Let’s Get Personal: The Truth About Getting Married in Offbeat Venues in DC

Last year  I wrote a blog post rounding up some offbeat venues in Washington, DC to have your wedding. At the time my wedding coordination business was just starting out and I hadn’t actually worked at any of these places. I was just going off their awesome pictures and funky vibe – which didn’t really paint the clearest picture of what it’s actually like to get married in these types of places.

Now that I’m halfway through my second year of coordinating, I’ve gotten to work in a few of the venues I listed (and after next year, I’ll have worked in almost ALL of them! woot) and man, have I learned some things.

So naturally, I want to share the things I’ve learned with all of you. Here goes.

Let’s Get Personal: The Truth About Getting Married in Offbeat Venues in DC

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[image: Val & Sarah]

Let me first start off by saying that this post is in NO way meant to paint my experience with these venues in a bad light, nor should you all take my words and experiences as the final end all and be all. The point of this post is the inform and educate and share my experiences so that you all may have the best chance at making the most informed decisions when it comes to your wedding planning. This is what I do with my clients – I provide them with options, facts, and my personal opinion, and that enables them to make the best decision, that works for them.

Ok, now that that is over with. Here are some things I’ve learned:

#1. Flexibility is a MUST

When working with offbeat venues you HAVE to be flexible. Like SUPER flexible. How flexible? Well, most of these venues are real, functioning businesses – yoga studios and art galleries. Meaning they are not at your beck and call whenever you want to go visit them for walk-throughs or even rehearsals. They do not have standard times for wedding events (like rehearsals) and so you will have to work around their schedule.

Example: At one of these venues, I had a rehearsal at 10pm on a Friday evening. Would you be OK with that?

#2 The Land of Never Ending STAIRS

Offbeat venues don’t always have all the bells and whistles that traditional wedding venues do, to cater towards an easy load-in/load-out process or your handicapped guests. Most of the venues I listed on that offbeat DC wedding venue roundup have little to no elevator access.

This means lugging ALL of your wedding items (rentals included!) up and down LOTS of stairs. This also means your elderly guests may not be able to attend all facets of your event. Would you be OK with this?

#3 Communication Can be a Challenge

So far in my experience, communication has been a CHALLENGE (like a big risk/issue) with the venue POCs at these offbeat venues. Why? Well my best guest is two-fold. One, chances are the venue coordinator is not a full time coordinator, devoted only to event management. The coordinator probably wears multiple hats at the venue and isn’t at your beck and call, to only answer wedding related questions. Two, most of the venues on that list are new to the wedding scene. Weddings require a LOT MORE coordination and questions and logistical planning than most other events. Think about what goes into an art gallery opening vs a wedding. Weddings just have SO MANY other moving pieces, not to mention the whole emotional factor that goes into a wedding day. Because these venues and their coordinators don’t often understand all these moving pieces, or the emotions attached, things get lost in translation.

My advice here – get everything in writing and write EVERYTHING down. Make sure the contract you have with the venue is EXACTLY what you want and what you need. Do not be afraid to ask questions, often. Also, you need to be willing to deal with difficult situations related to lack of communication and miscommunication. This means misunderstanding, misconceptions, things popping up at the last minute, big changes (with little advance notice) —> ALL things I just dealt with at a recent wedding at one of these venues.

Again, I ask, would you be OK dealing with this? Could your stress levels handle it and are you willing to be all up in #1?

#4 Facilities Are Not Always Wedding Appropriate

This also goes along with #2, stairs. Most offbeat venue weddings are offbeat for a reason – they will lack facilities and amenities that more traditional venues will be equipped with. These means lack of appropriate electrical staging for a band or DJ, strange bathroom setup or location, and even lack of air conditioning!

Yup, you read that right. Some of these venues do not have proper ventilation and A/C dependency for a wedding (ie, hundreds of people dancing, drinking, and milling around). Are you OK with this – are you willing to have your wedding somewhere that might not be so cool in the summer (or maybe warm in the winter?), that might have strange things hanging on the walls (hey, most of these places are full-fledged businesses, not wedding venues, remember?), that might only have 2, 1-stall bathrooms. Again, are you OK with this (or more importantly, will your guests be OK with this?).

I am going to sum this up now, but I might continue to add to this post as I get more feedback from other coordinators, and work at more of these offbeat venues. I want to reiterate again, that this post is not meant to deter you from choosing offbeat venues for your wedding – you KNOW I love me some offbeat, and really these spaces are so much more interesting than the traditional venue, BUT you must be willing to accept/deal with all of the above (and more). So you have to ask yourself if dealing with all this, is worth it to you, on one of the most important days of your life!

I’ll leave that decision up to you.

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DIY Wedding Workshop ~ How to Make Perfect Chalkboard Wedding Signs

Our next DIY Workshop is already less than 2 weeks away! I cannot believe it!! I am especially excited about this one because I think it will be one of the most useful. SO MANY of my couples use chalkboard signs as a way to inform guests throughout their wedding day. It’s a great (affordable) way to display your program, your bar drinks, your menu, or even your chair back signs.

But. The kicker is that writing with chalk really isn’t easy. I’ve had clients say “oh we’ll just ask someone” or “do you have good handwriting?” and even if I did (I don’t) writing with chalk is a whole other thing altogether. So luckily we have professional artist Sarah Perez, for our June 29th workshop to teach attendees how to perfectly craft chalkboard signs for weddings or events using a stencil method!

How To Make Perfect Chalkboard Wedding Signs ~ June 29th DIY Workshop

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Attendees will get two boards at this class. One will be to practice and the other will be a take home. The end project will be a chairback sign – either Mr, Mrs, or whatever you dream up! I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with :)


Date: Sunday, June 29th

Time: 2pm to 4pm

Location: The Ulysses Room – 52 O Street NW, Washington DC 20001

Details: Attendees will learn the basic steps to create their own chalk board signs, including how to create the perfect work surface, the tools available to create different lettering styles, and tips and tricks for hand lettering for crafters of any skill level.

Using a transfer method, each participant will chose from different lettering styles and boarder designs to create their own, unique Mr. or Mrs. sign.

Sarah’s technique can be used to create large wedding program signs, chalkboard signage for your bar, desserts, or dinner spread, or really ANY signage at your wedding or event. This project is budget-friendly and easy to re-use again and again!

Buy Tickets

As always, we’ll have sangria from Simply Breathe Events, snacks from Eat & Smile, homebrewed tea from Runningbyrd Tea, and a new addition this time around, desserts from MeShell Desserts! We’ll also have some sweet tunes and yours truly hanging out. I mean, what more could you want?!?!

And in case you are wondering, the workshops are FUN (whether your are planning a wedding or not) – don’t believe me? Check out the amazing promo video Key In Films made for us after our first workshop! Hope to see you on the 29th! Get your tickets now :)

Capitol Romance DIY Workshops from Kian McKellar on Vimeo.

Introducing Bloompop Weddings ~ Artisan Wedding Flowers at Affordable Prices

*sponsored post*

We seem to be unintentionally all about the flowers this week. Admittedly flowers were something that were initially lost on me when I planned my wedding. I didn’t understand the cost or the allure and so I didn’t have any but after working weddings now for 2 years, I can honestly say my outlook on flowers has changed drastically. I love seeing all the different types of flowers my clients use (and let’s face it, I LOVE bringing home the leftovers) plus the smell or fresh flowers just doesn’t hurt either ;). They definitely add something special to a wedding day decoration setup. And with Petal Share around to save your post wedding day flowers, there is no need to be concerned with the waste.

Now we’d like to introduce Bloompop Weddings ~ making your wedding day flower selection not only easier but more affordable too! Check out how it works AND enjoy a special coupon for Capitol Romance readers only, below!

Artisan Wedding Flowers at Affordable Prices ~ Bloompop Weddings

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So why use Bloompop Weddings for your wedding flowers? Well for one, IT’S EASY!!

Online booking, ability to quickly customize quantities depending on your unique wedding party needs (yup that means even 2 bouquets or 2 boutonnieres as well!), and beautiful visuals that describe and match your wedding theme. Also, there’s no proposals either, you buy what you want and get what you see!

For two, it’s AFFORDABLE!

There are no hidden fees and delivery is a flat fee.

Finally (for three!) it’s local. And you know how we feel about local!

Bloompop Weddings teams with local artisan florists (Uncloudy Studio & Sweet Root Village!) to provide packages that are already designed and ready to go.

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How it works:

Browse wedding collections from Bloompop’s Weddings launch partners on bloompop.com/weddings. Select a collection that matches the style and palette for your wedding. Adjust quantities to suit your unique wedding party. Select your date, then book your wedding flowers! You’ll be put in touch with your Weddings florist to coordinate day-of delivery logistics of your gorgeous artisan flowers.

YUP IT’S THAT EASY! But let’s sweeten the deal even more …

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Bloompop Weddings has graciously offered to give Capitol Romance readers a deal for $50 off any package you book the rest of this month. Just use “CAPROMANCE” at checkout.

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So check out Bloompop Weddings and let us know what you think!

*this is a sponsored post. this vendor paid to have this content shared on our blog, however, it was verified that this information was confirmed to meet our requirements and mission*

Alissa & Nathan’s Springtime, Washington DC Engagement Pictures

Keeping the love going this Monday with a beautiful little DC engagement session from one of our fabulous blog sponsors, Sweet Tea Photography. Alissa & Nathan fell in love in DC, so it made perfect sense for them to do their engagement portraits in the District. Happy Monday Romancers.

Alissa & Nathan’s Springtime, Washington DC Engagement Pictures

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How they met:

While Alissa and Nathan had both lived in D.C. for several years, it wasn’t until mutual friends planned a tubing trip in 2012 to Blacksburg, Virginia that the two met. After drinks at one of Nathan’s favorite college bars, TOTS, and a fun weekend on the river, Nathan called Alissa when they returned to D.C. for their first official date at Smith Commons.

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Click inside for the rest of Alissa & Nathan’s adorable DC engagement session and proposal story!

Giveaway: Flowers & Doughnuts & Romance = The Most Rad Giveaway

It’s Monday. But there’s no moodiness around here. Why you ask? Uh, because we are about to drop a giveaway on you that will make your mouth, nose, AND heart happy. Introducing our most rad giveaway to date, Flowers & Doughnuts & Romance – the ultimate giveaway for someone planning a proposal or special anniversary celebration. We’ve team up with the fabulous people behind UrbanStems and District Doughnut to offer not 1, but 2 lucky winners, 1 gorgeous flower bouquet, and 2 doughnuts for local delivery on a mutually agreed upon date. Yup. Amazing.

Enter to Win 1 Bouquet & 2 Doughnuts for Your Special Someone!


Doughtnuts make the perfect gift. District Doughnut is even available for weddings! They share:

We would love to work with you on your special day! Our lovely chef, Christine Schaefer, is well versed in wedding events. She has worked with several brides to achieve the look they want, and she’s done custom flavors like Sweet Potato Pie, Pumpkin Spiced, and Blueberry Almond Creme. We’ve also done custom boxing and packaging for favors and gifts. We actually created a tiered doughnut display at a recent wedding in April, and everyone loved them! Christine created custom flavors, colors, and design to match the atmosphere of the wedding. Check out a review of a recent wedding here.


What makes doughtnuts even better? Sending them with a gorgeous bouquet of local flowers. If you haven’t used UrbanStems yet – then you are missing out. For only $35, they send a handmade, beautiful bouquet to the person of your choice! What better way to put a smile on someone’s face than with flowers (AND doughnuts?!)


Ready to enter? Just use the rafflecopter widget below! 2 lucky winners will get 1 bouquet and 2 doughnuts to help celebrate an anniversary, special romantic occasion, or even help with a proposal! The giveaway will run for 2 weeks, and then the winners will work with UrbanStems & District Doughnut to pick the delivery date of their flowers & doughnuts (date must be within the next 3 months). And naturally we want to see the pictures!

Entries close on Monday June 30th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Candace & Art’s Black & Gold, Vintage Inspired Wedding in NY

I didn’t think I was going to be able to make it to Friday this week. The day job has been keeping me long, and I am prepping/gearing up for one of my biggest weddings this weekend. So not a lot from me today. Just enjoy this Black & Gold, Vintage inspired wedding inspiration post and get your early bird tickets for our next DIY workshop on June 29th before the prices go up on Sunday!

Let’s get it going.

A Black & Gold, Vintage Hollywood Inspired Wedding in New York

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Photographer: Kathleen Hertel Photography | Submitted via Two Bright Lights

We chose black, white and gold to be our wedding colors. The color combination is very retro and classy. We planned our wedding to take place in the Hudson Valley because the bride’s large Italian family all dwells there. The bride and groom both reside outside of Los Angeles, so the entire wedding was planned without ever seeing the venue. The bride’s father had been to weddings at the venue and went and met with the owners and then gave the bride his approval that she would love the venue. The 4th of July seemed it would be a perfect date.

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The bride and groom love everything 1940’s and 1950’s. The groom is an avid collector of old cars and the couple always listens to oldies’. The Dutchess Manor in Beacon, NY was the perfect venue for their retro wedding. The interior decor was mostly black and gold so it really tied in the wedding colors.

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Click inside for the rest of these gorgeous vintage Hollywood inspired wedding pictures!

#PopUpRomance Recap ~ Nicole & Rose’s Vow Renewal at the DC MEET Market

“It has been crucial to our relationship to have love that surrounds us each and every day. “

A few months ago I met with Virginia & Sarah from the DC MEET Market and they mentioned that their June market would be Pride focused since it was going to occur during the Pride Parade. I was PUMPED and immediately though, “how cool would it be to have a couple get married at the market … during Pride?!?!?!?!”. So I immediately called up my girl, Maggie Winters Photography and luckily she loved the idea just as much as I did.

What followed was months of crazy planning – website building, branding, marketing planning, and the execution of our giveaway to one lucky couple that could renew their vows at the market, during Pride! We called it #PopUpRomance (one half Capitol Romance and one half Pop!Wed Co). I never dreamed how amazing this would actually turn out.

#PopUpRomance Recap ~ Nicole & Rose’s Vow Renewal During Pride Weekend in Washington DC



Photography: Pop Wed Co | Coordination: Capitol Romance | Venue: DC MEET Market | Cake: Fresh Bakes | Flowers: Eight Tree Street

I can’t have imagined a better couple to win our vow renewal giveaway. Rose & Nicole have been married for 4 years and entered our giveaway so that they could reaffirm their messages and feelings of love with everyone around them. Their story is insanely heartfelt. So much so, that I wanted to share it again here.


This was Nicole’s entry into our contest:

My wife & high school sweetheart, Rose, and I will be celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary next March. This will mark the day that we rushed off to the courthouse in DC, only a few short weeks after same-sex marriage was legalized there. In fact, when we first heard the news about DC, Rose started talking marriage right away.


 I always envisioned something more romantic, so I started plotting while she kept pushing the subject and I would evade her questions. All the while, she was thinking I was getting cold feet about taking the plunge, but I was actually planning a proposal. On Valentine’s Day weekend, right before a huge snowstorm, I ran out and bought a ring and then invited our close friends over and asked her to marry me during a game of Catchphrase. It was really important for us to have them there because we have struggled within our community for acceptance and we are very lucky to be in a great place now. A few weeks later, we made it official!


Messages of LOVE come in all shapes, sizes, and AGES!:

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Rose inspires me each and every day. Together, we make each other better people and I like to think we have helped to teach others about love and equality.


Click inside for SO MUCH MORE of #PopUpRomance!!!

DIY Tutorial: How to Make Glitter Ombre Oversized Monograms

It’s been a brief hiatus for our DIY Wednesday features, but Ribbons & Bluebirds is BACK today with a KILLER DIY tutorial today! It includes monogrammed letters (a great wedding DIY decor item), glitter, and ombre – I mean, what’s not to love!? Take it away Jen!

DIY Tutorial: How to Make Glitter Ombre Monogrammed Letters for your Wedding


What you’ll need:
• Paper or wooden letters of your choice – they do need to be thick enough to stand up on their own. Mine are the kraft letters from Paper Source.
• Spray Glue – I like 3M Super 77 – or regular glue (see note below)
• Glitter sealer – I used Krylon Glitter Blast Sealer Spray
• Glitter of at least 3 colours.
• Paint (optional)
• Modge Podge or similar brush-on glue for sides (optional)

DIY monogram glitter ombre letters

I can’t lie to you – I love shiny things. I love sparkly things, I love glittery things, I love things that catch the light… apparently I also have the brain of a bird. So it should be no surprise that I love using glitter in my craft projects, but I consider it a personal challenge to take glitter beyond the ordinary. Not this far beyond, but beyond. One of the projects I made last year as part of my staged tablescape series was an ombre glitter ampersand, and I absolutely adore it – it is on display in my office now all the time! So here’s my tutorial for a glitter ombre monogram project – perfect for a table display at weddings, showers, parties, or any time you need a punch of sparkle!

DIY glitter ombre monogram letters

Step 1. If you’d like to paint the background of your letters, now is the time! I painted my D and T initial letters in a rich metallic green paint. **I highly recommend painting or sealing paper letters – I decided to leave the top of my ampersand blank to let the kraft paper shine through, and that ended up being a mistake. When I sprayed the glitter sealer the kraft paper got very blotchy. I ended up needing to paint over it in a pale gold to match the glitter.**

DIY ombre monogram letters wedding

Step 2. If you want your glitter to fade in (if you’re not covering the whole letter in glitter) then spray glue should be your glue of choice. If you’re planning to coat the whole letter in glue, you can use whatever glue works best for you. When using spray glue, be sure to use a well-ventilated area and cover any surfaces that you don’t want to be vaguely sticky. I always try and work outside with spray glue.

Start by spraying the back of your letter, in even light even strokes. This should allow you to lay the front of the letter on a table and apply the glitter – if you’re glittering the whole letter, you will need to work in two stages to allow you to still pick up the letter.

DIY metallic ombre letters

Step 3. Start with your “top” glitter colour and apply a stripe across your letter. Sprinkle the glitter more lightly where you will fade in your new colour. Repeat with all your colours until you get to the edge of the letter – you should have stripes of colour across your letter.


Click inside for the rest of this AWESOME DIY ombre glitter monogram tutorial!

Mitch & Shawn’s Modern, Chic Washington DC Elopement

I’ve lived in Washington, DC for 7 years now (god, typing that makes me feel SO OLD), and for some inexplicable reason I’ve never witnessed the Pride Parade. So this year, I made up for it tenfold, but not only witnessing the parade but actually getting to WALK IN IT!!! The amazing Kathryn Hamm at GayWeddings invited our entire PopUpRomance team and winning couple (and their family and friends!) to walk with WeddingWire’s “#WedWeCan team. It was amazing, enthralling, and so many other feelings that I am not able to capture here with mere words.

I’ll be writing a full recap of PopUpRomance and our day at the MEET Market soon, but I couldn’t help but share a little insight before today’s post. Today we shared the wedding on Mitch & Shawn – a couple that had been together 13 years. THIRTEEN YEARS before they were finally able to be legally married. They are from Florida, but chose to fly to DC to to have an extremely private marriage ceremony at the Westin. No details, no family, no big fancy dinner, no DJ. Just two men, their extremely dapper suits, and the love they share.

Mitch & Shawn’s Modern, Chic Washington DC Elopement


Photographer: Cavin Elizabeth Photography | Officiant: Rev Kirsten Blom-Westbrook | Venue: Westin Georgetown | Submitted via Two Bright Lights


A note from the photographer:

Of course, Mitch and Shawn were glowing after they exchanged their vows at the Georgetown Westin for their gay marriage ceremony. I nearly teared up during this part. It truly was so much more special for me than any wedding I have ever attended. Knowing that Shawn and Mitch have had to wait for over a decade to have this special day just makes this so meaningful.


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Click inside for the rest of Mitch & Shawn’s intimate, Washington DC elopement at the Westin.

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