Capitol Advice: An Alternative Bridal Shower Idea (from a REAL bride-to-be)

A few weeks ago this article was posted on the Huffington Post: “Stop Inviting Me to Your Bridal Shower“. I had some initial reactions to the somewhat over-the-top article, and posted it on Twitter and Facebook to get some feedback from my followers.

A few months ago my sister attended her best friend’s bridal shower. It wasn’t your typical shower, and I (naturally) begged the bride to be to let me blog about it here.

After a few days I realized that blogging about Julia’s alternative bridal shower coincided perfectly with my desire to blog a response to the HuffPo article.

So first, the HuffPo article:

While I can somewhat understand the author’s point – I think her words come across extremely angry and somewhat bitter. Sure, I haven’t loved every bridal shower I attended, and I, myself, PLEADED with my mom to let me have a more informal shower (with men allowed, no silly games, and for the love of god, NO gift opening). However, my shower remained female only, games were played, and gifts (all of them) were opened.

And you know what? I didn’t mind it at all – in fact, I’d say I had a damn good time at my ‘traditional’ bridal shower. You know why? Because, at it’s heart, it really wasn’t about the games or the gifts, it was about sharing a day with some truly awesome people in your life.

My bridesmaids and I at my bridal shower

Sure, showers can be over the top, gaudy, and down right expensive (especially if you are in them) – BUT what this author misses is that no one is forcing you to attend! You could easily decline the invite and send a manageable gift, no angry HuffPo post required!


You know how I feel about the traditions of things when it comes to weddings – so I am ALL about couples finding ways to start new traditions, or throwaway traditions and make weddings their own – and that is EXACTLY what my sister’s friend Julia did.

Meet Julia & Matt

Instead of being angry about Bridal traditions, Julia decided to make her shower her own and opted to have her close family and bridesmaids join her and her fiance in a day of service.

How freakin’ awesome is that?

I asked Julia a few questions about her alternative bridal shower idea, and here is what she said:

“Why did you chose to have an ‘alternative’ to a traditional bridal shower”

We chose an alternative to a traditional bridal shower for a couple of reasons. First, asking our loved ones to watch us open gifts that we chose ourselves just wasn’t our style. Also, we already have a lot of the things we need and if we want to “upgrade” we are fortunate enough to be able to do it ourselves so we didn’t want a major component of our of celebration to be about getting kitchen things and linens.

 “What made you think to do a ‘day of service’?”

Service has always been important to both of us as individuals even before we met, so it only made sense that we incorporate it somehow into our celebration. Weddings can cost so much money and be epitome of uncontrolled spending. We felt that a time when we are investing so much in one weekend, we had to harness the power of our friends and family to invest in providing for those who aren’t as fortunate as we are.

SEE! Exactly people – this is what I am talking about. Service is something Julia and Matt do all the time, so why WOULDN’T they incorporate it into their wedding somehow!? I love what she said so much!

“Tell us about the charity you chose!”

We brought together our families and bridal party plus their significant others (about 25 people) to spend an afternoon at Philabudance in Philadelphia. They are an awesome organization that focuses on eliminating hunger in the Delaware Valley. Through a variety of programs and agencies, they get healthy food to those people who would otherwise go hungry. Our afternoon was spent sorting through thousands of pounds of produce and boxing it up to be distributed in the community. For more information about what they do, you can visit

“What would you say to other couples that might want to do an alternative bridal shower, but are worried what guests might think?”

I was actually very worried that our friends might think a day of service was stupid, but also feel obligated to show up.

I was totally wrong!!

Our group made it into a competition to sort more produce in our shift than had ever been done before. The previous record was 8,800lbs of produce sorted and packed. Our group did 18,500lbs!!! Needless to say, no one thought it was dumb! Ultimately showers are about a celebration of love, so if you choose to celebrate your union in a way that reflects you as a couple, your friends and family will (hopefully) support you.

Julia also added:

After the service part of the day, we went to a near by park and had picnic with everyone. We just hung out and played outdoor games. It was the perfect way for our closest friends and family to get to know each other in a laid back, fun way!

So what do you think guys!? Would you do an “alternative bridal shower” and how’d you feel about that HuffPo article? A very special thanks to Julia & Matt for sharing their shower with us :)

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DIY Tutorial: How to Make An Album Cover Photobooth Backdrop

Amanda & Brad & their music-themed DC wedding are back again, this time sharing all the details on their simply fabulous album cover photobooth backdrop! Brad graciously took the time to write out all the steps and back story to making this fabulous DIY wedding project ~ I know you will love this!

DIY How To Make A Decoupage Vinyl Album Cover Photobooth Backdrop

From Brad:

I wanted to have a cool photo booth backdrop at my wedding and was inspired by an online photo of a table someone had decorated with the 45 LP labels using decoupage. I had never heard of decoupage before, so I started reading up on it and watching youtube tutorials and thought it would be cool to make a collapsible screen out of vinyl record covers.

I love how Amanda & Brad particularly chose so many of the albums – their first dance, ceremony music, etc …

I first had to gather all the records I wanted, some were from my personal collection, others I bought at used record stores and a few I sought out on Ebay. My wife and I both selected albums that meant something to us, some were favorite artists, others were songs we liked when we were younger or memories from childhood.  My wife Amanda is from Boston so we added Aerosmith and the Boston album that had the song Amanda. I found a copy of Lou Rawls “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” which was our first dance.  I put on Back to the Future Soundtrack cover since we used The Power of Love by Huey Lewis as our recessional song at the end of the ceremony. We both have Scottish backgrounds so I added a bag pipe players record. Other albums were selected just for fun and interesting album artwork or there is a story behind it.

One Lionel Richie album was a gatefold and the inside of the album spread it looks like he autographed it to us, his signature just so happened to be printed on all of the albums as part of the artwork so I added our names with a sharpie, it was funny, some of our guests at the wedding really thought he signed it for us. My first job out of college was at WASH-FM and Lionel Richie came to the station for a morning show interview, he stopped by my desk and said hello. Then many years later I went to Jazz Fest in New Orleans and I happened to be with one of my groomsmen at the time and we randomly ran into someone on the streets he knew from the DC area and she just so happened to have some connection with Lionel Richie and invited us to his trailer to meet him and then Lionel Richie gave us seats on the side of the stage to watch him perform.

How Brad made the photobooth backdrop:

I bought four 4×8 panels of ply wood and cut them down to about 7 feet since vinyl records are not quite 12×12 inch squares, but about 12.5×12.5 inches. You can fit 12 covers to a panel this way and have about a half inch border on the bottom. You need to cut about .25 inches on both sides to have the covers line up side by side without overlapping. If left alone you should be able to put 14 covers on one 4×8 panel and have some space for a border on the bottom, just keep in mind you need to transport it.


Click inside for the rest of the DIY vinyl cover backdrop tutorial!

Lissette & Tim’s Virginia Wedding at the Bel Air Mansion

Happy Tuesday! The InDesign training class I was supposed to take back in September got re-schedule to today! So for today and tomorrow I will be down in Alexandria, hopefully learning how to make some sweet graphic design products (yeah right).

But I didn’t want to leave you with nothing to read, even if I might be a bit MIA on social media, so I thought a sweet little Lancaster, VA wedding from Ever After Visuals (submitted via Two Bright Lights) would hold you over until I am back!

 The photographers share:

 Under bright blue skies, Tim and Lissette declared their love for each other, witnessed by family and friends who traveled from near and far, surrounded by all that mattered. Gardening, the beautiful outdoors and everything French had to be incorporated in this special day for it to truly represent all that is unique about this couple.

Lissette & Tim’s Bel Air Mansion Wedding in Lancaster, Virginia with French Inspired Details


Reception Venue:  Bel Air Mansion
Caterer: Willaby’s
Dress Designer:  Elizabeth Fillmore
Cake Designer:  Costco




Bel Air Mansion was the perfect backdrop for the ceremony. From the warm glow of the sun as it sparkled across the beautiful view of the Rappahannock River, their love of the water was perfectly incorporated!

Click inside for the rest of Tim & Lissette’s beautifully personal Lancaster, VA wedding at Bel Air Mansion

Capitol Flashback: My Grandma’s 1940s Wedding

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while. But I figured that today would be the perfect day to blog this as it was exactly 72 (whoa!) years ago today that my grandma got married. I thought it would be fun to take a look back at a REAL 1940s wedding and compare it to the wedding traditions of today.

Here is my grandma and I at my engagement party a few years ago:

And now onto some pretty awesome details of what REAL weddings were like in the 1940s, from an interview I had with my grandma a few months ago:

My grandma and grandpa got married on October 8, 1940 – a Tuesday! She told me that she didn’t care what day it was, just that she liked that it was the anniversary of their first date. Her wedding party consisted of her brother and her sister-in-law and the invite list included anyone that lived in their neighborhood, and was their friend.

Their reception consisted of homemade wine (made by her father), sandwiches, and cookies. They did have a cake too, and it was baked at a local bakery in Sayreville, NJ, called Gutkowski Bakery.

Pretty much everything they had at the wedding was local – her jewelry was from Crabilles, a local jewelry store in Milltown, NJ, the flowers (orchids) were from Christie’s and the shop had sent away special to get orchids for her. Her dress – a stunning, long-sleeved velvet dress – was from a local store in Perth Amboy … and what did it cost? $35 !

I asked my grandma about that infamous first date and she shared that my grandpa’s sister was the one that had the big plans to get them together – she convinced them to go on their first date in 1936 to the SS Morro Castle (a ship that had sunk and was then stationed off the coast in Asbury Park). When my grandpa finally proposed, she knew she wanted that date as their wedding date – October 8th.

After the wedding they honeymooned in Pittsburgh (where my Grandpa’s family was). They borrowed her brother’s car and drove all through the mountains and it took 24 hours to get from NJ to Pittsburgh! After the honeymoon they returned to Sayreville, NJ and rented a house – at a whopping $25/month !

It’s crazy to me how different weddings are now, and it was really fun getting to hear her tell me just how matter of fact/logical choices were for weddings back in the 40s. I think it’s important for couples to realize the REAL traditions and history of weddings when they start planning their own.

I hope to interview some of my other family members on their weddings and share some REAL vintage weddings through this “Capitol Flashback” feature ~ I also would love to take submissions on this if anyone out their wants to share their parents or grandparents’ weddings with me!

Capitol Inspiration: 1920s Glamour Meets Marine Corps, An Art Deco Styled Wedding Shoot

I always love the creative and unique styled shoots that Melissa Arlena Photography & Anthomanic team up to do. I’ve feature a few before (like this dramatic red & purple fairy tale inspired shoot) and Anthomanic did the stunning florals for our Shel Silverstein Dreamer wedding shoot (if you recall) ~ so yeah, prepare to be INSPIRED.

From photographer, Melissa:

This styleshoot was inspired by post-war 1920’s glamour and opulence! The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia was a perfect setting for such a theme with it’s many different eras depicted in the exhibits throughout the building. The space has a very masculine, utilitarian and industrial feel, yet comforts viewers with heartwarming stories of courage, trust and honor — an inspiring and very symbolic location for a wedding! Art deco being the design style of the 20s, it was our inspiration for the couple’s clothing as well as the table decor.

A 1920s Art Deco Styled Wedding Shoot


Event Planner:  C & A Event Planning
Floral Designer:  Anthomanic

Click inside for the rest of these beautifully inspiring 1920s wedding styled images ~ including the tablescape!

Jamaal & Cheree’s Purple & Gold Washington, DC Wedding

The Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC has always been one of my favorite “typical” DC wedding venues – the columns, the prestige, the marble floors – and as far as pricing goes, it’s actually pretty reasonable for what you get!

Anyway, Love Life Images [via Two Bright Lights] submitted this beautiful purple & gold wedding at the Carnegie Institute, and I just couldn’t resist. Jamaal & Cheree just had that electric “star power” and it was a bit of a change from the weddings I had been featuring as of late.

 Jamaal & Cheree’s Purple & Gold DC Wedding at the Carnegie Institution for Science



About their wedding:

We chose Carnegie Institution of Washington as the location of our wedding because of its’ architectural design and detail similar to that of Union Station DC, for example the outside columns, marble floors, and grand staircase.

 The color combination of purple (the bride’s favorite color) and gold were chosen to portray the couple’s regal and royal theme. The color combination was woven throughout the wedding from the purple invitations, programs, seat covers, table linens, bridesmaid dresses, and flowers to the coordinating gold bridesmaid’s jewelry and shoes, gold flatware, gold rimmed china, gold chargers, and gold chivari chairs. And finally not to mention the bride’s purple shoes.

Thoughts on the wedding planning:

Jamaal and I took on the responsibility of planning the wedding ourselves allowing our personalities to be displayed throughout our wedding day. However, family and friends all came together to make our wedding day special with their presence.

We really wanted them to sit, relax, and enjoy the day with us. The bridesmaids and hostesses worked together to put the final touches of the wedding together from pouring sand in vases for the sand covenant, placing wafers for holy communion, and setting up the favor table.


There were many cultural expressions showcased throughout the wedding including the jumping of the broom, which was a hand crafted straw broom elaborately decorated with faux ivory roses and ribbon.

The jumping of the broom is a Southern African American tradition of sweeping away the past and the couple entering their future together and the remembrance of slaves who were not allowed to marry.

Click inside for the rest of Jamaal & Cheree’s Washington, DC wedding by Love Life Images!

DIY Inspiration: Music Themed DIY Wedding Details from Amanda & Brad’s Wedding

We are back again with even more from Amanda & Brad’s music-themed Washington, DC wedding. In addition to hand-picking each song that went into their wedding playlists, they also DIYed a ton of their music-themed decor!

First up, their awesome vinyl guest book:

Our guest book was made by a letterpress company in CA out of vinyl records. We also gave away pens with our names and the date because Brad’s grandfather owned a promotions company and used to have pens for all occasions.

Amanda and brad also used their Washington, DC skyline mounted on records for their table numbers!

Here is one of our table numbers, made by my colleague, Amanda.

The couple had DIY hot pink kissing balls adorn their ceremony space – and the kissing balls weren’t from real flowers, but crepe paper instead!

Amanda Ritchie also made these for us out of crepe paper [if you want to order them you can email Amanda at ]


and after:

And finally, last but not least – one of the coolest DIY photobooth backdrops I have seen – and again, perfect for their “music” themed wedding. A record album backdrop:

Brad made this awesome DIY photobooth backdrop himself AND turns out that he awesome made us a tutorial to share … but unfortunately you will have to wait until next week for that!
Happy DIY Wednesday! Any DIY projects in your future today?

Amelia & Javier’s Offbeat Outdoor Maryland Wedding

“… it never felt offbeat or nontraditional, it just felt like us.”

Amelia & Javier took “offbeat wedding” to a whole new level with their insanely awesome outdoor Maryland wedding at the Patapsco Female Institute – the ruins of a girls’ school. That’s right – this couple got married and had their wedding in preserved ruins.

How freakin’ awesome is that?!

Well, it gets better – in addition to the badass venue location, they used lots of green and natural brown decor, including herbs instead of flowers for their bouquets & boutonnieres. I so love this offbeat detail for an alternative to flowers! A very special thanks to Amber Wilkie Photography [via Two Bright Lights] for this offbeat Maryland wedding submission!

 Amelia & Javier’s Offbeat Maryland Wedding at the Patapsco Female Institute Ruins



Ceremony and reception venuePatapsco Female Institute
Planner/CoordinatorRebecca Dick, with Blue Canary Events
FloristWillow Oak Garden
Paper Goods & Gift BagsGolden Silhouette Designs
DJRicky Bulles
CateringKloby’s Smokehouse
Dessert spreadHeidelberg Bakery
Hair and makeupFirst Impressions Salon
Equipment rentalGrand Rental Events

From Amelia:

I love the quote Capitol Romance had posted on her blog – “A wedding is a party, not a performance…” I think that sums up what we want (and didn’t…) :)

Amelia’s gorgeous &unique wedding dress from a 2nd hand shop!

my dress was second hand for 3 reasons. first, i just couldn’t see spending crazy amounts of money for a dress i would wear for a few hours.

2nd, another commitment we made was to try and use things that could be repurposed.

oh, and 3rd, i LOVED it!

Amber told me that the couple had wanted their dog in the ceremony, but the venue wasn’t really keen on the idea … so he got to hang out with the dudes while they got ready instead! love this!

About the couple:

 what’s to say? people get together for all sorts of reasons. they get married for all sorts of reasons. we became friends. we fell in love. and we didn’t want to “be married”. we just wanted to marry each other. we’re not perfect but that’s what makes this work.
 I LOVE the bride’s dark nail polish:

About their wedding design:
we just wanted a party.
we didn’t want colors. we didn’t want matchy-matchy. we made a commitment to each other at the outset of the planning process that we would only do the things that we wanted to do. we wouldn’t do things because it’s tradition or family wants it. it ended up being entirely ours and oh-so special.
the venue just fit our organic, relaxed vibe. it was a blank canvas that we could make into ours.

how much do i love these alternative bouquets from herbs! yes, herbs!

Click inside for the rest of Amelia & Javier’s offbeat Maryland wedding by Amber Wilkie Photography.

Heidi & Steve’s Library Engagement Session in Alexandria, VA

One of the most fun things about starting a wedding blog has been meeting so many awesome vendors in the DC area. Such is the case with Maggie Winters Photography. You might remember her work from Katie & Andrew’s holi powder anniversary shoot. I also had the pleasure of getting to meet up with her ‘in the flesh’ (that sounds gross, I’m not sure why I used that phrase) and well she is just about as awesome as they make them. I think we hit it off (I hope Maggie agrees) and I was super fangirling over her hot pink hair.

She sent me this awesome Alexandria, VA engagement session ~ that took place in a library (love!) AND she sent me a prospective couple that might be hiring me to help with their wedding, the lovely Heidi & Steve.

 Heidi & Steve’s Alexandria, VA Library Engagement Session

How they met:

A man and a woman meet at a bar… Seriously…

Once upon a time there were two young people who had no idea they existed until one fateful day…

Back in 2009, the weekend of the 4th of July to be exact. Heidi (me) was invited to go hang out with some friends at a bar, actually it was a nightclub, but who cares. My friends and I were walking from the parking garage to the nightclub in downtown Norfolk when we came upon a red light that told us to stop before we crossed the street. Lo and behold, behind us was a group of young revelers looking for fun that night as well. One of the boisterous crew wearing a fuzzy hat approached me and began the age-old act of hitting on me.

 I was in good spirits and I can’t bluntly turn away anyone wearing a fuzzy hat, so I began to joke with him and I turned him down gently. We were both in good moods despite my having declined his offer to run off to his nightclub and he gave me his name and his number. I pocketed the number and didn’t think twice about the fuzzy hatted man named Maurice.

After quite some time whooping and hollering at the club, my friends and I decided to leave to pick up some more friends at a bar in Portsmouth. I was dubious of course because Portsmouth is not the friendliest place to people who do not frequent the area. But my friends assured me my safety was guaranteed.


We sauntered up to the new bar, which was closed by the way, and found the friends of my friends. But to my surprise the one person I was not expecting to see at the closed bar was Maurice of the fuzzy hat! We met each other as though we were good friends who hadn’t seen each other in a millenium’s age. During our joking back and forth a handsome and debonair man came up and introduced himself as Steve, Maurice’s friend.

Steve immediately caught my attention with his charm and wit; it also helped a great deal when Steve leaned over and whispered in my ear (in perfect Italian mind you), “Your eyes shine brighter than the stars in the skies”. He had me hook, line, and sinker at that point.

My friends insisted we move along after expressing concern with the invitation Steve extended me to an after party. Little did they know Steve and I would end up getting married four years later. But not to be held up by trivialities like having my ride insist I go with them, Steve and I exchanged numbers and began the month long texting marathon until our first date.

Nearly a month after we met we had our first date at a Gogol Bordello concert where we kissed for the first time and from that moment on I knew that he was the one for me.

Click inside for the rest of Heidi & Steve’s adorable library engagement session and their proposal story!

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