A look back on my wedding day, 1 year later

I seriously don’t think I can believe that a whole year has come and gone since my wedding last November. For today, I have decided to take some time to reflect on the day, what I learned from planning it, and share some advice with readers as I look back at my own offbeat Washington, DC wedding just over a year ago … I hope you won’t mind sharing the therapeutic journey with me :)

My wedding day started in my condo in Arlington, VA ~ I wanted to have all my bridesmaids and parents with me getting ready, so we could be together that morning. The bathroom was a BIT crowded, but we had so much fun helping each other out.

Along with everyone getting ready in my condo – I also wanted “on-site” bridal hair. It took me HOURS of Google searching to find a hair stylist that would not only come to my house, not charge me a RIDICULOUS amount, AND could pull off the “modern-vintage” hairstyle I wanted. I cannot believe how lucky I was to find Julie of Jewel Hair Design for being that hair stylist. She single-handedly created hair masterpieces for my 2 sisters, 2 bridesmaids, my mom and I. And, every single one of us LOVED our hair.

Julie putting the finishing touches on my sister, while my sister helps my Mom :)

Before Kate Middleton made it cool to DIY your wedding makeup – I had decided to I wanted to do my own makeup for my wedding day too! I didn’t want to look airbrushed/too “made-up” so I went to MAC a few weeks before the wedding, practiced a few times before the big day … and then just did it!

My mom and younger sister help me put my dress on

Though I wasn’t big on traditions for my wedding day … I did do the “something old, new, borrowed, blue”. My something old was my late grandma’s pearls that I wrapped around my wrist to be a bracelet. My older sister had worn them in her wedding a few years previously. Here is my dad putting his mom’s pearls on my wrist.

This picture wouldn’t make sense to most people, but to my family, it has become a family tradition. My mom has a picture just like this from her own wedding. When my older sister got married, they continued the tradition, and then we did too! My parents have all three of these pictures framed on their hutch at home. I love this.

Read more to see the rest of my offbeat Washington, DC wedding!

Meanwhile, Andy, his groomsmen & his father got ready separately, but then met at the Church before the ceremony to eat some sandwiches, listen to some music and chill out before the big day!

My ring is a bit tiny/thin, but on Andy’s you can plainly see that we had something engraved on the outside of our rings. I don’t think this is too common – but I saw rings like this on Etsy once, and I knew I wanted to have external engraving on my wedding ring when the time came.

We were elated to hear at the jeweler [the oh-so-incredible I.Gorman in Washington, DC … seriously if you need wedding rings or jewelery, go here] that their engraver could engrave things in our own handwriting! So my ring has Andy’s handwriting on it, and his, mine. We decided upon “there is” for the engraving. It was “our song” in high school [Boxcar Racer’s “There Is”] and the the lyrics to the song were just so incredibly appropriate for our relationship and full of memories. I still cry every time I heard this song.

“That there’s someone out there who feels just like me. There is”

A quick peak at my DIY Boutonniere! I really loved how these came out. So simple to make too!

This shot by Live It Out Photography just gives me the chills. It almost looks like an album cover, don’t you think? They guys looked SO awesome in their grey Volcom suits, chucks, and black skinny ties. Just how I envisioned it!

One thing I would 100% recommend to any couple getting married, is to hire a coordinator. In my case, I asked a friend of mine [Dorothy on the left in this picture, checking out the church beforehand with my sister]. It really helped to have a second set of eyes, ensuring everything was organized, in-line, and all the vendors were set for everything. Dorothy was also immensely helpful on the day-of, making sure all our DIY decorations were setup and looking good!

Those Christmas ornament pomanders took me countless hours to make. I made 16 of them, and each took about 1-2 hours to make. You can do the math :) The end result was perfect though. I loved having the subtle pew decorations AND you will see in Part 2 of this reflection tomorrow, that the pomanders got another use – as decorations at the cocktail hour too!

Lucky for us, Andy’s dad owns a bunch of vintage cars. He lovingly offered to drive this one down from NJ to take us to the church, and then to the reception site.

Here is my dad pinning the boutonniere on Andy’s. Love this shot too.

 My mom and I waving to our adoring fans.

I’ve written about my “alternative wedding program” before. But in case you missed it – Andy & I opted to have a poster wedding program. IE, we printed two poster-sized programs out and had them hung on the doors to the church. Not only did this save us time & money, but it is also a much “greener” approach to the traditional wedding program – I felt too much paper got wasted with traditional programs on every seat.

Me, my mom, and my bridesmaids doing a little “pre-wedding” pump-up session. I do believe that we all put our hands in and shouted “RYBACK” on 3.

Live It Out Photography is simply the best at catching moments like this. I didn’t even know she was there, but she got 3 of these shots in sequence of my dad coming over. I don’t remember what was so funny at the time, but the picture truly captures how happy we all were that day.

Our wedding party all lined up to get things started! We had the entire wedding party enter to Hall & Oates “You Make My Dreams Come True” and it made for the BEST wedding processional song ever. Everyone in the church got so smiley hearing it, and it really set the tone for the entire day.

I am obsessed with the music used at a wedding … namely because [to me] music is one of the strongest ties to memories. When I hear the Hall & Oates song I can instantly feel EVERY single emotion from that moment, peaking at my wedding party shuffling down the aisle, seeing Andy on the altar [and getting major butterflies] and then shimmying down the aisle with my parents in tow.

I love the way Mel is looking at Ted here, like, “are you ready?!”. Naturally, Ted was.

One of the traditions I bucked was having just my dad walk me down the aisle. I wanted both my parents to walk me down, and share that moment with me.

Clearly I was excited to see someone in this shot!

We had a candle lighting ceremony in our wedding ceremony. It began with both our moms lighting the separate “A” and “B” candles. I loved the symbolism of this and I loved having our moms included in this part of the ceremony.

The second part of the candle lighting ceremony was lighting each of the 6 candles on the candelabras on the altar. Andy & I both lit a candle for each of the members of our families that had passed-on and were no longer with us. We wanted to commemorate their lives and memories during our ceremony, so as to honor the fact that they are not forgotten and are still a part of all of our lives.

Many of the relatives of those that were gone really appreciated this special part of our wedding. We were really happy that it touched so many people.

We wanted to have a break after the homily, so everyone could kind of take a moment to rest and reflect on everything happening. Naturally, I wanted to accomplish this moment of reflection by music. My amazingly talented brother-in-law, Tom, learned to play the guitar and sing Alexi Murdoch’s “All My Days”. Again, everytime I hear this song I am instantly taken back to this moment in the ceremony.

“Watch the sky breaking on the promise that we made…”

Our vows.

I was adamant about us writing our own vows. [does this really surprise anyone?] It made our ceremony even more personalized. This next shot here is where Andy opened his vows with telling me, “When I told you a few weeks ago that I was mostly done with my vows, I might not have been completely honest …” Turns out he wrote them the night before in his hotel room.

That is seriously the perfect representation of the two of us. I am the “weeks in advance”, super-prepared control freak. And he is the “wait and see”, it’ll get done eventually, laid-back kind of dude.

I barely made it through the first sentence of my vows and already the tears started falling. It is amazing how emotional a ceremony can be. A lot of people told me afterwards that there wasn’t a dry-eye in the house during our vows.

Make sure to catch the faces of our wedding party here – after I finished my vows to Andy, I was such an emotional mess that I instinctively leaned forward to kiss him. Andy, unintentionally, leaned away, his face screaming, “you can’t kiss me yet!”.

This lead to some pretty raucous laughter from everyone. I then asked our priest if it was OK to kiss him … he allowed it :)

 Woo hoo! We did it!!! And we exited in style to The Sounds’ “24 Hours” as our recessional song.

Naturally Andy was fist-pumping as we exited the church. We did do a receiving line, but just opted for our parents and us to be a part of it. Personally, I would recommend a receiving line to those that have a bigger break between their ceremony and reception.

Personally, we wanted to have a chance to thank and hug everyone that came to our wedding – as I knew we wouldn’t necessarily get the chance at the reception.

 A tender moment between us as we get ready to head down to the Decatur House on Lafayette Square next to the White House.

Amber & Jon were following us in Andy’s dad’s car and they got this awesome shot of Andy hanging out the car.

  This concludes Part 1 of my Washington, DC wedding, a year later. Tomorrow I will reflect on the amazingness that was our formal shots & reception.



  1. This is so amazing…I’ve never seen you lay it all out chronologically like this and I have goosebumps! Wish I hadn’t missed the actual day! ;-)

  2. Bree,

    You were truly the BEST client I could have ever asked for! Thanks for the shout out and sweet compliments in this blog post! It has been great getting to know you over your blog this past year! May we continue to collaborate for years to come! :)

  3. It was so much fun looking back on that beautiful November day! Dad and I are so glad that you and Andy had the wedding of your dreams….love you both!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *