Welcome back to Ann and Matt’s perfectly winter wedding in Virginia celebration that is dripping in fabulously season-specific and rustic details! We loved their special and uniquely personal wedding ceremony, which you can see all of right here, and now we can’t get enough of their reception right in the heart of Old Town Alexandria. The duo said “I do,” and then celebrated the night away with their family and friends all in one spot at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. The decor for both their wedding ceremony and reception was inspired by the winter season, complete with pinecones, ferns, rustic wooden elements and even lanterns, but it’s their dance moves that may have “wowed” us the most! Each and every detail from their big day was personal and thoughtful from Ann and Matt, whose main priority was their friends and family – and it shows! A special shout out and thanks to k. thompson photography for sharing these wonderful Washington DC area wedding photos with us!

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From Ann: We had friends and family come to our wedding from all around the United States and several different countries. So most of all, we wanted to make sure they all felt welcome and had a wonderful time. Therefore, food and music were very important. It was also very important for us to actually attend our cocktail hour instead of taking pictures during it. A number of people recommended against that but I’m so glad that we stayed strong in our decision and were able to maximize our time with our wedding guests. It was also important to make the weekend logistically easy. We chose the Torpedo Factory Art Center, because it could accommodate our relatively large guest list and we could have the ceremony and reception in the same location. We also chose it for its location in Old Town Alexandria, which was a great place for our out-of-town guests to explore and is accessible by public transportation. It is also walking distance from the Hotel Monaco Alexandria, where we got ready and where our out-of-town guests stayed.

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Matt and I usually have a Christmas or a New Year’s Eve party and serve hot apple cider with spiced rum, so we served this as our signature drink. Hopefully, all of our wedding guests enjoyed this, especially those who have attended our parties in the past.

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Instead of a wedding cake, which always looks beautiful, but then seems to go to waste, we had a dessert bar with Matt’s favorite (cannolis) and my favorite (chocolate covered strawberries), as well as lots of cupcakes, tarts and other sweets. At the end of the night we put out personalized bakery boxes so that the desserts wouldn’t go to waste and guests who didn’t want dessert at the wedding could take something to go.

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We decided to splurge on photography, both because I love pictures and because photos last forever, and making sure we had plenty of food and drinks for everyone. We also splurged on lighting and the ceremony décor to make up for the fact that our wedding was indoors. Other than a videographer and a photo booth, I don’t think we skipped anything entirely, and we never felt pressure to include small things (e.g., a veil for me) “just because.” Basically, unless we really wanted something, we did not include it. Instead of a photo booth, we put out polaroid cameras and asked guests to take pictures of themselves and tape the pictures into our guest book. I love looking at all the pictures and accompanying notes, which got funnier and funnier as the night progressed!

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Seeing almost everyone out on the dance floor having a great time was definitely unforgettable. Everyone, including people who didn’t know each other or who hadn’t seen each other in years were happy and having fun dancing the night away and this meant the world to us.

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We asked Ann for her advice for future Washington DC area couples:

Just like life and marriage, weddings and wedding planning are full of ups, downs and surprises. But, if you always remember that you are planning a wedding because you are lucky enough to have found one person who you want to spend the rest of your life with, and you have friends and family that want to celebrate with you, you will keep things in perspective and be fine. Many people in this world would love to be in your position. Be grateful that you have something so wonderful to celebrate and enjoy it, because one day you will have to deal with less joyous situations.

On a more practical note, I think that a coordinator is a must, and I would suggest splurging on partial planning if you can do it. Most people have not planned a wedding before, but wedding planners plan one almost every weekend! They, therefore, have exponentially more experience than you and can be an enormous help. That being said, do not be afraid to state exactly what you want, because it is your day and no one can read your mind. It is better to have a tense or difficult conversation while planning your wedding than to be disappointed with the way something goes on your wedding day.

If you do most of the planning on your own, create a list of everything you need to do (including minor details like ordering things on Amazon, going to the bank to get cash for tips, tying ribbons on programs, wrapping gifts for the bridal party, packaging and delivering things to the reception location) and a date by when you need to accomplish it. Then when you feel overwhelmed, you can simply start checking things off your list based on what has to be done soonest. On the day of your wedding, do not plan to do anything yourself. Part of your planning should be delegating everything for the day of (or even the weekend of if possible).

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Congratulations to Ann and Matt!  Thank you for sharing your beautiful winter wedding reception with us!

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

Day-of Coordinator: Stephanie Dasch, Diamond Events
Photography: k. thompson photography
Stationery: Mayla Studios
Floral Designer: Sweet Root Village
Hair Stylist: Nina Hastings, Salon deZen
Makeup Artist: Sarah Mason, Salon deZen
Wedding Dress, Hairpiece/Veil, Jewelry: BHLDN
Bridesmaids Dresses: Weddington Way
Bridesmaids Accessories: Lou Lou
Groom’s Attire: Charles Tyrwhitt
Ceremony + Reception Venue: Torpedo Factory Art Center
Officiant: Jeff Maszal
Ceremony + Reception Music: DJ Dan Goldman via Bialek’s
Catering: Purple Onion Catering
Lighting: John Farr Lighting
Cocktail Hour + Dinner Music: Timmie Metz via Bialek’s
Dress Alterations: Anytime Alterations
Bridal Shawl: Elegant Knitting

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

Photo Credits: K. Thompson Photography

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