virginia weddings

Wedding Planning: How To Have a Friend Marry You In Virginia


Image: Ceremonies by Jeff

Romancers! I cannot tell you how many times my couples or readers ask me “I want my friend to marry us in Virginia, but it doesn’t seem possible, please tell me you have a solution.” Sadly, up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t. I told them most people I knew just went to the courthouse, got married legally, and then had their friend perform more of a ceremony, not an actual, legally binding marriage. Not ideal. But then at my AWP talk a few weeks ago I met Jeff. And Jeff told me he had the solution to this problem!! I asked him to write a guest post, because I felt he could explain it better than me, but the bottom line here is that Jeff, a licensed officiant, can help all you Virginia couples out there that are looking to have a friend/family member that is not an ordained official, marry you!! Check it out:

A Simple Solution for a Frustrating Virginia Officiant Licensing Issue | By guest blogger Jeff Maszal – Wedding Ceremonies by Jeff

how to have a friend marry you in virginia (4)

Once a month I receive a telephone call (or email) from a panicked bride (or wedding planner) who starts the conversation with; “Reverend Maszal, I have a unique situation. I’m getting married soon we’re really desperate, can you help us”?

The unique situation: the bride and groom asked their best friend (or a relative or parent) to officiate their Virginia wedding. Only to find out, a week before the weeding, that the local Virginia County Clerk’s office rejected their friend’s application to get licensed as an officiant because Virginia doesn’t recognize online ordination certificates (such as the Universal Life Church, etc). Now the couple is left with no one who can legally marry them and 150 guests showing up Saturday.

The background: Many Virginia couples face this situation because Virginia has strict licensing requirements for officiants. Online ordinations are not recognized. Religious officiants must submit documentation showing they are ordained (or its equivalent) and in good standing with a recognized local or national religious body. Oh, and even some qualified officiants submit their paperwork too late in the process to get approved leaving the couple in the same situation.

NOTE: a little known fact. A friend/family member can file for a one-time civil officiant license but they must live in the county where the wedding is being held.

how to have a friend marry you in virginia (3)

The solution. I created a simple “license signing” service for these couples at a reasonable fee providing a win-win for the couple. They get legally married and their friend officiates their ceremony.

I make an appointment to meet with the couple either prior to or after the wedding ceremony. I confirm the couple’s identities and that they want to get married. Then I sign the license. This meets Virginia’s requirements and Wala, they are married. I mail the license into the clerk’s office and the crises is averted.

I do about a dozen license signings a year and it is a privilege to provide a creative – yet legal – solution to a potential stressful wedding situation.

DC War Memorial ceremonies_jeff_06 yes yes Final CROPPED

Jeff Maszal has been officiating weddings for more than 25 years with couples from almost every faith, nationality, and race. He is an ordained minister licensed to perform marriages in VA, MD, and DC. Please visit his website:




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Capitol Romance Best of 2014: The Best Virginia Weddings of the Year

best of 2014 va weddings header

We’re back with our Top Virginia Weddings of 2014! Pop-up books, light sabers, boho flowers, a bride in black, and the RADDEST polkadot bridesmaids dresses. Virginia kicked ASS this year when it came to offbeat & alternative weddings in the area. Let’s break it down.

#5. Abby & Logan’s Thrifted, DIY Travel Themed Barn Wedding in Virginia

The ultimate barn wedding mixed with SO MANY personalized details. Abby & Logan personally handcrafted each part of their wedding. It was awesome.


Image: An Endless Pursuit

#4. Alexa & Tucker’s Whimsical, Boho Wedding at Bluemont Winery in Virginia

Whimsical boho to a T – Alexa & Tucker are a gorgeous couple (and I unknowingly/consequently went to highschool with Tucker!) and their flowers were a perfect compliment to this Fall winery wedding in Virginia.

alexa tucker virginia wedding

Image: Kristen Gardner 

#3. Tim & Megan’s Offbeat Film & Literature Themed Wedding in Virginia

Pop-up books based on the couple’s favorite books & films. I mean it doesn’t get cooler than that for alternative wedding centerpieces.

virginia wedding tim megan

Image: Stephen Gosling Photography

#2. Jadene & Freddy’s Offbeat Black & White Wedding at Rosemont Manor in Virginia

A bride in a black dress with peacock feathers for bridesmaids bouquets. This Virginia wedding was SO fun and offbeat. Loved it.

virginia freddy jadene

Image: Andrew Morrell via George Street Photo & Video

#1. Kat & Dave’s 1950s Inspired, Rockabilly Wedding in Virginia

Rockabilly decor inspiration, a tattooed bride with pincurls, and bridesmaids in the MOST DARLING polka dot bridesmaids dresses (with purple crinoline under them to boot!!). Kat & Dave stole my heart with their 1950s themed Virginia wedding.


Image: Stephanie Kopf Photography

Katie & Andy’s DIY Backyard Woodland Wedding in Virginia

Katie & Andy fell in love with the house that Katie’s grandfather built. The house is set within the tranquility of Great Falls and you will all soon see why Katie & Andy picked this place as their wedding venue. Not only is the house GORGEOUS, but Katie spent her childhood in this house – learning to bake, garden, and spend time with family. This venue held so much family emotion and history, it made for a PERFECT backdrop for their wedding day. Thanks to Douglas Pettway for this real Virginia wedding.

Katie & Andy’s DIY Backyard Woodland Wedding in Virginia

DIY Virginia backyard wedding

Photographer: Douglas Pettway | Venue: Grandparents house/backyard | Cake: Tea Time Delicacies | DJ: Friend | Catering: Tea Time Delicacies | Flowers: Tonya at Occasional Flowers | Hair/Makeup: Paola Rios | Shoes: DSW (Nina) | Dress: Jeanettes Bridal | Centerpieces: DIYed by Groom

DIY Virginia backyard wedding DIY Virginia backyard wedding

She spent much of her childhood there learning to cook, garden, and grow vegetables. Their house was always the location where the family got together for holidays, birthdays, and weekend dinners. When Katie met Andy, he also feel in love with the beauty the tranquility of the rare property in Great Falls. Katie’s grandfather built the house and designed all of the landscaping. They alone take care of the garden with no outside help for the last 48 years. They are two of the hardest working people we know and it is reflected in their property.  Their house has always been so special to us that it was the obvious, and the only place we considered for our wedding.

purple green woodend wedding DIY Virginia backyard wedding

Their house is also the place where Andy proposed. Katie thought she was going over to help work in the garden but Andy surprised her by planning a proposal with friends and family.

Katie-Andy-054 DIY Virginia backyard wedding

We choose purples, yellows, and greens as our colors after we decided to get married in the spring. We thought they would complement the outdoor spring colors: the foliage, the flowers, and the green buds on the trees.

Katie-Andy-506 purple bridesmaids dresses

Click inside for the rest of Katie & Andy’s DIY, backyard Virginia wedding.

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Maureen & Jess’ Intimate DIY Wedding at Bull Run Winery in Northern Virginia

I’m always in awe of couples that plan their wedding from afar. One of the reasons Andy & I opted to get married in DC (instead of in our hometown of NJ) was that I just couldn’t imagine planning from 4+ hours away. I guess I am too hands-on (and let’s face it, just an absolute control freak) to have been able to do that. But for Maureen & Jess, it worked out perfectly. They planned everything from their home in California, DIYing dozens of fabric flowers for the bouquets, bouts, corsages, and decor, and making their own wedding paper products too. Their ceremony was personalized and I love how they got ready in the house that Maureen grew up in. Thanks to Katie Nesbitt Photography for sharing this one, and thanks to Maureen & Jess for sharing personal details and TONS of wedding advice from their Northern Virgina wedding!

Jess & Maureen’s Intimate, DIY Wedding at Bull Run Winery in Northern Virginia

DIY Northern Virginia wedding Bull Run Winery


Photographer:  Katie Nesbitt Photography | Venue: The Winery at Bull Run | Catering: RSVP Catering | Flowers: DIY, by the bride | Paper Products: DIY, by the bride | Officiant: Family Friend | DJ: Marc Augenbaum DJ Services | Submitted via Two Bright Lights

bride purple flats

If you decided to DIY your own paper products (Save The Dates, Invites, RSVP cards, menus, etc), try to figure out whether it would cost you more money and hassle to print at home or to go to Costco or FedEx Office. As it turns out, for all the paper we printed at FedEx Office, we could have bought ourselves a nicer printer and had something to show for it afterward!

DIY wedding invitations

All of the flowers and decorations were DIY’d by us and our families. Making the bouquets was certainly a labor of love that took a lot more time than we had originally anticipated. We never could have finished them had it not been for our amazing bridal party’s help.

DIY fabric flowers bouquet DIY Northern Virginia wedding Bull Run Winery

Our favorite part of the day was the First Look, which was on a Civil War-era bridge next door to our wedding venue. I had been nervous since waking up the morning of our wedding day. When I saw Jess I felt an overwhelming sense of calm. It really set the tone for the entire rest of the day.

DIY Northern Virginia wedding Bull Run Winery DIY Northern Virginia wedding Bull Run Winery

Click inside for so much more from Maureen & Jess’ DIY Northern Virginia wedding – including a ton of advice from the couple on DIYing their wedding & their biggest wedding regret!

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Kelly & Harry’s Rustic Meets Modern, “Backyard Party” Barn Wedding in Virginia

The thing I loved most about Kelly & Harry’s wedding submission from Vness Photography was the perfect mix of modern & rustic. I LOVE when couples (or my clients) want to mix themes and styles. They end up being some of my favorite weddings. Kelly & Harry chose the Adams International School for their venue  a rustic VA barn venue that fit their desire to have a backyard party! But their bright blue colors with a splash of chevron patterns really took this one from a traditional rustic Virginia barn wedding to one with some serious modern flare.

Kelly & Harry’s Rustic Meets Modern, “Backyard Party” Virginia Wedding at the Adams International School

rustic modern virginia barn wedding


Photographer: Vness Photography / Second shoot: Corina Chevalier | Venue:  Adams International School | Florist: Vogue Flowers | Caterer: Q BQQ | DJ: Tim Jackson, Jackson Pro Audio | Makeup Artist: Ashley Swilley – Drama Artistry | Hair: Jaimie Moeller (Friend) | Dress Designer: Paloma Blanca | Cake: Sweet and Tasty Cakes | Submitted via Two Bright Lights

rustic barn wedding dress rain boot rustic virginia bride makeup

Our wedding was a chilly, rainy fall day – Oct 12, 2013, in Maidens, VA at the Adams International School (a Montessori school for kids). We selected the venue because we wanted something different and special that felt more like a rustic, backyard party (with a little bling of course) than a stuffy wedding. It was amazing and just what we dreamed of.

rustic weddnig details

Our colors were navy and gray, partly because my (now) husband is active duty Navy and partly because they looked great in front of the bright red barn in which the ceremony and reception took place. We chose hydrangeas and babies breath as our bouquets and center pieces, largely because I just adore the subtle beauty of both.

navy blue bridesmaids dresses with cowboy boots modern virginia groomrustic wedding vows decor groom and his dog

Almost everything, from the table runners to the aisle runner were all DIY. It made it so special to us that we had a hand in making and selecting all our details.

chevron wedding aisle runner

Click inside for the rest of Kelly & Harry’s rustic meets modern, DIY Virginia wedding!

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Brunch Wedding Reception Inspiration at a Virginia Winery

There has been a lot of lady love on the blog this week. It was completely unintentional, but now that it’s happened I figured, why not let it continue? So today we are blogging a styled shoot from Mollie Tobias Photography & Eight Tree Street. The theme? A casual same-sex brunch reception featuring two beautiful and inked ladies!!

The details are beautiful and totally steal worthy if you plan to have a brunch wedding – and the execution is perfect, right down to the heart-shaped bacon strips (oh and a pancake cake … let that sink in).

A Casual, Brunch Reception Inspired Wedding Shoot at Paradise Springs Winery in Virginia

same sex wedding brunch reception


Photographer:  Mollie Tobias Photography | Hair Stylist: Up-Do’s For I Do’s | Bridal Accessories: Weddingzilla | Floral Designer: Eight Tree Street | Venue:Paradise Springs Winery | Invitation Designer: Simply Designed | Caterer: The Aubergine Chef | Submitted via Two Bright Lights

From the vendors:

This Ikat inspired vineyard wedding celebrates two beautiful brides on their wedding day in an outdoors rustic wedding with interior design details and patterns. The shoot includes a gorgeous spread for an outdoor brunch, provided by The Aubergine Chef, complete with a pancake wedding cake, heart shaped bacon bites, heart shaped cinnamon rolls, and mini quiches.

same sex wedding brunch

brunch wedding pancake cake

you had me at pancake wedding cake and bacon hearts!!!

same sex wedding brunch reception

Styled but useful – this styled shoot incorporated some easy DIY projects!

A fabulous DIY component includes easy to make sparkly favor boxes and pendant decorations for table and food, the favor boxes are excellent to use for delicious goodies for your guests.

brunch wedding favors

Click inside for the rest of the details and inspiration from a styled wedding brunch reception!

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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!

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Capitol Wedding: Amy & David’s Modern, DIY Traditional Chinese Wedding in Virginia

Happy Tuesday Romancers! Rolling right along this week with a beautiful Virginia wedding at the Beyond Restaurant in Harrisonburg.  The bride is Chinese-American and naturally the coupled wanted to include this in their wedding theme, so they infused a ton of red coloring (“the” wedding color, according to the bride) into their wedding day. Amy & David also included their family in a TON of their handmade wedding details, and decided to honor their dogs (Razz & Mango) through custom dog cake toppers and cupcakes designed in their honor!

A special thanks to Aubrey’s Photography for sharing her images of this beautiful Virginia wedding.

Amy & David’s Handmade, Chinese Tradition-Infused Harrisonburg, Virginia Wedding



PhotographerAubrey’s Photography | Invitations – Minted | VenueBeyond Restaurant | Hair StylistK.C. Felton Bridal Hair | Cake/CupcakesSweetz Bakery | Cake TopperAnimal Cake Toppers [Etsy] | DJLeon Pearson of J&H DJ Services | RingsProtea DiamondsWedding Gown Alfred Angelo | Bride’s ShoesIvanka Trump

The bride’s cousin did her makeup AND made the stunning bouquet below.

i loooooove Amy’s fur bolero & the red and purple bouquet!

About the couple:

Amy and David met for the first time in middle school. Amy must have made an impression on David, because he looked her up many years later when she was in her 3rd year of college at UVA. They went out for dinner in Charlottesville and had a great time catching up. David asked her out a few months later when they were both home in Burke, VA. Their first date was May 19, 2000. David was so nervous that they got very lost on the way to dinner and ended up in a parking lot, but it was the start to a great relationship.

They dated for many years and after being apart for a couple of years found each other again, realizing that they were meant to be together. Their proposal happened on the anniversary of their first date.

David had conspired with Amy’s boss and gotten her down to UVa (her alma mater) on the pretense of a work related assignment. She was wandering around the Grounds taking photos when David appeared. He eventually pulled her to the courtyard where he presented her with an album recounting their years together and when she got to the end he pulled out a ring.

About their wedding!

Since they got engaged at Amy’s college, they decided to have the wedding in Harrisonburg, where David went to school. Amy is Chinese-American and in her family, the expectation is to have a large Chinese banquet with numerous courses. They knew they didn’t want this traditional type of wedding but still wanted to be able to serve authentic Chinese food while also having some American dishes.

They decided to go with Beyond, an Asian fusion restaurant in downtown Harrisonburg owned by family friends. It was the first wedding for the small, 2-story restaurant. The choice was an unconventional one given that dinner guests would have to be split between two floors and several of the tables on the first floor would have to be removed to make room for dancing, but it worked out well. Guests who wanted to be away from the dancing and music were able to relax and chat upstairs.

Click inside for the rest of Amy & David’s modern Chinese-American Virginia wedding by Aubrey’s Photography.

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Capitol Wedding: Ashley & Pete’s Whitehall Manor Wedding in Virginia

Sometimes couples don’t care about fancy escort cards, the latest floral designs, or what the latest wedding dessert trend is. Sometimes couples just want to get married, and have a simple, yet elegant wedding to celebrate the beauty of their two lives coming together. I love featuring weddings like this every now and then to remind us all that while wedding details and DIY projects are some of my favorite things, it’s really your wedding ceremony that is the most important part of your day.

A special thanks to Red Shoes Photography & Two Bright Lights for this beautiful Whitehall Manor wedding.

Ashley & Pete’s Whitehall Manor Wedding in Virginia


Caterer:  Whitehall Manor
Floral Designer:  Affordable Arrangements
Reception Venue:  Historic Whitehall
Cake Designer:  Connie’s Cake Creations

simply beautiful wedding invitations

love the darker grey, wide ribbon with the orange florals!

Click inside for the rest of Ashley & Pete’s Whitehall Manor in Virginia, by Red Shoes Photography

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