Images: Jeff Song Photography
When readers submit their own weddings to me for publication it makes me feel validated and like the circle has been complete. I am not entirely sure why, but I guess it’s because they tend to be super like minded to me/this blog’s vibe so they usually make great features. Today we have Lorelie and David’s super DIY, Cherry Blossom themed wedding at Top of the Town in Arlington, VA.
We wanted something very spring, something soft and classic. Because the wedding ceremony was in April at the end of Cherry Blossom season (and at the Jefferson Memorial) we wanted to connect to those colors without distracting from the beauty that we were surrounding ourselves in.
My bridesmaids and I created all of the bouquets as well as all of the boutonnieres and all of the flowers that were part of the centerpieces. I made labels for all of the bridesmaid hangers and mine, as well as label tags for all of the groomsmen tuxes. I handmade the headpiece that I wore, as well as the ones worn by my maids of honor.
We knew that we wanted an outdoor venue for the ceremony and we knew we wanted something representative of the city that we love. Once we knew that you could do ceremonies at the Jefferson Memorial we were sold.
We each wrote four letters to each other: The first to be opened on the day of the wedding, the second to be opened on our one year anniversary, the third to be opened when we have our first child, and the fourth to be opened when our child gets married. We had each of our parents write those same sets of four letters to us. So what you are seeing in those pictures of us on either side of the door is us reading the first letters we wrote to each other and the first letters our parents wrote to us. It was a really nice sort of quiet moment together (without seeing each other) before the ceremony.
This particular ceremony venue definitely has its challenges since you only get a 2-hour time window for everything (including set-up and break-down). It isn’t exactly the easiest memorial to get to either since it isn’t metro accessible, so we had school buses available to take people to the memorial and to the reception afterwards. It is also outdoors in April (hello rain risks and weather concerns) so we had to have back up plans just in case.
—> CLICK INSIDE FOR THE REST OF THIS DIY VIRGINIA WEDDING! <—
Dave and I made flags for everyone to wave at the ceremony, as well as the container labels for the flags. I hand-sewed about 60 feet worth of silk petals to create the ceremony garland runners for the aisle. I made the ring box, which has a Bruce Springsteen reference chalk-boarded on the inside. The white trunk table you see at the ceremony is a DIY item for the wedding as well. My Husband (then fiance) and I painted an old thrifted trunk and added the table legs to it, it was actually one of my favorite pieces we did for the wedding.
One thing that made this situation actually possible was my friend and co-worker Jennie (along with her boyfriend Alex) that agreed to serve as our ceremony coordinator. She is the one who set up all of our DIYs, greeted guests as they arrived, gave logistical instructions, and even ran the music for the ceremony with our small outdoor speaker system. I can’t thank her enough for the awesome job she did.
The ceremony itself was very non-traditional. It was about 15 minutes in length and included short readings (read by our wedding party) from things like Dr. Who, How I Met Your Mother, and The Office. We also wrote our own vows and the ceremony was officiated by one of my husband’s closest friends from law school, Elizabeth.
Another important thing to note about the ceremony is that my husband is Jewish, we didn’t want a traditional religious ceremony but we did want to include some of the Jewish traditions in our day. For the ceremony this included the traditional breaking of the glass as well as the bride and groom both being walked down the aisle by both of their parents.
[Top of the Town] was one of the first venues we looked at and with its insane view of the city nothing else that we looked at came close. Practically it was also only about a 10min drive from the Jefferson Memorial and was metro accessible, which was very helpful for all of our local guests (of which there were many).
One thing that is interesting about this venue is that there is just one big glass elevator that takes everyone up to the top floor and reception space. We decided to turn this into an advantage and instead of doing a receiving line we ended up doing a farewell line at the end of the night. Basically my husband and I, along with our parents, got to say a personal thank you and goodnight to all of our guests as they left for the evening. The elevator made it so that we had perfect size groups for this and made it so that guests who had to wait a little bit for the elevator still left the event with a joyful and positive experience.
We did a ton of chalkboards, a massive one that we created out of an old mirror for the ceremony, plus a few smaller ceremony ones, and both a main menu and bar menu chalkboards. Our favors were thyme scented candles in little glass jars that we hand made and created labels for that said “love only gets better with thyme” because we love puns.
There were two types of centerpieces that I made, one was a large white lantern with three small vases of flowers around it, and the other was a clear lantern on a vintage plate surrounded by moss. We created an awesome photobooth/guestbook by embedding an ipad into a photo album and making homemade props.
I also loved that we got to do a traditional cake cutting with a small cake but did cake-pops for our guests.
Some of my favorite moments from the reception included: doing the traditional Jewish chair dance called the Hora, one of Dave’s best men did a rap for his speech (he created something awesome and personal using the Gorillaz “Clint Eastwood” as his base), we finished the night with Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” with all of our guests circled up around us and singing their hearts out.
Vendors —> Photographer: Jeff Song Photography | Catering: Main Event Caterers | Ceremony Venue: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial | Reception Venue: Top of the Town | Bride’s Dress: Sarah Seven from Lovely Bride DC | Hair and Make-up Stylist: Nefertari Beauty | Groom and Groomsmen Tuxes: The Black Tux | DJ: Da Vinci Sound and Vision | Chair Rental (Ceremony): Sammy’s Rental