Tales From the Groom: There’s No Basement at the Alamo . . . or the Mayflower Hotel

After a rocky start, Carl and Kristin find the wedding venue of their dreams.

Kristin and I were standing on the grounds of a tranquil little wedding venue, with a great outdoor setting situated on the banks of the Potomac, when I realized a jumbo jet was screaming toward us. I could see the people on the plane putting up their tray tables, the heat coming off the engines, and rivets. Looking across the water from the back porch of the establishment, I watched as a massive 767 touched down at Reagan National Airport no more than 500 yards away. I turned to Kristin and said, “Tower, this is Ghost Rider requesting a flyby.” To which she responded, “That’s a negative Ghost Rider. The pattern is full. We’re planning a wedding, honey, not an air show.”

Finding a venue got off to a rocky start. Besides the landing strip, we also had an establishment at National Harbor that wouldn’t call us back and a place in Dupont Circle where the event coordinator stood us up. At one hotel, the salesperson showed us a room that was way too small for the number of guests we were planning to invite. We had to sneak into the joint late one night and find a ballroom that was large enough.

There was one place, however, that actually lived up to its marketed charm: the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel. Lauren, the sales manager at the DC landmark, seemed to want us to get married there almost as badly as we did. She provided us with options and flexibility, and she let us know that Memorial Day weekend was all ours if we booked there. “You mean we wouldn’t have to spend the next 18 months planning a wedding, and we could actually get married soon?” It was music to our ears.

Lauren detailed the great pageantry of the hotel, with all its famous guests and extraordinary events that had taken place there: Inaugural balls have been hosted since the time of Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Delanor Roosevelt penned his “nothing to fear bur fear itself” inaugural address, Harry Truman announced he’d seek a second term at a dinner there, and Herbert Hoover lunched there daily for years. It seemed so cool that we could be, in some way, a part of that history.

While my attempts to see room 817, of Eliot Spitzer fame, were rebuffed, Lauren mentioned I could check out the room where the Major League Baseball strike had ended in 1995—in the Colonial Ballroom below the lobby. The following conversation transpired:

Me: “Whoa! The strike ended in the basement of the hotel?”

Lauren: “No, Carl. It was in our lower-level ballroom.”

Me: “You mean the basement?”

Lauren: “Lower-level ballroom.”

Me: “Basem . . . ”

Lauren: “Lower-level ballroom.”

At that moment, I realized I was in a pretty classy place. Kristin also realized that the staff could keep me quiet, and that alone was worth its weight in gold. With Lauren’s help, we were able to find the exact type of place we were looking to get married in. So with just less than 200 days to go, we know our wedding will be at the Renaissance Mayflower.

Read Carl's story from the beginning

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