Shelly Pate

Culture House DC: Colorful Wedding Venue Inspiration at Historic Landmark

If you are looking for a unique wedding venue with a little bit of DC history thrown in then the Culture House is your wedding spot. This was my first time capturing a wedding at this quirky location and I can’t wait to return! The art gallery exhibits are constantly changing so no two weddings at this spot will look exactly alike! Take a look at how this unique location perfectly matched the vibe of this couple at their Culture House DC wedding!

couple holds hands in front of Culture House DC wedding venue

When A Wedding Venue is Just the Right Fit

For these two, the day was all about capturing a feeling. The ability to capture how they make each other feel during the first look, reading their personal vows, and dancing with family and friends. The overall joy in celebrating the day was what they looked forward to the most! Desiree and Eric love color, fun, live music, and the arts making Culture House a perfect fit!

Culture House DC is a wedding venue primed for celebration. Originally a church built in 1886, it received a complete makeover that transformed it into a colorful destination wedding and event center in Southwest DC. For the past five years it has served as an art gallery and events center perfect for adding a touch of color to your wedding day design.

When asked about choosing Culture House for their wedding reception, Desiree responded: “We love that Culture House is a historically African American church from the 1800’s and that the owners put on a free art gallery for the community.”

colorful mural outside of Culture House DC wedding venue

The couple pulled their wedding color palette directly from the exterior colors of Culture House. This included each bridesmaid choosing a single color from the mural for their dress. The groomsmen each wore a version of the same custom silk screen printed tie as Desiree described, also pulled from the mural because they loved “how unique the building is and what the mission is behind it.”

groom stands with wedding party wearing matching ties

How a Historic Landmark & Quirky Venue Fit Together

bride and groom embrace beside DC Lincoln Memorial columns

Having met in DC, the melding of colors on the Culture House DC walls perfectly represented the bond of bringing Desiree and Eric together. To contrast the colorful touches of Culture House, these two decided to have their wedding ceremony at the DC War Memorial on the National Mall.

bride kisses dad on cheek during DC War Memorial wedding ceremony

According to Desiree, since Washington, DC “has been a huge part of our partnership and we truly love the city, it just felt right to have our wedding be very DC-oriented and we like that we got to do something “touristy” on the National Mall and something very eclectic at the Culture House.” They knew that their guests would really enjoy both since as Desiree noted, “both places are stunning on their own with a lot of character.”

Eric actually proposed on a private boat ride along the Potomac right in front of the Lincoln Memorial. This was followed by dancing to their favorite song (used as their first dance) on the boat with other passing boats cheering and honking!

couple kisses in front of DC Lincoln Memorial

Even though there was risk of rain at this October Washington, DC wedding it ended up only being cold. The bride wore a white fur coat during photos at the Lincoln Memorial to get through the wind chill.

couple sits under ceremonial veil at DC War Memorial wedding ceremony
couple kisses in front of DC War Memorial wedding

Making Unique Choices at a Unique Wedding Venue

colorful wedding shoes on wood beside white wedding bouquet

Sometimes all the wedding white flowers, dresses, and other decor can make it feel a little washed out. This wedding was filled with pops of color and personality that complemented the marble pillars of their ceremony spot. This couple proved that you can go all-out on your wedding day and still have a fun but classy day!

This couple proved that you can go all-out on your wedding day at Culture House DC and still have a fun but classy day!

The couples chose to have their own siblings on their side of the wedding party rather than splitting by gender. Both of Eric’s siblings joined his getting-ready and Desiree’s brother wore a matching fruit-patterned silk robe with the bridesmaids! Both dads also joined Eric while the moms were with Desiree. Every single member of the wedding party (including the bride and groom) received their own custom flask reflecting their personalities!

lineup of custom flasks for each wedding party member in front of Culture House DC wedding venue

One of Desiree’s favorite unique choices of the day was the design of her wedding dress. Both hers and Eric’s mom gifted their wedding dresses to be repurposed into a one-of-a-kind wedding dress. She worked with Green and Blue Studio in Washington, DC. Michaela and her team built an entirely new dress using materials from both dresses.

couple has first look in front of colorful wall at Culture House DC wedding venue

In reflecting on her dress design, Desiree shared that the studio “executed the vision beautifully and we are all so thrilled about it! It’s a very minimal and slim two-piece dress with the base material being my mom’s and the sheer material being my mother-in-law’s and then there are some very thoughtful lace details on my dress that incorporate both of their dresses.” This ended up being a total surprise for the groom that showed on his face during their first look!

mother of bride helps bride get dressed in wedding dress

More Personal Touches to Their Culture House DC Day

  • Bride and groom exchange letters.
  • Groom’s party got ready at his home with the couple’s cat dressed up with a bow tie!
  • Dad and bridesmaids’ first look.
cat wears bow tie dressed up for wedding day
  • Traditional Filipino Cord and Veil Ceremony that the bride’s parents did at their own wedding. 
  • Nephew ring bearer who loves dinosaurs pulled a wagon down the aisle with a stuffed dinosaur holding the rings!
ring bearer pulls rings in toy truck at DC War Memorial wedding

Tips for Hosting Your Wedding at Culture House DC

Culture House DC wedding reception design with lion painting on wall

As a DC wedding photographer, Desiree loved how I “use the background as a part of the story for the subject matter” and “the quality of lighting and how comfortable your subjects seem to be able to be themselves. I feel like their personalities come out.”

This is a unique challenge to accomplish particularly at Culture House DC since there isn’t much lighting built into the reception space called their “Performance Space” with lion murals on the wall. The walls and lighting are so dimly lit that you’ll definitely want to hire a lighting engineer to set up the lights in the reception space as it is a large, dark room. It is such a unique artistic space!

couple stands holding hands in front of Culture House DC wedding venue

Culture House works as a backup for a rainy day or as an outdoor ceremony location. It rained some during their first look so they stepped through the mural doorway to catch the natural light. Coordinating the vendor load-in time around the photos out front is necessary since the front doors are used for this. Otherwise, photos right out front of the building are the best!

wedding party poses with couple at Culture House DC wedding reception

Two Personalities Melded into One Wedding Day

bride feeds groom cake during wedding reception

After meeting, dating, then purchasing a home in Washington, DC they were so excited to embark on this journey together. Despite their differences: he’s a rock-climbing engineer and she’s a self-described “brunch-going architect;” they love bonding over shared moments.

As Desiree summarized, “The things we want to remember about our relationship is the life it gives us. He always makes me feel alive and very present. As life continues and things change, I hope we always remember to be present and authentic with one another and give each other the grace to grow individually and as partners.”

couple exits to bubbles from Culture House DC wedding venue

This eclectic start to their marriage hosted by Culture House DC was the first of more happy moments to come!

couple cheers during wedding reception at Culture House DC wedding venue

If you’re dreaming of a colorful wedding day, look no further than Culture House. Also, count me in as your photographer!

The Team

Venue | Culture House
Dress | Green and Blue Studio
Florist | Bell Brook Farm
HMU | Nina Renee Beauty
Band/DJ | Geno Marriot
Caterer | B.Lin Catering

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