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Real Weddings

A Very Washington Red, White & Blue Wedding at The Hay-Adams

From the Nationals to political parties, Lindsay Rhodes and Sean Garcia incorporated many aspects of DC into their day.

By Caroline Cunningham

We love seeing how couples incorporate all that Washington has to offer into their wedding, but Lindsay Rhodes and Sean Garcia may just take the cake for “the most Washington wedding.” With invitations that mimicked voting ballots; a patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme; a rehearsal dinner that took place at the Nationals’ Silver Slugger Suite; and a reception overlooking the monuments from The Hay-Adams’ balcony, Lindsay and Sean gave all their guests an event to remember. See how they incorporated their theme in these stunning photos by Eli Turner.

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Shows & Events

Good Deed of the Month: Donate Your Wedding Dress to a Military Bride in Need

Operation Wedding Dress happens July 11 at Rockville’s Fairytale Brides on a Shoestring boutique.

By Sarah Zlotnick Photo by Jan Michele Photography

You’ve said your vows, danced your heart out at the reception, and already returned from the honeymoon. Now your wedding dress is taking up valuable space in your closet, and you’re not quite sure if you’re sentimental enough to hold on to it forever. Here’s an idea: why not share it with a deserving bride-to-be?

In partnership with Brides Across America, Rockville’s Fairytale Brides on a Shoestring bridal boutique is participating in Operation Wedding Gown on July 11. On that day, Fairytale Brides is committed to outfitting 30 military brides with wedding dresses and accessories free of charge, and they need your help to make it happen. The boutique is currently accepting pressed and cleaned dresses from the last five years for the event, as well as accessories such as veils and sashes. Fairytale Brides on a Shoestring is a nonprofit wedding boutique, so donations do qualify for a tax deduction. Also cool: The boutique is run entirely by volunteers, and when dresses aren’t given directly to brides, net proceeds from sales go to organizations that empower women.

Donations can be mailed to the boutique or dropped off directly. For more information on how to donate, head here. Military brides interested in receiving a dress during Operation Wedding Gown can call the shop directly or pre-register here to be added to the list, which is being filled on a first-come, first-served basis. When we spoke to Fairytale Brides founder Donna Vaccarezza Tuesday afternoon, 19 slots were still available. This is Fairytale Bride’s second year in business, but first participating in Operation Wedding Gown, and longtime Maryland resident Vaccarezza is very excited about making sure all 30 get filled.

Fairytale Brides on a Shoestring. 154 Congressional Lane (lower level of Congressional Plaza); Rockville, MD; 301-468-2000.

Shows & Events

July Trunk Shows and Sample Sales in Washington

Visit these local salons this month to find deals on the dress of your dreams.

By Caroline Cunningham Image courtesy Watters.

Stock Blowout Sale

Potomac Bridals stocks Allure Bridals, Casablanca Bridal, and David Tutera for Mon Cheri, and throughout the entire month of July, the salon with have gowns from these lines up to 50 percent off, with bridal gowns as low as $99. The store’s collections of special occasion, mother of the bride, and prom dresses will also be on sale. Potomac Bridals. 710 Dual Highway, Hagerstown; 301-665-1070. July 1 through 31.

Sample Dress Sale

Take the liberty to buy a discounted dress at Love Couture Bridal’s Sample Dress Sale during the Independence Day weekend, when 20 to 70 percent off will applied to certain samples from designers such as Lazaro, Matthew Christopher, Watters, Wtoo, and Jim Hjelm. Love Couture Bridal. 12500-B Park Potomac Ave., Potomac; 301-610-5683. July 3 through 5.


Stop by the TLC-famous Maryland store for plus-sized selections from Pronovias’s lacy and sometimes preppy collection of gowns. Curvaceous Couture. 9130 Red Branch Rd., Suite T, Columbia; 410-740-7052. July 9 through 11.

Accessories Trunk Show

Head to the Georgetown salon for accessories to match your gown from designers such as Peter Langner, Liancarlo, and Cheryl King, and receive up to 15 percent off your purchase of jewelry, belts, veils, and bridal clutches. Carine’s Bridal Atelier. 1726 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-965-4696. July 6 through 10.


With lots of lace bodices and a bit of blush among all the ivory, there’s plenty of slim, fit-and-flare dresses for the modern bride. Shop the trunk show and receive ten percent off your purchase. Love Couture Bridal. 12500-B Park Potomac Ave., Potomac; 301-610-5683. July 10 through 12.

Karen Willis Holmes Pop Up

The Australian designer’s collection of modern and fashion-forward wedding gowns will have an extended stay at Hitched, giving brides a chance to try her crop tops on for size. Hitched. 1523 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-6162. July 10 through 18.

Christos Pop Up

Check out the visiting collection for delicate spaghetti straps and illusion necklines, and a splash of champagne for the non-traditional bride. Hitched. 1523 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-6162. July 10 through 22.


The romantic, dramatic collection features everything from a feather hem to bold 3-D floral applique, so brides looking to make a statement will love these dreamy dresses. Carine’s Bridal Atelier. 1726 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-965-4696. July 16 through 18.

Designer Bridal Sample Sale

Over 60 designer gowns will be up for grabs, with prices as low as $850. While trying on dresses, check out the discounted veils, shoes, and jewelry as well. The Bridal Salon at Saks Jandel. 5510 Wisconsin Ave.; 301-652-2250. July 17 to 18.

Watters and Wtoo Bridal and Bridesmaids

Grab all your girls and head to Betsy’s to shop for bride and bridesmaid gowns, from the romantic blush and illusion bodice gowns to Wtoo’s selection of mix-and-match dresses for your maids. Betsy Robinson’s Bridal Collection, 1848 Reisterstown Road, Baltimore; 410-484-4600. July 17 through 19.


Take advantage of the Barcelona design house’s second trunk show this month and try on the bow-accented and eye-catching lace dresses. Love Couture Bridal. 12500-B Park Potomac Ave., Potomac; 301-610-5683. July 17 through 19.

Stella York Spring 2016 Preview

An abundance of embroidery and sheer illusion necks, backs, and sleeves makes for a very glam first look at Stella York’s new collection. Ellie’s Bridal Boutique. 225 N. Washington St., Alexandria; 703-683-8697. July 24 through 26.


The collection puts an emphasis on strength and sensuality with it’s pastel colors, big tulle skirts, and intricate beadwork. Love Couture Bridal. 12500-B Park Potomac Ave., Potomac; 301-610-5683. July 24 through 26.

Augusta Jones Bridal

Off-the-shoulder lace necklines and open backs make this contemporary collection pop with a blend of traditional beauty and modern drama. Betsy Robinson’s Bridal Collection, 1848 Reisterstown Road, Baltimore; 410-484-4600. July 31 through August 2.


The Ultimate Bridal Shower Playlist

Over two hours of music to keep the party moving.

By Caroline Cunningham Photograph by Genevieve Leiper Photography.

If you’re throwing a shower for someone near and dear to you, we're sure you’ll think about the invitations, decor, food, and gifts, but that doesn’t leave much time to throw together a playlist. Good music can keep things swinging at any party, and a bridal shower is no exception.

To keep the mood high and the number of awkward silences low, use this two-hour playlist full of love songs that both your girlfriends and your grandmother can groove to. Just start the Spotify playlist below on shuffle, and cross "party music" off your planning to-do list.

If you don't have Spotify, download it here, and make sure to follow WashBrideGroom on Spotify for more music inspiration for your wedding day!

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Engagement Photos

Modern Engagement Photo Shoot at VA's Mosaic District and the Warner Theater in DC

Yodit Gebreyes of Favored by Yodit took photos around town with her fiance, Andy Endale.

By Caroline Cunningham

Yodit Gebreyes has been helping couples plan for their wedding day for years through her Northern Virginia-based event management and design company, Favored by Yodit. But this year, her work is getting personal as she plans her own wedding to Andy Endale. We always love to watch how wedding planners pull together their big day, drawing on their wealth of experiences to plan their dream celebration. We know Yodit will be no exception, especially after seeing these stunning engagement photos taken at creative spots around Washington by Danielle Real Photography.

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Expert Advice

Tell Us About Your Bridal Party, Win $150 to Tuckernuck!

Complete our survey about your bridal party for a chance to be featured in the next issue of Washingtonian Bride & Groom.

By Caroline Cunningham Photograph by Timmester Photography.

No matter how many people you plan to have standing beside you on your wedding day, picking your bridal party is an important part of the wedding planning process. Who do you choose to be one of your attendants? How do you decide? How much is too much to make your bridesmaids spend on a dress? Matching shoes or pick your own? Do you need to give them all gifts?

That’s why we’re coming to you, experienced brides who have been there and done that. We’re looking to you to provide advice for future brides who are faced with all the questions listed above, and more, as they select the people who are going to stand beside them on their big day.

Please fill out our brief, ten-question survey about how you made your decisions regarding your bridal party for a chance to be featured in the next issue of Washingtonian Bride & Groom and a shot at a $150 gift certificate to Tuckernuck, an awesome clothing and accessories company based in Georgetown.

Find the questionnaire HERE.

Expert Advice

What Wedding Guests Really Want

One of Washington's most in-demand wedding attendees tells all.

By Sarah Zlotnick Photograph by Annamarie Akins Photography

Affable, outgoing, and a hit on every dance floor, Johnny Haffey just may be DC’s most in-demand wedding guest. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle: the more word gets out about the 29-year-old Logan Circle resident, the more invite lists he winds up on. Haffey has attended more than 40 nuptials, with five on the docket for 2015. Also an ace on the subject of what pleases party-goers, we asked him the questions you’re dying to put to your own guests.

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Real Weddings

Washington Wedding Planner Cristina Calvert's Elegant Gold & Ivory Eastern Shore Wedding

Wedding planner Cristina Calvert tied the knot with her beau Justin Schoolmaster on September 27, 2014.

By Caroline Cunningham

There are certain perks to being a wedding planner: you know the local vendors by name, you’ve scouted out all the best locations numerous times, and you’re an expert at bringing a concept to life. That’s why we were thrilled to see how Cristina Calvert of Cristina Calvert Signature Weddings & Celebrations planned her nuptials to Justin Schoolmaster. The theme was “Shorely in Love” and these photos of the celebration by Maria Vicencio Photography embody everything we love in an Eastern Shore wedding: sunlight sparkling on the water, a gorgeous tent reception decorated in white and gold, and lots of personal touches—from the monogrammed handkerchief wrapped around the bride’s bouquet to the CDs created by the groom as escort cards—that a wedding planner would know how to pull off with panache.

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24 Ways to Do a Hotel Wedding in Washington

Go big, go ballroom.

By Sarah Zlotnick

Thinking about getting married in Washington? The hotels in the DC area offer some pretty spectacular ballrooms and backdrops for your big day. We've rounded up 24 ways that real couples personalized these spaces around Washington for their own weddings—click through, get inspired, then use our recommended hotel venue list to start planning your own!

1. Elegant White and Gold

Photo by Genevieve Leiper

The Four Seasons ballroom was the perfect backdrop for Kendal and Shawn's September wedding.

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Expert Advice

How to Incorporate Social Media into your Wedding

Manage your wedding in cyberspace without missing a moment in reality.

By Karina Giglio Illustration by Alli Arnold

Your stance on social media is the wedding equivalent of Democrat versus Republican: On one side of the petal-strewn aisle are hashtag-happy couples; on the other, those so determined to go unplugged that they ask guests to check smartphones at the door and keep any mention of their special day off the World Wide Web.

“Weddings across the board are getting more digital. Hashtags were uncommon in 2012, but over half of the weddings in 2013 had one. I’ve seen charging stations for battery-challenged guests, and I’ve seen projectors that display photos snapped with the wedding hashtag. When something new and digital seems outlandish, pretty quickly it becomes the new normal,” says Sophie Pyle, founder of DC’s Tweet the Bride, which sends a social-media artist to document your day so you—and your guests—don’t have to. “The idea of a wedding website was absurd a few years ago, but now it’s standard for easy access for booking hotels, buying off the registry, and getting to know a couple’s story.” In other words, your wedding already relies on the internet for several elements, so why not make the most of digital love?

Whichever side of the aisle you’re on, here’s our guide to navigating your nuptials with social media.

“Is our wedding trending on Twitter?”

There’s no limit to the “likes” you’ll get if you’re social-media savvy during your celebration. Many couples create a hashtag so that they can easily search sites for guests’ photos, a great opportunity to see moments they may have missed or to view their celebration from many different perspectives. Hashtags can be your two names à la #BradAndAngie or a clever, Us-worthy combo like #Brangelina.

Let your guests know your hashtag by making it prominent on your invitations, wedding website, wedding programs, and chalkboard or printed signs, advises Frances Reimers, a marketing executive who also consults for weddings.

There’s an App for That

Send an e-mail before the wedding weekend asking guests to download an app to keep track of wedding details and upload any photos they take. Favorites include the free Wedding Party app, a free app, or Appy Couple, which offers $35 and $69 packages.

Not sure if you want everyone to see the pictures before you do—or don’t want to broadcast your wedding to those who weren’t invited? “When clients prefer that only actual guests at the wedding are able to view the photos, I suggest creating a Shutterfly Share site, where it’s easy for individuals to upload their photos to one established location, via a password, and the bride and groom can order photos or create a book—something you can’t do through Twitter,” says Gretchen Learman Burrier, owner of DC’s Blue Ribbon Events.

If you’re somewhere in the middle, make like Northern Virginia-based photographer Natasha Naomi, who used her professional experience when deciding about guests snapping away at her own nuptials. “I went the George Clooney route and rented iPods from Wedit, and I assigned five people to take video and pics during the ceremony and reception,” she says. “The iPod doesn’t allow them to e-mail, text, or post the videos or images anywhere—only Wedit can get them off the iPods.” Editing packages cost $199 for a three-to-five-minute highlight reel, or $349 for a 30-to-60-minute video in addition to the highlights.

Hire a pro (or semipro)

“The bride and groom should be enjoying the day with their guests, not communicating with the world,” says Reimers. Designate a friend or hire a professional to live-tweet the wedding and coordinate all posts so that you can stay in the moment instead of on your phone. Companies like Tweet the Bride even provide instant professional photos that can be browsed on Instagram and Twitter by anyone who knows the hashtag.

Make sure to provide your media manager with guidelines and the authority to remove any inappropriate posts. The cost for a social-media manager depends on the person selected, but for someone who’s not a family member or friend, budget $40 to $100 an hour.

Check your phone at the door?

“In 2014, it’s harder than ever to set digital boundaries for guests. Cell-phone bans are difficult to enforce,” says Pyle. “If you really don’t want them in use, try to set up elegant signs at entryways to events and tell a few guests to help spread the word.”

Not ready to go quite that far—or think you’ll be facing a sea of pouts on the happiest day of your life? Establish ground rules for guests—and keep reminding them.

For example, be specific about what can and can’t be posted, and when. “I always like to snap pictures of the wedding party getting ready, but I hold photos of the bride, the groom, and the parents until after the ceremony to post as ‘latergrams,’” says Pyle.

And since there are no do-overs when saying “I do,” request that guests leave the photography to the actual photographer during especially meaningful intervals. “Sometimes guests think they’re being helpful by taking photos during the ceremony. But if someone happens to take their iPad or phone and lean far into the aisle to snap the first kiss, then it can definitely get in the way of an important moment that only happens once,” says Arlington-based photographer Abby Jiu, who keeps an eye out before the ceremony for snap-happy guests so she can talk to them about how to stay out of each other’s way.

Put your social-media do’s and don’ts on your wedding website, ceremony program, or a sign at the entry. Or enlist someone who will have everyone’s attention. “In more and more weddings I shoot, the officiant is the one who announces that the bride and groom have asked that no pictures be taken during the ceremony. This is so I can do my job and get awesome photos of friends and family instead of friends and family and 60 cameras and iPhones up in the air,” says Naomi.

Remember, too, that it’s completely appropriate to politely request that someone take down a photo. After all, the wedding lasts one day, but the posted images will live in cyberspace forever.

Washingtonian Bride & Groom LOVES social media! Find us on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.

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