Sunday Brunch: Bright Occasions

posted by Kate Oczypok

Happy Sunday, wedding lovers! We hope you are enjoying your holiday weekend and taking some time to relax! So, sit back and join us for our latest Sunday Brunch feature with another one of our awesome sponsors: Bright Occasions, a full-service wedding planner in the DC area. With ten years of event planning experience and an eye for detail, owner Margo Fischer and her small team love working with couples to plan and carry out their wedding. Margo feels that weddings are not only the ultimate party, they are a true reflection of each couple. Bright Occasions will not only help make the experience easy, they look at the big picture to provide invaluable insight and guidance throughout the engagement. Since Bright Occasions is a small business, they only accept one wedding per weekend to allow couples the utmost attention to detail and support for their wedding. For more from Bright Occasions, be sure to check out their website or check out all of their past features on United With Love.

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We hope that you’ll check out Bright Occasions for your wedding and event planning needs in the Washington DC area. Join us again next weekend for Sunday brunch with another fantastic supporter of United With Love! We’ll see you back here bright and early Monday morning! If you are interested in joining us for brunch on United With Love, please send us an email.

Happy Weekend!

posted by Ally Lopez

Happy Friday! We hope you didn’t miss out on any of the Washington DC-area wedding bliss that graced the blog this week – we’ll certainly be swooning through the weekend! It’s kind of the unofficial to end of summer, so we’re gearing up for fall around these parts and can’t wait to share what we’ve been working on! As always, I’m sending you off into the weekend with what inspires us the most, so enjoy and cheers to a fabulous (and relaxing!) Labor Day weekend ahead.

Washington DC Wedding Reception Portraits (1)

A few links for your weekend…

…and what you missed right here!

Photo Credit: Jeff Simpson Photography & Tara Parekh Photography

Georgetown Wedding Engagement Session: Jackie + Greg

posted by Kate Oczypok

We are loving the fun and flirty vibe of Jackie and Greg’s engagement session in Washington DC. After stealing a few kisses in Georgetown and a casual stroll through the Georgetown University campus, they ended their afternoon by running through the fountains! Meaghan Elliott Photography was on hand to capture every romantic moment that will surely leave you smiling all morning long!

Georgetown Wedding Engagement Session

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Georgetown Engagement Session Meaghan Elliott Photography (2)

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Congratulations Jackie and Greg!

Looking for more on engagements? Check out other local DC-area engagement photography sessions, or find out what to wear for your engagement and how to do your make-up for your engagement session!

Photo Credits: Meaghan Elliott Photography

Inspiration and Ideas: Equestrian Weddings

posted by Ally Lopez

Today, we’re calling on all horse lovers because today’s inspiration round-up is just for you. When equestrian style meets wedding design, all sorts of pretty can happen! Whether you choose to add layers of rustic, Southern-inspired charm, or go for a classic and preppy look, you can’t go wrong with details inspired by your favorite four-legged animal. We gathered some of favorite wedding ideas that will help you bring a little bit of the country to the nation’s capital.

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Photo Credit: Charlotte Tittle Photography from Equestrian Bridal Portraits

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  • Whether the other love of your life joins you for portraits, or down the aisle, dress your four-legged friend up with a stunning floral wreath! Photo Credit: Charlotte Tittle Photography

    via Equestrian Bridal Portraits

  • For the best couple in the room, these horse show ribbon chair signs are a cute way to add a touch of derby-inspired details to your wedding.

    via The Wedding Chicks

  • I can't get enough of this equestrian-inspired wedding invitation suite for a Kentucky Derby themed wedding!

    via Kara Anne Custom Paper and Lettering

  • This local couple brought the country to the city with their equestrian inspired wedding that included horse place cards and these adorable horse shoe table name signs! Photo Credit: Alisandra Photography

    via Country Wedding in Washington DC

  • This couple use custom, monogrammed horse show ribbons as escort cards! Each ribbon also included a fun "superlative” customized to each person. Photo Credit: Chrisman Studios

    via Style Me Pretty

  • This elegant shabby-chic garden wedding added a splash of equestrian touches with a horseshoe adorning their ceremony aisle chairs — too cute! Photo Credit: Jess + Nate Studios

    via Style Me Pretty

  • How about putting a pretty equestrian touch to your wedding cake? I just love this sweet and simple sparkly horseshoe cake decoration. Perfect for a country wedding! Photo Credit: White Loft Studio

    via The Sweetest Occasion

  • Of course, what equestrian or derby-inspired wedding is complete without a mint julep as its signature drink? Dress up your cocktails with personalized drink stirrers, too! Photo Credit: The Observatory

    via Southern-Inspired Wedding

Are you looking for more local wedding ideas? Be sure to look through our DC area wedding idea galleries and find wedding advice from local DC area pros. If that isn’t enough, check out our collection of local DMV weddings from the real world and the best DC area wedding vendors who make it all happen.

Peach and Mint Wedding Ideas

posted by Kate Oczypok

As summer begins to wind down, we’re soaking in the last bit of the season the only way we know how— with some gorgeous wedding inspiration, of course! Today, we are headed to Lorton, Virginia to bask in the beauty of Gunston Hall, a classic, Georgian-style mansion, and the setting for today’s romantic wedding inspiration. With sweet peach and luscious green hues galore, Margo of Bright Occasions put together these soft and feminine wedding ideas that I just can’t get enough of! And, lucky for us, Brittany DeFrehn Photography was on hand to capture every pretty detail!

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And check out more of these fabulous wedding ideas captured on video from Jonathon Armstrong right here…

The following Washington DC area wedding professionals contributed to wedding inspiration:

Venue: Gunston Hall
Photography: Brittany DeFrehn Photography
Videography: The Documentist
Planning and Coordination: Bright Occasions
Floral Design: Sidra Forman
Stationery: Libby Lane Press
Bridal Attire + Jewelry: Fabulous Frocks of Alexandria
Garter: The Garter Girl
Hair + Makeup: Alison Harper and Company
Catering and Bar: 550 Events
Desserts: Buzz Bakery and Bijoux Fine Cakes
Rentals: Capital Party Rentals

Don’t forget to visit our Washington DC wedding vendor guide for more fabulous wedding professionals. And, if you are looking for more inspiration and ideas?  Be sure to check out our DC wedding idea galleries.

Photo Credit: Brittany DeFrehn Photography
Video Credit: The Documentist

Inspiration and Ideas: School Themed Weddings

posted by Ally Lopez

As the kids (and our amazing teacher friends!) head back to school this week, we’ve got all things scholastic on the mind. Whether you and yours are high school or college sweethearts, or engaged educators, a school themed wedding lends itself as some fun and charming wedding inspiration. We’ve rounded-up some of our favorite A+ wedding ideas that will help you channel your inner kid!

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Photo Credit: Sarah Culver Photography from Annapolis Courthouse Wedding

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  • In lieu of a traditional wedding guest book, ask guests to leave you a love note in a mini-locker! Photo Credit: Kirsten Marie Photography

    via High School Inspired Wedding

  • Here's a fun idea for your dessert table at your school-inspired wedding - dress it up like a bake sale table! A fun way to display a candy bar or dessert buffet! Photo Credit: Meg Smith Photography

    via Snippet & Ink

  • This high school sweetheart inspired wedding included a fabulous (and DIY!) paper airplane ceremony backdrop that also doubled as reception decor! Photo Credit: Kirsten Marie Photography

    via Bright Modern DIY Wedding

  • The best homework assignment anyone could ask for! I just love this school-inspired chalkboard wedding sign, don't you? Photo Credit: Frenzel Photographers

    via The Frosted Petticoat

  • Whether you choose vintage textbooks or your favorite pieces of literature, books (paired with a mini globe!) make for a fun centerpiece for literary lovers! Photo Credit: C J Williams Photography

    via Bridal Musings

  • The '80s high school inspiration used report card wedding menu cards, plus guests can "grade" their meals, too! Totally rad. Photo Credit: Kate Triano Photography

    via '80s Schoolyard Wedding Ideas

  • In keeping with the school theme, this couple packed their wedding favors into brown paper lunch bags! Too cute. Photo Credit: Wilton Photography

    via Bridal Guide

  • Ah, the good ol' days of making cootie catchers! Print your programs on graph paper and fold away for an elementary school touch to your ceremony! Photo Credit: Candice Benjamin Photography

    via Ruffled

Are you looking for more local wedding ideas? Be sure to look through our DC area wedding idea galleries and find wedding advice from local DC area pros. If that isn’t enough, check out our collection of local DMV weddings from the real world and the best DC area wedding vendors who make it all happen.

How Flexibility Can Save You Money On A DC Area Wedding

posted by Ally Lopez

As scary as it may sound, holding the reins too tightly on your wedding budget may leave you feeling stressed out— loosen up a little! Although it always helps to have an idea of what you and yours envision for your wedding in the Washington DC area, your best bet is to enter the wonderful world of wedding planning with an open mind and a little flexibility! Today, Tara, the owner of Perfect Planning Events is here to share some helpful and practical money-saving tips that come with a little flexibility in your wedding planning! On that note, take it away, Tara…

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Photo Credit: Readyluck from Elegant Woodsy Wedding in Baltimore

There is so much to do when planning your wedding and so many facets of planning that can be overwhelming to anyone. Here are some tips for how being flexible can help you to save money on your wedding.

Budget

The first step in the process is to determine your budget. Without a defined budget, the planning can become a little chaotic. As a standard guide, food and drink will be approximately 45 percent of your budget; the venue will be approximately 20 percent; floral and décor approximately 15 percent; photography approximately 10 percent; and so forth. Statistics for the wedding industry indicate that the average wedding cost in the Washington DC is around $37,500. Be realistic and wise with your budget, and do not go into debt to have a wedding; invest in what you can actually afford.

Now that we have established guidelines for the budget process, let’s discuss five avenues in which you can save money on your wedding day by focusing on timing and flexibility.

The Venue

To reduce cost in the venue area of your wedding, be flexible with your date in regards to the time of year and day of the week. Most venues have peak periods when the negotiation for cost will be very minimal, so ask your venue coordinator what are the non-peak periods in which the cost of hosting an event will fit into your budget. Most non-peak periods in the DC area are in the winter months. Scheduling your wedding during a non-peak time could reduce the cost anywhere from 15-20 percent.

If you are flexible on the day of the week, you can save money as well. Traditional weddings occur on Saturdays (the most popular day). However, if you are open to a non-traditional day, consider hosting your wedding on a Wednesday through Sunday. The savings for a weekday wedding range from anywhere from 20-40 percent a huge savings!

When speaking with your venue coordinator, acknowledge your budget in the beginning of the conversation, and ask how and where you can save so that hosting your wedding at their location fits within your established budget.

The Feast

To save money by considering time and flexibility, think non-traditional when it comes to your wedding meal. The traditional wedding reception is the standard evening dinner that contains a beef, chicken, or a fish entrée, preceded with the traditional hors d’oeuvre selections. Now think, non-traditional.

Consider hosting a brunch-style reception starting around late morning or early afternoon. The style of service for brunch receptions can either be served, buffet, or interactive stations (omelet station, waffle station, potato bar). The excitement around the brunch is that your guests that commonly attend events or weddings, have the opportunity to taste something different and have fun with some of their favorite breakfast treats.

Brunch receptions that I have hosted in the Washington DC area average around $85 to $100 per person versus a dinner reception around $175 to $200 per person. If you are flexible with the time of day for your reception, you can ultimately save, save, save!

Drinks

Your beverage selection is another route to consider cost reducing alternatives on your special day. One suggestion is to limit your beverage selection from a full bar to just wine and beer. To add a little spice to your selection, create two specialty cocktails from one type of alcohol.

Another suggestion is to eliminate alcoholic beverages from the bar completely and have mocktails. There are many flavorful and interesting mocktails. Have your venue or caterer be creative with various types of punches, teas and lemonades.

If you are hiring an outside caterer, an option is to purchase the alcohol yourself from a beverage company in which you can return bottles/cases that have not been opened. You can save as much as 50 percent by purchasing the alcohol yourself rather than having the caterer to purchase the alcohol for you. This method only works with an outside caterer. Unfortunately, you would not be able to purchase alcohol yourself when hosting your wedding at a hotel or a venue that does its own catering.

Floral Décor

To help preserve your financial resources during your wedding, you can also focus on timing and flexibility with your floral selection. Time is significant when selecting flowers. Select flowers that are in season year round, such as baby’s breath, calla lilies and roses. For example, although orchids are in season year round, phalaenopsis orchids are more expensive than dendrodium orchids. It is the same scenario with hydrangeas; your typical white or blue hydrangea is less expensive than a purple or pink hydrangea.

When discussing flowers with your floral designer, inquire with them about what is in season and how you can achieve the same look that is cost effective for you by being flexible with your flower selection.

Be flexible with your floral design style as well. You may want tall floral arrangements on every table, however, to reduce cost consider alternating high and low centerpieces for your tables. You can also alternate floral centerpieces with non-floral centerpieces like trio of cylinder vases with floating candles. Implementing some of these options can save anywhere from 10-20 percent off of your floral budget. Be sure to work closely with your floral designer and be open to alternative design concepts

If you are flexible with considering alternatives and flexible with time, you can plan the perfect wedding with the perfect budget!

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A big thank you to Tara for sharing all this great advice! If you are looking for a wedding planner in the DC area, be sure to check out Perfect Planning Events. How will you be flexible with wedding planning? Tell us in the comments sections – we love hearing from our readers! And for more ideas, check out our past posts on wedding planning and budget advice.

Are you looking for more local wedding ideas? Be sure to look through our DC area wedding idea galleries and find wedding advice from local DC area pros. If that isn’t enough, check out our collection of local DMV weddings from the real world and the best DC area wedding vendors who make it all happen.

Elegant Spring Wedding Reception in Washington: Jennifer + Brian

posted by Ally Lopez

Welcome back to the second half of Jennifer and Brian’s wedding in Washington DC! (Don’t go on until you check out their wedding ceremony first!) This jet setting couple were inspired by their love of travel for their wedding, and crafted up some pretty DIY wedding projects, like the city skyline table cards and travel map reception map. Their dreamy vision became a gorgeous reality with the European feel of St. Francis Hall and every romantic moment— captured by Jeff Simpson Photography & Tara Parekh Photography— is pulling me in further! Simply stunning.

Washington DC Wedding Reception

From Jennifer: We love to travel, and we initially discussed doing a destination wedding. We ultimately decided to stay in the DC area so we could have more of our family and friends present. We were able to incorporate our love for traveling into our local wedding though by having a loose travel theme.

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We held our reception at St. Francis Hall. The monastery gardens are stunning, and we were so happy to be able to take pictures there. We also loved St. Francis Hall as a venue. It has a castle-feeling inside, and it reminded us of places we had visited in Europe.

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We designed a welcome sign that “mapped” out our different tables or “travel destinations,” and we had it printed at Kinko’s.

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Since St. Francis Hall is so beautiful, we wanted to focus on the space. We just added accents to highlight the venue: up-lighting to columns, and pops of color through our linens and floral arrangements.

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Since each table was named after a city, we found and printed silhouettes of each city and used those as table cards. We used card stock from Paper Source and made a two tone card, so each silhouette was framed by a gold border.

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Brian’s wedding planning advice for other DC-area couples:

Always get quotes from two or more vendors to keep costs down. We were able to find some real values by doing this.

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Thank you so much Jennifer and Brian for sharing your wedding reception with us! The following Washington DC area wedding professionals contributed to their wedding:

Ceremony Venue: St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church
Reception Venue: St. Francis Hall
Wedding Planner: Roberts & Co. Events
Photography: Jeff Simpson Photography & Tara Parekh Photography
Videography: Cherry Blossom Films
Floral Design: Twinbrook Floral Design
Stationery: Punchpaper Invitations & Stationery
Bridal Attire: Impression Bridal from Jeanette’s Bride ‘N Boutique
Veil: Heirloom
Bridal Jewelry: Eldor Tina 
Hair and Makeup: Sugar and Spice Studio & Salon
Bridesmaid Dresses: J. Crew
Bridesmaid Accessories: Rustic Gem Jewelry
Groom Attire: Tom James Co.
Groom Accessories: The Lysine Contingency
Groomsmen Attire: The Black Tux
Rentals + Linens: DC Rental
DJ + Lighting: DJ Derek Romanoff
Photobooth: Lyfe Pix
Catering: Spilled Milk Catering
Cake: Fancy Cakes by Leslie
Transportation: G&M Limo Services

For more vendors, please visit our Washington DC area wedding vendor guide and for even more local ideas visit our wedding inspiration galleries or check out our other Washington DC area real wedding features.

Photo Credits: Jeff Simpson Photography & Tara Parekh Photography

Elegant Spring Wedding Ceremony in Washington: Jennifer + Brian

posted by Ally Lopez

Happy Tuesday, readers! I suggest you take a seat because we have a boatload of pretty spring wedding inspiration coming your way! Jennifer and Brian’s wedding in Washington DC is just the definition of lovely. From the lovely, teal bridesmaid dresses to the stunning couple saying their “I do’s” – every image from Jeff Simpson Photography & Tara Parekh Photography couldn’t be prettier if they tried. Be sure to join us later this morning to see their dreamy and romantic wedding portraits and travel-inspired (and DIY!) wedding reception details, too!

Washington DC Wedding Ceremony

From Jennifer: Our wedding colors were mint, teal, and gold. They’re my favorite colors, and they worked so well with the season. We used those colors, but added peach as a contrast color in areas where there was a lot of mint or green.

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 My favorite memory from the day is walking down the aisle with my father, surrounded by family and friends, and seeing Brian smiling at the altar.

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Thank you so much Jennifer and Brian for sharing your wedding ceremony with us! Be sure to come back later this morning to see their reception. The following Washington DC area wedding professionals contributed to their wedding:

Ceremony Venue: St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church
Reception Venue: St. Francis Hall
Wedding Planner: Roberts & Co. Events
Photography: Jeff Simpson Photography & Tara Parekh Photography
Videography: Cherry Blossom Films
Floral Design: Twinbrook Floral Design
Stationery: Punchpaper Invitations & Stationery
Bridal Attire: Impression Bridal from Jeanette’s Bride ‘N Boutique
Veil: Heirloom
Bridal Jewelry: Eldor Tina 
Hair and Makeup: Sugar and Spice Studio & Salon
Bridesmaid Dresses: J. Crew
Bridesmaid Accessories: Rustic Gem Jewelry
Groom Attire: Tom James Co.
Groom Accessories: The Lysine Contingency
Groomsmen Attire: The Black Tux
Rentals + Linens: DC Rental
DJ + Lighting: DJ Derek Romanoff
Photobooth: Lyfe Pix
Catering: Spilled Milk Catering
Cake: Fancy Cakes by Leslie
Transportation: G&M Limo Services

For more vendors, please visit our Washington DC area wedding vendor guide and for even more local ideas visit our wedding inspiration galleries or check out our other Washington DC area real wedding features.

Photo Credits: Jeff Simpson Photography & Tara Parekh Photography