Tulle, lace, and bling, oh my! On this week’s Tip Tuesday we explore how to make dress shopping a little less scary and a lot more sweet.
Happy 7 year anniversary to J + J. They had to share their wedding excitement with the royal couple that year, but they certainly made their day their own. Much happiness to you both!
Please welcome Esther Turner to the Events to a T team! You may have seen her around at some point in the last several years. She has been working with me for quite some time off and on, but now that she is here in the DMV to stay, we are so excited to have her on the team!
Esther is an exuberant lover of life, mother and kick ass event planner. Over the course of a career now spanning two decades, Esther has played pivotal roles in nearly every aspect of the marketing and event planning industry, from multi-day conferences and book lectures to private fundraising dinners and black-tie galas. She handles site visits, facility rentals, hotel contracts, catering, permits, attendee registrations and correspondence, and provides travel arrangements when needed. Certified as a Tourism Ambassador by the Tourism Ambassador Institute, Esther also holds an Event Management Certification through George Washington University, a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from Old Dominion University and a MBA in International Business from Southern New Hampshire University.
Robin and Ward love DC and their neighborhood and their community and they believe in supporting small businesses. So when they were planning their wedding they wanted to do exactly that. It was their goal to hire vendors local to their neighborhood and to support small business. It was such a lovely idea it drew me to them as people even more. And look what happens when you support small, local businesses...you get this gorgeous wedding!
We are flashing way back to 2011 on this one to one of the kindest, most lovely couples I ever had the privileged to work with (do I say that about most of my couples?). Somehow these lovely people and their wedding didn't get transfered over to our new site, so here they are today! I am so lucky! I really am lucky to get hired by wonderful people and then sometimes, get to stay in their lives in some small way (thanks social media)! When the world gets a little ugly, I remember that there are people like Lisa and Mark out there!
Suzanne & Brian's wedding forever holds a special place in my heart because they were married at the same place I got married! They had a spectacular brunch complete with those Tabard Inn donuts everyone loves. Wishing you many more years fill with many more donuts Suzanne and Ben!
Happy Anniversary to this lovely couple! I love and adore them and their sweet children. They are all anxiously awaiting the return of Sean from serving overseas for the past year! There is much to be celebrated!
I kind of have strong feelings about wedding favors! It is my opinion that nobody has ever gone to a wedding thinking "ohhhh, I can't wait to see what I get as a favor". But I will tell you what has happened a million times over...people have left favors that they didn't want to take home on their tables. I can not tell you how many favors I have packed up and sent back with couples. And then what did they do with all of those picture frames or candles or Andes Candies? I have no idea!
That is why I feel like you have a few options with favors...
1. Don't Do Them. Gasp! I know, very controversial. I realize, you must thank your guest and let them know you are grateful for them being there, many of them traveling and sharing in your important day. But there are so many ways you can do that and they don't need to involve a trinket.
2. Make it an experience. Photobooths are SO SO SO popular. Almost no events are planned these days from corporate events, to a church BBQ with out a photobooth. But that is because people love them! And they get a take away. That is a perfectly sufficient favor!
3. Make it edible. If your guests can enjoy your favorite cookie right then and there or take it home to their kids later, they like that. It is easy, it can be cute and they almost never ever get wasted!
4. Make it unusual, something people don't usually get as a favor and they will want it!
Last month District Bliss hosted the most fun Vendor Social at AR Workshop Alexandria. This was our second event at AR Workshop. We also hosted a DIY Workshop there in November. AR Workshop is a DIY boutique that provides the tools, materials and classes to help your pintrest dreams come true! At this Vendor Social not only did we get to mix and mingle with fellow creatives while noshing on sweets from My Sweet Array, we got to make wooden bobbles to decorate your tree or home. It was so fun and easy. Check out all the fun we had and hopefully join us at our next Vendor Social, which we will be announcing very soon!
Are "day after" photos still a thing? Remember trash the dress photo sessions? Some of them were kind of amazing. These session were designed for many reasons, sometimes because couples wanted photos they couldn't get on such a busy day, photos where they were more relaxed more themselves and sometimes brides just didn't know what to do with this dress and so they came up with something creative and kind of awesome. Either way, I think it is still a brilliant idea and I love looking back on this beautiful day after shoot from Studio Juno Photography.
All photos by Studio Juno Photography
We covered Shenna and Ben's Shikh and Jewish ceremony and Sixth & I Synagogue on the blog back in October and now we want to bring you their gorgeous reception at the Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC. Just like their ceremony, their reception was exceptional with outfit changes, an amazing cocktail hour and a party that was extended into the night because it was just too good to stop! This couple holds a special place in my heart as it was 6 years ago that they hired me at a meeting where I was in labor with my first child! :)
Over 200 guests gathered for Erin and Patrick’s winter-chic wedding the week before Christmas. They were married at First Presbyterian Church of Howard County and held their reception at the Sheraton Columbia Town Center. Erin, Pat and Erin’s parents were all so involved in every detail of the planning. I loved being part of the process as their family come together to plan this wonderful event – even when it was clear the boys would maybe rather be watching football at times. My favorite part of the evening was the toasts, given by the best man and maid of honor, both friends of the bride and groom since childhood. It was so touching to hear of the growth of their friendships over so many years. Best of luck and many happy years together to Erin & Patrick!
This quick DC snow got me reminiscing about Jessica and James' Philadelphia engagement session. They were married in DC in the summer, but live in Philly as does their photographers family. Hence this adorable snowy engagement session from Jenn Link Photography.
Caroline & Josh are this lovely, quiet, unassuming couple who just want to make sure that all of their guests are taken care of, that their families have a good time and that the vendors are comfortable. They cried getting married, teared up during toasts from their best friends and boy do they love their dog! We were all lucky to get to work with this wonderful couple at this absolutely beautiful venue. Congratulations Caroline & Josh.
J & J were married on a beautiful day at the end of April at the GW Mt. Vernon Campus Hand Chapel. The little hidden gem of a ceremony site set the tone for the entire wedding. The Hand Chapel, tucked away in the woods on the Mt. Vernon Campus of GW has sloping angular ceilings, pews that recess toward the upper balcony, a built in pipe organ and floor to ceiling windows that look out into the woods. The bride, bucking tradition, did not walk down the center aisle, but appeared alone outside the window, entering from the front of the Chapel.
The reception, held at the House of Sweden was set up in the basement like a night club with low lighting, black walls, cushioned ottomans set around and high top tables in front of screens rotating pictures of the bride, groom and their families. The cocktail hour was held on the roof, which boasts the best view of DC right on the Georgetown waterfront with dinner looking out over the Potomac on the first floor.
I loved the couple’s laid back spirit and willingness to do things exactly as they wanted them done, not per tradition. They made for such a fun couple to work with. Best of luck J&J!
Photography: Kate Triano
Venues: House of Sweden, GW Hand Chapel
Transportation: International Limousine Services, Linder & Associates
Band and Strings: Andy Kushner Entertainment
Videography: Blue Sky Films
Makeup Artist: Melissa Schwartz Jones
Flowers: Edge Floral Designers
I don't event know exactly how long Aimee and Jackie have been together, but I know this weeding has been a long time in the making! I know that when I met Aimee years and years ago we talked about me helping with a wedding. I know that when DC legalized gay married we again discussed how I might be able to help them get married. And I think another time in there too, before finally it was real, there was a date and a venue and and all of these amazing details that perfectly highlight these awesome women!
Never has there been a more fun, whimsical, wedding more full of love than this one right here! I was so honored to be a part of Aimee and Jackie's day. I am so happy for them and their delightful families and super fun and supportive friends! Congratulations Aimee and Jackie!
Engagement and holiday party season have arrived and we have been sharing our tried and true favorite venues around the DMV starting with the District and Maryland, now it is your turn Virginia. Next up we are going to take a look at some of the new venues that have shown up around town, there are so many cool options out there! What is your favorite?
I love this venue! It is so beautiful, it offers great wine, delicious food, you get a gorgeous view, an awesome barn. It is just a fantastic package all around. I can't wait to get to work here again!
At the time of this photo, this hotel was another hotel group, however, their amazing courtyard, pictured here has not changed terribly. You can still hold a beautiful ceremony, cocktail hour or even dinner out on this lovely brick patio.
The Tower Club
The Tower Club has gone through a recent spruce up and it is looking amazing. You cannot beat the views across Tysons from top of this elegant all members club.
Prince William Forest Park
This is truely the National Park! But you can get married here! If you are the rustic type, there is a pavilion you can make your own and make it look beautiful, there are even darling little cabins where one can get ready. You can find a pretty clearing in the woods and have a ceremony. It is actually such a fun and unique place, I love it.
Rose Hill Manor
Rose Hill Manor is a Jeffersonian manor with ballrooms, crystal chandeliers, fireplaces and french doors. This home is ideal for the couple looking for a formal and elegant venue.
Ritz Carlton Arlington
The Ritz Carlton at Pentagon City has absolutely beautiful rooms to choose from, gorgeous hallways for photos (or conveniently connected to the Mall for photos like this one), amazing service and convenient location.
WeatherLea Farm & Vineyard
WeatherLea is at the top of my favorite venues anywhere! This is a magical place! First, the owners are just awesome! Second, llamas, enough said right! But also sheep. Add to that a vineyard, a lovely barn, a little creek and an epic old truck and I'm just in love! Please someone else hire me to do another event here!
Clarendon Ballroom is a nightclub, but only on Friday nights, on Saturday, it closes for private events and when the lights are a little brighter than on Friday, you will see that it has gorgeous art deco architecture. It is a really beautiful building with a little roof deck perfect for a ceremony or cocktails and a great on site chef.
Last week I highlighted several of my old favorite DC venues. This week I am going to show you a few of my Maryland favorites. As we know, engagement season is here, holiday party season is here, these are all great locations to host an event in the DMV. Don't worry, next week I'll move on to Virginia, and eventually some of the new spaces that have shown up around town.
Newton White Mansion
This is a historic venue run by PG Parks. It has a really lovely outdoor space perfect for a ceremony and/or cocktail hour, plus a spacious glass enclosed ballroom looking out over lush forest area.
This is another historic home, this one run by the city of Rockville. You can use this beautiful mansion in so many ways, you can put a tent on the lawn, use the beautiful gardens for a ceremony or use the many rooms inside, plus enjoy their wonderful art gallery.
Chesapeake Bay Gold Resort
This is a gorgeous Eastern Shore destination resort without really having to travel far from home! It still feels as if you have gone on vacation, with views of the water, water sports and an amazing spa.
This is a hidden little gem run by PG Parks. It used to be an actually working mill and it still has all of the workings of the mill. So it is a quirky choice as you have to work around these fixtures. However, if you are willing to get creative, this place can really dress up nicely!
Another historic mansion (MD has a lot of these!) this one has formal gardens perfect for a ceremony. You tent the back area and have a beautiful view of the gardens while you enjoy the rest of your evening.
Celebrations on the Bay
This is a beautiful waterfront venue on the Chesapeake Bay. You can have your ceremony outside or inside and it is still going to be gorgeous with waterfront views no matter what. You can be in the tent or in the building and you are going to have a beautiful experience!
Another historic mansion, this is also the Audobon Naturalist Society, so it is set in a really natural, green environment. A beautiful setting for an outdoor ceremony and tented dinner or event.
Oxon Hill Manor
Also a PG Parks run venue and also a historic home, this venue has beautiful views of the Potomac and a really lovely garden that makes for awesome cocktail parties. You can tent the patio or make use of the multiple rooms inside the mansion.
This is a really different space from many of usual ones I've mentioned already. It is an art and artist space with studios. So much more modern and streamlined than the historic spaces we have seen thus far. It has floor to ceiling windows which look out over Rockville Town Center. It's a beautiful space with a more artsy modern touch.
Elk Run Vineyard & Winery
Last but not least another step away from the historic mansion, we have a Maryland Vineyard, also something different! This lovely vineyard has beautiful space for a ceremony and room to tent with views right among the vines. Plus you get to enjoy their wonderful wine!
Engagement season is here! Just like that, it is November and while there are always a few weddings here and there throughout the rest of the year, by and large, wedding season is over and it's time to start thinking about 2018 and even 2019! Are you getting married next year or hoping to get get engaged this holiday season? Over the next few weeks I plan to highlight some of my favorite classic DC, MD and VA wedding and event venues and then showcase some of the new venues that have just come onto the scene this year.
Let's start with some of my old DC favorite in no specific order:
This lovely venue is small, perfect for a small wedding, or like this couple did, a standing cocktail reception. It has an amazing portico and sits directly facing the National Mall, so you couldn't have a more DC venue.
Zaytinya is a restaurant, so hosting a wedding here does require you to do a full buy out of the restaurant. However, when you consider that everything is included, your venue, your food and all of your rentals, it is worth it! Plus it is a gorgeous venue with amazing food!
This has been one of the most popular wedding venues in town for years and years. They book up quickly and it is easy to see why. It is in a great location, it is beautiful and they are great to work with. I love this venue!
The Hay Adams has one of, if not THE best views in Washington, DC. You get a direct view of the White House and the Washington Monument from the top of the Hay. This is not your typical hotel!
Not only is this a beautiful venue, the level of service at the Four Seasons is unbeatable! I cannot say enough fantastic things about working with this gorgeous Georgetown venue.
Also known as The Women's National Democratic Club, The Whittemore House holds tons of amazing history of women in politics and is a perfect place for DC wonks to get married.
Many don't even know that you can rent the North Hall of Eastern Market, but you can! It is a perfect blank slate with which to do anything you can dream of in this beautiful historic building on Capitol Hill.
Meridian House is another one of those popular venues that books up quickly and everyone wants to use. It is a small space with a beautiful library and an even more enticing linden grove perfect for cocktails and ceremonies.
I love Kimpton Hotels because you never feel like you are in a hotel ballroom. Their hotels are quirky and special and can you say free wine hour?!
The National Press Club is a DC Instituion well known for political events, but also perfectly suited for special occasions as well. They have everything you need right on site, including exception catering.
Sara and Chris had an October 30th wedding and did not want any fall or Halloween accents, but plenty of fabulous DIY touches! From the first moment I met with them, Sara and Chris knew exactly what they wanted and had plenty of ideas, I knew immediately I was going to love working with them. They created all of the details which made their chic black and white wedding so special. From the programs, to the wands and the candy buffet, this DIY couple put so much of themselves into every aspect of their special day. And there to capture every moment was Edward Underwood and his team. I loved working with Ed and his staff. When you get to work with talented photographers who are also great to work with and fun to be around it makes the experience wonderful for everyone from the bride and groom, the guests, the venue, all of us! All kinds of joy to Sara and Chris!
Photography: Edward Underwood Photography
Ceremony venue: St. Peter’s on Capitol Hill
Reception venue: DAR
Florist: Petals Edge Floral Design
Caterers: Occasions Catering
Videography: Dolce Studio Films
Bag Piper: Norm Weaver
Wine and Spirits: Ace Beverage
DJ: Artman DJs
Transportation: K&V Limousine and Sedan Services
Valet: Unipark Valet and Parking Services