Apr 302008
 

While planning our wedding, I loved the idea of staying at a nice hotel the night before the wedding (by myself) and on the wedding night (joined by Mr. T).  Unfortunately, we couldn’t spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars for the privilege.  Originally, my plan was to bid on Priceline a few days beforehand and see what came up.  But then my favorite travel discount site, Travelzoo, shared the great news that a new Hotel Monaco had opened in Alexandria, just 3 blocks from our ceremony site, and they were having a $99/night special.

And it turns out, staying there was a fantastic decision — they made the wedding weekend an absolute dream!

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(Taking a pre-ceremony break on the world’s most comfortable bed) 

First, when I returned from the rehearsal dinner and afterparty the night before — absolutely exhausted from socializing and 40+ hours without sleep — I found the most AMAZING thing waiting for me on the hotel room desk.

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There was a card whose front said “For your last night as … Ms. Maidenname”, and inside it explained that the gifts were something old (an old quote on a bookmark), something new (a book called Autobiography of a Fat Bride, by Laurie Notaro, which turned out to be hilarious!), something borrowed (a pack of cards), and something blue (a blue journal).  Plus a couple of super-tasty heart-shaped chocolates.  It was the most unexpected and most charming thing I’d ever seen!!  [And here’s an Internet shout-out to wonderful, wonderful Joanna at the front desk, who put it all together and wrote the card….]

The second night, there was wine and cheese (next to my bottle of wedding perfume):

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We felt genuinely welcomed by everyone at the Hotel.  They put a note about our wedding on their computer system, so everyone we spoke to knew about the Big Event and congratulated us repeatedly.  And of course, once we starting walking around in wedding finery, there was no keeping secrets!  Everyone from the other guests to the valets to a housekeeper passing through the lobby stopped us to offer the warmest of wishes.

We took advantage of the beautifully decorated lobby for a quick pre-ceremony photo session.  Here, I was cracking up because a tiny elderly lady in a tweed hat was peering shamelessly through the windows from the sidewalk outside:

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For anyone planning a visit to Alexandria, VA (or to DC itself — Alexandria is very close, extremely charming, and joined by Metro), I can’t recommend the Hotel Monaco highly enough.  It was a special experience for us because of our wedding, but even as a normal hotel stay it ranked very highly.  We spent ages at the day-after brunch raving about the hotel with other wedding guests who stayed there — the beds! the decor! the location! — and all agreed it was a genuine treat.

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(The bathroom wallpaper was the coolest.)
(1st and last 2 photos by Punam Bean)

Oh, and P.S.: The last morning of our stay was Easter.  They put a chocolate egg on our bed the night before, and hid Easter eggs all around the lobby the next morning.  How cute is this?

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Where will you spend your wedding night?  Splurge or budget??

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