Bree Ryback

Stef & Joe’s Classy, Lavender & Succulent Themed DC Wedding at Carnegie Science

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Images: Ryan Rayburn and Michelle Silberberg of George Street Photo & Video

Stef & Joe were one of those dream clients. Insanely kind & nice, super type-A and organized, planning a classy but FUN wedding, and oh, also drop dead gorgeous. The ONLY thing wrong with them was their unfortunate college alma mater (just kidding you guys!). They planned a perfect early spring wedding at one of DC’s best wedding venues, Carnegie Institute for Science, and I was lucky to get to be their day-of coordinator. Their choice of lavender and succulent details were the perfect match for the venue and time of year and their wedding was just SO fun. Not even a fire alarm going off IN THE MIDDLE OF THEIR CEREMONY could wipe the smiles from their faces. Ah – you guys are going to love this one as much as I loved working it ;) Enjoy.

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The write-up from bride, Stef (which is making me blush and I SWEAR I didn’t tell her to write this ;)

To set the stage, I should start by saying that I never thought I would be the bride who submits her wedding to a blog (until I knew that a blog as rad and unique as Capitol Romance existed, that is!)! :)  I was initially so intimidated at the thought of planning a wedding and the whole industry because I thought I would have to adhere to stuffy, traditional customs and follow a cookie cutter format. I was worried that who we were as a couple would get lost in the fray of putting on such a huge and potentially expensive event.

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However I was so pleasantly surprised to find throughout the course of planning my wedding that this was not the case AT ALL! I actually LOVED planning my wedding with my husband Joe so much more than I ever imagined, and couldn’t have been more pleased with how our day turned out. During the planning process, I was delighted to discover that so many couples, more than ever, are embracing their creativity and individuality as couples, and focusing on meaningful experiences for their friends and families. That is exactly what we wanted to do. I was even more delighted to find blogs and vendors in the wedding industry IN WASHINGTON DC like Capitol Romance who support, encourage and embrace non-traditional creative weddings!

My husband Joe and I got married this past March in Washington DC. We decided to get married in DC because, even though we both originally hail from the wonderful state of Michigan, we have fallen more and more in love with our nation’s capital since we moved here four years ago. I had always dreamed of living in DC, and came to pursue my master’s degree at Georgetown. Joe bravely moved with me without a job.

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Fast forward four years later and we couldn’t be happier together here – living in one of DC’s liveliest areas with our adopted cat Kulu (she rocks), and loving our careers and life together. This is the place that we have truly grown together as a couple, and thus chose to get married in this special setting. And indeed Washington ended up being the perfect backdrop for our wedding – we love so much that this city is historic, worldly, romantic, and smart, with a touch of classic glam.

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Our approach to our wedding overall was to try to keep things simple, meaningful, and focus on the experience for our friends and family. Though we did have some help from our parents, we also tried to be as budget conscious as possible, especially considering we were getting married in a pricey city. We also largely wanted to do the planning ourselves. For us planning our wedding really was a labor of love between my husband and me, with each of us playing an equal role in making the day come to life.

We also could NOT have done it without Capitol Romance as our day of coordinator! Bree and her team were absolute rockstars who ended up doing MUCH more than just pulling off the day of coordination and helped guide us throughout the process.

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So the planning process for us started after getting engaged in Dubrovnik, Croatia, in the summer of 2013. The next order of business for Joe and I was to pick a venue and date. It can be challenging to find venues in DC because many of them either cater to absolutely huge events (convention centers, etc) or are very small. We were trying to hit a sweet spot somewhere in the middle of about 130 guests, AND also not completely break the bank in renting a space (totally possible in a city like DC!).

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Julie & Emery’s H Street NE & Union Market Alternative Engagement Pictures in DC

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Images: The Oberports

This weekend was far from relaxing, but BOY was it awesome. Friday we went to the Nationals game - Evie’s first! And by a total random turn of events, we got to sit ON the dugout at the stadium. Like literally, my hands were ON the Nats dugout – it was SO COOL. Then we got up early to head to Philly for the day on Saturday to visit my sister, brother in law, and our niece Stella – we had some serious hang time, and ate some REALLY good pizza. Then yesterday we recooped slightly, but not without a trip to the burbs to have brunch with Andy’s cousins & Aunt. Serious family time you guys.

So I am a bit sleepy today catching up from all of that – but I’ll manage because on Saturday we start our journey to Vermont for ALL OF NEXT WEEK (!!!!). Lake house vacations in Vermont are my absolute favorite. I can’t wait for some serious R&R. But for today I have a SUPER RAD DC engagement session thanks to the oh-so-talented photography duo, The Oberports. Though they are based in WV, they make the journey to DC from time to time and I am ALWAYS pumped when they do, because that means I get a shot at featuring their awesome work. Today is no exception, as I share Julie & Emery’s rad Union Market engagement pictures in my home neighborhood of H Street/NE DC. Happy Monday all.

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From Julie:

I actually don’t remember much from our first date.  I remember that Emery was carrying sheets with him.  Now, a couple years later I realize they were from free-cycle, a free listserv where other people’s unwanted things can become your new, free possessions. Although now as I write this, I am almost certain he told me he picked them up from a friend… as if somehow that was a better source of free sheets. Either way, it wasn’t very impressive at the time, especially not for a first date.  But Freecycle would later give birth to a futon and our amazing record collection so he definitely moved up from those sheets. (Thanks for your diligence on that one, babe.  A few bad record finds was definitely worth getting that one great one).

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But free sheets and all, we ended up having an amazing date. What I do remember is talking about everything. I remember him actually being interested in where I was from and the road that led me to that day. He asked questions of which he was genuinely interested in the answer, a refreshing experience when so often in DC I found myself downplaying my roots in an effort to somehow highlight my credentials and fabricate a pedigree.

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Emery is able to bridge my worlds in a way that helps me make sense of my own journey.  With him I can be all sides of myself without fear of judgment. It is not that he makes me complete, but reinforces the fact that I am complete on my own. He compliments my attributes and minimizes my flaws in a way I cannot express. I have never felt as special and content as I do by his side. As we take on this new adventure, I only hope that we continue to grow together, creating a shared life experience full of big ideas, open arms and compassionate spirits.

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Let’s Get Personal: Why I Love Personal Posts & a New Blogging Goal


 Image: This Rad Love

A couple weeks ago I wrote a personal post on my current struggles with the direction of my business, the need to refocus and the need to better layout my goals and plans for 2016. The post was more of a spontaneous one, it wasn’t on my editorial calendar, and it wasn’t one I had planned to write. It just came to me as I was sitting on my couch (which I spend a lot of time on these days while home on Maternity leave).

Like most personal posts, the act of writing them is almost therapeutic. After it’s written (and I’ve proofread it once or twice) and I hit that little “publish” button, I almost always feel SO MUCH better. But what happens after is really why I love writing personal posts – the interactions and engagement that ensue! The post got more than 20 comments (which is a damn near miracle these days with the death of blog comments) and reached almost 6,000 on Facebook. It also got me MULTIPLE emails from all sorts of readers/friends/vendors and a shout-out at A Creative DC’s recent PROMO workshop. People responded with advice, similar feelings, praise, and offers of help!

Being a blogger can sometimes be a lonely job – you sit behind a laptop/computer/mobile screen, putting content out there, wondering if anyone is actually reading what you are writing. Sure my Google Analytics tells me I have over 4k pageviews a day, but WHO are these people? Do they really care about what I write? Find it useful/funny/etc? But then I write a personal post and the interactions and feedback pour in and it gives me ALL the feels. It reminds me that yes, there are LOTS of people out there, and they have similar thoughts and similar struggles to me and I really am not just a faceless blogger with no connection to my readers.

And so I LOVE writing personal posts and because of that, I have already started a new goal for the blog – 1 personal post a month. It’s on the editorial calendar, and it’s official. I can’t wait to see where this takes me and I cannot wait for all the interactions (good and maybe even bad) that will come from it. Until then, Happy Thursday Romancers.

Guest Post: How to Choose Your Wedding Style or Personality

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Our real bride-to-be guest blogger, Carolyn is back today for another post on her journey to the altar! This time she’s talking about her process for picking her “wedding personality” or the type of wedding style (click if you missed her other posts on her engagement party advice or finding the perfect DC area wedding venue). Picking a theme or vibe for your wedding can be kind of tough – especially with the all too real “Pinterest overload” happening these days. There’s modern, vintage, rustic, steampunk, alternative …and SO many more – plus themes, designs, and patterns … the list goes on. So if you are feeling slightly overwhelmed with this decision, hopefully Carolyn’s experiences can help you pick the right one for you!

Choosing Personality of Your Wedding | By Carolyn Thombs

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Deciding what type of wedding you want can be an extremely difficult task. Especially if you are like me and love so many different things and have a varied personal style. Another piece added to the puzzle is making sure the wedding wasn’t just for me, but for my fiancé and I. I wanted to have a nice mix so he would love everything about the day just as much as me, since it kind of does involve both of us!

The elements that go into creating your wedding’s personality are: colors, feel/theme/style (modern, vintage, eclectic, rustic, etc…), and type (casual or formal). All of these aspects combine together to create an atmosphere representative of the bride and groom, grooms or brides!

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Now how do you go about deciding these things for your wedding? Magazines, Pinterest and perusing wedding blogs, like this amazing one! Yes there are certain “rules” professionals may have regarding putting these pieces together and yes these can be good guidelines simply because they are a fool proof way of having a beautiful wedding. But remember this is your wedding and if you want to do something or step out of the box, by golly do it! You want guests to say “oh this is totally Carolyn” or “this represents Jon and Carolyn perfectly!” It’s your wedding, style it in a way that you will always look back at and know that you had the wedding you dreamed of.

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Having the wedding of your dreams doesn’t have to be a million dollar affair, the little details are what make the event yours and there are always ways to cut costs without losing the personality of your wedding. This aspect is something I will delve into later.

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The best way to connect all these pieces is to start your own Pinterest board and see how all of the elements add up! Rip out magazine pages and create inspiration boards and then bounce these ideas off on your love and your family or whoever you trust!

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Stay tuned for the next article on my search for the Caterer!


Aaron & Olivia’s Cherry Blossom Engagement Pictures & Love Story

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Images: Vness Photography

What a weekend Romancers! It was the first Saturday in a really, REALLY long time where Andy & I literally had NOTHING planned. We went to Georgetown for the day so Andy could get a suit for my brother’s wedding and then we just walked along the water, ate RIDICULOUS sandwiches from Stachowskis & got some cold brew from Malmaison. It was amazing. I can’t even tell you! And then yesterday we had a blast at our #CapRoWorkshop with J’Adorn Designs. I LOVE my new pearl & flower pendant necklace that I made myself!!

But now it’s time for a lovely little Cherry Blossom engagement shoot. The funny thing being that this was like the ONLY one I got submitted to me this year (and not even during the Spring!). Somehow I love posting it now in the dead of Summer as a nice reminder that it’s not ALWAYS 90+ degrees here ;) Enjoy!

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 Aaron and Olivia actually met through his mom, Gina. When she was about 8 years old, she decided she was the only person she trusted to cut her hair and so she was the only person she went to for years, even through most of high school. In the summer after Olivia’s senior year of high school, in an effort to save some money, she got her hair cut at a cheap salon…and they ruined it! The next day when she went to Gina’s salon Aaron was helping out at the front desk.Olivia said, “I guess he thought I was pretty cute (Okay, Aaron says he thought “Damn, she looks good even when she’s upset!”), because he looked up my name after I made an appointment and added me as a friend on Facebook. We talked online for a while, went on a date, and became fast friends. A year later we started dating and the rest is history! Over the years we have grown so much together, shared amazing experiences, and love each other more every day”. (Oh, and Gina is still my hairdresser; my faith in her will never falter again!)

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How he proposed!

Last June we were on vacation at a resort in the Dominican Republic. We had talked about marriage and had been dating for 5 years so I had a feeling Aaron would propose during that trip. One night that week Aaron told me he had a surprise, and led me out to the beach where a private beach side dinner awaited us. I felt like I was on a date from the Bachelorette, and I knew this would be when he proposed and started to get really excited. Dinner went on, we had a great time, and after dessert we got up and Aaron said “ok, lets go back to the room.” I was so confused and a little disappointed.

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Organic, Bohemian Wedding Inspiration & LINK LOVE

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Images: The Kama Photography

It was one of those weeks where every day felt like another day. Maybe because we had “Fish Taco Monday”” on Sunday night? I don’t know, but it’s thrown me off all week! This weekend we have our 2nd to last DIY workshop of the year (tix still available!) but for the first time (probably the first time this year) in as long as I can remember, I have an absolutely FREE Saturday. Like there’s LITERALLY nothing written in my day book. Insanity. And I am pretty sure that doesn’t happen again until November ;)

Any way, while I’m busy trying to figure out what to do with an ENTIRE free day, I’ll leave you with some LINK LOVE & and a gorrrrgeous Bohemian wedding styled shoot from a team of local wedding vendors! Check it out:


How to Decide Your Wedding Budget from Pixie Dust Bride

25 Money Savings Tips for Your Wedding from Knots Villa Blog

Save Yourself a Headache and Make a Damn Wedding Website from the Broke-Ass Bride

You Need (& Deserve) a Wedding Planner from Every Last Detail blog

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From the event designer:

The stunning natural and organic beauty of the Manassas Battlefield Park, in Northern Virginia, with its dry and tall grass showcasing warm yellows, greens and browns, was the perfect geographic match for the bohemian, free-spirited and artistic soul that we had in mine when designing this shoot. We were looking forward to doing something very simple and small, yet special and warm, bringing in organic, rustic and vintage elements.

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Vendors —> Photography: The Kama Photography | Event Design & Styling: Claire Duran Weddings & Events | Hair & Makeup: Wear Hair | Rentals: Vintage Affairs | Flowers: Succulents & Saffron Event & Floral Design | Bridal Fashion Styling: Aisha Barnes for Closet Fashionistas | Dress: Leftys Bridal & Boutique | Paper Goods: B. Designs Paper

Marlena & Brandon’s Keswick Hall, Virginia Wedding Planned in Under 2 Months!

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Images: Amanda Maglione Photography

Sometimes the prettiest weddings are planned in SUPER short time frames. You don’t always need months or years of planning to execute a beautiful wedding – for Marlena & Brandon, they just needed 2 months! They kept things simple and they focused on the wedding being a demonstration of their faith, their lives, their friends, and their family. “We also wanted our reception to be a great celebration and we wanted as many friends and family to have a blast with us!”

Check out Marlena & Brandon’s beautiful Virginia wedding at Keswick Hall, below!

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More in terms of aesthetic, my favorite color  is gray so we agreed that the girls and guys would be in gray. Knowing that could be kind of bland, we aimed to have the flowers be the main source of color for the day. And for the bouquets, Brandon loves the outdoors so we wanted everything to be very green and natural. Our Keswick Hall florist Yara thought it would be a cool idea to use greenery that could reflect the appearance of the gray dresses.

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Marlena has a deep love for people and one of her favorite ways to show it is to bake them homemade desserts (yes, baking is her favorite hobby). Brandon was the previous Activities Director at Keswick Hall and Golf Club (where they had their wedding) and is now working for the Admiral Fell Inn in Baltimore.

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Last Chance! $5 Off DIY Pearl Necklace Workshop Tickets – Today Only!


Our second to last DIY Workshop of 2015 is THIS SUNDAY and we’d love for it to be a success, so we are offering $5 off tickets for TODAY ONLY! Just use promo code, #CapRoVIP.

The beautiful pearl & flower pendant necklace would be a perfect gift for your bridesmaids or flower girls, for your sisters or mother, or a nice addition to your own jewelry box! These necklaces sell on Etsy for over $25, so learn to make your own instead and craft away! Even if you don’t consider yourself a “crafty” human, we’ll have professional jewelry designer & maker, J’Adorn Designs, on hand to teach you how and help you along the way.

Buy Tickets

I hope to see you on Sunday!

DC Wedding Advice: How to Have the Perfect Cocktail Style Reception (with Not Enough Seating for Guests)


Image: Kate Triano

I‘ve worked more than my fair share of weddings over these past 4 years that have opted for the nontraditional dinner style of a “cocktail” reception with no formal, sit-down plated meal, and not enough seating for all guests. Lots of my couples choose this style of a wedding for a few different reasons. Some pick it for the vibe (it feels more like a casual, party) and some pick it for the price (it CAN be cheaper to do small plates & stations, than a traditional sit down meal for each guest). When my couples share that they want to have this type of reception, I am always on board (because as you know, I believe there are NO rules to a wedding and you can do whatever you really want) BUT I do tell them that in order for this to work, there are a few things they need to consider.

A caveat: ultimately one of the BIGGEST factors in succeeding with a nontraditional wedding reception is who you invite – no matter what you do or no matter how much you follow my advice below, if you invite a bunch of guests that are set in traditional ways and don’t really do well with nontraditional situations – a nontraditional reception probably won’t turn out like that fun, raucous party you imagined. However, if you have guests that like a good time, and just need some help with opening up to the less traditional reception type, then follow my advice below! Here we go!

#1. Setup


Setup of your reception space is important! Do not set your reception up like a traditional sit down dinner, because then that is what your guests will expect to find! Have LOTS of high top tables, and still have optimal seating for the majority of your guests, just not at formal, large round tables.

Think benches, seats from your ceremony, or lounge furniture.

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Images: Sweet Tea Photography

#2. Food


 Image: Kate Triano

The second most important thing to consider when opting for a cocktail style wedding reception is the food you serve! Do NOT serve food that lends itself to needing a place to sit and eat (no buffet!). If you serve up a buffet or big plates, guests WILL load their plates and then immediately look for a place to park and eat.


Instead, opt for tapas and small bites, or stations with small plates, where your guests can grab a bite and eat it instantly, or easily hold a small plate while standing at a high top table. You will also want to ensure food is served in a continual/endless type fashion so guests don’t feel the need to rush the food stations at the same time. Just like during a cocktail hour – consider having some heavy passed hors-d’oeuvres, a few stations, and AMPLE trashcans for guests to discard all the small plates/napkins/utensils.

#1. Flow

Landers-Nelson Wedding - October 25, 2014

Image: Aimee Custis Photography

This is probably the MOST crucial one on the list – creating a timeline of events and a “flow” for your reception that lends itself to your nontraditional eating format. Do NOT use a traditional timeline of events for your wedding, or your guests will then expect a more traditional food & seating setup. Do NOT usher all your guests into the reception area at one time – this will cause your guests to walk in and realize there are not enough seats for everyone, creating a non-intentional game of musical chairs, as your guests rush to “claim” a spot.

Believe me, I’ve watched this happen numerous times. The secret to the flow is to not have harsh start/stop times for your cocktail hour. In fact, the best execution of this type of reception that I’ve seen, is when there is no cocktail hour at all – after the ceremony, guests arrive and the reception begins. Think of the reception this time around as one VERY long cocktail hour.

Let your guests naturally mingle, find a seat, or stand at a high-top. Guests tend to gravitate towards food and booze , so make sure your space around both are open and free. When it comes time to execute things like your first dance or cake cutting, have the DJ/Band/MC make a simple announcement to where your guests can direct their attention. If your venue has multiple rooms/places for guests to go, consider knocking dances & toasts out at the beginning, so you don’t need to re-corral your guests every time you want them to pay attention to something.


Image: Kate Triano

At the end of the day, as I mentioned in the beginning, even with perfectly executing these tips, you know your guests and the success of having a nontraditional, cocktail-style reception mostly relies on who you invite!

Ok Romancers – did I miss anything crucial? Sound off in the comments below!

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