Washington Real Weddings: Jean and Todd

A couple reunites after 40 years—and weds in a family-oriented garden wedding.

Jean and Todd at a high school dance (left), and at their wedding over 40 years later (right). Photographs courtesy of Mike Willson (high school), and Sabine Scherer Photography (wedding)

Jean, an artist, and Todd, an air traffic controller, first dated as sophomores at Yorktown High School in Arlington. They attended a dance together (see photo above, left), but then went their separate ways.

More than 40 years later, the pair reunited at their 40th high school reunion, and began dating once again. Their first date was dinner at Eventide in Arlington, and for their second date, Todd took Jean, an artist and art lover, to the Phillips Collection to see Renoir’s painting “Luncheon of the Boating Party.”

“After we had been dating for four months, we just knew we had something we hadn’t felt before and that we wanted to be together for the rest of our lives,” says Jean.

Todd proposed while he and Jean were visiting New York City. They married on August 22, 2010, at the American Horticultural Society at River Farm in Alexandria.

The vibe was “a romantic garden party Sunday luncheon,” says Jean. “We wanted family-style seating, to better bring our families and friends together. We tried to maximize the impact of having our wedding at the American Horticultural Society by placing a lot of focus on the florals and serving drinks and food that ‘came fresh from the garden.’”


The bride wore a custom gown by Joy Houston Bridal in Alexandria, and adorned her hair with her mom’s mother-of-pearl stephanotis hairpins. She carried a bouquet of garden roses, spray roses, stephanotis, and lisianthus.

The pair married in an 11:30 AM ceremony surrounded by a trellis of white roses. The bride processed to an adaptation of Pachelbel’s Canon in D with lyrics by the couple to reflect the occasion. The groom’s brother performed the Sanskrit reading “Look to This Day,” and the couple recessed to “Hornpipe from Water Music” by Handel. Jean and Todd wrote their own vows.

“The ceremony brought many guests to tears,” recalls Jean. “I thought we would be the same, since we felt so emotional saying our vows to each other, but for some reason, we both felt so happy and joyous, we just didn’t think of crying.”

Afterward, guests moved into a tent on the brick patio for the reception. They sat at one of two long tables adorned with centerpieces of hydrangeas, dahlias, veronicas, garden roses, freesias, scented geraniums, sunflowers, and herbs.

“The arrangements were made to look like they had been picked right out of the garden,” says Jean.

Small terra-cotta pots served as placecards, and the china featured a floral botanical design. Each guest received a small scented candle from India and eight cards featuring inspirational quotes the couple had discovered together, all placed in a cotton drawstring bag.

Drinks, served from a “lemonade stand,” included refreshing ginger-scented lemonade, peach-basil iced tea, and “Jean’s Juice” (an orange juice, sparkling water, cranberry juice, and lime concoction). The 70 guests also enjoyed hors d’oeuvres such as miniature crab cakes, nectarines filled with Maytag blue cheese and pistachios, and yellow gazpacho shooters. Lunch included grilled salmon with citrus-balsamic vinaigrette, corn soufflé with tomato relish, and “Jean’s Potatoes,” one of the bride’s favorite recipes.

The newlyweds performed their first dance to “How Do You Speak to an Angel,” an Etta James song performed by singer Jeneal Davis. For the second song, they chose “Come Fly With Me,” a nod to the groom’s profession.

One of the highlights of the evening: “Todd asked my mom to dance,” says Jean. “He took her out on the dance floor, wheeling her around, seated on her walker. The look of joy on her face is a memory we will never forget.”

The couple honeymooned at the Inn at Little Washington, and six weeks later traveled to Greece.



Photographer: Sabine Scherer Photography via Two Bright Lights

Ceremony and Reception Venue: American Horticultural Society at River Farm

Gown: Joy Houston Bridal

Hair: Stacy King of Violet in Georgetown

Groom’s Suit: Hugo Boss

Invitation and Paper Goods Designer: The bride

Floral Designer: Jack H. Lucky Floral Design

Catering and Rentals: Occasions Caterers

Reception Music: The Big Beat