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From tailored touches to high-energy after-parties, 2023 has seen a wave of new maximalist and guest-centric wedding trends to create inclusive celebrations for all couples. Keep reading for your guide to the hottest venues, menu items and more, and learn how to include them in your weekend-long Alexandria, VA, celebration.

Full Venue & Hotel Buyouts

Pictured: Above ALX; Image Credit: Jacob Williams Photography


Couples are thinking big with maximalist settings featuring striking architecture or artwork, inspiring views and exclusive full venues or hotel buyouts for a multi-day wedding celebration itinerary.

In Alexandria, this could include The Athenaeum, painted salmon pink and built in the Greek Revival-style, or the Alexandria, Egypt-inspired George Washington Masonic National Memorial. Art-inclined couples may want to rent out the Torpedo Factory Art Center, the nation’s largest collection of active artists’ studios under one roof, or mesmerize guests with panoramic views on the ALX Atrium’s Above ALX rooftop.

Expect to see additional options with venues covering their bases—literally—with rentable tents set up in gorgeous settings. In and around Alexandria, try a tented event when you buy out historic venues including Gunston Hall, the home of George Mason, Woodlawn & Pope-Leighey House, boasting architecture spanning nearly 150 years, or Carlyle House, an 18th-century stone mansion owned by one of Alexandria’s founders. Or experience 25 acres of lush gardens and woods overlooking the Potomac River at American Horticultural Society’s River Farm, just four miles south of Old Town.

For hotel buyouts, try one of Alexandria’s signature wedding hotels including The Westin Alexandria Old Town, Hilton Old Town Alexandria, Embassy Suites or Sheraton Suites Old Town Alexandria. Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, located in Alexandria’s West End, is the city’s largest hotel property, while The Alexandrian Old Town Alexandria, Autograph Collection situates guests smack dab in the middle of bustling King Street. Read more about how these hotels can accommodate all types of ceremonies here.

Just looking for room nights? Try Hyatt Centric Old Town Alexandria, strategically located at the top of the King Street mile by the Metrorail and Amtrak stations. Or, book a wedding room block at Alexandria’s boutique waterfront property, Hotel Indigo Old Town Alexandria, or brand-new designer property, Hotel AKA Alexandria.

Insider Tip: If you’re piggy backing your reception after your ceremony within the same space, be sure to understand the onsite logistics for the duration of the room flips and where the cocktail hour will be located.

Bespoke Elements & Touches

Pictured, left to right: Lost Boy Cider, Penny Post and Mason & Greens


Show your gratitude and share your love with bespoke elements to delight your guests. Try trending touches such as handwritten welcome notes, and find printed treasures at Old Town’s Penny Post boutique or notecards by Alexandria artists at Made in ALX and the Alexandria Visitor Center. Opt for opulence with over-the-top welcome boxes that nod to the unique destination, are locally sourced or can be utilized during guests’ stay. Select soaps, small batch sweets, candles and more from local makers via Shop Made in VA or curated zero-waste goods from Mason and Greens.

With the average size of bridal parties decreasing, many couples are choosing to provide a local libation and snack to their closest friends and family upon their arrival. Explore wine and champagne options from Wine Gallery 108, Planet Wine and Sonoma Cellar, or local beers and ciders from Aslin Beer Company, Lost Boy Cider and Port City Brewing Company. Go booze-free with delicious creations from Umbrella Dry Drinks. Source gourmet cheese from Cheesetique for the perfect charcuterie board, or roll up your sleeves to design your own board with AR Workshop Alexandria.

Insider Tip: These days, some hotels charge a service fee to hold welcome bags between drop off and guest arrival. Be sure to check with your Alexandria hotel and their current policy to arrange this.

Welcome Parties & Unique Rehearsal Dinners

Pictured: Hank’s Oyster Bar


Welcome parties provide everyone the chance to mingle before the main event and offer couples more quality time with their guests. Plus, these opening soirees give guests their first taste of the chosen destination. Break the ice in an informal setting such as Emmy Squared or the inviting beer garden at Augie’s Mussel House. Savor river views at Hummingbird or a seafood feast from Whiskey & Oyster. Be in the thick of things at Mia’s Italian Kitchen, steps from the waterfront, or reserve Brabo Tasting Room for authentic European cuisine with an American twist.

Before or after the welcome party, raise a glass with your closest family and friends during your rehearsal dinner at a memorable venue. Try Elaine’s for Egyptian-infused Mediterranean fare with literary-themed décor or The Majestic for an Art Deco atmosphere and elevated comfort food. Cedar Knoll offers a photo-ready riverside backdrop, while the rooftop at Hank’s Oyster Bar is the perfect perch to watch the world go by.

Insider Tip: Work with the establishment’s bar manager on a signature welcome cocktail to create a meaningful experience with those closest to you.

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Our custom and direct connections assist with everything from unique event spaces, hotels, restaurants, transportation, experiences, and wedding support services.

Creative Catering

Pictured: Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company


Couples are using their catering choices to express their favorites or share the flavors of their destination. Find all types of cuisines from Alexandria Restaurant Partners, from wood-fired prime steaks, fresh seafood and vegetarian fare via Ada’s on the River to mouthwatering Spanish flavors from BARCA Pier & Wine Bar. Or enjoy full service with a bar from Theismann’s Restaurant & Bar or Mia’s Italian Kitchen.

Take advantage of Alexandria’s BBQ scene with crowd-pleasing choices from Smoking Kow BBQ, Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company or Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbeque. Bring your vision to life as you curate a menu with Windows Catering Company or Purple Onion.

Insider Tips: Give your guests a treat on their way out! Please sweet tooths with treats from Lavender Moon Cupcakery, Dolci Gelati (gelato bar, anyone?), The Spice and Tea Exchange Alexandria or Rocket Fizz Alexandria. Alternatively, book Branch Event Planning for photobooth fun and cherished keepsakes.

Keep the Party Going After Hours

Pictured: King’s Ransom; Image Credit: Josefa Gonzales


Many couples are intentionally crafting after parties to extend the fun—and their wedding vision—into the wee hours. Those craving a late night carbo-load can congregate at Handover by the Slice, open until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Looking for a local bar vibe? Buy out the second floor and order a round of Guinness at Murphy’s Irish Pub, try your hand at skee-ball and shuffleboard at The Light Horse or get loud with karaoke at Rock It Grill.

For intimate speakeasy vibes, book King’s Ransom or The Peoples Drug to treat your guests to handcrafted cocktails or mocktails. Explore after hours vibes at options including Village Brauhaus, Union Street Public House and Urbano 116.

Insider Tip: Go off the beaten path a few blocks from King Street and hit up these hidden gems: Andy’s Pizza Old Town, Chadwicks and Southside 815.

Guest Experience & Weekend-Long Destination Highlights

Pictured: Group Tour Outside Carlyle House


Couples are moving away from the traditional norms of a single-day event and prioritizing elevated guest experiences, especially as guest counts have decreased for destination weddings. What was once your special “day” is quickly becoming a weekend experience reflective of each couple’s personalities. From curated activities to choose-your-own-adventures, Alexandria provides various opportunities for couples to create a cohesive and memorable wedding experience.

History buffs can welcome their bridal party by learning about Alexandria’s past with Alexandria Colonial Tours or by boarding the first and only pontoon pedal boat in the nation’s capital with Potomac Paddle Club. Or, wander the ever-evolving waterfront on foot and explore the African American Heritage Trail highlighting the people, places and neighborhoods from the time of Alexandria’s founding through the 20th century. Couples can transport their guests to Barcelona’s beach bars by arranging a group food and wine pairing on the water at BARCA Pier & Wine Bar or tap into their creativity with a cocktail class at The Study, the literary-inspired bar and restaurant at Morrison House Old Town Alexandria, Autograph Collection.

Gather your wedding party for high tea with waterfront views at Lady Camellia. Or, sweat out any pre-ceremony jitters with a boutique group class at Get Fit Studio. Take in the sights and the D.C. monuments, from one of City Cruises’ Water Taxis, or decompress with a spa day at Lorien Hotel & Spa.

Insider Tip: Along with the packaged guest experience, ask your photographer to stay for a Sunday shoot—whether it’s a boat day or causal sightseeing—to capture these offsite memories.

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