Let’s Get Personal: What’s In a Name?

Image: Maggie Gaudean

When I was planning my wedding with Andy, there were plenty of wedding traditions that I was adamant about throwing out the window. I had no interest in wearing a veil (the history behind them wasn’t for me), I didn’t care much for rounding up our single friends onto the dance floor for a bouquet or garter toss, and the titles of Maid of Honor and Best Man, just didn’t fit our family & friend (un-even numbered) wedding party. So we cast them aside without ever looking back.

Now that I’ve been working in the wedding industry for 6+ years (how!?), there is one wedding tradition that I often find myself wondering about: taking my husband’s last name. Maybe I was young? Maybe I didn’t research the history behind why women traditionally took their husband’s last names. Maybe there just wasn’t something that personally affected or troubled me about taking Ryback and leaving Harrison aside. I don’t know why – but for some reason, I never even considered not taking Andy’s last name.

So what’s really in a name? This blog post could go a few ways, but there are two points of reflection I’d like to transition to with this post. One came from a conversation I was having recently at a work happy hour with a co-worker. A conversation that has stuck with me since we had it. The privilege some races have with the thought process behind the names they give their children and the implicit bias that arises when some people hear or read a name.

When we decided to have children, Andy and I were both on board with a family name. Personally I wanted names that could be shortened, and names that were easily pronounced. Growing up with the name “Brianne” – I was often called Brian (until the 90s, then I got Brianna). As a young girl, I got upset that I was often called a boys name (once even having a letter from a vacation rental pen pal program addressed to Mr. Brian Harrison) and so I swore I would name my kids something easy to pronounce.

What I didn’t consider in the least – was what OTHER people might think when they read the name Evelyn – something I am now learning is likely attributed to the privilege I have as a white person. My coworker shared that the names of the siblings in her family are diverse – and she asked her parents if they made those decisions specifically so that implicit bias might not play a part at their chance to be given an interview, picked for a role, etc. If you read Becky vs Aaliyah, what do YOU automatically assume and might you act differently (consciously or not) based on reading names alone.

The weight of names were recently in the spotlight at the national level on Sunday night at the Oscars. Yes, most people are still talking about the crazy mix-up of Best Picture, but one of the articles I read pointed out that Jimmy Kimmel made at least 2 jokes about Best Supporting Actor winner, Mahershala Ali. Why? Because his name isn’t super White & “American” sounding like Jimmy, it has to be the brunt of a joke? Mahershala Ali was reduced to a punchline about his name when he should have been celebrated for the historic win he just achieved. Making fun of his name was a constant reminder that Mahershala is different than the Jimmys of the world (source).

So what’s in a name? Maybe a bit more to you now after reading this post and considering these two situations that have also given me pause about what a name carries. While I still haven’t found the reason why I was so willing to take my husband’s last name, I have found greater appreciation for names in general and what they presume or maybe you implicitly assume. And what I will try and do is use this as a learning experience – for my own bias when I read a name, to a greater awareness of the full picture if I have future children to assign names to.


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DC Wedding Weekend Idea for Wedding Guests: Book them a Tour

Image: Lauren Love Photography

The weekend was anything but restful. Being a single parent to a toddler is HARD and I really don’t know how full-time single parents do it, because I am dying after 4 days. I caught up best I could on emails & CapRo things, but would lie if I didn’t say I spent a chunk on the couch catching up on Jane the Virgin (MICHAEL O.M.G.). Attempting to get back into the routine this week, and we have a guest post today to help!

Our bride to be blogger, Becca, is back sharing tips on hiring/using a Washington DC Tour Guide! We def thought this might be something worth checking out for you couples that aren’t from here and have a boat-load of relatives & friends coming in for the weekend. DC is a great place for tourism, and having a guide only makes it better. Check out Becca’s tip below!

Tips for Hiring a Washington, D.C. Tour Guide (for your wedding weekend!) | By: Becca

Before I joined the wonderful world of wedding planning, I often worked with couples who wanted to integrate our nation’s capital into their wedding weekend.  If you’re getting married in the D.C.-area, there’s a good chance you’ll want to show off our incredible city.  As a DC tour guide, I have a few tips for making a sightseeing tour of D.C. part of your wedding weekend.

  1. Book early – Peak tourist season aligns pretty closely with peak wedding season in the D.C. area.  This means – just like any other vendor for your wedding weekend – if you want a quality tour guide/bus company/tickets to popular sights, you’re going to want to plan this in advance.  This is especially true if you’re getting married on a holiday weekend or during cherry blossom season!
  2. Know your audience – A tour of D.C. is a great way to entertain wedding guests and show off the fact you live in the best city in the country.  However, we’re a big city with a LOT to see and you likely only have so many hours to spare out of your wedding events.  Think about who is likely to attend the tour and what would appeal to them.  Lots of grandparents or folks bringing along small children?  A bus tour makes sure your Great Aunt Sally doesn’t have to hike ten miles or your future-sister-in-law isn’t hauling two double strollers up and down the National Mall.  Do you have more locals attending?  Consider a tour specializing in a particular neighborhood, like Georgetown, Eastern Market, or Dupont Circle. Want something that appeals to a wide range of guests?  You can never go wrong with a ghost tour through a haunted D.C. neighborhood or a food tour that highlights some of our best eats!
  3. Be realistic with your event schedule – While you may jog the National Mall every morning in less than an hour, most of your wedding guests probably don’t.  An average walking tour of the Mall takes about 2-3 hours to see the major sights, especially with folks stopping for photos, restrooms, snacks, etc.  An average bus tour around the region is usually 3-4 hours (please don’t try to do this during rush hour!)  Make sure whatever you schedule, you have given your guests enough time to get back to the event hotel and shower/change/primp for the next event.
  4. Think off the National Mall – If most of your guests have seen the Lincoln Memorial and the White House, there are still a ton of great D.C. landmarks to share.  Consider visiting a lesser-known museum, like the Belmont-Paul National Monument for Women’s Equality on Capitol Hill or the Woodrow Wilson House in Dupont Circle.  A walking tour that highlights Embassy Row or U Street is a nice change from the regular tourist sites.
  5. Follow the rules, especially for party buses.  A fun option for a wedding weekend is to book a party bus to take your guests around the city while also socializing and imbibing safely.  BUT – not to be Becca Buzzkill – be sure to read the fine print in advance and make sure your guests are aware of the rules.  Most private hire vehicles will have clear policies for alcohol (whether it must be bought through the company or brought on by guests) as well as making sure things stay safe.  Don’t let your wedding fun be ruined by guests getting kicked off your tour bus (I’ve seen it happen multiple times), a bus driver refusing to depart hotel because alcohol policies were violated (yep, that too), or with an arrest.  Good rule of thumb – leave open containers on your bus to avoid an uncomfortable confrontation with National Park Police or a DC police officer.
  6. Be creative!  There are some really fun ways to make your tour special.  Have your guests take photos at different sites and add them to your reception slide show – they can bring along cardboard versions of the happy couple if they aren’t joining the tour.  One group I worked with filmed special messages and wishes for the couple during the tour and surprised them by airing the video at the rehearsal dinner.  Don’t be afraid to use your tour to make your wedding weekend unique and make your guests part of the fun!


Organizing a tour or event is a great way to make your wedding weekend special and share our incredible city with your guests.  Feel free to leave questions or anecdotes in the comments and I’ll do my best to help if you’re considering adding a tour to your wedding!

Julia & Jon’s Virginia Themed, Monday Wedding at Columbia Firehouse Restaurant

Images: Angel Kidwell Photography

I had all intentions of blogging this yesterday, and of COURSE life got in the way (it usually does). I guess a day later really isn’t the worst, though I am interested to see how blogging on a Saturday goes (I think this is actually the first time I’ve ever done it!). I am home all weekend with E doing the single parent dance, while Andy is working the Oscars (I know, let’s not talk about how cool his job is, especially while I sit at some kid’s music hall, covered in milk & crackers), but at least I’ll catch up on emails and CapRo things … right!? Ok fine, I am really just going to watch Jane the Virgin. Here’s a super rad Virginia wedding for you all to enjoy though!

We are getting married at a historic home in Alexandria, VA (the city where we live). Julia is from Virginia and BIG into Virginia stuff (see her Virginia tattoos…) and Jon digs history (um, George Washington is from Alexandria…well that’s sort of a big deal) so it seemed like a reasonable fit. Julia has three members on her side of the bridal party (all friends); Jon has four (his brother, his cousin, Julia’s brother, and a friend.) A friend of Julia’s from her high school will be officiating the ceremony; it will be on the shorter side and very secular. Jon’s father will do a reading. The reception will be at the Columbia Firehouse restaurant, also in old town. The restaurant is gorgeous with lots of brick and dark wood. The food is going to be delicious!

Julia and Jon were married on a Monday –  yes a Monday! They had a very low stress day with plenty of time to enjoy their family and friends. They had an early afternoon ceremony with an evening heavy hors d’oeuvre reception. That left us with lots of time to explore Old Town for photos.

A really cute part of the day, when Julia stepped out of the Lloyd House to walk down the aisle, her heel got stuck in the brick walkway. She did recover quickly, but it was a nice bit of comic relief.

Jordan & Colleen’s Modern, Pink & White, Mormon Wedding in Washington, DC

Images: Dragon Studio via Two Bright Lights

Late to the blogging party today guys! But the shades of pink in this real DC wedding are ON POINT because the cherry trees in my neighborhood are ALREADY blooming. I don’t think I am ready to say bye to winter just yet (Evie didn’t even get to play in any snow), but it’s been nice to be biking to work, and spending weekends at the playground with her. But also, I am terrified for our climate and my allergies are already starting … but also WARMTH. So yes, I am conflicted.

But here’s a gorgeous modern Mormon DC wedding to help distract us from the conflicted feelings on the weather (oh and everything else going on).

The day started off being cold and windy and rainy but held off long enough for us to take some fantastic photos of the family and bridal party around the garden areas of the temple.

We decided to get married on what turned out to be one cold, windy and rainy day in April. As active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, there was no doubt that we wanted to get married in one of the church’s temples. Since there is no temple in Virginia, we decided to get married at the Washington, DC Temple.

A temple marriage is a private ceremony, but friends and family were eagerly waiting to greet the newly married us, as we walked out of the temple that seemed like something out of a fairytale with it’s marble structure and elegant features.

Meet Goodshuffle: The Best & Easiest Wedding and Events Rentals Website

*sponsored post*

Image: Goodshuffle

Sourcing rentals for your wedding or event can be a total headache for a few reasons. Once you get over the shock of the cost of renting a single chair, you’ll ask yourself – does everyone in this area charge XX for a chair? Do I really have to go search each, individual rental companies’ websites to see offerings & pricing? Man, it’d be easier to just search one place to get a list of all the rental items (with price comparison) I might need, AND be able to book the rentals right then and there – a one-stop-shop, that lets you actually “add to cart” and schedule your delivery for your rentals.

Well you’re in luck because someone created Goodshuffle for this exact reason. Goodshuffle (made in DC!) was started with the sole purpose of simplifying the event rentals business. Their online marketplace makes it so much easier to find the most affordable prices for whatever your event rental needs might be, and saves you time by centralizing the rentals shopping & scheduling process (More time? Surely something every couple planning a wedding needs).

Goodshuffle has a good deal of tools on their website as well, all with the purpose of HELPING you! You can search through collections to use as an inspiration (what all might I need for a romantic, winery wedding?).

Planners or DIYers can use the tent calculator and tablecloth calculator to help make decisions. Never rented a tent for an event before? The tent calculator helps you to decide the type & size of tent you might need.

Likewise, the tablecloth calculator helps you to decide the size of a linen you will need based on your table sizes. (Side note: this tablecloth calculator tool is almost FUN to play with, but also SUPER useful. I’ve personally worked weddings where the couple opted to buy or rent their own linens and as I dressed the tables, the linens didn’t quite meet the floor so you could still see some not-so-event-ready table legs. Don’t make this mistake!)

You can compare prices, create different carts for your different events, and even schedule deliveries, all through the website.

Goodshuffle isn’t staying put either – they’re planning on adding more tools and products in the near future – including a software for event rental companies to use this month! Stay tuned and check out their site for more information on what’s coming next. I’m gonna go head back over to that tablecloth calculator ;)

*this is a sponsored post. this vendor paid to have this content shared on our blog, however, it was verified that this event was confirmed to meet our requirements and mission*

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