John and I, who might kindly be described as “secular,” have no local church that we attend and are both lapsed Catholics. In England, you can get married in a church or a registry office, and that’s it (most people opt for churches, and therefore priests are generally more forgiving to sinners like us). In the United States—where you can get married anywhere from a Waffle House to the underpass by South Capitol Street—the options are slightly more complicated.
Being traditionalists, we liked the idea of getting married in a church and tried to find some nice ones online, but it wasn’t easy. The Catholic ones wouldn’t have us without all kinds of retreats, blood tests, and references. The Lutheran/Methodist/Episcopalian ones wanted us to have religious counseling, and almost all of them were too big for our tiny wedding party of 50—I can imagine nothing worse than rows and rows of empty seats when you’re walking down the aisle. Plus, they were all really expensive, and we didn’t feel like blowing half our budget on the venue alone, even if the money was going to a good cause. After many days of scouring online, driving through the city looking for nice churches, and despairing, I sulkily slammed my laptop closed. Maybe those Waffle House wedding people were on to something.
Then we had a bright idea. We already knew we wanted to have our wedding brunch at Adour restaurant at the St. Regis hotel in downtown DC, and we’d set aside a decent portion of our budget to do so. (I guess it says a lot about us that we’re much happier to spend money on food than on religion.) When I moved to DC, one of our first dates was at Adour, and John and I had spent many nights since then propping up at the bar there, so it felt a lot like our place. What if we could have the ceremony there as well? A quick Google search revealed that the St. Regis has a terrace—a very small one—surrounded by trees and flowers. John called the next day and found out that it was free the morning of October 3. All we had to do was check it out.
Check it out we did, and it was pretty close to perfect. It was also half the price of the only church we really liked. I called my mom, and she approved of the idea. (“It’ll give us oldies a break from having to walk from one place to another” were her exact words). So now we only have two things to worry about: bad weather and a presidential motorcade disrupting the “I do’s.” (If anyone from the White House happens to read this, it’d be great if you guys could stay away between 11 and 11:45 AM. Thanks.)