Updated: Jun 16, 2021
For my first #WeddingWednesday Venue Tour, I felt that it was only fitting to showcase The White Room in downtown St. Augustine, FL, where I had the privilege of working for the last five and half years as a Catering Sales and Event Manager. The White Room is located in the heart of downtown St. Augustine, FL along the Bayfront in a historic building dating back to 1888. That's right, it is more than a 100 years old! The exterior of the building has a French Colonial Architectural design that is reminiscent of New Orleans, and the three-story pastel yellow building features expansive wrap around balconies with wrought iron railing. Adjacent to the main building along the Bayfront is The White Room's newest venue, The Villa Blanca, which is a picturesque pastel pink two-story building that aesthetically reminds you very much of a "villa".
The White Room is what is considered an "All-Inclusive" venue, meaning that they offer all of the following: Food, Beverage, Tables, Chiavari Chairs, Catering-ware, Bar-ware, Staff, Bartenders and an on-site Event Manager. Instead of operating based off of a Room Rental Fee, The White Room operates based off of what is called a Food and Beverage Minimum which varies based on the venue(s), time of the day, day of the week, month of the year and how far out you book in advance. A unique perk of working with an all-inclusive venue such as The White Room, is that all of the food and beverage is done in-house meaning not only is it easier to customize your menu and bar selections but you are generally guaranteed better food and service because everything is prepared on-site just prior to being served by a White Room team member who is experienced and knows the venue. This is a great perk when planning a Wedding, especially if food and service are important to you!
When you step into the main lobby of the building you are welcomed with original brick walls dating back to 1888, a grand mahogany staircase ideal for photography, a grand piano and upscale furnishings and textiles to please even the most discerning of eyes. Now the main building is not exclusive to The White Room and you will find two other restaurants in the building as well, however The White Room does a good job of sectioning off the Lobby and distracting your attention away from the other businesses. During guest arrival you are welcomed by a greeter to direct you to the venue along with a personalized welcome sign provided by The White Room on an antique mirror.
The White Room has three distinct venues to choose from; The Grand Ballroom which is the original White Room, The Loft & Rooftop which features the entire third floor of the building, and The Villa Blanca which is in the separate pastel pink building adjacent to the main building that I mentioned earlier. Each venue can accommodate both a Ceremony and a Reception and may be rented individually, however you have the option of mixing and matching the different venues as well if you prefer one for the Ceremony and another for the Reception. I will be sharing a brief description of all three for you!
The Grand Ballroom
The Grand Ballroom was The White Room's original venue and it is also it's largest. The Grand Ballroom can seat up to 220 people comfortably for a plated Reception, and up to 170 people for both a Ceremony and a Reception. The Grand Ballroom is an open and inviting space that features original exposed brick, roman columns, an exposed industrial ceiling with a gorgeous crystal chandelier centered over the expansive dance floor, large windows that overlook the Bridge of Lions and Bayfront, and french doors that lead you out to a large balcony that you and your guests have access to throughout the evening. When you step into the Grand Ballroom you are met with an an immense mahogany bar that is suitable for large parties, as well as carefully curated antique credenzas, buffets and gilded mirrors that will take you back in time. The Grand Ballroom is a beautiful space, and it is especially well suited for larger weddings.
PRO TIP: Every venue that you visit will have different capacities for the Ceremony and Reception, as well as different capacities for the Reception depending on whether it's plated, buffet, action style or if you plan to have a DJ or a Band. Be sure to ask the Sales Manager that you meet with what the capacity of each room is, and whether it changes based on the choice of menu and/or entertainment. Take note of these details at each venue that you visit!
The Loft & Rooftop
Photos by Rob Futrell (except for the two sunset photos which were taken by me!)
The White Room's Loft & Rooftop is an idyllic venue overlooking both the St. Augustine Bridge of Lions and Bayfront, as well as the downtown St. Augustine European architecture. When you enter the Loft & Rooftop off of the elevator you are greeted by antique credenzas suitable for your personal decor, along with antique mirrors for you to check yourself out before stepping into the scene. The Loft & Rooftop encompasses the entire third floor of the building, so it is very much separate from everything else and when you rent the space you have the entire floor to yourself. The Loft & Rooftop offers both interior and outdoor spaces for you and your guests to enjoy, and is split between three spaces. The Rooftop is where the Ceremony is typically held along with the Cocktail Hour, and dancing typically takes place on the Rooftop under the string market lights and stars following dinner. The Rooftop is an expansive space featuring picturesque views, an immense marble bar and subtantial restoration hardware lounge furniture for your guests to kick back and relax. When you enter back inside from the Rooftop you step into what is called the "Middle Room" which is an overflow space that connects the Rooftop and the Brick Dining Room. The Middle Room features shabby chic furnishings, an area for cards/gifts/sign-in and a cake table, a dance floor that can be used as a backup in a case of inclement weather, and enough space for a plentiful buffet or action stations. Two sets of french doors in the Middle Room invite you into what is called the Brick Dining Room which features all original brick and hardwood flooring dating back to 1888 along with picturesque views of the downtown St. Augustine skyline and architecture as the backdrop. The Brick Dining Room can comfortably seat 130 people, and you have the option of over overflowing into the Middle Room and seating a total of 180 people for a plated meal in both spaces. You also can opt to do a "Cocktail Style" Reception without formal seating for everyone and it can accommodate over 200 people. The Rooftop itself can seat well over 200 people for a Ceremony. The Loft & Rooftop is the epitome of historic St. Augustine beauty!
PRO TIP: Not interested in a formal sit-down plated meal or a buffet? Consider a Cocktail Style Reception with Action Stations and butler-passed hors d' oeuvres with more of an emphasis on entertainment than the traditional wedding formalities. Talk to your Wedding Planner and Catering Event Manager about the best way to execute this style Reception as it can be chaotic if not done correctly, but if done right then you can achieve an unforgettable event!
The Villa Blanca
Photos by Ashley Steeby (except for the last three clearly taken from iPhone LOL)
The Villa Blanca is what Wedding dreams are made out of, a cathedral white washed ceiling with exposed beams lined with elegant crystal chandeliers that gleam from the light that shines through from the copious windows that line every wall of the room. It is everything that I ever dreamed of as a little girl when I pictured my own Wedding one day, and one of the reasons that I chose to work at The White Room in the first place. The Villa Blanca is a two story pale pink building facing the St. Augustine Bayfront with a quaint cobblestone courtyard and the largest bougainvillea arch that you have ever set eyes on as you enter. When you are greeted out front you are invited to the second floor of the building where the Ceremony, Cocktail Hour and dancing at the end of the night all take place. The second floor is the one pictured with the cathedral ceilings and where most of your time is spent during an event in this venue. The first floor is actually the Dining Room, and is a mirror image of the second floor with the exception, of course, of the cathedral ceilings. The Villa Blanca can host a Ceremony only of up to 180 people comfortably, and if you plan to have your Ceremony and Reception both in this venue then it is recommended to have a maximum of 120 people with a buffet and 130 people with a plated meal. Following a Ceremony in The Villa Blanca guests transition to the back of the room for cocktail hour where there is an antique bar set-up along with a dance floor. Typically the Ceremony, Cocktail Hour, Introductions and First Dance take place on the second floor, and then guests are asked to join for dinner downstairs on the first floor Dining Room. While guests are downstairs enjoying dinner, toasts and typically the cake cutting as well, the White Room team transforms the second floor of The Villa Blanca and creates a cocktail style lounge feel for the dancing portion of the evening. When guests are invited back upstairs following dinner it is as though they are swept away into an entirely different space from where the Ceremony was originally held! It it truly a picture perfect venue, and is ideal for more intimate guests or guest counts not exceeding 130 people.
PRO TIP: When touring a venue that offers more than one venue for you to choose from inquire about how they handle more than one venue in a day. It is not uncommon for major venues and hotels to host more than one wedding in a day, but it is wise to understand the logistics behind it because it may be chaotic if not done correctly. The White Room can accommodate more than one wedding in a day, but each venue has it's own private entry point, bathrooms, staff and Event Manager. Each event also does not begin or end at the same time. This is an example of what you should look for if a venue can host more than one wedding, because that is an ideal way to handle more than one event. However, some hotels do not have the same strategy so be discerning when scouting out venues.
Additional amenities that you will find when hosting your Wedding at The White Room, include access to a Bridal Suite and Groom Suite prior to your Ceremony with plenty of insta-worthy backdrops for photos! The White Room features three unique Bridal Suites for each venue, as well as a Groom's Suite that looks like it was ripped straight out of a Ralph Lauren catalog!
Bridal Suite Photo by Ashley Steeby & Bayfront and Street Photos by Rob Futrell
As if all of this wasn't enough, because of the ideal location of The White Room, there are ample areas surrounding the building for photographs with a variety of backgrounds to choose from whether it be the St. Augustine Bayfront or cobblestone streets lined with European architecture that you will only find in the beautiful and historic St. Augustine, FL!
I hope that you enjoyed my first #WeddingWednesday and venue tour of the beautiful and historic White Room! For more information about hosting your big day at The White Room please refer to the following links below: