Baltimore Sun

Of pink poodles and velvet curtains: Picking the wedding venue

1840s ballroom

From the moment you get engaged, immediately after showering you with excitement and congratulations, everyone wants to know where and when the wedding will be. The dust hasn't even settled in your brain but you quickly realize that this wedding isn't going to plan itself. Before you can even consider the pretty little details, you must settle on a date. And you certainly can't set a date until you know where this massive event is going to take place. Fortunately, being as familiar with our fair city as we are, my fiancé I had a pretty short list of potential wedding venues. We crafted this list based on location, budget and most importantly, ambiance. The overall goal of our wedding is to create an upscale environment where guests will want to overindulge in every way possible and dance for hours on end.

Although we had both attended events at our three contending locations, walk-throughs were still a must. A space can be absolutely stunning, but if you can’t stand in the middle of the room and picture your dream wedding unfolding in that exact spot, it’s time to keep walking. One site was quickly ruled out when we learned that they were as flexible as an iron beam. So strict in fact that a single chair cannot be moved from where they deem it should be. Standard rules are to be expected but this all seemed a bit too regimented. Crossed off the list, and it was time to move on.


The two finalists were



. Both stunning in their own right but also innately different. As the name conveys, 1840s Ballroom is plush with old school charm, rich color palates and massive chandelier-clad ceilings. In addition to having our pick of three very distinct ballrooms, we were giving the option of using either of their two courtyards. AVAM, on the other hand, offers a more contemporary atmosphere surrounded by an array of the most inimitable artwork you have ever seen. The prospective reception site was a sprawling, comparatively bare bones, brick-walled space just begging for any creative minded individual to mold it into his or her ideal marital setting.

We loved that both are centrally located in very distinct areas of the city, giving out of town guests the opportunity to experience a uniquely Baltimore night.  In the end, our decision came down to a few factors. From a budgetary angle, outfitting an open space like AVAM has limitless possibilities but also a much heftier décor and floral bill. Keeping in mind the myriad of other expenses, this could undoubtedly put a hitch in some of our plans. On the contrary, 1840s Ballroom is so lavishly outfitted with thick, velvet curtains and hand-painted murals of old school Baltimore that it requires little more than simple floral arrangements and beautiful linens. The final deciding factor was the space itself. Both are striking and full of charm, but what it really boiled down to is which is right for us. After visiting both one frazzled Friday evening, we retreated to a nearby bar to deliberate over a much needed cocktail(s). After a lengthy and at times heated discussion, we concluded that 1840s Ballroom was a much better fit for our combined aesthetic. Largely due in part to my fiancé’s confession that he was not thrilled at the prospect of AVAM’s resident larger-than-life pink poodle sculpture, Fifi, menacingly staring him down all night.

Equal parts ecstatic and relieved, we couldn’t wait to gush to our family and friends that our long awaited engagement was taking strides toward becoming a real ‘’holy-crap-we’re-getting-married’’ wedding.