Recommended by 88%
Rachel · Married on 07/19/2014
If you are looking for the most beautiful venue in Northern VA, then this is the place! We got a great deal for booking more than 6 months in advance. The scenery and venue are perfect, we couldn't have asked for anything better. However, I will warn that you need to be prepared to plan and organize everything yourself (or hire a planner). The venue is all they have to offer (and some preferred vendors), but it is worth it!
Addy · Married on 05/19/2012
Collingwood is amazingly beautiful. The staff were also amazing. Karen was a sweetheart and she really did a great job stepping up to the plate after the events coordinator was no longer available. I felt very good and taken cared of with the Collingwood staff. I loved my wedding at Collingwood!
Traci · Married on 05/12/2012
The Collingwood Library and Museum is a gorgeous setting for an outdoor wedding. My husband and I were sold on the Collingwood for our ceremony and reception site the first time we saw it, but the way it looked on our special day was far beyond anything we could have imagined. With the beautiful landscape and the Potomac River providing the perfect setting, little needs to be done to decorate the outdoor space. The indoor reception hall is much more bland and doesn't have any character in comparison. If not having amplified music is a viable option, I suggest holding the reception outdoors under a tent instead of indoors.
The new events manager, Karen, is beyond great. She is much better and more reliable than her predecessor who was very difficulty to communicate with. Karen is on top of everything, is fun and kind, and takes over to help put you at ease. To say the least she is great and helped my wedding day go smoothly.
J · Married on 11/06/2010
Collingwood provided excellent customer service for my wedding. My wedding was during the fall and we were debating about an outdoor ceremony, but Kristen was so very patient and informative about all the options we had in case of bad weather. We started the planning with another event manager but when Kristen moved into the process she kept everything going in perfect harmony. The grounds of this facility are beautiful and plenty of parking is available for your guests. I fell in love with it on day one! Collingwood staff members were very accommodating with all my vendors as well. We have beautiful memories of our special day, so big kudos to Kristen and the Collingwood Staff!!!
Meghan · Married on 09/05/2010
Collingwood was a dream come true. I wanted to get married beside the Potomac in Alexandria where I grew up and could not have asked for a better venue. Judie and Jerry are amazing and so accommodating. Everything looked beautiful and I couldn't be happier.
Selma · Married on 09/05/2009
Collingwood is absolutely beautiful. From the moment I went to see the grounds I knew it was exactly what we were looking for. We wanted to have an outside wedding and reception in the same location, but did not want to deal with renting a tent and were concerned about the possibility of rain. Collingwood recently built a reception hall (ALC center) in October 08 and it can hold about 200 seated guests. The ALC also has a downstairs area which could have used for the ceremony if it rained, so there was always a Plan B. Thankfully we had beautiful weather on our wedding day. Collingwood's grounds and views of the Potomac River are absolutely stunning. Sailboats were sailing by during our ceremony!
Judie and Jerry Kunkle manage the venue and are the nicest people on earth! They allowed us to bring family members by to see the venue on multiple occasions and always were extremely helpful. Judy was always quick to respond to every email and phone call.
Collingwood can provide most of the ceremony chairs and and all of the tables and chairs for the reception for a VERY low rental cost of $1 per item. We felt that the rental costs were very reasonable for renting such a beautiful venue. It also helped that guests and vendors only had to go to one location.
Candace · Married on 05/16/2009
Collingwood was an easy choice for me because it's located right in the area where I grew up and near my church. The Collingwood staff, Judie and Jerry, were amazing to work with. They were flexible with how I could use the various spaces on the property. The view is spectacular and the rolling hill down to the waterfront is truly grand. We used the outdoor patio for cocktail hour and many guests walked down to the waterfront. The wedding party used the waterfront steps and lawn for all of our photos and the gazebo. The new ALC building was perfect for the reception and Judie worked with me in terms of how I wanted to decorate.
My guests loved the property and enjoyed the museum as well as the new reception room.
I think anyone would be happy using Collingwood for their ceremony and/or reception. It is much more cost effective than neighboring River Farm and room for more guests.
Susanna · Married on 04/19/2009
Collingwood was perfect for our ceremony. Normally they have ceremonies outside or on the second floor of the museum, but we asked if we could use the library instead and were told we could. We were able to hang curtains and move furniture the day before the wedding, and Judie was very helpful with all of our details and planning. She was always quick to respond to emails and phone calls and happy to meet with us any time we needed to. The grounds are beautiful and our photographer got lots of great shots of us outside and on the front steps of the museum. The rental rates are very reasonable compared to other locations in that area. Highly recommended!
Valerie · Married on 05/24/2008
Collingwood is a gem. Right on the Potomac River, historic, a little ecclectic, run by two lovely curators - Judie and Jerry...Collingwood is a find. I searched for a long time for an historic VA venue that was not sterile, commercial, manufactured, or controlling...and Collingwood came through from the first glance. My husband and I loved the museum, the library, the built-in patio and lovely grounds...the enormous tree in the front of the property with its hidden away bench under the branches...the golf cart to the water (great pictures!)...
Judie and Jerry make you feel like an important part of what they do, and they trust you to respect and understand Collingwood. They allow their clients the freedom to choose vendors, make the day PART of the property, and make their receptions something to remember.
Erin · Married on 09/09/2006
We loved Collingwood. The location had everything we were looking for; nature, the river, outside ceremony & reception, and a historic house. Barbara & Warren Baker were very easy to work with. When our shuttle bus was 45 minutes late they were very patient and allowed us to wait for the bus while the caterers cleaned up.
Ingrid · Married on 09/22/2012
Collingwood is an absolutely beautiful venue. They were very flexible and friendly. The views of the Potomac river is great. It is the closest you can get to a "Southern style mansion" in DC. The only negative thing is they had a wedding coordinator who then quit, and then hired another person, who quit, etc, we were never notified so we had to find our own coordinator. I would still recommend the venue as a venue 100%.
I had cocktail hour and my reception here. I had cocktail hour on the patio overlooking the water. Then guests moved into the carriage house for the reception.
Inside the carriage house is very plain - which is great to create tons of different styles, but keep in mind you will need to decorate. The library is fantastic for groom & groomsmen photos. We took a lot of pictures by the columns and overlooking the water.
L · Married on 09/24/2011
The Collingwood was a fantastic venue - and we had to use the rain site! For starters, Kristen is excellent, she is both professional and kind. She went above and beyond, dancing behind the camera to make my flower girl smile, appearing with spray-on benadryl when I had an allergic reaction. She was constantly appearing with exactly what was needed and she was just a huge help. The ceremony venues are fantastic, either by the water or in the library (for a small indoor ceremony, you could also use the tented area for a larger ceremony in event of rain). The cocktail hour spot is also great (we used a tent). The reception hall has harsh lighting and cold colors, but it fits a large crowd comfortably and with uplighting and bright flowers it can really warm up and look festive. Definitely leave room in your budget for lighting and other decorations, however, because the reception hall does need that work. Still, compared to other venues the Collingwood is an excellent deal. We chose it primarily for the ceremony spots and the outdoor feeling, and it was truly perfect. The photo options on site are also great.
Erin Ann · Married on 06/18/2011
I am so happy we worked with Collingwood for our wedding-- I could scarcely have designed a better venue.
Kristen, the Events Manager, and Jay, the property manager, were awesome to work with. Jay keeps the grounds pristine, and the location and "look" of the site was a major selling point for us-- we were able to have our cocktail hour outside on the pad overlooking the Potomac and then have dinner in the marvelously, miraculously air-conditioned ALC. Our guests from out of town raved about the cool location, which had a very classic DC feel; our in-town guests were even more impressed, since most of them were unfamiliar with Collingwood and didn't know there was a place so close to DC with such great outdoor space.
I really cannot say enough good things about Kristen, either. She was so incredible to work with. Very flexible with all of our details, particularly in terms of walk-through with florists, caterers, and other vendors, and with bringing things like sodas, alcohol, decorations, etc to the site the day before the reception. I don't know what we would have done if Kristen hadn't been so awesome about working with us to drop things off on Friday and call with all sorts of last-minute things.
The only thing I would change about Collingwood or the reception in general would be minor aesthetic changes to the ceiling and lighting situation. I wish I had insisted that all the overhead lights be kept off for the entire reception; some of the lights above the buffet were left on, which I thought was a good idea until I really saw it in practice-- it was just too bright and harsh, but also too late to change when we were already into the reception. On the wedding day, we used lit 8' ficus trees to provide lighting and ambiance; we also had candles on the tables and natural light coming in through the windows. It was all too bright. I know that sounds very neurotic, but I think brides working with Collingwood in the future should err to making things just slightly darker than you initially think is right, and give your eyes a moment to adjust-- I would have been much happier if I had done this.
The ALC is a bit industrial, but good decorations and flowers go a long way to hide that. However, I wish I had done some draping across the ceiling to disguise the fluorescent lights-- they're more noticeable in pictures than I had expected. This wasn't something that was super noticeable on wedding day (and was certainly not noticed by anyone but me)-- but still, I think all brides want things to be just right!!
Finally, don't let these light issues deter you from Collingwood; it was absolutely the perfect reception venue for us and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to any bride who wants to have elements of her wedding indoors and outdoors. Especially with Kristen and Jay there, you will be in good hands!
Robyn · Married on 05/15/2010
I had my ceremony outside by the water and my reception in the Legacy Center. The grounds are very well kept and GORGEOUS! Judi and Jerry run the place and are awesome. They are very nice people and I would definitely recommend this location, especially for an outdoor ceremony.
User3654978 · 2+ years ago
Collingwood was a beautiful location for our ceremony. We used the full grounds for the day and felt that we weren't all cramped in any one spot. Our photos turned out lovely with the manor and the river in the background, I was very pleased. The library has a nice charm to it if you're looking for a different feel. One warning to be aware of going in is that they do not have an event planner on staff, so you will either need to coordinate all the details or have someone hired to do so; as the on-site staff will be absent once they confirm everything is set from a facilities standpoint (make sure you have their phone number in several places). Overall, a wonderful spot!
Meagan · Married on 09/11/2010
The Collingwood was the perfect place for our outdoor reception. There are huge, well-maintained grounds, lots of trees, the Potomac -- and you don't have to drive miles and miles away from the city to get to it. Everyone kept saying how beautiful it was, and we hardly decorated anything--we just left it au naturale. Judy, the event manager, is fantastic to work with -- always available for questions or suggestions. They have pretty flexible policies, although it's a bummer that you can't have amplified music outside, and you have to be out by 10pm. In any case, I was so pleased with everything, and I'd highly recommend it.
User3180787 · 2+ years ago
It's hard to find a more beautiful location than the Collingwood. Many other historic mansion type venues are far out into the suburbs, but this is a great location close to Old Town Alexandria. One of the things I liked most about the venue was that you are able to have the whole property for the entire day so I was able to get ready there and do pictures earlier. They have many options for the different parts of your event. You can set up down next to the water, on the patio overlooking the water, inside the mansion, or in their reception barn. We did our cocktail hour on the patio and the reception in the reception building, which is next to the mansion. The reception room is nice but pretty plain, which means you can really make it your own without having to worry about the decor clashing with your colors. They had some employee turnover while I was in the process of planning, which made things confusing at times, but in the end, the day went off without a hitch.
User4145518 · 2+ years ago
This was a beautiful facility and couldn't have asked for a better day. However there coordinator is very hard to reach and they offer no assistance except the use of facility the coordinator does not attend any planning meetings or rehearsals. That being said I would still rent the facility again on beauty alone I just wouldn't be expecting any assistance from them.
User2114369 · 2+ years ago
Collingwood is a beautiful place for an outdoor ceremony or reception. As mentioned in other reviews the patio has sweeping views of the Potomac. However, no amplified sound is permitted outdoors. We chose to use this area for our cocktail hour. The indoor area is less exciting. The room is bland and a little cold, but with the right up-lighting and table design it can be brought to life.
Their were a few negatives to working with Collingwood. Leading up to our big day they had a bit of turnover leaving us to figure out who our point of contact would be. There was also a major lag time in responses we received from the previous contacts. However, our day went off without a hitch. Another item that some brides and grooms may find disappointing is that open flame is not permitted anywhere on site. This includes votive candles outside or inside and sparklers for a grand exit. Again, our day was perfect, but we wish we had been informed of this prior to signing the contract.
I would not recommend Collingwood if you do not have a day-of or wedding planner as it takes a lot to put the space together. But as I stated earlier, our day was perfect and our pictures even better as Collingwood is very photogenic :)
User2694414 · 2+ years ago
Before I go into the negative aspects, I would like to start by stating just how beautiful this venue is. Collingwood is located on the banks of the Potomac and it serves as a beautiful backdrop for pictures. The library itself is also quite lovely. My bridesmaids and I had a wonderful time getting ready for my wedding.
That being said, the staff could use some improvement. The facilities manager, Mike, is extremely nice. However, Mike is also extremely hard to contact and it was difficult to get him to return my calls. When we first visited this venue there was a competent event planner employed there who led us to believe she would be taking care of everything. This was one of the main selling points of the venue--a built-in event planner. However, as our wedding drew closer, we learned that the event planner no longer worked there. If we wanted a competent wedding planner, we were told, we should pay an additional fee and hire an outside company.
Rather than pay more money on top of the venue fee, I decided we could pull off the wedding without an official event planner. Our wedding turned out beautiful and everyone had a blast. The behind-the-scenes planning, however, was problematic. As I said, Mike was extremely hard to reach so setting up a walk-through with the caterer and checking in on specific details of the ceremony and reception set-up were difficult. I would send emails and leave messages and wait weeks for a response.
The bottom line: Collingwood is a beautiful place to be married. If you decide on this venue, though, you should factor in additional costs for a wedding planner who can deal with the stress of ensuring all the details of your wedding are taken care of. If that option is within your budget, you will probably really enjoy getting married at Collingwood.
Claire · Married on 10/10/2010
Collingwood would be a great place to have a wedding, if the management in my experience weren’t so obtuse, rude, inconsiderate, computer illiterate, confused, incompetent, skittish, and asinine.Sent on 11/29/2010
I regret to report to prospective Collingwood brides-to-be that Judie Kunkle no longer works at Collingwood. I say this because I was fortunate enough to work with her while I was planning my wedding, and was unfortunate enough to witness the stark difference in new management that took over, and ultimately seriously damaged the memories the memories I have of my wedding day.
Before Judy left I provided her with the documentation she needed as it became available (i.e. ABC license, insurance for the caterer, vendor contract copies, etc.). When Jay took over as facility manager he seemed eager to help. His eagerness would turn to anxiety, a flustered and impaired memory, and unnecessary rude pressure on myself and those supporting me in wedding arrangements. A week before the wedding went to the site to see an event set-up. We took notes, planned out last minute ideas, drew sketches and, provided a tentative schedule. We did this with the help of Jay. I also asked whether he had all the documentation he needed. He didn't have any – there was no record of me and no folder for my wedding day that he could find. Upon realizing this we went home and sent Jay the materials we had.
Later that week I heard from Jay, and he AGAIN needed me to resend the documentation and he was eager to hear the seating and table charts. We went over the maximum number of tables that would be needed (including guest tables, chairs, outdoors arrangements, buffet, bar, and DJ table). I also re-sent the documentation he needed including a floor plan two full days in advance. (With events every week, one would expect that an event location needs little advance notice since the set-up is relatively consistent and I identified all the tables that would be necessary to take out of storage.)
As the week went on, my final guest count was coming in and we were quickly losing numbers due to sickness, unexpected plans, etc. as you can imagine with such an event. This would lead to last minute floor plan changes, which was a headache for poor Collingwood, but certainly not something I was enjoying and in fact common in the professional event planning business. At the rehearsal we saw Jay one last time before the wedding day and I reviewed the schedule, seating and other necessary documents. He STILL had nothing. Being new, his e-mail was not running. Meanwhile I had sent all the information to the primary Collingwood email box, and no one was capable of accessing it that way. All this time Jay has been a mess. He was telling me he was going to pull the plug on the DJ if it was too loud (unbelievable customer service attitude!). He would call to repeat things we had already discussed. He was changing the schedule on me, saying I was not allowed to have other vendors arrive early; then that I should have the decorator and caterer there early; then we shouldn’t, then we should. Etc, etc. After calling the vendors several times to change arrival times, I gave up and asked them to just come when you think would be good. When I arrived, there were too many tables up, which took very little time to adjust, and I didn’t really mind. Then my makeup artist arrived and she was stuck doing my makeup in a closet because Jay was missing and he had locked up the museum where my bridesmaids and I were to get ready. (this after having gone over again and again our arrival time and schedule.) Jay would not arrive until just before my fiancé and groomsmen were arriving, so I had to run from the reception hall across the lawn to the museum without being seen. When we all made it to the museum to get ready, we continued make-up, my bridal party brought snacks since we had not been able to fit in a meal that day, and mimosas to set the stage for a relaxed event. The decorator was present in the room and didn’t seem to mind that we had food and drink in the upstairs area of the facility.
Meanwhile a friend of ours was tying cans to the golf cart that we would ride away on after the ceremony. This was supposed to be a surprise, but Jay spilled the beans… surprise. The ceremony went without issue, and then we proceeded on to the reception. It is during this time that Jay decided to call my mother away from the event to insult and berate her for leaving our belongings and food and beverages in the bridal preparation room (which, as I mentioned, another employee witnessed without concern). He also reprimanded her for not having our documentation to him on time and for causing him strain. His strain was due to his own inability to log in to an e-mail account! Meanwhile my mother, who was taking a beating from service representative she was paying for, had nothing to do with coordinating this event other than generously and graciously paying the bill. Jay sent my mother, father, and several bridesmaids back to the museum in the middle of the reception to clean. They missed my husband’s “thank you” speech to my family because they were busy complying with Jay’s unreasonable and foolish demands. At the end of the eveing we are allotted an hour to clean, but I guess that didn’t measure in to Jay’s elusive and ever changing timeline.
On our end, I was aware of a couple issues which were less than ideal. A guest had taken his shirt off towards the end of the night while dancing to a song and another guest had sprayed champagne which got on me and the DJ. I was fine, but I was concerned about the DJ and we addressed it with him during and after the event to be sure that his equipment was OK. It was fine, and my dress will be cleaned. I would find out later that Jay told one of my guests that if the guest didn’t mop then my family would be fined for having to clean the floor. The guest didn’t want us to be fined, so he got a mop and cleaned while he should have been enjoying himself as a guest dressed in a full tuxedo. Not to mention, I know that Collingwood has the reception hall cleaned every event anyway! Who foreces guests to mop!?!?
My fiance and I were totally let down, embarrassed, and regretful for the things that Jay did.
After the wedding, I called the management, Paul Frank. I told him of the impact that his employee had on our wedding day, the disappointment he caused our family and friends, and his unprofessional attitude which could shed a dark shadow over the Collingwood business. Mr. Frank quickly replied asking whether I was aware of the champagne, the gentleman without a shirt. To this I replied, “Is there a rule? And how has that impacted you? The DJ, the Caterer and my guest cleaned the champagne. If a chiled had spilled soda would I be fined for that too? And I should be the one to form an opinion on my guest with his shirt off. While I cannot control all of my guests, I accept responsibility for what happens at my event. There was no facility damage, no financial loss, no harm done from my guests actions. But you as a manager have a vested interest in ensuring your employees behave like respectful professionals and treat YOUR guests and customers as such. What damage has Collingwood suffered as a result of my event? Are you aware of the distress and damage that Jay has caused for my family on what they hoped would have been an enjoyable evening?” He blew me off and said that this was just a case of tempers flaring. Interesting, because I remember a jerk employee who ruined my wedding night for many of those who were deeply invested and overjoyed to be a part of every moment.
Mr. Frank admitted that he was prepared for my call and he also accused me of being unresponsive and delinquent in my documentation. According to Jay’s retelling of the night, Mr. Frank claimed that my guest who was forced into mopping was rather just a gentleman who, UNPROVOKED, began mopping and it was Jay who kindly said (supposedly) not to worry about it. How interesting. Does that sound like a likely scenario to ANYone?? Well, let me tell you, it couldn’t be because the mopping gentleman’s wife was the one who found him mopping obediently and told him to stop because no one had any right to assign him janitorial tasks. Mr. Frank apologized for this unfortunate situation and ended the conversation. Collingwood dismissed my grief and frustration, and cashed their checks.
After reading this I am reminded of dozens of other things that Jay did to spoil what would have been a lovely wedding location. I wish I had the energy to discuss them all.
In all, my wonderful Caterer provided the insurance forms 4 times.
I provided my ABC license 4 times.
I provided a floor plan 3 times, the schedule twice, and had countless communications with many vendors.
Mr. Frank and Jay accused me of being unresponsive and delinquent in my documentation. All this while they are being paid to do a service and I am franticly trying coordinate, communicate, and direct family, friends, vendors, bridal party, and maintain a normal job that takes up an average of 55-60 hours per week. And for those accusations my mother (of all people!) would suffer as she was cornered during the most important day of her daughter’s life and then banished to clean like a servant while others were enjoying the festivities.
Thank you, Jay and Paul Frank for running a miserable organization, for having no compassion or understanding of meaningful events in peoples lives, nor respect for the people who support your business and put food on your tables.
Collingwood Library & Museum's reply: