From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Destination weddings don’t have to be far away.

By: L. Adrienne Wichard

Lots of sites just outside of Washington offer romantic settings for a wedding. Some couples marry a few hours from where they live--on the shore or in the mountains. Couples can enjoy a weekend wedding getaway with family and friends without long-distance travel.

Before you book a date, ask about restrictions. Some inns and hotels require wedding parties to book a certain number of rooms. A few have noise curfews.

Here are 18 sites to consider for a local destination wedding.

In Virginia and West Virginia

Ashby Inn, Paris, Va.; 866-336-0099; ashbyinn.com. Food takes center stage at this ten-room inn in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, an hour west of Washington. Choices for a wedding range from an informal buffet brunch to a five-course dinner--crab cakes are a favorite--for $35 to $65 a person. Couples marry on a canopied terrace or outside a tent or in formal gardens. Guests can enjoy the area’s vineyards, antique shops, and hiking trails. The inn’s wedding coordinator is Michelle Pellatt. Capacity: 130; 150 outside. Room rates: $155 to $275. Site fee: $2,000 to $8,000.

Clifton Inn, Charlottesville; 888-971-1800; cliftoninn.net. Built in 1799, this property once belonged to Thomas Jefferson’s daughter Martha and is surrounded by a river, waterfalls, and a lake. Invite guests for dinner in the main house, where some guest rooms offer views of Monticello Mountain, or tent the grounds for larger weddings. A glass veranda overlooks the terrace, which can be used as a dance floor. Capacity: 220. Room rates, including breakfast: $205 to $635. Cost per person, including cake: $125 to $150. Site fee: $500 to $3,500.

Goodstone Inn, MIddleburg; 877-219-4663; goodstone.com. This Hunt Country inn is a good choice for an intimate wedding. The Carriage House, which has rows of French doors and a floor-to-ceiling fireplace, seats 50. For bigger parties, the staff recommends tenting the gardens that flank the pool. The inn does its own catering for parties larger than 35. Rooms rates start at $330 and include breakfast, high tea, and the use of the nearby Stoneleigh golf course. Capacity: 50 indoors, 175 with tent. Site fee: $2,000 to $10,000.

The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.; 800-453-4858; greenbrier.com. This mountain resort offers indoor and outdoor for up to 400 guests, including the popular Cameo Ballroom. Group room rates--$199 to $365--include guided walks and afternoon tea. A spa, fitness center, golf courses and tennis courts, among other activities keep guests busy. National sales manager Francesca Joyce and Special Events manager Lauren Sells arrange everything from horse-drawn carriage rides to fireworks. Cost per person: $75 and up.

The Homestead, Hot Springs, Va.; 888-796-5838; thehomestead.com This 500-room resort in the Allegheny Mountains has private suites and five ballrooms for weddings; brides like the Casino Lawn for ceremonies and the Crystal Room for receptions. Guests can enjoy everything from golf to sport shooting to spa treatments. Room rates start at $200 and include breakfast, afternoon tea, and some resort anemities. Capacity: $1,000. Average cost per person: $100 to $125. Site fees $250 to $2,500; discounts with overnight bookings.

Keswick Hall at Monticello, Keswick, Va.; 434-923-4370; www.keswick.com. Brides swoon over this country-house hotel just east of Charlottesville, which Conde Nast Traveler magazine has called “one of the world’s best places to stay.” Receptions are held on the Tuscan-style terrace or in a ballroom with French doors, Palladian windows, crystal chandeliers, and murals. Guests can use the golf course, spa, and a disappearing-edge pool that overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains. There’s no rental fee if guests book a certain number of rooms, which start at $325 a night. Capacity: 160 to 350; tented for over 190. Cost per person, including cake: $190 to $250. Food & beverage minimum on Saturday evenings: $2,500.

L’Auberge Provencale, White Post, Va.; 800-638-1702; laubergeprovencale.com. L’Auberge Provencale and its sister site, Villa la Campagnette, an inn three miles down the road, offer couples a French-country wedding experience an hour from Washington. Weddings are often held in the gardens surrounding the Villa. L’Auberge’s restaurant will customize menus for everything from a wedding for two to a 125-guest tented reception. Cost per person: $55 and up. Room rates, which include a country breakfast: $155 to $325. Site fee: $1,500.

Stonefire Station, Barboursville, Va.; 434-296-5496; stonefirestation.com Opening in 2006, this event facility two hours from Washington offers lots of open space and elegan touches: trompe l’oeil alcoves, limestone fireplaves, hand-painted walls, a large dressing room for the bridal party. A greenery-filled courtyard and a raised terrace covered by a pergola are used for weddings. A ballroom has French doors and floor-to-ceiling windows. The $500 to $3,900 rental fee includes access to the entire site, so couples can move the wedding inside in bad weather. Couples hire their own caterer. There are hotels and B&Bs nearby. Capacity: 260.

Wintergreen, Wintergreen, Va,; 800-273-3390; wintergreenresort.com. A ski resort in winter, Wintergreen offers great mountain views. The Blue Ridge Overlook and the Blue Ridge Terrace are good for ceremonies; the terrace seats 200 for dinner. While brides choose Wintergreen for its outdoor locations, there’s an indoor ballroom that couples can use if it rains. For $280 to $600 a night, guests enjoy access to the spa, pool and golf courses. Capacity: 350. Cost per person: $80 and up. Site fee: $3,000.

In Maryland

American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore; 410-244-1900; avam.org. This museum on the Inner Harbor hosts parties among its collection of avant-garde art. Ceremonies take place in the Wildflower Garden or on the grand second-floor staircase. Receptions are in the Sculpture Barn, an exposed-brick room with high ceilings, or in the Jim Rouse Visionary Center, where there’s a “bird’s nest” balcony and an exposed-brick-and-beam loft overlooking the harbor. Prices--$2,500 for the barn. $5,500 for the Visionary Center--include access to exhibits; couples use an outside caterer. Capacity: 400.

Antrim 1844, Taneytown; 800-858-1844; antrim1844.com; This country inn, which often hosts three weddings in a weekend, offers rose gardens with triple fountains and a glass-enclosed pavilion. Couples can hold larger weddings on the croquet lawn. With a minimum 12 bookings for Saturday night, the bride and groom enjoy a complimentary suite with a fireplace, Jacuzzi, and a feather bed covered in rose petals. The ceremony fee is $500 to $700; there’s no site fee on Saturdays. Capacity: 400. Room rates, including breakfast and afternoon tea: $160 to $400. Cost per person: $75 and up.

Chesapeake Bay Beach Club, Stevensville; 410-604-1933; baybeachclub.com. In 2005, chosen by Today viewers voted as the “hometown wedding” site, this club on Kent Island offers water views. A private beach, three ceremonial sites, three ballrooms, and a bayside tavern are available to rent and range from $3,000 to $8,000. The ballrooms, full of windows, can seat up to 245; the grounds can accommodate 400. There are overnight accomodations nearby. Average cost per person: $100 to $150.

Elkridge Furnace Inn, Elkridge; 410-379-9336; elkridgefurnaceinn.com. Known for its French-themed restaurant, this 19th-century manor can seat up to 175 guests on its heated covered patio from March through January. Parties of 50 or less can opt for the dining room. Outdoor gardens serve as the backdrop for a ceremony--couples exchange vows on a brick terrace overlooking the Pataspsco River. There are no accommodations, but the bridal party can use the estate to get ready. Rental fees range from $1,500 to $4,400 for inn and grounds. Cost per person: $90 to $125.

Houghton House at Aspen Wye River, Queenstown; 410-827-7400; aspenwyeriver.com. Seventy miles north of DC, the Houghton House is a favorite among brides for its gardens, reflecting pool, and gazebo. Guests can swim, bike, golf, and boat while the wedding party bonds on an Outward Bound course. Couples can host up to 200 under a tent on the lawn. It’s $3,500 to $4,500 to reserve the house and grounds; the wedding party must rent a minimum of 25 rooms. Cost per person: $140 to $180. Room rate: $215.

Inn at Easton, Easton; 410-822-4910; theinnateaston.com. This small inn on the Eastern Shore, which wins raves for its food, can host a private and elegant wedding. A fountain in the courtyard is a nice spot for the ceremony. The dining room can seat 40; the courtyard accommodates 80 seated (100 for a cocktail party) under a tent. The custom-designed four-course menu starts at $75 a person. Room rates: $200 and up.

Historic Kent Manor Inn & Restauran, Stevensville; 800-820-4511; kentmanor.com. This 24-room inn on the Chesapeake Bay can accommodate 150 people in a glass-enclosed garden house, or a tented event for up to 500 people. The nn has wraparound porches and balconies; there’s also a pier. A gazebo by the water makes a lovely place for a ceremony. Capacity: 500. Cost per person: $60 and up. Room rates: $160 to $375. Site fee: $3,150 to $4,150

Pintail Point Manor House, Queenstown; 410-827-7029; pintailpoint.com. Built in 1936, this five-suite English Tudor home can host daytime weddings of up to 125 on a lawn overlooking the Wye River. A $6,000 fee reserves use of the manor house and grounds for the weekend, which includes an outdoor pool and dock plus a country breakfast for overnight guests; tents are extra. Outdoor receptions need to end by 8:30; smaller wedding parties of up to 50 can use the indoor, glass enclosed Wye Room. For larger evening receptions with up to 200 guests, some couples rent nearby Heathland Manor House at Hunter’s Oak, a formal, British-style estate with a glof course, then overnight at Pintail. A permanent tent, which is lined, fully carpeted and includes chandeliers and a dance floor, is available for an additional $6,000. Average catering cost per person: $80 and up. Capacity: 125; up to 200 at Heathland Manor.

ThorpeWood, Thurmont; 301-271-2823; thorpewood.org. Tucked into 140 wooded acres on a nature perserve in the Catoctin Mountains, ThorpeWood’s ceremnoy sites include a stone bridge, pine groves, a pond, a lodge with a fireplace, and streamside clearings. After, couples can celebrate on the stone porch or in the rustic Chestnut Room and Tree Room. Part of your $3,500 to $6,000 fee, which includes eight hours and seating for up to 120, goes toward ThorpeWood’s educational programs for at-risk youth. Couples can work with an in-house caterer; ThorpeWood provides a list of nearby lodging options.