Sometimes I go to my initial consults, and after what seems like no times at all, I realized I’ve been there well past my allotted 1-hour time frame. Sometimes it’s strictly business (and that is great) and other times it unwinds into avenues of topics like DC real estate, home decor, small business ownership and more. This was the case with Sarah & Jaimee. When they suggested I come meet them at their newly purchased rowhome for our consult, I knew this couple was going to be one of those couples – one that would go a little beyond the wedding coordinator-client relationship.
Sarah & Jaimee are two of the most kind souls – a couple so truly perfect for each other and so full of life and happiness – a true dream wedding for me. I was so thrilled to get their amazing pictures from Cassidy & even more thrilled to have them share some insight into their wedding day, so I could selfishly relive it again. Though their day was just a few short days before the 2016 election, I am choosing to focus on the LOVE and AMAZINGESS that occurred on this day and will continue to occur no matter who is in our White House.
Happy Pride Week/end You guys <3
Early on in the planning process, we agreed that what we wanted our wedding to be, more than anything else, was a fun party, an opportunity get everyone we loved in a room together and to celebrate our love for one another. We also wanted it to be in D.C., the city where we met and that we call home.
Josephine Butler Parks Center was always our frontrunner. It’s a beautiful space in a terrific location, and one of the few places in D.C. proper that worked within our budget. However, our guest list was 200 people and Josephine Butler Parks Center couldn’t accommodate that many guests for a seated meal. It was important to us to include all the folks on our guest list, so we checked out other venues with larger capacity. But nothing else quite worked for us. They were either outside of D.C., outside of our price range, or were so big they felt like airplane hangars. So, we decided to skip the seated dinner and do a cocktail style reception at Josephine Butler Parks Center. This allowed us to have the party feeling we were going for in the venue we wanted.
One of the many great things about the Josephine Butler Parks Center is that you don’t have to do a lot of decorating to make it look great. Which is good, because I don’t know that we ever really settled on wedding colors or a theme. If pressed, I guess you could say that our “colors” were mixed metallics, but, as we learned, that doesn’t translate well to flowers or bridesmaids dresses or an invitation suite. Unless you’re willing to seriously up you budget (or your bridesmaids’ budgets).
We had A LOT of decorating ideas on our Pinterest board but, as the wedding got closer, we developed a better understanding of what we could realistically do in terms of décor and adjusted our DIY dreams accordingly. Our initial plan was to buy bulk flowers and arrange them ourselves, but we realized that we had enough to worry about and didn’t want to ask our friends to do the work for us. So we hired a local florist, who ended up doing a great job. We went with all white flowers in a variety of cheap vases from Amazon, a friend’s wedding leftovers, and a motley collection of bottles that we had been collecting for months.
In order to make the venue feel more like home, we decorated the fireplace mantles with family photographs in cheap frames that we spray painted in various metallic colors. (HOT TIP: Metallic spray paint makes anything look classy). The big décor hit was the DIY photo booth/guest book. Instead of booking a photo booth, we put out two Fuji Instax cameras, a guest book, some glue sticks and pens, and let people go to town. People loved the old school Polaroid-style photos and we got a guest book that we love to look at.
We could do a whole post on how we chose our outfits. We don’t naturally fall into a butch-femme dynamic, so the white suit-wedding dress combo wasn’t going to work for us. It was liberating to have the freedom to get married in whatever felt best to us, but also challenging to pick two outfits that made sense together. Jaimee started out looking for a shorter, less formal dress, but nothing felt special enough. Then at BHLDN, she tried on a mix of formal and informal dresses and, turns out, Jaimee really wanted to wear a traditional wedding gown. Sarah, on the other hand, had no interest in wearing a gown. After searching in vain for months for a jumpsuit that fit her 5 foot frame and worked with Jaimee’s dress, Sarah took it in a completely different direction with a sequined crop top and a $50 skirt from Modcloth. After months of searching, Sarah discovered that rose gold sequins made her feel special in a way that a white dress never could.
Jaimee and Sarah and many of their friends and family share a deep and abiding love of karaoke. So, when we had trouble coming up with a first dance song, we decided to do a first karaoke instead. And then we had no trouble choosing a song. Having a roomful of all of your favorite people join you in a mass sing-along to Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love of All is pretty much one of the best things you can experience.
Jaimee comes from a large, tight-knit Filipino family so it was very important to both of us to include some Filipino touches. In addition to the karaoke, we served lumpia, Filipino egg rolls, as a late night snack, and our DJ got everyone on the floor for Filipino favorite the Electric Slide.
Sarah had never even considered having a wedding until she started dating Jaimee and had only attended a handful of weddings as a guest. Jaimee, on the other hand, spent a significant portion of her 20s and early 30s attending weddings, including many times a bridesmaid and 3 times as maid of honor. This made choosing a traditional bridal party difficult. So we decided to keep the bridal party to siblings and to include the important people in our lives in the wedding in other ways. One friend officiated and others did readings and toasts and some just spent the day drinking mimosas while we got ready. It allowed us to include everybody without having to worry about the aesthetics of having 27 bridesmaids.
We did most of the wedding planning and organizing by ourselves with limited family input. But when our wedding weekend rolled around and our friends and family were all in town, they wanted to be involved. It took us a while to realize that they genuinely just wanted to help. This was great, because there were a million little things that needed to be done. Once Sarah ceded some control and everybody had a job to do, things got much less stressful. It’s not just okay to delegate. For us, it was essential to family harmony.
We got a lot of advice when we were planning our wedding, the best of which is below:
– Hire a day-of coordinator, it is the best money you will spend. Bree did such an amazing job with our wedding that we didn’t have to think about logistics until we were trying to get an Uber to the afterparty.
– People will be where you are so, if you want people at your wedding to dance, stay on the dance floor. This was a tip we got from our DJ and it was totally true. The dance floor at our wedding was packed with guests of all ages, and that’s the way we wanted it.
– If you have a cocktail style reception and you want to get pictures of all of your guests, make a plan in advance with your photographer. If guests aren’t at assigned tables, it’s hard for your photographer to capture all of your guests and your photographer doesn’t necessarily who or what is most important to you, so make a plan with your photographer in advance.
– Soak it all in and enjoy the day. Things will never go exactly as planned, so try to roll with whatever mishaps may come up, and remember the big picture. You are vowing to spend the rest of your life with the person you love, and you get to celebrate this with all of your family and friends. This is one of the few, if not only, times that you get to have all of these people in one room so take the time to enjoy and celebrate.