Washington Real Weddings: Sara and Dustin

A traditional-meets-modern wedding at a DC hotel.

The happy newlyweds. All photographs by The Observatory

Sara and Dustin first met while playing on the same kickball team. The couple eventually moved to Woodley Park, and Dustin proposed while they were taking their black Lab for a walk on a seemingly typical Saturday morning.

“It was perfect because it was meaningful, intimate, and surprising,” says Sara. “I was not expecting it when I was in pajamas and without makeup!”

The couple married at St. John’s Church in Lafayette Square, with a reception at the W hotel.

“We chose St. John’s and the W because we were going for a wedding that was traditional with a modern twist,” explains Sara. “St. John’s is a historical DC spot, and we love the traditional elements of the ceremony. The W was perfect because it is in the old Hotel Washington, but we love its modern design.”

The couple chose a bold color scheme of their favorite hues: blue (Dustin’s) and yellow (Sara’s).


At the 4:30 PM ceremony, the bride walked down the aisle carrying a “light, airy, and beautiful” bouquet of peonies, ranunculuses, lisianthus, calla lilies, and touches of lily of the valley. During the service, the maid of honor, a professional opera singer, sang “Oh! Quand Je Dors” by Franz Liszt.

“It’s a very ethereal love song, and it was absolutely breathtaking when she sang it,” says Sara.

Each member of the wedding party read a prayer for the service, as well.

“It made the service unique and felt very inclusive of those we love, which is what we were going for,” says Sara.


Afterward, guests headed to the W, where cocktail hour was held. The hotel’s specialty drink, the St. Hilaire, was served, and guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres such as chicken samosas with cilantro yogurt and crab fritters with Asian pear and endive. A photo book of Washington served as the guestbook.

The reception decor was “very modern, with a magical feel,” says the bride. “We wanted it to feel warm and inviting during dinner and in the beginning, and then switch to a party/dance club feel later on.”

Three tall white candelabras adorned the head table, along with yellow and white floral orbs. The guest tables held ceramic yellow vases filled with white peonies and bud vases with pincushion protea. Mixed arrangements of yellow pincushion protea, calla lilies, craspedia, mokara orchids, and roses were featured on other tables.


For dinner, guests enjoyed a salad of mixed baby greens with avocado, tomato, enoki mushrooms, and truffle vinaigrette, followed by rack of lamb and salmon. A wedding cake with a modern design was served for dessert, along with miniature passed desserts, including tiny ice cream cones and chocolate lollipops. A mini milkshake made with Godiva white chocolate, Grand Marnier, and butterscotch schnapps, called the “Shake Shake Shake,” was served on the dance floor later in the evening.

“My husband and I are huge dessert people, so this was all great!” says Sara.

The couple performed their first dance to “Two Is Better Than One” by Boys Like Girls, and guests danced throughout the evening.

“Everyone was up and having a great time, and I was so happy to see everything come together and feel the joy of the day,” says Sara. “It was definitely the best party of my life!”



Photographer: Andrea Jacobson of the Observatory via Two Bright Lights

Wedding Planner: Sara Bauleke of Bella Notte

Ceremony Venue: St. John’s Church, Lafayette Square

Reception Venue and Catering: The W Washington, DC

Gown: Reem Acra, purchased at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York

Hair: Beverly Leuterio of Beautiful Hair by Beverly

Makeup: Carola Myers

Bridesmaid Dresses: Bill Levkoff, purchased at RK Bridal in New York

Tuxedo: Men’s Wearhouse

Floral Design: Greenworks

Rentals: Party Rental Ltd.

Cake: Fancy Cakes by Leslie

Reception Music: Escapade