We Decided to Put Social Pressures Aside to Plan a “True to Us” Wedding


As I mentioned last Wednesday, we are trying our hardest to re-focus our content a bit on some more advice-driven pieces that share real, first-hand accounts of wedding planning in and outside of the Washington, DC area. Last week we had a real bride share some post wedding planning reflections (re: regrets) and this week we have a bride to be that is sharing a super personal post on how her and her fiance found themselves planning a wedding they didn’t actually want to have.

I met Laura through my wedding coordination biz – she originally reached out to me for an inquiry into my services. A few weeks later though, her plans had changed and I was really interested in learning why. Not because I no longer had a potential client on my hands (though I did love the sound of her wedding! hah), but because I thought her story and reflection with her fiance was totally worth sharing.

Laura emailed me to let me know things had changed after a lot of soul searching. They decided that their original plan didn’t actually reflect who they were. They scraped the traditional, 200+ wedding and are doing a low-key, chapel ceremony with just immediate family instead.  I thought Laura & her fiance were insanely brave to do this – and even braver still was Laura when she agreed to share the soul searching they did here. I hope you guys read this and share this (if you want), as I think it’s a CRUCIAL part of the wedding planning process. Before you fall head over heels into planning, take some time to really think about AND discuss with your partner what you want for your wedding day … and why.

How We Decided to Put Social Pressures Aside to Plan a Wedding That was True to Who We Are

I’m not much of a writer, but when Bree asked me to write about my recent soul searching with my wedding plans, I couldn’t say no.  I had invested so much time and energy into this process that I thought it would be therapeutic to put it down in words. 

First and foremost, I love weddings.  I love being apart of such a time of love and unity.  I love having such a wonderful excuse to get together with friends and family to celebrate, reminisce, and enjoy each other’s company.  It’s basically a big family reunion.  I love it.

dc courthouse wedding intimate[A DC Courthouse Wedding via Sarah Gormley Photography]

My now-fiancé and I have known each other for some time.  We have been in each other’s lives in some way, shape, or form for over 12 years.  In the last couple of years we realized we were ready for each other and a future together.  We began to talk more openly about getting married.  It became a matter of when, not if. 

As Pinterest began to take over, I got caught up in all its glory.  And as a wedding seemed more and more likely in my future I couldn’t resist browsing the ‘wedding’ category.  Oh was I in trouble.  Gorgeous pin after gorgeous pin; I couldn’t stop!  But I decided to take a step back until I was officially engaged.  Fast forward a few months later and while hiking one of our favorite trails in the Blue Ridge Mountains, my boyfriend (now fiancé) popped the question.  It was perfect!  We spent the recent of our mini-vacation basking in our love and excitement.  It was crazy how nothing had really changed, but everything had changed.  It was wonderful!

[Kirsten & Christian's Small Budget VA Wedding via Porter Watkins Photography]

Then the reality of wedding planning set in.  Those wonderful photos I had pinned on Pinterest were no longer gorgeous, but daunting.  How do I actually make these ideas happen?  How do I get this fabulous relaxed backyard wedding?  Everyone seems so happy and calm… doubtful!  The more I looked into these ideas, the more I realized they weren’t going to happen.  Not on our budget.  And not on how much time and energy we were willing to put into this event.  Don’t get me wrong.  We want it to be the best day of our lives, and it will be, but it took a lot of soul searching to realize we don’t need to put our (or our family’s) life savings into this one day to make it special.  It’s special because we love each other and we get to show the world how much.  It’s special because we get to have our favorite people in the world around us all at the same time!

So back to the soul searching. And first a few things you need to know about us – our families are HUGE (looking at easily 175 for just aunts, uncles, and first cousins) and we have both lived all over and have some friends that go back to when we were babies.  When all said and done, we had a list of 250 people on our “essential persons” list for the wedding!  We are also both pretty private people and having a traditional ceremony and reception felt a little too overwhelming to us. 

[Ben & Jen's Super Local, Offbeat DC Wedding via Leslie Maron Photography]

Even knowing this about ourselves, we still began to look for very traditional options: big church ceremony and reception to follow (making each guest on our list suddenly seem very costly).  Simply put, we really couldn’t afford (or didn’t feel comfortable affording) a wedding that fit this bill while still seeming somewhat unique enough to feel true to us as a couple.  But over and over we tried to find a solution.  The love and excitement of the engagement was quickly overtaken by the stress and pressure of creating this wedding that didn’t even seem to match us.  We tried and tried to fit a square peg into a round hole.  We tried to compromise on location, guest list, food, date, cost… but no matter what “solution” we came to, it never sat right with us.  After many a stressful night (and yes some tears), we always came back to the same thing: we just want to be married to each other.  Eloping was making a lot more sense to us as time passed, but that didn’t sit right either.

So back to the drawing board; one night we sat down and made a short list of things that were most important to us about our wedding.  Top things on the list were inclusivity (having all essential persons there), laid back and outdoor celebration, having part or all of it in our neighborhood, making it as convenient as possible to guests, and having an old family friend (a priest) officiate.  Again, not easy to meet this set of criteria either. 

But then one day it just all came together.  If what we really want is to be married without all the fuss, then let’s just start there.  Let’s just start with what this is really all about.  So we approached our family and told them our plan:  we wanted to get married in the small chapel in our neighborhood by our family friend with all of them (our parents and siblings) there to witness it.  It just felt right.  For the first time in weeks, I was happy again about the wedding. 


[Charles & Scott's Offbeat, DC Wedding via Red Shoes Photography]

But we also knew that we would want an opportunity to celebrate our new marriage with those other 250 essential persons.  We figured this would be the chance to still have that laid-back celebration we also wanted; the backyard family reunion style BBQ.  Somehow I happened upon a farm outside of DC that provides just that.  We could have a whole day completely catered of BBQ, booze, lawn games, dancing, and most importantly, quality time with the ones we love most. 

For us, separating these two events was most essential to our happiness.  We could then keep the ceremony intimate and stress-free and truly about the joining of our lives together surrounded by the essential of essentials.  We could also get the most intimate celebration possible with 250 people by having the all-day event at the farm.  This would allow everyone to gather under the pretense of our love and new marriage but wouldn’t completely focus on us the whole time.  Without all the fuss of a traditional reception, we would be able to mix and mingle freely with our guests giving them the quality time they deserved for making the effort to be with us at such an important moment in our lives.  

[Cecelia & Wasim's Modern, Hip DC Wedding via Megan Noonan Photography]

For us, this wedding is less about a day and more about a lifetime.  We want to start our marriage off right.  And for us, it is about being true to ourselves and who we are as a couple.  We are both genuine and private, but completely and utterly thankful that we have so many people that love us.  They understand us enough to know that we will get more from spending a relaxing day on a farm with them rather than a formal evening in a banquet hall.

I can’t thank Laura enough for sharing this personal piece with me and my readers! There is SO MUCH of this post that I wish I could just plaster all over Pinterest, Big Wedding Blogs & Facebook. I hope everyone that is planning a wedding finds something in here that rings true to them. Thanks for reading everyone one!



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Amanda & Blake’s Fun, “Southern Comfort” Washington DC Wedding

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Today’s Washington DC wedding is that perfect mix of “classic DC” and “handmade alternativeness” (yes I just wrote alternativeness. English majors everywhere cringe). Amanda & Blake’s goal for their wedding day was to have FUN and make their guests feel special. They spent a ton of time making sure their guests felt at ease (with welcome bags, flip flops, mad libs, a babysitter at the reception, and more) and they used a theme of “southern comfortable elegance” to set the mood.

They chose the Whittemore House for their venue – a beautiful mansion in the middle of the city. With it’s brick walls and stunning exterior, it really feels like you are mostly at someone’s house, not a wedding venue. And that was exactly what Amanda & Blake wanted! Check out all their gorgeous wedding pictures and details below. They also shared their adorable Save the Date video with us too! A special thanks to Emily Clack Photography for sharing her images.

Amanda & Blake’s Fun, “Southern Elegance” Washington DC Wedding

romantic elegant washington dc wedding whittemore house


Photography: Emily Clack Photography | Catering: Occasions Catering | Venue: The Whittemore House | Submitted via Two Bright Lights

How they met:

We are the classic story of boy meets girl, girl thinks boy is cute and funny, boy falls madly in love with girl, girl finally gives boy a chance. :-)

The real story is we met through our mutual friends, Janice and Colin Quill, on January 24, 2010 at Clyde’s in Georgetown while Blake was bartending.  Amanda was there with Janice to have brunch with some girlfriends when the Quills decided that Blake should come check out the “cute blonde sitting with Janice”…Amanda was also instructed to check out the “cute bartender with a beard.”  Later that night we all went out so the “cute blonde” and the “cute bartender” could formally meet.  Well, the rest is history.

elegant dc wedding bouquet

On their wedding theme:

Our theme was “southern comfortable elegance.” We wanted everyone to feel special at our wedding, so we hired a catering company that had impeccable service. However, we also wanted everyone to feel comfortable, so for dinner we served a choice of fried chicken or pecan crusted rockfish with shrimp and grits and green beans on the side.

modern wedding dress ruffles

On their color palette of blues, greens, yellows & pops of pink:

The colors were really just inspired by springtime colors, but we mostly used navy and green as a canvas, with pops of pink/coral and yellow. I didn’t want everything to be “matchy matchy”.

modern groom plaid tie billy ball boutonniere

elegant navy blue bridesmaids dc wedding

Click inside for SO MUCH MORE of Amanda & Blake’s gorgeous Washington DC wedding at the Whittemore House.

Irene & Deji’s National Harbor Maryland Engagement Pictures

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A sweet & stylish little “day-after” session for you all this afternoon. Irene & Deji got married a year ago, but decided to do some pictures around Maryland’s National Harbor for a late engagement session. The pair have an amazing sense of fashion and killer smiles. Photography Daisy Saulls shares, “Irene is the owner/creator of LaBellaZZa Group and Deji looks like he might have just stepped out of GQ magazine”. I think you will soon be agreeing with Daisy.

Irene & Deji’s Fashionable & Chic National Harbor MD Engagement Session

national harbor engagement pictures maryland stylish

Photographer: Daisy Saulls | Submitted via Two Bright Lights

How they met (from the bride):

Deji and I met during the Fall of 2007 at an event in Washington DC. We exchanged a few comments but did not have a long conversation.

We had an opportunity to meet again during my graduation from College which he attended as his friend (our Best Man) also graduated from the same college on the same day. Again, it was brief comments and not a lot of conversation.
Finally, fate intervened when I had to relocate after my graduation from college. I ended up in Odenton, Maryland which was close to where he lived. When he found out, he asked to take me out and show me around the new neighborhood which I agreed to. We had a wonderful time and had more dates after that.

Two and a half years later, while enjoying a trip on a Gondola in Central Park New York, He proposed to me and the rest is history.

national harbor engagement pictures maryland stylish

How they met (from the groom):

From the Groom:
There was something about Titi from the first time I met her. Even though we did not share a lot of words, I knew I had to have a conversation with her. When I did get the opportunity to talk to her, it was everything I had expected.

national harbor engagement pictures maryland stylish

national harbor engagement pictures maryland stylish

Click inside for the rest of Irene & Deji’s Maryland engagement session at National Harbor, including a look at her stunning engagement ring!

Discount for MAKE TRIBE Bookbinding Event on September 19th!

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Introducing MAKE TRIBE, a workshop series that strives to promote and foster creative communities in Baltimore; a new way for people to come together and create something handmade! This month’s event is DIY Bookbinding – perfect for your guestbook, an anytime sketchbook, and more!

MAKE TRIBE is teaming up with  Almanac Industries and RYE Fells Point on September 19th, to offer beautiful hand-bound leather notebooks and sipping bourbon cocktails while exchanging ideas in a casual, inviting atmosphere.

Sound like something you might be interested in? Well lucky for you, Capitol Romance readers, are being given a 10% discount on their ticket price! Just enter MAKETRIBE10 or click this direct link to get your special promo!

All tickets and event info can be found here: maketribeearlyfall.eventbrite.com

More on the MAKE TRIBE mission:

Each gathering is an opportunity to make, sip and chat with fellow creatives. MAKE TRIBE brings locals together with hand-picked partners to help maker culture bloom in our own backyard.

Tickets and event info can be found here: maketribeearlyfall.eventbrite.com

The cost of the ticket is all inclusive- it covers the instruction, all bookbinding supplies including the raw or oiled leather cover, snacks, and Rye Baltimore will be serving up a couple complimentary cocktails.

Let us know if you go – and take some pictures!! We’d love to share how it went with everyone here :)



Alexis & Jon’s Washington DC Engagement at the National Gallery of Art


Happy Friday! We did it! Another week has come to a close and it’s FINALLY starting to feel like Fall AND football has officially started. So really, I can’t get much happier at this point. ;)

To close out the week, we have a super fun & adorable couple with their DC engagement at the National Gallery of Art thanks to Sandra Sitar Photography (submitted via Two Bright Lights). Alexis is a NJ native (Jersey Girls!) and Jon is from Iowa. They attended the same school (Dartmouth) but didn’t cross paths until a music festival in rurual Tennesse! Scroll on down to see all their awesome engagement pictures AND read more about their love story!

Alexis & Jon’s Washington DC Engagement Session at the National Gallery of Art

national gallery of art dc engagement pictures

How they met & their love story:

Alexis writes “Our respective Dartmouth friend groups serendipitously camped just a few sites away from each other at Bonnaroo.  Someone from my group recognized someone from Jon’s group.  We were introduced, our glassy eyes locked and…We met back up 2 weeks later on campus after awkward cafeteria flirting.” This was early 2003.

Jon writes “We met, kinda liked each other, and then when we got back to campus, I sought her out and my charm clearly won her over…for like 6 months”.  The next 6 years were followed by friendship which held through joint moves to DC, Jon’s move to Boston for law school, Alexis’s move to London for grad school, and years spent in mismatched time zones.

Jon says he “had an epiphany in the fall of 2009 that she’s kind of the best thing that ever happened to me. Call it re-falling-in-love.”


national gallery of art dc engagement pictures

national gallery of art dc engagement pictures

national gallery of art dc engagement pictures

These two are too funny! Click inside to see the rest of their shoot and read the proposal story!

Wedding Advice: Lessons Learned from a Destination Wedding Bride


We’re kicking off the first of a long-line of weekly guest and personal posts in the upcoming weeks. I am working on trying to better focus my content, and one of those goals involves more advice/educational/personal pieces. There are a million places to find inspiration for weddings on the internet, but not necessarily a million places to find good advice, tips, resources and real education on planning and executing a wedding.

I hope to also have some include more on marriage, love, and relationships in general – stemming from our decision to not name this blog something after a bride, or solely weddings – it was always about the more important part of a wedding, the marriage (or really, the love & romance of two people).

So without further ado, I give you some really awesome lessons learned from a bride that got married just over 3 years ago and opted for a destination wedding!

Wedding Advice: Lessons Learned From a Destination Wedding Bride

wedding advice lessons learned


Photography: Saperstone Studios | Venue: Le Kliff, Puerto Vallarta | Flowers, Decorations, Centerpieces: Arranged by Le Kliff | Bride’s Dress: David’s Bridal | Groom’s Suit: Bachrach (BCBG) | Vest: Men’s Warehouse | Makeup: DIY

My husband and I were married 3.5 years ago in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. While our wedding was indeed destination, I believe that my lessons learned apply to non-destination weddings too :)

wedding advice lessons learned

What Anna learned about wedding photography:

While I loved my wedding photos because my photographer delivered exactly what they said they would and were incredibly reliable, I wish I would have invested the time to research other options. Thankfully my best friend, Saperstone Studios, was a guest at my wedding and she was able to capture many creative and beautiful moments. These images are what I would have wanted would I have known there were different styles of wedding photography out there.

Again, not that I don’t love my wedding photos but seeing now all these wonderful creative photographers out there, I wish I would have hired someone with a more creative/artistic approach to wedding photography because that is more our style (my husband and I). Also- knowing now what I didn’t know then, investing in photography is key. I would have paid quite a bit for the creative photographer of my dreams. After all is said and done, your wedding photos are what you have left of the day.


What Anna learned about wedding Videography:

Now, I really regret not hiring a videographer.

At the time I didn’t want to hire a videographer because I had the idea in my head that I would get a DVD with a 2 hour long video and I didn’t want that at all. I didn’t know that you could get a mini show real of your wedding day (sneak peek: 2 minutes, mini video: 15 minutes).

I really, really, really regret this now. Really!

Click inside for the rest of these lessons learned and advice from a real bride!

Rochelle & Matt’s DIY, Offbeat Block Party Wedding in Baltimore City, MD


A couple week’s ago I got invited to this super fun DC wedding vendor party at Eastern Market and got to catch up with Rochelle (one of the editors of Charm City Wed and owner of Hair by Rochelle). She asked me if I would ever be interested in featuring her own wedding – as it was super DIY, super offbeat, and in a park in Maryland. I told her – WELL DUH, of course I would! To make the feature even more special, we decided to feature it today, the 3-year anniversary of when Rochelle & Matt actually got married, in a tiny park between traffic lanes in Baltimore city.

Happy Anniversary you crazy kids and thanks for sharing your awesomely offbeat Maryland wedding with us! Thanks to The Light in Us Photography for the images!

Rochelle & Matt’s Offbeat, DIY Park Wedding in Baltimore City, Maryland

offbeat maryland park wedding


Photography: The Light in Us Photography | Flowers: DIY | Cupcakes: DIY | Decorations: DIY | Bride’s Dress: David’s Bridal | Bridesmaids Dresses: Their Own | Hair & Makeup Artist: Friend of the Bride, Ashley Scheiner | Venue: Eutaw Place Median Park

On their relationship and how they decided to get married:

First of all, we got married really quickly after meeting.  From the day we met to the day we got married was just about 6 months.  We just KNEW.  And no one could tell us other wise.  (Good thing he’s perfect for me! :)

When we started discussing what we wanted for our wedding, we both independently thought, “wouldn’t a community block party be awesome?!” but didn’t want to ask each other.  It took a few days of chatting before Matt just blurted it out, and I said “NO WAY I WANT TO DO THAT TOO!”  You see, him and I met through the church we go to in our neighborhood, which has a huge heart for uniting the surrounding community.  The area we live in has a very affluent neighborhood bordering a poorer neighborhood, and we wanted to have a wedding celebration that invited everyone from all walks of life and in doing so, helping to break down socio-economic and racial barriers.  We don’t see ourselves as “rich white people” trying to help “poor black people”, which is the mentality a lot of white people have and we’re trying to buck against.  We’re merely a family living in the city that wants to build relationships and break stereotypes.

^this is awesome.




We decided that we would have a very non-traditional wedding day.  It wouldn’t be a “ceremony” followed by a “reception”.  We would have a block party, and structure it so everyone could enjoy the block party fun first (bounce house, velcro wall, face painting, barbeque, hula hooping), then we’d break and have people sit for the short ceremony, then we’d recommence the fun stuff along with music and dancing.


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Click inside for SO MUCH more of Rochelle & Matt’s offbeat “block-party” wedding in Maryland.

Rebecca & Chris’ Bright Blue, DIY Virginia Vineyard Wedding


Happy Tuesday Romancers! Hope you all enjoyed the the long weekend (I took off Friday and had an extra day in NJ to relax, do some volunteering, and watch my Nittany Lions beat Syracuse!!). We’re back this afternoon with Rebecca & Chris’ bright blue, DIY Virginia wedding at Bluemont Vineyard thanks to Kelly Ewell Photography.

Rebecca & Chris planned a gorgeous DIY wedding, based on a speak-easy/1920s theme with a pop of blue! The groom and groomsmen donned bright blue shirts and the bridesmaids were in blue too! Rebecca has a stunning blue engagement ring, and she even handmade her pearl bracelet from her grandmother’s blue pearls. The rest of the decor (mostly at the reception) followed a speak-easy theme with custom drinks, scratch-off escort cards, and wanted posters!

Blue and DIY were certainly the theme for Rebecca & Chris’ big day, check it all out below.

Rebecca & Chris’ DIY, Bright Blue Virginia Wedding at Bluemont Vineyard

offbeat DIY maryland wedding bluemont vineyard


Photography: Kelly Ewell Photography | Bride’s Dress: Kleinfeld Bridal | Desserts: Sweets By E | Entertainment: Bobby G’s Disc Jockey | Venue: Bluemont Vineyard | Submitted via Two Bright Lights

unique blue engagement ring

How they met & the proposal story:

We met in fall of 2007, about 3 months before Becca went off to chiropractic school. We met on a Sunday and realized that we worked in the same office building and the next night we had dinner (neither one of us realizing we were on a date until afterwards). We spent almost all of our free time together before Becca left and then dated long distance for almost 3 years.

Then on May 12th 2012 we went down to Virginia Beach to visit a mutual friend. During our trip Chris took Becca to a beautiful park where they had a picnic. Afterwards, Chris said he had a gift for Becca and pulled at a box which had a perfect blue topaz necklace, which Becca LOVED and immediately put on. Chris then said he had another gift and pulled out a smaller box, WITH A RING! While we both got burned that afternoon, it was one of the most romantic and best days of their lives.

hipster groomsmen blue shirt plaid bowtie

blue bridesmaids gerber daisy bouquets

On their wedding theme and selecting the vineyard as their venue:

We chose the theme “vintage 20’s” since we thought it had a fun romantic feel and was different. We did a more romantic summer theme outside during the day, and a speakeasy theme inside for the reception. We had both the ceremony and reception at Bluemont Vineyard. We knew it was the right place the second we got there. The reception was in a beautiful rustic bar that has been renovated to keep the charm but also include AC. The ceremony was just outside and had a beautiful view! It had a natural 20s romantic kind of charm.

blue vineyard DIY programs

offbeat DIY maryland wedding bluemont vineyard

Click inside for the rest of Rebecca & Chris’ DIY Virginia wedding at Bluemont Vineyard!

Chris & Mona’s Washington DC Rooftop & Neighborhood Engagement


A little something for you all this Labor Day, while I get ready to head back to DC! I hope you all had a super relaxing Labor Day weekend and it was full of awesome BBQs and college football wins!

Today’s Washington, DC engagement session comes to us from Angel Kidwell Photography – Angel actually told me this was their FIRST submission to a blog! I am honored to be your first ;) It wasn’t hard to accept after seeing these beautiful, unique DC engagement pictures AND read Mona & Chris’ DC love story (it involves a shared love of Jurassic Park! yes!). Plus, Mona is a Nittany Lion (We Are!) so naturally, I had some bias on that one. Us PSU alums are really something special ;)

Happy Labor Day!

Chris & Mona’s Casual, Alternative Washington DC Engagement

alternative washington dc engagement pictures

About Mona

I was born in Egypt, raised mostly in Pennsylvania and now live in Washington DC, where I met Chris in 2011. After four years at Penn State, I moved to DC to continue my career in marketing. Along the way I have made some wonderful friends and had some amazing experiences since moving to DC. One of them, of course, being meeting Chris.

About Chris

My whole family is from Massachusetts, our family goes way back there. I was born in Virginia and started school there and then we moved back up to Massachusetts. We spent 1996 in Kazakhstan, which I’m pretty sure gave me my travel bug! After Kazakhstan, we moved back to Virginia where I finished high school and went to college. I am so happy to have met Mona, with whom I can travel the world and share in all sorts of new experiences (even if it is not traveling, but trying a new recipe!)

alternative washington dc engagement pictures

How they met

After many years of dating we both decided to try online dating(OkCupid). Luckily Chris emailed me! And after a few emails back and forth (where I guess we each decided that the other person sounded like a nice, normal, non-crazy human being) we met for our first date at the Columbia Heights neighborhood restaurant, Meridian Pint.

We hit it off right away. We already knew we had a lot in common from our conversations online: we both love the movie Jurassic Park (especially the raptors – they really steal the show), both are close with our families, and both love to travel and collect fun souvenirs from our trips (although Chris definitely wins on most number of countries visited!).

alternative washington dc engagement pictures

alternative washington dc engagement pictures

alternative washington dc engagement pictures

alternative washington dc engagement pictures

Click inside for the rest of Chris & Mona’s awesome DC engagement AND proposal story. Plus a look at Mona’s unique, Tsavorite ring from Kenya!!

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