Real Wedding: Dara and Alex Santos

Leesburg's Thomas Birkby House provided the classic backdrop for this intimate celebration.

Photographs by Audra Wrisley.

Alex and Dara’s road to the altar wasn’t without a few minor bumps along the way. When they first met, Alex says, Dara played hard to get—and when he finally mustered up the nerve to ask her out, he was so nervous he suggested a group date at Bluemont Winery so he could have some moral support from his friends. Luckily, his plan worked, and he and Dara hit it off. 

Soon afterward, their budding relationship was put to test when Dara had to juggle two graduate classes in six weeks plus her full-time job. Recognizing Alex’s support throughout, Dara realized all she wanted was to spend every moment with him when it was over. Eight months later, they moved in together. 

Three years after that, Alex proposed to Dara at the Jefferson Memorial, surrounded by beautiful cherry blossom trees. As they began planning their wedding, they discovered their perfect location in Thomas Birkby House in Leesburg. “The outdoor terrace reminded me of my grandmas backyard, where she spent many summers drinking root-beer floats and catching lightning bugs as a child,” says the bride. Now that their wedding dreams have become a reality, the couple’s new focus is expanding the family with a furry friend they plan to adopt from their local animal shelter. 


Wedding Venue and Reception: Thomas Birkby House

Wedding Date: May 5, 2014

Photographer: Audra Wrisley

Bride’s Gown: Wtoo, Love Couture Bridal

Groom’s Tux: Calvin Klein, Men’s Wearhouse

Hair and Makeup: Best Face Forward

Florist: Rick’s Flowers

Invitations: Mayla Studios

Music/Entertainment: DJ Connections

Bride’s Favorite Detail: “The flowers. They were exactly what I had envisioned.” 

Groom’s Favorite Detail: The food

Biggest Surprise: “We never thought we would like to do a ‘first look’ but it was nice to have a private moment to see each other before the festivities began.”

Wedding Theme: Classic

Four Words That Describe the Wedding: Elegant, classic, whimsical, intimate

Honeymoon Spot: Europe

Where They Currently Live: McLean, VA