Carolyn & Jon’s Northern Virginia Great Falls Park & Blackfinn Engagement Pictures

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Images: Megan Chase Photography

OMG you guys I’ve hit that point. The point in September when I am just READY for Fall. The crisper temperatures this weekend, the start of Football and this Great Falls Park engagement session. But mother nature always does this – gets me excited as I dig out my scarves and boots and then BOOM back to the 90s. We’re escaping to Vermont this weekend for one last mini-vacation and I am hoping to find cooler temperatures up there!

For today we have a beautiful engagement session from Megan Chase and it features our very own bride-to-be blogger, Carolyn!!! Enjoy her gorgeous pictures & insight into their engagement session locations decisions. Happy first day after a long weekend Romancers ;)

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For Jon & I’s engagement session I was torn between two different styles. The casual, more true to how we are on a daily basis and the fancier side of our lives (not as often). So I asked our amazing photographer Megan if it was possible to do 2 different sessions and she said yes!!! I was so excited!

The First session was done in Great Falls Park, which is such a picturesque outdoor setting. Jon loves nature and being outside and I love it in controlled settings. So we chose more casual outfits and woke up super early for a sunrise engagement session. The lighting was gorgeous and this was also the perfect setting to bring the little Pheebster along. We were a little nervous throughout the session because for the shots of just Jon and I she sat off to the side and we noticed that the amount of vultures that were appearing around us started to grow. Thankfully they left her alone. I was freezing by the end of the session, but so happy! I knew the photos were going to be amazing!

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For the second session I thought it would be a blast if we staged it in Blackfinn, which is a bar across the street from where Jon lived at the time. We like to hop on over and grab a drink once in a while just to change things up (aka in between our Netflix binges). They were so welcoming and accommodating for this shoot and it turned out exactly as I had imagined! I got my hair done by Anna Fazio that day, she is so amazing for waking up so early to accommodate me! It contributed to the more put together and sophisticated look I was going for. I love this shoot because it also incorporates our usual drink choices.

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So between the two sessions the photos captured our variety of personal interest all through photos! So if you and your honey can’t decide which is the perfect setting for your engagement shoot or if you both have different likes; try choosing two different spots to showcase everything you both are about!

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Hair in the bar shoot was done by Anna Fazio.  Huge thanks to Blackfinn in Merrifield for letting us use their space!!

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Introducing Our Newest Bride to Be Guest Poster: Kelsey!


Our dear Carolyn is getting married SO SOON and she will no longer be a “bride-to-be” and so I thought it’d be fun to bring another voice onto this blog to share another perspective of the crazy roller coaster that is planning your wedding. Enter: Kelsey! Kelsey and Phil are clients of mine and they are awesome. I mean, how could they not be when they ask you to be their wedding coordinator like this? So meet Kelsey & enjoy her hilarious wit for your Friday before a long weekend (woo hoo!).

First posts are always the worst. Will you like me? What do you want to know? Do I have something in my teeth? Let’s get all of these really important questions out of the way at the get go.

I’m Kelsey. I’m a ten-year and counting DC resident, and I’m getting married in February. Will you like me? Man, I hope so. Maybe not Michelle Obama’s arms like me, but definitely you stumbled on your favorite rerun of Friends like me. I’m going to share my wedding planning journey with you from start to finish. We have a bit of catching up to do because I got engaged in April but I figure it’s important to start at the beginning, so let’s do this.

I’ve been dating the fiancé for eight years. So all you ladies who are planning an ultimatum for your two-year relationship, just relax. I know this isn’t a relationship/engagement blog, but let me tell you that you need to know your best self before you give it to someone else. So enjoy this time. Live together if you want, go on vacations, get in fights and then figure out how to resolve them. Just make each other better.

Ok, fast forward to April. Long story short, the fiancé proposed the evening I thought I was throwing him a surprise 30th birthday party.


Yay! Love! Fun fact though, approximately 47 minutes after you get engaged someone asks you when you’re getting married. And that’s when it begins. Buckle up, kids, it’s about to get real. Whether you’re planning a long engagement, eloping, city nuptials, or middle of nowhere fete, this is your new normal. When, how many, where, what to wear, what to eat, the list of questions goes on.

Through the next few posts I’m going to share my advice as I go through this as well as hopefully answer any of your questions. My first and guiding piece of advice that has helped me through this process of an infinite number of decisions that need to be made: pick the top three things that are most important to you for your wedding. Just three. And have your fiancé do the same. There is no wrong answer. You can choose: food, band, and bridesmaids or venue, budget, and colors or Supreme Court justice officiant, cake, and sparklers, it doesn’t matter. But figuring out those three things will help everything else feel more digestible, because things can get super overwhelming and sometimes you need to remember what three things are most important to you.

Wanna know mine? Venue, band, food. I want a location that wows, I want people dancing all night, and I want them to talk about the food for years after the wedding. I hope you enjoy my advice and stories over the next few months. Please feel free to ask me any questions, I promise to answer honestly and maybe with a gif.

Introducing The Business Studio: A Community for Planners on the Business Side of the Wedding Industry

*sponsored post*


the business studio

I am so excited to share this new business venture from the crazy fabulous Jasmine of Jasmine Smith & Co Events. I get emails ALL THE TIME from people that want to jump into the wedding planning/coordination space and just want me to share some tips & tricks with them or any advice I have. My advice? Attend a workshop like this one to fully understand the business of working weddings in the wedding industry.

Wedding planning and/or coordination is a WHOLE heck of a lot harder than I think people understand. There’s finding your brand, the type of planner you even want to be, what sort of services you should offer, and how to execute this all successfully so that you can deliver on what you are selling. Enter: The Business Studio and their inaugural Business of Weddings Workshop.

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The Business Studio is a community for planners looking to better understand the business side of working in the wedding industry and registration is now open for “The Business of Weddings” – a workshop hosted by @thebusinessstudio.

Who is this workshop for? This workshop has been created for new and experienced planners looking to better understand the business side of working in the wedding industry.

What will this workshop include? During this 2 hour workshop you’ll learn: Why you should understand business and how it impacts your service, How to create a business model that fits your personality, How to find and define your niche, How to create a wedding business brand and, Tips on how to impress EVERYONE involved on wedding day. Plus, attendees get a catered lunch + a FREE 30 minute accountability call.

Where and when is the workshop? The workshop is on 10.30.16 at the Loft at 600F. Space is limited — so register today to ensure your spot! And while you wait for this amazing event to take place, follow along with Jasmine & The Business Studio on Instagram!

*this is a sponsored post as part of our event promotion advertising package. 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*

Let’s Get Personal: My Husband is My Equal, My Partner


Image: Maggie Gaudean Winters Photography

Something I’ve seen lately in the wedding vendor space, are vendors posting about their spouses in a certain way. What’s wrong with that you might ask (as I often do it too)? Well, it’s the way they talk about their husbands and the words they use that has come to bother me enough to write my thoughts down about it.

I find that vendors seem to be putting their husbands up on pedestals, saying they are so “lucky” to have gotten the chance to marry them. The language they use seems to insinuate that they are less than their husbands; that their husbands are such higher beings that it’s almost incredulous that they chose their wives to marry.

This language makes me feel strange. It feels off and wrong and I just only realized why it made me feel that way – because it makes it feel like the individual members of the couple are not equals; that the male is greater than the female. That the wife is not worthy of her husband.

A long time ago I wrote about my husband on this blog and I used the word partner more than once in the post. Andy is very much my partner and my equal in life and in our relationship. We are both flawed individuals that work hard to be better people for ourselves, for each other, for our families & now for our daughter. This isn’t a matter of deserving each other – it’s a matter of working hard because we want to be together in a committed relationship that lasts.

Putting your husband on a pedestal seems a bit dangerous to me. It sets unrealistic expectations and though I am not a doctor or psychologist, I can’t imagine it’s healthy to imagine your husband as someone who is better than yourself; or who is someone you don’t deserve. I also am not sure it’s so great to constantly build your husband up into this space of perfection, where he might feel like he can’t ever actually live up to the expectation you have put out there.

I’d also say I can’t help but feel that there’s a social media lens being put over these posts. When women posts images with captions like “OMG this guy! What did I do to deserve him?!” – they get likes & comments. I want to respond, um – you’re a hardworking, beautiful, successful business owner … let’s start there.

I doubt this post will change many minds or stop those posts I see from happening, but I couldn’t help myself from sharing my opinions on this and wondering if others felt the same way. Personally for me, recognizing that Andy and I were equals in our relationship, not only helped my self-esteem but helped me to not put him in some unattainable atmosphere of husbandry. Andy “chose” me to spend his life with because I was worthy of being chosen. We are partners, equals, and perfect compliments to each other and we both deserve each other because we are both willing to put in the work it requires to stay together.


[editor’s note: I wrote this post using heterosexual examples and terms because the examples I referenced were all women speaking about their husbands. As you know I’ve always tried to make this blog an inclusive space for ALL couples, so I just wanted to share why I used the more hetero speech/example here.]

Vol 10: The Real Life of a Mompreneur – Running Your Business with Postpartum Depression

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Image: Abby Grace

Today’s post is one I feel so strongly about – it’s a topic that I don’t feel we do enough to talk about openly in our country: postpartum depression. Most of the stuff you read online or the way they portray motherhood on TV/movies is a partial truth. It’s not all magical butterflies & rainbows. It’s not always this instant love affair. It’s hard. It’s life changing. It’s confusing. It’s challenging. Now fast forward this life changing event to the time when you start to attempt to run your business again, while home full time with a child – and well, things don’t get magically easier, they get harder, and more complicated.

Today’s post was not written by me, it was written by a dear friend that wished to remain anonymous. Her messages & experience is so important though and so I felt compelled to share it here, with the hopes that it could potentially help even just one other Mompreneur out there that might be struggling. So enough from me … here goes one of the most important posts I have ever shared.

Life of a Mompreneur Vol 10: Running Your Business with Postpartum Depression

Let me start out this post with a suggestion: don’t do what I did and hope you can tough your way through this.  Make this a priority for yourself and your family, and get some help (whatever help means to you.) Even if you wonder if you even have depression, even if you know you don’t and you just need a way to express the craziness of how your life is different now – share your struggle so that the people who love you can support you.  I’m obviously not a therapist or a medical professional, I’m just sharing my personal limited experience.

During pregnancy, you start to hear the words postpartum depression floated around.  Your doctor or midwife mentions the ways they’ll use to evaluate your mental health, and how you should try and examine your own thoughts to see the difference between sheer exhaustion and a deeper problem. You’re told that everyone has their own emotional response to the deeply personal experience of having a baby, and that you should try hard not to judge your reactions as a new parent against anything you “should” be feeling or “should” have done differently.  They say it’s going to be hard but you are enough, and that you should never hesitate to get seek help if you feel overwhelmed.

I have always had a mercurial temperament, which seems to be an artistic thing – big highs and lows, generally huge enthusiasm for new projects, and not a lot of patience. Before we even decided to try and have children, my husband and I looked at some of the red flags there and knew stay at home, full-time parenting wouldn’t be a good fit for me. As we had no resources to cover the cost of childcare, we knew that at least at first I’d have to muddle through being both a stay-at-home parent AND keep running my business.

So once our son was born, we started going about the business of surviving the newborn period. And it really went just fine.  My son grew, my husband and I tried our best to support eachother and navigate this new normal. I reacted in a typical way to the craziness of my hormones and it made me pretty emotional, but it was nothing we weren’t told to expect and it seemed fine.  We could handle it. Right?

The problems became obvious slowly, because over time we noticed that I just wasn’t feeling better.  Once I relaunched and started to take new clients, the frustration of not being able to take care of business grew. I wanted to launch new products, services, and a rebrand I was excited about, and at every turn felt I was not getting anything done.  I realized I was starting every single email I wrote with an apology for it taking longer to respond than I would have preferred. The mountain of work in front of every day piled higher, the mess in my office became unbearable, and I also became unbearable to my family. There were many days where I was upset or felt defeated before I’d even managed to get out of bed.  Answering a simple email felt like a herculean task, and when you’re a business team of one it is very easy to fall behind.

Small business owners can be especially susceptible to depression or generally poor mental health because they often work in isolation, and they need to plan and perform a huge variety of roles within their business just to tread water. While there are many benefits to working from home, there is also the added stress of feeling like you never escape your work if you can’t mentally separate yourself. My business was like another baby, and it needed all my energy and care to grow. I felt like a bad parent on two fronts, and saw no way to move forward.

I wish I could tell you that all that past tense above meant I have found a great solution and that I feel amazing now, and that I never work on nights or weekends because I’ve found this amazing balance that works for me.  In reality, things are very much the same a year later, except my son can now run and naps for less than half the time – you can imagine the positive impact this has had on my work schedule.

After some self-reflection, many meltdowns, and more sleepless nights that I would like to admit, I can see that my problem is less motherhood itself and more the enormous/impossible task of being a full-time mom running a small business. The few things that are making a difference for me:

  • More communication with my husband: I’m used to being “the boss” because that role suits my personality, but what that also meant was that I was the mental workhorse in our house. I carry the mental weight of all the meal planning, scheduling the bills, coordinating schedules + our social calendar, and generally moving us forward.  When I started to feel overwhelmed by my business + my son, handling all of those things felt like insult added to injury and I got very resentful.  After a few unreasonable explosions on my part, I realized that my husband couldn’t understand what I was dealing with until he had more information – now he works on helping me carry those tasks.
  • Setting realistic expectations: This is still a work in progress, but as Bree has written about before there’s just a cap on what is possible for my time right now. To get the most satisfaction out of my day, I need to figure out how to maximize this space without pushing myself over the edge.
  • Adjusting my business policies and procedures based on reality: For now this is the real life of my business. I can’t still have policies that assume I am getting a solid 10 hour workday in 5 days a week when in reality I get 2-3 hours of piecemeal time weekdays, and 3-5 hours of chopped up time on weekend days.  And yes, that means I don’t get that time to spend with my husband or my son.
  • Honesty: Above all this means being realistic with my clients and other vendors when my calendar is full.  It also means that when I am overwhelmed and need help, I do my best to ask for it.

If you’re feeling this way too, please know you’re not alone. I am doing my best to make small adjustments that make day-to-day feel almost like progress, and in the background I try to plan bigger moves. Seeing a therapist is on my to-do list, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. I find talking to people I don’t know very well exhausting, so support groups on their own seem unlikely to be helpful. I’m leaning hard on my family, and I’m trying to be patient.  Some days that’s really all I can do.


Let’s Get Personal: How to Start a Wedding Business (Without Really Trying)

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Images: Maggie Winters Gaudaen Photography

Did you guys have a good weekend?! Mine was chock full of driving & family time (as we spent 6 hours driving to NJ on Saturday for a family reunion). They shut down 95 northbound (not ideal) but at least we had a blast once we finally arrived. We’re headed out AGAIN this weekend – this time to Connecticut to visit my brother and celebrate our friends’ nuptials on a lake. Evie’s second trip on a plane this year – she certainly is racking up the miles for a just over one year old.

For today I thought it might be fun to share a little bit about how I became a wedding coordinator (thus the blog post title). I get emails from time to time from people in the DC area that want to start a wedding business, or are already in event planning but think about entering the wedding space and they often ask me to grab some coffee so I can share any tips or advice. It kind of makes me laugh because I actually have no formal training or certifications whatsoever in event/wedding planning. It’s literally something I just fell into … really without even trying.

Most of you probably know how the blog got started (but in case not: a combination of having too much fun planning my own wedding, seeing a need in the DC wedding scene for more common sense & practical weddings, and a desperately boring day job), but my wedding coordination business was not something I ever intended to get into. I graduated with a degree in Information Science & Technology from Penn State and still hold my IT consulting job by day – neither of which typically bring you into the wedding space.

But about a year after I started the blog, my friend Traci asked me if I would consider coordinating her wedding – she thought I would be good at is and she had planned so much of it … she just needed some help pulling it all together and making sure it all happened like she wanted on the wedding day. I thought it sounded fun (doesn’t everyone?) and after one of the most tiring and sweatiest days of my life, I thought, man, I think I could do this – like as a real side hustle.

 After Trey & JD’s wedding I learned some things (a skirt and flats are NOT appropriate attire when coordinating a wedding, there is such thing as a wedding hangover, and buttercream icing most certainly will melt in 95+ degree DC heat), but I also got totally addicted to the feeling I felt, helping two people, their families & friends, all have a huge party celebrating the love & commitment of two people. The wedding day high is such a real feeling (as are my swollen feet at the end of every wedding night), but what keeps me in the game is most certainly the emotion on my couples & their families’ faces at the end of the night — absolute, pure happiness & joy. When they thank me for helping to make their wedding day exactly as they imagined it, well it’s just such an awesome feeling.

So there you have it – the origin story of Capitol Romance Wedding Coordination – a wedding business I had never planned to start, but one I now couldn’t imagine my life without. It’s been an incredible journey this far and I can’t wait to see where it continues to take me and how many more amazing people I will get to meet because of it.

And for any of you inspiring wedding coordinators out there – though I don’t have much time these days to grab that cup of coffee and share my secrets (not sure I have many anyway ;-p ), feel free to let me know if there are things I could blog about that might help OR check out this new business venture my dear colleague Jasmine has started that I hope to help out with in the future.

Janvi & Kavel’s Mixed Tradition Indian Wedding at the Dulles Hyatt in Virginia

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Images:  Potok’s World Photography, LLC

Here we are at another end of the week. As usual I didn’t blog nearly as much as I planned (I think we might all just want to accept this as the new normal … for the recent future anyway). I am working on getting some guest posts in place to help bring this blog back to its more regularly content posting, but man I am just finding it hard to find time to get ALL THE THINGS done. At any rate, Indian weddings are some of the most magical in my opinion – the traditions, the colors, the emotions – everything feels so rich and thick. The images from Janvi & Kavel’s wedding feel like something out of a movie!

Hope you all enjoy this gorgeous wedding inspiration post & have a fabulous weekend!!

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Janvi and Kavel were introduced to each other by mutual friends in 2014. They liked each other enough to start dating, even though he lived in Toronto and she in Maryland. After two years in a long-distance relationship, Janvi and Kavel united for good and tied the knot.

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Their July 2016 wedding mixed traditions from their respective families’ ancestral homes in Gujarat. On the first day, each alternated taking center stage for an elaborate series of blessing functions and exchanges of gifts.

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The second day kicked into high gear when Kavel rode to the ceremony on a white horse. After the couple exchanged vows, their families, friends and other guests celebrated raucously late into the night.

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Vendors –> Photographer:  Potok’s World Photography, LLC | Event Venue: Dulles Hyatt | Cinema and Video: Halaja Productions Video | DJ: Live Sound Entertainment | Makeup Artist: Mala”s Bridal Services | Submitted via Two Bright Lights

Helena & Stephen’s Romantic, Virginia Winery Wedding at Stone Tower Winery

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Images: Sam Hurd Photography

Guys I’ve been a horrible blogger – I know. But most of this is due to the fact that my submissions are at an ALL TIME LOW! IDK where all my submissions went (please come back!) but for any of you reading this – this blog only works because of the amazing vendors and readers that submit content to it. So if you have an amazing wedding you are sitting on, (or maybe it was yours!), or you got married and have some advice or insight into being a newlywed, or WHATEVER, I want to hear about it! This blog is not just wedding specific anymore – we post on life, love, parenting, business owning, and home decorating – so anything you’d like to share on any of those topics, we’d love to blog it! Hit me up: bree (at)

But for today I have the MOST GORGEOUS romantic winery wedding from Sam Hurd. This one is drool-worthy. Here goes.

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Helena and her parents came to the U.S. from Portugal when she was 4 years old. As immigrants her parents wanted a better life for their family, while keeping the Portuguese traditions with them. When she became engaged to her now husband she knew he was the right one for her because he also understood the importance of having Portuguese traditions in their wedding!!

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Although they chose not to have a traditional church ceremony, they were able to hold a traditional Catholic ceremony.

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How to Freeze Your Wedding Cake (So You Can Actually Eat it On Your Anniversary)


Image: Mathy Shoots People

We’ve got a guest post for you guys today – courtesy of our resident recent bride expert & rockstar wedding coordinator, Kara. Kara’s wedding, you’ll remember, was AWESOME and their cake was no exception. Key Lime cake .. it was delicious. Kara & Justin lovingly brought us a chunk after their wedding for Andy & I to enjoy, however they STILL had cake leftover even after pushing leftovers on family and friends and so they decided to freeze it and eat it on their first anniversary. Kara’s here today to share her tips and tricks for successfully freezing your cake!

How to Freeze Your Wedding Cake (So You Can Eat It On Your First Anniversary) | By Kara

Following our wedding last year, we found ourselves with quite a bit of cake leftover, including our top tier. We didn’t want any of it to go to waste since it was sooo delicious, so we followed tradition and decided to save our top tier for our 1st anniversary. I scoured the internet for tips and tricks for successfully freezing cake, and I’m happy to report it was a success! Here are the steps we took for freezing, and then defrosting our cake:

1. Start by freezing your cake. Just place it on a plate, and stick it in the freezer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. You just want the frosting to firm up a bit before you wrap it. Otherwise, everything will get smooshed and your frosting will stick to the plastic wrap. (ignore my overstuffed freezer!)

2. Once your cake and icing feel a bit firm, take it out of the freezer and tightly wrap it in plastic wrap. I found it was easiest to use 2-3 pieces of plastic wrap. Make sure you tightly cover every side.

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3. Next, you’ll wrap your cake in foil. Again, make sure its wrapped really tightly. This is another layer of protection from freezer burn.

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4. For one more layer of protection, I was able to fit my cake into a food storage bag. I squeezed all of the air out and then sealed it. Then just place it back in the freezer for the year.

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5. The day before you want to eat your cake, take it out of the freezer, and unwrap it. Hopefully, you’re cake is free of frost and freezer burn. Place it on a plate and leave it in the refrigerator so it can start to defrost (like you would with a piece of meat).

6. About 2 hours before you’re ready to eat the cake, pull it out of the refrigerator and let it come up to room temperature. Then just slice it up and enjoy!

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