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Guest Post: Choosing Your Wedding Catering Company

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And we’re back with the latest installment of our REAL bride-to-be guest blogger series with Carolyn. Today we join her to learn more about her experience with finding the perfect catering company! Don’t forget to check out her past posts too on why you should have an engagement party, how to choose your wedding theme, and advice on finding the perfect wedding venue in the DC area!

*warning: this post may cause drooling*

The Wedding Catering Decision | By Carolyn Thombs

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Before starting the fun part of finding the caterer, which is the tasting, I did a lot of research online. I found out menus and pricing and other little details that would go into the decision process. In the end we decided to just go ahead with two catering companies to schedule tastings, so as not to make it harder to decide in the end.

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Caroline Street Catering was referred to me by a fellow bride-to-be. Shane, the owner and chef, was so great about getting back to me quickly through email and taking all of my questions seriously and giving me straight to-the-point answers. He kept adjusting the proposal each time I changed something and never got exasperated with me. Finally when we did the tasting – OMG! The food was so amazing!! Even plates that Jon & I were iffy about turned out to be surprisingly delish. There were so many amazing things we tasted; it was pretty difficult to narrow things down. The most amazing dish was the beef tenderloin topped with bacon butter (I mean does anything sound more delish than that?!). Shane was extremely patient with me in my decision process and would check in once in awhile to see how everything was going.

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The other place we did a tasting with was the venue’s caterer at Stevenson Ridge. Elizabeth had such a beautiful set up waiting for us when we got to the tasting. I always feel at home when I am at Stevenson Ridge because they are always so friendly and welcoming. My favorite dishes from the tasting were the spring rolls and the mouthwatering pork loin with Dijon cream sauce. I even got to try this delicious grapefruit infused wine, perfect for a hot summer day.

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Both are very accommodating to all diets and food allergies and can have customized plates specifically for those with a limited diet. Both are delicious and open to changing things on the menus to meet our specific wants. But when it came down to decision making time Caroline Street Catering and their amazing bacon-butter topped beef tenderloin won!! They also fit into our budget a bit more.

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But if you are looking for a place where you can have everything accomplished pretty much by one vendor, then Stevenson Ridge is the place for you!!!

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Now on to getting started on DIY projects and finishing up the rest of the items on my bridal to-do list!

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Kristen & Alex’s Modern Meets Vintage, Intimate DC Wedding at Darlington House

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Images: Love Life Images submitted via Two Bright Lights

I always love hearing from couples that they used my blog to find vendors or help plan their DC wedding! Such is the case with Kristen & Alex, who found the OH-SO-FABULOUS Emily of Love Blooms through me and planned a TOTALLY “Capitol Romance” wedding with a DC War Memorial engagement, dinner & dancing at The Darlington House, no bridal party, a DIY music playlist, and lots of personal details throughout the wedding.

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From the bride:

I knew two things going into wedding planning-  I wanted to get married outside and we really wanted a DC wedding- in the District.  We don’t have a car, and a lot of decisions I made we based around that. If it was too hard for us to get to a place on public transit  it was off the list. Our friends were tireless in their help and support for us. They helped me run so many errands, gave valuable opinions and just let me vent for months, I couldn’t have done it without them.

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That said, I really didn’t want us to be relying on friends to schlep us and wedding decor all over either. For these reasons finding Metro or at least taxi/Uber accessible locations were very important for us. I started searching online and even making phone calls about ceremony and reception locations. I found the DC War Memorial pretty quickly, there are some other local couples on blogs who have gotten married there and the pictures were always beautiful when I saw them.

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I actually found my photographer, Love Life Images, by googling DC War Memorial weddings. Dealing with the Parks Service, wasn’t hard per se, but you pay the fee, apply for your date, and then wait.  Lucky for us the date we picked was free and it was only $90 for the permit!

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Let’s Get Personal: Why I Love Personal Posts & a New Blogging Goal


 Image: This Rad Love

A couple weeks ago I wrote a personal post on my current struggles with the direction of my business, the need to refocus and the need to better layout my goals and plans for 2016. The post was more of a spontaneous one, it wasn’t on my editorial calendar, and it wasn’t one I had planned to write. It just came to me as I was sitting on my couch (which I spend a lot of time on these days while home on Maternity leave).

Like most personal posts, the act of writing them is almost therapeutic. After it’s written (and I’ve proofread it once or twice) and I hit that little “publish” button, I almost always feel SO MUCH better. But what happens after is really why I love writing personal posts – the interactions and engagement that ensue! The post got more than 20 comments (which is a damn near miracle these days with the death of blog comments) and reached almost 6,000 on Facebook. It also got me MULTIPLE emails from all sorts of readers/friends/vendors and a shout-out at A Creative DC’s recent PROMO workshop. People responded with advice, similar feelings, praise, and offers of help!

Being a blogger can sometimes be a lonely job – you sit behind a laptop/computer/mobile screen, putting content out there, wondering if anyone is actually reading what you are writing. Sure my Google Analytics tells me I have over 4k pageviews a day, but WHO are these people? Do they really care about what I write? Find it useful/funny/etc? But then I write a personal post and the interactions and feedback pour in and it gives me ALL the feels. It reminds me that yes, there are LOTS of people out there, and they have similar thoughts and similar struggles to me and I really am not just a faceless blogger with no connection to my readers.

And so I LOVE writing personal posts and because of that, I have already started a new goal for the blog – 1 personal post a month. It’s on the editorial calendar, and it’s official. I can’t wait to see where this takes me and I cannot wait for all the interactions (good and maybe even bad) that will come from it. Until then, Happy Thursday Romancers.

DC Wedding Advice: How to Have the Perfect Cocktail Style Reception (with Not Enough Seating for Guests)


Image: Kate Triano

I‘ve worked more than my fair share of weddings over these past 4 years that have opted for the nontraditional dinner style of a “cocktail” reception with no formal, sit-down plated meal, and not enough seating for all guests. Lots of my couples choose this style of a wedding for a few different reasons. Some pick it for the vibe (it feels more like a casual, party) and some pick it for the price (it CAN be cheaper to do small plates & stations, than a traditional sit down meal for each guest). When my couples share that they want to have this type of reception, I am always on board (because as you know, I believe there are NO rules to a wedding and you can do whatever you really want) BUT I do tell them that in order for this to work, there are a few things they need to consider.

A caveat: ultimately one of the BIGGEST factors in succeeding with a nontraditional wedding reception is who you invite – no matter what you do or no matter how much you follow my advice below, if you invite a bunch of guests that are set in traditional ways and don’t really do well with nontraditional situations – a nontraditional reception probably won’t turn out like that fun, raucous party you imagined. However, if you have guests that like a good time, and just need some help with opening up to the less traditional reception type, then follow my advice below! Here we go!

#1. Setup


Setup of your reception space is important! Do not set your reception up like a traditional sit down dinner, because then that is what your guests will expect to find! Have LOTS of high top tables, and still have optimal seating for the majority of your guests, just not at formal, large round tables.

Think benches, seats from your ceremony, or lounge furniture.

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Images: Sweet Tea Photography

#2. Food


 Image: Kate Triano

The second most important thing to consider when opting for a cocktail style wedding reception is the food you serve! Do NOT serve food that lends itself to needing a place to sit and eat (no buffet!). If you serve up a buffet or big plates, guests WILL load their plates and then immediately look for a place to park and eat.


Instead, opt for tapas and small bites, or stations with small plates, where your guests can grab a bite and eat it instantly, or easily hold a small plate while standing at a high top table. You will also want to ensure food is served in a continual/endless type fashion so guests don’t feel the need to rush the food stations at the same time. Just like during a cocktail hour – consider having some heavy passed hors-d’oeuvres, a few stations, and AMPLE trashcans for guests to discard all the small plates/napkins/utensils.

#1. Flow

Landers-Nelson Wedding - October 25, 2014

Image: Aimee Custis Photography

This is probably the MOST crucial one on the list – creating a timeline of events and a “flow” for your reception that lends itself to your nontraditional eating format. Do NOT use a traditional timeline of events for your wedding, or your guests will then expect a more traditional food & seating setup. Do NOT usher all your guests into the reception area at one time – this will cause your guests to walk in and realize there are not enough seats for everyone, creating a non-intentional game of musical chairs, as your guests rush to “claim” a spot.

Believe me, I’ve watched this happen numerous times. The secret to the flow is to not have harsh start/stop times for your cocktail hour. In fact, the best execution of this type of reception that I’ve seen, is when there is no cocktail hour at all – after the ceremony, guests arrive and the reception begins. Think of the reception this time around as one VERY long cocktail hour.

Let your guests naturally mingle, find a seat, or stand at a high-top. Guests tend to gravitate towards food and booze , so make sure your space around both are open and free. When it comes time to execute things like your first dance or cake cutting, have the DJ/Band/MC make a simple announcement to where your guests can direct their attention. If your venue has multiple rooms/places for guests to go, consider knocking dances & toasts out at the beginning, so you don’t need to re-corral your guests every time you want them to pay attention to something.


Image: Kate Triano

At the end of the day, as I mentioned in the beginning, even with perfectly executing these tips, you know your guests and the success of having a nontraditional, cocktail-style reception mostly relies on who you invite!

Ok Romancers – did I miss anything crucial? Sound off in the comments below!

Let’s Get Personal: A Loss of Direction & Need for New Goals


 Image: This Rad Love

As I sit on my couch next to my (almost) sleeping 2.5 month old, I find myself in the midst of a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts. The 2016 wedding inquiries are coming in, my 2nd to last workshop of 2015 is drawing near, my blog editorial calendar is nearly empty, and I have to admit that I am struggling.

I am struggling with a focus for how to keep up on all the things I planned for this year, how to better align my priorities (both personal and business), and how to plan my 2016, when that seems nearly impossible with a new top priority in my life. I know there are parts of Capitol Romance that I want to continue (the blog, working weddings, new ventures), but I think I am struggling with ones that I should probably let go of (the workshops, working weddings).

I think a lot of this stems from a problem I have had with Capitol Romance since Day 1 – not having a clear goal or business plan for this little biz and while flying by the seat of my pants worked before, it’s just not going to work going forward. Having Capitol Romance as my “fun side gig” worked when my day job was stable, and my life was fairly free. But with the new addition to mine and Andy’s lives, I know I need to refocus for 2016 on what I REALLY want to do with CapRo and honestly, what’s worth pouring my (slightly tapped) energy into.

And here’s where I am REALLY struggling – I have literally NO idea how to do it. I’ve started some things – a blog, a wedding coordination business, a workshops venture, a forthcoming collaboration with Typecase Industries and I’ve really enjoyed all of them, but something has to give. And I’ll be honest, I am terrified to let any of them go because it will seem like a failure – like I couldn’t succeed. But honestly, it’s just that I don’t have the time anymore to put myself 100% into ALL of these things and as the great Ron Swanson once said “never half-ass two things, whole ass one thing.” (god I miss this show).

So it’s time Romancers. It’s time to finally do something I should have done MANY years ago (and probably kept up with each year). It’s time to say goodbye to some parts of Capitol Romance and re-focus on what I really want to do with this business for 2016. I have some thoughts lingering and I think I just need to sit down this weekend and really write it out. I hope you guys will all continue on the ride no matter what I decide :)

Thanks for listening.


Robert & Jessica’s Summer Garden Party DC Wedding at Dacor Bacon House

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Images: The Hill Studios, LLC via Two Bright Lights

Apologies for the lack of posting on back to back days. Andy, Evie & I left SUPER EARLY Friday morning to head to NJ to put together an epic surprise anniversary party for my parents (oh you KNOW I will be blogging it once we get the pictures!). My siblings and I started planning this party two years ago and it was worth every second & dollar spent to see my parents’ faces when they arrived and were greeted by SO MANY people from their past and present. The party took on a whole other meaning too, as my parents sold our home in NJ and are moving out this month. I’ll try not to dwell on THAT because I will probably just start crying ;-p. Yesterday was spent recouping from the weekend/catching up on emails and prepping for my 2nd to last wedding of 2015. Seriously – where is this year going?!

But for today we have the lovely summer garden wedding of Robert & Jessica; college sweethearts that moved to DC from Pennsylvania after college and starting their careers. Their intimate affair at the Dacor Bacon House is a perfect summer wedding that was both elegant and fun. A great DC wedding venue if you are looking for that “garden wedding” feel. Check it all out!

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We wanted a DC themed wedding that felt elegant and timeless, but most importantly fun. After months of venue searching we found the Dacor Bacon House just blocks away from the White House with a huge outdoor garden that would make for a great place to dance the night away.

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Rob’s father married us and wrote incredibly touching vows. It was short and sweet and while we never said I do it was beautiful and memorable.

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Brittany & Dan’s Classy, Gold Infused DC Wedding at Carnegie Institute

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Images: Shandi Wallace Photography

This wedding makes me EXTREMELY excited for my friends that are getting married here next year. Carnegie Science Institute is quickly becoming one of my all time favorite venues in the city. It’s got that perfect mix of “DC” vibe without being overly stuffy, traditional, or pretentious. You can have an classy affair here, but as my clients Stef & Joe proved earlier this year, and as this couple also proves, you can also have some SERIOUS fun at this venue. Brittany & Dan used a combination of gold & plum for their wedding decor, and Uncloudy Studio just killed it with the florals. Check out this amazing DC wedding from a fab team of DC area wedding vendors, next!

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From the couple:

We planned our wedding from Indianapolis, Indiana.  Finding a venue was difficult because we couldn’t just pop on over to check them out. I saw wedding photography done at the Carnegie Institution and I knew I wanted to be married there. We booked the space without seeing it in person, and I am so glad we did! The space is elegant and makes an impression, but is still small enough for the intimate, small wedding we wanted. We also loved the fact that you can get married in the round.

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Plum and gold seemed perfect for Fall. Plum has always seemed to me to be a romantic color, and it looked beautiful in our flowers.

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My father (the bride) is an ordained minister who officiated the ceremony & my two sisters were my maids of honor. Our vows. Dan and I spend a lot of time writing our own back and forth vows.  Having our ceremony in the round was incredibly intimate, and it was wonderful to say them to each other and share them with our friends.

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Capitol Advice: What Fiji Taught Me About Marriage


[Image: An adorable selfie from The Plannery]

I was so VERY excited to start working on one of my 2015 business goals and get my very first marriage-focused guest post from Katie of The Plannery fame. I’ll mention again here that I def want to spend more of 2015 focusing on marriage and relationships and would love to hear from all of YOU on what you’ve learned either from planning a wedding in the area, or from being married in the area. Today Katie shares some insight from her honeymoon to Fiji and what it taught her about marriage. Love this. Take it away Katie.

What Fiji Taught Me About Marriage

My husband and I honeymooned in Fiji. At the time we were both working 9-5 office jobs, and we reasoned that we’d never know when we’d get 2 weeks off in the future, so we might as well go for the fantasy far-flung honeymoon. It was extravagant. We managed it by using miles and staying at a slightly more budget-friendly B&B the first week, and then moving to a higher-end private island resort the second.

Before the honeymoon, I assumed my most memorable times would be dinners on the beach by sunset, the afternoons gazing at each other poolside, and enjoying the beauty of the island while in our perfect honeymoon bliss.

I was wrong.

The beach we stayed on had two very small islands right off of the coast. The guides at the B&B mentioned there was a great snorkeling spot between the two islands. We could kayak out, simply tie the string attached to the kayak to one of our legs and then snorkel out in the ocean. So the next morning after breakfast we decided to go for it, both of us in a two-person kayak, with our snorkel gear in tow.

I was immediately concerned – the wind was really high and the waves were quite big, the ocean was rough, and I was having a tough time paddling (my upper arm strength is really awesome). What I call waves, my husband calls simple white caps, so we soldiered on and gave it a go. Exhausted, we got to the first little island and the waves were practically crashing us into the rocks. Refusing to be defeated, we steadied ourselves, got our snorkel gear ready and paddled out to the middle section. The water was much more protected between the two islands, but I was still a bit wary. I jumped in anyway and immediately realized the ocean was still too rough for leisurely snorkeling. Hubby, after tying the rope to his foot, jumped in after me. Unfortunately he’d tied the wrong string to his foot, so this was the short rope intended for the paddles. Yup, he was clumsily half-drowning (I say “half-drowning, he says “awkwardly untying himself”). I held the kayak steady while treading water and while he untied himself. His drowning avoided (for now), we both agreed we were exhausted, in the middle of the ocean, and drifting fast. If we didn’t get back to land (or if we dropped a paddle or lost the boat), we’d literally wind up in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. As a side note, my husband also quite intelligently opted not to mention the risk of sharks, as I would have absolutely lost my sh*t.

So. We both miraculously managed to get back in the kayak. Neither I, with my aforementioned lack of upper arm strength, nor he, with his 6ft frame, flipped the kayak. Once I safely made it on board and up front, I used the paddles as a tightrope walker might, pulled in my core, and my husband managed to get on-board. As he did, he said “we’re home.”

We paddled furiously back to shore, managing to sneak one selfie with our old-school waterproof camera. We hit the sand, feeling ridiculously relieved, and ran back to our bure (the small hotel room cabin-type dwelling of ours on the beach) to stay the hell away from the ocean for the rest of the day. We spent the afternoon lying in bed, eating the Fijian version of cheese puffs, getting drunk on Fijian beer and watching TV shows we’d downloaded on our Ipad.

And that’s where my lesson was learned. We had gotten ourselves in quite a pickle. But we’d worked together to get out of it. It was because we’d been challenged together and helped each other that the aftermath was so lovely. I realized then that this was marriage.

My education continued throughout the trip. Our horseback ride was on two very scrawny horses, on an afternoon filled with soaking rain while our Fijian guide sang oldies tunes with the wrong words. Our romantic dinner on the beach was delicious, but also filled with some slight anxiety regarding the 3 ft fruit bats flying over our heads.

Fiji had graciously given us a glimpse into what real marriage is all about. While romance, and adventure, and exotic locales are all awesome – what’s really awesome is having a partner to help you through the tough times.

I loved the delicious, decadent meals we had; I loved the glamorous pool, the unreal scenery, the exotic location. But I’d give it all up for a languid afternoon in bed, fingers coated in cheesy powder and buzzed on beer. Or for a very wet but laughter-filled horseback ride. Or a white knuckle hand grab over the perfect meal because an enormous fruit bat just breezed by your head. Marriage is all about the challenges, big and small, near-death or small disappointments, and having someone there to get you through them (or just make them a hell of a lot more fun). As my husband said, when we’re together, safe and sound, whether it be after a terrible day at work or a near-death kayak adventure, we’re home.

Capitol Romance Best of 2014: Washington DC’s Best Bridal Bouquets

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It’s the week of the New Year (can you believe it?!) and so we are doing some fun “Best of 2014″ compilations to celebrate an AMAZING year of DC, MD, & VA weddings on the blog. I’ll write a full recap of 2014 (and a look into 2015) sometime in early January, but for now, let’s take a walk down memory lane and check out the Top 5 Best Bouquets of 2014 on Capitol Romance!

#5. A Lettuce Bouquet! From Steph & Jeff’s Intimate Farmer’s Market Wedding Brunch in Virginia


[Image by Carrie Holbo | Lettuce from the local Farmer’s Market]

#4. A Rustic, Wildflower Bouquet from Eliza & Josh’s Nautical Maryland Wedding


[Image: Sugar Farm Weddings | Flowers from a Local Farm]

#3. A Teal & Black Origami Bouquet from Jadene & Freddy’s Offbeat Black & White Virginia Wedding


[Image: Andrew Morrell via George Street Photo & Video | Flower: DIY Origami Flower Bouquet]

#2. A Stunning Pink & Yellow Peony Bouquet from Hanna & Jamison’s DIY Woodend Sanctuary Wedding in Maryland


[Image: Porter Watkins Photography | Flowers: H Bloom]

#1. And lastly – my FAVORITE bouquet from 2014 from to us from Julice & Steve’s DIY Picnic Themed Wedding in Maryland. The flowers & bouquets were DIYed and made from all natural herbs, greens, and flora. Just stunning!


[Image: An Endless Pursuit | Flowers: DIYed (!!)]

Check back tomorrow for our next round-up of 2014 Best Of Capitol Romance DIY Tutorials!!

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