How to Help Your Wedding Guests Feel at Home in Washington DC

Lincoln Memorial under a partly cloudy sky.
The Lincoln Memorial

If you’re getting married in DC and want your guests to have as great of a time when they’re not at your wedding as when they are, then today’s guest blog post by Andrew Rawls of Fiat Luxe Tours is for you!

Fun Fact: All photos in this post were shot with my iPhone.

So you’re tying the knot in the nation’s capital and you have guests traveling hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to attend. It’s your wedding day and it will already be busy enough so you’d rather not play tour guide and show everyone around the city. Well, I’m Andrew Rawls, the owner and operator of Fiat Luxe Tours, an award-winning private tour company that has been operating custom tours of Washington, DC since 2014, and I’m here to help.

How do they make the most of their time in Washington DC?  What are the must see things?  Where should they eat so they seem like a local?  What are the tips and tricks to know so they don’t stick out like a sore thumb as a tourist?  Well never fear!

People visit the nation’s capital from all over the world.  There is no shortage of amazing things to do and see while in town.  But if your guests are only in the city for a few days, how should they prioritize where to spend their time?

The simple answer is: it depends.

A side view of the Lincoln Memorial
A side view of the Lincoln Memorial

What can they do outside?

Washington DC has something for everyone. For the outdoor lovers among us, it has more national park space per capita than any other city in the world.  Your guests can meander along the National Mall and see the monuments and memorials honoring our fallen men and women and past presidents, or take a stroll through the tree covered Rock Creek Park. No matter the season, DC’s outdoor spaces are wonderful to visit. Whether snow is lightly dusting the monuments in the winter, or the skies are opening up on the city during an August thunderstorm, the weather adds a dramatic layer to these sites.

The Washington Monument at night back in 2014 when it was being repaired.
The Washington Monument at night back in 2014 when it was being repaired.

If they’d like a little more out of their visit to the National Mall, they can book a private tour with a licensed tour guide who will tell them the history and controversies of some of the most iconic sites in the United States.

A view of the sunset from the Jefferson Memorla
A view of the sunset from the Jefferson Memorial

How about inside?

For those who may be a little weary of walking the 2.5 miles between the monuments in the middle of winter or summer, never fear; there are plenty of things to do indoors. DC is home to some of the best museums in the world.  The Smithsonian Institution, founded in the early 19th century, offers unique exhibits that cover every aspect of human knowledge, from aeronautics to natural history to preserving and celebrating contributions made by Asian Americans, African Americans and Native Americans.

The Space Mural: A Cosmic View, painted by artist Robert McCall, located in the National Air and Space Museum
The Space Mural: A Cosmic View, painted by artist Robert McCall in 1976, located in the National Air and Space Museum
X-ray photo cross sections of a spacesuit at the National Air and Space Museum.
X-ray photo cross sections of a spacesuit at the National Air and Space Museum.

There are 19 different Smithsonian institutions in all. 11 of them are conveniently located on the National Mall.  The most popular are the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of American History.  The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), the newest Smithsonian, opened in September of 2016. Note that timed tickets are required for the NMAAHC and may be found on their website.

Interior of the National Museum of the American Indian
Interior of the National Museum of the American Indian

The best part about the Smithsonian museums is that they are completely free to the public which is especially nice after paying for the flight to DC. They can take advantage of the public tours they offer (check out the specific museum websites to see when the tours are offered) or they can book private tours of the National Air and Space, Natural History and American History museums here.

Exterior of the National Museum of the American Indian
Exterior of the National Museum of the American Indian

Are there non-Smithsonian Museums they should visit?

The Smithsonian Museums are not the only museums in DC worth their time!  The National Gallery of Art, also located on the National Mall, rivals the Louvre and British Museums when it comes to its collections.  Ranging from Byzantine to Da Vinci to Van Gogh, your art history loving aunt will relish spending hours meandering between the west wing (classical to impressionist art) and east wing (modern art).

A view of the United States Capitol building.
A view of the United States Capitol building

What if they’re not the biggest fan of art?

If your out of town visitors are more into espionage than esoteric paintings, never fear, there’s a museum for them too! The International Spy Museum offers something for the would-be spies among us (of all ages!). Kids can take the spy challenges in the exhibits, crawling through vents, solving puzzles and even testing their endurance by hanging from a simulated helicopter. Adults (13+ years old) can embark on Operation Spy, a role playing exercise where they get to save the world from a major terrorist attack!

The Supreme Court of the United States at sunset
The Supreme Court of the United States at sunset

How about something super outrageously specific, like an entire museum that that is dedicated to the First Amendment, for example?

DC has such a thing! The Newseum is dedicated to protecting and preserving the First Amendment. Located on Pennsylvania Avenue, with stunning views of the National Mall and the Capitol Building, the Newseum is sure to impress all who walk into its gargantuan foyer.  With several stories dedicated to the history of journalism, from Revolutionary War pamphlets to modern day front pages, there is something for everyone to enjoy.  Quick note, both the Spy Museum and the Newseum are private museums and do have an entry fee associated with them.

These are just some of the must-see sites in Washington DC  So if you’re a bit overwhelmed with all the wedding planning and don’t want to write up itineraries for all your family and friends, you can reach out to us at Fiat Luxe Tours and we’ll curate a private tour package so that your guests will never forget your wedding weekend in Washington, DC.

We look forward to helping you help your guests have the best wedding experience they’ve ever had by illuminating for them all this city has to offer.