Images: Russ Hickman Photography
Couple-submitted weddings just never get old to me. Especially when the submission comes with an amazing email thanking me for my blog and the resources I provide. Such was the case with the grooms of today’s real Maryland wedding feature. Matt & Ian emailed me to not only tell me they used Capitol Romance to find venues, resources, and inspiration for their wedding, but would love to have their wedding featured back on the blog. This just gives me all the feels. Sometimes it’s still hard to believe that people want to be featured on this little blog I started over 4 years ago :)
Anyway, Matt & Ian planned and executed a STUNNING wedding – full of DIY projects, focusing on the things that were super important to them (a mixologist! a country/swing band!) AND hiring only vendors from jurisdictions where same-sex marriage was legal. The end result is a wedding that is completely their own and SO much fun to blog! You guys are gonna love this one :)
When Ian and I first sat down to start wedding planning, we came up with some non-negotiables – the things that mattered most to us. For me, I wanted the event to reflect us, which meant something classy, but casual. I also wanted good food and good music. Ian wanted handmade cocktails from an old-school mixologist, and also felt very strongly about only working with vendors in jurisdictions where same-sex marriage was legalized.
The wedding stationary (Save the Date, Invitation, Menu’s, etc.) were designed by us and printed by a local printer. It was important that we continue the playful, laid-back feel of the wedding through the stationary, as this was going to set the tone for the wedding and our guests. We chose recycled paper and a young, fresh font that was used on all stationary items. The colors dusty blue, orange, and slate were chosen as they felt modern yet masculine.
The venue came first, and we were challenged with finding a unique venue that was not too stuffy, had a laid back atmosphere, and wouldn’t break the bank. I think we checked out half-a-dozen, which was entirely too many, before we happened upon the Patapsco Female Institute (PFI).
We first saw PFI on Capital Romance and fell in love. The feature was gorgeous, and the wedding looked so interesting that we couldn’t stop coming back to it over and over during our venue search. Initially, there were some aspects of PFI that scared us off: no bathrooms, no indoor rain plan, and just the notion of having to rent and place every piece of furniture, every decorative element, and every light fixture in order to warm up the space and make it our own. However, as other venues got ruled out along the way, PFI kept moving higher on the list, and the challenge of taking the dilapidated ruins of an old girl’s school, and turning them into a cool event space were appealing.
The history of PFI is really interesting, and slightly dark. We were intrigued by rumors that the venue was haunted by the ghost of Annie Van Derlott, a girl who died in the Institute after coming down with pneumonia. We wanted to own the uniqueness of the space, and make it our own, so we paid tribute to the ghost by naming one of our speakeasy cocktails, “Annie Van Derlott’s Punch.” It was made with aged rum, xo cognac, lemon, sugar, and green tea, served over hand hewn ice with a lemon wheel and freshly grated nutmeg. It must’ve worked because no one reported any hauntings. In fact, on the day of our wedding it rained starting at sunrise. Once we arrived to the venue, however, it stopped. Literally as we pulled up, the clouds parted and the sun came up. I think maybe Annie made that happen, as a way of saying thanks for the booze…
With a venue nailed down, we were able to piece together other big elements. I’m a vegetarian, have been since high school, so we needed to find a caterer with a good vision for exciting vegetarian options. Ian and I wanted to go with an eco-friendly caterer who worked with locally sourced ingredients, so we did some research on caterers who fit that bill. It didn’t take us long to find Catering By Seasons, a newer eco-caterer that had sprouted up in DC. Bob Sieralta, the catering manager, is a gem; he’s just one of the most energetic people you could meet. Hearing our vision, he got to work on executing it.
Click inside for SO MUCH MORE of Matthew & Ian’s amazing, homegrown Patapsco Female Institute Wedding in Maryland!
The coolest thing with Catering By Seasons was their willingness to let us incorporate our own ingredients. My sister and brother-in-law keep chickens, so we wanted to use her eggs to make the meal. Bob thought that was cool. We also wanted to take a piece of my Colorado upbringing and weave it into the menu, so Ian and I roasted, peeled and prepped 40 pounds of authentic green Hatch chiles from New Mexico for one of the dishes. Again, Bob was onboard from the start, and gave no push back.
The event was laid out differently than most weddings. Instead of starting with the ceremony, we began with the cocktail hour. We wanted to be available to greet the guests as they arrived while being able to mingle and enjoy the food, drinks and company. Original roots jazz and country swing music were played by The Bumper Jacksons while sangria, wine and hors d’oeuvres were passed. Being able to mingle before the ceremony was very important to us because we really wanted people to feel a part of this special occasion, not just an audience to it.
Growing up gay with no dream of ever being able to legally marry, family and friends become integral to our relationship; loved ones are the only people who legitimize and support the love Ian and I cultivated. Now that we were able to be fully married in the eyes of the State, we wanted to make sure everyone knew how important they were to us.
As the cocktail hour drew to a close, Ian and I retreated to a separate area with our families to sign the Ketubah, the Jewish marriage license. Witnessed by only a small group, this was a moment for us to step out of the party, refocus on each other, have a private, emotional moment. After signing the Ketubah, we then performed the official ceremony, being married by Ian’s law professor, Lynne Battaglia, Maryland Judge for the Court of Appeals.
The meal was served both plated and family style at communal tables which were named after various herbs (i.e. Basil, Tarragon, Dill, etc.) and then that herb was used in the floral arrangement on that table for visual and fragrant personality. The guests had a choice between beef, fish or vegetarian and the side dishes were then placed family style on each table, and guests were invited to help themselves.
We felt this type of service would encourage people to interact and get comfortable with each other and lend itself to the relaxed and warm family feeling we were going for. Additionally, we hand wrote personal thank you notes for each wedding guest telling them how excited we were that they decided to spend their day with us and travel to Maryland to participate in this exciting occasion.
To finish the evening, cupcakes by Iced Gems were delivered in their food truck, while handmade ‘Smore bags with Cadbury chocolate and Reese’s peanut butter cups were available next to a fire pit allowed guests the ability to escape from the party and mingle with each other. Lastly “His (Pistacio) and His (PB&J)” macaroons from Sweet Hearts Patisserie were available as parting gifts.
Vendors ~ Florist: Wicked Willow | Venue: Patapsco Female Institute | Caterer: Catering By Seasons | Officiant: The Honorable Judge Lynne Battaglia of the Maryland Court of Appeals | Grooms Suits: Suit Supply | Grooms Rings: Tiffany | Macaroons: Sweet Hearts Patisserie | Cake/Cupcakes: Iced Gems | Mixologist: Duane Sylvester | Band: The Bumper Jacksons | Photographer: Russ Hickman | DJ: Micah Vellian of DJ D-Mac & Associates | Wedding Stationary: DIY by the Grooms, Map Drawn by Ian’s Sister | Guest Book Map: Here and There Shop on Etsy (US) | Grooms Haircuts and Men’s Shaves: The QG Baltimore