The Naval Academy is one of my favorite places to photograph in Annapolis. I was thrilled when Tatum reached out to me to photographer her and Tyler’s wedding. It made it extra special because we went to high school together at St. Mary’s. When there’s a personal connection it makes photographing someone’s wedding that much more special.
Logistically, their wedding was really nice because everything was a matter of blocks from each other. From where they got ready, to the ceremony all the way to the reception it was a matter of minutes from eachother. Tatum and her bridesmaids got ready at the Governor Calvert House and Tyler and the groomsmen got ready just around the corner at an AirBnB on East St. From there we we’re off to the Naval Academy to take photos of the bridesmaids before the ceremony.
The walkway between Dahlgren Hall and Bancroft Hall is the first of my three favorite spots to photograph on the Academy. This walkway is always a staple for me on the day of a wedding. It’s just to the left of the Chapel and also provides some great shade. The large columns on either side are absolutely beautiful.
My second favorite spot is the backyard gardens of the Commandant’s House. This is a very special privilege for couples that get married at the Academy. The Commandant’s backyard is blocked off to the public but they are very generous to allow couples to take wedding photos in their garden and theirs a wonderful view of the Chapel in the background.
My third and final spot that is a must to take photos on your wedding day is Bancroft Hall. Bancroft Hall, at the Naval Academy is the largest single dormitory in the world. Inside there is stunning architecture that will serve as a lovely backdrop to your photos.
So there you have it, these are my top three photo spots that you should take advantage of if your getting married at the Naval Academy. We are lucky to have so many wonderful places to take photos in Annapolis, with the US Naval Academy being at the top of my list!
Cake: Honey Hive Bakery
Photographer: Drawn to the Image
Chapel Venue: Naval Academy Chapel
Reception Venue: Historic Inns of Annapolis, Governor Calvert House
Hair and Makeup: Image Creators Severna Park
Dress: Wren Bridal
Florist: J Starr’s Flower Barn
DJ: Mixing Maryland
Invitations: Paper in the Park
William, a graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, and his bride, Amanda, chose to hold their lovely wedding ceremony in the Chapel at the Academy. Following their ceremony, which was attended by their many out-of-town family members and friends, we had the opportunity for many photos around the Academy’s grounds before heading to the Annapolis Maritime Museum for their reception.
Upon arrival there, we captured many more photos on the water before heading inside the Museum for a very fun-filled reception!
You’re in love with a soldier! He pops the question and you say yes! You dream of the location, the reception and, of course, the pictures! Immediately, you contact the Naval Academy because it is “the place” to get married in Annapolis in the Naval community. You send an email to the wedding scheduler and pray that a date is available since they book up quickly and don’t schedule more than a year out. Once a date is secured, the planning begins and persons must complete pre-marital counseling. This is an overwhelming process, but exciting too.
Once you determine your budget and nail down a venue, it’s time to consider vendors such as the photographer. When it comes to getting married at the Naval Academy, there are a lot of rules to be followed by the bride, groom, the guests and the vendors. The Naval Academy offers a planner just for the ceremony. These planners are amazing at giving you information and making sure your day goes as close to as planned as possible. One of the best parts of getting married at the USNA chapel is the portraits! I am going to help set you up for successful portraits when tying the KNOT at the chapel. Gorgeous images can be obtained by focusing on Keepsakes, Naval Rules, On Site Locations and Time.
Other than taking in the day and enjoying every moment (as quickly as it passes), brides and grooms anxiously await the images from their photographers to print, share and look back on for years to come. The keepsakes are priceless. When planning a wedding, the couple should sit down and really think about what these keepsakes are worth and budget accordingly. When I got married, I held a smaller wedding (75 people) because I knew that I wanted amazing images. I researched and found a photographer that matched my style, my vision and my budget. As a bride-to-be, you have to prioritize your budget and focus your efforts on what is most valuable to you. These keepsakes will last for generations and tell the story of your wedding day. This is a job that no professional photographer takes lightly because the moments only happen once and there is no “do over”.
When it comes to getting married at the Naval Academy, there should be no surprise about the rules. The chapel is efficient and wants to maximize use so everyone who wishes to have their dream wedding there, can. When you are working with your chapel event planner, be sure to ask for a list of the rules to pass on to your photographer. The photographer has to plan equipment and resources for the day. For instance, the chapel has 2 levels. Photographers are allowed to access the second level for portraits, but guests can not. Considering a second photographer is a must for this venue. Other rules include photographers must remain behind the cross-isle, they can’t use flash during the ceremony and group photos are not permitted in front of the chapel on the steps. The images of the newlyweds are very limited in the chapel due to time constraints. This is why it is so important that the photographer is on their game when getting those coveted images within the chapel. Additionally, the photographer has to have a background check and is subject to validation no less than 30 days before the ceremony.
Because the chapel time is so limited, newlyweds and photographers should be creative with their after ceremony portraits. The grounds of the Naval Academy around the chapel are gorgeous with blooming trees, gazebos, waterfront and historical buildings. Most brides are unaware that they can be photographed at the Buchanan House Garden, which is right next to the chapel. It is the garden of the superintendent and it requires written permission. This garden is worth getting permission for. There is a gorgeous, clear view of the chapel steeple (capturing that iconic picture with the newlyweds in the foreground), the gardens are well maintained, colorful and there is a beautiful fountain. The vines are throughout and it is so romantic. The number of people allowed in the garden is limited to the bride/groom and two or so additional people. Another amazing building is Bancroft Hall. This building has gorgeous large deep wood doors, chandeliers and is open and airy. At the top of the wide staircase is a sign that reads “Don’t Give Up the Ship.” This is a popular sign for newlyweds to pose in front of. There is no request required to take pictures in Bancroft hall and there is no time constraint. Knowing the rules of the Naval Academy will help your day run smoothly and be as amazing as you envisioned it.
Time is of the essence (as they say) when you have a Naval Academy Wedding. They run a tight ship and ensure that every couple gets their day in the chapel. You only have 30 minutes from the time you start walking down the isle to the sword crossing finish (if you choose to have one). They expect you to be on time and ready to go. The bride usually stages down in St. Andrews Chapel and the groom in a room lateral to the chapel. From my experience, you will want the photographer to either ride with you in transportation to the chapel or ensure they have arrived in plenty of time to get through checkpoint at the gate and find parking. Once the ceremony is over, the bride and groom will be taken to the second level of the main chapel to watch their guests exit. I usually grab 2 shots from up top and then one shot in the middle of the chapel to show its grandeur prior to running outside and changing lenses/settings to get the newlyweds exiting the chapel to the front gate. If you have approved planned pictures in Buchanan House Garden, you must be prompt. You can arrive at your scheduled time and have no more than 30 minutes in the garden. Trust me, your photographer needs to be on point and ready to use every part of that time. The garden has so much to offer for romantic, meaningful pictures. Plus this allows for you to spend some time with each other before heading off to the ceremony.
Getting married at the Naval Academy is such an amazing experience. To maximize this once in a lifetime opportunity, be sure to coordinate with planners and ensure your photographer has a plan! It can truly be a fairytale with keepsake images to look back on for decades to come.
Congratulations on your recent engagement! And, “great choice” selecting Annapolis and Anne Arundel County as your wedding destination.
We love our little city, and we know you will too. The diversity of Anne Arundel County offers a plethora of options and styles surrounding Maryland’s State Capital, Annapolis. From waterfront to countryside, and modern appeal to traditional elegance, Annapolis & Anne Arundel County has everything you need to make your special day truly memorable.
To help your planning process, we put together a short wedding manual for the Annapolis area. It will help answer many of the questions brides have with planning their wedding day:
THE LEGAL SIDE OF THINGS:
Marriage License for Anne Arundel County
Marriage licenses are available during the week at the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County.
8 Church Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401
One applicant must apply in person to give the information for both parties. The application process takes approximately 15 minutes, and there is a 48-hour waiting period before the license is valid. The fee for the license is $55.00. The marriage license is valid for six months from the date of issuance and is only valid in Anne Arundel County. If you live out of state, you can fill out this form. For more information, visit the website: https://www.clerkannearundel.net/license-marriage
Civil Marriage Ceremony
Civil Ceremonies are performed on a walk-in basis during the week at the Circuit Court Chapel. The hours for civil ceremonies are 9:00 AM. – 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM. The fee for a civil marriage ceremony is $25.00 (checks are not accepted as payment). Friends and family may attend to witness the ceremony.
Permits/Legal Requirements on Venues
If you are looking at getting married on a picturesque beach, a national park, or a historic building, you may need to get a permit to do so. In most cases, you will discuss the requirements for the venue with the administration team once you book your appointment. Please keep in mind the majority of venues are fully booked months in advance.
PICKING YOUR DATE:
Dates to Consider
When picking your wedding date, make sure you check our major event calendar for anything that might impact hotel room rate and availability. Here are a few event dates you should try to avoid or book far in advance:
- USNA Commissioning Week (always Memorial Day Weekend)
- Fall Boat Show (First two weekends in October)
- USNA Navy Football Home Games in the Fall (Navy class reunions are always held on game days)
Anne Arundel County boasts warm summers and mild winters, and the weather during spring and autumn is generally pleasant. There are no pronounced wet and dry seasons, and breezes from the Chesapeake Bay and nearby creeks moderate the county’s temperature.
FOR YOUR GUESTS:
There is plenty of things to do around Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. From the Arundel Mills Entertainment District to City Dock in Downtown Annapolis, there’s no shortage of fun to be had! There’s something for everyone and of all ages, whether it’s sailing on the Chesapeake, seeing a live show at one of our many music venues, or simply doing some retail therapy at our malls and quaint shops. A list of events around the area can be found here.
Anne Arundel County is conveniently located between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., just off the east coast’s major north-south highway, I-95. Annapolis is just 26 miles from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and 32 miles from Washington, D.C. There are several ways to reach us:
- Airlines including Allegiant, American, Delta, JetBlue, Spirit, United, and WOW Air more fly into Anne Arundel County’s BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport regularly
- AMTRAK has a stop at the BWI station with multiple trains running daily
- MegaBus has daily routes from NYC to Annapolis
- SafeRide is an alternative ride-scheduling service for those who want peace of mind from their drivers. SafeRide will deliver your guests to your wedding safely and on time!
- The county also offers Uber & Lyft
With more than a dozen major hotel chains located within a short drive to the bustling streets of downtown Annapolis, our accommodations combine the familiarity and comfort you’ve come to expect from bigger hotels with the proximity to all the things to do in downtown. Our region also reaches all the way up to the Baltimore Washington International Airport. There are so many great hotels in that area.
Looking for group room nights, contact our Group Sales Coordinator, Karla Armstrong.