Bree Ryback

Alternative, Bohemian Brunch Wedding Inspiration & Ideas

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Images: Kishana Highgate Photography

TGIF. Am I right? I cannot believe Thanksgiving is less than a week away (I’m so unprepared!) and I don’t even want to think how fast Christmas will follow. For today we have a gorrrrgeous styled shoot from some awesome DC area wedding vendors.

There’s been a lot of opinions of back and forths on styled shoots and if they are good or bad for the wedding industry. Personally, I think (like most things) they work in moderation. I try to feature only a select few on the blog that actually showcase something different. For vendors, they’re a fun way to flex their creative muscle and expand their portfolio to showcase talents that aren’t being portrayed through client work. And for my readers, well, realize that this was a STYLED shoot and that to recreate this for your wedding probably won’t be cheap. But use the elements and inspiration from this funky Bohemian brunch wedding to give you some fresh, new ideas for your own wedding (or life!). Happy Friday alll.

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Vendors ~> Details & Design: Pollyanna Events | Venue: Long View Galley | Photographer: Kishana Highgate Photography | Models: Mug of Love Weddings & her adorable partner | Welcome Basket: Marigold & Grey | Letterpress & Design: Typecase Industries | Hair & Makeup: Alison Harper and Company

About the shoot:

Fall is such a beautiful time of year for a wedding. With all of the bright fall colors the season has to offer, you can turn any wedding into a stunning event. With that in mind, we wanted to inspire couples when planning their fall weddings and encourage them to think outside the box.

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This unconventional, bohemian, brunch-inspired styled shoot, was radiant and left you longing for an indoor/outdoor offbeat fall wedding. We held this shoot at an industrial and exposed brick gallery in the middle of the city. Our goal was warm the space up with welcoming fall colors and then to throw in a pop of HOT PINK! We managed to grab a vintage table filled with an endless amount of mouth watering goodies, and set up just the right amount of perfectly placed details to complete the look.

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Another reason this shoot stood out from all the rest was because we incorporated a lot of DIY items to make this shoot particularly inviting. We mentioned hot pink, which we incorporated through homemade candy apples (learning some culinary skills in the process). We reinvested materials such as unique and vibrate fabrics in several aspects of the shoot. Finally, we utilized an antique chair, which we reupholstered ourselves, for several key shots during the day.

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The shoot would not of been complete without our fantastic models. They were dressed like they stepped out of a vintage, artsy magazine. Alternatively, it could be said the couple looked like they may have been owners of the eclectic city location we found to shoot in. To top off the couples’ look, the bride had strawberry red hair which set off the autumn theme.

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Wedding Planning: How To Have a Friend Marry You In Virginia


Image: Ceremonies by Jeff

Romancers! I cannot tell you how many times my couples or readers ask me “I want my friend to marry us in Virginia, but it doesn’t seem possible, please tell me you have a solution.” Sadly, up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t. I told them most people I knew just went to the courthouse, got married legally, and then had their friend perform more of a ceremony, not an actual, legally binding marriage. Not ideal. But then at my AWP talk a few weeks ago I met Jeff. And Jeff told me he had the solution to this problem!! I asked him to write a guest post, because I felt he could explain it better than me, but the bottom line here is that Jeff, a licensed officiant, can help all you Virginia couples out there that are looking to have a friend/family member that is not an ordained official, marry you!! Check it out:

A Simple Solution for a Frustrating Virginia Officiant Licensing Issue | By guest blogger Jeff Maszal – Wedding Ceremonies by Jeff

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Once a month I receive a telephone call (or email) from a panicked bride (or wedding planner) who starts the conversation with; “Reverend Maszal, I have a unique situation. I’m getting married soon we’re really desperate, can you help us”?

The unique situation: the bride and groom asked their best friend (or a relative or parent) to officiate their Virginia wedding. Only to find out, a week before the weeding, that the local Virginia County Clerk’s office rejected their friend’s application to get licensed as an officiant because Virginia doesn’t recognize online ordination certificates (such as the Universal Life Church, etc). Now the couple is left with no one who can legally marry them and 150 guests showing up Saturday.

The background: Many Virginia couples face this situation because Virginia has strict licensing requirements for officiants. Online ordinations are not recognized. Religious officiants must submit documentation showing they are ordained (or its equivalent) and in good standing with a recognized local or national religious body. Oh, and even some qualified officiants submit their paperwork too late in the process to get approved leaving the couple in the same situation.

NOTE: a little known fact. A friend/family member can file for a one-time civil officiant license but they must live in the county where the wedding is being held.

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The solution. I created a simple “license signing” service for these couples at a reasonable fee providing a win-win for the couple. They get legally married and their friend officiates their ceremony.

I make an appointment to meet with the couple either prior to or after the wedding ceremony. I confirm the couple’s identities and that they want to get married. Then I sign the license. This meets Virginia’s requirements and Wala, they are married. I mail the license into the clerk’s office and the crises is averted.

I do about a dozen license signings a year and it is a privilege to provide a creative – yet legal – solution to a potential stressful wedding situation.

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Jeff Maszal has been officiating weddings for more than 25 years with couples from almost every faith, nationality, and race. He is an ordained minister licensed to perform marriages in VA, MD, and DC. Please visit his website:




Guest Post: How to Choose Your Wedding Date (and Season)


Stef & Joe’s DC Winter Wedding | George Street Photo

Slowly easing back into the week of blogging with another guest post by our bride to be blogger, Carolyn. I was overwhelmed by the comments and texts and emails I received after my post on Monday. But man did I need to hear it. It helped SO MUCH to hear the reminders that now, more than ever, we NEED to see images and read words of love, happiness, commitment, and hope. Though it seemed trivial to me initially, I was reminded by so many that it’s really not. That sharing these messages and these real couples & their real weddings & their real relationships is important. My friend Katie said it better than I could:

I actually think it’s very powerful that your weekend was full of love and warmth and light. We need those things to survive and balance all the darkness. And it’s why I’m still drawn to the wedding industry despite some of the trivial details that sometimes seem superficial – weddings are such hopeful events. They’re full of love and hope and joy. They create community and family. So I’d argue that while yes, the escort cards and bouquets may seem trivial, the weddings themselves are not. They provide an essential ceremonial dose of much needed joy in this often dark world.

Amazing. So with that. We continue – here’s Carolyn’s guest post for the day!

How to Choose Your Wedding Date (and season!) | By Carolyn Thombs


Penney & Brian’s Fall Wedding | Noe Todorovich 

Choosing a date for your wedding can be a very difficult task. There are so many factors involved, it can be hard to sort through them all and see what factors are the most important to you and your honey.

If you are looking to save money, the date you choose can greatly contribute to that. Fridays and Sundays generally are less expensive than Saturdays and of course any other day of the week will be the least expensive. That is why Jon and I chose a Friday for our wedding to help skim off some of the cost.


Alexa & Tucker’s Fall Wedding | Kristen Gardner Photography

Time of year can also contribute to price. The peaks for wedding season like April and May and September and October may cost more than say a wedding in January or July. We are getting married in September in Virginia which is when the weather can begin to get cooler (if we are lucky), but you still have a chance for a heat wave. However the days are longer which is important to us, so we can get the optimal outdoor photos.


Heather & Jeremy’s Spring Wedding | Elizabeth Fogarty

If you are not worried about cost and more concerned in time of year for weather purposes then start to think about what the weather does in your venue’s area. Also asking the venue is a smart idea, since they are at the venue year-round. This may also mean you need to start planning even earlier, since popular dates will of course book up more quickly.

Figure out if flowers are a big deal for you and if the venue has a garden. Then find out when peak blooming season is for all their different plant varieties. Temperature and location will play into this as well from the previous factor described.


Kara & Justin’s Summertime DC Wedding | Mathy Shoots People

Another thing to keep in mind for you ladies out there is how your time of the month affects you. Because that is that last thing you want to worry about on your wedding day… trying to strap down that uncomfortable bloat that may plague you and your body. So if you are able to, try and estimate when that is going to happen and try to choose a date where you won’t have to worry about mother nature visiting you on your wedding day.


Amanda & Sean’s Winter Wedding | Candice Adelle Photography

Make a list of what is important to both of you and that will help you to come up with your perfect wedding date!

Let’s Get Personal: On Love & Loss. A Weekend of Remembrance, Reflection, & Realizations.

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Image: Maggie Winters

Whenever something horrendous and catastrophic happens in the world, I almost always go through the same emotions and struggle to return to blogging. My act of running a wedding blog, at first, always feels so trivial when something as horrific as the events that happened in Paris, Beirut, and countless other cities, occur. It’s hard to write things like “awesome sauce” and “these DC wedding details are everything” when all I can do, really, is recount the images and stories of the bloodshed that took place in one of my favorite cities.

This weekend was such a reflection of what life is truly like – ups and downs, highs and lows, darkness and light, good and evil.

As you know, it was my five year wedding anniversary on Friday. Andy & I didn’t do anything special as my parents weren’t getting into town to watch Evie until Saturday (nor did I have any idea what Andy had planned). As we were food shopping at Whole Foods, things really started to unravel in Paris and I just constantly tried to update my Twitter feed to read what was going on as the horror just kept unfolding. I drove home from the food store in a fog, not really sure how to make sense of my feelings.

I felt hopeless, I felt scared, I felt sad, I felt angry. Not feelings you usually have on a day of an anniversary celebration. But that is life and our wedding anniversary will now share an anniversary with the death and destruction that occurred in Paris.

On Saturday morning we woke up and Andy had an entire day planned for us. It started with a trip back to the church where we got married. We walked down the blog to the church, stopping every few feet for an envelope, that held the “big” things we accomplished together through each year we’d been married. And then it ended at the church …. where our friends Maggie & Steven of Pop Wed Co were waiting to capture a surprise vow renewal. The tears are coming back now just remembering the beautiful words Steven spoke and the surprise I had that Andy had put this all together.

I’ll certainly share a full recap of our amazing [surprise] vow renewal and the insanely gorgeous pictures Maggie captured, sometime in the future. It just doesn’t feel appropriate today as I am still reeling a bit from Friday’s events. And I’ll be honest, feeling slightly guilty at the weekend we had. We ate really good food, we got to spend some time together, we shopped, and yesterday I got a massage. I feel guilty just typing that out. I am having a hard time fully enjoying it all when I know so many people had such a different weekend.

So while I continue to find ways to come to terms with what happened this weekend (and continues to happen in cities and towns across the world, every day). I’ll end this post with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies. My friend Amy posted this on Facebook this morning and it really was exactly what I needed to pick myself up this week. A reminder that while there is evil and hatred and destruction in this world, it’s the LOVE that we should focus on.

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”

Let’s Get Personal: A Reflection on 5 Years of Marriage


Images: Maggie Winters Photography

A million years ago I stumbled upon Maggie Winters Photography‘s website and I fell in love. I was particularly drawn to her images of family shoots and I thought to myself, some day I will have Maggie shoot my family/kids. Last weekend my wishes came true and man the pictures turned out even better than I ever imagined.

It was raining and Evie did NOT cooperate with her naps – but it didn’t matter. Maggie captured us perfectly. Our little family of 3 (ok 4 if you count Sadie), celebrating Evie’s recent 6-month milestone, and mine & Andy’s upcoming 5-year wedding anniversary (which is actually today). I decided today might be a good one to share the images and reflect a bit on 5 years of marriage and the indescribable amazingness that having a kid brings to our relationship. *WARNING* This post contains some MAJOR sap. #sorrynotsorry


Sometimes I still can’t believe I have a kid. I ask my mom “when does the novelty wear off?”. I ask Andy “can you believe we have a CHILD?!” (almost daily). But after being together 12 years and married for 5, it just feels so right. And I can’t even begin to explain how having a kid has altered our marriage. The new challenges, the new concerns, the new roads we’ve never traveled – which is saying something when you’ve been together since High School. Having a child just impacts your marriage in a way nothing else can. You not only created something so beautiful together, you now have to take care of it, nurture it, and have it depend on you, together.


I’ll never forget seeing Andy with Evie for the first time and literally melting. I said to my sister, “I feel like I’ve fallen in love with him all over again, watching him become a dad.” My sister smiled because she knew exactly what I meant, as she had just had her first child exactly 9 months earlier. It was like seeing my husband in a whole new way – watching him become a father.


When I sit here and think about the past 5 years, it feels simultaneously like an instant and an epic, long journey. On one hand I cannot believe it was already 5 years ago that we were walking down the aisle to Hall & Oates, dancing our faces off to the Winn Brothers Band, and ending the night surrounded by our family and most dearest friends, singing our hearts out to Kelly Clarkson.

And on the other – it feels SO long ago that we were planning a wedding, living in Clarendon, playing kickball, completely baby free with little cares in the world other than possibly beginning a house search over in NE DC.


But now here we are, 5 years later with the same dog, not one, but TWO houses in DC, an awesome little girl, and still working our butts off every day at our jobs AND at our lives. Because a solid marriage really is work. And while I have always considered myself fortunate to have found someone so perfect for me in Andy (really the peas to my carrots), it’s more than good luck. Andy and I WORK at our marriage to make it be the insanely wonderful & truly magical relationship that it is. We are lucky to have found each other, but we are not lucky to still be together, because it is not luck that keeps us there.


It is the choices and decisions that we make every day, every week, that has kept our relationship going. We choose to help each other and offer to take more of the brunt of things when the other is tired or stressed. We choose to say “I love you” as often as we can and to follow up with “you know that right?”. We choose to compliment each other (even when I suck terribly at just accepting the compliment) and we choose to be honest with each other even when it might be really hard. We choose to communicate and we choose to compromise. We thank each other for things that probably don’t need a verbal “thanks” but we do it anyway to show our appreciation. We love each other, yes, but we also choose to find ways to express that love through words and actions.


Now let me just end this (because otherwise I will probably continue to drone on forever) with saying that though we are happy and fortunate in our lives at this moment, our marriage is not perfect. We get angry at times with each other, we say things we don’t mean. We don’t do enough sometimes and other times we take things for granted. But at the end of the day we REALIZE this and I think that is what makes the difference for us. Having Evie join our family unit has also helped us both recognize just how much your words AND actions impact others. The things we do and say will mold and impact Evie in ways I can’t quite fully comprehend. But I think if we can take what we’ve learned from our 12 year relationship and 5 years of marriage, and apply the things that have worked, and work on the ones that haven’t, we’ll end up in a good place for our family, both for our marriage and for our greater family unit.

Thanks for letting me share all this today. It’s been a great 5 years, I am excited to see what the next 5 brings :)

Business Advice: 5 Tips for Boosting Your Business Using Social Media

5 ways to boost your biz with social media

At the end of October I got the chance to speak to a group of wedding vendors as part of the AWP DC monthly speaker series. I decided to share my Top 5 Tips for Boosting Your Business Using Social Media. Social Media has been the #1 way I have grown my business/blog since starting it in 2011. Without Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (among other platforms) there is just no way my readership would have grown and I would have never been able to grow my network in a way to have my business be where it is today.

Now that being said, my tips were just that – MY tips. They were things I have found to be helpful in helping my business & brand grow. These might not all work for you, as social media marketing and digital strategies aren’t a one size fits all method. But most of the vendors after found the tips to be at the very least, engaging and insightful, and so I thought I would share them here on the blog as well.

So we are starting with my introduction to kick it off. I started with sharing this AWESOME (and slightly terrifying) video:

Some of those facts are pretty terrifying right? The phones over toothbrushes, the desire to lose sense of smell rather than technology. MAN. Insanity.

But really the point of showing this video first was to capture the necessity of social media marketing. I ALWAYS hear vendors say “I just don’t have time for social media”. And that is true, social media marketing does take time – but it’s essentially the only FREE way to market your brand, and when done strategically, it WORKS, so it can be worth it.

Social media has helped me grow my blog from one that was read by maybe 10 people when I started, to an average of 4K pageviews a day in just 4.5 years. So before you poo poo social media as something you don’t have time for, I’m hoping my Top 5 Tips will help!

Stay tuned :)

Meg & Erik’s Washington DC Wedding at The Embassy Suites & Maggiano’s

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Images: Michelle VanTine Photography

Oh there is SO much to love from today’s real Washington DC wedding brought to us by the lovely Simply Breathe Events & Michelle VanTine Photography. A modern ceremony & reception setting with the most gorgeous shade of purple for their color palette and decor. But really, what gets me the most here is the story behind this wedding & couple: Tiffany shared that working with them was like working with your 2 closest friends; they love DC and wanted to incorporate that into the wedding, as well as, honor their family members every way they could. You guys will love this one.

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From bride, Meg:

We are both from the DC area, and really wanted to incorporate our love of DC into our wedding. I grew up in Germantown, MD while my husband grew up in Chevy Chase DC, so we felt having a metro theme was totally appropriate! We named our tables after various metro stops that had meaning to us (i.e. Cleveland Park was where I lived when I first moved to DC, my husband went to school at U of Md, and my father used to work near the Farragut North metro station) We provided explanatory notes to showcase why we chose each metro stop. We also chose to use replica paper fare cards as our place cards to tie everything together!

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We chose to have our wedding in Friendship Heights because it had a lot of meaning for us. My husband used to live there, so we spent quite a bit of time in that area (and at Maggiano’s!) going on dates and just hanging out. We wanted a venue that was easily accessible for both our friends who lived in the city and our relatives who traveled from as far as Alaska, and we felt that the Embassy Suites and Maggiano’s were the perfect combination!

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Our guests could park their cars and walk to the ceremony, and if they wanted to explore the city, hop on the metro. Our ceremony space at Embassy Suites spoke to us because we loved the openness and brightness of the space. It felt like we were outside even though we were indoors! I was way too type A to have an outdoor ceremony and Embassy Suites was the perfect compromise! We chose Maggiano’s because we LOVED their food and knew they would provide us with quality food at a reasonable price, even when making the food for 135 people. Turns out we chose right- our guests raved about the food all night and the next day!

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I chose Calla Lillies for my bouquet and my bridesmaid’s bouquets because they were my mother’s favorite flower. My mother passed away in December 2011, and I felt the Calla Lillies were a lovely, yet subtle, way to pay tribute to her.

One of my good friends had two charms made for me to hang on my bouquet- one with a picture of my mom and one with a picture of my dad. It was like they were able to walk down the aisle with me even though they couldn’t be there. It meant so much that she did that- it was such an incredibly amazing gesture.

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Both of my parents had passed away and instead of walking down the aisle by myself, I asked my best friend Colin to walk me down the aisle. Having Colin walk me down the aisle was special in so many ways- not only is he my best friend (and basically my brother at this point), but my husband and I met thanks to Colin (and Colin’s older brother). My husband’s best friend is Colin’s older brother, and Colin, his older brother, and myself all went to college together.

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Kim & Walter’s Washington DC Anniversary Pictures & Marriage Advice

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Images: Red October Photography

What a weekend Romancers. We visited with ALL the family, had an AMAZING family photoshoot with one of my favorite DC photographers, Maggie Gaudean (Winters) and then closed out our 2015 DIY Workshops with a bang. I’ll, of course, be sharing the shoot with Maggie soon – it was to celebrate Evie turning 6 months and Andy & I celebrating 5 years of marital bliss this upcoming weekend. I cannot WAIT to share the gorgeousness.

Now for today we’re starting the week with love (like we always do) but this time we have another lovely couple celebrating their 5 year anniversary too! I’ve been trying to get more couples to share their anniversary pictures and marriage advice, but it’s been tougher than you think. So when Red October Photography sent this one my way, I jumped at the chance. The images are pretty quintessential DC, but I love love love the marriage advice that the couple shared, so be sure to read on through. Happy Monday Romancers.

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From the photographer:

We started off at the Lincoln Memorial, toasting to their 5 years and capturing it through photos. Then we moved to the Jefferson Memorial, where Kimberly put on her wedding dress, ran and twirled through the field, finishing the morning with spraying champagne everywhere as a “cheers” to many more years to come.

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From Kim:
It was fun to think back to five years ago and all the memories of that day. The best thing about being married: is always having my best friend by my side to share life with, the good times and the bad.

The hardest thing to learn after getting married: To always forgive!

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Any advice to couples that are getting married: Slow down to just enjoy each other! And don’t get too hung up on the wedding planning details; it is only one day!

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Our biggest regret from our wedding day: Not doing first look photos. Every time I see some after I regret not doing them to this day. Such an intimate time on your wedding day. Wish we got to take that time for ourselves and have those moments captured on camera.

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If we got married all over, we would have done nothing differently. We loved our venue, our vendors and we love each other!


Let’s Get Personal: My Rather Lofty 2016 Business Goals & Strategy


Image: This Rad Love

Romancers, it’s time. It’s time to throw caution to the wind, take that HUGE leap (hoping the net will appear) and state my (rather lofty) business goals for 2016. Things are changing over here at Capitol Romance HQ with the birth of my first kid this year and the changing waves of running a local wedding blog. Earlier this year I dropped the news about my pregnancy and the changes coming to the blog and my wedding coordination business. I was SO apprehensive as for the first time, there were SO many things out of my control.

But I am happy to say that I am still standing at the end of 2015. Though blogging has gone from daily to typically 3 posts a week, I am happy to report that that hasn’t slowed our growth. In fact, I would say that blogging less has enabled me to put out stronger content and less fluff and my views have continued to grow as a result.

I am also beyond thrilled at the year my wedding coordination business had with Alesha officially joining the team. We took on more weddings than 2013, Alesha KILLED IT with her own weddings and seamlessly took the ones I couldn’t work once Evie arrived. I am so insanely grateful, every day, that Alesha joined the team.

So let’s talk about next year. Because, well, I have HUGE goals and plans for next year guys. Like ridiculously big goals. I don’t even care how scary or risky or insane they might be. I am done playing it safe and I am ready to take on some big things. So let’s start with the ultimate goal. I am just going to lay this out here:

For 2016, it is my goal to make Capitol Romance THE #1, Ultimate Resource for Planning a DC Wedding

So what does that mean? That means a lot of things …. like:

re-designing the blog to accomplish this goal

better consolidating all the graphics, logos and branded items I have created since 2011

launching an online STORE (that’s right. ecommerce baby) of Capitol Romance branded items

creating SERIOUS resources that you can download, purchase, and use to plan your DC area wedding (whether you hire someone from our wedding coordination team or not)

upping our marketing game with a monthly newsletter, better advertising outreach, and more

expanding our wedding coordination team to bring on at LEAST 1 more coordinator for 2016

….. insane right? But it just feels right. For the first time since starting Capitol Romance in 2011, I feel like I finally have a clear goal, a finish line. It’s more of a marathon distance away then a 5K, but I can see it so clearly now, that I am wondering what took me so long.

So that’s it. My 2016 goals laid out for you to see. I can’t wait for you to tell me what you think…

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