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We spent the morning in Clifton, Virginia (map, two sites) looking at potential wedding and receptions sites. A friend of mine from work got married in the town, and absolutely loved it. It’s a tiny town (population: 185) about 25 miles west of Washington D.C. (about 15 miles south of Dulles Airport) with a very strong small-town America feel.
The only reception place we visited here was The Hermitage Inn, which seems to rule the town as far as weddings are concerned. Spent an hour talking to Serge, the French-speaking owner of the establishment, and was really impressed by the stunning decor and the strong brunch menu (still planning on a morning wedding so far).
The prices seemed affordable (for Washington D.C. at least, where everything is relative) and they were clear for the two months (September, October 2007) that we are leaning towards. It’s definitely at the top of (what is currently) a very short, short list.
Immediately behind the Hermitage is the Clifton Presbyterian Church… and by “immediately behind,” I mean “shares parking lot with.”
While neither of us are Presbyterian (Methodist and Episcopalian, respectively, but both seem to be AWOL in Clifton) it doesn’t really matter, because they are B.Y.O.P. (bring your own priest) to non-members.
The church is under-construction (well, renovation actually) and have told the lady sparkler that they aren’t accepting reservations until September of 2006. This makes us a little nervous, because it would sorta suck to pick a reception place in Clifton, and then get married at Foundry United Methodist in D.C. We weren’t able to get in (again, the construction) but will swing by later in the process, assuming we are as infatuated with Clifton as we currently are.
There is one other church option in Clifton, called Clifton Primitive Baptist Church. The church has a strong cultural history. Built in 1869, it was the first African American church in Fairfax County. The church hasn’t had regular services there since 1957, but was renovated in the last couple of years for use in weddings and special occasions.
It’s small (even by Clifton standards) with 1 aisle, 10 or 11 pews per side, seating 4 or 5 to a pew. By my math, that’s 80 to 110 rear ends, and not a whole lot of room for breathing and such. On the other hand, the lady sparkler and I are trying very hard to break the land-speed record of my best friend from W&M (Chrissy, with a svelte 22 minute wedding ceremony) so if we have to stack you all in like lumber, at least it will only be for a few minutes.
The good news is that the church is (primatively) gorgeous, available for the whole day, and we don’t have to compete with a congregation for attention.
One thing that is good the WHOLE way round is that all three locations are within an easy walking distance of each other. This means no limo (yay!) and no problems with parking. Not to mention, all three places are within 30 minutes of home and 15 minutes of a major (and cheap) airport. Finally, there are 25 hotels within 9 miles (Manassas, Centreville) of the town.
We’ll keep you posted, but T-minus 524 days and things are looking pretty okay.