Cover Photo: Atrium at Meadowlark, by Beauty of the Soul Studio
If you imagine yourself getting married amid flowers, songbirds, and butterflies, we’ve got a list of great choices. All within an hour of Fairfax, the venues on this list range from a simple community center to a lavish mansion. The gardens vary – there are formal gardens, hedge mazes, secluded walled gardens, native plant sanctuaries, butterfly gardens, and more. Whether you’re looking for stately grandeur or moss-covered stepping stones in which to say your vows, there’s something on our list for you.
The name says it all – this is the premiere Nova location for a garden wedding. A popular venue with all the niceties, Meadowlark offers not only endless outdoor gardens and a large greenhouse, but the reception space itself is filled with living plants. Owned and run by Nova Parks, the Atrium has a large capacity of 230 guests. This is a favorite venue of Nova couples, so book early.
Owned by the American Horticultural Society, River Farm has extensive and stunning grounds, filled with flowers and divided into themed garden sections with a vast variety of formal and informal landscaping. Weddings are typically held on the tented patio overlooking the gardens, with a capacity of 160 guests (a second tent can be added to extend the capacity to 240). The inside of the manor can hold up to 80 guests theater-style, or 50 seated. Along with Meadowlark, this is a top choice for a garden wedding in Nova, as the gardens are unparalleled and the Alexandria location can’t be beat.
Carlyle House has a small but beautiful flower garden with a pagoda that can be rented for wedding ceremonies. Its location in quaint Old Town, Alexandria makes it a wonderful spot for a wedding surrounded by history and beauty. The garden has a capacity of only 65, although the front lawn, with a capacity of 100, can also be used for ceremonies. The mansion itself can be rented for an indoor reception.
Only about 45 minutes from Fairfax, Newton White Mansion boasts flower gardens full of flitting butterflies, a stunning central fountain, romantic brick alcoves, and a ceremony spot overlooking lush woodlands. The site is owned and managed by Maryland Parks and Recreation, and has a large capacity of 240.
Greenspring’s outdoor pagoda area can be rented by the hour for ceremonies, and the Atrium, a multipurpose room with a maximum capacity of 100, can be rented for receptions. An onsite kitchen is available as well. A simple space best for small weddings, Greenspring is perfect for a nature enthusiast who wants to be married in a low-key, convenient, yet naturalistic Nova location.
Silverbrook Farm is a triple threat – it is a historic site, it offers stunning mountain-top views, and it also has a lush, romantic garden. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it offers seating for up to 150 guests, as well as overnight lodging. An arbor covered in greenery marks the ceremony site overlooking the mountain view, and the rustic garden, with its unique chess feature, is a perfect spot for portraits.
Rust Manor House has a rolling, green lawn and two secluded gardens bordered by lush, moss-covered walls and ancient-looking trees. The back garden in particular has dreamy, secret garden vibes, and hidden beauty around every corner. Owned and managed by Nova Parks, the site can accommodate up to 200 guests in a fully equipped tent on the grounds, while the manor offers beautifully decorated suites for getting ready.
The gardens of Oxon Hill Manor stand out on our list for their grandness. The Manor is on a hill overlooking the Potomac River, and the English gardens extend out toward the river, with a magnificent reflecting pool in the center. With a large seating capacity of 210 inside the manor, and another 210 if a tent is added to the garden patio, the Manor is a great choice for a luxury wedding with an extended guest list.
Birkby House has a little something for everyone, from perfectly worn brick walls and weathered wood to the luxurious conservatory with crystal chandeliers. Its meticulously landscaped gardens offer tall hedged walkways, vine-covered nooks, a garden pagoda, and a lovely courtyard ceremony spot. The venue has a capacity of up to 150 seated guests, or 185 in a tent, and offers a historic setting along with every modern amenity, including catering from the award-winning Tuscarora Mill.
Goodstone Inn doesn’t so much have gardens, as it is a garden. With 6 historic buildings on the property, it offers a variety of meticulously designed landscapes. The Goodstone ceremony site, the famous Ivy Wall, is one of the most beautiful spots in all of Virginia, and we think it would satisfy any couple wanting to say their vows amidst lush greenery. In spring and summer, colorful flower beds can be found in the formal gardens in the front of the carriage house, which stands at the entrance of the property.
Airlie boasts some of the largest and most impressive gardens on our list, including formal gardens, a butterfly garden, and an organic garden. The formal garden, with its maze of pathways and hedges, is a popular spot for portrait photos. There is something for every style on the grounds of the Airlie, from boho to luxe. With both indoor and outdoor ceremony and reception sites, some with a capacity of 280 guests, and a host of modern amenities, Airlie is one of the most luxurious and versatile venues on our list.
The Glenn Burnie Gardens are too vast and numerous to even attempt a description, but suffice to say that this is a museum of gardens and everything that you would expect from one. But…just to name a few favorites, we love the Pink Pavilion (especially the dramatic black and white floor inside), the Chinese Garden, and the Statue Garden. With 700 acres and numerous indoor and outdoor spaces (some with a capacity of over 300), this is certainly a place to consider if a garden wedding is your heart’s desire.
Although the ceremony site is not typically in the garden at Salamander, couples nearly always take a Pinterest-worthy stroll through the large and stunning Culinary Gardens. The gardens are both beautiful and functional, as the chefs at Salamander use the fresh produce grown in them in the dishes they prepare. With luxurious amenities and a capacity of up to 330 in some of its many spaces, Salamander is definitely in the running for a top garden venue, especially for a couple who want luxury along with greenery.
Cover Photo: Atrium at Meadowlark, Beauty of the Soul Studio