By Ashley Claire Simpson | Venue Photo provided by Suzi Smith
As couples celebrate the beginning of their new married lives, The George Washington Hotel in Old Town Winchester offers a symbolically beautiful spot. As a bride and a groom enjoy the first minutes of their lives as husband and wife, they are at the start of more than their marriage.
"We are at the tip of the northern Shenandoah Valley, which is right where the valley begins," Suzi Smith, Director of Sales and Marketing, said. "Winchester is a very charming and historic place."
The opulent George Washington Hotel, now part of the Wyndham group, in itself is also historic. Built in 1924, The George Washington Hotel has a rich past, and was in 2010 included on the National Register of Historic Places.
"Since reopening in 2008, we have been a Wyndham hotel," Smith explained, "but originally, we were independent. It actually sat empty for 11 years before the owners bought what was then a dilapidated, old rundown building that had been a home for adults. The people who bought it, residents of Old Town, Winchester themselves, spent four and a half years and $30 million to bring the hotel back to its original grandeur. While obviously it was modernized in the restoration process, they made sure to keep a lot of the original beauty."
And, this beauty includes a beautiful ballroom with 18-foot ceilings, Swarovski chandeliers imported from the Czech Republic, and an aesthetic quality that leads to the vast majority of couples to decline adding anything extra to the venue on their wedding day.
"It's absolutely beautiful," Smith said. "Part of the original wood floor is there, and to show off what was in the room when the hotel was brand new almost 100 year ago, the ballroom also has a section of the original marble. We have customized carpet and breathtaking tall windows that take advantage of the view. The room is so beautiful that the brides really don't have to do anything to it. The room, it is gorgeous."
The space, which is designed to accommodate both ceremony and reception, holds about 180 seated guests, and about 300 for a strolling reception.
"For the traditional wedding where guests are seated both during the ceremony and the reception, we are limited to 180 in order to keep the dance floor open."
There is an outdoor wedding space; however, it is only ideal for small weddings. The pocket garden where these outdoor ceremonies are held can accommodate about 50 people.
Convenience is key at The George Washington Hotel for couples planning the day of their dreams.
"Room blocks are easy," Smith explained. "There are no financial obligations or attrition clauses. If guests don't book within the block by a 30-day cut off, then we simply lift the block because we never have issues filling the rooms. We're always sold out. All of our wedding packages include tables, linens, crystals and china – which is all top of the line. We have multiple packages available, but we're happy and ready to customize if a couple wants something special."
And, hosting a wedding at The George Washington Hotel, which has twice in the last five years been named Wyndham's Hotel of the Year, is likely not as expensive as you'd think.
"Our wedding packages include a one-hour cocktail reception, a dinner reception, and a four-hour full open bar package with a starting price of $89 per person," Smith said.
The hotel, which does all of its own catering with the exception of the wedding cake, books a full calendar of weddings every year. While some couples reserve the space up to two years in advance, Smith said the planning staff is usually working within a one-year time period.
Like most venues, this Old Town Winchester hotel considers spring and fall to be wedding season. Smith, though, said Christmastime and New Year's weddings are those that she looks forward to the most.
"It's because we decorate so beautifully," she said. "New Year's Eve weddings are also a favorite for us. It's another popular day for a wedding because we are central to Old Town Winchester’s First Night celebration. On top of that, once arriving and parking in Winchester, guests never have to drive anywhere to enjoy the area. It makes celebrating convenient, and really worry-free. Everything about us, and where we're located, makes for the ideal wedding."
For more information, visit wyndhamhotels.com/wyndham-grand/weddings.
Ashley Claire Simpson (email@example.com) is a lifelong Northern Virginia resident, a graduate of the University of Virginia, and a freelance writer.