When Meng Wang met Albert Chen during their senior year at Penn State, the couple’s fate was sealed. They quickly went from dating to planning a jaw-dropping rustic wedding at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria. With whitewashed banquet tables, garlands of lush plumosa ivy and pittosporum, and chic lucite chairs, they dined and celebrated in a stately setting in front of a 17-foot statue of George Washington. Take a look at the stunning backdrop in the photographs below by Elizabeth Fogarty Photography.
This love story begins where many do: in college. Albert noticed Meng at a local club during their senior year at Penn State. “She was the most attractive person I’d ever seen,” he remembers, and he figured a standard introduction wasn’t going to cut it. So, he challenged her to a dance-off instead. Meng didn’t hold up her end of the competition, but she did give him her number. Their first date stretched from a Chinese restaurant to an on-campus screening of The Social Network back to a bar to hang out with a few of Albert’s friends. The pair bonded over similar senses of humor and family culture, and things moved quickly—when Albert got a job in DC after graduation, Meng moved with him.
Three years after that first date, Albert planned his proposal for a trip the two took to Hong Kong, Meng’s hometown. Out on a rainy-day hike with her family, Albert quietly slipped away, cuing Meng’s mother to hand her daughter an iPad with a recorded message. As Meng watched a slide show of their relationship and listened to all the reasons her partner was grateful for her presence in his life, Albert reappeared. He asked Meng for her hand in a mixture of Chinese and English.
After connecting through Instagram, Meng knew Heirloom founder Vicky Theodorou was the one to bring her wedding vision to life. Inspiration for the event began where inspiration for all good parties should: the food. (Healthy eating and local ingredients were top priority for the bride, an instructor and assistant manager at Corepower Yoga.) During cocktail hour, guests snacked on seasonal berries, house-cured meats, honey-paprika hummus, jalapeño-infused feta, and more from a custom farmers-market station.
The hundred attendees moved inside for a family-style meal at three long rows of whitewashed farm tables decorated with low-slung compotes of David Austin roses, peonies, and dusty miller. The groom himself made the Chinese-zodiac signs that directed guests to their places, where they passed plates of matcha-roasted cauliflower and rainbow carrots, crispy Szechuan pork ribs, baked halibut, and torchio pasta with braised summer squash.
Friends and family sipped basil gimlets and peach sangria as they watched the newlyweds sway to “So Close” by Jon McLaughlin for their first dance, and took home custom beer cups as favors. The couple honeymooned in Costa Rica, then returned home to Fairfax, where Albert works in cybersecurity.
Photography: Elizabeth Fogarty Photography | Venue: George Washington Masonic National Memorial | Event Design & Catering: Heirloom Catering & Event Design | Flowers & Decor: Heirloom Catering & Event Design | Furniture Rentals: Something Vintage | Tabletop Rentals & Chairs: Party Rental, Ltd. | Bride’s Gown: Galia Lahav | Hair: Styles by Sal | Groom’s Attire: J. Crew | Music: Alex Nepa for Mint DJ Events | Transportation: Reston Limousine | Cake: Rosie Nguyen (friend of the bride) | Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas | Calligraphy: Allison Dee Calligraphy | Lighting: Frost Lighting