Great Expectations

Dear HR Bride,

I have set my wedding date for July 2012. Usually when people get married in the summer months they opt for an outdoor wedding. However, I would like to have an indoor wedding, but I am I having difficulty trying to find a venue that meets my expectations. I am looking for a venue in Hampton Roads where I could possibly have my wedding and reception. I also want to find a venue that allows outside catering.

Thanks in advance,

Inside Bride

Dear Inside Bride,

It’s definitely a great idea to plan an inside wedding for July. The sweltering heat, pesky insects and unknown weather conditions in Hampton Roads are three fantastic reasons to opt for indoors. Your guests will thank you for having your ceremony and reception in one location because it’s more convenient for them, and it’s understandable to desire an outside caterer for your event. Sometimes when you have your heart set on one thing in particular, it’s hard to imagine anything else taking its place—just like your feelings for your fiancé.

The great news is you’ve got options in Hampton Roads for venues that will go above and beyond to meet your specific expectations. Here are some of our favorites:

Governor Dinwiddie Hotel and Suites

506 Dinwiddie Street, Portsmouth


Located in the heart of Olde Towne Portsmouth, the Governor Dinwiddie Hotel provides ceremony and reception space and allows outside caterers. The Governor’s Ballroom offers 1,900 square feet of space for up to 120 guests. As an added bonus, out-of-town guests can book a room at the hotel, making travel arrangements easier for them, and during down time, they’ll have the opportunity to explore the sights in Olde Towne.

Mariner’s Museum

100 Museum Drive, Newport News


This Newport News landmark can accommodate parties of 25–1,000 guests in their unique areas. The Concourse & Patio is a unique blend of indoor and outdoor space, featuring a wall of windows overlooking Lake Maury and three large skylights. This hall is only available after 6 p.m. The Lobby, overlooking the prestigious Chesapeake Bay Gallery, is the largest facility accommodating up to 300 people for a seated dinner or as many as 500 for a cocktail reception. This space is also available after 6 p.m. The Great Hall of Steam is filled with spectacular model ships encased in decorative glass cases and permits seated receptions for up to 70 people. This hall is also available after 6 p.m. The Huntington & Anna Rooms accommodate groups of 20–180 for a seated gathering or 300 for a cocktail reception. This room is the only indoor facility which is available during museum daytime hours. Although the Mariner’s Museum does allow outside caterers, they have an approved list of caterers that can be used.

Norfolk Botanical Garden

6700 Azalea Garden Road, Norfolk


If you dream of tying the knot overlooking lush trees and blooming flowers, consider the Norfolk Botanical Garden. Their indoor facilities include Rose Garden Hall, overlooking the rose garden and offering the space of an outside gazebo and lawn area, The Garden Café, which is ideal for a reception space and accommodates up to 60 guests, Baker Hall, offering space for 150 guests for ceremony or reception. Because the hall doubles as their Visitors’ Center, it’s not available until after 6 p.m. Although outside caterers are allowed, the Norfolk Botanical Garden only allows specific outside caterers. Click here for a listing of their preferred caterers.

Smithfield Conference Center

220 North Church Street, Smithfield


The Smithfield Conference Center offers four sizes of conference rooms that would be appropriate for a ceremony space as well as their Main Hall, a banquet space that would be ideal for a reception and seats up to 150 people for dinner. The Main Hall is equipped with a stage, and a dance floor is available, but it will reduce the space available for tables. The Main Hall can be combined with suites by opening the walls to extend the space to 8,000 square feet, allowing seating for up to 340 for dinner. Rentals come with the use of a kitchen and can be utilized by the caterer of your choice.

Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art

2200 Parks Avenue, Virginia Beach


For an artful touch to your special day, consider the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. Perhaps you picture your ceremony in the Rodriguez Pavilion saying your vows beneath an extravagant Chihuly chandelier with a reception in The Atrium filled with lighted live trees, vaulted ceilings and skylights for an outdoor appearance without the outdoor annoyances. Best of all, the museum allows outside caterers, so you can choose whoever you wish to provide the tasty treats for your wonderful wedding.

If you’re willing to budge a bit on your preferences, here’s an option that comes close to what you’re looking for:

The Hermitage Museum and Gardens

7637 North Shore Road, Norfolk


Located on the shore of the Lafayette River, the Hermitage’s elegant gardens and beautiful waterfront views create a gorgeous setting for your special day. Outside caterers are allowed, and they must be licensed and fully insured. There’s no indoor space at the Hermitage, so everything would have to be outdoors. However, there are many tent rental options in Hampton Roads, and with some elegant lighting, a dance floor and perhaps some outdoor air conditioning units, it’ll feel pretty close to the real thing.

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