Alex and Rob were married on a beautiful, if slightly rainy, day at Woodend Sanctuary in Maryland.  The weather might not have allowed for an outdoor ceremony, but made for an intimate indoor ceremony followed by a misty and romantic portrait session with photographer Sarah Culver.  I love all of the meaningful details that Alex and Rob incorporated throughout their wedding – from the personal ceremony readings to the reception traditions that celebrated Alex’s Romanian heritage.

From Alex: We wanted everything in our wedding to be personal and meaningful – reflective of our values, including our love of nature, our families and friends, and each other.  Our main priorities were the venue, alcohol (we had an open bar with our favorite liquor), and music.  We fell in love with Woodend, which is a bird sanctuary.  Every time we visited, there was plenty of wildlife, including deer, roaming around.  If the weather had cooperated, we would have had our ceremony in the “grove” in the forest.

My favorite wedding detail was my birdcage fascinator: classy, unique, pretty, and fit my personality perfectly.

My favorite memory was walking down the staircase right before we saw one another for the first time.  It was very exciting – and wonderful when our eyes finally met!

We designed our own ceremony programs, which contained favorite quotes from our favorite poets.  The two ceremony readings were chosen to reflect our values, including a passage from the Little Prince.  Our vows and entire ceremony were written together, and we had one of our best friends marry us.  We also had a mix of male and female friends on either side of the wedding party.

We also did a Romanian hora, including the bit at the end where the bride and groom get lifted up into chairs (which is more Jewish than Romanian, but something that we both liked from other weddings we’ve attended).

My mom brought the “unofficial” Romanian national drink – tuica (like a plum brandy) – back from Romania and we had flasks on each table so people could choose to toast with tuica or champagne.  The bar had a tablet indicating the “groom’s drink” and the “bride’s drink” so our guests could choose to try our favorite drinks.  The white wine served was the one we first had together as a couple.

The bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, and other floral arrangements were handmade by me, along with Rob’s aunts, my best friend, and Rob’s sister.  We had pie for dessert because Rob’s brother-in-law is a pastry chef and apple pie is Rob’s favorite.

We had a makeshift “photo booth,” so people could get silly and take pictures of themselves: it worked great!  The excitement of the dance floor and the photo booth area mingled and made the whole party that much better!

Alex’s advice for other DC-area couples:

Don’t get frustrated in your venue search; you will find your perfect place… it will just take time, so have patience.  For cheaper options, try getting married on a Thursday or Friday evening (we did and it was fantastic and saved us some money).  Take everything bite-sized; don’t try to do it all at once because that will drive you crazy.  Also, divvy up tasks according to what the other person cares more about (e.g., booze, music, etc.)  Prioritizing is the first thing you need to do as individuals (pick one thing you care *most* about and either splurge there or spend more time getting it perfect), then as a couple.  Do a basic budget, knowing that you will likely go over by a little bit (we probably went over by $5,000).

The following Washington, DC area wedding vendors contributed to Alex and Rob’s wedding:

Venue: Woodend Sanctuary
Catering: Main Event Caterers
Photography: Sarah Culver Photography
Floral Design: DIY, flowers purchased from Flowers and Freshness
DJ: DJ Greyhound
Bridal Attire: Joli Bridal, purchased from I Do I Do Wedding Gowns

Don’t forget to visit our vendor guide for more fabulous Washington, DC area wedding professionals or our real wedding gallery for more beautiful Washington, DC area weddings!

Photo Credits: Sarah Culver Photography

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