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Smart Ideas: A Wedding-Day Survival Kit

Everything you need to avoid a beauty blunder on your big day.

By Valeria Boucas Photograph courtesy of Hollywood Fashion Secrets.

Every bride-to-be has a checklist of “to dos” before the day she says “I do.” But there is always something you can’t plan for. So for every unforeseen wedding-day mishap, the makers of Hollywood’s Fashion Secrets have you covered with an emergency kit full of practical items. From straws to keep your lipstick intact to stain-removing wipes to blister pads for those never-before-worn wedding shoes, all your beauty solutions come packed in a satin minaudière—in white, of course.

The kit ($24.99) is available at the following local stores; you can also find it at Ulta.

Congressional Plaza

1631 Rockville Pike


Fair City Mall

9600-U Main St.


Dulles 28

22000 Dulles Retail Center


Village at Leesburg

1606 Village Market Blvd.


Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center

15000 Potomac Town Place

Woodbridge, VA

Hunt Valley Towne Centre

118 Shawan Rd.

Hunt Valley, MD

Downtown Silver Spring

914 Ellsworth Dr.

Silver Spring

Fair Lakes Center

13048-A Fair Lakes Center


Gateway Overlook

8241 Gateway Overlook Dr.

Elkridge, MD

Bull Run Plaza

10640 Sudley Manor Dr.

Manassas, VA

The Shops at Waldorf Center

2945 Festival Way

Waldorf, MD

The Avenue at White Marsh

8165-C Honeygo Blvd.


Crossroads Center at Baileys

5860 Leesburg Pike

Falls Church

Best Buy Center

6575 Frontier Dr.


Waugh Chapel Towne Centre

1410 S. Main Chapel Way

Gambrills, MD

Frederick Crossing

7310 Guilford Dr.


Annapolis Harbour Center

2566 Solomons Island Rd.


Find Valeria Boucas on Twitter at @valeriaboucas.

Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Diana & Paul

Rain didn’t dampen this DC couple’s Charlottesville nuptials.

By Alison Kitchens All photographs by Aaron Watson Photography.

When Diana Szego and Paul Fassbender met at a DC happy hour, they chatted but then went their separate ways. “We did not hit it off at first, to say the least,” Szego says. However, when they were set up by a mutual friend six months later, the second time turned out to be a charm. “Diana was very sharp, pretty, and tended not to take any of my crap,” Fassbender says.

After a nearly three-year romance, Fassbender proposed in the couple’s kitchen on the day before New Year’s Eve in 2012. “It was simple yet intimate,” Szego says, “perfect for us.”

The couple brought the intimacy of their proposal to their wedding at Clifton Inn in Charlottesville, Virginia, ten months later. The biggest surprise of the day: an unexpected rainstorm. “When I think about our wedding, I rarely remember that it rained,” Szego says. “Things will go wrong on a wedding day, but it helps to keep in perspective the reason you’re there in the first place.”

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Wedding News

Win a Free Wedding Courtesy of Arena Stage

The theater is holding a contest inspired by its upcoming production of Fiddler on the Roof.

By Valeria Boucas Photograph courtesy of Arena Stage.

Dreaming of a lavish wedding but don’t quite have the budget? You’re in luck: Arena Stage is giving one local couple the wedding of their dreams—currently valued at $80,000. The giveaway is inspired by the theater’s fall production of the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. In case you need a refresher on the story, it tells of milkman Tevye, who struggles to reconcile his cultural traditions with his three daughters’ desire to choose their own husbands.

The wedding package includes a ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception for up to 175 guests at the Mead Center for American Theater, plus free use of the venue, catering and a wedding cake by RSVP Catering, decor by Design Foundry, music and lighting by Bruce Pike Productions, floral design, valet parking by MJ Valet, a hotel bridal suite provided by the Mandarin Oriental, an engagement portrait session by Cameron Whitman Photography, wedding-day photography and videography, and a pair of tickets to the official opening night of Fiddler on the Roof—plus other surprises along the way. The only catch: The wedding date is set for January 2, 2015.

Ready to enter? All you have to do is send a video or written essay to Tevye by August 31 telling him why you should win, along with your completed application form. Tevye has heard it all—so be convincing! Three finalists will be announced in early September before the winning couple is revealed on September 30. Second- and third-place couples win something, too, so be sure to stay tuned.

How to enter (deadline is August 31):

1. Submit the PDF application which can be downloaded, here.

2. Include your written or video essay.

3. Send up to three photos of you as a couple for Arena to share.

Best of luck to all our brides-to-be!

Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Jennice & John

This couple celebrated their Southern ties with an over-the-top pink wedding.

By Priscilla Alvarez Jennice and John on their wedding day. All photographs by Amy Raab Photography.

Within two weeks of knowing each other, Jennice Marie Walter and John William Countryman knew they were meant to be. “I remember meeting her and thinking, who is the vivacious Southern blonde?” says John, who stars as Jerry Lee Lewis in the Broadway production Million Dollar Quartet. Jennice, the production’s manager of merchandise sales, heard John playing the piano for a local band, the Dirty Names, one night and was bowled over by his musical talent. “I was smitten—I had met a handsome Southern gentleman who was killer on the keys,” she says. Ten months into their relationship, John surprised Jennice on a girl’s night out while walking down the State Circle in Annapolis. There, he escorted her to the top of the steps of the State House and proposed.

Sixteen months later, Jennice and John tied the knot in a pink-themed wedding that paid homage to their shared Southern roots.

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Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Bethany & Eric

This couple combined their love for New Orleans and ties to France for a vintage-inspired wedding.

By Priscilla Alvarez Bethany and Eric on their wedding day. All photographs by Kurstin Roe.

Eric Leconte knew he liked Bethany Stangl before he ever met her. After hearing about her from a mutual friend before a birthday party at Dave & Buster’s, he thought she sounded like a catch, and at the party the two hit it off during a game of skeeball. “By the end of the night we were holding hands, and I knew I never wanted to let go,” says Bethany, a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Four years later—the day before Bethany’s 30th birthday—Eric, an assistant property manager at Cassidy Turley, took Bethany along the beach during a trip to Bermuda, where a cliff overlooked the sea. As they were sharing a bottle of wine and watching the waves, Eric proposed.

Two and a half years later, they got married at DC’s Meridian House, in a vintage-inspired celebration that drew from Eric’s French background and the couple’s favorite vacation spot, New Orleans.


Photographer: Kurstin Roe

Videographer: Bowen Films

Venue: Meridian House

Event Coordinator: Vicky Choy, Event Accomplished

Bride’s Gown: Monique Lhuillier, the Collection Bridal

Hair: Carola Myers

Makeup: Carola Myers

Groom’s Tux: Hugo Boss, Nordstrom

Caterer: Occasions Caterers

Cake: Maggie Austin

Cake Flavors: White velvet cake with raspberry and vanilla-lime buttercream, and chocolate cake with bittersweet espresso buttercream

Cocktail: Sgroppino, Patience of a Saint, and mint julep

Florist: Petals Edge Floral Design

Flowers: The bride’s bouquet included white roses, mini calla lilies, cymbidium orchids, and gardenias accented with peach Juliet garden roses, Cafe au Lait dahlias, and Queen Anne’s lace

Music/Entertainment: Veronneau (jazz ensemble) for the ceremony, cocktail hour, and dinner, and DJ Stereo Faith from DJ D-MAC & Associates.

First Dance Song: “Crazy Love” by Van Morrison

Invitations: Minted

Bride’s Favorite Detail: “A live painter to capture our first dance.”

Groom’s Favorite Detail: The poker-themed groom’s cake

Biggest Surprise: “Bethany’s grandmother, Baba, who was originally too sick to travel, made a surprise trip down for the wedding. Her whole family was in on the secret. When Bethany and Eric arrived for their rehearsal dinner, she was there waiting for them.”

Decor Details: The paper products featured a black scroll design inspired by the iron railings of New Orleans, and the dinner tables were marked with names of New Orleans landmarks.

Theme: Romantic vintage inspired by New Orleans and France

Four Words That Describe the Wedding: Romantic, whimsical, intimate, elegant

Honeymoon Spot: Greece and Spain

Where They Currently Live: Washington, DC

Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Caroline & Gavin

This couple’s celebration featured an unusual treat: a wedding “cake” made of cheese.

By Priscilla Alvarez All photographs by Eli Turner.

When Gavin Shafer Sun met Caroline Martin Jett, he at first wasn’t exactly overwhelmed by her charms. During an Oktoberfest party they both attended, they played Nails, a game that requires each participant to throw and catch a hammer in a different way to hit other people’s nails into a tree stump. “I thought, ‘Who is this annoying girl who keeps hitting my nail?’” Gavin recalls. Turns out it was more than a coincidence: Caroline, a vice president with Christie’s Auction House, had her eye on Gavin, an options trader with Spot Trading, so she kept aiming for his nail during the game. Her tactic worked, and the two struck up a conversation, during which they realized they had more in common than their choice of party game.

Two and a half years later, Gavin proposed during a walk by the Lincoln Center in front of the fountain prior to a vacation in the Dominican Republic. “Traveling is such a big part of our lives, and on the eve of another fun trip, it was only fitting to decide to embark on a bigger life journey together,” say the couple. Nine months later, they tied the knot in an intimate ceremony at DC’s Anderson House.

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Engagement Session: Winnie and Darren

These Maryland natives brought their adorable dog along for a shoot celebrating Washington in the spring.

By Alison Kitchens All photographs by Julie Lim.

After meeting through a mutual friend, Winnie Dora Nham and Darren Liang hit it off immediately. “Within that week, I knew he was the one and told a close friend, ‘I’m going to marry that guy,’ ” says Winnie. Three years later, Darren proposed at the National Zoo, the site of one of the couple’s first dates.

Both Winnie and Darren grew up in between DC and Baltimore, and they took advantage of the District’s beautiful spring weather during their engagement shoot. Along with their dog, Nugget, and photographer Julie Lim, they visited the Boathouse at Fletcher’s Cove, the DC War Memorial, and Constitution Gardens. “This was a wonderful way to pay homage to one of our two ‘home’ cities,” Winnie says.

The couple is set to marry at the George Peabody Library in Baltimore on May 23, 2015.

Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Lauren & Michael

These former high school athletes sprinted toward love, but took their time to get to the altar.

By Irina Grechko All photographs by Ever After Visuals.

Lauren Cartee and Michael Nunley met while both were on their high school track team; she thought he was “handsome and kindhearted,” and he found her “beautiful, intelligent, and unique.” A first date at the zoo marked the start of a blissful eight-year relationship before Michael, a customer service manager, popped the question. He surprised Lauren, a marketing coordinator, by proposing at the National Harbor pier, overlooking the water. Afterward, they had a special dinner at McCormick & Schmick’s and a night’s stay at the Gaylord Hotel. A romantic wedding followed a year later.

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Engagement Session

Engagement Session: Rebecca and Joseph

It took several years for this soon-to-be groom to work up the nerve to talk to his future wife.

By Irina Grechko All photographs by Karena Dixon Photography.

Joseph Zimmerman was smitten from the moment he spotted Rebecca Harris. “Joe actually found me first, and I didn’t even know it,” says Becky, a graduate student and a registered nurse. Despite living 30 minutes away from each other in Maryland for most of their lives, the two ultimately met in Texas where Joe was visiting the University of Dallas, which he would attend the following year as a freshman. “She rushed into the English class I was observing and sat down across the room from me wearing her crimson Maryvale Preparatory school sweatshirt,” says Joe, a retirement fund advisor. “After seeing her that first time, I couldn’t shake her from my mind.”

Despite seeing Becky frequently around campus, it would take a while before Joe worked up the nerve to talk to her. “She was an upperclassmen and always seemed to have a boyfriend,” says Joe of why he hesitated. Finally, in the spring of 2008, the two wound up on the same porch at a house party and he finally introduced himself. They shared an instant connection about their mutual love of Baltimore and what brought them to Texas. “It took me two years to finally break the ice and talk to her, but only a couple weeks to let it sink in that this girl was going to mean the world to me,” says Joe. 

The lovebirds would date five years before getting engaged a week before Christmas. “Joe proposed to me in front of the Washington Monument in the Mount Vernon Neighborhood of Baltimore,” says Becky. “The monument was entirely lit up with Christmas lights for the season and the night was crisp and clear, with a full moon. It was perfect.”

When it came to the engagement session Becky and Joe wanted a place that was meaningful to them as a couple. “We love our home state of Maryland, and Becky’s father worked in Annapolis for twelve years as an elected official, so Annapolis was a natural choice of location,” says Joe. The two enlisted the help of Karena Dixon Photography and braved the freezing temperatures to get the outdoor shots that they wanted. The couple is set to get married on August 3, 2014, at the St. Christopher Catholic Church in Maryland.

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Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Stephanie & Johnathon

This groom sent his bride on a proposal scavenger hunt.

By Irina Grechko All photographs by Ethan Yang Photography.

When Stephanie Bui met Johnathon America she was instantly fascinated by his last name—who wouldn’t be? “It was so unique,” says Stephanie, a senior consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton. “He was also one of the smartest and kindest people I had ever met.” At the time the two were in the same Information Technology program at George Mason University; a first date at a steakhouse kicked off their two-year romance.

When it came to the engagement, Johnathon enlisted the help of Stephanie’s sister for a proposal to remember. “I told her that I set up a scavenger hunt to make her feel better after a hard week at work, and her sister was going to drive her around,” says Johnathon, a Linux systems administrator at Blackbird Technologies, Inc. “I wrote a romantic note for each location that contained a clue for the next, with each stop noting something significant to our relationship.” Along the way, Stephanie revisited where they first met, where they had their first date, and other important locations, until she arrived at the last stop and found a note telling her to simply trust her sister for this final step in the hunt.

Stephanie’s sister blindfolded her and transported her to National Cathedral’s rose garden, where Johnathon was waiting. “I put a new iPad in her hands, removed her blindfold, and told her that I knew that she’s been having a rough week so I got her the iPad she had wanted,” says Johnathon. “When she turned it on, the background picture was a collage of both of our families wearing custom T-shirts that spelled ‘Marry Me.’ ” A modern wedding with traditional touches followed 19 months later—and Stephanie became Mrs. America.

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