Real Wedding: Jackie and Sam

A combined love of food and art was the recipe for a chic, colorful wedding at the Corcoran.

Jackie and Sam strike a pose with their bridesmaids and groomsmen at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. All photographs courtesy of Alexandra Friendly Photography.

“Your friend Jackie is amazing,” Sam Hiersteiner texted to the friend who had just introduced him to Jacqueline Ionita. It was early 2008, and Sam was intrigued. A few weeks later, he threw a party and made sure to invite Jackie. “He served an amazing homemade chocolate cake that made quite the impression on me,” Jackie recalls. It was a fitting start to a relationship that would blossom over good food.

The two became friends first, meeting each week for dinners that lasted for hours. “The first time I felt like I was romantically interested was during one of our meetups at Old Ebbitt, and our first real date was at Hank’s Oyster Bar,” says Jackie, 30, a native of Hunt Valley, Maryland who moved to DC in 2004 to complete her BFA in painting at the Corcoran. She has just stepped down as director of Hamiltonian Gallery, a contemporary-art gallery at 14th and U streets, to focus on obtaining her master’s in interior design at the Corcoran.

Sam, 31, grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, and moved to DC in 2003 after graduating from Wesleyan University in Connecticut. He is a vice president at the Glover Park Group, a strategic communications firm, and moonlights as a food writer. “Anyone who knows me knows the term ‘foodie’ probably doesn’t do justice to the obsession I have with everything culinary,” says Sam. “And I knew early on that Jackie shared some of that love.”

That shared love has taken the couple around the world in search of great meals—from a chef’s home in Provence to the French Laundry in Napa to a Cajun pig roast in Charlottesville—but it’s the small kitchen in their house in Shaw that has set the stage for some of the biggest moments in their relationship.

“I knew for sure that she was the one when she put up with 2010, which was my year of experimenting with curing meats in our house,” jokes Sam. “More than once, we had pork belly and jowl hanging from the ceiling in our kitchen.”

There, too, Sam prepared steak and crabcakes for a romantic backyard dinner on Labor Day weekend, 2010. “I don’t even remember what they tasted like,” he says. Jackie recalls that he “cooked up an amazing feast,” and the two enjoyed the candlelit meal al fresco before Sam popped the question over dessert.

“Clearly, I said yes!” says Jackie.

The ceremony and reception were held in the atrium at the Corcoran Gallery of Art on October 22, 2011. With its grand staircase and columns and old statuary, the gallery was the ideal backdrop for the day’s events. Jackie teamed up with Sara Franklin of Social Scene and the florists of Amaryllis to plan the decor. “I wanted to create a wedding that was an extension of our life and home—color, art, food, family, and friends,” she says. She combined rich emeralds and ivories with navy, yellow, and splashes of orange to create a look that was classic and sophisticated, but charming and witty, too. For example, the couple walked down the aisle to a string version of “Fools Rush In” and recessed to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” And the dessert table featured an array of exquisite cakes—a re-creation of one of Jackie and Sam’s favorite paintings, “Cakes” by Wayne Thiebaud. Their love of food and art had come full circle. “The whole scene was just breathtaking,” says Sam. “Beautiful down to the smallest detail.”


Photography: Alexandra Friendly Photography

Event Planner: Sara Franklin of Social Scene

Location: The Corcoran Gallery of Art

Wedding Gown: Megin Sherry, a local dressmaker

Tuxedo: Geoffrey Lewis, Ltd

Bridesmaid Dresses: Alfred Sung and Dessy Group, from Cupcake Boutique

Lighting: Yours Truly Lighting

Floral and Draping: Amaryllis

Catering and Wedding Cake: Design Cuisine

Make up: Allison Levine of Trish McEvoy

Hair: Tricia Bennett of Urban Style Lab

Deejay: Danny Harris of Fatback

String Trio for Ceremony/Cocktail Hour: St. Charles Quartet

Bridal Party “Getting Ready” Suite: The Jefferson Hotel