20 total reviews
We were seeking a wedding venue that was in a natural setting, with staff that were interested in working with us to realize our vision for our wedding and who would be fair with respect to the price of services. Thorpewood is in a beautiful natural setting and this was the ultimate reason we decided to get married here. I would advise couples, however, to look elsewhere for their wedding venue. I look back on our wedding day not with fond memories, but with frustration and the feeling of being taken advantage of.
The Thorpewood staff are all nice people to be certain and during our initial visit, they made us feel like what we wanted for our wedding would be their top priority. We soon found though that this was not the case. In our interactions, they seemed much more interested in us sending in checks on the appropriate dates than working with us, or even responding to us. The catering point person simply did not respond to e-mails or phone calls and made it very difficult for us to plan appropriately in the weeks and months leading up to the wedding. On the morning of the actual wedding, they called us to tell us the ceremony would be moved indoors because of a chance of rain (a huge reason we wanted to go with Thorpewood was because we wanted the ceremony in their beautiful arboretum). When we asked if they could be flexible and offer some alternatives in case of no rain, we were offered none and were told that we would be charged hundreds of extra dollars if the staff set up chairs in the arboretum that were not ultimately used. We moved indoors and it did not rain. This is just one small example among many, but indicative of the emphasis on money and control, rather than service or flexibility at this venue.
We should note that we were more than happy to pay the price for the services offered. Like most people though, we simply wanted to feel like we were being listened to and that they were going the extra mile for us. On both accounts, we felt just the opposite. We felt rushed in and rushed out on the day of the wedding. You will be told that Thorpewood offers more time than most venues, but this is simply not true. Thorpewood starts your "clock" two hours before the start of your ceremony so they offer the same amount of time as almost all other venues we visited who start the clock at the time of your ceremony and allow you to arrive early. We asked Thorpewood for some flexibility in allowing us to come 2.5 hours early to get a few things set up before pictures and they refused. "If we start giving people more time, where will it end?" was the substance of what we were told. We were commonly spoken to in a condescending manner, and generally felt as if Thorpewood rolled out the wedding that they wanted, not that we were asking for.
The venue truly is beautiful, but in our humble opinion, we advise looking elsewhere for your venue.
When we first laid eyes on ThorpeWood, it was the middle of February--dark, cloudy, muddy, and bare black trees as far as the eye could see. Every indoor surface was covered in stinkbugs. The place was still breathtakingly gorgeous. We tramped into the lodge, knocked the mud and ice from our boots, and immediately fell in love with the place. It felt grand but still cozy, rustic but elegant, warm but with room to move. We were digging it pretty hard, but the high (for us) pricetag was making us hesitant. Then we learned they have composting toilets. Our eyes met, full of love, longing and a single, overriding message: We need to book this place. Now.
Keep in mind this place books up way fast. We were already pretty late in the game--apparently attempting to book a wedding venue 7 months before the event is a risky game suited only for day traders and base jumpers. Every place we'd looked at was booked. So was ThorpeWood, actually--our desired date had been booked for months. Fortunately for us, the booking had been cancelled not one week before our tour, so obviously the universe was crying out to us that this was meant to be. Also, the composting toilets. We sighed, took out our wallets, and resolved to live on ramen noodles for the next several years.
Working with the staff was pretty easy, in the sense that I didn't contact them and they didn't contact me for about five months after we signed our contract. Then we had our final meeting with Julie, which mostly consisted of me being like "I DON'T WANT ANYTHING TRADITIONAL NO I DON'T WANT THAT I AM A COOL BRIDE I'M NOT LIKE THOSE OTHER BRIDES", and Julie calmly being like "That's great! But I've been doing this a long time, and I really think you're going to want x, y, and z. It's going to make the process go a looooot smoother", and me then being like "FINE JEEZ." You know what, though? Julie was right. Listen to Julie, ya'll.
On the wedding day, we ended up having to move indoors due to rain. Boo! But, it was hard to be disappointed when we saw how drop-dead gorgeous they'd done up the lodge. And it meant everyone could go straight down to the bar after the ceremony. Score.
I cannot begin to describe to you how little thought we put into our decorations, etc. We seriously rolled up with some crayons, sheets of white printer paper, and about 800 bundles of flowers from my MIL's backyard. We kind of shoved this all at Julie with a vague directive of "make this work, gaaaahh!" AND SHE MADE IT WORK. Vases for the flowers, artfully arranged? Done. Magically appearing table numbers we hadn't even thought about? Done. Lovely tealights? Oh yeah. And when one table of our guests decided to melt down their crayons and create for us a Jackson Pollock-style masterpiece, meanwhile getting colorful melted wax all over the gorgeous wood tables? Well, Julie calmly informed us about that after we'd returned from our honeymoon. Sorry about that, ThorpeWood. Eek.
Drawbacks are as others list: zero cell reception (make sure your guests look up directions ahead of time, because there is no relying on smart phone maps up on the mountain). No nearby stores or hotels (most of us stayed in the cabins across the way, which have their own set of quirks, though they were pretty awesome too). If you can swing it, be sure to get a bus to transport your guests. You won't regret it.
Long story short (haha), ThorpeWood rocks, even for an expensive, remote mountain fortress. Go for it.
1. ThorpeWood is a beautiful location with hundreds of places to take gorgeous photos....
...which makes it so hard to decide which spots you want to use. Also, because the property is so large, even with the golf cart they provide taking you from place to place, it really eats away the time, leaving you with less time to party.
2. There is nothing around. You are truly in a remote location, away from the hustle and bustle of a large city. No noise, no cell phone service, no traffic. A peaceful retreat for your wedding day...
...Forget about waking up in the cabin and making a Starbucks run. You won't get cell phone service on the property- which can be very frustrating when you are trying to coordinate things on the very busy morning of your wedding. You will not find decent lodging for your guests that is close to ThorpeWood. The closest halfway decent hotels are 35 minutes away in Frederick. Make sure you factor in an extra $ for transportation for your guests if you want to have your wedding here.
3. During planning, the staff is really great about answering any questions or helping you come up with solutions to any issues, even if they don't have anything to do with ThorpeWood!
During my planning I had to ask a million questions! Almost no information was given to me after I paid my deposit. I had to ask for everything. It would have been nice to receive some sort of packet, including a floor plan, vendor list, information on renting the cabin, sample timelines, etc. to make my planning easier. I am also sure I missed out on so many opportunities because I wasn't even aware that they existed.
4. The staff the day of the wedding was great. Cool, calm, and collected even when they had to change my ceremony site at the last minute...
...The staff was so cool and calm on my wedding day that they forgot to mention that changing my ceremony site was going to cost me an extra $300 because I now had to borrow their chairs, which were not needed for my original site. I got a bill in the mail from them a few weeks after the wedding.
5. The staff does a great job with decor. I had a LOT of details and everything was executed perfectly. They even ironed my table linens which I thought was really wonderful.
6. ThorpeWood in a non-profit. Even though you are paying a premium to have your wedding here, you can feel good about it because it's all going back to the kids!
7. The cabin on the property is really wonderful. I got ready there and when I came back after the wedding, they had cleaned it up and made it really special for my husband and I.
Overall, I am very pleased with ThorpeWood. By the time my wedding was over, I felt like part of their "family". Planning your wedding here is difficult, but if you are up for the task, you will have an amazing day which is exactly what I got.
My husband and I couldn't have asked for a better day. It was beautiful and worry free thanks to Julie. This was the first and only venue we looked at. Its a great place for those who like to be outdoors and enjoy nature. It's also a place that has both masculine and famine characteristics. My husband is not a very opinionated person but wanted to be involved in certain decisions. He chose the location were we had the ceremony, in the arboretum under the old trees.
We did things a little backwards and Julie was up for the challenge. We had our cocktail hour first in the barn, then the ceremony in the arboretum and finally the reception on the first floor of the lodge. Julie was there with the bridal party from the moment we arrived. She worked with the vendors and insured everyone was where they needed to be at the right time. We also enjoyed the use of the little pond cottage. Its the perfect spot to spend your first night (just be careful of the ladder).
We had two little hook ups on the wedding day with the buses and florist, however, I didn't have to lift a finger or worry about what was going. Julie only came to me to present the solution. It was AMAZING! She also kept us hidden as we took photos around the property during our guests arrivals.
At times it was difficult to get in touch with Julie as her best form of communication was email. However, I typically heard back from her in 24 to 48 hours. She was also great with calming my concerns, giving vendor recommendations, and allowing us to visit the property with our vendors.
Ceremony Musician: Christopher Bohn
DJ: Shewsical Entertainment
Photographer: Stacey Windsor Photography
Florist: Monica's Floral Design (this was a recommendation from Julie and Mike. She does this on the side out of her home and was fantastic)
Hair: Neutre, Inc
Beautiful site! Unique and rustic. Julie and Mike take care of all of the details and you will have nothing to worry about. Wonderful wedding!
The staff were amazing, it was oure magic!
The ThorpeWood staff, and specifically Julie, were positively fabulous! Everyone was so easy to work with and very professional. Our wedding was gorgeous, and ran so smoothly. We could not have imagined it being more perfect.
When we first saw ThorpeWood, we fell in love. It's charming, and beautiful, and rustic. It's unique and just what we were looking for. We loved all the ceremony sites and were comforted to know there was a rain plan that could go into affect at the last moment. So when a freak storm hit the moment our ceremony was to start, they quickly and efficiently moved everything and everyone into a pavilion. Our ceremony was still gorgeous, and many guests even said that it could have been our Plan A.
That night we stayed in the Little Pond Cottage and our friends all camped on the grounds. Where else could we have done that? Julie and the ThorpeWood staff gave us the wedding of our dreams and I cannot express in words my gratitude. I would recommend them to absolutely anyone!
What a beautiful, magical place in the Catoctin Mountains that happens to be a non-profit! Add a phenomenal staff headed up by Julie Parlaman and we could not have imagined a better environment for our wedding. We chose to have our ceremony, reception, and rehearsal dinner there. There were potential obstacles to a successful wedding, Julie headed out of town, a last minute urgent situation making the lead caterer unavailable, and tornado warnings the night before our wedding knocking out the electricity for a large portion of the metro DC area, and the wedding was still magical. I am aware that magic does not just happen. It takes some luck, a lot of work, attention to detail, and the ability to maintain perspective. Lexi, who took on Julie’s roll for our wedding, kept in constant communication during the planning and orchestrated everything on the day of like a pro. There were many day of logistics to contend with and we did not think about or worry about any of them. We knew Lexi had it handled. We relaxed and enjoyed our day! What better gift could ThorpeWood give us than the ability to relax and enjoy our wedding because we know it is all taken care of! We are so grateful.
If you are looking for the perfect rustic venue Thorpewood is IT. Julie is the most helpful person in the world and she will do her best to make any dreams reality to make sure your wedding is perfect. The lodge hardly needed anything as far as decor goes but we did cover everything in flowers and it was gorgeous. The ceremony took place at the Pine Cathedral and was beautiful in every way as well. If you can get Thorpewood booked for your day I highly recommend it without a doubt!
Once you visit you fall in love
ThorpeWood was one of the most amazing finds for my wedding. Not only was it affordable and the rental fee helped support programs for at-risk youth, but the 150+ acre venue gave us so many options to create the PERFECT day for us. We originally planned to have our ceremony outdoors in a lovely pine cathedral, our cocktails overlooking a beautiful horse meadow, and our reception in a truly rustic and charming barn. But when mother nature quickly brought down the temps, ThorpeWood was able to accommodate us immediately, exercised its flexibility on the drop of a dime, and in a flash (literally the night before) we rearranged our day and moved everything COMPLETELY around. Our ceremony and cocktails ended up in the barn and our reception was housed in the comforts of lodge with a blazing fireplace. Stunning!
The setting does speak for itself the minute you set foot in any one of the many possibilities for your wedding. However, Julie, the organizer extraordinaire, is really the person who makes your life easier and she really is there for you! She helped me with all my questions, answered all my emails in a timely fashion, gave me suggestions and advice when I needed them, and really did try to accommodate any and all off-ball requests like finding bales of straw and having our rehearsal the same day as the wedding! She even went above and beyond and provided me with mason jars to put my flowers and candles in so that I would not have to spend more money (great in terms of reusing and recycling as well as saving!). And during the wedding, she and her staff made things happen and moved things along. She assisted with problems, coordinated moving all 75 people to and from the different locations, and pretty much made it all work. The one thing I suggest, though, is confirming all times (starts and stops) as well as any small extraneous fees, if any, that may not be included in the venue rental to make sure you are on the same page.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience for us and our guests. I highly recommend ThorpeWood and would do it there all over again!!! Thank you!
A rustic lodge was transformed into a beautiful wedding reception room. The lodge is seated in the heart of the Catoctin mountains. There is a stream that runs nearby and there are so many wonderful photo spots. There are several locations around the property if you choose to have the ceremony outside. The outsite caterers, Canapes, was awesome! Everyone raved about the food. The staff was easy to work with and very flexible about accomadating ideas. The staff works quietly and efficiently in the background.
Everything was perfect...from the staff to the food and the building! I would recommend Thorpewood to any bride looking for a unique natural setting wedding. Everyone was very easy to work with and they made our special day relaxing and enjoyable!
My husband and I fell in love with ThorpeWood's beautiful grounds and all of the options to have a unique outdoor wedding. Unfortunately the rain changed our plans at the last minute. The ThorpeWood staff was phenomenal and quickly made all the arrangements to move everything indoors. We had a cozy ceremony in front of the fireplace instead. Everything turned out great, our guests were happy, and I was able to stay calm and enjoy my wedding day while the ThorpeWood staff took care of everything.
We used ThorpeWood to host our daughter's wedding reception and could not have been more pleased. The venue itself is absolutely stunning and the staff could not have been more helpful. Canapes, the on-site catering service, delivered a wonderful meal. Along with really delivering during the reception they were very helpful with the planning and suggested a number of different options that we would not have thought of.
They really worked with us to create the type of reception that we wanted.
I cannot think of anything that they could have done better. They helped us every step of the way and were very accommodating to our unique requests.
The wedding cake was the best I've ever had.
Our guests loved it, our daughter loved it and we loved it.
Many thanks to Julie, Mike, M.L. and the staff at Canapes, we could not have been more satisfied.
Leo & Evelyn Birbilas
The setting for our wedding at Thorpewood was exactly what we wanted.
The staff was so helpful and all of the tiny details were immaculately tended to.
The day was amazing and I hear all that time that our wedding was the funnest, most memorable wedding people have ever attended.
One of our guests told us that the entire event was magical - and it was. ThorpeWood is a gorgeous venue with staff that will bend over backwards to make you happy. Everyone there is a glorious combination of laid-back, flexible, and perfectionist. The on-site caterer got raves. The ability to hold your ceremony and reception in a variety of increasingly gorgeous places was fantastic. The little honeymoon cabin was such a wonderful way to end a perfect day. As a bonus, we felt that the service provided was very reasonably priced. If you are looking for an outdoorsy, cozy venue that will impress even your pickiest guests, this it it. Even better - you get to support their non-profit mission. I can't recommend it enough
My now-husband and I got married at Thorpewood in May of 2010. The location was beautiful; the price was very reasonable for our very tight, paid-for-it-ourselves budget; the staff were friendly, organized, and accommodating; the Canapes catering was fantastic; and on the wedding day, a wonderful time was had by all. We wouldn't change a single thing and would highly recommend Thorpewood to everyone. Moreover, the proceeds from the event go toward the terrific education programs that the center runs, so what could be better? Definitely a great choice for a beautiful start to a marriage. We would highly recommend without any reservations it to anyone.
If you're looking for a venue with rustic elegance, ThorpeWood is your place. When we visited, my husband and I knew instantly that this was where we wanted to be married. Great for a small, intimate wedding. The in-house caterers are fantastic, and everybody there is very professional.
My brother just got married there on Nov 6th and it was breathtaking...literally! It was freezing but we still did it outside by the pond. Julie was so attentive and made a small fire pit so the guests would stay warm and brought out blankets as well. She ensured that every detail was just the way my brother and his wife had wanted it. The atomosphere of the reception hall was romantic, comfortable, and rustic(but in a really great way). All the vendors that Julie recommended for us to use such as the DJ and Bartender were on point. The food was delicious. It makes my mouth water just thinking of the chicken. I think the best part of it is that Julie is there for the Bride and Groom the entire night and always makes sure that everything is just right. Many vendors will set you up and then never really see the night through. I can't put into words how happy I was that they picked ThorpeWood and I hope that you will too! I wish I had!!!!!
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awards and affiliations
- The Knot Best Of Weddings 2013