Angelica & Daneal’s Intimate DC Wedding Ceremony at the DC War Memorial

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Images: Shoot Happens Photography via Two Bright Lights

Greetings from the Green Mountain State! After a whirlwind weekend in Cabo, Andy & I returned to Vermont to continue our summer vacation at my parents new lakehouse. It’s GORGEOUS here (much needed R&R) but I apologize for not getting my butt to my laptop as much as I had planned. For today I have a gorgeous wedding ceremony at the DC War Memorial that was intimate but still packed in some stylish details. Hope you all have a wonderful Friday AND weekend and I hope to get more blog posts up next week!

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Angelica and Daneal knew they wanted to be married and did not want to spend an arm and a leg to do it! To them, it was more important to focus on the marriage of two people in love than focus on the things that don’t last past the wedding day.

Angelica loved the DC War Memorial and thought that would be the perfect location. A host of family and friends and $90 permit later, they were getting married!!! The weather called for rain the whole week leading up to their BIG DAY and that morning, cleared up just for them.

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How They Met: (Her POV) We met…it’s so clic?…but we met at the gym! I went several times a week and sometimes took the group fitness classes. I noticed one of the trainers would somehow find his way to the window of the class and he would just stare!! I thought he was such a creep and it was totally weird. Months later Daneal told me that he mentioned me to one of his clients and told them that he hadn’t had a crush in years. This client encouraged him to approach me and he did just that. After one of my classes let out he made his way to me, introduced himself as the Head Trainer, and told me if I had any questions or needed help with anything to let him know. He then handed me his business card with his cell phone number on the back. I sent him a text the next day and he invited me to dinner. We took it slow for the first couple of months but over time our relationship grew and I came to love his kind and selfless spirit. Plus a little friendly HBCU rivalry never hurt anyone!

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The Proposal: (His POV)Two years after dating, we went ring shopping to get an idea of what she liked, although I was not planning to propose anytime soon. After ring shopping for about three months we found out the the ring style that she liked and I went to a jeweler to get her ring made. Now Angelica is a jet setter and we were planning a trip that next year. She asked me what was one of my top places I wanted to go and I told her Japan. After Japan was decided she would tell me at random moments how romantic it would be to get proposed to on top of Mt. Fuji and I would just laugh in her face. Little did she know I was getting her ring made and was already making arrangements for our Mt. Fuji proposal.

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We did an overnight hike on Mt. Fuji where we slept in a hut before making our final ascend to the summit. On the way up the final ascend it was rainy, windy, and felt like a light hurricane and did not make for a great view or proposal. I thought to myself ‘damn nature you’re scary’ and decided to postpone the proposal. I was scrambling for other ideas of where to propose. The next stop on our trip was Kyoto and I was thinking of locations there with great views. With the help of a few of our fellow Mt. Fuji hikers I decided on the Fushimi Inari shrine. It was a short two mile hike to the top of the mountain, overlooking the city of Kyoto. It is there, at the top of the shrine during sunset, that I got on one knee and asked her to be my wife.

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Vendors -> Photographer: Shoot Happens Photography | Rentals: AAA Party Rentals | Bride’sDress Designer: Allure Couture Bridal | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Groom’s Shoes: Cole Hann | Floral Designer: Kelly Yett | Groom’s Suit: Zara (blue suit) | Venue: DC War Memorial | Submitted via Two Bright Lights

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Giveaway: Win 5 Mini Bottles of Organic Insect Repellent from Naked Botanicals

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Super pumped to share this locally #madeinDC product that is the PERFECT addition to your DC wedding welcome bags or just to have in your bathroom baskets – organic insect repellent from Naked Botanicals! We all know the mosquitoes in DC can be FIERCE and not exactly a welcomed guest at your wedding. So if you are getting married in the DC area and have an outdoor ceremony or reception – this giveaway is for you!

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One winner will receive (5) 1-ounce sprays, perfect for on the go bug protection. They fit in swag bags, purses, backpacks, etc., is TSA-compliant, and safe for adults and children over the age of 6 months (because of the essential oils). Shipping included in the USA.

Details on how to enter are below. Giveaway ends July 1, 2016!

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Jen & Ryan’s Blagden Alley Alternative Washington DC Engagement Pictures

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Images: Lauren Louise Photography

Yesterday a bunch of spineless Senators voted to keep guns in the hands of terrorists. Not exactly what I wanted to hear after the deadliest mass shooting massacre in our country. So while I spent most of yesterday angry, donating to DSCC and Senators running against those that voted only in the interest of the NRA, I am going to try to refocus today back on LOVE and HAPPINESS. And this engagement session from the uber talented Lauren Louise Photography is certainly helping.

I love everything about this engagement session – the couple, the vibe, the location, the love story – EVERYTHING. Hopefully you guys enjoy it just as much as I do (I know you will). Happy Tuesday Romancers! I’ll be trying my hardest to get posts scheduled while I head out on vacation these next few weeks!

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How we met:

Ryan & Jen met working at the same company a few years ago and became fast friends. They were on the same team and he was an incredible mentor to her. It felt like they’d known each other for years and their connection grew the more they got to know each other. They constantly made each other laugh and they never had to apologize to each other for being 100% themselves. Eventually, their relationship grew out of patience & communication — two things they still don’t take for granted today.

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Proposal Story:

One night, about a week before the engagement, Ryan asked Jen if she wanted to attend a show of a band they had seen live a few months prior (which Jen found very strange because they didn’t particularly enjoy the show). He said the tickets were free from a friend, so Jen agreed to a weeknight show at the 9:30 club. When she got home from work, Ryan suggested they have a couple drinks at home before the show. He then mentioned that he had a little surprise for her, so she should let him know when she wanted it. She said, “If it’s food I don’t want it ’cause I’m not hungry right now,” and he laughed and said it was not food. Obviously, in that case, she wanted it immediately. It was a flat package wrapped in kraft paper, to which, she joked “well, it’s not an engagement ring” and ripped the paper open to reveal a book titled “I Love You” with two stick figures (Jen & Ryan) on the cover. Ryan had written a book with all the things he loved about her complete with hand-drawn pictures. This was especially special because Ryan never explicitly told Jen all the things he loved about her, even when she asked nicely.

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Finally, at the end of the book, a few pages from the end, Ryan had written, “The only thing I don’t love about you, is that you’re not mine forever.” Jen’s heart was beating a million beats per minute when she flipped the page and there was a stick figure Ryan proposing to a stick figure Jen. He grabbed the ring from under the couch and proposed in their first DC apartment on October 1st, 2015. After they finished ugly crying, Ryan told Jen that they were not going to the show, but instead they’d be having dinner at Komi to celebrate. It was the best Thursday night ever & the perfect beginning to their forever.

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My Response to “How I Dumped the Wedding Industry” Blog Post

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Image: Mathy Shoots People

Last Friday a friend and former client of mine tagged me in an article on Twitter. I read the article and couldn’t help myself (shocking I know) and ended up engaging in a mini-argument on Twitter about the things posted in it. The post was from a recent bride that “dumped” the wedding industry and mostly railed against its supposed wedding upcharging and other rip-off pricing.

And while some of her tips/advice I can get behind, there is a lot of the article that pissed me off. Pissed me off so much because I’ve worked in this industry now for 5 years and I just can’t get behind some of her sweeping statements that vendors in this industry are only here to upcharge and take advantage of your wedding day. There are also advice points in her post that, in my opinion, don’t show the entire story. Ie, yes you can hire outside staffing companies that might be cheaper than a wedding caterer, but they likely won’t provide all the services a full-service catering company would – like busing tables, making sure the food the restaurant dropped off is staying warm/re-stocked, helping with set up, coordinating with your rentals, and the list goes on.

So I’d like to respond to her letter here today, but let me start by prefacing that for those of you that know me, you know how I feel about the wedding industry. You know I think it’s expensive, too bride-centric, sometimes focused too much on details, and overall can be a total beast to deal with. I understand that – but that notion is also an easy article to write. Because within the 5 years that I’ve worked in it, I’ve also found the wedding industry to be AWESOME. Full of entrepreneurs and creatives, full of amazing couples & clients, and vendors have become some of my dearest friends. It’s full of people trying to make a living as a wedding vendor, people who do it because they love it, and mostly full of people who just love love and the un-matchable excitement and energy of a wedding day. Who are here to yes, make a living as a wedding business owner, but not to just make huge profits off your wedding day.

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Images: Kristi Odom Photography

Let’s start first with the “Venue + catering = rip off” point. Yes, wedding venues are expensive in DC – but newsflash, this is not a wedding specific thing. ANY rental of ANY venue in DC is expensive – thank our real estate market or the insane cost of rent for businesses here. While it is expensive yes, it’s not necessarily a rip-off in my opinion. However her point to use a non-profit or arts space as the venue (think outside the traditional wedding hall/hotel box!) is certainly one I can get behind (though you need to also read this article on the truth about using offbeat wedding venues for your wedding to be educated). ALSO be aware, that decoupling your venue from everything else can add to your planning/coordinating list – sometimes it’s easier to pay a little more for something that has a lot more included in it.

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Image: Pangtography

Second point: select a catering or a restaurant that can drop-off the food. This will certainly be cheaper (as there is no service at play here), however there are a lot of things you should know if you want a caterer or restaurant to just drop the food off. First – who is at the venue accepting the drop off and where are they putting the food? Does it need to stay hot or cold? Who is doing that? When it’s time to eat, who is taking the food and putting it out – and where did you get the plates, bowls, and serving ware from (the caterer likely dropped off in foil tins, unless they brought rentals, be aware that you likely will have to CLEAN those and take those back to the caterer/restaurant)? Who is turning the food over – putting more out when tins empty? And who is serving the right food at the right time?

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Image: B.O.B. Photography

And onto my favorite point: wedding vendors only charge more because you said wedding, so find vendors who’s main business IS NOT weddings.

Where do I even begin with this one? Guys, there is a REASON vendors might charge more the second you mention it’s a wedding and that is because there is MUCH MORE involved in a wedding day, than your average birthday party or corporate event. I attempted to explain this to the author via Twitter, and she called me sexist, because I shared that the emotion of a wedding day makes the day higher stress and there is more of a push to ensure the day is smooth, fun, “perfect”, thanks to all the expectations of the family, the couple, and the guests attending.

Personally I don’t find anything about calling a wedding day high emotion sexist. I did not say brides, I didn’t utter a word about a sex, I just said the emotions are high on a wedding day. Personally, my wedding day was one of the MOST emotional days of my life, and out of the 30+ weddings I have now worked as a coordinator or attended as a guest, I can tell you this is true because it’s one of the reasons I keep working weddings. I LOVE the emotion of the wedding day. I love watching two brides calmly get ready together. I love watching Dad’s see their little girls in their wedding dress. I love watching the couple walk into their reception space and seeing all their hard work come together. I LOVE THE VOWS (dear god, seriously – traditional or personalized, the vows are MY FAVORITE) and I love when grooms cry.

I LOVE the emotions of a wedding day, but I am telling you these emotions just don’t exist at your average corporate party and because of the emotions, there is a certain frantic energy to the wedding day. It’s not always the couple – sometimes it’s a parent, or a sibling, or wedding party members that want to ensure the day goes “just right” – regardless it’s there and it’s why “weddings cost more”.

Ok, onto hiring non-wedding vendors. That’s cool – I’ve worked with some great vendors who were “new” to weddings, however, if you are going to hire non-wedding vendors you better have a coordinator or planner that can help wrangle and manage them. There is a certain cadence to a wedding day – each vendor knows what I am talking about. And working in weddings gives you the ability to not only account for the cadence in advance, but it enables you to be prepared for most situations that likely arise on a wedding day. DJs, photographers, officiants – you guys know what I am talking about, and have likely written your own blog post about it…. working a wedding is different than other events. So while you can hire non-wedding vendors, don’t expect to get the same service you would, had you hired a wedding professional. Your DJ might not play appropriate music during dinner or cake, your photographer will likely miss moments you wanted captured in your wedding day pictures, and your cake might not stand up to 95 degree summer DC heat – but as long as you are OK with that, hire away!

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Image: Liz Fogarty

Next point: using Task Rabbit. Oh man guys – I mean see above on the entire paragraph about hiring non-professional wedding vendors. I’ve written about hiring friends as wedding vendors before as well, but using Task Rabbit takes this to a whole new level. Sure this CAN work – and CAN save you money, BUT there is also a risk involved here. The author also mentions that with using Task Rabbit, YOU will have to create layouts, a wedding day timeline, instructional packets for your non-wedding vendors, AND run a paid training before your wedding to ensure they are ready & informed.

Ask yourself, A) Do you even know how to do these things? B) Do you have the TIME to do these things? Sure you might save money here, but there is a lot of TIME involved in creating these layouts, this timeline, and ringing in the vendors. How do I know that? Well that is essentially what I do as a wedding coordinator, so yes I know how much time is involved here. :)


Image: Pop Wed Co

Finally (if you are still with me): Get Appy & use technology – now this one I am 100% behind! BUT I still have one thought – know your audience here. Technology is AWESOME and yes, affordable, however, if everyone you are inviting is NOT technology friendly, an online RSVP might not be the way to go (because you will likely end up having to track all your guests down for RSVPs if they cannot figure out the website).

In short (hah!), you can certainly do everything the author outlines and likely still have a great wedding day. HOWEVER, you should not expect your wedding to be without hitch or hiccup if you opt for non-wedding professionals and fast-casual restaurants for catering. There is NOTHING wrong with this approach and a lot of my clients have mixed these budget saving tips in with the more traditional options, however, there is always a second side to these tips that I hope I was able to articulate that here.

What I ended with telling the Author on Twitter and what I’ll end here again today, is that I truly believe there is no RIGHT way to plan/execute a wedding. There is NOTHING that you MUST or NEED to do, there is only what you and your partner WANT. My job as a blogger and wedding coordinator is to simply educate you/my clients on what that want might cost or need in order to be achieved.

Happy Wednesday Romancers.

Steph & Jimmy’s Classic DC Engagement Pictures on the Mall

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Images: Alexandra Elise Photography

I‘ll admit I have a really hard time finding the energy to get back to blogging when our country sees yet another avoidable tragedy like the one that happened this weekend in Orlando. I feel angry, lost, sad, frustrated, angry, tired, sad, full of despair, angry, and frustrated again. Feeling so helpless towards the situation only makes it worse. I am a woman of action – I like to solve problems, provide answers, and find the way towards compromise or resolution but I fear an answer to this devastating topic is just not one I will see in my lifetime.

So instead of dwelling on it (because I spent the last 2 days wallowing in it), I will try to do what I can control, which is focus on love, life, and kindness instead. I will try to focus on happiness and the love the couples on my blog and in my coordination business and in my life share with each other and the others around them. And I’ll get started with sharing this beautiful DC engagement session, full of love, smiles, two kind hearts sharing their love in the city I love. Happy Tuesday all.

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Jimmy and Stephanie met through Stephanie’s “friend since forever” and Jimmy’s cousin, Eleni. A bunch of them were having a “cousins night out” and Stephanie went along with Eleni. Jimmy asked Stephanie for her number that night and they started dating shortly after. Jimmy never forgets that it was the NFL Draft day of 2011.  They dated for a few months before Stephanie moved to Arlington, Virginia for a teaching job. They stayed together and had a long distance relationship for about two years. After that, Jimmy moved down to Virginia to be with Stephanie.

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Jimmy and Stephanie got engaged on June 20, 2015 after having a nice brunch in Old Town VA. They will never forget how the kids approached them trying to sell them candy a few seconds after Jimmy proposed, totally interrupting the moment!  They are now very excited to celebrate their wedding day in Rochester with all of their family and friends!

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