To Create this Bride’s Dream Wedding, Designers Transformed a Hotel Ballroom with Hundreds of Tapered Candles

Anne Wierzba and Jonathan Leslie wed in March of 2018 at Park Hyatt in Washington, DC.

All Photos courtesy of Lissa Ryan Photography

Anne Wierzba and Jonathan Leslie met one Saturday night at the since-closed Gin & Tonic in Glover Park on a hot summer evening in 2011. The meeting, Anne says, was especially serendipitous because neither was a frequent visitor to the Glover Park neighborhood. Jonathan was dressed in the themes of several house parties he’d attended that night, resulting in an ensemble that included an alligator-covered Hawaiian shirt and jorts. Anne needed to know more about the sartorial choices.

“Besides being shocked that Anne would even be willing to talk to me given what I was wearing,” says Jonathan, “I thought she was incredibly cute and funny. We made plans to get together for a date sometime the following week and I went home overjoyed.”

They dated for five years—each completing a master’s at Johns Hopkins along the way—before Jonathan proposed at his parents’ house in New Jersey on a visit from London, where he was working toward his doctorate. Instead of a ring, he popped the question with a family-heirloom diamond, for which the pair later designed the perfect setting.

Anne spent a long time deciding on a wedding-day color scheme (she ultimately embraced winter tones—ethereal greenery paired with burgundy, blush, cream, and gold) but knew she wanted candles—and lots of them. Her vision included crystal candelabra and tapers throughout the ballroom, which, she says, ultimately radiated with candlelight. The couple were first to see the romantic effect for a moment alone before the reception began. “The band kindly offered to play our first song for us,” Anne says. “Being able to dance alone with my new husband in a candlelit ballroom was an incredibly special moment that I will never forget.”

Blue Duck Tavern’s celebrated apple pie, alongside a small cake and cupcakes from Bakeshop in Arlington, ensured a sweet end to the evening.

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The wedding favors:We had some special ‘treats for the road’ that included snacks from our hometowns. For Jonathan, that meant Zapps potato chips and pralines from New Orleans, and for Anne, we had Virginia peanuts and popcorn.”

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The bouquet: Blush garden roses, champagne lisianthus, white ranunculus, white roses, white snapdragons, ivory spray roses, champagne roses, and burgundy ranunculus, arranged by Sweet Root Village.

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The chuppah: “I loved our ceremony room, and our chuppah, in particular,” says Anne. “It was such a beautiful setting, and it made the moment all the more magical.”

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The magic moment:Immediately following our ceremony, the Park Hyatt arranged for Anne and I to have a private moment together in our room with some champagne and some hors d’oeuvres,” says Jonathan. “The weekend was such an incredible whirlwind that having a short, quiet moment to ourselves right after the ceremony but before the partying began was really nice.”

The planning: “When we began planning the wedding, we had no idea how we wanted to decorate our reception. It was impossible to nail down our color scheme. But I did know that I wanted candles, and lots of them” says Anne. “With Margo Fischer’s help, we decided on low floral arrangements with crystal candelabras and lots of taper candles scattered around the room. Before the reception started, we were led into the ballroom for a sneak peek, and it was radiant with candlelight. It was everything I had imagined.”

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The food: “The Park Hyatt’s Blue Duck Tavern catered the wedding, and it was every bit as excellent as we expected” says Anne. “Blue Duck Tavern is known for their apple pie, which we served as dessert along with a smaller cake and cupcakes from one of our favorite places, Bakeshop in Arlington, Virginia.”

The Details:

Photography: Lissa Ryan Photography | Venue: Park Hyatt | Event Planning & Design: Bright Occasions | Florist: Sweet Root Village | Stationery: Stephanie B. Design | Caterer: Blue Duck Tavern | Rentals: La Tavola Fine Linen (overlay); Party Rental (underlay and chairs); DC Rental (chargers, flatware); Fabrication Events (draping, aisle runner, chuppah stage) | Hairstylist: Hair by Giselle | Makeup Artist: Carl Ray Makeup Artist | Bride’s Attire: Amsale, Garnish Boutique | Groom’s Attire: Suitsupply | Bridesmaids’ Attire: Amsale | Music: Music by Anthem (ceremony); Free Spirit (reception) | Officiant: Rabbi Kenneth Block, Rabbi on the Go


Amy Moeller
Fashion & Weddings Editor

Amy leads Washingtonian Weddings and writes Style Setters for Washingtonian. Prior to joining Washingtonian in March 2016, she was the editor of Capitol File magazine in DC and before that, editor of What’s Up? Weddings in Annapolis.

Assistant Editor

Hayley is an Associate Editor at Washingtonian Weddings. Previously she was the the Style Editor at The Local Palate, a Southern food culture magazine based out of Charleston, South Carolina. You can follow her on instagram @wandertaste.