We knew what we needed:
- Protection, but not total separation from, the elements. We're getting married in August (this is a change from the last time I said a date - more on that later). That means the venue has to be able to keep everyone cool when it is ungodly hot, and that there has to an outstanding rain plan.
- Low fuss. After the laws changed, we decided to get married in Western New York, close to where I grew up. That means we live 7 hours from the place we're getting married. We don't have the resources or the proximity to completely overhaul a building, or even to bring in more than a few of those sweet little crafty projects. The building has to have good bones. That doesn't mean fancy, or even necessarily pretty. But it has to be easily dressed up (or preferably, not dressed up at all).
- As much included as possible. I know this is a horrible thing to say now, in the time of DIY brides with endless ambition. But when the school year starts, I can't focus on the wedding anymore. That meant we either needed a restaurant with a lot of space and a generous policy about renting the place out, or a really capable caterer who was willing and able to take on a lot of our grunt work.
- Reasonable cost. We're paying for this by ourselves. We are not wealthy people. The end.
After looking at several places outside D.C., we had a decent idea of the style we liked. Something slightly outdoorsy. Lots of wood. Above all, some place comfortable for our guests. So I took to the internet, and looked up every historic building, art gallery, restaurant, park, and even some schools and public spaces in the area.