A “Hunt-Country Chic” February Wedding at the Salamander

Shades of green, lots of velvet, a sushi first course, plus fire puts and s'mores.

Photographs by Lisa Ziesing for Abby Jiu Photography

Cara, senior director of events and programming for the women’s private membership network Chief, and Jonathan, VP of experience and hospitality for the Washington Nationals, say theirs is a “true pandemic love story.”

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, Cara moved from her one-bedroom apartment in the West Village to her parents’ home in Bethesda for what she anticipated to be a two- or three-week stay. Months later, she and Jonathan found each other on Bumble. Weary of meeting in person for a flop, the pair shared a phone date, instead. (“Maybe we should chat on the phone this week to see if either one of us is worth risking our lives for,” was Cara’s response to his dinner invitation.) “Needless to say,” they say, the phone date—full of random connections and common interests—was a success.” Their second date was a walk in Rock Creek Park with a bottle of rose (poured into a Yeti), and for their third date, Jonathon officially won Cara over with a home-cooked meal that included homemade hummus. 

On February 26, 2022, they married in the company of 130 guests and celebrated with a wedding they described as the “best dance party ever.” The pair chose the Salamander not only for its ballroom’s size (in case additional social distancing rules applied), but because, they say, it felt like an escape where they could spend time with guests, many of whom they hadn’t seen in two years. 

The theme—apt for the Middleburg location—was “hunt-country chic,” decorated in shades of green, white, taupe, toffee, and brown, plus plenty of velvet.

The wedding began with a cocktail hour with signature cocktails named after their dog (“The Bogey Smash”) and their neighborhood, (“Petworth Paloma”) then in observance of Jewish tradition, guests gathered after sunset for the ceremony. For the reception, they transformed the ballroom with emerald green velvet draping, lush florals, and wooden textures to create what their wedding planner described as a “warm, dramatic, yet festive setting.” To share their love of sushi, the couple chose a selection of it for their first course, and had custom menu cards with chopsticks set at each guests place. For after-dinner treats, they passed mini vanilla ice cream cones, flourless chocolate crinkle cookies, and chocolate-dipped rice krispies around the dance floor. The newlyweds kept the celebration going after the reception on Salamander’s patio, where guests were invited to have “S’more of the Stahl’s” around the fire pits—a nod to how the pair spent much of their time during the pandemic—with s’mores kits and late-night snacks. 







The Details

Photographer: Lisa Ziesing for Abby Jiu Photography | Venue: Salamander Resort & Spa | Planning and design: Sarah Kazemburg Events | Florist: Darling & Daughters  | Invitations: Emily Baird Design | Hairstylist: JKW Beauty | Makeup artist: Makeup by Shirin | Bride’s attire: Mira Zwillinger from Carine’s Bridal Atelier | Groom’s attire: Knot Standard | Music: PopCulture Strings (ceremony and cocktail hour) and Millennium (reception); Maryland’s DJ (afterparty) | Lighting: Frost DC and Dan Goldman Events | Rentals: Something Vintage and DC Rental | Pipe and drape: Fabrication Events | Photo booth:Maryland’s DJ

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.