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Real Weddings

Real Wedding: See Photos From a "Gossip Girl" Star's Wedding at the Anderson House

Nan Zhang and Michael Morris's wedding included nods to the bride's Chinese heritage, including the release of more than 200 butterflies.

By Caroline Cunningham All photographs by Studio Saldana.

Nan Zhang was in the middle of freshman orientation for her Johns Hopkins University’s neuroscience program when she spotted Michael Morris. He had long, shaggy locks a the time, and Nan couldn’t keep her eyes off him, or his impressive poi abilities. She didn’t know his name or that he was studying cellular and molecular biology, but she was determined to find him. Despite the many attractive long-haired fellows she did find on campus, none of them was Michael. Unable to find her love, she relocated to a different world—Manhattan's Upper East Side, where she modeled and played the role of Kati Farkas in Gossip Girl.

As fate would have it, when Nan returned to Johns Hopkins to finish her studies, mutual friends led her to the same social circles as Michael—and now it was his turn to seek her out. Finally, he mustered his courage and asked her if she’d like to get coffee to chat about her neuroscience research. In the process, Nan mentioned that she enjoyed cooking, and Michael immediately saw it as an opportunity to set up a cooking date. Since that date, during which Michael impressed Nan with his cooking skills and neither could stop smiling, they haven’t spent a day apart.

Eleven months later, Nan knew a proposal was on Michael’s mind, but she tried to be patient and allow him to prepare. Finally, after she'd finished an exam, Michael took her to the Hay-Adams Hotel under the pretense of post-exam relaxation. They dined at Off the Record and stayed up all night to watch the sunrise. Just after sunrise, Nan spotted a group below their balcony of mostly Asians wearing colored caps. She made a sarcastic comment about how Asian tourists were dressing these days, and Michael told her to take a closer look. Nan was shocked to find the colored caps removed to reveal their family members, all cheering from the street below. Michael got down on one knee and said, “I want to watch every sunrise with you Nan, for the rest of my life. Will you marry me?”

The pair wed on July 5, 2014, at the Anderson House Museum. The bride wore a one-of-a-kind gown by Lazaro and changed into a traditional red Chinese dress for the reception. During the ceremony, Nan and Michael released more than 200 butterflies, sending good wishes into the sky for their lifetime together ahead.

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Shows & Events

4 Trunk Shows This Week: Monique Lhuillier, Johanna Johnson, and Francesca Miranda

Local gown sales to help you go down the aisle in style.

By Caroline Cunningham Photograph by Shutterstock/Paul Rich Studio.

If you've been dreaming of a designer gown, there's no time like the present to see what your local retailers have available. The trunk shows this week are in favor of the bride who isn't interested in blending in—gowns that buck the traditional white or evoke a vintage aesthetic, and delicately beaded modern designs are all up for grabs for less at these Washington-area boutiques.

Monique Lhuillier

Carine's offers a sneak peek at Monique Lhuillier’s fall 2015 collection this weekend. Brides interested in wearing a bit of color on their wedding day will love the pale blue, lavender, and peach gowns, and fans of illusion necklines will find a handful of elegant options in this collection.

Carine’s Bridal Atelier. 1726 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-965-4696. February 5 through 7, by appointment only.

Johanna Johnson

Browse Johanna Johnson’s Starlet collection, which uses simple silhouettes, drop waists, feathers, and flapper-inspired beading to evoke an “era of decadence.” The gowns’ nod to the '20s are perfect for any vintage-loving bride who wants to stand out on her day.

Hitched Bridal Couture. 1523 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-6162. February 6 and 7, by appointment only.

Rosa Clará

Soft by Rosa Clará is new to Lovely Bride’s lineup, and this trunk show offers a look through the 2015 collection. Simple, modern designs are the focus, with beaded illusion necklines and delicate lace embroidery aplenty.

Lovely Bride. 1632 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-735-0674. February 6 through 8, by appointment only.

Francesca Miranda

This Latin-American designer has only been in the bridal industry since 2010, but her creative designs show she’s more than earned her place. Barely-there lace over a nude A-line gown, lace-detailed illusion backs, and unexpected cutouts are all featured in her fall 2015 line. Shop this show for 10 percent off your order.

Soliloquy Bridal. 754 Elden St., Herndon; 571-449-2580. February 6 through 15, by appointment only.


Photos From Unveiled 2015

Engaged couples mingled with local wedding vendors and enjoyed an exclusive Oscar de la Renta runway show.

Photographs by Rodney Bailey.

Engaged couples flocked to Washingtonian Bride & Groom’s annual Unveiled event at the Fairmont Hotel Washington, D.C., on Sunday, January 25. Guests mixed and mingled with the area’s top-rated wedding vendors and enjoyed an exclusive Oscar de la Renta bridal runway show presented by Saks Jandel.

This event would not have been possible without our partners: The Bridal Salon at Saks Jandel, Fairmont Hotel Washington, D.C., Edge Floral Event Designers, Chicka, Monachetti Weddings, Photojournalism by Rodney Bailey, and Simply Chic Events.

The runway show was a huge success, thanks to the production by TAA PR, makeup by Johny Sade, and hair provided by Christophe Jounne, LoAnn Lai and the rest of the Salon L’eau team.

Keep scrolling to see all the photos from this year's event, or click on one of the links below to jump to a specific section.

All photographs by Rodney Bailey.

The Vendors | The Attendees | The Details | The Runway Show

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Shows & Events

13 Reasons Unveiled Is the Best Bridal Event of the Year

This year’s event featured an Oscar de la Renta runway show.

By Caroline Cunningham All photographs by Rodney Bailey.

If you made it out for Unveiled last Sunday, then you already know what a stellar event it was: Washington’s finest wedding vendors pulled out all the stops to woo the brides-to-be who’d come in search of inspiration for their dream day. There were delicious bites, pretty pink cocktails, beautiful floral arrangements, and a stunning Oscar de la Renta runway show to top it all off.

Washingtonian Bride & Groom brought together recommended vendors to create this annual glamorous one-stop shop for local brides. There are plenty of reasons no bride-to-be should miss Unveiled—here are 13 of our favorites.

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Real Weddings

Real Wedding: An Elegant Outdoor Celebration at Sunset Crest Manor

Two former coworkers tied the knot in this beautiful Virginia ceremony.

By Caroline Cunningham All photographs by Astrid Photography.

Jessica Fu had had her eye on Frank Battaglia, her coworker at an intellectual property law firm in DC, for a while before she decided to make a move. She’d seen that he was a hard worker, knew he was bright from the Princeton mug on his desk, and even from the distance she kept, could tell he was cute. Eventually, she started finding excuses to walk by him, poking her head into his office to say hello. “The first couple of times I tried to initiate conversation, it felt a little awkward, and it was a bit random and always very brief,” says Jessica. “I always got the impression that he thought I was a total weirdo for dropping in like that.”

But their brief chats began to get longer and less uncomfortable, and eventually Frank asked Jessica to a movie. According to him, they were just “hanging out”—they’d gone to see Terminator Salvation, which doesn't exactly scream romance. But when he asked Jessica to grab dinner afterward and covered the bill, she was convinced love was in the air. On their third outing, they shared their first kiss, and Frank came around to the idea that they were more than just colleagues.

He more than made up for any lack in romance three and a half years later at Christmastime, when he cooked Jessica dinner in the house they’d just purchased together. He showered her with surprises—dinner, decorations—before pulling the shades to show her the back yard, which was filled with a dozen fir trees bedecked with white lights. As she stared at the beautiful sight, he pulled out a stunning sapphire ring, knelt on one knee, and asked her to marry him.

The couple wed on April 5, 2014, at the Sunset Crest Manor in rural Virginia. The bride carried a bouquet decorated with hand-selected brooches down the aisle as the guests sipped pink lemonade, and Jessica and Frank said "I do" amid beautiful countryside views, decorative ribbons fluttering in the wind. It was, as their wedding theme intended, “the best day ever.”

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Expert Advice

Hire a "Certified Lipsologist" for Your Next Bridal Bash

Find out what your lip prints say about your personality.

By Caroline Cunningham Photographs courtesy of Ariana Lightningstorm.

Attendees at Sunday’s Washingtonian Bride & Groom Unveiled bridal showcase had the opportunity to have their lip prints analyzed by the only certified lipsologist on the East Coast, Ariana Lightningstorm. (And, no, that’s not her real name—it's Anna Snodgrass.)

What’s a lipsologist, you say? Funny—we asked the same thing.

After observing her read prints at Unveiled—she prescribed a spa vacation for one tired editor, who wasn't about to argue with "science"—I got in touch to find out how, exactly, Lightningstorm got her start in this bizarre corner of the entertainment industry, and how one becomes certified in something as slippery as lip print reading.

Lightningstorm, a Maryland Renaissance Festival veteran, has the right background for getting into lipsology: She says she's been fluent in palmistry and tarot cards for more than 30 years. But the real decision maker for her certification was Jilly Eddy, who birthed the lipsology technique and literally wrote the book on the topic. Eddy wasn't about to let just anybody follow in her footsteps; Lightningstorm filled out an information packet and questionnaire, spent 22 hours on the phone with Eddy, and participated in the one-on-one training program Eddy invented before passing the test to finally receive her certification.

Eddy, who devoted 30 years to researching lipsology—until she was "satisfied that her understanding was correct," according to Lightningstorm—collected over 10,000 unique prints in the process. Eddy broken down the prints into 25 categories with upwards of 100 sub-categories. “What lipsologists look for are size, shape, color intensity, lines, or lack of color in spots or lines, and special characteristics in the lip prints,” says Lightningstorm. “For instance, one of the more common shapes is a triangle. If you have a triangle shape lip print it means that you ‘help others to succeed,’ you ‘lift others up in life,’ and recognize others skills or talents and help them to recognize those skills in themselves.”

To read your lip prints, Lightningstorm will have you kiss a card three times, numbering the card in the order that you kissed it. From those three prints, she says she's able to comment on your personality, physical pain, and how others respond to you, and even suggest remedies to whatever struggles she sees in your prints.

“One of the things folks ask is how to kiss the paper, and I tell them that this is where their personality shows up, so it's not for me to tell them,” says Lightningstorm. “How hard someone presses lips to paper, how open or closed the print is and in what order that shows up, how dark or light the print is, and many other factors tell me a range of things about what is going on with someone in the moment.”

Lightningstrom has entertained at bridal showers, bachelorette parties, wedding receptions, bat mitzvahs, birthday parties, and more. For now, her goal is to spread the word about lipsology.

“Jilly and I would like to see at least two lipsologists in every city, and I would love to travel to train folks inside and outside the United States,” she says. “I would like to see lipsology be a worldwide phenomenon.”

Real Weddings

Real Wedding: A Farm Wedding Featuring an Adorable French Bulldog

She brought the couple together and then proceeded to totally steal the show.

By Caroline Cunningham All photographs by Michelle VanTine Photography.

After meeting Scott Lombardi at a reggae concert, Jessica (Jess) Bejm was interested enough to seek out his Myspace profile. But what really sealed the deal was what she saw there: photos of his French bulldog, Stella. Jess, who had always dreamed of owning a Frenchie, quickly messaged Scott, gushing about his adorable pup.

As the two continued messaging back in forth, they realized how much they had in common—they loved the same music, enjoyed the same hobbies, had the aforementioned affection for French bulldogs. It wasn’t long before Scott invited Jessica over to meet Stella and then out for drinks at Illusions Magic Bar and Lounge in Baltimore's Federal Hill, and they shared their first kiss that night.

On a trip to California six years later, Scott took Jess on a day trip to Point Lobos in Carmel. The pair hiked up the cliffs overlooking the ocean, and once they reached the top, Scott knelt down before Jess and asked for her hand in marriage.

A year and a half later, family and friends joined them at Flora Corner Farm to celebrate their nuptials. Of course, Stella played a role, joining the couple at the altar and inspiring the wedding favors: wine glasses that Jess and Scott hand-etched with images of French bulldogs. The couple wed before the rows of golden cornstalks, then moved into the rustic-chic barn for the rest of the celebration. The guests sipped Stella Kisses cocktails—St. Germain, Prosecco, soda water, and lemon—and when the dancing portion rolled around, Jess and her father surprised the crowd by jumping into a choreographed polka mid-slow dance, in honor of his Polish heritage.

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Shows & Events

Trunk Shows This Week: Oscar de la Renta, Liancarlo, and Eugenia Couture

Local gown sales to help you go down the aisle in style.

By Caroline Cunningham Photograph courtesy Oscar de la Renta.

Now that you’ve gained inspiration for the food, decor, cake, lighting, and more at Washingtonian’s Unveiled bridal showcase, it’s time to find the dress that’ll bring the day together. Stop by any one of these trunk shows this weekend for amazing gowns that’ll make sure the spotlight’s on you on your wedding day.

Sample Sale at Hitched

If you’ve been dreaming of a dress for less, then Hitched has the answer. Stop by their showroom to flip through the racks of gowns, priced from $500 to $2,000. New inventory will also be in store for brides-to-be to try on.

Hitched Bridal Couture. 1523 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-6162. January 27 and 28, by appointment only.

Oscar de la Renta Trunk Show

See something you liked on the runway at Sunday’s Unveiled bridal showcase? Go track down the gown of your dreams from Oscar de la Renta’s spring 2015 collection at Saks’ trunk show this weekend.

The Bridal Salon at Saks Jandel. 5510 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase; 301-652-2250. January 29 through 31, by appointment only.

Liancarlo Trunk Show

This designer’s spring line is all about tulle, lace, illusion straps, and cap sleeves. The simple, elegant gowns will be up for perusing at Carine’s all weekend.

Carine’s Bridal Atelier. 1726 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-965-4696. January 29 through 31, by appointment only.

Amsale Trunk Show

Amsale’s spring 2015 collection ranges from a sleek crepe fit-and-flare to a lace bodice and full tulle ball gown. Swing by the Georgetown Hitched showroom this weekend to find a fit you fancy.

Hitched Bridal Couture. 1523 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-6162. January 30 and 31, by appointment only.

LulaKate Bridesmaids Sale

Whether you’re looking for knee-length lace, playful stripes, or a more traditional floor-length crepe gown, LulaKate’s bridesmaid collection has gowns that’ll do for any setting. Grab some girlfriends and hit Bella Bridesmaids this weekend to find the perfect match with your bridal gown.

Bella Bridesmaids. 8001 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda; 301-664-6436. January 29 through February 1, by appointment only.

Enzoani Trunk Show

Enzoani’s 2015 collection plays with beading in metallic palettes—delicate gold patterns spilling down ivory tulle or beaded silver vines weaving across a white bodice. Park your fiancé in front of the Super Bowl and head to Love Couture to get 10 percent off your purchase of these show-stopping gowns.

Love Couture Bridal. 12500-B Park Potomac Ave., Potomac; 301-610-5683. January 30 through February 1, by appointment only.

Justin Alexander Trunk Show

The entire Justin Alexander spring 2015 collection will be in store this weekend only. Stop by to see the designer’s lacy A-line and ball gowns that offer a timeless take on the classic white dress and receive $100 off the purchase of any Justin Alexander gown.

Ellie’s Bridal Boutique. 225 N. Washington St., Alexandria; 703-683-8697. January 30 through February 1, by appointment only.

Nicole Miller Trunk Show

Nicole Miller’s beach-wedding ready gowns are perfect for any destination weddings on the horizon. Visit Lovely Bride’s Georgetown showroom to try on the simple but chic dresses.

Lovely Bride. 1632 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-735-0674. January 30 through February 1, by appointment only.

Eugenia Couture Trunk Show

Shop the 2015 collection and receive 10 percent off when you go home with one of Eugenia Couture’s elegant designs, such as an illusion-strap V-neck fit-and-flare gown or the satin ball gown with a ruffled organza overlay.

Soliloquy Bridal. 754 Elden St., Herndon; 571-449-2580. January 30 through February 1, by appointment only.

Wedding Hair and Beauty

6 Easy DIY Floral Crown Hairstyles

Plus—how to do your makeup if you're wearing a floral crown.

By Caroline Cunningham

From a tiny bud tucked behind the ear to a full floral wreath, not all flower headpieces are created equal. With the help of Holly Heider Chapple of Holly Heider Chapple Flowers and Remona Soleimani of Bridal Hair by Remona, we created six ways to nail the bridal trend of the season.


Illustration by Cristina Alonso.

Get the Look: Start with bright, larger blossoms, such as peonies, Japanese ranunculuses, cabbage roses, or dahlias. Garden roses are also gorgeous in this wreath, but they’ll cost four or five times more per stem than a standard rose. Rely on ivy for your green, and pair this crown with hair that’s half-pulled back so your face is shown in full. This is a fun and fanciful opportunity to allow the wreath to be the focal point of your wedding ensemble; it's perfect with a simple sheath gown.


Illustration by Cristina Alonso.

Get the Look: For more flexibility in the arrangement, wind a thin wire around individual or small clusters of blossoms, leaving a couple of inches of wire at the end to be woven into your hair. Petite flowers, no larger than a quarter, work best—try white or pink spray roses or mini orchids. Once you have seven or nine clusters, slip them through a waterfall braid, which leaves the weight of the hair hanging loose, or a crown braid, a 360-degree look that weaves all the hair into a single braid to wrap around the head.


Illustration by Cristina Alonso.

Get the Look: Waxy, dark greens—such as forest green Italian ruscus or slick gardenia leaves—are the star of this crown. Try a bit of podocarpus or Australia’s zigzag wattle to add some spiky geometry to the mix. Many blooms from Southern Hemisphere flowers are too large to include in their entirety, but bits and pieces of flowers such as king protea make unique accents. This thicker, fuller crown works well with simple, understated hair, such as soft, flowing beach waves that can play against the leaves’ dark shades.


Illustration by Cristina Alonso.

Get the Look: Use bark wire—a thin, flexible strand that’s wrapped in rustic, dried materials and can be purchased on a roll—as your base. Wrap it with olive branch for a lovely shade of pale green, and add some hanging amaranthus or tiny, white Japanese pieris japonica buds to one side for a trailing, asymmetric feel. In colder months, add berries or feathers for more texture, and rest the wreath on a wispy fishtail braid. Tease the hair for volume and gently tug on each side down the length of the braid to loosen it for a natural, organic appearance.


Illustration by Cristina Alonso.

Get the Look: Headpiece designers have taken to the flower-crown trend, relying on freshwater pearls, crystals, ribbons, and feathers to simulate the look. If wilting is a worry or you’re envisioning a more formal feel, these crowns, such as BHLDN’s Pearly Dreams Halo, offer a less fragile solution. Try it with a low chignon for an elegant look that showcases the crown, or keep with the casual, organic trend of flower crowns and allow it to blend in naturally by wearing your hair down.


Illustration by Cristina Alonso.

Get the Look: With wisps of baby’s breath, wax flowers, spray roses, or limonium, this dainty crown works with a more casual aesthetic. Pair it with seeded eucalyptus for your greenery, and weave in jasmine vine or lavender clematis vine for a bit of color—but note that these vine varieties aren’t as long-lasting as others, such as ivy. Lay this crown a few inches from the forehead atop a soft updo, allowing a few pieces of hair to float around your face for an easy, loose look that works perfectly in a garden or forest setting.


There are makeup dos and don’ts for every trend, and flower crowns are no exception. We’ve teamed up with makeup artist Abigail de Casanova to help you find a palette that will work with your blossoms rather than compete with them.

Stay away from smoky eyes. For flower crowns you’ll want to go with a softer, more natural look. Instead try: a very thin line of Make Up For Ever Aqua Creamliner in black, with NARS The Multiple in Malibu or Portofino dabbed lightly on the lid. Finish with a light application of Diorshow mascara.

Avoid bright-red lips. Flowers tend to give a bride a softer overall aesthetic, so if you want to go for the dramatic and modern, a flower crown may not be your best bet. Instead try: Yves Saint Laurent’s Rouge Pur Couture Vernis à Lèvres Glossy Stain to offer a burgundy or rosy pop of color that highlights the shades present in the crown.

Don’t load up on harsh, heavy makeup. Flower crowns work best with understated palettes. Try Make Up For Ever HD Invisible Cover foundation and Inglot AMC Cream Blush. Start simple, and add more if needed.

Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Late Summer-Nuptials at a Historic Home in Leesburg

See photos from Alyssa Travers and William Whittington's wedding.

By Caroline Cunningham All photographs by Megan Chase Photography.

Dads can be great for a lot of reasons—fixing things, making bad jokes, grilling steaks—and then sometimes they outdo themselves by introducing you to your future wife. One Friday night, William (Billy) Whittington received a call from his dad asking him to grab after-work drinks with his coworkers. Billy dropped by the bar and found a seat next to the most beautiful girl in the room. Her name was Alyssa Travers, and they hit it off immediately. “We got along so well I nearly skipped my brother-in-law’s bachelor party the next day to go on a tubing trip with her,” says Billy.

A month later, after hanging out with friends on Billy’s dad’s boat, the pair went on their first official date at Mussel Bar in Bethesda. The spent the night chatting, and for the next three years never stopped. On the night of their three-year anniversary, Alyssa wasn’t feeling well, but Billy talked her into keeping their dinner plans at The Wine Kitchen. As both were budget-conscious, they’d agreed to only exchange cards. “I gave him my card and then he gave me mine,” says Alyssa. “I was reading the last part he wrote, ‘I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with you,’ when he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!”

They wed on September 19, 2014, at the Thomas Birkby House in Leesburg. The casual elegance of the historic home was echoed in the cornhole lawn game, the whimsical bouquets, wooden flower boxes built by the groom, and whoopie pies made by a friend in Maine. The late-summer weather made the outdoor tent a perfect setting for dinner and dancing, which Billy’s family members did with gumption, waving napkins over their heads on the dance floor. Ultimately, the romantic, organic celebration was exactly what Billy and Alyssa had dreamed of.

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