Jet-setters, listen up! We’re back with part two of Clare and Drew’s travel inspired wedding (Check out their ceremony right here!) and we’ve moved along to the National Geographic Society for their reception. Along with their planner, Lauren of Atrendy Wedding, they brought their love of adventure and travel into every nook and cranny of their celebration. Paper airplanes over the dance floor, an atlas guest book, and luggage tag place cards… it was a travelers dream come true! And don’t even get me started on those marvelous cloche centerpieces! I’ll let Rodney Bailey Photography’s photos tell the rest.


The cocktail reception took place in a gallery space that was exhibiting photos from Manchu Picchu’s discovery (coincidentally the place where we first travelled together). So we embraced this cultural theme and invited a Peruvian musician to play traditional Andean music during cocktails (naturally, we served Peru’s national cocktail, the Pisco Sour). Next to the historic images of Machu Picchu captured in 1913, we enlarged and matted eight black and white photos from our own trip to the ruins in 2005. We included a brief story of what that trip meant for each of us. For the guests, it told the story of the little-known beginnings of our relationship.

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Perhaps the most unique touch was the way we incorporated Clare’s mother’s vintage lace wedding dress as a design element. One of the most disappointing discoveries during planning was when Clare realized she was just too tall to wear the dress down the isle. We decided to drape Clare’s mother’s dress in an antique steamer trunk next to old maps. The old trunk was a family heirloom and had belonged to Clare’s great grandfather when traveling via steamer ship. Inside other vintage suitcases stacked next to the trunk, using laundry clips we hung personalized luggage tags that served as escort cards.


 We used a mint-condition 1972 National Geographic World Atlas as our guest book (thank you, eBay). As geography junkies, we actually reference that atlas from time to time and, every time we open it, we revisit all the wonderful wedding messages written to us by our guests.



We were motivated to be extremely resourceful in order to lessen the ecological impact of our wedding. We sourced local foods and herbs, upcycled wood frames, recycled maps, and repurposed vintage décor details. With our neutral palate underneath the herb-infused pieces with green succulents, every element popped with earthen brilliance.Instead of table names, we named the tables after international capitals we had been to or had aspirations to visit. We sat at the table “Ulaanbaatar,” appropriately named for the Mongolian honeymoon we embarked on the next day.

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For the reception, we hired a Bruce Springsteen cover band who Clare grew up listening to on the Jersey Shore. Clare’s family has deep roots in the state so we wanted to bring a piece of Jersey to the district. Classics like “Born to Run” and “Glory Days” kept the guests dancing until the wee hours of the night.

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Clare and Drew’s advice to other DC-area couples:

Simply put, our wedding was memorable – not just for us but for our guests. We still get many compliments for how intimate our wedding was (despite 180 guests) with all the personalized design elements. That being said, we did have a few bumps in the road during the months leading up to the wedding. Here are a few words of advice: First, commit to a budget, and stay under it. In a place like DC, 150+ guest weddings are expensive. And it is easy to let the wedding costs get away from you. Pick 1 or 2 things to splurge on, but try to get creative with other elements. Second, expect the unexpected. Third, interview many vendors. Don’t commit to a vendor until you know what else is out there. The value of “clicking” with a certain vendor is an important consideration. And last, make use of the talent around you. If you’re not artistically talented, chances are that someone in your family is. We saved considerable amounts of money asking our family to donate their time and talents.


The following Washington, DC area wedding vendors contributed to Clare and Drew’s wedding:

Ceremony Venue: Dahlgren Chapel at Georgetown University
Reception Venue & Catering: National Geographic Society
Wedding Planning: Atrendy Wedding
Photography: Rodney Bailey Photography
Floral Design: Beehive Events
Reception Band: The B Street Band
Cocktail Musician: Juan of Raymi Music
Groom’s Suit & Tailor: Ralph Lauren
Bridal Dress: Adele Weschler
Bridesmaids/Groomsmen Attire: J. Crew
Groomsmen Ties: Handmade by Emy
Bridal Shop and Alterations: Rizik Brothers
Makeup: The Still Point Spa
Hair: Sue Perez of Rainbow Hair Salon
Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas
Chalkboard Calligraphy: Pretty Mail Calligraphy
Wedding Favor Tags: Crafty Clementines
Custom Pins: Donovan Beeson
Upcycled Frames, Slates, Menu Board: Timeless Journeys
Personalized Hand Stamps: Heather Bianchi

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: Rodney Bailey Photography

*Atrendy Wedding are a few of our fabulous sponsors.  For information on our editorial policies, please click here.


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