Michelle Engmann, from San Francisco, met Neema Basri, from Cold Spring Harbor, New York, at a barbecue hosted by a mutual friend. They bantered over games, food, and drink, but were both in relationships. Almost a year later—both again single—they connected at an OAR concert at the 9:30 Club. As their friends trickled out, they wound up the only two remaining at the end of the show.
Afterward, they got to know one another over half-smokes and chili cheese fries at Ben’s Chili Bowl. Nearly five years later, Neema proposed on a Christmastime trip to Paris with Michelle’s family.
The pair, who had attended 21 weddings together, had already dreamed about the details of their own.
“We wanted to get married in DC, and show family and friends the city through our eyes,” they say.
They reserved rooms at Mason & Rook (near their home); hosted a welcome party at Jack Rose’s rooftop bar; and chose the industrial, blank-canvas venue of Union Market’s Dock 5 to reflect to their shared love of food.
They chose an intimate bridal party of two: Neema’s brother as best man and Michelle’s sister as maid of honor.
Colorful Persian rugs—one of which lies in their living room today— lined the ceremony aisle.
On the big day, the couple exchanged private vows after their first look at the hotel; then they recited shared vows in front of loved ones and participated in an Iranian “sugar rubbing” ceremony in which married female family members grind two sugar cones over a canopy above the couple to “sweeten” their marriage.
Flavored salts from Bazaar Spices were attached to the escort cards.
At the reception, table decor included elements of the bride’s Northern California roots, such as grapes and artichokes, as well as the groom’s Persian heritage, in the form of pomegranates and plums.
At the reception, a custom DANCE marquee sign featured prominently next to the dance floor, and rosemary sprigs symbolized the couple’s shared love of cooking.
Michelle and Neema treated guests to Union Market goodies that included Whisked! cookies and Brainfood popcorn in the welcome bags.
Photography by: Katie Stoops photography
Event Planning & Design: Christie Yerks, Grit & Grace | Florals & Decor: Amaryllis Floral & Event Design | Invitations: The Dandelion Patch; Bella Figura | Caterer: Design Cuisine | Hair & Makeup: Hair and Makeup Artistry by Claudine | Bride’s gown: Lela Rose, Mark Ingram Atelier | Groom’s Attire: Suitsupply | Music: Sage String Quartet (ceremony, cocktails); Premier DJ Services (reception) | Transportation: Limousines, Inc. | Videographer: Bowen Films | Lighting: John Farr Lighting Design | Custom “Dance” Marquee Sign: Brightly Ever After | Calligraphy: Laura Hooper Calligraphy | Photo Booth: Pixilated