Scoring a unique wedding venue in Prince George’s -- Gazette.Net







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By the numbers

• 13 to 15 months: average engagement

• 47.1: percentage of couples engaged for more than a year

• 70.1: percentage of couples married in their hometown

• 80.9: percentage of couples who go on a honeymoon

• $314: average cost of a groom’s tuxedo

• $350: average cost spent on wedding favors

• $463: average cost of invitations

• $1,249: average cost of a ceremony location

• $1,309: average cost of music for a wedding

• $1,423: average cost of a florist

• $1,424: average cost of a wedding planner

• $1,672: average cost of a rehearsal dinner/additional meals

• $2,582: average cost for photography/videography

• $4,417: average spent on honeymoon

• $5,619: average cost of engagement ring

• $7,411: average cost of a reception venue

• $7,843: average cost of catering

• $29,428: average wedding budget, not including engagement rings and honeymoon

• $39,464: average wedding budget, including rings and honeymoon

Source: Wedding Wire

After visiting numerous locations, Tom Hoover and Lisa Ford said they couldn’t find anything that felt right for their wedding. And then, the longtime football fans had an idea that scored with both of them: getting married at the Washington Redskins’ FedExField.

The Hoopers are among couples departing from more traditional wedding locations and instead saying their vows at unique Prince George’s County sites.

“We were having the hardest time figuring out where we wanted to get married,” said Lisa Hoover of Odenton. “Then Tom mentioned getting married on the football field. We gave them a call and went from there. We stood on the 50-yard line with our immediate family sitting on a bench, and the rest of the people were in the stands.”

Tom Hoover, an Oxon Hill native, said the couple initially talked about football when they first met at work so getting married on a football field seemed to bring their relationship full circle.

Tom Hoover, who lived in Laurel when the couple was married, said he resisted the urge to do his best touchdown dance after the end of their May 7, 2011, ceremony.

“We kept it pretty straightforward,” he said with a laugh. “It was unreal actually being on the field and having the stadium all to ourselves. We actually got dressed in the locker room, and they did locker room tours for all our guests. Just seeing yourself on a 100-foot video board and just the awe of it is something.”

In addition to the video screen, Lisa Hoover said pictures of the couple were on display on monitors throughout the stadium, including an owner’s suite where they had their reception.

“Everyone thinks it’s so cool,” Lisa Hoover said. “We usually get the ‘How did you do that?’ or ‘You can get married there?’”

For the runway — not runaway — bride (and groom), a landing point is the College Park Aviation Museum, located at 1985 Corporal Frank Scott Drive in College Park. Since working at the museum since 2007, program coordinator Chelsea Dorman said at least three couples have gotten married at the museum.

“It’s not terribly common, but we do have them,” Dorman said. “It’s a memorable sight. It’s definitely for people who have a real interest in aviation. We just have a unique and memorable space available.”

Dorman said one of the main attractions for the museum is its wall of windows, which faces the airport runway allowing couples to see the airfield during their ceremony. Couples tend to hold their receptions in either the museum lobby or the upstairs mezzanine, which also provides a view of the airfield.

Kathleen Teaze, Prince George’s County Memorial Library System director, said while it’s not all that common a request, one former employee booked to have her wedding at the Surratts-Clinton library.

“Some people just have a real attachment to their local library,” Teaze said. “They’re places of possibility and a really strong part of a community, while some are really beautiful buildings. All those things together might attract people to that.”

In addition to providing a unique setting for their wedding, some couples seek less traditional wedding locations to save money, said Yvette Albury, founder of Elite Platinum Affairs and Events in Largo.

“With the economy being the way it is, people are looking for ways to cut costs,” Albury said. “They are looking for alternate routes in which to get married. I’ve done some weddings in parks, community centers and military bases. It really depends as couples are finding the halls are kind of expensive.”

Couples seeking quieter locales are making use of nearby community centers.

Briana C. Hardin, special event coordinator for Blissful Blessings Events in Bowie, recalled a wedding her company coordinated at the Lake Arbor Community Center Park.

“This turned out to be a marvelous venue after decorations, lighting and sound,” Hardin said. “The traffic and surrounding neighborhood seemed to have disappeared for a few hours. Being on the small lake added a very special touch for this nontraditional venue.”

Prince George’s Stadium in Bowie has been a hit with sports fans looking to experience the thrill of being on the mound while their families and friends watch their big moment from the stands.

For a wedding hosted at the stadium in 2012, Matt Kemp, Bowie Baysox communications manager, said invitations were sent out like tickets to a typical Baysox game, the cake topper featured the bride and groom playing baseball, and guests received baseball-themed party favors.

“We’re open to any suggestions people have,” Kemp said. “... It’s certainly a lot different than going to a church or a ballroom, and it’s something that’s a little more special for sports fans.”