Ultimate Guide to DAR Weddings in DC (1)

The Ultimate Guide to DAR Weddings in Washington DC – Updated 2024

Welcome to our Ultimate Guide to DAR Weddings in Washington DC! Daughters of the American Revolution weddings are some of our favorite weddings to plan. This DC wedding venue is just simply spectacular. It is in a great location in Washington DC with ideal hotels nearby, and typically there is ample street parking. It is a historic property yet also a blank slate for a wide range of design aesthetics and color palettes.

For this ultimate guide to DAR weddings in Washington DC, we will offer tips and advice for every element of a DAR wedding in Washington DC. We will show you real floor plans and link to a sample budget. We’re going to go through the wedding day in the way that your guests will experience the venue. So we will start with their entrance to DAR!

Tips for Entering DAR for Your Wedding Day

There are two main entrances to DAR for your wedding: C Street and 17th Street. C Street is popular because your guests will end up on the Portico, where they may either be sitting for your wedding ceremony or joining your cocktail reception if your ceremony was offsite.

DAR wedding Terrace welcome drinks
Kurstin Roe Photography
DAR wedding by top DC wedding planner Bellwether Events - Pennsylvania Foyer welcome station
Kurstin Roe Photography

If arriving on 17th Street, your guests will come through the grand wooden doors, and arrive in the Pennsylvania Foyer. From here, they might be headed into the Library for your cocktail hour (if your ceremony was offsite and only at/after 6 pm Mon.-Sat.), or they will be headed to the Portico for a ceremony or cocktail hour. If the latter, they will have to pass through O’Byrne to get to the Portico. At this point in the day, your O’Byrne set-up should be nearly complete. If you wish to keep the set-up a surprise, you’ll need an installation to keep it out of sight. In the photo below, we used a hard wall flanked by drape to keep the O’Byrne dinner reception a surprise until after cocktail hour.

DAR wedding O'Byrne Gallery
Kurstin Roe Photography

Both of these entrances require your guests to walk up 1.5 flights of stairs. There is access for wedding guests in a wheelchair. The ground floor entrance on C street, just past the Portico stairs, will take you to an elevator. You will then wind through the building to get to the O’Byrne Gallery. Someone should be designated to work with a DAR staffer to help your wheelchair-bound guests through this path. This path is necessary for those in wheelchairs, but it is a very long walk. But if you have folks who just have trouble with long walks, I think going up the stairs will ultimately be less work.

Colorful Spring DAR wedding ceremony - pre-ceremony cocktails

Stephen Bobb Photography

It is common now to offer your guests a drink when they arrive to your wedding venue. In the summer this can be something cold, even a popsicle. In early Spring or late Fall you could also offer a warm beverage. It is important to receive anything your guests might be holding (a coat or a gift) before offering the drink. This means setting up the gift table before the guests encounter the drinks. The coat check for DAR is a closet in the Pennsylvania Foyer. Ultimate Guide to DAR Weddings pro tip: Be sure to have your caterer set up a drop table and staff this closet if you think there will be a lot of coats.

Advice for DAR Wedding Ceremonies

dar wedding ceremony Terrace
Kurstin Roe Photography
DAR DC wedding outdoor ceremony
Stephen Bobb Photography

The DAR Rotunda and Portico are fantastic places to host a DAR wedding ceremony. A wedding ceremony on the DAR Portico gives you that stunning backdrop with the Washington Monument. A DAR Rotunda wedding ceremony offers shelter from light rain while allowing you to host your ceremony outdoors. I have squeezed 92 chairs onto the Rotunda for a ceremony.

DAR Wedding DC October wedding ceremony on the portico

MK McKenna Photography

Wedding ceremony at Washington DC DAR - Bellwether Events, Lisa Boggs Photography
Lisa Boggs Photography

I have had poor weather at the Daughters of the American Revolution force wedding ceremonies into the O’Byrne Gallery. This is hardly a slouch of a Plan B. Those hardwood floors! Those classic white walls with architectural detailing. I couldn’t ask for a better wedding ceremony Plan B location in Washington DC! You can easily set 120 chairs here.

Daughters of the American Revolution wedding ceremony in O'Byrne Gallery
Matt Mendelsohn Photography
DAR wedding ceremony - Pennsylvania Foyer
Genevieve Leiper Photography

As a second indoor option, you can have your DAR wedding ceremony in the Pennsylvania Foyer. We squeezed 84 chairs in here. (Related: how to write your own wedding ceremony script.)

Ultimate Guide to DAR Weddings pro tip: your DAR wedding ceremony chairs will be moved inside for the dinner reception. There is no need to rent a second set for dinner, and frankly, there is no place to store an unused set of chairs at DAR!

DAR Cocktail Hour Logistics

Engaged couples have at least two great cocktail hour options at DAR. My first choice is to host your wedding cocktail hour in the Library. This room will cause your wedding guests’ jaws to drop. The DAR Library is such an impressive room. The Library remains open to the public until 5 pm (except on Sundays when it is closed), so your cocktail hour cannot begin before 6 pm, but you don’t NEED to set up all that much for your wedding cocktail hour! I often don’t put anything in there except maybe a few high cocktail rounds. There is already plenty of seating and tables in the Library. You set up your bar in the Pennsylvania Foyer and you can display your escort cards or seating chart in the Library if you don’t put them in the Pennsylvania Foyer.

DAR champagne tower Library
Stephen Bobb Photography

Sometimes you can use the ending of cocktail hour in the DAR Library to offer a toast. This is a nice way to transition to O’Byrne Gallery for dinner. (Related: Toast Writing Tips.)

DAR cocktail hour toast Library
Matt Mendelsohn Photography

Another popular DAR wedding cocktail hour location is the other side of the Portico—the non-Washington Monument side. If you have great weather on your wedding day, this is a great spot for your wedding guests to mix and mingle. There are even more options: if you are dining in the Library, you could have a cocktail in the O’Byrne Gallery! If your ceremony is in O’Byrne and you aren’t renting the Library, you could also use the Pennsylvania Foyer.

Kurstin Roe Photography
colorful lounge seating on the Terrace - Colorful Spring DAR wedding

Stephen Bobb Photography

DAR Dinner Reception Tips

When planning your wedding dinner reception at DAR, your guest count is the determining factor of which space you can use and the table layout.

DAR wedding reception - dinner in the library
Lisa Boggs Photography

A wedding reception in the Library can accommodate 106 people for a seated dinner, if you put the couple in a balcony box. Three tables seat 18, and three tables seat 12. No, you cannot squeeze more people at these tables. There is also one small table without lamps that can accommodate 8, and you can bring in a small round table for more seating. Ultimate Guide to DAR Weddings pro tip: these smaller tables won’t have lamps on them, so I recommend hitting them with pin spots or bringing a battery-powered table lamp.

If you dine in the Library, plan for all your guests to remove all of their personal items when they transition back to O’Byrne for the rest of the night. Set up as many casual tables as you can and possibly also set up storage cubbies.

A wedding reception in the O’Byrne Gallery can maximally accommodate 140 when you seat 10 people at each of 14 total round tables. But I think 120 is a more suitable capacity. Typically I see a mix of round tables with a long rectangular head table for the wedding party. If you have 108 or fewer guests, you could do two long rectangular tables.

DAR wedding reception O'Byrne Gallery
Genevieve Leiper Photography

I think you could accommodate 90-100 more guests if you tented one side of the Portico. A clear top tent with string lights or glam chandeliers would be stunning on the DAR Portico! I’ve also heard of couples seating up to 60 guests for dinner in Pennsylvania Foyer, if you don’t need that space for something else.

Dancing at Your DAR Wedding

The most popular place to dance at Daughters of the American Revolution is on the Rotunda. I know that it looks small, but it really is enough space. Below, you see a 9-piece wedding band set up! If the weather is uncooperative, you can dance in the O’Byrne Gallery (if you dined in the Library) or in the Pennsylvania Foyer (if you dined in O’Byrne.) But unless it is raining sideways or below 64 degrees, you will probably be fine on the Portico. You are allowed to rent umbrella heaters if temperatures are cooler – ask Amanda for the preferred vendor.

If you dined in the Library, you will likely dance in O’Byrne. If the weather isn’t cooperating, and you dined in O’Byrne, you will dance in the Pennsylvania Foyer.

DAR DC wedding winter gold and white Pennsylvania Foyer

Astrid Photography

As you can see, this is a flexible wedding venue with many options for your wedding plans. DAR in Washington DC offers a classic and timeless backdrop for any couple looking for a historic wedding venue.

DAR Wedding Costs

The Ultimate Guide to DAR weddings in Washington DC would never be complete without a discussion of the cost. I have written a long post about DAR wedding costs, but I’ll give you Cliff’s Notes. DAR is $10,500 to rent (as of 2024) – more if you use the Library or need a longer rental timeframe. Your venue rental fee should be at most 12% of your overall wedding budget. $10,500 is 12% of $90,000. The sample budget in the link totals more than $90K, but I give you tips on where to trim or splurge. I’d also like to note that in 2023 my clients were spending an average of $800 per guest. Enjoy the read!

If you want more info on what wedding decor items cost, I wrote about my favorite wedding decor elements.

Sample Wedding Floor Plans for DAR

DAR wedding floor plan sample

Above: DAR wedding with 83 guests. Guests for this wedding entered from the grand steps on 17th Street. We had a wall installed to block the view of dinner tables set O’Byrne when they walked through. After the ceremony, guests retraced their steps back through the Pennsylvania Foyer to go to the Library for cocktails. During the cocktail hour, we moved the wall to be the bar back on the Rotunda. We also flipped the welcome sign in the Pennsylvania Foyer to be the seating chart. When you use the Library, it will only be for that one part of the day, so you’ll want to set up a bar that is accessible after dinner. 

DAR wedding floor plan sample

Above: DAR wedding with 90 wedding guests. This wedding moved the ceremony to the Pennsylvania Foyer due to low temperatures but everything else was done to the original plan. The cocktail hour (with heaters!) was on the Portico, dinner was in O’Byrne and dancing was on the Rotunda.

DAR wedding floor plan sample

Above: 120 wedding guests. The weather cooperated and we were able to do everything as planned outdoors. Guests entered from the steps on C Street. We had the ceremony and cocktails on the Portico, dinner in O’Byrne, and dancing on the Rotunda.

DAR wedding floor plan sample

Above: DAR wedding with 124 wedding guests. We had the ceremony outside, though it’s not marked here. We moved the cocktail hour to the Library due to chilly weather and we did a champagne tower there. After dinner in O’Byrne, we danced outside. 

DAR constitution hall sample wedding floor plan
DAR DC Pennsylvania Foyer sample wedding floor plan

Above: A DAR winter wedding with 90 guests. We had the ceremony outside, cocktail hour in the Library and PA foyer, dinner in O’Byrne and then due to cool temps, we danced in the Pennsyvlanaie Foyer – a first for me! Ultimate Guide to DAR Weddings pro tip: We added some pipe & drape at the last minute to frame the band and help dampen the echo. I wish I’d also had some area rugs for the band to perform on.

DAR constitution hall sample wedding floor plan

Above: A Spring DAR wedding for 130 guests. It went just as planned: guests entering at C Street for the outdoor ceremony, a second line led by the bagpiper around to the 17th Street doors, cocktail hour in the Library, dinner in O’Byrne and dancing on the Rotunda.

DAR Wedding Photo Op Ideas

DAR offers so many great spots for pictures, for both groups and just the couple. I highly recommend doing a first look before the ceremony so that you can really optimize all these great spots. Make sure your wedding day timeline also denotes the time of sunset, to take advantage of golden hour.

DAR wedding balcony portrait
Kurstin Roe Photography

I love the balcony at DAR. It offers this cool patina-ed backdrop and a great view of the Washington Monument.

DAR wedding DC bride and groom balcony portrait
Kurstin Roe Photography
dar wedding photo - group portrait - wedding party
Stephen Bobb Photography
DAR DC wedding photo candles
Kurstin Roe Photography
DAR wedding washington DC Bellwether Events
Genevieve Leiper Photography

With that stunning view of the Washington Monument from the Portico of the Daughters of the American Revolution. You will want to get both daytime and nighttime photos with the monument backdrop. Ultimate Guide to DAR Weddings pro tip: Make sure to note this in your wedding day timeline so that it’s not forgotten.

I hope you enjoyed my Ultimate Guide to DAR Weddings in Washington DC. If anything is unclear, if I missed something, or if you have questions, please contact me. I want to help you plan your DAR wedding!