Contemporary Fun Pi Day Wedding: Erin + Jay

posted by Tabitha

Now that we are able to clean up the pieces after the election, we thought what more would our readers want to see than a bright cheery yellow wedding full of pie and a floating chuppah you wont want to miss! With a very small window to fit in a wedding, Janice of Bellwether Events worked with Erin and Jay to plan their DC wedding ceremony and reception around a spring break Med program window. That time frame fell on Pi-day, March 14th and what better way to celebrate by serving up Dangerously Delicious Pies and DC Slices pizza pies for late night snacks. Our favorite detail about this color rich affair is the floating chuppah that was suspended in the middle of the ballroom for the ceremony. Anchored by vibrant yellow orchid sprays, this ceremony was unique and really brought the tall ceilings of the venue down to create an intimate space for the couple. Congrats to the newlyweds and thank you to Kurstin Roe Photography for sharing their pi-day wedding with us today!

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Congratulations to Erin and Jay! Thank you for sharing your contemporary Hotel Monaco Pi Day wedding with us!

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

Wedding Planner: Bellwether Events
Photographer: Kurstin Roe Photography
Bridal Beauty: Alison Harper & Co
Venue: Hotel Monaco DC
Rentals: DC Rentals
Floral Designer: Petals Edge
DJ: My DeeJay
Ceremony Musicians: Rich Barry
Pies: Dangerously Delicious Pies
Food Truck: DC Slices

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.

These vendors are member of United With Love's local guide. Click here for membership info.

All About The Dress

There are so many beautiful wedding dress choices! Click here to check out the many local bridal boutiques in the Washington DC area to help you find your dream dress!

12 Unexpected Wedding Expenses You Can Plan For

posted by Alex Hamilton

Budgeting for your wedding day can be a tough challenge! Of course, we are all familiar with the big ticket items that need to be accounted for – venue, catering, dress – but what other smaller costs may seem a little hidden? Even small things tend to add up when planning a rockin’ party for 100+ of your closest friends and family members. Of course your wonderful DC area wedding vendors will help you keep your money in check, but don’t let yourself get blindsided by the following wedding expenses that you may not immediately consider!

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Rebekah J. Murray Photography via Elegant Waterfront Wedding Ceremony in St. Michael’s

Alterations – As a bridal gown stylist in a past life, I know all too well that brides often forget to factor in alteration fees when they are budgeting for their wedding dress! Although you are measured for your gown in store, often these dresses come in stock sizes and then need to be altered up or down. A completely custom gown fit to your exact measurements is not typically done in a traditional bridal salon – this service must be done by a dress maker or seamstress. If you choose to buy “the one” in a traditional salon, you will need alterations to make it fit like a glove! Trust me, there is nothing worse than an ill-fitting bridal gown so this is a necessary cost to build into your budget. Bridal gown alterations can typically range from $100 to $500+ in the DC area, depending on what you want done.

DON’T FORGET: You might need your dress steamed, day of, so build that into your getting ready plans! Bridesmaids and mothers are great assets for this small task.

Accessories/Undergarments – Another aspect of the bridal gown that brides often forget to budget for is undergarments and accessories. Your wedding dress usually won’t be shaped just like your every day clothes so you might need specific undies for the big day! If your dress is backless, you might want to consider a low line bra or a stick on bra do you don’t see anything peeking out! Opting for a strapless get up? You will definitely need a strapless bra! Try to consider these when deciding on the silhouettes you want to try on; if you can, bring these to your appointment so you get the full effect before you fall in love with a gown. Alongside undergarments can be accessories as they also enhance your overall look! Veils, jewelry, belts/sashes, shoes, bags, and special day-of perfume can get pricey, so these need to be factors in your bridal budget! If you want to purchase pieces to be your own, don’t forget to factor them in when picking your dress.

PRO TIP: Wearing an heirloom veil or jewelry from a family member can cut the cost of these and can also serve as your something borrowed!

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 Gabe Aceves via Rustic & Relaxed Charlottesville Ceremony

Postage/Shipping – Not only do you have to consider all of the postage it will take to send out the vast numbers of invitations and save the date cards to all of your fabulous guests, but you also have to think about the heft of your invite suite and all of the return postage for RSVP cards. We could not be more excited about the fun and elaborate ways that couples are sending out their invitations, but if you choose a heavy boxed suite, an interactive puzzle invite, or any other unique wedding invitation/save the date alternative, keep in mind that your postage price is sure to go up! Some different shapes even cost more than a standard letter size and if your weight is more than 1oz you will definitely be paying extra.

DON’T FORGET: You will need postage for those thank you cards as well, after all is said and done, and the fancy postage stamps sure do look pretty, but can really increase costs, too.

Marriage License – Planning a big beautiful party for your closest friends and family doesn’t necessarily make your marriage legal; you’re going to need a license for that, and they aren’t free! The pricing for a marriage license varies from state to state and could take a couple of days, so try not to procrastinate on this important to-do. In a lot of states, you may also have to pay to receive a copy after it has been filed. See below for the marriage license pricing for your DC area wedding and keep in mind there may be a processing fee on top of the below.

DC

  • Marriage License Application Fee: $35.00
  • Marriage License: $10.00
  • Copy of Marriage License Post Filing: $10.00

Virginia

  • Marriage License: $30.00
  • Copy of Marriage License Post Filing: $2.50

Maryland

  • Marriage License: $55.00
  • Copy of Marriage License: $5.50 + $2.00 Mailing Fee

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Lisa Boggs Photography

Wedding Insurance – Wedding insurance is something you can choose to protect the significant investment that you are making in your big day. We know you don’t want to think about it, but we see unexpected and even disastrous things happen throughout this process all the time. There could be a sudden vendor cancellation or no show, a damaged wedding gown or tux, a smashed cake, and so much more, not to mention that unpredictable DC area weather! We have seen a fair few weddings rescheduled because of the various snowmageddons that we have experienced. Insurance can help cover the costs that you will incur when you reschedule. Please note, wedding insurance does not cover cold feet or a change of heart.

Videography – All couples remember to budget for a photographer to capture their big day, but sometimes a videographer can be an afterthought; they definitely should not be! Here at UWL, we LOVE wedding day videos. Not only are they amazing to look back on years after the big day, but day-of everything goes by so quickly that is great to have a video to see all of the fun and details you might have missed right away! Our favorite DC area videographer Bowen Films does an amazing time capturing the magic if your big day!

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Ashley Michelle Photography via Whimsical Nautical Waterside Wedding

Day of Paper – You won’t want to blow all of your wedding paper goods money on just amazing invitations and save the dates because there are so many more paper products that your guests will see on your wedding day as well. Menus, escort cards, place settings, programs, and wedding day signs will cost money as well and will add to the design and aesthetic of your big day.

PRO TIP: Instead of individual ceremony programs or menus, you can have these items scripted on a mirror, chalkboard, or other wedding day signage by a calligrapher. If you don’t want to pay for a professional calligrapher, you can take a class or watch videos on how to DIY this!

Favors – We have to say, if your favor isn’t going to be consumable it might be a money pit. Even DIY-ing your favors can cost a lot of money and time – and how much is your time worth? From our experience, many favors that aren’t consumed are forgotten or left behind. Not only are you then losing money on these, but you are also stuck with hundreds of votive candles, mason jars, etc. Maybe opt for a candy bar where your guests can pick and choose from some of your favorite treats from Couture Cakes by Sabrina or have late night savory snacks as your “favors” instead.

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Taylor and Ben Photography via Classic Jewish Hotel Monaco Wedding

Cake Cutting and Corkage – If your food comes from the venue or you choose a preferred caterer of of their list, you may be able to avoid this additional cost, but often, if you bring in your own wine and cake, there may be a small fee for cake cutting and corkage. Be sure to check with your venue on their policies for each of these before the big day!

Tips – We know this is something you might not think of since you are spending tons of money for each specific service done on the big day and before, but this is something that is so important. We have some really amazing DC area wedding vendors that work so hard to make your wedding process smooth and seamless so it’s great to reward them for their hard work. We suggest you build in budget to give a little something to all of your main vendors. Anyone who touches a guest in any way (vendors, servers, bartenders, etc.) or makes you look your best (hair and makeup artists) should be considered when tipping.

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Eli Turner Studios via Ethereal Washington DC Wedding at the St. Regis

Vendor Meals – In the same vein as tips, your wedding planner, photographer, videographer, etc. will be spending 8+ hours working nonstop on the actual wedding day to provide you with a stress free wedding day; it’s a great idea to fuel their work with food while you and your guests sit down to your meals. This tends to be the best down time in which they won’t be putting out any fires so it’s great to offer them food at this time. Sometimes your caterer will charge less for these meals so make sure to include them.

Overtime Costs – Most of your vendor packages will have a set amount of time listed. For example, a photographer may have an unlimited day-of package, but they also might have an 8 hour limit. You can work around this limit by having them come later in your getting ready process to document only the important items, like getting on your dress, or you can have them leave early after a few good dance floor shots if you don’t plan on doing an elaborate sendoff that you need photographed. If you just can’t give up time on either end of your wedding day, you can ask about overtime costs for all of your vendors. Maybe sure you check your contract though; you might not need this at all!

DON’T FORGET: Let all of your vendors know what time they MUST leave the venue post breakdown because you could incur an overtime fee at the venue if it takes too long for your guests and vendor crews to pack up and leave.

For more planning information, check out our wedding tips & advice section and for specific budgeting tricks, we have got tons of info and advice from local wedding pros regarding your overall wedding budget!

These vendors are member of United With Love's local guide. Click here for membership info.

Say Cheese!

With many incredible wedding photographers in the DC area, click here to use United With Love’s local guide to find the right one.

All White Glam DC Museum Wedding: Brenda + Ben

posted by Tabitha

Welcome to another week of gorgeous DC wedding inspiration, kicking right off with a stunning all white glam celebration by Amanda McCabe of Engaging Affairs. Playing off of the jaw dropping setting at the Women in the Arts Museum, Brenda and Ben planned an elegant ceremony and reception that was not only personal but over the top glamorous! Often we hear that couples have difficulty finding a DC wedding officiant that they connect to personally, so we wanted to share how Brenda and Ben asked their former Law Professor to preside over their nuptials tying back to their American University Law school days!

For the reception, guests dined on cuisine with playful twists on traditional Argentinian dishes for the brides family roots, followed by a surprise Whiskey Bar for the groom as a gift from his wife. We absolutely live for the flashes of gold and mixed metals throughout the entire reception, from the unique metal tables from Edge Floral Designers to the various base plates twinkling against the candle light from DC Rentals. Thank you to Eli Turner Studios for sharing their stunning luxury wedding with us today and best wishes to the newlyweds!

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Congratulations to Brenda + Ben! Thank you for sharing your Glam all white DC museum wedding with us!

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

Wedding Planner: Amanda McCabe of Engaging Affairs
Photographer: Eli Turner Studios
Hotel Block & Suite: The Willard
Bridal Hair: Amie Decker Beauty
Venue: National Museum of Women in the Arts
Bridal Makeup: Carl Ray
Floral Designer, Rental Decor: Edge Floral Event Designers 
Videography: Bowen Films
Ceremony Musicians: String Theory
Rentals: DC Rental
Day of Paper & Calligraphy: Just Write Studios
Reception Band: NightSong Band
Invitations: Michelle’s Memos
Catering: Federal City Caterers 
Bridal Gown: Saks Jandel

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.

These vendors are member of United With Love's local guide. Click here for membership info.

Sparkle & Shine

Using United With Love’s vendor guide, click here to find the perfect wedding sparklers at the area’s jewelry shops.

Tudor Place Engagement Session: Gerald + Krishaun

posted by Tabitha

Unbeknownst to Krishawn, Gerald schemed the perfect getaway for his love on her 25th birthday to none other than the most romantic place on earth, Paris, France. He explained that after eight years together, she had remained his one true constant through all of life’s obstacles. Truly surprised by the special trip overseas, she never saw the engagement proposal coming! While visiting the Musee de Rodin in Paris, Gerald got down on one knee and in the 30 seconds it took Krishawn to find the words, he said time came to a halt. Fast forward to this past October, the couple tied the knot in front of friends and family. Thank you to Novaes Photography for sharing their romantic DC engagement session with us today. As a nod to their engagement story, the couple chose to stroll through the gardens of the historic Tudor Place in Georgetown for their engagement session. A big congrats to the newlyweds and check with us next week for another week of wedding inspiration!

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The following Washington D.C wedding vendors contributed to this beautiful event:
Photography: Novaes Photography
Planning: Clarity and Class
Hair Styling and Makeup: Elle Alise Artistry

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: Novaes Photography

Local Wedding Events

From shows to classes, click here to browse our local calendar for an upcoming event in Washington, DC, Maryland or Virginia.

The 8 Best Places to Propose in the DC Area

posted by Alex Hamilton

DC and the surrounding areas in Maryland and Virginia is a huge place, there are so many amazing spots to surprise your partner and propose marriage. Popping the question is hard enough with finding the right engagement ring or gift and keeping it all a secret, Janice of Bellwether Events is here to help you out; she came up with a list of unique proposal locations here in DC and we are obsessed with all of her ideas! Whether you are from out of town or are just needing some ideas to get the juices flowing, here are some suggested marriage proposal locations in the Washington DC area.

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Rebekah Hoyt Photography via Nationals Park Engagement Session

For the Sports Fanatics

Why not propose during a sports game here in DC? We have so many great, local teams in the DMV. If you and yours are sports fans, what about during a Nationals, Wizards, Spirit, DC United, Capitals or a Redskins game? I can see the Kiss Cam now!

Proposal Tip: If you do want it to be on the camera or post a scrolling message, many sports arenas have that option, you’ll need to call or email in advance to make the arrangements.

For the Classic DC couple

Just like the monuments, there are the DC classics, the iconic things that really make this city. There are the Cherry Blossoms around the Tidal Basin in the spring, the Georgetown campus for the many alumni still in the area, over dinner at Café Milano, or in the Panda House at the National Zoo.

Proposal Tip: Figure out a way to make these classic ideas your own! Hire a flash mob. Set up gorgeous bouquets of flowers and special décor. Hire a strolling musician. Have one of our amazing DC area wedding photographers secretly capture the moment on camera.

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Kelci Alane Photography via Lincoln Memorial Proposal

For the History Buffs

If you and yours are into history, well then you are in the right city! From monuments to parks, Washington DC is full of historical landmarks that would be ideal for a wedding proposal. Do you have a favorite monument that you both like to visit? Well, then that’s the one to propose at! In Georgetown, the C&O Canal is a gorgeous and romantic spot to go for a walk and pop the question. And, in Alexandria, Virginia you could consider Mount Vernon as a place to propose.

Proposal Tip: Many of the iconic DC spots, like the Lincoln Memorial, get really crowded, so just be prepared for that, or try going early in the morning or late at night for a surprise proposal.

For DC Foodies

For a delicious proposal, book a table for two and enjoy the tasting menu at Pineapples & Pearls, or for the big spenders, try the iconic Inn at Little Washington for a night. Do you have a favorite restaurant in the DC area that was your first date? Or where you like to go for brunch? Well, then that special restaurant between the two of you is an ideal place to propose!

Proposal Tip:  If you are going to propose over a meal, be sure to pick a place that you’ll be able to come back to over and over again on anniversaries. Restaurants are an easy, go-to spot for wedding anniversaries and date nights! If you are going to propose at a restaurant, be sure to call ahead and let them know of your plans. They might be able to hook you up and make your proposal extra sweet!

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Lissa Ryan Photography via Old Town Alexandria Engagement Session

For the Sweetie Pies

Does your soon-to-be betrothed love to bake or cook? There are lots of great new bakeries, like Buttercream Bakeshop in Shaw, and chef’s kitchens, like Union Market, in the DC area that you could work with to set up a special cooking class or cake baking workshop that ended with a proposal. Then you can go back to them for your wedding cake! An interactive date like this would certainly make your proposal extra sweet!

Proposal Tip: Before rushing to hide a ring inside a food item, you must also be prepared to clean off the ring so that your partner can put it on!

For the Wanderlusters

Are you into travel and looking for an unexpected place to in the DC area to propose? What about a location that is travel inspired like Gravelly Point? Or, does Union Station with its iconic architecture and incredible renovations have a special place in your heart to propose? Did you meet on the Metro? If so, I dare you to propose there!

Proposal Tip: Places like monuments and transportation spots in the DC area are crowded and they are also noisy with trains and airplanes zipping by, honking horns and more. If it is romance that you are after, keep the noise factor that in mind as you plan your proposal.

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Brittany Drosos Photography via Sexy Great Falls Engagement Session

For the Nature Lovers

Is nature your thing? Do you and yours love to go for hikes and get outside? Well, then consider a secluded spot at one of the many parks and hiking trails in the Washington DC area. Some ideal spots to get outside and propose are Constitutional Gardens on the National Mall, or Great Falls Park in McLean, Virginia, or Brookside Gardens in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Proposal Tip: If the spot allows, pack a picnic and plan to relax and enjoy some peace and quiet together after the proposal. No need to rush back into reality after popping the question!

For the Romantics

Ultimately, the best place to propose is the one that means the most to you. If that is your living room or while riding the bus, wherever you decide to pop the question will be special because you picked it to propose marriage! Even though I provided a great list of places to propose here in the DC area that would be ideal for people needing to brainstorm proposal ideas or those from out of DC, I strongly encourage you to pick a proposal spot that has meaning to you and your relationship – that will be the most romantic choice and have a lasting memory for you and yours! And bonus points for a spot you can return to time and again in the future!

 

What is your favorite marriage proposal spot in DC?  Where will you propose in the Washington DC area? What did we leave off of this list? Leave a comment and let us know!

These vendors are member of United With Love's local guide. Click here for membership info.

Sparkle & Shine

Using United With Love’s vendor guide, click here to find the perfect wedding sparklers at the area’s jewelry shops.

DC Ritz Carlton Brunch Wedding: Rick + John

posted by Tabitha

Oh how we love brunch, and to see it used as a staple in a loving DC wedding reception just makes my heart happy for the guests who were able to be a part of John and Rick’s wedding day. Nothing says love to me more than brunch treats, mimosas, and personal vows in front of close friends and family! After a chance meeting at a favorite neighborhood watering hole in Austin Texas, the couple hit it off and decided to have a real first date later that week. Fast forward to four cities and two dogs later, the couple tied the knot at DC’s iconic Ritz Carlton Georgetown surrounded by their loved ones. We adore the personal wine box and love letter ceremony the couple performed during the wedding to reopen years into their marriage! Such a fun and personal moment to reflect upon their wedding day with later! Thank you to Chris Ferenzi Photography for sharing their love story with us today!

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Congratulations to Rick and John!  Thank you for sharing your rich jewel toned country DC wedding with us!

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

Photography: Chris Ferenzi Photography
Officiant: Joyce Hilbery
Venue: Ritz Carlton Georgetown
Floral Designer: Shelley Micali
Entertainment: Rick Whitehead
Cake: Ritz Carlton Georgetown
Rehearsal Dinner: Big Bear Cafe
Photobooth: OM Digital

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: Chris Ferenzi Photography

Details, Details!

From forks to chairs, click here to use United With Love’s local guide to find a rental company to complete your wedding day.

Wintery Stevenson Ridge Wedding: Kristin + Sam

posted by Tabitha

Winter is just around the corner and we can embrace the idea of frosty temps and a little snow when it looks like today’s gorgeous winter Virginia wedding by Stephanie Messick Photography. The color palette from today’s wedding really has us loving the deep tones and textures that make winter weddings so romantic. From the rich red and berry florals against the pastel softness of the bridesmaid dresses to the velvety vintage lounge sets from Vintage Affairs we love everything about their décor!

After getting engaged on a surprise Smoky Mountain trip, the couple wanted to plan a Virginia countryside wedding that would share the beauty of our area with their New England family and friends. They knew that sharing the food, wine, and ambiance of Virginia was key in finding the perfect venue and when they found Stevenson Ridge, they knew it was where they had to host the wedding. The exposed beams, wrought iron chandeliers, two working fireplaces, and cathedral ceilings all lent to creating a homey warm atmosphere perfect for a winter wedding.

One design element we love is the hand written thank you notes attached to hemstitch napkins with velvet ribbons for each guest. Personal touches, including escort cards on corks collected from their favorite wineries, made for little elements that meant a more authentic and special wedding. A huge thank you to Kristin, who is now a member of the Kelley Cannon Events team, and Sam for sharing their warm intimate wedding with us today!

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Congratulations to Kristin + Sam! Thank you for sharing your romantic velvety Virginia wedding with us! The following Washington D.C wedding vendors contributed to this beautiful event:

Coordination: Alexandra Ong – friend of the bride
Photography: Stephanie Messick Photography
Venue & Catering: Stevenson Ridge
Floral Design: Petals Edge
Beauty Team: GoGo Gorgeous
Rentals: Lace Rentals Something Vintage Rentals / Furniture Vintage Affairs
Bridal Salon: Lovely Bride DC / Sash Etsy
Cake: Colonial Cupcakes
Linen Rentals: Select Event Group
Bridesmaid Dresses: Weddington Way
Invitations: Paper Source
DJ: Bialeks Music

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: Joe Foley Photography

These vendors are member of United With Love's local guide. Click here for membership info.

DMV’s Best Wedding Pros

Click here to let’s the best wedding professionals in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia help to plan your wedding!

Fun Halloween Inspired Cocktails

posted by Tabitha

Whether you’re hosting a Halloween wedding or party or just want to pay tribute to the season, we have a round up of decadent, spooky, and Halloween inspired signature cocktails from around the web! We love all things Halloween and love finding any way to bring it into an October party! Have a wonderful night celebrating and be safe out there!

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Caramel Apple Cocktails

2 ounces Apple Juice

2 ounces Caramel Vodka

1 ounce Butterscotch Liqueur

Caramel Sauce

Turbinado Sugar

Apple Slice for Garnish

  1. Place caramel in flat bottom plate, dipping glass in the caramel and top with turbinado sugar. Set aside.
  2. Place apple juice, caramel vodka, and butterscotch liqueur in a cocktail shaker filled 2/3 with ice. Shake until jet cold and strain into rimmed cocktail glass . Garnish with apple slice
  3. Cocktail can be served warm by warming apple juice, and adding to liqueurs already placed in glass.

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The Liquefied Ghost

2 ounces Vodka

1 ounce vanilla simple syrup

1 ounce cream

2 ounces soda water

  1. Mix all ingredients together into cocktail shaker filled 2/3 with ice
  2. Strain shaker into chilled martini glass
  3. Enjoy Immensely

 

Jack-O-Lantern Cocktails

1 ounce Cognac

1/2 ounce Grand Marnier

1.5 ounces Orange Juice

1/2 ounce Ginger Ale

Orange Wheel for Garnish

Lime Twist for Garnish

  1. Combine all ingredients into cocktail shaker
  2. Shake well an strain into ice filled rocks glass
  3. Garnish with orange and lime “pumpkin top”

 

Don’t miss out on more DC Halloween wedding inspiration and real weddings! Check back this week as we share a wedding from DC wedding planner Kelley Cannon Events!

 

Mmmmmm!

Give your guests a meal they won’t forget! Click here to find the best wedding caterers in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia.

DIY Grafitti Inspired Wedding Backdrop

posted by Tabitha

We loved the edgy rocker meets glam wedding inspiration session earlier this week by Brooke Michelle Photography, and cant wait to share this fun DIY graffiti backdrop tutorial. One reason we love this DIY wedding project inspiration so much is that it actual does double duty! The backdrop door for the ceremony can also double as a reception table top for a unique alternative!  Ill let Aimee of A. Griffin Events share how to recreate your own version below!

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DIY Graffiti-Inspired Wedding Ceremony Backdrop

Cost: $50 or less depending on door

Time: 2 hours, including paint drying time

Materials:

Slab Door (like this one from Home Depot)

One can of white primer spray paint (plus roller or brush)

Two cans of spray paint in desired color (I used flat black Rustoleum)

A quote or lyrics that are meaningful to you and your fiance

Pencil

Tape measure

Cardboard or newspaper for practicing

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GETTING STARTED

The idea behind this wedding ceremony backdrop is to upcycle raw materials and make it personal and unique to your wedding. It is also a way to have decor elements do double duty and serve more than one function throughout the wedding. We recently replaced all of the interior doors in my home, so I had several unused white doors. A piece of very thick canvas or even a sheet of plywood will also work. I opted for matte paint, so the shine wouldn’t catch the light in pictures.

The other important element is it should be your writing. It’s not meant to be fancy calligraphy or to be too perfect. (A graffiti artist for something like this can cost up to $100 per hour!) Weddings are an intimate, personal affair, making this DIY backdrop even more special. In this age of digital signatures, your individual “font” carries so much meaning. Your grandma will recognize it from the thank you notes you’ve sent her, and your fiance will recognize it from the love notes you’ve left him or her.

PAINT IT

If you like the color of the door, leave it. If you need to paint it, now is the time. I gave mine a quick roll with my favorite (and on hand) Benjamin Moore “White Dove.” Let it dry completely before spray painting words.

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SET IT UP

Either on the computer or on a piece of paper, figure out how you want the quote to look. I knew I wanted to separate the Led Zeppelin quote into two word fragments that gave the sense of a couple in love. For example, “we walk,” “your hand,” “only one.”

You’ll also want to consider the shape the words make. Draw a line tracing both edges of the words in each column. In my second column, the words swell out at “Thanks to you it will be done” which I liked best. In the first column, the swell came at  “Your hand in mine, we walk.” But these words are towards the top of the door and more easily read, so I opted for the second column. I love the sense of gratitude and faith conveyed in seven words.

MEASURE

Next, measure your door. Mine was 28 inches wide and 80 inches tall. Make a few calculations to determine the height of the lines. I wanted an inch between each line to space it out. I also decided that “Only one” should have marginally more space than the rest of the words. I put half of an inch at the top of the door and 1.5 inches at the bottom of the door.

Here are my calculations:

  • 12 lines at 6.5 inches (with two extra inches- one at the top and one at the bottom)
  • 12 lines at 5.5 inches with one inch in between each line (with two extra inches- one at the top and one at the bottom)
  • 12 lines at 5.5 inches, one inch between each line, and half an inch border at the top and 1.5 inch border at the bottom.

With a tape measure, mark out the spacing on either edge of door. For me, this meant a mark at 0.5 inch from the the top, 6 inches, 7 inches, then 12.5 inches to create the top two lines. Take a straight edge and make straight lines.

On piece of scrap paper, practice writing the words in the appropriate height – six, seven, or eight inches. See how it looks from various distances. If this is going to be at the front of your ceremony area, tape the paper to a wall and stand as far away as possible to get a sense of what is readable.  You get two tries at this to make it right (each side of the door), then you have to buy a new door or paint over your mistakes several times to erase them.

PENCIL IT IN

In pencil, scrawl out your quote on the painted door. It’s going to look fabulous in pencil. Adjust the size of any letters you don’t like. Adjust the spacing. Erase extra lines if you wish and remember that the spray paint line will be a lot thicker than the pencil line.

SPRAY IT ON

I researched and purchased the specialized graffiti paint and nozzles, but those didn’t work for me. I ended up with the standard, basic Rustoleum spray paint from Home Depot in flat black. I tested the distance I needed to hold the can to get the line thickness I wanted. (The closer you go, the thicker the lines.) It ended up being 8-10 inches away from the door. I used one can of spray paint.

Practice spraying your words on newspaper or cardboard. Get a sense of the flow and how to hold the can. My most comfortable position where I had the most control was keeping the can parallel to the surface.

When you feel confident with the can, start your spray writing at the top. Lay the door down on a flat surface because the paint will run if it is upright or leaning. I needed to kneel and lean on the door to be able to reach all the way across, so starting at the bottom wouldn’t work well. Don’t try to cross your t’s and dot your i’s at this point. Do it at the end. Work line by line, adjusting letters as you go.

If you really mess up (as in misspelled word), stop and let it dry. Paint over the mistake with white paint and once it is dry, try again.

When you’ve finished, let it dry completely. You can spray a coat of topcoat over it, if you want. However, it is difficult to get an even top coat and a glossy finish creates shine in photographs.

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All Photos credit: Brooke Michelle Photography

INSTALLATION

I simply leaned mine door against the wall and decorated it with an Italian ruscus garland. If you have a different surface, you might need to look into base supports or wall mounts. For the reception table, I turned the table flat so that the words were facing upwards and put saw horses underneath to serve at the table legs.

To see more DIY wedding projects check out our inspiration galleries and tutorials! We love The Loft at 600F and to see more unique wedding locations check out our DC Wedding Venue Guide!

These vendors are member of United With Love's local guide. Click here for membership info.

Paper Goodies

Click here to find a local stationer to design all of your wedding day paper details – from invitations to escort cards.