When searching for a place to hold her wedding in 2010, Kate Ansari says, she had a simple vision for her ideal venue: “A place that felt like home and that I could make my own.”
But when she inquired about adding personal touches at several locations, she heard “no” more often than “yes.”
“I asked, ‘Can I bring in an outside caterer?’” Ansari, a Clarksville resident, recalls. “Most places said ‘no.’ I asked, ‘Can I hang my own decor?’ They said, ‘You have to have an approved vendor do it for you.’”
Many locations also had six-hour time limits on rentals and only allowed brides in an hour before the ceremony.
“I felt very restricted,” Ansari says.
Ansari married her husband, Sajid, in October 2010. But the former skincare company owner never forgot about the challenges she faced when trying to personalize her wedding space.
To give brides more flexibility, Ansari decided to start her own wedding venue business. And in November, after years of searching for the right spot, she found a home for that business in historic Ellicott City.
Main Street Ballroom is a nearly 7,000-square-foot space located off Main Street in the former Marketplace, which was used as a temporary home for local vendors, including many displaced by the July 30 flood.
“I choose Ellicott City because I wanted to be part of the revitalization,” Ansari says.
Ansari began her lease this month. She describes the ballroom as “industrial modern” with its stone walls, barn-style doors and metal accents. It can accommodate up to 200 people, and Ansari only books one wedding in the space per day. That means bridal parties can come in as early as 8 a.m. to set up, she says.
The space will have a bridal suite, where brides can get ready at one of three hair and makeup stations or just relax with friends and family before their event, Ansari says.
“It’s little things like that I want people to have time for,” Ansari says.
Guests will have access to an outdoor patio that overlooks a branch of the Tiber River, where Ansari says she plans to add a fireplace.
Clients are free to choose their own vendors, including caterers, Ansari says.
The ballroom does not have a kitchen, but that doesn’t faze Matt Gold, director of events for Zeffert and Gold Catering and Event Planning—one of the first to cater an event there.
“We cater weddings in the middle of fields,” he jokes. “The location is extremely desirable. It’s got the rustic charm, and it’s in the heart of Ellicott City. It’s like a blank canvas.”
That blank canvas is what appealed to Jarnell Bonds. The Upper Marlboro resident and her fiance are hosting a celebration at the ballroom this month and decorating the space with farm tables, leather couches and metal lanterns.
“I can embrace that industrial look, and I loved that we could do something different,” Bonds says. “The ballroom seemed like a place we could pull it off.”
By March, Ansari had already booked more than 20 events, including meetings, engagement parties and weddings. Rental prices start at $2,000.
Main Street Ballroom is open for tours by request.