Raquel and Carlos are natives from the Dominican Republic and they met there while they were in college. Although the two of them disagree about the exact manner in which they fell in love, they both agree that they both chose their own “love at first sight” experience. We certainly fell in love with their adorable DC engagement photoshoot from Jen S Photography and their show stopping puppy, Mambo! If you are hunting for their amazing wooden bow ties, look no further than Two Guys Bow Ties. Congratulations to the couple and thank you for sharing your adorable engagement session with us!
Today’s inspirational photo shoot from Sweet Tea Photography and Alex Meyer Events has us longing for fresh fruit and the green grasses of summer. We love the way the dramatic colors of the blackberries play off of the brightness of the strawberries and the softness of the peaches. We can’t begin to pick one part that is our favorite, although the littlest ring bearer dressed in seersucker and chomping on a handful of berries stole our hearts! The team paired together a delicious wedding reception dessert table of pastries from Bijoux fine cakes, which presents a scattering of dessert options as a great option for any wedding reception.
Wedding color inspiration can be found just about anywhere and for this shoot they used the muted tones of the blueberries to compliment the vibrant red undertones of the peonies and the fresh baskets of fruit. This color story is also great because it can work across so many seasons and styles of wedding. Spring and Summer peaches and strawberries are ideal for the warmer months, while the vibrant peonies can be swapped with dahlias and wheat in the fall for a harvest look. A special thank you to Sweet Tea Photography for sharing their inspirational wedding shoot with us!
The following Washington DC area wedding professionals contributed to their wedding:
Now that the question has been popped, you can’t stop staring at your gorgeous rock, and friends and family have all squealed with glee, what do you do next? This question may seem daunting if all you can do is think of the countless things on your post-engagement to do list but relax! This is supposed to be a time for love, joy, and reflection so don’t worry; we promise it will all come together and we are here to help kick start the process of planning the perfect wedding in DC, Maryland or Virginia!
Show off that sparkle! Grab a friend or two and stop by your favorite nail salon for some quality pampering. You will undoubtedly be showing off your gorgeous ring to everyone around, not to mention documenting it on every form of social media imaginable, so you can splurge a little on a perfectly polished mani. Of course you want the world to know that you have an amazing man with fabulous taste in jewelry (and who are kidding, women) so feel free to show off a little. This is also the perfect time to rehash the proposal and start chatting about the upcoming big day! Why not throw in a pedicure as well? You deserve it!
Brace yourself for the inquisition. Those closest to you are going to immediately ask a million questions. Did you set a date? Did you pick a venue? Do you have wedding colors picked out? Who is in your bridal party? You definitely don’t have to have all of the answers right away, but being able to arm yourself with a few vague answers will satiate those hungry for more. In order to do so, you may be able to quickly decide what time of year or seasons works best for the two of you, or what type of ceremony space or reception venue you can agree on. Our Washington DC area vendor guide is also the perfect place to start perusing to get an idea of what might suit you.
Talk about a budget and start saving. It’s no secret that weddings can get expensive, and quick! Talk to your partner about what is realistic and brainstorm from there. There are so many different ways to design your big day, and not everything has to break the bank! Stop over and check out our United with Love Inspiration and Ideas section to see different options and tweak things you love to make them yours. If you set a budget early on and begin to prepare, you are less likely to overspend and may have some extra moolah for a fabulous honeymoon!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Wedding planners can be such a huge aid in the planning and execution an amazing wedding. They know all of the best vendors, can pull together all of your great ideas, and most important of all, can seriously cut down on your stress levels. All of our amazing highlighted event planners are there to make your day a success; from full plans to partial plans to day-of coordinators, these vendors sure do know their stuff!
Set aside time for the two of you. Preparing for a wedding can take a lot of time and effort, and the post engagement period can be a flurry of excitement and the feeling that you need to be making moves right away. It is an amazing time, but we can’t stress enough how important it is to take a step back and remember why you are doing this. You are in love! Take a breath and spend some time as a couple; get all dressed up and go out on a nice date to celebrate, or plan a day trip to do something you both love. This time is all about you two, so enjoy it!
Could getting engaged be more fun? Enjoy every second of the wedding planning process by checking out all of the other DC area wedding advice that we have assembled just for you!
Classic, timeless, and traditional are three words I would use to describe today’s lovely Northern Virginia wedding at Airlie Center. Whitney and Shawn wanted to be able to look back on their wedding in 50 years and still feel that it was relatable and classic, so they chose a color story of champagne, gold, and black to weave throughout. Airlie Center in Virginia has acres of beautiful property, and we especially loved her bridal portraits on their grand outdoor staircase and first look in the gardens! The couple was married in the gardens surrounded by friends, while the Bride wore her grandmothers restored antique cathedral length veil. The party continued into the Pavillion with a surprise appearance for the Groom by a Washington Nationals running president! Thank you to Will Greene Photography for sharing this fall Virginia black tie wedding with us!
From the Bride: Since I was a little girl, I have been enamored by my maternal grandmother’s wedding dress and veil. Her veil was over 20 feet long, and her 1930s dress was a classic ivory satin that I used to love to try on and pretend to be a bride. I was very close to her when she passed away when I was 15, so to pay tribute to her, I restored her veil and wore it for our ceremony. I also removed the beaded fabric headpiece and had my florist wrap it around my bouquet. My paternal grandmother is also no longer with us, and she and I shared a love of accessories, and luckily, I was able to have a few pieces of hers with me on the big day as well. I love that I had personal mementos of theirs on our wedding day.
Tip from the Bride: Remember to celebrate everything along the way during engagement. It’s easy to treat wedding planning as a business transaction, but we tried to celebrate every little decision we made. “Cake flavor selected – YAY! Let’s celebrate!” “We found a song we both actually like – YAY! Let’s have some wine and practice dancing!” No matter how big or small, we wanted to celebrate our decision making process together as a couple. Planning a wedding can be stressful, to say the least, but it can also be a time when you see how well you work together as a team.
Tip from the Bride: In regards to DIY, just know what you are getting yourself into It is all about what’s worth it to you – your time or money. For me, it was money, so I chose to do a lot myself. Luckily, I really enjoy planning and being creative, so I enjoyed the DIY process, but I didn’t consider how much space it would all take up in our tiny Arlington apartment. If you choose to make things yourself, I would encourage others to think about how they are going to store all of these items in the meantime, and how to get everything to/from the venue.
Overall personal touches were important to us. For our signature drinks, we chose to honor our dads, so we had a classic Manhattan in honor of my dad, and an Irish Mule in honor of Shawn’s, who is of Irish decent. Our wedding favors were an ode to each of our home states. We had Cheerwine soda from the Bride’s home state of North Carolina and Fisher’s Popcorn from the Groom’s home state of Maryland.
From the Groom: We had a pretty formal wedding but it blew me away that she was willing to sacrifice having a “by-the-book” classic wedding for something that was just totally fun that she knew both I and our guests would appreciate. Whitney and I had meticulously picked out every song for our reception, so when the DJ suddenly started playing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, it’s safe to say I was confused. Then I turned around and saw “Teddy,” one of our Washington Nationals mascots walking into our reception. The look on my face in the pictures says it all – “I’m confused…Did you do this?? WOW this is cool!” I truly had no clue that she organized this! Teddy stayed and did a couple of dances with our friends and family, all of whom seemed to also get a kick out of it.
Congratulations to Whitney and Shawn! Thank you for sharing your timeless black tie Virginia Airlie wedding with us!
The following Washington DC area wedding professionals contributed to their wedding:
Jacquelyn and Bill attended college together on the eastern shore of Maryland so they thought it was only fitting to have their wedding in the area; they fell in love with The Oaks Waterfront Inn in Maryland. The venue doubled as a home base for the weekends activities, which helped provide an intimate wedding weekend including an “I Do BBQ” for the rehearsal dinner and “Tea with J&B” as a thank you breakfast to their out-of-town guests. We loved how they infused a warm, cheery, and whimsical color palette of peach, yellow, aqua, and navy to keep the wedding feeling nautical yet still full of vibrant spring inspiration.
We loved their wedding invitation suite, which included a knot featured on the actual invitation and a nautical inspired fabric envelope liner with a gold twine knot. The same nautical inspired fabric pattern was used in Bill’s blindfold for their first look, decorative pillows for the sweet heart table, display table liners and also created a finishing touch to their ceremony programs. We loved the fun play on “tying the knot” and how their Maryland based planner, Savvy Celebrations, helped style their wedding!
From the Bride: I often refer to our wedding as a wedding weekend. We truly appreciated our family and friends traveling to the resort towns of Easton and St. Michaels, and we wanted to show our gratitude by hosting a memorable weekend for them. Guests were greeted with a welcome box that reflected the design of our wedding invitations. The boxes included a welcome message, weekend itinerary, transportation information, restaurant and sightseeing recommendations and special eastern shore treats paired with a story of why each was meaningful to us.
At our ceremony setting, our florist created a whimsically styled backdrop with an organic feel using a combination of fresh foliages with multiple randomly knotted ropes that hung from a covered pier. Small watertight vessels were filled with floral blossoms and hung from the knotted ropes to add pops of color to the backdrop that complemented the scenic view of the water from the covered pier.
During the ceremony, our guests were able experience a deeper meaning of what the word “knot” meant to us. Instead of using candles or sand to demonstrate our commitment, we chose to tie a fisherman’s knot. Yes, we actually tied the knot! Our dear friend Kendra − who introduced my husband and I back when we were teenagers – guided us through the tying of the fisherman’s knot, for it is the strongest tie there is and its bond will not break, only becoming even stronger under pressure. I have no regrets about deciding to skip the favors. If you create a pleasurable wedding experience for your guests from start to finish – there is no need to send them home with a trinket they will never use. Welcome boxes, transportation, and great food and music go a long way. We decided to donate to three charities that we actively support, instead of favors. We felt the finest gift is one which helps others live longer and healthier lives.
Tips from the couple: Don’t hire just a wedding planner – hire someone that has event design experience too. Even if you can only afford a “day of” planner, it is well worth the investment. They help you stay within your budget, determine your priorities and actually enjoy the planning process. Most importantly, you can spend time with your guests on your wedding day – not your vendors.
Congratulations to Jacquelyn and Bill! Thank you for sharing your whimsical spring nautical wedding in Maryland with us!
The following Washington DC area wedding professionals contributed to their wedding:
We loved the rich jewel tones of Laura’s engagement shoot wardrobe against the crisp fall foliage of the countryside at Maryland wedding venue Glenview Mansion. The pair met with their photographer Lisa Boggs and were able to really utilize the magic hour of evening photography for beautiful sunset photos! A great photography tip for engagement photos is to layer in multiple looks with an accessory or jacket, like Laura did, to give a variety of photos over a one hour session. Congratulations to the couple and we wish them the best of luck at their June wedding, and thank you to Lisa Boggs Photography for sharing their fun filled engagement session with us!
Etsy Weddings is a never ending source of artisan shops that provide everything from wedding invitations to perfectly peach bridal gowns. If you are hunting for a perfectly unique item for your wedding, you will most likely find it within the talented shops on Etsy. We rounded up a few of our new favorite shops and items to share some creative wedding inspiration with our readers. In Washington, DC we are especially lucky to have so many talented shop owners, which allows us to buy locally as well. When purchasing for your wedding on Etsy, always communicate with the shop owner to verify turn around time and shipping practices, as most items are custom created upon order; you will want to ensure you will have your wedding items in hand with plenty of time before the big day. Also, always purchase through a dedicated Etsy channel such as Paypal to protect your purchases, and remember to review once you receive your item as that greatly helps small business sellers gain more business!
Looking for a special way to “pop” the question to your ladies in waiting? We adore these “Will you be my Bridesmaid” Champagne bags from LHCalligraphy’s Etsy Shop. Laura Hooper is one of our great local calligraphy vendors and she has a wide range of fabulous wedding shop items such as compass escort favors, wedding signage, and laser cut bar accessories.
Whether you’re having a modern city or garden inspired wedding, we love this mini geometric terrarium for an alternative ring carrier or as a wedding favor option for your guests. They come in four metal options including black, silver, bright copper, and rustic copper depending on your color palate for the big day. Etsy Shop Waen has several alternative sizes and shapes if you are also hunting for centerpieces, hanging vessels, or gifts for your attendants!
RoseRedRoseWhite Etsy Designer has a stunning collection of fashion forward bridal hair accessories for every type of bride. The newest trends, inspired by the boho West Coast fashion movement, are bejeweled head chains and clips. We love how dainty and feminine each accessory is, and with over 4 pages of options this designer has a look for every type of bride. Not sure if you love the idea of going without a veil on your wedding day? Try swapping into a pearl bridal head chain for the wedding reception to change up your look for less!
Local Bridal designer and Etsy shop TingBridal has a curated collection of the most stunning bridal gowns ranging from the softest Smoked Peach Lace Gown seen above, to romantic fairy tale sheaths. With an affordable price point of under $2,000 for a custom gown, we want to get married all over again just to wear one of these stunning designs. Our best tip for ordering attire online is to make sure to triple check all measurements before sending them to the designer, as well as keeping an open line of communication to ensure your one of a kind garment is sized appropriately.
Does your DC wedding venue not allow sparklers or tossing of confetti but you want to still have a cheerful send off from the wedding reception? We found these fun, printed hooray banners in a variety of styles from EryaStudios Etsy Shop. We particularly fell in love with the painted effect and cute love sayings on the above Yippee Yay Wedding Send off Flags. Each is customized with your names and wedding date and they are great for doubling as wedding favor takeaways for guests.
When we want a perfect wedding garter, we look no further than former United with Love owner Juli’s Garter Girl Etsy Shop. These one of a kind romantic masterpieces are the perfect under gown accessory; just look at the stunning cream dainty lace garter above! Juli offers a range of colors, textures, and styles within the shop and will also take custom orders if you have a special need or design.
Vintage Baby Doll’s Etsy Shop offers one of a kind laser cut wedding menus and invitations in a variety of colors and designs. Laser cut wedding day paper can become very expensive and eat through your paper budget, but their more affordable options give a great alternative to spice up otherwise boring paper collateral. We also really love their paper picado banners and laser cut luminaries for decor additions at your wedding reception.
Guest books, escort cards, and favors are just a few ways that couples can show their personalities and get creative when planning for the wedding reception. For an alternative to a simple signed guest book, we love Etsy Shop WoodTandemDecor’sguestbook puzzle tree for your guests to write notes to the newlyweds. They have a variety of sizes and puzzle counts depending on the overall guest number at your wedding.
Little Me Paper Co offers the most adorable illustrated wedding invitations and wedding day paper items. Completely custom made for the couples likeness, colors, and inspiration, we could not help but fall in love with this whimsical wedding day stationary. Watercolor and illustration designed wedding invitations are going to continue to be on trend in 2016 and we love every single piece inside their artisan shop!
Another local DC wedding calligrapher and friend to United with Love, Meant to Be Calligraphy, offers the perfect pre and post wedding necessity- return address stamps. These are not just boring plain return address options but instead are gorgeous customized scripted styles that come on a hard wood block with a durable rubber stamp! These are perfect for addressing your invitations along with post wedding thank you notes and beyond. Want to know another secret? She also offers calligraphy classes to teach how to write just as beautifully as she does! Check out her website for upcoming DC calligraphy class dates.
Trust me when I say that your wedding day will be a whirlwind – an exciting, wonderful whirlwind, but one nonetheless. There are so many moving parts and you certainly don’t want to leave anything out on the big day! That’s where the perfect wedding timeline comes in. Creating your timeline can seem like a huge chore, but with these 5 steps and our helpful tips you can breeze right through stress free planning your wedding in DC, Maryland, and Virginia!
Gather together all of the special moments that you know you want to include day of. Asking the following questions can help you begin.
What are the specific moments that you can’t live without?
Are you doing a first look?
How long will it take to get to your various venues?
How long will your ceremony last?
What time can you get into your reception space?
Do you want to attend cocktail hour or would you rather use this time for photos?
How many people will be giving toasts and how long do you want to give them to do so?
Are you doing a first dance and parent dances?
Start with the portions of the day that are already set in stone or are out of your control and use these as your jumping off point. For example, your ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, and end-of-night are probably already designated at this point, so use them to decide when to begin getting ready or when to start your first look.
Decide who will be included in which aspects of the day and use that to determine the amount of time needed. If you decided to have your bridesmaids do their own hair and makeup, you won’t need to block out as much time for your beauty specialist, but if one or two women are working on all 6 of your ladies, you may need to start a little earlier.
Consider the timelines that your vendors have chosen for themselves. If you only have your photographer for a certain number of hours, you may not want them to spend a large chunk of time taking “getting ready shots” and may opt for them to stay until the end of the reception instead. Some vendors have unlimited time built into their contracts though, so make sure to check that out!
Remember that your timeline is not the end all be all! Feel free to change items as more and more details become known to you. Even on the big day, don’t stress the little things! When dealing with large groups of people things are bound to change so just enjoy your time with your loved ones – everyone is there for you and your love!
It was love at first site for Cara and James when they toured Chesapeake Bay Beach Club, they knew it was the perfect spot to say their vows in front of their friends and family given that they had met in Annapolis 4 years prior and the bride hailed from New England. The chic waterfront Maryland venue encompassed so many nods to their history, and brought their love story full circle. In the days leading up to the wedding the weather was unseasonably cold and rainy, and the bride shared how the sun came out the moment she pulled on her dress. We are so glad she was able to have such a special moment that foreshadowed the celebration of the amazing journey they were about to begin. The ladies wore lace navy J. Crew bridesmaid dresses, and the bride punched up the nautical look with bright coral peonies, mint succulents, and cream textured bouquets which really brought together a perfect summer color story! We love that they repurposed their ceremony aisle arrangements onto the reception kings table for a budget conscious, yet impactful floral element! Thank you to Renee Michele Photography for sharing their beautiful love story with us!
From the bride: The gold bangles that I wore belonged to my Nana, including a gorgeous Irish Claddagh bangle. My family and I were very close to my Nana who passed away a few years prior to the wedding. Wearing her jewelry was such an honor, and helped me to feel her presence on our special day. My mother and mother-in-law carried personalized handkerchiefs that I gifted to them on the Mother’s Day prior to the wedding day.
My husband is a firefighter and plays the bagpipes in his company’s Emerald Society. It was really important to us to have traditional bagpipes playing at the ceremony. One of his band mates played out in front of the venue as guests were arriving to the ceremony, and then played in front of us as we walked up the aisle right after becoming husband and wife!
Advice from the couple: If you are at all anxious about wedding planning, or if decision making is not your forte, splurge on a wedding planner! It is so worth it to help make the process more enjoyable. Our planner Lee Kendall, with Elizabeth Bailey weddings did a fabulous job guiding us through the entire wedding planning process, which helped us take some of the stress out of the process to enjoy our time as an engaged couple. She also helped immensely on the day of the wedding, ensuring we were able to be present in the moment rather than worrying about logistics of the day. Also, decide prior to looking at venues and vendors what the priorities for your wedding are. It is so for priorities to become skewed during the planning process, and it is important to establish and stick with what is most important to you as a couple, after all it is your day!!
My favorite memory from my wedding day is when our photographer stole us away from our reception to snap our sunset photos. I was originally stressed about leaving the venue just as dinner was being served, and worrying about getting around to talking to each guest. Then once we were outside the setting was so beautiful and it was really the only “alone” time my husband and I had during the entire reception. There was a small boat of fisherman a bit off shore who saw us taking pictures and yelled “congratulations!” We climbed up on the rocks on the jetty and took gorgeous photos, but in that moment we were also discussing how thankful we were for each other, and how lucky we were to have such amazing family and friends!
Congratulations to Cara and James! Thank you for sharing your Summery Chesapeake Bay Beach Club Wedding with us!
The following Washington DC area wedding professionals contributed to their wedding: