American Flags Black Tie Cakes by Linda Carola Myers Makeup and Hair Artistry Custom Chalk Designs by Robyn Love Elegant Hair by Giselle Fort McNair's Officer Club Fourth of July Wedding Garter Girl Growing Wild Floral Company KNYPS L.K. Bennett Memorial Day Wedding Patriotic Shop Olio St. Peter's Catholic Church Tony Federichi U.S. Air Force Band Wedding Stationery
I’m here to tell you that Kurstin Roe Photography‘s images of this beautiful day are just as stunning seen through tears, as they are at first glance. Tears brought on by the super special couple and their amazing story. She married him just before he left for a year apart. And he married her, for a second time, when he returned in a celebration as stunning as Momental Designs‘ stationery (and THAT is stunning). Click here to see all of this gorg day!
When Matt proposed to me on New Year’s Eve of 2011, I wasn’t prepared for what would happen next. A few weeks later he came home with the news that he would be volunteering for an Army assignment with NATO in Kabul, Afghanistan. In addition to asking me to marry him, he told me that he had yet another favor to ask – to marry him legally before he left for Afghanistan in March. He said he didn’t want to leave without the assurance of knowing that I would be his wife. Of course I understood and accepted, but on one condition: when he returned that we would have the wedding that I had always dreamed about as a little girl.
While Matt was in Afghanistan, I poured my heart into my new job, writing him a handwritten letter every day, spending as much time as I could with his family, and planning our wedding for Memorial Day weekend 2012 – in the city where we met – Washington, D.C.. I knew from the very start that our wedding had to be traditional while also being unconventional – just like us. For me, that meant bringing in elements that were feminine, floral, classy and fabulous. For Matt, that meant incorporating details that were more debonair, patriotic, and most of all, representative of the American experience. For both of us, I knew it would have to demonstrate our love for history and even politics – the things that not only drew us to DC but also to each other.
Initially, I had no idea how to pull all of these seemingly different elements together, but with the help of the very talented Janice Carnevale of Bellwether Events, together, through countless emails, we started to explore all the possibilities.
Then and now, when I look at our engagement photos that were taken on a Spring day in Senate Park, just a week before Matt deployed, to the art-deco inspired bridal portraits that were taken on the U.S.S. Sequoia, to our wedding photos, all by Kurstin Roe Photography, I feel like I’m looking at so much more than just pictures. I feel like I’m looking at the story of us – capturing all of our seriousness, our quirks and the how we love and understand each other for exactly who we are.
Right before our wedding, my 100-year-old grandmother and the only person that I am still connected with from my biological family because I grew up in foster care, went into the hospital and had to have heart surgery. I was devastated as I knew that there was no way she would be able to attend our wedding. Being able to share our photos with her, though, including one in which I am holding a photo of her taken in the 1930’s was incredibly moving. A love of history was something that she had unequivocally passed down to me, and I was so happy to be able to able to honor her by keeping that love alive through our story.
There were so many other moments about our wedding that still bring happy tears to my eyes. We worked with some of the most incredible vendors, some in the DC area and several Etsy vendors representing U.S. states from coast to coast. Working with them proved to me that despite living in a digital world – there has been a resurgence in American artisan-ship, craftsmanship nd style all over the country that I believe has been inspired by the wedding industry.
I’ll never forget the beautiful custom flower girl dresses lovingly created by Yola of KNYPS from Charleston, South Carolina, which all started with beautiful sketches of what she envisioned from what I described. Right before our wedding, I decided that I would have Matt walk me down the aisle instead of walking on my own. Our nephews held a sign saying, “Here Comes the Bride & Groom” made by Designs by Robyn Love in Farmington, Connecticut. At our reception, our guests loved the A&M 2012 campaign buttons we handed out to each guest made by Shop Olio based in Las Vegas, Nevada, as well as the beverage sign and welcome sign expertly crafted by chalk-artist, CJ Hughes, from Spring Hill, Tennessee. Matt especially loved Cakes by Linda’s imaginative work to make our wedding cake in the shape of the U.S. Capitol Dome and his groom’s cake to look like Abraham Lincoln’s top hat that was actually made entirely of hundreds of Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls (he’s been eating them since age 3).
By far one of my most favorite vendors, though, was invitation artist, Kristy Rice, and her incredibly talented team at Momental Designs in Wyoming, Pennsylvania . From our first conversation, when I told her that I wanted a tri-fold invitation that was feminine, patriotic, full of blooms and displayed our favorite DC monuments. She told me she had never done anything like that before but that she was up to the challenge. The result was so original, and it set the tone and the color palette for our wedding which included romantic shades of black, blush, ivory and coral, complimented by the colors of the American flag. Next, we went to work on creating other wedding stationery that included tables names of historical political parties; a recreation of a vintage political poster of a hot air balloon; stately seating cards, and our very own wedding dinner “ballot” complete with presidential menu verbiage.
The year leading up to our wedding, I decided to collect antique silver containers for all our flowers at the reception, and so I scoured antique shops, thrift stores, and eBay looking for just the right pieces. We ended up with a number so many unique pieces including candlesticks from occupied Japan, a mustache teacup from 1901 and a Washington DC trinket box from the late 1800s. Receiving packages in the mail was so much fun, and I loved sharing each new treasure (and some that admittedly were not) with Matt over Skype while he was still in Afghanistan. Right before the event, Matt and I spent an entire weekend polishing all the silver, as some of it hadn’t been polished in several decades.
The day of our wedding was the culmination of so much waiting, work, anticipation and love that all came to life in a single very special day. One of the most vivid and emotion-filled moments was when we exited the church to find all of our friends and family assembled together, some of whom had traveled from overseas to be with us, waving miniature American flags. Matt and I were both overcome with so much joy and gratitude – not only that we were together again to continue our journey but that we had the honor and privilege of being able to do it on Memorial Day weekend. After the previous year, it had taken on such new meaning, and when all of our guests expressed so many thanks to Matt and to the many men and women in the U.S. military and great Americans serving in so many capacities all over the world, I realized it was so much better than I could have ever envisioned as a little girl.
Photography: Kurstin Roe Photography / Wedding Planning: Janice Carnevale, Bellwether Events / Wedding Venue: Fort McNair’s Officer’s Club / Floral Design: Growing Wild Floral Company / Wedding Stationery: Momental Designs / Officiant: Reverend William Byrne, St. Peter’s Catholic Church / DJ: Marc Wilner, Washington Talent Agency / Cellist: Christine Lightner, U.S. Air Force Band / Cake Stand and Linens: DCRental / Transportation: Chariots for Hire / Wedding Cake & Groom’s Cake: Cakes by Linda / Chalk Welcome and Beverage Sign: CJ Hughes, Custom Chalk via Etsy / Here Come the Bride and Groom Sign: Designs by Robyn Love via Etsy / Campaign Buttons: Shop Olio via Etsy / Wedding Dress: St. Pucchi / Bride’s Headpiece: Lo Boheme / Bride’s Garter: Garter Girl / /Bride’s Shoes: L.K. Bennett via Bloomingdales / Bride’s Earrings: Tejani / Hair + Makeup for Bridal Party: Carola Myers Makeup and Hair Artistry / Bride’s Hair: Elegant Hair by Giselle / Bride’s Veil: Tony Federichi / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Adrianna Papell via Nordstrom / Groomsmen Tuxes: Vera Wang via Men’s Wearhouse / Flowergirl Dresses: KNYPS via Etsy / Bride’s Engagement Ring: Kay Jewelers and Grandmother’s ring