And we are back, with part 2 of my Washington, DC wedding reflection [part 1, written yesterday here]. I must warn you that this post is even picture heavier than the first part. I thought I had split it evenly, but then there were just TOO many good shots I wanted to share from the “formals” [you will see why I quoted formals soon enough] and then all the amazing fun reception pictures too!
And we’re off …
Our venue search led us all over Washington, DC, to find the perfect, non-hotel ballroom for our reception. We wanted something unique, but something that felt very “Washington, DC” to our guests [since it was a destination wedding for most of our family/friends], and of course we also had a budget.
We had it down to 3 serious contenders, the Longview Gallery near Convention Center, the iconic Union Station, and the Decatur House on Lafayette Square. In the end [thanks to my dad claiming he had "Goosebumps" while walking through], we chose the Decatur House, and we couldn’t have been more ecstatic about our decision.
The Decatur House is right next to the White House – it doesn’t get much more “Washington, DC” than that. Plus the brick building, with the tented courtyard perfectly fit in with our “vintage-modern, hipster” feel of our wedding. The coordinators we worked with, Arioth & Hart, were amazing. They were great with email & communication and were so helpful with how much DIY we wanted to do at the venue.
One thing I would recommend, if your schedule/locations permit it, would be to have a significant break between your ceremony and reception. We had 2 hours for our break. This gave us plenty of time to have a receiving line after the ceremony, allow guests to get to the reception location, AND gave us more than enough time to take all our “formal” pictures!
We had outlined a few bars/places guests could go in between the ceremony and reception, and because the weather was so nice, most opted to just walk around near the White House!
While guests took a break though, we were busy getting some of the most incredible, offbeat, & hilarious “formals” ever.
We still have no idea what Steve was doing in this picture.
Love this shot of Andy & his groomsmen. I basically emailed everyone in the world at Volcom to find out if/when their grey suits would be back in stock, and I was so glad they were going to have them in time for the wedding. I searched FOREVER to find an affordable grey suit for the groomsmen that would fit them nicely and not cost more than $200.
So yes, we actually asked our groomsmen to buy the suits [vice renting a tux] and all of them were OK with that!
And here was my brilliant idea in all it’s glory for my bridesmaids shots – 7 bridesmaids? 7 Harry Potter books? Best.Bridesmaids.Shot.Ever.
I love how their mismatched black dresses look here too!
We have about 8 of these shots of our wedding party just having an insane amount of fun, doing what they wanted to do and the end result is just hilarious. I smile every time I see them.
And then we got a some-what more formal one in front of the White House. I still love how relaxed/casual it came out though. Just like a big group of friends hanging out. Love.
Read more to see the rest of Part 2 ~ A reflection on my offbeat Washington, DC wedding ~ A year later
Another shot of the bridesmaids – I just love how their tulle & Christmas ornament bouquets pop here! [PS if you want to learn to make these offbeat bouquets, my mom made them & created a DIY tutorial on how-to make them here]
And have I mentioned that Live It Out Photography rules the world at stunning wedding portraits? Oh, I have … my apologies …
This shot actually happened as we were wrapping up … we were walking back to the Decatur House and there was actually another couple sitting on this bench reading a book together. Amber saw them and took a picture of them and decided we HAD to have a picture of me & Andy on the bench.
I am glad she thought we had to have it. Looks like a movie still to me :)
And now we move on to the reception ….
I did an entire post about our DIY Photo Guest Book [with mustaches ... of course], so I won’t go into too much detail here. But, the guestbook was a HUGE hit with our guests and I love reading the book every now and then. Even our grandpa took a picture with a mustache!
A myriad of our guy friends enjoying their ‘staches
So remember yesterday when I said that our ornament pomanders that adorned the pews at the church would get a second life? Well – this was an absolute surprise to me even. I had mentioned to Dorothy [our coordinator friend] and the coordinator that was provided to us by the catering company, Catering by Uptown, that I wanted to re-use the pomanders for decorations at the cocktail hour.
What I didn’t expect was for how amazing of a job they would do with setting them up. Catering by Uptown is the REAL deal when it comes to wedding catering in the Washington, DC area. They go ABOVE and BEYOND the expected, and somehow are able to provide it to you at a totally reasonable price.
We were given a coordinator/point of contact that worked with us throughout the entire process. Jeff, our coordinator, was immensely talented and invaluably helpful on the day of our wedding.
The mirror square, the tea lights, the placement of the pomanders – all him. I nearly cried when I saw how he had re-mastered the pomanders into cocktail hour decorations. He made all those countless hours I spent making these … 100% worth it.
Another one of our DIY projects – the centerpieces that doubled as wedding favors for our guests. Dorothy hand-made these ornaments for us, and Jeff with Catering by Uptown, again, pulled through with the amazing design & placement of the ornaments in the lotus bowls.
We DIYed the menus & table names [using Washington, DC area neighborhoods as the names] as well
The menus were a complete, last minute decision on my part – I originally thought they were a waste, but then had a change of heart, realizing people probably want to know what they are eating … so we made 1 per table, and I made 16 origami menu stands by hand the week before the wedding!
The idea of a cluster, lantern chandelier was something I had seen on another wedding blog, early in my wedding planning days. I couldn’t shake this image, and as it got closer to the wedding day, I worried that the white tent we had rented was too bland, and that we needed something extra over the dance floor. Because of our budget, I was planning on hanging these myself [after attempting to find a company that would just come to hang lights/lanterns proved next to impossible and WAY too expensive ... they all asked me where my florist was ... haha...]
Up until a few weeks before the wedding, we were planning on renting a ladder the night before, and Amber & Jon were going to help hang it. Then my parents told me I was nuts for attempting this – and told me just to hire someone … luckily we found Katie Martin with Elegance & Simplicity. She had no problem charging us a fair fee for labor to JUST come to hang our lights & lanterns.
In the end, I was glad we didn’t try to DIY this … and Elegance & Simplicity did a marvelous job.
We have individual shots of ALL our wedding parties entrances … they are hilarious for sure … but I decided just to include ours. We had our parents, wedding party, and us all enter to the Jock Jams Megamix [yes, the one from the 90s]. It was amazing. It gets me SO pumped up and was a perfect way to get the party started.
I’ve already covered our Flash Mob First Dance [probably ad nauseum to some of you] so I won’t go on more here. I just wanted to include this shot because I love the way Andy & my little sister are looking at each other here.
Because Andy & I did not have a traditional maid of honor/best man, we asked our siblings to do our toasts. Becky & Sara [Andy's sister's] dazzled the crowd with their hilarious stories of Andy as a kid. These two toasts are seriously some of my favorite parts of our wedding video.
Now onto my siblings … obviously they went the “funny route” too. They each had a different anecdote and quote to share, for the perfect mix of laughter and love.
My parents dancing under the paper lantern chandelier
Andy & his mom slow danced to a beautiful song by Chuck Ragan. It was a song the artist wrote for his mother. I covered this song on one of my Wedding Music That Doesn’t Suck posts – so check it out if you are looking for the PERFECT mother-son dance song!
My dad and I did something a little different … I didn’t want to pick just a random song that had no meaning to either of us … and again, I cannot slow dance [see Flash Mob First Dance above] so, I decided to use a song that my dad used to sing to me when I was younger … the BoDeans “Closer to Free”. Party of 5 fans [yeah I went there] will recognize this song from the opening credits, but others will know because it was a really popular 90s song.
Regardless, my dad used to change the lyrics and sing, “Everybody wants to be … closer to Bree”. We had a very lose outline of acting out the words [it's how I dance] and then sort of had a plan during the refrain, but otherwise, we really just cut lose and danced like crazies around the dance floor.
“Everybody wants respect
Just a little bit “
Needless to say, my dad was really cutting a rug and I think my mouth was open the ENTIRE dance/song. Our amazing Washington, DC wedding band [The Winn Brothers Band] even learned it for us!
And now for some shots of the reception … if this doesn’t show you just how incredible the Winn Brothers Band is … I don’t know what will …
Another one of my favorite parts of the night … Amber asking my permission to dance a bit. Of COURSE I said OK … and then my friend grabbed her camera, and we got this:
My friend Tom did the worm.
The song was “Come on Eileen” … I just couldn’t help myself. My friend Ed & I got a bit carried away …
We had a friend make us funfetti cupcakes & one big cupcake for us to cut. Andy’s parents got us the cake topper from a glass blowing factory on one of their frequent vacations. I loved the two birds in the heart. So cute.
By the end of the night … I was a hot mess. Hair falling out, lipstick gone … but still having the time of my life
Probably the best shot of me and my siblings ever. Picking on my brother, as per usual.
This was the dance floor …. ALL night.
A few months before I had this idea to end the night with a specific song. Andy will openly admit his love for Kelly Clarkson, and there is no denying how awesomely singable her songs are … upon hearing “My Life Would Suck Without You” … I just knew we had to end the reception with it.
So that is what we did … the band concluded, put on Ms. Clarkson, and then surrounded by all of our family, friends, and guests, we belted out “My Life Would Suck Without You”.
The absolute perfect end, to the absolute perfect day.
If you made it this far … thank you so much for dancing down memory lane with me. If I could afford it – I would have a wedding every year :) A special thank you again to ALL my amazing wedding vendors, my amazing parents for helping us with this wedding, our amazing families for all the love & support, and all of our incredible friends for sharing in this day with us.
We love you all!