No doubt you've heard about the three most important considerations when you're buying a house: location, location and location. They also serve quite handily as the three most important considerations in planning a wedding, too. Just about everything except your choice of spouse is determined by this most important detail -- the flowers, the colors, the style, the themes.
So to assist in finding your quintessential, one-and-only, I-did-it-my-way sort of setting, we've compiled what you might think of as a real estate listing of area reception sites. The same rules apply: Shop carefully and know what you want, but keep your mind open to new possibilities.
BABE RUTH BIRTHPLACE AND BALTIMORE ORIOLES MUSEUM, 216 Emory St., 727-1539. Reserve one month in advance. Accommodates 125 people. Available evenings only. Cost: $200 for hall rental, plus $2 each person. Decorating is allowed.
Whether it's kismet or just good luck, baseball fans have one more reason to consider the Babe's birthplace as their reception site: It's just two blocks away from the new stadium in Camden Yards. It still features all the near-and-dear memorabilia that draws the sports-minded, including displays on Maryland baseball and Orioles uniforms dating back to 1954.
BALTIMORE GRAND, 401 W. Fayette St., 727-5678. Contact: Maureen Logan. The Loyola Ballroom accommodates 160 seated with dancing, 250 standing. The Chesapeake Ballroom accommodates 400 seated, 530 standing. There are three fully equipped kitchens, one kosher. List of approved caterers available.
Baltimore Grand has turned business into pleasure by renovating two of Baltimore's turn-of-the-century bank buildings -- Western National Bank and the Eutaw Savings Bank -- into ballrooms suitable for receptions. A new, 4,000-square-foot lobby and grand staircase connect the two buildings. The larger of the two, the Chesapeake, boasts 5,861 square feet of space, stained-glass windows, and a 55-foot vaulted ceiling, while the smaller Loyola Ballroom offers a more intimate atmosphere, with crystal chandeliers, sconces and warm tones of champagne and beige. A 500-car parking garage adjacent to the building allows for direct entrance into the lobby.
B&O RAILROAD MUSEUM, 901 W. Pratt St., 752-2445. Reserve as far in advance as possible. Accommodates 950 seated, 2,400 standing. Available Tuesdays to Sundays after 5 p.m., Mondays any time. List of approved caterers available. Cost for basic rental: $2,100 for the first 200 guests, $6 per person over 200. Basic rental includes security, on-premises staffing and secure parking for 240 cars.
The locomotives are housed in the roundhouse, where receptions take place. The 22-sided building is located on the site of the first railroad station in the United States, and is 123 feet high and 240 feet across, just shy of an acre inside. At the center is a wooden turntable which is used to deposit the train cars in the 22 stalls which form the grand circle of the roundhouse.
BALTIMORE MUSEUM OF ART, Art Museum Drive, 396-6078Reserve three to six months in advance. Accommodates 300 seated, 800 standing. Available for receptions only Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 7:30 p.m. to midnight. List of suggested caterers available, with firm subject to museum's approval. Cost varies from $3,000 to $5,000.
Schaefer Court, which features the Antioch Mosaics, surrounds glass-enclosed atrium, and surrounding the court itself is the world-renowned Cone collection in the Old Masters wing. Large, classical Fox Court features a coffered ceiling with rosettes. On either side of the court is the museum's collection of modern and American art. The collections can be opened for viewing at an additional charge.
BALTIMORE ROWING AND WATER RESOURCE CENTER, 3301 Waterview Ave., 396-3838. Reserve six months in advance. Accommodates 115 seated, 250 standing. Caterers must be licensed and provide their own insurance. Call center for rental cost.
With its location on the Patapsco River and state-of-the-art boathouse decor, the center is an ideal choice for couples who enjoy the water. Winter wedding guests can warm themselves by the fireplace, while spring and summer guests can take advantage of the outside deck, surrounding parkland and view of the Baltimore skyline.
BELVEDERE, 1 E. Chase St., 547-8800. Reserve as early as possible. Accommodates up to 500 seated, 600 standing. Available seven days a week. Cost: from $37.