Editor’s Note: Washingtonian Online moderators and hosts retain editorial control over chats and choose the most relevant questions; hosts can decline to answer questions.
Michele Hodges is a native Washingtonian—she went to high school at Georgetown Visitation. After getting her bachelor’s at Providence College in Rhode Island, she returned to Washington to be director of special events at the Historic Car Barn in Georgetown—that big brick building at 35th and Prospect—from 1992 to 1999. Then she worked as an independent contractor for Jodi Moraru while starting her own company, Michele Hodges Events. Since then, she’s planned hundreds of weddings.
Thanks for all your great questions. Enjoy planning your special day.
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What are the top venues in the DC metro area for an August wedding, preferrably with a nice view?
I just did a Bar Mitzvah on April 12th at the brand new Newseum. Talk about an amazing view! The food is catered in-house by Wolfgang Puck. Service was fabulous. You can cocktail on a terrace overlooking the Capitol and Pennsylvania Ave. The rooms have the same fabulous view.
There is also the Halcyon House in Georgetown. The gardens overlook the Potomac and the city. Dinner and dancing would take place inside. A caterer is brought in. Very cool space.
Last, but not least, I'd suggest the roof top at Charlie Palmer's. Although I've never had an opportunity to work at this space, I have a Bar Mitzvah coming up next spring. The view is spectacular.
In your opinion, is it more cost effective to have a hotel wedding (using a package) or at another venue?
It depends on what hotels and what venues you are comparing to one another. If you're comparing the higher end DC hotels with the higher end caterers coupled with a rented venue, the fees will be similar.
I am having a reception in a hotel, and I don't like the bland walls, and tacky background for pictures. Do you have any ideas on backdrops, or drapery that can be used to create a nicer setting? I love the look of greenery with white lights.
I'd suggest that you add pipe and drape to hide the walls. If you have a lavish budget, you can bring in carpeting to recover the floors. Adding clusters of plants can help camouflage unattractive walls, as well, but pipe and drape is always more dramatic and elegant.
What are the best wedding favors you've ever seen a couple give out? I want something cute and creative that people will actually enjoy...I've heard food is the best bet but if I go that route I don't want to just do truffles like millions of other couples. I'm also open to non-food suggestions. Thanks!
I've seen lots of different favors, coffee beans, salt water taffy, cds with the couples favorite music, coffee and hot dough-nuts to go... I had a bride and groom that were both professional opera singers last spring that created a cd for a favor. I recently had a client create a custom cookbook for each guest. I have a wedding coming up where we will be handing out fortune cookies in little bamboo steamers, as guests depart. It's all about how it looks. A cookie beautifully wrapped will always be a hit. Keep in mind, guests don't always indulge in sweet treats. I often have favors left behind after an event. If your favor is really gorgeous, you should consider placing one at each place setting as your guests enter the Ballroom. Some brides prefer the favor be passed out as guests are leaving their event.
Our rehearsal dinner will have about 50 guests. Any suggestions for a great place to have it? We wanted to do something a little less predictable than Maggiano's.
For a rehearsal dinner for 50 guests I'd suggest looking into Olives on 16th and K, they have a private room downstairs. F. Scott's on Prospect Street, which rents out the entire restaurant for small parties. The Old Ebbitt Grill on 15th Street, offers the Cabinet Room downstairs. Perfect for a small, reasonably priced rehearsal dinner. The Tabard Inn on N Street, Mie n Yu on M Street or Perry's roof top in Adams Morgan.
We are having sort of a non-traditional wedding. Instead of sending return envelopes with our invitations we are thinking about offering a phone number and a website where our guests can RSVP. Do you think this would be alright? Are we going to offend some of our more traditional guests with this move?
Good question! I just sent out an invitation for a client that is hosting a Bar Mitzvah early this summer with no RSVP card nor envelope. We asked guests to e-mail or phone in their resplies. So far, so good! As long as you offer a phone for the grannies who made not have access to e-mail, I think you're covered.
We're getting married Labor Day weekend so a lot of guests will be in town Friday through Monday. We're thinking of making itineraries suggesting places to go and tours to go on. We've both lived here a while so we have a pretty good list of museums to suggest to our guests, but we don't know anything about tours of the city. Do you know of any good ones?
I always recommend creating a welcome letter for the guests that have traveled here from out of town. Rather than offering them an itinerary, I'd suggest offering them suggestions on places to dine, site see and shop while visiting the city you and your groom call home. For museums, I'd highly recommend the Newseum, since it's so new and super chic. The Spy Museum is always fun, too. If your budget allows and you have groups of guests at a hotle or two, I's recommend setting up a tour for them. Have a transportation company pick up your group at a designated time and give them a private tour of the city. They can arrange for a driving tour or a tour which enables your guests to deboard and walk around with a guide. This also enables you and the groom to select the sites you want your guests to visit.