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Real Weddings

Real Wedding: November Nuptials at the Hay-Adams

Amanda Kuker and Jordan Gorski wed after dating for 13 years.

By Caroline Cunningham All photographs by The Happy Couple Photography.

Though not many people can say they found their soul mate at age 14, it wasn’t difficult for Amanda Kuker to imagine a future with Jordan Gorski when they met the summer after eighth grade. “Jordan caught my attention immediately when we met outside the local movie theater,” says Amanda. “The whole night, people seemed to gravitate toward him. He was—and is—the type of guy everyone likes and wants to be around, me included.”

Their first date was at the local fairgrounds, going on rides and munching on funnel cakes. From that night on, they were inseparable, dating through high school, college, and graduate school. They settled together in Washington in 2012, and the next year Jordan planned an amazing getaway to Jamaica.

“We decided earlier that year to treat ourselves to a mini vacation,” says Amanda. “When we were booking the trip, I thought to myself, ‘This would be the perfect place to propose. I wonder if he’ll propose? Oh, I hope he’ll propose! but quickly contained my glee.’” Her instincts proved to be right on point: One afternoon during the trip, Jordan invited Amanda to go on a walk to explore the resort’s golf course. It was there, standing among ruins that overlooked that the ocean, that he popped the question.

A year later, the couple married at the Hay-Adams on a beautiful November day. Amanda’s bridesmaids wore glitzy gold and silver dresses, the ring bearer rolled the baby flower girl down the aisle in a wagon, and the ceremony centered on memories from Jordan and Amanda’s many years leading up to their wedding. But despite the stunning venue, delicious cake, and beautiful flowers, Jordan only had eyes for his dream girl. “I had always imagined what Amanda would look like on our wedding day, and she still blew me away,” he says. “I'm glad we had a photographer and videographer capture the moment, because she was all I could focus on.”

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10 Bridal Clutches for Every Budget

Whether you’ve got $50 or $1,500 to spend, we’ve got a classy bag for you.

By Caroline Cunningham Photograph by Shutterstock/freya-photographer.

You’ve got your dress, shoes, and jewelry, but it’s easy to forget that last piece: the clutch. It’ll be by your side throughout the day, carrying all your necessities to ensure that your lips are properly glossed and tears of joy are blotted gently away. In the wide range of bridal clutches, from tacky satin squares to desirable designer versions, there’s a bag for everyone. Check out our list of ten gorgeous designs to find yours.

This petite silver clutch is covered with delicate swirls for a bit of wedding day pizzazz. Tasha Crystal Swirl clutch ($298) at Nordstrom.

This gold glitter box clutch says it all. Kate Spade New York Wedding Belles Ravi ($398) at Kate Spade.

The label lover will fall for this sleek designer clutch. Saint Laurent monogram smooth leather clutch bag ($1,150) at Neiman Marcus.

A little bit of pearl embellishment goes a long way in this scalloped design. Pearl and stone party clutch ($39) at Charming Charlie.

If simple gold is good enough for your wedding band, it’s good enough for your wedding bag. Michael Michael Kors Elsie Crystal Box ($298) at Bloomingdale’s.

Any Art Deco-inspired bride will want this geometric clutch by her side. Kate Landry Hex gold chain frame clutch ($75) at Dillard’s.

This exquisite beaded bag has enough room for all the essentials: iPhone, lipstick, and tissues. Greybloom clutch ($250) at BHLDN.

There’s a lovely vintage vibe to this kiss-lock closure clutch. Jessica McClintock bead and sequin handbag ($59.50) at David’s Bridal.

The chevron pattern in the beading of this bag lends it a simple elegance. Nina Hamilton clutch ($125) at Nina.

The florals blend into the beading of this bag, giving it just a hint of 1970s flair. Marchesa lily enamel and crystal embroidered clutch bag ($2,695) at Neiman Marcus.

Real Weddings

Real Wedding: A Fall Wedding at the Newseum

These college sweethearts tied the knot in a modern-elegant celebration.

By Caroline Cunningham All photographs by Mohaimen Kazi Photography.

Annie Malter and Josh Nathan met during their first weeks at Emory University, where they were living in the same freshman dorm. They quickly became friends—hanging out in one another’s dorm rooms and playing practical jokes on Josh’s roommate—but when they began their sophomore year of college, Josh asked Annie out for a late-night snack at the on-campus restaurant. “It was around midnight, and we had chocolate chip pancakes and chicken fingers,” says Annie. “Afterward, I got a terrible stomachache—which I probably deserved, given our choice of food—and Josh sat outside with me on a bench for hours distracting me with jokes and funny stories.”

They went on to date throughout the rest of college, celebrating graduation and their first jobs, and eventually moved in together. One Saturday morning seven years later, Josh woke Annie up to tell her he’d made her favorite breakfast—chocolate chip pancakes. Annie wanted to sleep longer, but Josh told her, “It’s the best batch of pancakes I’ve ever made.” When he brought the breakfast tray to the bed, Annie saw why: Spelled out in chocolate chip pancakes were the words, “Marry me?”

The couple wed on October 25, 2014, a year later at the Newseum’s Knight Conference Center, which was a less traditional venue but still had the modern elegance they were looking for. They enjoyed perfect fall weather that allowed for photos on the terrace and spent the night surrounded on the dance floor by loved ones. As for the cake, they made sure to include a layer of Annie’s favorite: chocolate chip.

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6 Bold Bridesmaid Looks

Bold hues and punchy patterns make bridesmaid fashion twice as nice.

Photography by Dean Alexander.

In "Double Vision," we paired up bridesmaids dresses that don't have to be the same style, hem lengths, or even pattern, to look fabulous next to you. Fun prints in blue or pink shake things up a bit, and sophisticated silhouettes and sparkly dresses add fashion-forward glamour to the affair.

Still wanting a little unity among your bridesmaids' fashion? Scroll to see how we used similar hairstyles, makeup, jewelry and shoes to bring these looks together.

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Real Weddings

Real Wedding: A Rustic-Chic Wedding at Woodend Nature Sanctuary

Caitlin Cottingham and Nicholas Xenakis's celebration featured a banjo player and plenty of family photos.

By Caroline Cunningham All photographs by Abby Jiu Photography.

Nicholas (Nick) Xenakis was working as a law clerk in Charleston, West Virginia, when he noticed the incredibly intelligent, sophisticated woman who also worked as a clerk across the hall. Caitlin Cottingham was charmed by Nick’s warm and genuine smile, so she agreed to go to dinner with him at the farm-to-table Bluegrass Kitchen in Charleston. The pair hit it off, and for the next two years their affection only grew stronger.

They had relocated to an apartment in Logan Circle when Caitlin came home to find Nick waiting, an important question on his mind. After she said yes, he took her out for a celebratory dinner at Komi that began their year and a half engagement. The couple wed on October 11, 2014, at the Woodend Nature Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, in a celebration full of rustic-chic details. Old family photos were on display, a banjo player performed, and guests snacked on fresh cheeses from a cheese cart. Altogether, Caitlin says their wedding was a day that “felt like us.”

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Real Weddings

Real Wedding: A "Something Blue" Wedding at Sequoia

These two teachers tied the knot in a celebration with plenty of vibrant blue accents.

By Caroline Cunningham All photographs by Eli Turner.

Leah Schwartz and Sam Moser attended a job fair with the same goal in mind: to walk out with new employment. Waiting to interview for the few available positions, they sat next to one another and chatted for a few minutes, but as they left the fair, neither thought they’d see the other again. But as fate would have it, both got hired by the same county to teach third grade.

During orientation for their new jobs, Leah recognized Sam as the cute guy she’d spoken to at the fair. She approached him and tried to turn on the charm, but Sam was oblivious. Finally, she asked him for his e-mail address, under the pretense of wanting to discuss lesson plans and classroom setup. “I was too busy reading 1984 to realize what was going on,” says Sam. “It wasn’t until she asked for my e-mail that I realized she was interested in me.”

Once he finally got the hint, Sam asked Leah on a first date to the Front Page in Arlington, and both were soon smitten. After they'd been dating for a year and a half, they planned to take a three-week road trip through the South. But when Leah arrived at Sam’s house with her bags packed, she found him surrounded by rose petals and candles waiting to ask for her hand. Leah’s sister, Rebecca McFarland, marketing and events director for Washingtonian, was in on the plan, and was waiting to capture the emotional moment.

The couple wed on July 26, 2014, at Sequoia, which they filled with blue accents--blue chair cushions, napkins, bridesmaid dresses, and cake tablecloth. As a play on their roles as teachers, they used apples as place-card holders and upper- and lowercase letters instead of table numbers. They wrote their own custom ceremony to include their closest family members, and they danced into their new life together to Keb Mo’s “Life Is Beautiful.”

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Real Weddings

Real Wedding: A Cozy Winter Wedding at the Carnegie Institute for Science

This couple's elegant celebration featured a hot chocolate bar and fur wraps for the bridal party.

By Caroline Cunningham All photographs by Lisa Boggs Photography.

Tom Soldan was studying law at the University of Georgia when he realized that two of his friends would make an excellent match. He introduced the two of them, Ansly and Drew, and they hit it off from the start. They later went on to get married, and were so thankful to Tom for setting them up that they decided to return the favor. Ansly told Tom all about her best friend, Ashley Morrison. Though she lived in Atlanta and Tom lived in Northern Virginia, in 2010 they found themselves both in Atlanta—Ashley had come to visit her parents and Tom had traveled to spend the weekend with Ansly and Drew. The four of them decided to watch the University of Georgia football game together, and for the rest of the weekend, Tom and Ashley were inseparable.

After the trip was over, they kept in touch over the phone. Three months later, they agreed to meet in Nashville. Though traffic caused Tom to miss his flight, he was determined to reach his girl, so he switched flights and arrived in Nashville the next morning, and the two of them met for breakfast at Noshville.

Long distance wasn’t ideal in either of their minds, so as their relationship turned more serious, Ashley relocated to Northern Virginia to be closer to Tom. Work still called her back to Nashville from time to time, and on one such occasion, as Ashley was finishing breakfast with a friend at Noshville, Tom appeared, and it was there, at the site of their first date, that he asked her to be his wife.

They wed on February 8, 2014, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, and celebrated afterward at the Carnegie Institute for Science. They kept their guests warm with a hot chocolate bar and homemade chocolate chip cookies, and enjoyed watching their friends and family dance the night away. At the end of the day, Tom and Ashley say they “loved it all!”

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Expert Advice

5 Tips for Eloping in DC

Maggie Gaudaen of Pop! Wed shares how to plan the perfect flash wedding.

By Caroline Cunningham Photograph by Maggie Gaudaen.

For couples who aren’t sure they want 400 people surrounding them for their nuptials or wish they could say their vows in a venue that doesn’t technically host weddings or simply decide they want to buck traditional sit-down ceremonies, Pop! Wed has an answer: flash weddings.

Last January, photographer Maggie Gaudaen and her husband and business partner, Steven, a wedding officiant, hit on the idea of providing local couples with a way to elope that can still involve cake, a dress, and photos to remember the day.

“We wanted to offer the best parts of a big, fancy wedding with the most fun parts of an elopement—a brand-new way to get married,” says Maggie. “We thought about the kind of wedding we’d want to have—tiny, stress-free, unique—and then we built a package around it.”

Pop! Wed partners with the couple to create the small wedding they want, including a custom ceremony, cake cutting, photography, their look, and a location that suits their style. The very first Pop Wed! ceremony took place outside the gorgeous, rainbow-painted Blind Whino Arts Club, another featured a flash mob wedding at LeDroit Park, and yet another took place in front of the elephant at the Natural History Museum.

The flash weddings don’t have to exclude family and friends from the celebration. “Lots of our couples incorporate a Pop! wedding into their larger wedding plans,” says Maggie. “For example, one couple headed over to Darnell's after their wedding for a giant afterparty filled with family and friends. It's a great way to get married without the stress and then celebrate afterward with everyone you love.”

Admittedly, these spur-of-the-moment nuptials don’t always go as planned. “We got kicked out of the Natural History Museum and the Sculpture Garden so quickly that we were all laughing about it for hours afterward,” says Maggie. “It's just absurd that someone would interrupt the tiniest, least invasive wedding ever!”

But for the most part, Steven and Maggie have become pros at planning elopements. For couples who are interested in scheduling a Pop! wedding on one of the available dates, Maggie has some words of wisdom.

1) Clue your families into your plans. “If you tell them why you're eloping and share how excited you are, they'll hop right on board. When we got married, we also created a website where we shared our wedding photos, video, and updates about our lives so that even though our extended family wasn't invited to our wedding, they felt included in our plans.”

2) Prioritize your wedding traditions. “The awesome thing about eloping is you can incorporate any wedding traditions you want. You can bring a bouquet or ignore flowers altogether. You can wear a fancy bridal gown or a tux or your favorite pajamas. There's no pressure to fit into this predetermined wedding mold.”

3) Wear your wedding garb all day. “You should do this no matter how you get married. It's ridiculously fun, everyone wants to high-five you, and you just look awesome.”

4) Document your elopement. “I'm a photographer, so I'm fairly biased. But especially with elopements, you want to make sure you have photos to share with everyone who wasn't there on your wedding day. A wedding video can also be a great way to include people who aren't invited; they'll basically feel like they were there the whole time—right?”

5) Think outside the courthouse. “You can elope literally anywhere in the city. Well, a lot of places in the city. There are so many awesome options that you never have to go to the courthouse at all!”

Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Photos From a "Great Gatsby"-Inspired Wedding

Sara and Steven's celebration included a performance by the Silk Road Dance Company.

By Caroline Cunningham All photographs by Love Life Images.

Directing a Steve Madden fashion show at Tysons Corner mall as a sophomore in high school, Sara Familie seemed much older than her years. That’s why Steven Jagdeo, a friend of a friend who was filling in for one of the male models, had no qualms about flirting with her. He was a freshman in college, but that didn’t stop him from pulling a nervous performer stunt to get Sara’s attention. “I got to talking to him to try to calm his nerves, but little did I know that was just his ploy!” says Sara. “He walked down the runway and did a funny pose at the end of the aisle, winning over the crowd.”

After successfully convincing Sara to give him her number, Steven showed up at her house in a blacked-out SUV to take her to the movies. Her parents were less than thrilled, but Sara was awed by the college bad boy who was willing to go out with a high schooler. Their plans to go to the movies changed to a barbecue at a friends house, but Sara didn’t mind—when she got home from the date she told her mother that she’d “laughed so much my jaw hurt.”

Eight years later, Steven and Sara planned a picnic at Great Falls Park to enjoy the beautiful September weather. Suspecting nothing, Sara began spreading out the picnic blanket, then turned to find Steven down on one knee. “What he said is beyond me, because I immediately fell into shock that after eight wonderful years, he was finally on one knee, popping the question that I never knew would mean so much to me,” she says.

The pair celebrated their longtime romance at Hotel Monaco on September 6, 2014. They brought their theme of “Great Gatsby meets Middle East” to life through gold-painted toy cars for place cards, hand-embroidered table tents, Evil Eye charms as favors, and a special performance by Silk Road Dance Company. Guests enjoyed the beautiful four-tier cake with gold accents, and Sara and Steven swayed to a “Latch” cover by Daniela Andrade, but at the end of the festivities, Steven’s favorite memory was simply “how beautiful my wife looked.”

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Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Kickball League Sparked Romance for These Northern Virginia Lovebirds

A rustic outdoor wedding filled with DIY touches.

By Caroline Cunningham All photographs by Kristen Lynne Photography.

Angie Eppard, a teacher, and Kirk Myers, a solutions engineer at Sprint, both signed up for the same kickball league in the fall of 2009. It started out as mere fun and games—they hung out at happy hour after kickball and chatted during the tournaments, but Angie knew Kirk had a girlfriend, so her interest level was low. After breaking for Christmas, the team reunited for the spring session, and when Kirk returned to the field with a new haircut and newly single status, Angie started paying more attention.

Later that spring, Kirk asked Angie to dinner at Jackson’s in Reston. It was pouring rain, so the two were content to linger over dinner and drinks, talking for hours as their casual friendship turned into something more. After they'd been dating for three years, Kirk lured Angie to Oronoco Bay Park on a lovely fall day on the pretext of taking their dog for a walk and picnicking. He handed Angie the camera and asked her to snap a photo of him and their dog, and she looked up from fiddling with the settings to see Kirk down on one knee, holding a diamond ring.

They married on May 17, 2014, at The Woodlands at Algonkian. Their outdoor wedding was filled with special and DIY touches that suited the couple perfectly: bouquets put together by the bride that included hydrangeas and wildflowers, a chalkboard welcome sign instead of paper programs, a pie bar with Boston cream and peach-blackberry pies instead of wedding cake, and birdcage centerpieces that tied together their theme of “rustic lovebirds.”

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