Thursday, April 2, 2009

On Location: Historic Oakland House

Visit #2 of last weekend: Historic Oakland House, tucked away behind apartment buildings around the corner from the Columbia Mall.  Same old story - another historic house.  An interesting quirk of this one is that it's run by the Columbia Association, which means it's overpriced for most people and moderately expensive if you're a member.  Funny story - we live in Baltimore and are considering a wedding in Columbia, and Ellie's cousin lives in Columbia and is getting married here in the city.  Anyway, since we have a family connection in Columbia we may be able to get the good rate.  

Geographic location is odd - it's a little hard to find, the juxtaposition with newer development is jarring, and traffic can get busy at the weekends that close to the mall.  On the plus side, there are a handful of hotels in close proximity and the various lakes and things we could go to for photos or something.

The house is nice, nothing spectacular; maybe it's just that it's the third historic house we've seen and they're all starting to blend together (we really need to find a park or museum or somewhere to visit to break up the monotony). The ceremony would be on the lawn out back next to the tent; there's some trees and stuff nearby, but then if you turn one way you have apartment buildings, and if you turn the other you have the tent, which doesn't sound ideal to me.

Inside, the foyer has a piano, which could be fun to have for the cocktail hour and/or reception - we have a number of friends and family members who are musically inclined, so it would be easy to ask a couple of them to just take a short shift on there -  they wouldn't need to bring instruments, so that might make it a little more low-key for them.It might have a little too much of a twenties dinner party feel though - I have that classic image of a bunch of middle-aged people in tuxes and cocktail dresses gathered around a piano having a singalong.  Not quite what I was going for, so maybe that idea will have to go.

Their ballroom is on the small side (seats 135 reception-style), but opens up onto a veranda to accommodate larger groups (about 200 total); it would be a little odd to have that separation but there's enough communication between the two areas that people would get over it.  There's a reasonable sized tent out back which also holds 200 (or at least, a patio - they haven't set the tent up for this season yet) but it's a lot more expensive so I think we'd stick with the ballroom.  

The costs aren't so bad, since they don't include any of the food or drinks, but the list of various prices and add-ons, with its vague hints of unquantified setup costs, has me worried.  I think choosing our caterer will let us keep the costs low too, but there's the added hassle of choosing one and then coordinating them with the staff.  

At the moment I think this one ranks pretty low on our list, but there's a bridal showcase in a couple of weeks so I think at least Ellie will go back, and maybe with the tent set up and whatever extra decor and vendors they have there it'll make a better impression.

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