I am a huge planner, and I had a lot of fun pulling together a lot of the details for this wedding. However, unexpected things always come up, so I thought I’d make a list of things I learned or wish I’d known!
Tea Room Details:
1. First of all, it is a little tricky to get information about hours and contact details. With your reservation to the Tea Room, you have access to the space from 10 AM – 9 PM. However, the park rangers told me that because I had reserved two days (Friday and Saturday), my hours on Saturday could be from 8 AM – 9:00 PM (because they would have already inspected the building the day before). There are three contact numbers important to know:
- Reservation Line: 1-888-432-2267 I originally booked the Tea Room online. Dates become available 12 month in advance, so I stalked the site the year before my preferred wedding date and booked it as soon as I could. However, in order to get an alcohol permit, you need to adjust your reservation by calling the number above. You can do that any time before the day of the wedding. It costs $35, and they’ll mail you a copy so that you can show it if needed (nobody ever asked us for ours, but you never know).
- Gambrill State Park Rangers: 301-514-7840 These are the people you call with specific questions about policies, logistics, etc. I have heard that you can request a tour of the Tea Room during the week if you call ahead (as long as nobody’s using it). The Gambrill State Park office is on Gambrill Park Road, a little north of the Tea Room and to the left. You can walk in and ask questions, and I found them to be very helpful.
- Cunningham Falls State Park: 301-271-7574 This is the number you need to call to get the access code for the Tea Room. I think you’re supposed to call two days in advance of your reservation to get the code. Don’t forget to do this, or you might not be able to get in!
2. We had a 41 guest wedding. I think if it has been any larger, we would have felt quite cramped. However, you could probably have more people if you use the balcony area for seating as well (you would probably want to rent a tent). Inside the Tea Room, we fit 5 round tables (which seat 8 guests comfortably … 9 guests is a squeeze). We also had a small sweetheart table by the fireplace, used the firewood box for the dessert table, and used four long tables for our caterer, pastries, and escort cards. All of the tables came with the rental of the room. The small sweetheart table was a pleasant surprise; it was not listed on their website! We had our drinks on the front patio, using two long tables.
3. The ceremony was on the balcony. We fit 40 chairs there, 20 on each side. There were not enough chairs for both the ceremony and reception, so they were moved inside after the ceremony. Speaking of the ceremony, the sun was blasting at 11:00 AM. I’m glad our ceremony was (relatively) short, because it was pretty uncomfortable for guests. I don’t know if I would recommend this particular setup for the ceremony. They way we stood actually blocked the view for many of our guests. The arrangement would be something to play with if you rent it for two days. I know other couples have gotten married at the nearby overlooks, then had just the reception at the Tea Room
4. Speaking of renting it for two days, DO IT! It was so helpful to have all day Friday to set up and clean up. We had lots of helpers, and it still took us quite some time to get everything where we wanted it.
5. See the picture above? Every guest’s album we’ve seen so far has pretty much the same picture. My goodness were the stinkbugs out in force! On Friday, my friend actually ran out to the store to buy a dustbuster so we could grab as many as we could. We swept like crazy, filled a bucket with soapy water to dump them, and sprayed the whole place down with soapy water the day of. Even though it was much better on Saturday, they were still a VERY noticeable presence. I understand that they are much less present in the summer, but be prepared. We also saw some very cool insects (praying mantis, stickbug, + more!), but if you are not comfortable with nature, this is not the place for you!
6. If there is even a chance that the weather will be hot, plan accordingly. I wish we’d had paper fans for the guests during the ceremony, and I should have had ice water prepared as well. We had awesome caterers who were preparing crepes and waffles on the spot. Because they were cooking onsite, however, the little room heated up fast! Most people escaped to the front patio. Kids ventured further to scramble on rocks or play on the little playground. It was nice to have the flexibility of space. The balcony was lovely but nearly deserted after the ceremony because there was no shade.
7. Despite the challenges, I am SO happy we chose the Tea Room. Of course the price was wonderful, which allowed us more room in our budget for other costs. The atmosphere was quiet and peaceful, the guests felt relaxed, and the space itself was beautiful. Everyone who has looked at our pictures has commented on the beautiful setting. It also fit our personalities; we’re very simple, outdoors-y people. Here are some of the pictures, if you need convincing.
If you have any questions, please contact me using the form below. I’d love to help any potential future Tea Room couples.