When Paige Leamy and Brian Fuss decided to get married and celebrate with 40 of their closest friends and family, they found their choices limited when it came to choosing a venue.
"The courthouse, which is not very warm and personal, or the country club or mansions, which restricted you to using their caterers with a minimum amount to be spent, i.e., $7,000," remembers the frustrated bride.
"We both had been married before and did not want the big wedding," she continues. "Nor did we want to spend astronomical amounts of money. There was nothing in between."
In the end, the couple married on New Year's Eve 2008 in their Ellicott City home. The following year, after wondering how many other couples faced the same roadblock, they began investigating opening their own small wedding venue.
It wasn't long before they found the perfect space -- a three-story stone building on Main Street in Historic Ellicott City. Once an art gallery, the 19th century space seemed perfectly located, according to Paige Fuss. She liked Ellicott City for its "charm and historical beauty" and the fact that so many wedding-related businesses are nearby. Florists, bakeries, restaurants, even jewelers are just a few steps or short drive away.
They christened the venue Ellicott City Weddings and Events and gave the property a fresh coat of paint, refinished original hardwood floors and added a new second-floor deck overlooking the historic homes of Church Street.
Brian Fuss, a CBS videographer, installed cameras and audio equipment on both floors so they can offer a live webcam feed for friends and family out of town who want to watch the festivities. A wall-mounted flat-screen TV on the second floor is available for slide shows.
Couples can provide their own professionals or choose from Fuss' list of approved vendors. Ceremonies are held downstairs and receptions upstairs. The upstairs can handle 80 people standing or 50 to 75 seated.
Lauren Pridgen of Pasadena chose to have her wedding at Ellicott City Weddings and Events after attending an event there in January.
"I fell in love with the place as soon as I walked in the door. I always envisioned a small, intimate wedding and I couldn't imagine a more perfect setting," says Pridgen, who got married in April. "Every other reception hall I visited lacked the character that Ellicott City Weddings and Events has."
Fees for a ceremony and/or reception depend on the day of the week and number of guests, but can range from $250 for an unscheduled ceremony to $3,000 for a Saturday night ceremony and reception with tables and chairs. Fuss offers shuttle service from a nearby parking lot for parties with 25 guests or more.
And the walk-in wedding? Fuss, who is ordained, is ready and waiting.
"But since you have to have your paperwork for 48 hours in Maryland, there does need to be a little bit of planning," she says.
Still, Fuss lives only a mile and a phone call away, just in case.