Chris & Stef’s Winter, Snowy Engagement Pictures in Virginia

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Images: Nicki Metcalf

Can you tell I am excited to finally have a little winter in the weather? Kicking of the 2016 blogging season with this SNOWY (please, can we get SOME snow soon?!) Virginia engagement session. I hope you guys had a great Holiday break and OMG HOW IS IT 2016!? There is so much to do but I love the start of a fresh new year – it’s like this wide open canvas in front of me, just waiting to be scribbled all over. I can’t wait to see where this year takes me and Capitol Romance.

This little blog will celebrate it’s FIFTH year in business at the end of this month. I really cannot believe I’ve been blogging for 5 years. It’s grown in ways I NEVER imagined when I started it and I am just so excited to see where it goes next. Thank you to my readers (old and new) that maybe just found Capitol Romance or have been reading since the beginning. You guys make this blog & business possible. Let’s do this 2016.

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How they met:

I was leading a bible study that she was a part of, and we got to know each other a little bit. She claims that what lead her to like me was when I made Guacamole for our Bible study and apparently I am really good at it.  I first started to notice her one night when it snowed, and we did a little redneck sledding, which means we tied a tow rope behind my Jeep and pulled people through the snow.  I decided I was going to try just being pulled on my body and she was the only other one to volunteer even over all the guys and I was like yep that is the one.

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READ MORE FOR THE REST OF THESE SNOWY ENGAGEMENT PICTURES & THE PROPOSAL STORY!

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Winter Wedding Ideas: Wreaths as Bouquets & Pinecone Decorations

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Images: Alicia Wiley Photography

It hasn’t exactly felt like Winter much in DC these past few weeks. Personally, I love the snow, and I love winter decor so the weather is super bumming me out. So when I got this styled shoot, I knew I would hold on to it until I needed a little winter pick me up. Maybe blogging this just before the new year will give Mother Nature the hint. It’s time for pinecones, greens, and SNOW. Would love to see some local DC weddings use all this greenery and pine for their wedding. Maybe even carry wreathes instead of bouquets?! Thanks to Intrigue Designs & Alicia Wiley Photography for sending this one over! Have a VERY Happy New Year everyone!

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From the vendors:

This styled shoot is filled with gorgeous wreaths, a beautiful tablescape and a sweet little puppy! Sarah Campbell of Intrigue Designs put together this gorgeous winter inspiration shoot with accents of gold, pine cones and pops of teal. Our puppy model was so cute and she did an amazing job for her first gig.

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Vendors ~> Florals and Design: Intrigue Designs | Photography: Alicia Wiley Photography | Invitation Suite: Pretty Peacock Paperie | Dress: Annapolis Formal |Hair and Makeup: Ariel Lewis LLC | Model: Nathalie Rivera | Puppy Model: Allie

Guest Post: 3 Things I Learned Going Through a Break-up While Living Together

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Image: This Rad Love

Today on the blog we have a guest post from super rad blogger, Laura of The Sobriety Collective. While her blog focuses on her mission to create a community of awesome sober people making contributions to society through their own means (music, film, writing, fashion, etc), Laura has also become a friend of mine in the blogging community. She has supported me through attending my DIY Workshops and is now helping me out with sharing some personal guest posts here about her own relationship. She recently when through a break-up and blogged about it on her own blog. The post was so raw and authentic and real, I asked her if I could share it here. I am lucky she said yes. The post is a few months old now, and Laura is going to share an update next week, but without more from me, take it away Laura:

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Loving & Leaving in Real Time: 3 Things I Learned Going Through a Break-up While Living Together | By: Laura Silverman

I’ll admit I googled that subtitle, or an iteration of it, not long ago.  But I couldn’t find what I needed.  So I’m writing what I wanted to read while going through the pain, even if I didn’t want to document the heartbreak.  Not while I’m still going through every single gut-wrenching emotion.  Why not wait until the dust settled, I’d ask myself.  So I could use my 20/20 Hindsight Vision.  And even now, putting words on paper (or pixels on a screen) feels trite.  Or cliché.  Or something untrue.  To describe the guttural sounds emanating from my body yesterday as I shook with sobs on our bed—I just don’t have the words.  I don’t.  But I’m goingto do my damn best so that somehow, some way, if I can help just one other person going through a similar situation, then I’ll feel like I’ve paid this heartbreak forward.

Even having “3 things” in my subtitle makes me feel like a fraud.  I mean, everyone loves good clickbait.  People flock to listicles; as much as they’re mocked, people scan to key takeaway points, to lists, to bold lettering.  If I have to craft this in a way that will get someone to read on—so they can hopefully identify with the emotion behind this, and more than that, the human condition—then so be it.

#1. Love is not enough.

Mark Manson said it; Trent Reznor said it.  I loved—and still love—my partner very much (he hates that word, “partner,” but at its core, love is a partnership, so I’ll stick to my term of choosing, thank you very much). The closeness and emotional intimacy we had with each other was unparalleled, for both of us.   There were/are some incompatibilities and fundamental differences we truly tried to work through—we saw a counselor, too—and found that we just couldn’t fix things despite our best efforts.  Maybe, the so-called “brokenness” of it was always there but we were willing to overlook those parts because we needed each other anyway.  Either way, we shared a great love.  A love I will remember.  But love—well, it just isn’t enough.

#2. Love changes.

Sometimes, it allows both parties (not speaking on behalf of anyone in polyamorous relationships—then I would say ALL parties, I guess…) to grow together.  Other times, to grow apart.  You can fall in love and have the honeymoon stage last for years, or it could be over in months and you’re on to a more quotidian, comfortable love.  But sometimes, the love you share with your partner shifts.  In inexplicable ways.   It’s almost a tangible feeling in the air—something in the shared connection altered.  The inside jokes, the kisses, the hugs, the bike rides, the cooking dinners together, the movies, the silliness—we still share all of these, but now with a tenderness of knowing we did our best.  That we treated each other with kindness.  Every day is a real-time simultaneous mourning and celebration of our relationship.

#3. Sometimes moving forward feels like going in reverse.

It can feel like you’re being ripped apart.  Making a mature, adult decision to let go of someone you still have great affection for instead of sticking with the complacency of a comfortable relationship that isn’t the best for the future of either party is fucking hard.  I don’t regret being in this relationship.  I don’t regret fully opening my heart and loving with all my might—of putting someone’s needs before mine, not out of obligation, but out of unconditional compassion. If I were a better writer, I would be able to fully convey how deeply I’m going to miss him.  What’s an ocean without blue?  A sky without sun?  A rose without the scent of, well, a rose?  A world without chocolate?  These things go together.  One without the other hardly feels enough (and I apologize, only a little, for the cheese factor).

When I’m sad or terrified or anxious or happy or excited or stressed—he’s my go-to person.  But because I still love him—and love myself—and I want each of us to be happy and serene and truly content in life, I have to let go.

Our love may be changing/have changed/will change, but he will always be in my heart.

Thank you for sharing Laura. As always, we’d love to share more of these types of posts as a reminder that weddings are just one part of relationships and what it can mean to be committed to/living with/loving your partner. People are at all stages in the relationship game and we’d love to share more of these types of stories to hopefully help any one out there that might be in this boat.

Kim & Greg’s Patriotic, Red White & Blue DC Wedding at Hotel Monaco

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Images: Photos from the Harty

I love this time of year because it’s usually when the area photographers are able to climb out of their wediting black holes and actually submit all their awesome my way. September to December can be a bit of a light submission period for me because photographers are just too damn busy shooting and editing to really put submissions together (how dare they do their jobs ;-p). So I love this time of year as a wedding blogger, because I get to not only see but SHARE all the radness they’ve been working on the past year.

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From the bride:

I’m one of those weird people who was not only born in Washington, DC but still chooses to live here as an adult–with no real intention to leave. So, when my very “classic american boy” now husband proposed to me, the color scheme was very clear: red, white and blue. That came to me before any other ideas; and then it drove the planning for the rest of the event. I wanted to capture that patriotic element, without being too “in your face” or cheesy; the Hotel Monaco was the perfect for that.

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The very old school Washington architecture with the modern decor were exactly what I wanted. The Monaco also has a very special well of arranging the ceremony– it’s done in the round with us in the middle so that we were literally surrounded by our family and friends.

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–> CLICK INSIDE FOR THE REST OF THIS PATRIOTIC DC WEDDING AT HOTEL MONACO <–

Business Advice: Boosting Your Business Using Social Media Tip #5

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Hoping every one had a merry Christmas (if you celebrate) or at least enjoyed a day off. Today’s blog post is coming to you from New Jersey, as we made our way North yesterday, after a really awesome Christmas (Evie’s 1st!) down in DC. The weather was disgusting, but that didn’t stop us from watching Home Alone, eating Christmas cookies, and enjoying some really nice time with family that traveled down to DC to be with us.

Getting back into blogging for the week (before we head even further north to the Green Mountain State for New Years), I’m closing out my Top 5 Tips for using Social Media to Boost Your Business. (In case you missed Tip #1, Tip #2, Tip #3, or Tip #4, check those out too!) but for today, we’re closing this series out with the last tip: Just Be You.

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What makes your business different or unique? It’s YOU. And really, the most effective thing you can do on social media is to be authentic and be yourself.

When I started to search for something cool to correlate between being yourself and social media, I came across this business case (above) from Red Bull Energy. It explained how even though Red Bull sells energy drinks, they almost never mention the energy drink or products they sell on their social media. Instead, they use images and videos of extreme sports and stunts to promote their brand.

I thought this was a really interesting way to think about your own brand or business and think if you could be showing different things on your social media sites instead of just your products or things you sell. Think about the STORY you want to tell about your business or brand.

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I think Seth Godin sums it up pretty well in saying that true marketing is really just story telling. Think about how you can tell YOUR story on social media. Personally, I do this through keeping my social media platforms a mix of business AND personal. I post pictures of my life and “behind the scenes” on social media to share my story of being a small business owner and a vendor in the wedding world, but also a wife, and a new mom, and more.

When you think about it, the one thing that REALLY makes you different from other brands or businesses is YOU. There are A LOT of wedding vendors in the DC Metro Area, so telling your story could be the best way to differentiate yourself. So use your social media platforms in this way, but remember to maintain consistency and use an authentic voice:

  • Use your mission statement as your guide
  • Don’t be afraid to get personal
  • You can be silly, or controlled, crass, or sarcastic, but most of all, just be YOU!

DIY Tutorial: How to Create DIY Marbling Gifts with Nail Polish

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Guys! Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I STILL DONT FEEL READY. I have loads to bake, movies to watch, a house to clean, gifts to wrap, and THIS RAIN (and heat) ugh. They’re THE WORST. I am looking forward to the family time and celebrating Evie’s first for sure, but the weather could do its part a little too. We’re closing out the week this week (no posts on Xmas Eve or Xmas) with a simple DIY tutorial from our girl, recent bride, Kara. We’ll be back next week with posts to get you to the New Year! How is it 2016 in just a few days?!

DIY Marbling with Nail Polish Tutorial | by: Kara Britanik

I’ve seen this DIY project floating around Pinterest a lot, and thought I would give it a try to pretty up some plain vases and planters I have around our apartment. It’s a great technique for a variety of vessels, and could easily be done for your centerpieces or part of your table decor. Plus, then you’ll have some pretty things to keep around your house after the big day!

I would highly recommend that you read ALL of the steps to this tutorial before you attempt it because you’ll need to move pretty quickly once you get started.

Supplies:

Nail polish (I would suggest 1-3 colors so it doesn’t get too muddy looking)

Bowl (a disposable container or piece of Tupperware will do)

– Warm water

– Toothpick or plastic knife

Votives, vases, planters…whatever you want to marble

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Steps:

1.    Fill your bowl with warm water. Pour your nail polish into the water. You can either let it drip in, or you can pour it in a slow steady stream around your bowl. Do this with each color, as quickly as possible.

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2.    If your colors aren’t swirled together much, you can use a toothpick or plastic knife to make a swirly pattern.

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3.    Once your colors are in the water, it’s time to dip! There are 2 methods to choose from here.  The first method is to hold your vessel on its side so it just grazes the surface of the water/nail polish. With this method you’ll have to spin your vessel until all sides are covered with the nail polish.

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The second method is to just submerge your vessel in the water. A quick dunk is all it takes for the nail polish to stick. If there is any nail polish remaining on the surface of the water, you can always use the 1st method to fill in any bare spots.

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4.    Once you’ve dipped your vessel, let it dry upside down. And that’s it! Easy as pie!

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**PRO TIP**: The great thing about this DIY is that if you mess up or don’t like the look, you can easily start over. Just clean off your vessel with nail polish remover and try again. Because you have to move fast with this project, I would recommend dipping 1 piece at a time, pouring new nail polish for each piece. This will help prevent any bubbling or clumping of the nail polish on your vessel.

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Jackie & Aaron’s Super Fun, Family Involved Virginia Wedding at Broad Run Farm

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Images: Ralph Alswang Photography

This wedding had it all. Mini-golf (yes, actual mini-golf at the reception), high-fives, a soccer ball guest book, a game of two-hand touch football, s’mores & firepits, so much family involvement AND MORE. Jackie & Aaron’s wedding was so them and from the looks of these pictures, SO fun. A big THANKS to The Plannery for sending them our way to share!

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From the couple:

We wanted a venue that felt relaxed and down-to-earth, so outdoors seemed like a good idea. The Farm at Broad Run was a great space, with open fields and animals to pet.

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The main friend/family involvement was that they made fabric squares (each representing some part of our lives) that we then stitched together into the chuppah. Also, our friend Sarah kicked the whole thing off with a fanfare and Jackie‘s friend Antje is a professional singer/songwriter and she serenaded us down the aisle.

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—> READ MORE FOR THE REST OF JACKIE & AARON’S BROAD RUN FARM WEDDING <—

Aarti & Dominik’s Hiking at Sugarloaf Mountain Engagement Pictures

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Images: L.A. Birdie Photography

GUYS I am feeling the holiday stress big time. There’s still presents to be wrapped, cookies to bake, and so many other things to do before Thursday. Let’s not mention that Evie much prefers practicing to crawl instead of sleeping right now. Trying to take ALL the breaths and just focus on the family time that awaits. For today we have a gorgeous engagement session from L.A. Birdie Photography (her stuff is just SO gorgeous!) featuring the lovely Aarti & Dominik. You might remember Aarti from a giveaway we did with her luxury organic hair oil company. They went for a hike (love this idea) for their engagement pictures, bringing along their adorable rescue pups. Let’s start the week with LOVE shall we?

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Dom and Aarti met, by sheer coincidence, on a cold winter evening in Washington, DDC. Him: handsome, dressed in flannel, with an unidentifiable accent. Her: the most beautiful girl in the world, the lighthouse in the middle of a storm. They bonded over a mutual love of rock climbing and the rest was history.

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Fast-forward to May 2015. On a short trip to Aarti’s hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, after seeking approval from Aarti’s parents and her first love, a cocker spaniel named Mowgli, Dom proposed on the summit of Old Rag Mountain with a simple question:

“Hey, how do you want to spend the rest of your life?”

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Business Advice: Boosting Your Business Using Social Media Tip #4

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We’re back at it again with our 2nd to last tip on how to Boost your Business/Brand using Social Media. We’ve already tackled Tips 1-3, so let’s near the finish line with #4: Content Is King.

So now, let’s talk about the importance of what you are putting on your social media platforms. We already mentioned the need to use visuals, graphics, and video but let’s dig a bit deeper into content. To make the most of your social media posting, you need to focus on the content you are putting out there. The video we showed in the beginning broke content down into the 4C’s:

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You should be using social media to drive the 4Cs.

1.Creating

The first thing you must do is CREATE the content you want to share on your social media. This means taking those pictures, making those videos, creating those graphics. If you aren’t great with graphic design, I’d suggest checking out Canva – a super user-friendly little web-based tool that will help you make some effective graphics for your social media platforms.

2.Curating –

The second is curating content that is helpful or useful for your audience. You want your content to help your audience solve a problem, entertain them, and/or provide valuable insights. My best advice here is to think about what engages YOU on the social media you use as a consumer – personally for me, I am mesmerized by those quick cooking videos on Facebook, or the inspiration quotes on Instagram. They teach me something or inspire me in an easy, effective way.

I also can’t overstate enough the need for curating content that is engaging, causing your audience to interact with it (via a like or a comment or a share). This is how your social media will gain a further reach. Though I am not a Facebook expert by any means, I have found that posts I share that are engaging are ones that always get MUCH higher reaches. I always see vendors complaining why their wedding pictures don’t see much reach – it’s probably because the post isn’t getting much interaction. On the other hand, I recently put a blog post on Facebook that was about a piece of business advice that I received from a stranger. I shared this piece of content that was a resource for other small business owners and to date the post had reached over 3700 on Facebook (which is pretty awesome considering I only have 1700 fans and most my Facebook posts only reach 300-700). This post was helpful and so people liked it and shared it and the reach grew.

3.Connecting

I think some people have forgotten that these platforms are called SOCIAL media. The point isn’t to just endlessly promote your own stuff, it’s to interact and be social and connect with your audience. You will get so much more out of social media if you create conversations about your brand or business. Your posts should aim to start conversations which could help you get to know your audience better or find a new audience you didn’t even know was following you!

4.Community

Finally, relationships are everything in social media and creating a sense of community around your brand or business can be extremely beneficial to you. You’ve all head of the phrase “circles rise” and it’s true. And social media is an EASY way to enable this. Some things to keep in mind here:

  • Use social media to either join into a community or create your own
    • Personally as a wedding coordinator, I belong to a community of other planners on Facebook – we share insight, ask for recommendations, share experiences, and even pass referrals along to each other!
  • Not everyone you are trying to reach via social media is a customer. Some of the most important connections within a connection base are influential people in various social circles.
    • Through Twitter I’ve found some invaluable resources in the form of other wedding vendors, or other small business owners
    • I’ve also made connections to clients through Instagram

All of these 4Cs can help you to use social media in a more impactful way to boost your business and reach new audiences and networks.

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