Taking your special event to a venue on embassy row

Margareta Ploder will likely never meet you, and yet she is mildly terrified at the thought of possibly getting a call from you or one of your relatives — and she has every reason to be. The last thing she would ever want to deal with is the onslaught of requests to have her embassy host a slew of spring and summer weddings — so just assume the answer to be no.

Access to the Austrian Embassy for outside groups wanting to hold private events is “quite restrictive,” according to Ploder, the embassy’s cultural attach�. This phrase encapsulates the high bar of admittance for the handful of embassies that allow nonaffiliated groups to hold events. In addition to this prohibitive degree of entry, these embassies also share the specific rules that underlie what is seemingly a rare practice.

No promotions, no advertising, no solicitation, no profiting and by extension no rentals. While exceptions are made when the event is related to a charitable cause, the lead criterion is that the group and the event must bear, to a certain extent, a cultural connection with the embassy and its nation of association.

“Last year we had the Capitol File opening party,” said Martha Jensen, social attach� with the Colombian Embassy, referring to the magazine of D.C. urbanity. A feature relating to Colombian culture was the hook that allowed the event to be held within its vivid quarters.

The sitting room surrounds you in concentric circles, which share the bright yellow of the Colombian flag and accent the otherwise-plain white wall. Meticulously crafted, white arches accent a larger room. The window treatments allow the morning to offer a steady pour of sunlight, which colors the dark floors.

The dining room is a gallery that displays a scheme of color symmetry between the outer trim of the rug, the many tints of the chairs’ fabric and the flower arrangement at the table’s center.

A celebration in honor of Kalevala, Finland’s epic tale, complete with singers, dancers and a staged play, was one of the more memorable events at the Finnish Embassy, according to Maria Palbot, the embassy’s events coordinator.

Palbot classifies all of the embassy’s outside events as “evenly wonderful.” A standout event for her was a group of 50 students from a local elementary school who came to see Finnish movies.  

The meeting room has impressive white, cylindrical columns stationed in between glass and wooden walls, illuminated by the curved track lighting.

The examples of memorable events held at the Ghanaian embassy lend to the perception that the nation  is a rising star on the African continent. The embassy provided its space for the American Bar Association’s Africa Law Initiative, aimed at providing legal training and expertise to African judges, lawyers and government officials. The other event was hosted by Harambee Africa International, which raises money to bring mobile HIV/AIDS clinics to parts of Africa.

The Ghanaian Embassy is by no means the only one that has used its space to showcase its nation’s magnanimity. The Finnish Embassy housed a silent auction for an AIDS-awareness group, while the Colombian Embassy made its space available for an event for Friends of Fana, an organization that aids in the adoption of Colombian children.

Ploder indicated that a “loose connection with Austria” may suffice for a group to stage an event. She went on to say, however, that even if such a connection did not exist, a group could still hold an event there depending on the response to a simple question: “Do we want to have a relationship with this institution?” There have only been seven events held by outside groups in the past nine months.

One of the events she mentioned was the Embassy Series, which allows embassies to showcase music from their native lands — in Austria’s case the Mozart String Quintet. 

Attractive multiple balconies arch over the dark floor of the main room, with a center aisle splitting the lower level. One can easily imagine a regal wedding processional being beautifully choreographed here.

But the reality is, Ploder will never sign off on it.