Cait & Bill’s Black & Gold, Washington DC Wedding at Carnegie Institution for Science

  • 3
  • February 17, 2015

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Images: Stephen Gosling Photography

You might remember this super adorable couple from their chilly (how appropriate for today) DC engagement pictures. Cait & Bill have some killer style & a love for DC and both of those things were SO apparent in their gorgeous DC wedding. I LOVE their gold & black color palette (with a hint of vintage, art deco flair) and how all their details came together. Cait & Bill are a self proclaimed casual couple, and they really wanted their wedding to be a reflection of them (well you all know how I feel about that).

They shared, “Our goal was for family and friends to feel like they were at a party or dinner at our place (in this case a really special party!). This was our approach to the whole wedding, and it extended from the large details (getting married by our closest friend) to the small ones (the bar selection). It may have felt like a fancier dinner at our place with a lot more people, but in the end, the wedding was a reflection of us and our relationship.”

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On their wedding venue, the Carnegie Institution for Science:

The Carnegie Institution for Science was one of wedding planning’s easiest decisions. We knew from our first tour that it was the place we wanted to be married–it’s so beautiful without being overdone. Honestly, we didn’t look anywhere else. I liked the idea of having separate rooms for the ceremony, dinner, and reception, but at the same time the venue flows together seamlessly. I have to mention how working with Becky was the cherry on top of the whole experience at the Carnegie. She’s the absolute best.

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The Carnegie is so classic that you don’t need to go over the top with color or decor. I felt like we could do a lot with black and gold, and it made DIYs especially easy for color selection. If you ask Bill, the colors are because black and gold are his elementary school colors, and he’s a nostalgic guy. Go Brookside Bulldogs!

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Bill purchased my engagement ring from the local jeweler at home where my step-dad purchased my mom’s. When it came time to purchase our bands, it was no question that we would get them from Finkle’s. I love the tradition of it.

What made our wedding so special to us was the involvement of our family and friends. From our invites that were beautifully addressed by our friend Kathryn to the beer that was crafted by close friends, very few details weren’t touched by someone we loved.

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Love this sequence of the first look!!

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Click inside for SO MUCH more of Cait & Bill’s adorable black & gold DC wedding – including a look at our DIY Chalkboard Signs workshop working in real life!!

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We decided to prioritize budget in other places, so the biggest DIY was creating our floral arrangements and bouquets. Thankfully, my amazing friends Megan and Mara offered to take the lead on making this happen. We started by creating a shared Pinterest board for ideas, and then I narrowed it down to a handful of pictures. My mom, (very patient) step-dad, and I selected the flowers two days before the wedding from Potomac Floral. The next day, my mom, bridesmaids, and I spent the afternoon under Megan’s organizational guidance and with Mara’s beautiful design work putting together 15 arrangements and five bouquets. The end product was absolutely stunning, even more so considering the labor of love behind them.

How to DIY Wedding Flowers tip!! If you can, go to Potomac a year out from your wedding date. If you go a month or a few months before, it won’t be a true reflection of what they will have in stock at your wedding since flowers are seasonal. For the most part, inventory a year out was reflective of what they had when I went in to buy flowers two days out.

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We had Marc, our longest mutual friend, officiate our wedding. Given that neither of us is particularly religious, nor do we have a church we frequent in the area, we thought it would make our day more special to have someone we cared about (and who cared about us) officiate our ceremony. Marc has seen our relationship grow and develop just as our friendship with him has deepened commensurately. Thanks to a law change in the District, getting him on our marriage license and able to officiate the wedding was relatively painless. The payoff was a great one for us. The man who married us wasn’t a stranger but instead someone who knows us very well. That made us much more comfortable at the altar, and we were collectively able to add our own spin on a wedding ceremony without relying on someone else’s vision of what matrimony should look like. Even better: he’s still available to officiate weddings, so if you’re looking for someone great…

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Special shoutout to the DC Council for changing the law around this in 2013. The application process for Marc to serve as our officiant was so easy. All it takes is a quick trip to the Courthouse, which you have to do for your marriage license anyway! We each asked one of our grandmothers to do a reading during our wedding ceremony. We’ve learned a lot about love from them, and so it meant a lot to have them play a role in our wedding.

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Last summer, I signed up for the CapRo chalkboard workshop with Sarah Perez. I had a fantastic time with my friend and fellow bride-to-be, Kristen, learning how to make the Mr & Mrs signs. My mom added the finishing touches with the gold frames and fresh garland. The class, for better or worse, turned me into a chalkboarding monster. I created our table seating sign, bar menu, and hashtag easel using chalkboarding techniques. (Sadly the bar menu and hashtag sign weren’t put out at the wedding so I only have those Insta pics. Devastating.)

The chairback signs look AWESOME don’t they?! I can’t even begin to describe how awesome it is to see someone actually use what they learned in our DIY Workshops at their wedding!!

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It was the little things about our wedding that made it truly ours. Even the beer we served to our guests was purposeful. Bill edits a local beer website, and a lot of our friends who were at the wedding are fans of craft beer. Our beer came from guests who own breweries and were willing to make something they created a part of our special day (shout out to the District’s own Bluejacket and Shreveport, Louisiana’s Great Raft Brewing). It wasn’t all craft beer geeks, however. Our families and some of our friends aren’t totally invested in craft beer…yet, and so we chose styles that were interesting but approachable. Sure enough, the beers were a hit with everyone who had them, and they offered something out of the ordinary from the typical wedding lineup.

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 Fall is my favorite season, so I wanted to add touches of it without being in your face. Pumpkins were the answer. As the wedding grew closer, our front room turned into a pumpkin patch of cinderella and mini pumpkins. The cinderella pumpkins lined the front steps of the Carnegie with candles. The mini pumpkins, gathered from Trader Joe’s from multiple states, were spray painted gold by my mom while I created name cards to rest on top. To finish off the tables, my mom sewed the table runners and spray painted the free-standing table numbers.

As many engaged couples learn, Pinterest can be your best friend and your worst enemy when it comes to wedding planning. The ideas are endless. I had come across a few photo displays and thought it would be a nice touch to share photos of Bill and I as kids and throughout our eight years together. The problem was that I had no idea where to start. I sent my friend Justen a couple of pictures and the next time I saw him he made it happen.

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The cupcake and candy table brought together the black and gold theme. I’ve always loved the “Time to Drink Champagne and Dance on the Table” sign, but couldn’t find an affordable option online. My friend Kristen designed one for us that I printed at Staples and framed with a Homegoods frame.

You may have noticed a trend with the DIYs… my mom. I would text her an idea and within days she would have come up with a plan. Months after our engagement, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and throughout her treatment the big goal was getting to the wedding. Thankfully, she kicked cancer’s ass, and so not only was she there, she quite literally made the wedding. The best visual of her craftiness was her SUV jam-packed when my parents arrived into town. I’m not sure she could see out the back!

(You go Cait’s Mom!! Way to kick Cancer’s Ass!!!!)

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In the eleventh hour, I came to my senses and realized that baking cookies as favors was simply not an option. To add a touch of fall, as I am from Upstate New York, I decided on cider doughnuts. The problem was that they’re not easy to find around DC. I reached out to the folks at District Doughnut who made it happen. At the end of a fun night, the doughnuts provided just the treat everyone needed and brought a touch of home to our wedding.

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The highlight (besides the whole getting married bit) was surprising Bill with Teddy the Racing President. Bill and I adopted the Nationals as our team soon after they made their way to DC. We’re those people who watch the games on MASN all season long and wear #LetTeddyWin gear. Soon after our engagement, I reached out to the Nationals to see if there was even a possibility of getting Teddy. After brainstorming with friends, I came up with the idea to have Teddy bring out the cupcakes for us to exchange. As Teddy walked out, Bill and I are were standing in the middle of the rotunda. I had to nudge Bill in the direction of Teddy before he finally saw him.

Priceless is the only way to describe Bill’s reaction. He turned to the room and pleaded, “You’re seeing this too, right?” It was hard to keep this a secret for a year, but it was so worth it.

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Vendors:

Photographer:  Stephen Gosling Photography | DJ: Black Tie Entertainment | Event Venue: Carnegie Institution for Science | Event Planner: Nikki, Cupcakes for Breakfast | Cake Designer: Georgetown Cupcakes | Caterer: Main Event Caterers | Submitted via Two Bright Lights

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