Win a Free Wedding in Washington DC

posted by julianne

Imagine having the chance to leave the madness of wedding planning behind you and instead, win a free wedding in Washington DC (valued at over $80,000!)  for 175 of your closest family and friends. Well, that chance has arrived, my friends! Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater has teamed up with some of the best wedding pros in the DC area to offer one lucky couple a chance to have one incredible wedding celebration…all for free!


Photo Courtesy of Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater

This free wedding in DC is going to be amazing! I’m talking about a wedding ceremony, cocktail hour and reception, plus all the memorable details like an engagement session, cake, videography, bridal suite and valet parking for your guests – just about everything you’ll need to say “I do”! (They won’t help you get through your vows though – you’ll have to do that on your own!) Also, did I mention that your wedding will be planned, executed and designed at one of the coolest wedding venues in the nation’s capital? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, I assure you it is all true!

Ok, so now that I’ve made you excited, here are the details:

You and yours can avoid all of the wedding planning drama and the hefty price tag of a wedding in Washington, DC right here by entering to win a free wedding celebration at The Mead Center for American Theater. Home to Arena Stage, this wedding venue set on DC’s waterfront is modern, stunning and dramatic. (We love this unique DC wedding venue so much too; you can see these other real DC weddings at Arena Stage!)

To celebrate their upcoming production of Fiddler on the Roof Arena Stage gathered quite a few of the top wedding vendors in the DC area to offer a free wedding to one couple. To enter, you’ll need to get your creative juices flowing by submitting an essay or video by August 31st. Make sure to read up on all of the rules of this contest too.

What are you waiting for? Go and get you and yours a free wedding in DC!


This post was sponsored by Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater.

Washington DC Engagement Proposal Video: Darek + Daniel

posted by Ally Lopez

Today’s wedding video is a “must see”! But, fair warning, you may need to have a box of tissues handy because this wedding proposal in the DC area is so stinkin’ cute, I promise you’ll get goose bumps! Daniel planned to propose to Darek with the help of their nearest and dearest… and a camera! So, to celebrate their second anniversary, Daniel surprised Derek with a trip to New York City that lead up to one of the sweetest proposal videos I have seen! This cute couple lives in DC, and they currently planning their wedding here in DC. (Spoiler alert: he said “yes’!!) If you’re planning a marriage proposal, take some serious notes! First, we’ll start with Daniel backstory….

From Daniel: Because our family and friends are such a huge part of our lives, I really wanted them to be part of my proposal to Darek. After some great advice from Darek’s brother, I decided not to propose in public, with them all present. I wanted to do something in a more intimate setting for just the two of us, but still include them in some way… so I decided a video of them was the way to go, chock full of messages from them letting Darek know how much they support and love us.

More from Daniel:  I spent several months conceptualizing the video in my head, and in February reached out to a videographer friend, Allison Korotkin, to see if what I envisioned was do-able. She was excited to help and gave me some pointers on how to get good quality images from everyone.

I spent about a month reaching out to all our friends and family individually to share with them my news and request. I asked each person to provide video footage per some very rough guidelines. I purposefully left it a bit vague so everyone’s personality and creativity could come through. I was not disappointed! Within just a few weeks I’d received hours of footage, which Allison and I had to work to cut down to less than eight minutes. The initial part she filmed of me was much longer, but in the end I decided I wanted my piece to be shorter. I, after all, was going to get as long as I wanted after the video was over, in person, to tell Darek all of the many detailed reasons I wanted to spend my life with him; the others would not. So, I put the focus on them to help me craft the perfect story to share with Darek.


Congratulations Darek and Daniel! We are so honored to share your proposal video!

Want to see more proposals? Check our other Washington DC area wedding proposals or advice on how to propose.

If you are planning a wedding in the DC area, we’ve got it all covered! From tips and advice form DC area wedding pros, a real wedding gallery for beautiful Washington, DC area weddings and loads of inspiration in our DC area wedding idea galleries.

10 Places to Get Married in Southern Maryland

posted by Kate Oczypok

Are you thinking about a destination wedding be aren’t sure if you want to get on a plane or plan from that far away? When it comes to local Washington DC area wedding locations, southern Maryland is home to some of the best venues in the region! From sandy beaches to historic locations and, of course, the Chesapeake Bay, Southern Maryland is a hidden gem in the metro DC area because it gives your wedding that destination feel, but you don’t need your passport to get there! If you are on the hunt for a wedding venue that is out of the city, but still within driving distance, they you are in luck today because Shawn at Tre Bella Events has done much of the venue search work for you! She is giving us a breakdown of 10 go-to spots to get married in Southern Maryland. And, trust me when you read this, there is a wedding location here for every couple out there! Take it away, Shawn….


Photo Credit: Hannah Colclazier Photography from Ashley + Scott’s wedding in Southern Maryland

Why not plan your wedding in a location that has the benefit of the water and vacation feel, yet is still close enough for friends and family to travel? Southern Maryland is your answer. This hidden gem is just a few hours south of Washington DC. It hosts historical, charming venues with spectacular views of the water.

1:  Once a part of Lord Calvert’s Retreats in Southern Maryland, the 200 year old restored Woodlawn Farm boasts panoramic views of the Potomac River. The property also operates as a bed and breakfast with five mini cottages available for a weekend stay. A charming wine cottage used for wine tastings and beautiful gardens all add to the allure of this amazing venue.

2:  Located on what was once known as Society Hill, Olde Breton Inn sits in all of its splendor. Views of Breton Bay, St. Clements Bay, and the Potomac River, serve as a breathtaking backdrop for wedding ceremonies. The Inn seats up to 170 guests and tents are available for rent, if larger space is needed.

3:  A National Historic Landmark, Sotterley Plantation is one of the oldest museums in the United States. As it stands on the banks of the Patuxent River, this tidewater plantation offers an array of amenities, including spectacular Colonial Revival Gardens, a restored 20th century barn, a charming two room spinning cottage, to name a few. This venue has the charm to create a truly magical wedding.

4:  Head on over to Solomon’s Island and enjoy Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center. Nature and art create a beautiful harmony at this unique venue. Your guests will enjoy sculptured artwork as they scroll through the shaded path to cocktail hour and then onto the museum full of artwork for the dinner and dancing. Less than a mile away is Solomon’s Island where you will find some of the best seafood in Southern Maryland.

5:  Have you dreamed of professing your love under a pergola perched on a hilltop overlooking rolling vineyards then on to a night of dancing in a Tuscan-style villa? One might ask,”All of this in Southern Maryland?” Yes, Running Hare Vineyard, located in the heart of Calvert County, is a magnificent wedding venue that offers the feel of Napa Valley with a Tuscan twist. The vineyard’s over 200 acres of sweeping grapevines await your dream wedding!

6:  Herrington on the Bay is a premiere waterfront wedding venue that has the most amazing view of the Chesapeake Bay. As a full service catering company, this wedding venue prides itself in offering guests an eco-lifestyle and gourmet cuisine. Nestled in a secluded part of Southern Maryland, this private resort has a feel of a small island with lush exotic landscaping and cascading waterfalls.

7:  Are you a history guru? Why not tie the knot at Maryland’s first capital, Historic St. Mary’s City. The reconstructed 1676 State House, Margaret Brent Gardens and Gazebo, and the pier, which docks the historic Maryland Dove, create a walk down history’s lane. This combination of beautifully reconstructed buildings, lush lawn, and views of the St. Mary’s River make for an unforgettable and romantic celebration.

8:  Mary’s Hope on Church Cove, a Victorian farmhouse, is nestled on Church Cove, a tributary of St. Mary’s River and St. Indigoes’ Creek. This 250 acre property offers several locations to host your wedding. Your guests will enjoy unique elements such as the large swing on the front lawn, the charming front porch, and the gazebo that sits on the water’s edge.

9: Chesapeake Beach Resort and Spa is a luxurious resort perfect for a weekend wedding. This 72 room hotel offers a full service salon and spa, outdoor activities such as fishing and canoeing, and gaming. The picturesque view of the Chesapeake Bay, along with a charming dockside, is the perfect location for an outside wedding ceremony.

10:  Swan Point Yacht and Country Club is a true gem. This beautiful clubhouse offers Southern Maryland charm with a well manicured golf course, views of Cuckold Creek, and a delightful clubhouse. The grand ballroom can accommodate up to 200 guests, who can enjoy the beauty of this property under the cozy veranda or on the lush lawn.


How’s that for a diverse list of places to get married in Southern Maryland!? We have so many amazing wedding location options right in our backyard in Southern Maryland. Thank you so much, Shawn! Be sure to check her out at Tre Bella Events and definitely give her a call if you are thinking about a wedding in Southern Maryland – she is “in the know”!

Just in case that wasn’t enough, check out our list of 10 more reasons to get married in Maryland. And, you can always look through our list of the best wedding venues in the Washington DC area here in our vendor guide.

Classic and Traditional Wedding Reception in Washington DC: Laura + Patrick

posted by Ally Lopez

There is beauty in classic affairs, and Laura and Patrick’s relaxed and meaningful wedding in Washington DC is absolutely brimming with it. We are back with part two featuring their wedding reception, but before you go on, make sure you check out their outdoor wedding ceremony first. Sprinkled with navy and pink décor, candy galore, and Washington DC-inspired table names, it all comes to life with the imagery from Once Like a Spark and planning by Bellwether Events. I’m especially loving all the chalkboard signage made by the bride’s friend – DIY perfection!

Washington DC Wedding Escort Card

From Laura: The location was perfect! It’s just down the street from our nation’s capitol building, which is where Pat and I met interning and where he finally proposed to me six years later. Our wedding theme reflected our love of DC.

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One of my best friends created the chalkboard drawings herself, and I made our guestbook. It was actually a calendar that included pictures from various points in Pat’s and my relationship and guests were told to sign their name on their birth date!

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Washington DC Wedding Reception Marine Barracks (1)

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Washington DC Wedding Kids Table

Pat and I are huge foodies! We spent a good amount of time searching for (and tasting!) different DC area caterers. I got so many compliments about how delicious the food was. We even had a midnight snack of warm chocolate chip cookies and milk shooters.

Washington DC Wedding Reception Marine Barracks (2) Washington DC Wedding Menu

Washington DC Wedding First Dance

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Washington DC Wedding Candy Buffet

Washington DC Wedding Custom Candy Bar

Washington DC Wedding Sweetheart Table Chair Signs

Washington DC Wedding Modern Cake

View More:

Thank you so much Laura and Patrick for sharing your wedding ceremony with us! The following Washington DC area wedding professionals contributed to their wedding:

Venue: The Home of the Commandants (Marine Barracks)
Photography: Once Like a Spark
Videography: George Street Photo & Video
Wedding Planner: Bellwether Events
Floral Design: B Floral Event and Design
Stationery: Gram Paper + Design
Calligraphy: Lori Raines Calligraphy Studio
DJ: JG Entertainment
Bridal Attire: Demetrios Bridal
Shoes: Steve Madden
Hair: The Elegant Artisan
Make Up: Le Mariee
Catering: Ken’s Creative Kitchen
Rentals: DC Rental
Cake: Alexandria Pastry Shop

Photo Credit: Once Like a Spark

Classic and Traditional Wedding Ceremony in Washington DC: Laura + Patrick

posted by Ally Lopez

Happy Monday, darlings! Let’s kick off this week of wedding inspiration with a colorful burst of pretty, shall we? Classic meets laid-back elegance at Laura and Patrick’s gorgeous wedding in Washington DC, and, let me tell you, it is awesome. Think a pop of pink, romantic skies and a dreamy outdoor wedding ceremony all perfectly executed by Bellwether Events. Oh, and those flower girls?  Totally adorable. See every beautiful moment captured by Once Like a Spark and come back later today to see their reception with DIY details!

Washington DC Wedding Bridal Gown Washington DC Wedding Custom Bridal Robe

From Laura: The first word that pops to mind when I think about my wedding is “meaningful.” The location itself was unique and holds a very special meaning for Pat and me. My grandfather, whom I was very close to, was the former Commandant of the Marine Corps. He lived at the Home of Commandants while I was growing up and I have many fond memories of running around the field and garden with my cousins, playing dress-up in the very room where I got put on my wedding dress, and spending many Christmases there with my family.

Washington DC Wedding (2)

Washington DC Wedding Pink Bridesmaids Robes

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Washington DC Wedding Portrait (1)

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My favorite memory is of our first look. We were hesitant about seeing each other before the ceremony, but I’m so glad we did! It calmed our nerves and made for a special moment between each other. Pat might have even teared up quite a bit (shh!).

Washington DC Wedding Portrait (2)

Washington DC Wedding Pink Bridal Party

Washington DC Wedding All White Bridal Bouquet Washington DC Wedding Pink Bridesmaid Bouquet

Washington DC Wedding Preppy Groomsmen

Washington DC Wedding Marine Barracks (2)

Washington DC Wedding Pink Bow Flower Girls

Washington DC Wedding Outdoor Ceremony

Washington DC Wedding Ceremony Marine Barracks

Washington DC Wedding Marine Barracks (1)

Thank you so much Laura and Patrick for sharing your wedding ceremony with us! Come back later this morning to see their reception. The following Washington DC area wedding professionals contributed to their wedding:

Venue: The Home of the Commandants (Marine Barracks)
Photography: Once Like a Spark
Videography: George Street Photo & Video
Wedding Planner: Bellwether Events
Floral Design: B Floral Event and Design
Stationery: Gram Paper + Design
Calligraphy: Lori Raines Calligraphy Studio
DJ: JG Entertainment
Bridal Attire: Demetrios Bridal
Shoes: Steve Madden
Hair: The Elegant Artisan
Make Up: Le Mariee
Catering: Ken’s Creative Kitchen
Rentals: DC Rental
Cake: Alexandria Pastry Shop

Photo Credit: Once Like a Spark

Sunday Brunch: Kalorama Cookie Company

posted by Kate Oczypok

Good morning to you all, DC area wedding lovers! I hope you are enjoying your weekend! For now, sit back, relax and get ready to read about our latest Sunday Brunch feature on the Kalorama Cookie Company. Located in Washington, DC, the company offers hand-decorated, customized sugar cookie treats that look almost too cute to eat (almost!)! Perfect for favors at your wedding, or perhaps as an alternative to wedding cake, they create unique cookie shapes for your DC area event, even local inspirations such as cherry blossoms and the Jefferson Memorial. If you decide to go the cookies-as-favors route,they package each cookie individually in a cellophane bag tied with a coordinating bow. This part of the process, much like the cookie itself, can always be customized to meet your specific needs! For more from Kalorama Cookie Company, be sure to check out their website and see some of their unique and customizable cookie designs.


We hope that you’ll check out Kalorama Cookie Company for your wedding dessert and favor needs in the Washington DC area. Join us again next weekend for Sunday brunch with another fantastic supporter of United With Love! We’ll see you back here bright and early Monday morning! If you are interested in joining us for brunch on United With Love, please send us an email.

Happy Friday!

posted by Ally Lopez

Happy Friday, darlings! Are you having an amazing summer thus far? It’s Baltimore Restaurant Week so I’ll be eating my way around the city and I can’t wait! Whatever you are doing this weekend, I hope that it is awesome! And, don’t forget to come back this weekend for some fun stuff on the blog. We have so many great things planned, stay tuned!

Virginia Wedding Ceremony Badgley Mischka Shoes

Some links for your weekend…

…and what you missed right here!

Photo Credit: Emily Chastain Photography

Washington DC Engagement Session: Brittany + Zach

posted by Kate Oczypok

We’re sending you off into the weekend with a confetti-inspired DC wedding engagement session! The folks over at Bridal Bellhop teamed up with Voila Event Studios and Victoria Ruan Photography to offer one lucky couple a styled engagement session, and Brittany and Zach were the winners! Their shoot was inspired by Zach’s proposal to Brittany (on the Georgetown waterfront!) and included the four C’s of a perfect proposal: confetti, cupcakes, champagne and cheers.


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Congratulations Brittany and Zach!

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

Venue: Ninnella
Photography: Victoria Ruan Photography
Floral Design: EightTreeStreet
Planning: Voila Event Studios
Signs: Cozy Cashmere Design Studio
Cake: Fresh Bakes
Makeup: Blush Makeup Artistry
Vendor Matching: Bridal Bellhop

Looking for more on engagements? Check out other local DC-area engagement photography sessions, or find out what to wear for your engagement and how to do your make-up for your engagement session!

Photo Credits: Victoria Ruan Photography

Inspiration and Ideas: Welcome Bags

posted by Ally Lopez

We are back with even more out-of-town bag inspiration for you! If you’ve seen our past features on locally-inspired goodies for Washington DC area weddings, then you know we’ve covered all the basics of what goes into the bag, but what about the bags themselves? (But first, be sure to check our our ideas for a DC wedding welcome bagMaryland wedding welcome bag, and Virginia wedding welcome bag right here!) We’ve gathered some of our favorite ideas for bags to guests to tote around with their local and handpicked goodies!

Maryland Wedding Welcome Bag

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  • We love MapTote for local weddings! Their canvas grocery tote city designs include Washington DC, Baltimore and Charlottesville. Photo Credit: Abby Jiu Photography

    via Style Me Pretty

  • The brides from this destination Washington DC wedding hand painted monuments and their monogram and dressed up a simple kraft bag!

    via Destination Washington DC Wedding

  • No one said you need to welcome and wow guests with a bag only! This kraft gable box is a super cute way to store your goodies and itinerary!

    via Design Corral

  • Share a little history with your guests with a gift bag depicting historic landmarks in the White House neighborhood!

    via The White House Historical Association

  • Fill these modern (and reusable!) black and white out-of-town bags with your favorite treats!

    via Mod Party

  • This screen printed canvas tote would be perfect for a nautical or summertime wedding!

    via Laura Hooper Calligraphy

Are you looking for more local wedding ideas? Be sure to look through our DC area wedding idea galleries and find wedding advice from local DC area pros. If that isn’t enough, check out our collection of local DMV weddings from the real world and the best DC area wedding vendors who make it all happen.