This Rustic Virginia Wedding Included a Dinosaur Suit and a Battle of Lightsabers

And the dance party, it appears, was pretty epic.

Photographs by Mason Photography

Gabriela, a community support worker from Burke, Virginia (born in El Salvador), and Alejandro, a program assistant from Arlington (born in Bolivia), met, according to Ale, during a youth camp around 2008 when, during a group game, Gabriela and a friend attempted to dump a trashcan full of ice water on him, but instead accidentally bopped him with the rim of the trashcan, all on video.

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She was first attracted to his “mismatched, weird” style—and the confidence to go with it; he to her “clumsy, goofy … true to who she is” nature.

According to Gabriela, though, their true meeting was a few years later, when, upon running into one another at a summer fair put on by Gabriela’s church, Alejandro commented on a “politically charged” teeshirt she was wearing about the Salvadoran Civil War. After a conversation and an agreement to disagree, the pair stayed in touch—he at George Mason grad school and her at George Mason undergrad—and got together regularly to share pizza and watch Youtube videos on campus.


For their first date—which almost didn’t happen, when Gabriela expressed fear that a potentially failed romantic relationship would end a good friendship—was in Old Town, Alexandria. They shared mini m&ms on the way, then parked and wandered the city before dinner at II Porto Ristorante. 

“We felt so out of place,” says Gabriela. “We were the youngest people there, trying to dress the part, but clearly very much outside of our comfort zone. So what did we do? We made fun of ourselves, and highlighted our lack of fanciness. We ordered escargot, and ate them shots style, daring each other to be the first to try the dish. P.S.,” she adds, “we loved them, and have continue to order them anywhere they are offered!” After dinner they walked to the Wilkes St Tunnel, and found a spot along the water to sit and chat. Her feet were blistered from her shoes, so Alejandro gave her his, and he walked back barefoot, her shoes in his hand. 

Four years later, Alejandro recreated that walk from their first date—M&Ms and all—but this time popped the question, and the pair celebrated over dinner with their families. 

The pair married on November 1, 2019 at Warrenton, Virginia’s Inn at Vint Hill, which they decorated in shades of champagne, burgundy, and navy blue. The bride’s favorite details were the foot-washing ceremony, which led the newlyweds to recess up the aisle barefoot as they “jumped and danced out into their life together as husband and wife.” From there, they wore matching Mr. and Mrs. Aguayo personalized vans to the reception—shoes they still wear in their day-to-day lives. The groom’s favorite part were the surprises that popped up throughout the day, from the dinosaur-suit-first-look, to the lightsaber fight between bridesmaids and groomsmen. 

For the flowers, they chose roses and baby’s breath along with carnation, which were the first flower Ale gave to Gabriela when they were dating. The menu included a choice of New York Strip, Champagne chicken and mushrooms, or roasted vegetable tortellini, all of which they say guests still talk about. And for the signature cocktail, they offered margaritas they called the “Rollercoaster” after the song by the Bleachers—a band they saw at the 9:30 Club in 2014, and a song Ale played with his brothers at the reception. 

Following the celebration, the couple honeymoon in Cancun. Check out their wedding video here

The Details

Photographer: Mason Photography | Venue: Inn at Vint Hill @theinnatvinthill | Planning: Pearls and BowTies Events | Florist: LéRoy French Flowers | Invitations: Basic Invite | Cake: Tres Leches House | Hairstylist: Gabby & Martha | Makeup Artist: Camila Ceballos | Bride’s Attire: Oleg Cassini from David’s Bridal | Groom’s Attire: Kenneth Cole from Macy’s | Bridesmaids’ Attire: JJ’s House, Lulus, Etsy | Music: DJ TC Soundz | Videographer: Austin Uphoff | Photobooth: 321 Flash Photo Booths  | Signs and personalized shoes: Find Your RARE | Head table backdrop: Clan’s Party Decor

Amy Moeller
Editor, Washingtonian Weddings

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.