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The O’Donell’s Wedding at Haven on the Lake

by Trace Dye

Ray and Maria O’Donell met in a moment of happenstance at Nottingham’s bar in Columbia, Maryland.

“When people say you don’t meet your husband at a bar, well, sometimes you do,” said Maria O’Donell. “We kind of ran into each other, not really looking for anything and found each other. We became really great friends and it grew from there.”

After dating for seven months, the couple became engaged. An employee of Columbia Association for 11 years, O’Donell first got the idea to hold her ceremony at CA’s wellness retreat, Haven on the Lake, from a colleague.

“I looked everywhere and everything was super expensive,” said O’Donell. “Shannon, one of our sales representatives here said, ‘Have you ever thought of having your wedding here at Haven?’ I said, ‘No, I haven’t, but it’s perfect.’”

Haven on the Lake offered the perfect backdrop for the pair’s special day in October. The couple’s wedding ceremony was held in the 7,000-square-foot veranda outside of Haven. The veranda offered a picturesque view of Lake Kittamaqundi and a canopy of autumn leaves added to the fall ceremony’s gorgeous aesthetic.

The choice in venue not only provided an elegant ambience — it offset costs.

“The views are stunning,” O’Donell said. “I tried to keep the ceremony really minimal because I didn’t need to do a lot of decorations…I had the outside. I didn’t want to do flowers because I knew how expensive they were.”

Instead, she opted for a festive arrangement of pumpkins and logs. The choice in decor was doubly pragmatic, as the pumpkins also served as favors for the wedding guests. Other practical yet lovely additions to enhance the atmosphere included homemade apple cider and chalkboard signs reading messages like, “To have and to hold in case you get cold” in front of a wicker basket containing blankets.


Following the ceremony, the couple took the celebration to the Lakefront’s pavilion for a reception catered by Clyde’s, located conveniently across from the veranda. Clear skies remained for the entire ceremony and reception.

“I would like to thank some special family members and friends that dedicated their own time, money and energy to help me before, during and after my wedding to make it a truly special and magical day — not just for me, but everyone that attended,” O’Donell said.

O’Donell’s advice to future brides? “The main thing is don’t stress out,” she said. “Something will go wrong and it doesn’t really matter because — when that day gets here — you’re just so happy and ready to be married.”

Want a one-of-a-kind experience for your next big event? Haven’s beautiful 27,000 square-foot retreat can suit most any occasion, including:

  • Weddings
  • Cocktail parties
  • Birthday parties
  • Reunions
  • Corporate celebrations
  • Intimate affairs
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Per the Governor's mandate, masks must be worn at all times in Haven on the Lake, including while physically exercising. The exception is that masks are not required while swimming or when it provides a bonafide health risk.

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