Capitol Wedding: Noelle & Van’s DIY Butterfly Themed Virginia Wedding

Good morning readers! Today I have my first ever submission via Two Bright Lights and I am very excited to share this real capitol wedding with you all! Noelle & Van got married in Warrenton, Virginia in a lovely, DIY butterfly-themed affair and Ever After Visuals was there to capture all the beautiful moments of the day.

Ever After Visuals is a mother-daughter lifestyle photography team based in Washington, DC.

First, a bit about Noelle & Van from Noelle herself:

Van & I met our Junior year in high school. I had just transferred from another school and Van and I had the same lunch period. Being the mature high school boys that they were, Van and his friends would throw food, especially grapes, at our table. They knew that by doing this we would get mad and go over to their table to “yell” at them.

Van and I didn’t truly start dating until our senior year when he asked me to senior prom. After graduation Van and I spent almost every day over the summer together … but before we knew it the summer was over. Van headed to Blacksburg to Va Tech for college and I headed to Norfolk to go to Old Dominion. We spent the next 4 years with lot of e mails, cards, and phone calls.

After we graduated our romance continued, but a few growing pains began to sneak in. Van and I ended up breaking up after 7 1/2 years together. However, during that time my mind and heart always thought of Van and I realized the saying is true, you don’t realize how much something means to you until you set it free. We ended up spending about 2 years apart and but we finally got back together, where we should have always been. After dating again for a few short months Van proposed at his office Christmas party and we were officially engaged 2 days before Christmas.

Love stories with happy endings.

Nice touch with the Virginia Tech garter, Noelle – I had a Penn State one! :)

Noelle on her dress:

My dress was a Jim Hjelm dress and I fell in love with it the moment I put it on. After looking at endless amounts of Bridal magazines I knew that was the only designer I wanted to try on. I loved how the dress wasn’t strapless and how the back was open. The lace was amazing, and it truly was my dream dress!

My shoes- flip flops! No one saw my feet, so why not be comfy?

More from Noelle:

We decided on the Airlie [for our venue] because it was stunningly beautiful! We loved the idea of getting married outside in the sunshine and fresh air. We loved how the whole event could be outside, the ceremony, the cocktail hour and the reception.


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Capitol Romance: Megan & Mike’s Northern Virginia Winter Wedding at Wolftrap Barns

Wolftrap is an awesome place in the DC Metro Area for more than just weddings. It’s a performing arts venue in Northern Virginia, and a fantastic alternative wedding reception location in the DC Metro Area.

Thanks to Laurie Bracewell photography, I have a real wedding from Wolftrap (and it is a gorrrgeous one) to share with you all today!

First things first – I just HAVE to share Mike & Megan’s engagement story with you all:

Megan flew in to visit Mike at the Naval Justice School in Rhode Island. He told her they were to have lunch with the General, and all day long his friends mentioned the occasion in passing. But, there was no lunch with the General.

Megan dressed up and they hit the road in the afternoon. Mike kept checking the time because he was worried that traffic would put them behind schedule. His friends were already busy at the 40 Steps of Newport’s Cliff Walk, preparing for them to arrive. They cleared the touristy steps of people, even shooing away old ladies enjoying their leisurely afternoon.

Mike told Megan they were waiting for his friends, and led her down the steps to take in the ocean view. But rather than feeling romantic, Megan was cranky. She had skipped dinner the night before because she was busy packing, and that morning they didn’t have time for breakfast. Now late afternoon and nearly 24 hours since her last meal, she was famished, and not in the mood to wait much longer. But her frown was washed away as they reached the bottom of the 40 Steps and she turned to see a Carl Sandburg poem penned across the steps’ faces.

At that moment she realized what was happening, and her face lit up in understanding. As Mike proposed, his friends rose from their hiding places amongst the cliffs and cheered them on. Even the old ladies had stayed to watch, clapping and smiling at the sight of young love.

Seriously people. Eternally “aww”-inducing proposal right there.

Isn’t Megan’s dress gorgeous? I love how different it is! She actually got it from OnceWed (never worn) originally from David’s Bridal (who would have guess THAT?)

Love this next one – their giddy smiles & happiness is just contagious.

In memorial of her father, who lost a battle to Cancer 6 years ago, Megan added his picture to her bouquet. Inspiring & touching.


DIY Inspiration: Washington DC Save the Date Postcards

Save the Dates are something I swore I wouldn’t waste my money on … and then ended up doing them anyway. I was against the magnet or any other sort of novelty item and wanted to keep things cheap - so we decided to do a short photo shoot with our photographer and DIY it into a postcard to send our guests!

(postcard front)

(postcard back)


Postcards are a fantastic money saver when it comes to Save the Dates AND RSVP cards in your invitations! They are easy to make online (we used Vistaprint!) and use significantly less postage to send!

Here’s some more Save the Date photo & postcard inspiration to kick off this week’s DIY Wednesday!

A simple STD postcard via Wedding Paper Divas

Love the paint on the brick via Bridal Buds

Omg I LOVE this postcard design! You could have fun with a DC version! (via Bride Power)

OMG this one is infinitely awesome

 Architette Studios ~ fun city skylines for your Save the Date postcard! Check out their DC one (they have Baltimore & a ton more cities in their Etsy shop too!)

This one is hilarious (and they have more here)

Plan on doing a Photo STD or Postcard STD? Let us know!


Capitol Romance: Ginny & Jeff’s Baseball Themed Engagement Session with Balloons!

I am EXTRA thrilled to be blogging today’s engagement shoot from our fav, Abby of Abby Grace Photography.  The extra comes from the following:

  1. 1. Abby is a DIY goddess if you recall
  2. 2. She also happens to be a damn good photographer
  3. 3. The beautiful gal in this e-shoot’s name is Ginny and I just cannot help but think of Harry Potter every time I hear that name (or it could still be the leftover cauldron cakes and butterbeer that’s still in my system) & it, of course, sends me into a fit of happiness

Anyway … a bit about the lovely Ginny and her man, Jeff from Abby:

Ginny and Jeff have one of those “high school sweetheart” stories that every girl secretly wants. They started dating when they were juniors at James Madison High School and remained together through the rest of their time at JMHS and Radford University. I went to school with Ginny and Jeff at both JMHS and Radford, and I have to say that they’re one of the most fun couples I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I got to know them through Theta Chi fraternity, and I was thrilled when Ginny contacted me this past fall to ask about engagement photos! Ginny and I discussed locations and finally decided on Nottoway Park in Vienna, VA, which also happened to be the place where Jeff proposed (on their seventh anniversary- phew!). Hilarious side note: Ginny admitted to suspecting Jeff’s intent to propose when her took her on a walk that night last September, and even gave him a subtle pat-down to check if he had a ring box on him.

More from Abby:

Ginny had mentioned wanting to use one of the photos for a Save The Date, so I came up with the idea of using balloons. They just happened to perfectly match Ginny’s carefully coordinated outfits- what a dream!


Wedding Music That Doesn’t Suck: Hall & Oates

What I’ve got’s full stock of thoughts

and dreams that scatter

You pull them all together

And how, I can’t explain

But You make my dreams come true

(first: a sneak peak from our ‘Rock the Frock’/Not-so-day-after shoot with Live It Out Photo!)

Second: I am a day behind on blogging – so I forgive you for cheating a bit on today’s “Wedding Music That Doesn’t Suck“. How am I cheating you, you ask? Well, because we used this song to walk down the aisle to. My husband & his parents, our wedding party, and my parents & I shimmied on down the aisle to this awesome, catchy, and wedding-appropriate tune. I highly suggest you do the same.


Hogwarts & Friday Faves

Happy Friday Readers!!

Some of you know (and for those that don’t) that I am currently at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando Florida!!

Actually yes, it’s a HUGE deal!!!!! I don’t think I have ever been so excited for something in my entire life (except my wedding… I swear). So while I am busy grabbin’ a butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks, having my wand chose me at Ollivanders, buying some sweets at Honeydukes, or gettin’ my spells on at Hogwarts, I thought I could AT LEAST leave you all with some Friday Faves :)

PS- If you didn’t understand that last paragraph, I think we need to re-evaluate our friendship. (I kid, I kid!!)

This Week’s Friday Faves:

  • I love the Peanuts Gang – here is a new take on it … (*warning – you might laugh out loud*)
  • I dare you to read this, and not get a bit misty eyed – a truly touching story and blog post by my fav, Wendy of Weswen Design. Touching. Inspiring. Amazing.
  • Why aren’t there any of THESE near me!? WHY!? (also – could you imagine having your wedding at one of these places … omg I just got so exciting thinking about it)
  • Even if you don’t like Peeps - you have to admit this is pretty cool
  • Ok, don’t judge, but I actually, kind-of want to see this movie
  • and finally…Seriously, even for Glee this seems a bit too far…

Thanks everyone! I will be back to normal posting on Tuesday!!!

Vendor Spotlight: DC’s Best Wedding Band ~ The Winn Brothers Band

It’s been a while since I have done a Vendor Spotlight (I apologize), but we just got our wedding video back this past week, and it made me realize all over again just how insanely lucky we were to snag the best wedding band in Washington DC, The Winn Brothers Band.

(yes, they played our wedding)

And so you might think I am biased - but all you have to do is look at their schedule and you’ll see just how in demand this band is.

A bit on how we found the Winn Brothers:

I cannot even begin to recall the nightmare that was finding a wedding band; the insane amount of hours searching online and frustration when time and time again, nothing came back. Music is SUPER important to Andy and me – and we knew a ‘typical’ wedding band (a la Top 40s and the YMCA) just wouldn’t cut it. We wanted a classic rock band, that just happened to be wedding savvy (and didn’t blow our budget). I barely even remember how I even found myself upon The Winn Brothers Band’s page via (Sam Hill Entertainment), but once I saw their sample set list – it was like the clouds opened up and I felt I experienced a miracle. But then I noticed there were no audio clips online, and I had an email telling me that if we didn’t sign a contract today, there was another couple ready to sign on the line the second we turned them down.

Sign a band without hearing them? Was I really about to do this? Me – the ultimate control freak.

Well – we did and it was seriously the best gut decision I made (other than marrying my high school sweetheart *cue: awwwww*). I cannot tell anyone reading this enough, that hiring the Winn Brothers made our reception. Our guests raved (some STILL do, 5 months later) and my friend Tom, who isn’t even yet engaged, has already swore he will hire them for his own wedding.

The band mates are not only infinitely talented, but some of the nicest, most down to earth guys I have ever met.

The band gives you some options with regards to pricing and size (ability to add brass and horns) and even learns songs for some of your special dances! Plus, they are comfortable playing in pretty much any venue in and around the Washington, DC area. They also dress to request! We had them fit into our hipster-vintage vibe by dressing super cas, in jeans!

Want to get to know the band a bit better? Well you are in luck, because I actually had the pleasure (and honor) to have Gordon (bandleader, lead singer, and all around awesome guy) answer a few questions for us!!

Capitol Romance (CR): When did you get into the “Wedding Band” business and how did you find yourselves there?

Gordon Winn (GW): I guess the story goes back pretty far. In the 1990’s my brother was in a jam band out of Richmond VA called Agents of Good Roots. They signed with RCA and released a few CD’s. They performed with many of the big touring bands of the late 90’s such as Dave Matthews, Widespread Panic, Medeski Martin and Wood, Aquarium Rescue Unit and many many more. That band ran its course and they broke up around 2001. At that point Andrew began to work on a couple of music degrees at the Peabody Conservatory and we decided to put together a band here in DC. Our drummer and our bass player had played with Andrew in a band in Richmond fronted by a female singer songwriter named Regan. So, when we decided to start a little cover band, Andrew turned to Curtis (bass) and Robby (drummer) as guys who could really play anything. For a while our 5th member was Daniel Clarke, who also studied jazz piano at VCU with Curtis and Robby. He then went on to perform with Mandy Moore and now is the pianist for kd Lang. With Daniel’s departure, Robby suggested we get his friend Colin on guitar. Colin is a top level jazz musician who plays sax and guitar. He did his studies at VCU and the New School in NYC. That band is the band that has been performing for the past 5 years. We also have a great horn section from Richmond for the bigger band.

Our band began performing at social events at different bars and venues around town but limited the gigs to about 15 a year. Then about 4 years ago we were approached by a few close friends, and friends of friends, to perform at their weddings. We played those weddings and had fun and decided that we would want to pursue playing more weddings. My cousin built a web site for our band and that web presence really helped us to spread the word. More than anything, though, we have to credit Steve Andronico at The City Tavern Club, Bo Blair and Jason York, the owners of The Bayou (formerly, The Rookery) and Michael Saylor, the founder of Microstrategy, (who throws some outrageous parties a few times a year), for hiring us to play at their venues and parties. Those gigs really put us in front of many DC locals and helped us to earn a reputation as a fun party band.

Now, inquiries come into the web site every week and we really do not know most of the people for whom we play events. It started as a grass roots thing and has remained a grass roots thing. We do all of the contracting in-house, with no middle-men. The guys I play with are family and I am reminded every weekend that I am blessed to perform with some stellar musicians who are stellar people.

CR: What’s your favorite thing about playing weddings?

GW: Weddings are inherently joyous celebrations. A band could not ask for a better gig. The crowd is in a great mood and ready to party. Our job is to mirror that joy in song.  We learn three requests for each wedding and we are always intrigued by the songs that couples choose as their first dance. The range is enormous! It pushes us and also exposes us to some music that we otherwise, may not play.

For me, personally, I enjoy the correspondence with clients over the phone and over email in order to put the reception together. The business side of the band is appealing to me as well. Keeping track of numbers, scheduling and client relations are the sides of playing music that most musicians do not want to tackle. My OCD side actually digs it!

CR: Any advice to couples thinking of getting a DJ over a band?

GW: The DJ-Band debate I think is growing more and more common. It really just boils down to the musical tastes of the couple. It is also often a question of cost. A band almost always will charge a higher fee than a DJ, and as we all know, weddings have budgets. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that the energy level created by a live band always exceeds the energy of recorded music. You just cannot recreate the electric relationship that emerges at a gig between a crowd and band.

…And now we will end with Gordon’s thoughts on my own wedding, because I found it quite humorous – and totally true:

I remember how stylish your wedding was and also how rowdy things got towards the end of the night!  The choreographed dances were amazing.  I also remember that nightmare sound guy who did not have the damn cord to play the ipod and who we thought was going to collapse from exhaustion throughout the night!  There was never a dull moment that evening!

See. I told you how awesome Gordon & the rest of the band areNOW GO HIRE THEM (if they are still available!) And then let us know that you did :)

Capitol Romance: Katherine & Sami’s DC Engagement at the Hirshhorn Museum

**Warning**: The colors in this Washington, DC engagement shoot you are about to see will blow your mind.

Katherine & Sami’s e-shoot was shot by the super talented Emily Porter (of Emily Porter Photo) at the super cool Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC. Emily is actually getting married in just 11 days (early congratulations!!!) But seriously, what a freakin’ sweet engagement shoot location in Washington, DC!

See – the colors, the shapes, the light.  Now, I am by no means even CLOSE to a professional photographer, but even I can see that this place is a gold mine for funky, modern pictures (probably helps when you have a photographer like Emily shooting too!). I also just have to mention, before I unleash the explosion of color and fabulousness upon you, that their wedding pictures are equally (if not moreso) amazing. Katherine’s dress is a must-see. OK! Now, grab your sunglasses ….

DIY How To: Make Your Own Photobooth Guest Book

The term “photobooth” has come to mean a few different things with regards to weddings. In my opinion, it can now be generally referred to as meaning one of the following:

  1. A legit photobooth (a la the mall or your hometown roller skating rink)
  2. An area at the wedding where your wedding photographer sets up a backdrop, some props, and takes “Photobooth” pictures
  3. The ultimate DIY version- you prop a camera down on a table with some instructions and props, and let your guests have at it!

I REALLY wanted to have Option #1 at my own wedding. I had heard that people had a blast with these things at other people’s weddings and the picture could easily double as the wedding favor. If you are thinking of going this route – be sure to check out the following rental companies that serve this area:

Option #1 quickly dropped from my list when I learned of the price. Unfortunately, due to my budget, it had to be cut (the band was a bigger deal to us!)

SO… I started researching Option #2. This is something you want to decide on BEFORE picking your wedding photographer – namely because not all photographers offer this option! After talking with our wedding photographer, we learned that this wasn’t something our photographer normally does and we then started to explore other options.

Which brings us to Option #3: The DIY Photobooth Alternative!

Once we decided to go this route – it actually became quite easy to make. Here is what we needed:

  • 1 Fujifilm Instax 210 Camera & Film (RIP Polaroid!)
  • Blank Guest Book (we got ours from Etsy seller, RedOtter!)
  • Markers for guests to write in your book
  • Props (we went the mustache route) & box or jar to hold props
  • Permanent Adhesive Rollers (we used these for ALL of our DIY projects, invitations, name cards, menus etc…)
  • Extra Batteries (just in case!)
  • Instruction Signs for Guests!


Step 1: Make your instruction signs! We mounted white paper onto leftover black card stock from our DIY Wedding Invitations.

We had the polka dot ribbon leftover from our invites & menus too – so we kept it consistent with the instructions as well. We kept our instructions short and sweet:

  1. Choose your ‘stache
  2. Strike a Pose
  3. Snap a Picture
  4. Paste the picture in our guestbook
  5. Write your message
  6. Congratulations! You’re done. Now go have fun.

Along with the instructions - we took a picture of each “step” to paste on the instruction card (seen above). We asked the catering company to bring extra table number holders to hold the instruction cards!

Step 2: Collect your props or make some easy DIY Mustaches! My crafty husband cut out some ‘staches from thick felt and then hot glued them to dowel rods from the craft store.

Step 3: Get all your props, camera (with extra film & batteries!), guestbook, instruction cards, and glue rollers together in one big box. At the reception – map out an area for your guests to have a BLAST using your DIY Photobooth and creating a seriously memorable guestbook for you and your hubby or wifey!

Our guest book is seriously one of my favorite things from that day! All of our guests had so much fun taking the pictures and leaving us funny notes – beats a signed picture frame any day, right?? Check it out for yourself! (all shots below are from our wedding photographer, Live It Out Photo):

My mother & her best friend!

IDK how … but every single one of our guy friends here picked the most appropriate mustache for themselves, right????

We made sure to get in on the action!

And again with Andy’s boss & coworker!

Andy & his mom show everyone how it’s done!

And then Andy’s dad gets in on the action too.

Seriously people – I cannot recommend this option enough – it has the crafty, DIY feel, and SO much fun included, but without the hefty pricetag! Even my grandpa got his picture taken! Our guestbook is one of the funniest things I have ever seen!

Let us know if you plan to do this for your wedding!!





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