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Expert Advice

15 Must-Have Detail Photos From Your Wedding Day

At the end of the night, it’s all in the details (and whether or not you have photos of them).

By Caroline Cunningham Photograph by Abby Jiu.

You’ve spent months planning and preparing, picking fonts for your invitations, gifts for your welcome bag, accent plates and flatware for your table settings, bouquets, centerpieces, canapes--the list could go on and on. But though you’ve invested all of these hours (not to mention dollars) in planning the perfect celebration, at the end of the night, all you’re going to have are the memories and the photographs.

That’s why it’s essential that you and your photographer are on the same page when it comes to your must-have shots. Of course, a professional photographer will have you covered, and you need not worry about them capturing all the moments of your special day. But it never hurts, especially on a day that will fly by in a blur of joy, to think and plan ahead with your photographer about the photos that matter the most to you.

As bridal editors who’ve poured over thousands of images, we’ve got an idea of some of the must-have photos from a wedding. Here are 15 detail photographs that we think are important to walk away with from your wedding day.

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Engagement Photos

Engagement Photo Session in a Monastery Courtyard

Mallory Mpare and Bradley Quarles are set to wed on September 19, 2015.

By Caroline Cunningham All photographs by Kristen Lynne Photography.

It took just a few words for Mallory Mpare to pique Bradley (Brad) Quarles’ interest. Both in their freshman year of college, Mallory was chatting with some of Bradley’s friends when she excused herself to go catch the University of North Carolina and Duke basketball game. As soon as Brad heard that she was a Tarheels fan, he knew he needed to get to know this girl.

They decided to go see a movie and grab pizza afterwards, and they were surprised by how easily the conversation and laughter flowed. That feeling grew over the next seven years of dating, when in the fall of 2013, Brad asked Mallory to go ring shopping, just to get an idea of what she liked. But though Mallory was excited, she waited through the holidays—followed by New Year’s, then Valentine’s Day—wondering when he was finally going to propose.

On Mother’s Day, Brad brought Mallory to a couple’s massage that he’d won at a happy hour. After their session, they decided to grab brunch in Dupont Circle. But as the walked towards the intersection, Mallory saw some familiar faces in the crowd of pedestrians, and she soon realized that all of their family was waiting there for them. Whether Brad, overwhelmed with emotion, actually got the important question out before Mallory said "yes" is debated by the pair to this day.

The couple joined Kristen Lynne Photography at the secluded Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America for their engagement photos. They snapped some photos in formal wear, as well as some casual clothes to best capture their everyday selves. Mallory and Brad are currently planning a wedding for September 19, 2015 in Durham, NC.

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Shows & Events

"Curvy Brides" Premiers on TLC on Friday

The new television show will feature local bridal salon Curvaceous Couture.

By Caroline Cunningham Image courtesy TLC.

“Say Yes to the Dress” meets “Sister Sister”—that’s how sisters Yukia Walker and Yuneisia Harris describe their new show on TLC, “Curvy Brides,” which premiers on Friday night. The show follows the business owners throughout their day-to-day life at their bridal salon Curvaceous Couture in Columbia, where fuller-figured brides can find gowns sized 14 to 44.

The salon, which opened in 2008, was born out of Walker’s frustration at the lack of plus-sized options when shopping for her own wedding dress. Unable to find a gown that fit her curves, she ended up purchasing a gown that was too small on top, and as a result she felt uncomfortable and unhappy with how she looked throughout her entire wedding day.

Not wanting other brides to experience what she did, Walker called up her sister and asked her to start a salon that would cater to plus-sized brides who want high-quality, couture gowns for their wedding day.

“We found that we needed to find designers that have dresses with great structure in them—that is really important for a plus-sized bride,” says Walker. “A lot of the high-end designers tend to use softer fabrics and softer structures underneath, so it’s been a challenge.”

But Harris and Walker have filled their salon with designers who appeal to curvy silhouettes, from Ian Stuart to Maggie Sottero to Enzoani. As soon as the designers added Curvaceous Couture to their online lists of retailers, the phone started ringing.

“Our store wasn’t ready, but girls were calling us,” says Walker. “They said, ‘I don’t care—we’ll try them on in a bathroom!’”

And it wasn’t just the brides who were interested. Television producers who knew a good idea when they saw it started ringing the sisters up, asking to chronicle their story on a show. At the time, Walker was newly married and having kids, so they turned the producers down. But a few years ago, Walker and Harris received an offer that was too good to pass on.

“You cannot say ‘no’ to TLC—they are the forefront of TV and bridal,” says Walker.

They shot a pilot episode in March 2014, and it aired on August 1. After a positive reception, they filmed the rest of the 12 30-minute episodes in October.

As with any reality television show, the episodes will be as much about the dynamics of the sisters’ relationship as it is about the salon, and rather than being contained to the store setting, the cameras follow Harris and Walker into their lives outside of work and even up to New York Bridal Market. Though reality television shows can have a penchant for over-dramatizing scenes, Walker says “Curvy Brides” is true to what actually happens in the day-to-day life of a family-run business.

“I’ve looked at a lot of reality TV, and a lot of the time, I’m thinking, ‘No, no, that’s not real,’” says Walker. “But from watching our pilot episode and the little bit that I’ve seen of the series, it truly is a representation of who we are here as Curvaceous Couture and how Yuneisia and I are as sisters running a business.”

The show is set to premier on May 1, and both sisters are excited to share their story with viewers.

“I’m looking forward to the world seeing how beautiful any bride can be on their special day,” says Walker.

Tune in to TLC on Friday at 9:30/8:30c and 10/9c to watch the premier of “Curvy Brides.”

Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Pink & Blue Virginia Country Club Wedding

Matthew Borland and Caitlin Sims married on July 7, 2014.

By Caroline Cunningham All photographs by Dominique Attaway Photography.

Matthew (Matt) Borland and Caitlin Sims, were both working on Wall Street, when they ran across one another at a bar. He was a sophisticated New Yorker and she was a sweet southerner, but their differences only made them more interested in getting to know the other. They stayed in touch over the next year, and when they finally went out for a first date of margaritas and Mexican food, they realize that their friendship would become more.

They had dated for a year when they made plans to go to dinner at a nice Italian restaurant. Before their night on the town, they made their way to the rooftop of their building to relax and enjoy some drinks. Matt pulled out a bottle of champagne, and as they were sipping and watching the sunset, their doorman appeared on the rooftop with a phone in hand. Thinking he’d come up to take a picture of them all dressed up for their night out, Caitlin turned back to Matt to find him down on one knee, a little grey box in his hand.

The couple married on June 7, 2014 in Caitlin’s hometown, Charlottesville, at the beautiful Farmington Country Club. The bride tucked peonies from her mother’s garden into her bouquet and used the boxwoods at her childhood home to create wreathes to adorn their chairs at the reception. The guests drank the couple’s favorite La Marca prosecco and noshed on Virginia ham biscuits during a cocktail hour overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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Shows & Events

14 Can't-Miss Bridal Trunk Shows to Find Your Wedding Dress

Shop for your gown at these local salons this month.

By Caroline Cunningham Image courtesy Theia.

They say that all of the wedding planning stems from the style of the dress that you'll wear down the aisle, so don't hesistate to start hunting down the dress of your dreams. There's an amazing lineup of bridal trunk shows headed to the region this month, and the experts at these local salons will help you figure out which style and designer is right for you. From the ultra-romantic Claire Pettibone collection to the more adventurous Inbal Dror, there's a gown out there for every girl, so schedule some appointments, and happy shopping!

Siri Mothers

Just in time for Mother’s Day, take the mothers of the bride and groom shopping for their dresses from Siri, who designs with the fashion-forward MOB in mind.

Soliloquy Bridal. 754 Elden St., Herndon; 571-449-2580. May 1-3.

Watters, WToo, and Love Marley

Shop sister brands Waters and WToo, as well as their more garden-party, boho cousin, Love Marley, at this tri-collection trunk show.

Betsy Robinson’s Bridal Collection, 1848 Reisterstown Road, Baltimore; 410-484-4600. May 1 through 3.

Accessories Trunk Show with Thomas Knoell and Toni Federici

Shop for everything but your dress at this accessories trunk show with renown designers Thomas Knoell’s jewelry and headpieces and Toni Federici’s stunning collection of veils.

Betsy Robinson’s Bridal Collection, 1848 Reisterstown Road, Baltimore; 410-484-4600. May 1 through 3.

Claire Pettibone Romantique

The soft and ultra-feminine line will be up for try-ons during this weekend trunk show that features both the Claire Pettibone main collection and the Romantique couture line.

Hannelore’s of Olde Town, 106 North Lee St., Alexandria; 703-549-0387. May 1 through 3.

Bel Aire

Plan a trial hair appointment, then head to Ellie’s to play dress up with the veils, tiaras, combs, jewelry, and more that will complete your wedding day look.

Ellie’s Bridal Boutique. 225 N. Washington St., Alexandria; 703-683-8697. May 1 through 3.

Modern Trousseau Trunk Show

Shop this American-made collection from Australian-born designer Callie Tein for highly customizable bridal gowns. Like the top of one and the skirt from another? Your wish is their command.

Hitched Bridal Couture. 1523 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-6162. May 2 through 3.

Mira Zwillinger

This designer’s fashion-forward line will appeal to the bride who wants a unique look to take her down the aisle.

Carine’s Bridal Atelier. 1726 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-965-4696. May 7 through 9.

BLISS Monique Lhuillier

Shop the ever-romantic and elegant sister collection of Monique Lhuillier for brides who want a designer tag at a lower price point.

The Wedding Suite at Nordstrom. 8075 Tysons Corner Center, McLean; 703-761-1121. May 8 through 10.

Kenneth Pool

This collection is all about the drama with its gorgeous ball gowns and luxurious embroidery for the bride who won’t be put in a corner on her wedding day.

Carine’s Bridal Atelier. 1726 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-965-4696. May 14 through 16.


This Ethiopian-born designer has been rocking the runway of late with her chic silhouettes. Check out her collection for classic bridal gowns that are anything but boring.

Hitched Bridal Couture. 1523 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-6162. May 15 through 16.

Naeem Khan Best of Bridal

All of the stunning embroidery on Naeem Khan's collection is done by hand, and the quality shows in the impeccably tailored gowns.

The Bridal Salon at Saks Jandel. 5510 Wisconsin Ave.; 301-652-2250. May 15 through 16.

Sareh Nouri

Local designer Sareh Nouri’s fairy tale, illusion-neckline gowns will cast a spell on any brides hunting for their perfect gown.

Soliloquy Bridal. 754 Elden St., Herndon; 571-449-2580. May 22 through 24.

Theia White

The modern designer mixes in pops of the unexpected among traditional looks to appeal to brides of all different tastes.

Ellie’s Bridal Boutique. 225 N. Washington St., Alexandria; 703-683-8697. May 22 through 24.

Oscar de la Renta

Is there a bridal designer more iconic than Oscar de la Renta? His legacy lives on in the Fall 2015 collection, available for the weekend at Saks Jandel.

The Bridal Salon at Saks Jandel. 5510 Wisconsin Ave.; 301-652-2250. May 28 through 30.

Engagement Photos

Cherry Blossom Engagement Photos at the Tidal Basin

Emily Harmon and Jon Lin got engaged on July 4, 2014. 

By Caroline Cunningham All photographs by Terri Baskin Photography.

Emily Harmon wasn’t pleased when her friend Michelle announced that she had—yet again—found a great guy to set her up with. Though Emily told her friend she had no interest in getting to know Jonathan (Jon) Lin, that didn’t stop Michelle from throwing a party and secretly inviting them both so that they’d be forced to meet. As soon as Emily found out what she’d done, she was so annoyed so refused to speak to Jon and spent the night avoiding him.

But Jon, who took her reticence as shyness, sought her out and finally, halfway through the party, got her to speak with him. Emily soon realized that Jon was a genuinely nice guy, so they went for a first date at La Tasca in Arlington. Three and a half years later, they were on vacation with Emily’s family in Ocean City, Maryland over the July 4 weekend. Jon asked Emily to go on a midnight stroll on the beach, and it was there that he got down on one knee and proposed.

Considering that Emily is a floral designer and the owner of Love Blooms Here, it was only fitting that she and Jon take advantage of Washington’s best floral landscape for their engagement photos. They met at the Tidal Basin with Terri Baskin Photography and to snap some shots in front of the cherry blossoms, and captured a few photos throughout Georgetown’s picturesque streets as well. Emily and Jon have their wedding date set for August 29, 2015 at St. Francis Hall.

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Shows & Events

You Don't Want to Miss This Sample Sale

Shop designer gowns at serious discounts at Carine’s Bridal Atelier.

By Caroline Cunningham Gowns from Monique Lhuillier and other top designers will sell for 30 to 75 percent off.

Carine’s Bridal Atelier is hosting a sample sale, and with their line-up of high-end designers, this is not one brides-to-be will want to pass on. From Monique Lhuillier to Marchesa, the boutique is filled with dreamy designer dresses. Quality comes at a price when you’re talking wedding gowns, but April 28 through 29, that price will be a lot lower.

With discounts between 30 and 75 percent on off the rack gowns, brides can score an amazing deal on a designer gown. All 14 of the lines carried by Carine’s Bridal Atelier will be up for grabs, so whether an iconic Carolina Herrera gown or a fashion-forward frock from Berta fits a bride’s aesthetic, there’s sale dresses for all. The salon only hosts two sample sales a year, so newly engaged brides-to-be will want to book their appointments ASAP.

Call the salon to reserve a spot, then grab your strapless bra, heels, and girlfriends to make the shopping trip a success.

Carine’s Bridal Atelier, 1726 Wisconsin Ave, NW; 202-965-4696, April 28-29.

Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Pretty in Pink Wedding at The Mayflower Hotel

Dana Rachefsky and Michael Giangreco wed on September 20, 2014.

By Caroline Cunningham All photographs by Eli Turner.

Dana Rachefsky and Michael (Mike) Giangreco’s first meeting was akin to a scene in a chick flick, even though it took place in a less-than-scenic grocery store. Mike had stopped by after work to pick up milk and deli meat, and that was when he spotted Dana walking into the shop. “It had just stopped raining and the sun was shining behind me, and to add more of a cinematic effect, the fans above the automatic sliding doors blew my hair back as I walked in,” says Dana.

Waiting for his number to be called at the deli counter, Mike kept his eye on Dana in the produce section. When he couldn’t hold it in any longer, he walked over to Dana and said, “Excuse me, I know this is out of the blue, but I just wanted to tell you that I think you’re really pretty.” A quick chat led to a phone call later that night to plan a first date.

They went to dinner at the American Tap Room in Bethesda, and though Mike overdid it on his celebrity impressions in an attempt to impress his date (Vince Vaughn, Robert De Niro, and Chris Rock all made an appearance at their table), Dana was willing to give him a second chance. The pair dated for a year and a half, when Mike too Dana out to Acqua Al 2 to celebrate a work anniversary. The Italian restaurant’s walls are covered with personalized plates, with messages from patrons. As Dana and Mike dug into a piece of cheesecake, she noticed that there was a message on the plate—“Will you marry me?”—which hangs on the restaurant’s wall today.

They wed on September 20, 2014 with a celebration at The Mayflower Hotel. The bride wore a belt and veil made by her aunt and mother, and the groom’s tux was custom made by a close friend. At the end of the night, they sent home their guests with loaves of banana bread, with The Mayflower’s traditional recipe.

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Real Weddings

Real Wedding: San Francisco 49er Antoine Bethea Married His College Sweetheart Samantha at the Ronald Reagan Building

The Howard University alums wed on June 28, 2014.

By Caroline Cunningham All photographs by Procopio Photography.

Before Antoine Bethea was a strong safety for the San Francisco 49ers, he played for Howard University, where he met Samantha Romantini during his freshman year. They were both athletes at the school, so their paths crossed frequently and they soon became friends. At first, Antoine played hard to get, even though Samantha could tell the attraction was there. But when Antoine used a box of Mike and Ikes as a bartering chip for her phone number, she knew her suspicions were confirmed.

They went on a first date to IHOP after a college party, and for the next three and a half years, they were inseparable. In 2012, when Antoine was playing for the Colts, he took advantage of a bye week and planned a birthday surprise for Samantha, bringing all of her family and friends to a suite in the Barclays Center in New York. The next night, Antoine took Samantha to dinner at Quality Meats, and when she opened the dessert menu, there was a note from Antoine that finished with the question, “Will you marry me?”

The couple wed on June 28, 2014 at the Ronald Reagan Building in front of a stunning draped altar. The room was filled with white orchids and all of their loved ones danced the night away with the couple before they jetted off to honeymoon in Dubai.

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Bridal Boot Camp

Before and After Bridal Skin Bootcamp

Chronicling one bride’s journey to a healthy glow.

By Caroline Cunningham Before photo by Lauren Joseph, after photo by Documentary Associates.

After sharing about Blush Med Skincare’s bSKIN bridal plan to help brides’ skin look wedding-day ready, we sent out Vanessa McDonald (formerly Schutz), Washingtonian account executive and bride-to-be, to try out the services over the months leading up to her wedding on February 14, 2015. The bSKIN bridal bootcamp can run for three, six, or twelve months at a time, depending on the preferences or needs of the bride, for $59 a month. To test the services, McDonald participated in eight treatments over six months, planned by Blush Med Institute founder and medical director Dr. Arleen Lamba.

Treatment 1: Core Microderm Face

The first treatment took place on September 23. After Lamba had evaluated McDonald’s face, an aesthetician began the first stage by removing dead skin cells from the surface of McDonald's skin. “They use a tool that almost acts as a vacuum to remove dry and dead skin, so you are left with a layer of healthy skin,” says McDonald. “My face felt incredibly soft.”

Removing the dead skin cells as the first step was “important because many times people tend to get facials without doing an appropriate level of exfoliation first, so the heavy facial creams sit on the surface of our skin, clogging further these dead layers which in turn leads to breakouts,” says Lamba.

Treatment 2: Enzyme Facial with a Microdermabrasion

McDonald returned on October 21 for a facial that included microdermabrasion. “We utilized enzymes found naturally in fruits such as pomegranates and pineapples to help brighten her skin tone,” says Lamba. "The microdermabrasion utilized in this procedure was done to polish the skin and to smoothen it and increase blood flow to the surface.”

After leaving her second procedure, McDonald said she could feel the difference. “I once again left with incredibly soft skin, and this time I noticed that my skin was actually glowing and felt healthy and hydrated.”

Treatment 3: Core Microderm Face and Core Chemical Peel-Glycolic

For her third procedure on November 18, McDonald experienced a chemical peel after a round of microdermabrasion. "The goal of combining the chemical peel and microdermabrasion is to help exfoliate deeper to get rid of sun damage and impurities that build up,” says Lamba. After once again removing a layer of dead skin from the surface of her face, the chemical peel was applied.

“The peel burned for 30 seconds or so when applied, but then it settled down,” says McDonald. “It was only left on my face for a few minutes since it was my first peel, and I didn't notice any major redness or irritation afterward.” Following the appointment, McDonald says the soft, healthy glow lasted for about a week. “I also use a Clarisonic which helps extends the benefits of the treatments by exfoliating as well,” she says.

Treatment 4: Core Facial Blushing Experience

For the fourth treatment on December 18, Lamba focused on hydration, using the center’s all-natural “maintenance facial” that can be done monthly. “The facial included cleaning the skin, light extractions, exfoliating, and finishing off with a mask. My face felt clean, and I hated to put makeup back on the skin the next morning because it was so nice,” says McDonald. “It was the perfect time of year for a relaxing facial as well with all of the craziness of wedding planning coming to a head.”

Treatment 5: Core Microderm and Core Light Skin Rejuvenation

On January 13, one month out from her wedding, McDonald received another round of microdermabrasion to remove dead skin cells. This time, the focus was on evening out her skin tone. Following an extraction of her nose to eliminate any clogged pores, McDonald sat beneath a skin rejuvenation light. “The goal of the Red Light Therapy is to decrease inflammation in the skin,” says Lamba. “We also use the Red Light Therapy to prevent any breakouts by killing acne-causing bacteria and decrease redness in the skin.”

McDonald walked out with a smooth, soft face. She was pleased that while she was with family over the holidays, they noticed a change in her skin. “Even my older sister kept commenting on how great my skin looked,” said McDonald. “I know that the treatments and my own skin care regime are really paying off.”

Treatment 6 & 7: Core Light Skin Rejuvenation

A week later, on January 20, McDonald headed to the center for a quick 25-minute session of Red Light Therapy, a treatment that can be scheduled multiple times in the last month leading up to the wedding for $20 a month. “It's kind of like tanning--goggles and all--without the heat radiating from the lights,” says McDonald. According to Lamba, the acne-fighting properties of the light are intended to keep a bride from breaking out in the weeks before her wedding as the stress mounts. To maintain the effects, McDonald returned on January 27 for another 25 minutes beneath the lights.

Treatment 8: Core Facial Blushing Experience and Core Light Skin Rejuvenation

On February 3, a week and a half before her wedding, McDonald returned for another facial and red light treatment. “The Blushing Facial was done to gently exfoliate and hydrate, and we follow with Red Light Therapy to achieve a lasting bridal glow,” says Lamba. After completing her final pre-wedding procedure, McDonald was ready to walk down the aisle with clear, healthy skin.

Overall, McDonald found the experience to be very positive. "They had the friendliest customer service," says McDonald. "There was never an attempt to sell me on things I didn't need, which I've experienced at other places." With the easy of online scheduling of appointments and the efficiency of the treatments, McDonald has decided to sign up for another year of Blush Med Skincare treatments to keep her skin glowing through her first year of marital bliss.

More information on the bSKIN bridal plan can be found on Blush Med Skincare’s website.

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