Images: Mathy Shoots People

There are some inquiries I get that just stick with me. Some that I can tell from just a few sentences, are MEANT to be clients of ours. Such was the case with Matt & Sarya. Matt & Sarya shared that they wanted a simple, but fun wedding – they initially considered a pop-up wedding with Pop Wed Co! but decided they wanted something a bit larger. Which led them to JBPC and then Kara’s own wedding .. and then a workshop I hosted at the Lemon Bowl earlier this year.

Total universe/stars aligning type stuff. She told me she admired Kara’s wedding during the Sunday drum circles and after she found out Kara was actually #TeamCapRo, she just KNEW they had to work with us.

Well hot damn are we thrilled it worked out this way. Matt & Sarya’s wedding was GORGEOUS and 100% them. Kara kicked it with her coordination skills, and I am so pumped to share their full wedding on the blog today! Here it is.

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After Matt and I got married, we focused on what our marriage would look like and firmly believed that the wedding day was going to be only one day out of many that we’d have together–this meant that we wanted the day to be a reflection of us and the community of love and support we’d need in our lives together. Those anchored our event planning and the rest of the details, wanted to make sure would be as painless as possible!


When we learned that couples can marry themselves in DC, we went for it. At first we weren’t sure exactly what it would entail. After talking through ceremony ideas, it was natural to have our families play a big role, especially our moms. We deeply respect them and admire the love they modeled in our lives, so for us it made sense that they would stand my our sides and help us along with our wedding vows. Our siblings, their families and children, walked down the aisle before us playing the role of our wedding party.


Since we adapted traditional Khmer wedding elements (hand tying and umbrella ceremonies) and merged them into the ceremony and reception, we had our dear Khmer American friends take the mic and explain these elements as cultural ambassadors. Another one of our Khmer American friends keep the sister and mother-of-the-bride looking beautiful too.
We also tapped our friends to step in and help out as greeters, guest DJs, and go-to folks who handled anything that popped up during the day. The way everyone pitched in really made the day just right–just like a community would for hard time and for celebration.

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Click inside for the rest of this gorgeous, laid-back DC wedding!


We didn’t exactly have any set of colors in mind, just a tone that it would be natural, earthy, and fun. Based on that idea, our electronic save the dates, invitations, and website had warm colors along with a wooden, burlap themes.

 Since Matt and I have lived and travelled for several years to wonderful places around the world, I was looking for something that captured it–the cotton banners with a vintage world flag theme (found on Etsy) did the trick. The maps and the colors on them matched with the feel we’re going for. Once the banners were on the way, I also found a cake topper that you can customize (also on Etsy!) that went along with the theme too.
As for venue, we absolutely fell for JBPC. Not only was it close to where we live, but the building itself is gorgeous (the yellow and white made it easy to have minimal decorations) and the mission behind JBPC to bring the community together really resonated with our sense of community.

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They incorporated a few khmer traditions since Sarya is Cambodian: Bahng Chhat Mah is a Khmer tradition, often referred to as the umbrella ceremony, that honors the parents of the newlyweds. The umbrella symbolizes the role of a parent taking care of their children. So when Sandy and Sary (Matt & Sarya’s moms) held the umbrella over Matt and Sarya, it was symbolic of them raising them into adulthood. Then Matt and Sarya found each other and have made a commitment to take care of one another. As they left the dance floor, Matt and Sarya now hold an umbrella over their mothers to demonstrate the reversal of roles– they not only commit to taking care of each other, today they also jointly commit to looking after the women who brought them into the world.
Chawng Dai means tying your hands. So throughout the evening, guests took pieces of string and tied them around their wrists to wish them well.


Aside from the family roles in the ceremony and Khmer elements we fused into the wedding, we knew that food would be another way to make the day our own. And with food vendors in DC so plentiful, we went with BBQ Bus, Dangerously Delicious Pies, Krispy Kreme, and for balance we added Costco pre-cut fruits–so happy we did!
We have lots of friends and families with kids and, though we know that usually they don’t come en masse to weddings, we wanted to make sure everyone with little ones had a good time. We set up a kids table with crayons, coloring sheets, dinosaur temporary tats, bubbles, and glow sticks.

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Signage was a mixed approach. I bought picture frames and converted them to chalkboards by simply sticking chalkboard contact paper to the glass. For the font and script, I found a theme that matched the wedding programs and used chalk pens to mimick the fonts as best I could. For the larger signs, we used chalkboards we found at WorldMarket and then had Lauren, a local creative, create signs that were much more elegant.
I think the most rewarding DIY project were hands down the confetti canons. The geniuses behind PopWedCo and CapitolRomance hosted a wedding hack workshop at the Lemon Bowl and one of the things they taught us how to create pockets of fun out of toilet/paper towel rolls. It was made even better when Kara, our day of wedding guru, recommended making them a tad shorter, using variations of duct and washi tape to decorate the canon, and setting out instructions for our wedding guests. Everyone turned into a bundle of excitement when they got to unleash the confetti canons during the reception.

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For flowers and greenery, I decided to pick up hearty, durable varieties from Potomac Floral. We already had a bunch of mason jars to use as vases (only had to order a few more on Amazon) and my sister and mom threw it all together.

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During the social hour between the ceremony and reception, we were fortunate to have Doug Stevenson and the Spades play a set. We enjoyed their music for the first time when they played at porchfest. By the second time, the band was out and about again, this time our moms were with us and we had a good ole time. The band brought an air of that same ole good time to the wedding.

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Vendors ~> Photographer:  Mathy Shoots People | Caterer: BBQ Bus DC | Bridesmaid Dresses: BHLDN | Ring Designer: Brilliant Earth | Event Planner: Kara with Capitol Romance Wedding Coordination | Bakery: Dangerously Delicious Pies | Event Venue: Josephine Butler Parks Center | Floral Designer: Potomac Floral | Submitted via Two Bright Lights


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