Bree Ryback

My Response to “How I Dumped the Wedding Industry” Blog Post

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Image: Mathy Shoots People

Last Friday a friend and former client of mine tagged me in an article on Twitter. I read the article and couldn’t help myself (shocking I know) and ended up engaging in a mini-argument on Twitter about the things posted in it. The post was from a recent bride that “dumped” the wedding industry and mostly railed against its supposed wedding upcharging and other rip-off pricing.

And while some of her tips/advice I can get behind, there is a lot of the article that pissed me off. Pissed me off so much because I’ve worked in this industry now for 5 years and I just can’t get behind some of her sweeping statements that vendors in this industry are only here to upcharge and take advantage of your wedding day. There are also advice points in her post that, in my opinion, don’t show the entire story. Ie, yes you can hire outside staffing companies that might be cheaper than a wedding caterer, but they likely won’t provide all the services a full-service catering company would – like busing tables, making sure the food the restaurant dropped off is staying warm/re-stocked, helping with set up, coordinating with your rentals, and the list goes on.

So I’d like to respond to her letter here today, but let me start by prefacing that for those of you that know me, you know how I feel about the wedding industry. You know I think it’s expensive, too bride-centric, sometimes focused too much on details, and overall can be a total beast to deal with. I understand that – but that notion is also an easy article to write. Because within the 5 years that I’ve worked in it, I’ve also found the wedding industry to be AWESOME. Full of entrepreneurs and creatives, full of amazing couples & clients, and vendors have become some of my dearest friends. It’s full of people trying to make a living as a wedding vendor, people who do it because they love it, and mostly full of people who just love love and the un-matchable excitement and energy of a wedding day. Who are here to yes, make a living as a wedding business owner, but not to just make huge profits off your wedding day.

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Images: Kristi Odom Photography

Let’s start first with the “Venue + catering = rip off” point. Yes, wedding venues are expensive in DC – but newsflash, this is not a wedding specific thing. ANY rental of ANY venue in DC is expensive – thank our real estate market or the insane cost of rent for businesses here. While it is expensive yes, it’s not necessarily a rip-off in my opinion. However her point to use a non-profit or arts space as the venue (think outside the traditional wedding hall/hotel box!) is certainly one I can get behind (though you need to also read this article on the truth about using offbeat wedding venues for your wedding to be educated). ALSO be aware, that decoupling your venue from everything else can add to your planning/coordinating list – sometimes it’s easier to pay a little more for something that has a lot more included in it.

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Image: Pangtography

Second point: select a catering or a restaurant that can drop-off the food. This will certainly be cheaper (as there is no service at play here), however there are a lot of things you should know if you want a caterer or restaurant to just drop the food off. First – who is at the venue accepting the drop off and where are they putting the food? Does it need to stay hot or cold? Who is doing that? When it’s time to eat, who is taking the food and putting it out – and where did you get the plates, bowls, and serving ware from (the caterer likely dropped off in foil tins, unless they brought rentals, be aware that you likely will have to CLEAN those and take those back to the caterer/restaurant)? Who is turning the food over – putting more out when tins empty? And who is serving the right food at the right time?

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Image: B.O.B. Photography

And onto my favorite point: wedding vendors only charge more because you said wedding, so find vendors who’s main business IS NOT weddings.

Where do I even begin with this one? Guys, there is a REASON vendors might charge more the second you mention it’s a wedding and that is because there is MUCH MORE involved in a wedding day, than your average birthday party or corporate event. I attempted to explain this to the author via Twitter, and she called me sexist, because I shared that the emotion of a wedding day makes the day higher stress and there is more of a push to ensure the day is smooth, fun, “perfect”, thanks to all the expectations of the family, the couple, and the guests attending.

Personally I don’t find anything about calling a wedding day high emotion sexist. I did not say brides, I didn’t utter a word about a sex, I just said the emotions are high on a wedding day. Personally, my wedding day was one of the MOST emotional days of my life, and out of the 30+ weddings I have now worked as a coordinator or attended as a guest, I can tell you this is true because it’s one of the reasons I keep working weddings. I LOVE the emotion of the wedding day. I love watching two brides calmly get ready together. I love watching Dad’s see their little girls in their wedding dress. I love watching the couple walk into their reception space and seeing all their hard work come together. I LOVE THE VOWS (dear god, seriously – traditional or personalized, the vows are MY FAVORITE) and I love when grooms cry.

I LOVE the emotions of a wedding day, but I am telling you these emotions just don’t exist at your average corporate party and because of the emotions, there is a certain frantic energy to the wedding day. It’s not always the couple – sometimes it’s a parent, or a sibling, or wedding party members that want to ensure the day goes “just right” – regardless it’s there and it’s why “weddings cost more”.

Ok, onto hiring non-wedding vendors. That’s cool – I’ve worked with some great vendors who were “new” to weddings, however, if you are going to hire non-wedding vendors you better have a coordinator or planner that can help wrangle and manage them. There is a certain cadence to a wedding day – each vendor knows what I am talking about. And working in weddings gives you the ability to not only account for the cadence in advance, but it enables you to be prepared for most situations that likely arise on a wedding day. DJs, photographers, officiants – you guys know what I am talking about, and have likely written your own blog post about it…. working a wedding is different than other events. So while you can hire non-wedding vendors, don’t expect to get the same service you would, had you hired a wedding professional. Your DJ might not play appropriate music during dinner or cake, your photographer will likely miss moments you wanted captured in your wedding day pictures, and your cake might not stand up to 95 degree summer DC heat – but as long as you are OK with that, hire away!

me at Joel and Christine's wedding

Image: Liz Fogarty

Next point: using Task Rabbit. Oh man guys – I mean see above on the entire paragraph about hiring non-professional wedding vendors. I’ve written about hiring friends as wedding vendors before as well, but using Task Rabbit takes this to a whole new level. Sure this CAN work – and CAN save you money, BUT there is also a risk involved here. The author also mentions that with using Task Rabbit, YOU will have to create layouts, a wedding day timeline, instructional packets for your non-wedding vendors, AND run a paid training before your wedding to ensure they are ready & informed.

Ask yourself, A) Do you even know how to do these things? B) Do you have the TIME to do these things? Sure you might save money here, but there is a lot of TIME involved in creating these layouts, this timeline, and ringing in the vendors. How do I know that? Well that is essentially what I do as a wedding coordinator, so yes I know how much time is involved here. :)

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Image: Pop Wed Co

Finally (if you are still with me): Get Appy & use technology – now this one I am 100% behind! BUT I still have one thought – know your audience here. Technology is AWESOME and yes, affordable, however, if everyone you are inviting is NOT technology friendly, an online RSVP might not be the way to go (because you will likely end up having to track all your guests down for RSVPs if they cannot figure out the website).

In short (hah!), you can certainly do everything the author outlines and likely still have a great wedding day. HOWEVER, you should not expect your wedding to be without hitch or hiccup if you opt for non-wedding professionals and fast-casual restaurants for catering. There is NOTHING wrong with this approach and a lot of my clients have mixed these budget saving tips in with the more traditional options, however, there is always a second side to these tips that I hope I was able to articulate that here.

What I ended with telling the Author on Twitter and what I’ll end here again today, is that I truly believe there is no RIGHT way to plan/execute a wedding. There is NOTHING that you MUST or NEED to do, there is only what you and your partner WANT. My job as a blogger and wedding coordinator is to simply educate you/my clients on what that want might cost or need in order to be achieved.

Happy Wednesday Romancers.

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Steph & Jimmy’s Classic DC Engagement Pictures on the Mall

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Images: Alexandra Elise Photography

I‘ll admit I have a really hard time finding the energy to get back to blogging when our country sees yet another avoidable tragedy like the one that happened this weekend in Orlando. I feel angry, lost, sad, frustrated, angry, tired, sad, full of despair, angry, and frustrated again. Feeling so helpless towards the situation only makes it worse. I am a woman of action – I like to solve problems, provide answers, and find the way towards compromise or resolution but I fear an answer to this devastating topic is just not one I will see in my lifetime.

So instead of dwelling on it (because I spent the last 2 days wallowing in it), I will try to do what I can control, which is focus on love, life, and kindness instead. I will try to focus on happiness and the love the couples on my blog and in my coordination business and in my life share with each other and the others around them. And I’ll get started with sharing this beautiful DC engagement session, full of love, smiles, two kind hearts sharing their love in the city I love. Happy Tuesday all.

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Jimmy and Stephanie met through Stephanie’s “friend since forever” and Jimmy’s cousin, Eleni. A bunch of them were having a “cousins night out” and Stephanie went along with Eleni. Jimmy asked Stephanie for her number that night and they started dating shortly after. Jimmy never forgets that it was the NFL Draft day of 2011.  They dated for a few months before Stephanie moved to Arlington, Virginia for a teaching job. They stayed together and had a long distance relationship for about two years. After that, Jimmy moved down to Virginia to be with Stephanie.

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Jimmy and Stephanie got engaged on June 20, 2015 after having a nice brunch in Old Town VA. They will never forget how the kids approached them trying to sell them candy a few seconds after Jimmy proposed, totally interrupting the moment!  They are now very excited to celebrate their wedding day in Rochester with all of their family and friends!

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Marianna & Nick’s DC Engagement Pictures at Meridian Hill Park

Photos from the Harty ı Wedding, Event, & Lifestyle Photography ı www.photosfromtheharty.com

Images: Photo from the Harty submitted via Two Bright Lights

Hope you guys all had a great weekend – ours was AWESOME. We got to enjoy the outdoors, visit with family, and take a long bike ride to Yards Park so Evie could enjoy the wading pool (we could barely pry her from it!). Really was one of those weekends where we had nothing planned, but go so much done and really got to just enjoy living in this city. It was awesome. For today, a day later that planned, your DC engagement session and love story for the week! Marianna & Nick decided to take their engagement pictures in one of my favorite parks in DC, Meridian Hill Park.

Photos from the Harty ı Wedding, Event, & Lifestyle Photography ı www.photosfromtheharty.com

How they met: October 27th, 2012. Marianna went to a Halloween party near Grand Central with some new friends she had just made and saw a group of people dressed as various Simpson’s characters. She was intrigued. A guy dressed in a white suit, blue round sunglasses, and a fro wig was there and they started talking. The most enticing thing about him was his chest hair. Since Marianna was dressed as Madonna (an appropriate version) with a blonde wig, she showed this young gentleman a picture of her CT license, which she had just gotten that day. This man needed to know what she actually looked like. Deciding that she also needed to know what this man really looked like, Nick then took off his wig. They clearly both liked what they saw and numbers were exchanged. Unfortunately, Marianna had to go to another location with her friends and had to leave this cute man for the evening. Much to her surprise, Nick texted her later that night. Needless to say, they talked quite regularly after that. It only took a few weeks for them to say “I love you.” Nick was just too nice and sweet, with amazing green eyes that it was so easy to fall in love with him! And Marianna’s kindness, beauty, intelligence, and overall personality made Nick fall in love with her right away.


The Engagement: May 22nd, 2015. It was a normal Friday night- Marianna made dinner and the happy couple watched “The Dark Crystal” after Marianna finished doing her laundry. She was tired so they turned off Netflix and got ready for bed because it now had become midnight. Before going to bed, though, Nick gave Marianna a rectangular gift that was wrapped up. He told her it was a gift for their new apartment so she opened it up. As she did this, he went down on one knee and pulled out a ring. The gift was a collage of over 60 photos of the two of them together over the past 2 1/2 years. Marianna obviously teared up and said “yes.” She can’t wait to be spending the rest of her life with this wonderful, thoughtful man that she is grateful to call her best friend. Nick is looking forward to sharing his life with someone who is selfless, adventurous, loving, and exciting. Life is an adventure, and they will be embarking on that journey together. In the words of Pablo Neruda, “You are like nobody since I love you.”

A Dark Side of the Moon Inspired Styled Engagement Session

View More: http://sarahkimblephoto.pass.us/darksideofthemoonstyledshoot

Images: Sarah Price Photography

We made it!! ANOTHER week come and gone. Another MONTH too. We are hoping to take advantage of June – no weddings to work and lots of weekends in DC to hopefully work on all those open-ended projects Andy and I have going on. I cannot believe it’s June already … and *DEPRESSING ALERT* the year is now half-way over. Our big goal this month is to finally get these designs we’ve been hoarding & crafting in secrecy (though we leaked on in the #CapRoNewsblast yesterday!) up and into the #CapRoShop. We’ll likely be moving the shop from Square to WooCommerce as well. It’s a huge goal … but I am hoping to get it done before we head to Vermont & Cabo at the end of the month.

For today we have the MOST rad Baltimore engagement session – two adorable Baltimorians with a love of classic rock, food, and each other (LURVE). A group of local DC & Baltimore wedding vendors got together to help Chelsi & Ian celebrate their engagement and wedding coming this September. There is so much awesome happening in this shoot, I’ll just let you check it all out next:

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Chelsi & Ian are two adorable Bawlmer hons with a love of classic rock, food, and each other. Ian tours in a Band and Chelsi is always right beside him so the theme of their shoot was a nod to their love of music. We chose Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of theMoon” album art as the inspiration so we used lots of moody rainbow colors, shadowy corners, and, of course, prisms.

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READ MORE FOR THE REST!

Vol 8: The Real Life of a Mompreneur – What Happened to the Details

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Image: Maggie with PopWed Co!

I used to be able to multi-task with the best of them. Talking and typing at the same time, answering emails while on a conference call, or simply just doing 3 or 4 things simultaneously. Well, those days are pretty much over.

Now, while I still ATTEMPT to multi-task like I used to, I can’t quite cut it these days. What do I mean by this exactly? Well the details are falling through the cracks and I can’t quite seem to make it stop.

Let’s start first with Evie’s First Birthday Invitation. I poured over this – editing and updating and trying to make it look the cutest I could on my limited InDesign skills. I sent to Andy for proofing and I must have stared at this thing a million times. I finally got as far as I could, and satisfied I sent it off for printing, and then mailing to our friends/family.

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And then my sister in law texted me. While the invite is ADORABLE, she said, the date for Saturday is May 14th, not 13th. YIKES.

Fast forward a few weeks and I was busy making a book for my parents of Evie’s first year with them. Again, making the book with a few spare minutes here or an extra chunk of time there, and I was finally happy with it. Finalize, review, add to cart, send to parents. They got the book and were over the moon, but I had done it AGAIN. A picture of Evie & my parents in the hospital …. May 2016. That’s quite the time-traveling baby apparently.

I’ll be honest, I am still getting used to this – not being able to multi-task without some sort of detail falling into error. I am trying to re-read things to the Nth degree or maybe try and focus on singular tasks and not have 8 computer programs open at once, but I feel like that’s sort of hard to do when you are trying to run a business AND be a mom AND be a wife AND still function at your day job.

I think it’s going to take some time for me to try to cut back on my multi-tasking. I know I should, but I also feel like I won’t do it until something more major than a family book or 1st birthday invite, gets hit with my no-longer-detail-oriented ways. I keep hoping it will just stop and I can go back to the ways of pre-momhood where I could juggle all these things and still stay on top of my details game.

So while I’ll try my hardest to stick to 1 (ok maybe 2 max) thing at a time, I’ll also ask everyones’ forgiveness in advance, for when I inevitably mess up those future details.

Megan & Alan’s Rad, DC-Themed Wedding at Josephine Butler Parks Center

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Images: Kristi Odom Photography

When your initial wedding consult is at a bar on H Street and the bride to be tells you she’s going to wear black and they’ve already booked one of the best photographers in town (and my fav wedding venue), well you just know it’s going to be an amazing DC wedding. This was my inclination for Megan & Alan’s Josephine Butler Parks Center wedding, and turns out, it was 100% on the money. DC flag coaster favors, tables named after DC music venues, tattoos, local DC beer, and yes, a bride in black. But let’s not also forget the AH-MAZING tongue-in-cheek diatribe-tribute to Ted Cruz for being the man responsible for these two meeting in the first place. I was honored to get to be their wedding coordinator and can’t wait to share all the amazing pictures & details with you guys today! Here we go:

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How We Met: We’re both federal employees, and met during the shutdown of the federal government in October 2013. On the first day of the shutdown, Alan was writing at a bar in the middle of the day. He saw Megan, couldn’t place from where he recognized her, only to realize later that she was his top match on OkCupid. He wrote her a message asking if she was also furloughed, and suggested they meet-up for a beer. A week later, with the shutdown in full swing, we had our first date in the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday. Over pizza and beer, we got nerdy about policy, music, and tattoos and pretty much have carried on that way for the last two and a half years.

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We started planning our wedding early. In fact, even though we had a vacation that happened a few weeks after the proposal, we used our down time abroad to research venues and get an early sense of our expected timeline. That helped us maintain our sanity, and so did the idea that what we DID NOT want mattered as much as what we DID. We had an a la carte approach to tradition, embracing some and skipping others, which meant the big day felt like ours instead of someone else’s idea of what it should be. For example, we had a more formal sit-down dinner (catered by the awesome Eat & Smile), but broke traditions with Megan’s black dress and skipping having a wedding party entirely.

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Friend/Family Involvement: There were a few things about our wedding that were such obvious choices they barely needed any discussion: it would be in DC; there would be good beer and sing-a-long to The Mountain Goats’ “No Children”; and our friend Patrick would officiate. Luckily Patrick agreed and did an awesome job officiating the wedding, making everyone laugh and cry. We also had friends do readings during the ceremony and toasts during the reception. Instead of having any of the family related traditions at the wedding, we decided to host a small rehearsal dinner at Tabard Inn for our families the night before the wedding. This gave us the opportunity to thank them for their support and enjoy their company away from all the activity of the wedding itself.

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DIY: To limit our to-do list, we decided to not do too much DIY for the wedding. Luckily, between our beautiful venue (Josephine Butler Parks Center) and flowers from Local Color Flowers, we didn’t need to add much to the space. Some of our projects included painting DC flags on the koozies for favors, painting frames, putting together the DC music venue table names, and writing out the menus. The last project was printing our barf bag programs. We had decided early on that our hashtag would be #barfmeganalan so when I saw these barf bag programs on Off Beat Bride, I knew we had to make them. We changed the template up a little bit from the tutorial, and put a thank you note to our guests on the back. Getting them to print properly was a pain at first, and more than once I considered just dropping the whole thing, but I am really glad we didn’t. They are so funny and weird and perfectly suited to us as a couple.

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Read more for soooo much more awesome at Megan & Alan’s DC Themed Josephine Butler Parks Center Wedding!

DIY Tutorial: Make Your Own DIY Household Cleaning Sprays

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Images: Jenn Heller Design Co.

I‘ll admit that I am super excited for today’s DIY tutorial from Jenn Heller Design Co. Though I have to be honest that Andy does more of the cleaning in our house than I do (he stress cleans and actually LOVES to clean our kitchen … no joke), though I am usually the one buying the cleaning supplies on Amazon. It’d be SO NICE to make some of our own cleaning supplies, so I am pumped Jenn put together these DIY Household Cleaning Spray tutorials (a countertop cleaner and an appliance cleaner). CHECK IT OUT:

How to Make DIY Household Cleaners | By Jenn Heller Design Co.

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Ah cleaning.  Who doesn’t love cleaning?  Oh wait – almost no one likes cleaning. The only thing I like less than cleaning is thinking about all the stuff in commercial cleansers, and how much I have to fork out for a single bottle of an eco-friendly(er?) version.

Get ready for a boost to your cleaning power, because these two sprays are a cinch to mix up, work wonderfully, will save you money, and smell awesome! Plus, they’re simple and free from all the crazy superfluous stuff companies add to their products to make their lives easier.

Generally, the supplies for natural cleaning come in quantities that allow you to make dozens of batches from the initial purchase.  While you’re not saving money instantly, you will after a few batches and bonus, that’s one fewer thing to have to remember at the store.

General note on essential oils: they can eventually cause plastic to deform or corrode, which is why they are always stored in glass bottles.  For this reason, glass bottles are preferred for these sprays.  If you have a glass bottle with a threaded cap lying around like for bottled water or cooking wine, it will work great with a spray nozzle you can get from a home improvement store. If you want to buy the pretty bottles pictured in this DIY, I got these from Amazon.

Natural Cleaning Spray: All Purpose Cleaner

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This cleaner is soap based, not vinegar based, so it is safe for all surfaces including natural stone countertops!

For each 1 cup warm water, add:

(These ingredients should also be available at Target or other big box stores.)

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Stir to dissolve the powdered ingredients, then pour into a spray bottle.  Add essential oils to your taste, but my recommendation is 10 drops lemon oil and 2 drops of rosemary oil. Citrus oils help with cleaning, and both the citrus and rosemary oils have antibacterial properties.

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For my glass bottles I needed 2 batches total.

Natural Cleaning: Countertop & Appliance Spray

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Because this cleaner is vinegar based, it is not recommended for natural stone counters.

For each 1 cup warm water, add:

Mix the liquids, then pour into a spray bottle.  Add essential oils to your taste, but my recommendation is 15 drops eucalyptus oil and 10 drops tea tree – both have excellent antibacterial properties and a strong fresh scent to counterbalance the vinegar.

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Don’t forget to visit my blog and download the labels for  your bottles – complete with instructions right on the bottle!!

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To attach your labels to the bottles, I used a simple method favored by home-brew enthusiasts: milk!  Print your labels using a laser jet printer (an ink jet-printed label will run once wet!) and wet the back with milk.  Carefully place the wet paper on your glass bottle and voila! It will stick fast almost immediately, so make sure you position the label carefully the first time.  Smooth out any bubbles and let dry, and you’re good to go.

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I hope you enjoy!

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This post contains affiliate links that help make Capitol Romance DIYs possible.  Thank you!

The Ultimate Rockabilly Wedding Inspiration Shoot

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Images: DG Photography

Guyyyyssss. The blogosphere is literally dripping with styled shoots. Some blogs have gone so far as to not accept them anymore. Personally, I’ve cut back, but when a styled shoot like this one drops in your inbox, well the alternative inside me just screams. The tattoos, the fantasy hair, the ink inspired designs, I just can’t!!! These vendors got together at a new venue in Richmond and the result is just so inspiring to me. Hope you all love it as much as I do!

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This shoot was a collaboration of many talented vendors. The florist used a photo of a tattoo to create her pieces. The venue is a new wedding venue and is very rural. You can see from the photos that elements that were used to tie into the colorful palate of tattoos! The invitation was actually a thin piece of wood-like material!

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The organizer of the shoot wanted a Rockabilly meets Midsummer dream feel. I think we accomplished this. The couple was married about a year before the shoot. The dress is from Bygones (listed below) however, bits of tulle from the bride’s mother’s prom dress are sewn into the inside to create the crinoline effect.

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As a photographer, I looked for inspiration around the venue. One of the photos I love is in the main house where I combined their wall decoration (which was a crate and barbwire) with the invitation and a rockabilly cupcake- I think this is great summary of the whole shoot! I also wanted to achieve an overview effect of the venue and a general feel of the day. Attached is a photo of me in the “bucket” taking one of the shoots of the day.

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Vendors ~> Venue: Moon Valley Weddings | Photographer: DG Photography | Organizer: No Ordinary Ordained | Coordinator: Occasions by M&K | Florist: Sarena Floral Designs | Hair: Bobby Pins & Blush, Susan Harris | Make-up: Bobby Pins & Blush, Sarah Lytle | Cake: Sweet Pink Bakery | Dress: Bygones | Paper Goods: Staccato | Couple- Caroline and Charles Oxley

Thou & Preston’s DC Memorial Anniversary Pictures & Marriage Advice

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Images: Mathy Shoots People via Two Bright Lights

If you see me today, I am probably mainlining coffee & attempt to soothe my busted feet as I worked a wedding yesterday and didn’t have the Sunday to rest (and stretch and sleep) it off before heading back to the day job. Luckily, despite the rain (seriously, WTF with this rain?!!??!), we had a pretty good week. Full of play dates, movie nights, Netflix, and Alyson & Joe’s beautiful wedding at JBPC yesterday. Almost good enough to forget the horrid stretch of 5am wake-ups Evie has been in. Almost.

For today we have a DC anniversary session!! A travel-happy couple that loves to get pictures taken in the cities they visit (uh, how cool!). Thou & Preston happily shared some marriage & wedding planning advice and I know you guys are going to love the images. Happy Monday Romancers.

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The best thing about being married is getting to come home to your best friend. I get to spend the rest of my life with my favorite person.

The hardest to learn was how to deal with the in-laws. Luckily moving half way across the country solved that problem:)

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Our advice is that there is no such thing as a perfect relationship. Communication and compromising is important. We put each other first. Everyone else and work comes after.

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(Thou also does photography and brought along her Hassleblad for some great photos! )

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Our biggest wedding planning regret was not having a smaller wedding. I would rather have a smaller, intimate wedding party than something big. We would have done the wedding party size and hired a different photographer if we got married all over again.

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