Grace and Brian’s Casual, DC Neighborhood Engagement Pictures


Images: Sarah Gormley Photography

Fall weather is officially here in Washington, DC and I couldn’t be happier. The air conditioning is off, and the boots are out. I can’t wait to rock my scarves and knit hats SO SOON. We had a really nice weekend in DC, biking down to (attempt to see) the opening of the African American History Museum (we did get to see Obama’s motorcade drive by literally in front of us … and then we saw Oprah!), watching some (miserable) football games (dammit Penn State & Giants), and spending time with family & friends. We’ve got plans for a jam packed week on the blog this week though, so here’s hoping I can stick to my calendar and get it all blogged for you guys!

We’re kicking off the week with a super sweet DC engagement session from one of my favs, Sarah Gormley Photography. These two kids dated briefly in high school but broke up after they drifted apart on separate paths … fast forward a few years and they both landed in Washington, DC and ended up being invited to the same evening out by mutual friends. I just LOVE the coincidence in this love story and the DC neighborhood engagement pictures are just AWESOME. Enjoy!


We were actually both born in Washington, DC and then mainly grew up in the District and in Montgomery County. We ended up in the same high school magnet program in Montgomery County. We dated in high school throughout a summer (during which we exchanged actual handwritten letters–these were pre-text days) but drifted apart. Brian was very caught up in football, and I was a school newspaper nerd. We then both went on to different colleges and drifted apart.

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Funnily enough, we both moved back to DC at nearly exactly the same time after college. Brian had been in Teach For America and I had been in the Peace Corps. A mutual friend asked each of us separately if we’d like to go to Ethiopian and we both (separately!) gave an enthusiastic YES since we each had missed DC’s strong Ethiopian game while we were away. It was a total surprise when we saw each other again, and I believe I was even wearing a sweatshirt with huge holes in it because I had given away all of my clothes upon finishing Peace Corps. Super attractive! I was not planning on meeting my future husband that night.

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We had an unusually great time catching up and within the week, we had our first date. At the same time, we were both waiting for acceptances to post-grad schools, so we had a fun spring of running around to different campuses all over the East Coast. In the end, we chose to stay in DC (he to Georgetown Law and me to Johns Hopkins).

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After almost exactly two years together, we went to Istanbul for a long weekend. I had lived in Turkey before and Brian told me that he just wanted to experience it while we had a brief break in our studies. It turned out that he had actually been plotting for months about this supposed “spontaneous” trip. He proposed on our balcony with a ring that I had said months before that I really liked. I was pretty shocked. He had to ask me twice to marry him because I was so confused (and jetlagged). It was pretty wonderful! I believe we each gained 5 pounds on that trip from all the chocolate souffle we ate in celebration.

So now we’re getting married this coming October in DC!

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Introducing {Un}convention – A Must Attend Event for Wedding Disrupters

Sunday, November 13th | {Un}convention | Quirk Hotel in Richmond, VA

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Happy Friday Romancers! This one felt especially long and I am not only looking forward to a (hopefully) relaxing weekend but some actual FALL TEMPS! Today on the blog we are sharing the details on an a REALLY RAD event for wedding professionals, {un}convention. It’s a jam-packed day full of strengthening your business and the progressive wedding community, including professional headshots all for $150!

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As the website shares (register there!), {un}convention is a place to grow your brand and find new friends: {un}convention returns home to Richmond for this jam-packed day of community building with industry leaders, a fashion show, brand critiques, professional headshots, a collaborative styled shoot, and one stellar cocktail party. It’s like a conference, only better.

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{un}convention is for…

-Wedding professionals who crave more from our industry: more diversity, more inclusion, more dialogue, more meaningful media, and more real emotions.

-Photographers who want to improve their portfolios by participating in a live shoot with a rad couple, while also growing their business by exchanging ideas with fellow photographers.


-Entrepreneurs who are looking for ways to refresh and grow their companies through one-on-one critiques and meeting with the Catalyst Team for advice on how to get their work seen.

-New business owners who don’t know where to start but know that getting professional headshots and meeting website designers and brand strategists who share their progressive sensibilities will absolutely help.

Our event is limited to 50 attendees to ensure a relaxed environment where we can all build real connections and collaborations.

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For the schedule & list of speakers, check out the website!


{un}convention RVA 2014: photos by Betty Clicker except for group photo, Carly Romeo & Co.)

Bride to Be Guest Blogger Kelsey: The 1st Thing You Need to Do When You Start Planning a Wedding


Kelsey is back for more guest blogging as she plans her wedding! Check out her post today about picking your wedding venue and the FIRST THING you need to do when planning a wedding!

The first thing that you need to do when you start wedding planning is panic. Go ahead. Take a moment or two, let it out. I have the time, just look at this picture of my dog.

I know! Norman is the best. Ok, are we back? Awesome. Welcome back. The important thing to know is that it’s going to be fine and even after all of your spreadsheets you’re going to be married at the end of this, and that is what matters.

Now, first things first. The where. You know that what – marriage. You know the who – your fiancé. You know the when – well, if you don’t you will really soon. So that where. You may get pulled in 16 different directions in attempting to answer this question.  Family, friends, Sandals resorts, or all of the above may sway you. Whatever your reasoning, make sure you’re happy. For us, it was DC. Weirdly we both grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania.


But we met as semi-adults in DC at The George Washington University and the rest is history. We grew into who the pretty fantastic people we are today in DC, it’s where we paid our first rent check, and took our first Uber, it’s home. Once we knew DC was the place, we had to pick the actual where.

Now things get tricky. Know what you want. But more importantly, know what you don’t want. Things I did not want: a hotel ballroom, Virginia, and that’s about it. Sorry Virginia. I’m not sorry. Ruling out a hotel actually helped a lot. It left us with museums, historical places, parks, and some random restaurants.

Now, what kind of vibe do you want for your wedding? Is it modern, shabby chic, formal, rustic, or something in between? Let that guide your venue selection. Look at their website, then instagram the venue. How does it make you feel? For me, this process was more emotional than the wedding dress fitting (more on that later). When I walked into the venue I wanted a certain feeling. Like, remember when you visited colleges and everyone told you to ‘go with your gut’ and you were all, ‘what does that even mean?’ Do that here. Visit your top five venues. Talk with the event person. Ask them a ton of questions.


What are the reception layout options? How many people does this space hold for dinner and dancing? What time do we have to be out of the space? What time can we load in? Is there an extra charge for the load in? What’s your favorite color? Do you have vendor restrictions? Can I have a confetti cannon, if so how many? Twelve max? Book it.

What I am trying to say is when you walk into your venue I want you to feel comfortable, wow, and happily ever after. Imagine your first dance, imagine your tipsy Aunt Peg, and imagine your pictures. This place is it. It’s the foundation for the rest of your planning. It’s like the very best dough for the best pizza ever. And this pizza is your wedding.


Ok, ok I’ll tell you. I picked the National Museum of Women in the Arts. It had the formal wow factor that I was looking for. I want drama and glamour. This venue did that and more. Now I just need to bring in everything else, because fun fact about museums, they don’t have chairs and tables and silverware, because they’re a museum.

Mana & Mathew’s Surprise Proposal on the Steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC


Images: Kir2Ben Photography

I‘ll admit I am not at all ready for this week guys. Last Friday destroyed me (2, two-hour meetings at the day job and I worked from 7:30 to after 6 … ouch) and then Evie decided that once again, 5:15am was an appropriate time Saturday AND Sunday to wake up (insert painful emoji). We did get to enjoy some H Street Fest, but the lack of sleep isn’t ideal, especially as Andy heads out of town for the next few days.

The struggle is real. But at least this adorable surprise proposal on the steps of the Supreme Court is full of smiles, laughs, adorable dogs, and a gorgeous engagement ring. Hoping it helps brighten your week like I’m hoping it will mine. Happy Monday Romancers.

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From the photographer:

When Mat decided that he was going to propose to Mana, he knew that it had to be on the Supreme Court steps. The two met in law school and this building had a huge significance to them in their relationship. Mat also knew that, however he proposed, he would have to incorporate “the boys” into the proposal. I was shocked to find out that “the boys” meant their two small doggies Mario & Luigi!

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This was the best planned out proposal I have ever seen or been a part of. Mat contacted me a few weeks prior to photograph the proposal and I did not expect the planning that followed. Mat not only had code names for all participants involved but he also had a definitive timeline as well as an elaborate, fake backstory concocted so a mutual friend to escort Mana to the steps without becoming suspicious. He even arranged for another one of their pals to be playing violin when he got down on one knee. If that wasn’t enough, their dogs were standing by to celebrate with them once the surprise was completed.


He effortlessly coordinated 4 people, 2 animals, a musician and a photographer all to show his commitment to the woman he loves. How romantic is that?! Truthfully, the whole proposal went off without a hitch! I have never seen a woman so surprised in my entire life. The well-dressed Mat knelt down on one knee on the Supreme Court steps as classical violin serenaded the two sweethearts. Through tears of shock and joy, Mana said yes and jumped into the arms of her now future husband.

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By then, crowds of tourists had gathered and applauded the two as they embraced and exchanged the most romantic kiss. I felt like I was watching a movie through my camera lens. I was lucky enough to capture a few portraits with the newly engaged pair after Mana said yes. Their laughter and sheer joy was contagious. We had the best time taking pictures in the surrounding park with their two pups in tow. Hats off to Mat for pulling off the most epic proposal of all time and a massive congratulations to the future Mr. & Mrs. Rommel.


Matt & Sarya’s Laid-Back, Fun Josephine Butler Parks Center Wedding in DC


Images: Mathy Shoots People

There are some inquiries I get that just stick with me. Some that I can tell from just a few sentences, are MEANT to be clients of ours. Such was the case with Matt & Sarya. Matt & Sarya shared that they wanted a simple, but fun wedding – they initially considered a pop-up wedding with Pop Wed Co! but decided they wanted something a bit larger. Which led them to JBPC and then Kara’s own wedding .. and then a workshop I hosted at the Lemon Bowl earlier this year.

Total universe/stars aligning type stuff. She told me she admired Kara’s wedding during the Sunday drum circles and after she found out Kara was actually #TeamCapRo, she just KNEW they had to work with us.

Well hot damn are we thrilled it worked out this way. Matt & Sarya’s wedding was GORGEOUS and 100% them. Kara kicked it with her coordination skills, and I am so pumped to share their full wedding on the blog today! Here it is.

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After Matt and I got married, we focused on what our marriage would look like and firmly believed that the wedding day was going to be only one day out of many that we’d have together–this meant that we wanted the day to be a reflection of us and the community of love and support we’d need in our lives together. Those anchored our event planning and the rest of the details, wanted to make sure would be as painless as possible!


When we learned that couples can marry themselves in DC, we went for it. At first we weren’t sure exactly what it would entail. After talking through ceremony ideas, it was natural to have our families play a big role, especially our moms. We deeply respect them and admire the love they modeled in our lives, so for us it made sense that they would stand my our sides and help us along with our wedding vows. Our siblings, their families and children, walked down the aisle before us playing the role of our wedding party.


Since we adapted traditional Khmer wedding elements (hand tying and umbrella ceremonies) and merged them into the ceremony and reception, we had our dear Khmer American friends take the mic and explain these elements as cultural ambassadors. Another one of our Khmer American friends keep the sister and mother-of-the-bride looking beautiful too.
We also tapped our friends to step in and help out as greeters, guest DJs, and go-to folks who handled anything that popped up during the day. The way everyone pitched in really made the day just right–just like a community would for hard time and for celebration.

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Click inside for the rest of this gorgeous, laid-back DC wedding!

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