about 3 hours at the venue for your 30-minute wedding ceremony. If you want to add a short champagne and cake reception onto this, not only will you need more time between the ceremony end and the chair breakdown, but you might need more set up time on the front end, possibly taking you to a 5-hour rental.

Hendry House wedding ceremony
Stephanie Dee Photography

Ceremony Only Wedding Costs

I have found DC wedding venues are in the $700-$1000 per hour range right now. If you leave DC proper and head into the suburbs, you might be looking at a rate of half that much. The best deals for a ceremony-only wedding venue is at a county- or state-run location or park, such as Hendry House in Arlington. (above)

amazing white floral wedding arch
Katie Stoops Photography

You might want to have some stunning decor for your wedding ceremony, especially if you are hiring a photographer and plan to share the news of your marriage far and wide. I recently looked back at some of my favorite wedding decor pieces and what they cost.

If not a ceremony backdrop, maybe you will want personal flowers – often a bouquet for the ladies, and a boutonniere for the gents. I recently rounded up 111 bridal bouquets from the past 14 years.

DAR DC wedding portico custom crest lighting gobo
Sage String Quartet | Kurstin Roe Photography

Other costs to consider for your ceremony-only wedding are the music and your officiant. Maybe you bring in a DJ to cover the prelude, processional and recessional. You can also hire a solo live musician, such as a guitarist or a harpist. There are also duo, trio, and quartet options when you look into strings groups.

And you will need someone to perform the legal ceremony. Virginia is the strictest, requiring you to use either an officer of the court or a religious reader. Both DC and Maryland are more flexible, allowing one-time officiants to sign a marriage license, so check out how to write your own wedding ceremony if you go that route. If writing your ceremony on your own is too daunting, Provenance can help you with that! It is really good AI and my clients love using it for their wedding ceremonies. Some even share it with their besties for help with toast-writing!

Questions? Reach out! I’m always happy to help anyone trying to navigate these challenging times!