Danielle, a pediatric occupational therapist, and Chris, a financial analyst, say there’s “no cute story,” to how they met, “just some good old-fashioned swiping.”
The pair were living on the Eastern Shore when they finally found one another, and thought the meeting was too good to be true. “We both felt like we hit the jackpot,” they say. For their first date, Danielle made them dinner at her Easton apartment—a one-sheet pan salmon and asparagus dinner that she says she thought was “fancy,” until Chris reciprocated with a dinner of roasted chicken and parsnip puree. The pair dated for 10 months before Chris popped the question in their Tysons Corner apartment, where they’d moved to along the way.
Chris says he’d been carrying the ring in his pocket for months waiting for the perfect time, but things kept popping up. He eventually realized that an imperfect time was better than an absent proposal. “So, I decided to just ask her. Not with a gorgeous, Eastern- Shore sunset as the backdrop, but in our apartment in Tysons Corner. Not when she and I were both dressed up and fresh, but after work. I decided to ask her when we were both in the midst of our normal, everyday lives—in our reality. I also assumed that this would be my best chance at asking when she least expected. September 16 is significant to me in that it used to represent one of the worst days of my life. On September 16, 2006, I was injured in an explosion in Iraq—I lost both legs and, what I assumed at the time, were the best years of my life. I decided that I would ask Danielle to marry me that day and redefine its significance to me.”
For 14 months they planned their wedding day. And though they’d planned to host 150 guests for their big day, Chris and Danielle faced a scenario we’ve seen on repeat this year: scaling back their guest list amidst the pandemic. “We were able to keep our original date,” says Danielle, but they downsized their invitees from 150 to just 15 people, who were sat by geographic region and “quarantine pods.” And although they weren’t able to host everyone they’d intended, the couple says that by cutting their guest list, they were able to throw a more personalized celebration. “The benefit of cutting our wedding to such a small guest count is that it really made me think about every little detail of the day,” says Danielle, adding that she was able to use meaningful items throughout their decor to evoke an extra special wedding-day aesthetic. “I think retrospectively my favorite details were caught perfectly by our photographer in her flat lay photos,” says Danielle. The couple’s photographer, Megan Bennett, paired special memorabilia, such as Chris’s Purple Heart award, with wedding details. Chris says his favorite detail was a letter and a gift that Danielle gave to his son. “It was a very heartfelt letter and poem, detailing how life had given her the gift of him,” and the gift, Chris adds, was an engraved gold pocket watch.
In lieu of favors, the couple made a donation on behalf of their guests to the USO Metro, and the pair say they “plan to host a lunch for the guards at Arlington National Cemetery in honor of the fallen Marines of 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines Regiment.”
Along with the couple’s personal details, the wedding featured an elegant winter theme filled with seasonal florals, such as magnolia leaves, greenery , and ivory blooms, cozy fireplaces, and romantic candle lighting. They also splurged and hired entertainment during their intimate reception. “Even though we only had 15 guests, I am so glad that we had a band,” says Danielle. “It really made our tiny wedding feel like a big party.” Following the celebration the couple took a mini-moon to St. Michaels and stayed at The Inn at Perry Cabin. See more from their big day below.
Get more Washingtonian Weddings inspo:
Photographer: Megan Bennett Photography | Venue & Caterer: The Tidewater Inn | Planning & Design: Rachel Kelly Events | Florist: Seaberry Farms | Cake: BabyCakes | Hair Stylist: Studio Two Salon | Makeup Artist: April Bitter | Bride’s Attire: Justin Alexander (wedding gown); Aidan Mattox (reception dress) | Groom & Groomsmen Attire: The Groomsmen Suit | Bridesmaids’ Attire: Macy’s | Music/Entertainment: The Chris Diller Band