Katie and James had a very personal wedding with lots of family-made DIY details in the courtyard of the elegant Hotel Monaco Alexandria in the heart of Old Town Alexandria, VA. Their wedding in Virginia was planned by the talented, Bellwether Events, who the bride credits to much of the success of their big day! Their outdoor wedding ceremony was filled with special moments, including the bride’s nephews coming down the aisle with cute flags to wave to the crowd. Then at their wedding reception, the details kept coming! Dinner was held outdoors in a beautiful courtyard where rustic wedding flowers flanked the tables and custom table numbers, designed by the groom and assembled by the bride’s family, made the space picture-perfect. The idea was that each table number represented the age of the bride or groom in the corresponding photo – so cute! The bride’s mom also helped to create the most darling adirondack chair escort cards, a nod to the bride’s upbringing in upstate New York. Even the wedding favors had a flair from the bride’s past! There were so many pretty and personal details to enjoy in their big day, I just can’t begin to pick a favorite! A special thanks to Washington DC area wedding photographer, Deb Lindsey, for sharing James and Katie’s oh-so personal wedding in Alexandria, Virginia!
From the bride: Honestly, the main vision I had in mind for our wedding was everyone (me, James, our families and close friends) having the best time ever. I remember saying time and time again during the wedding planning process was that I just want our wedding to be fun! I knew I wanted a spring wedding as I think Washington DC springs are so pretty, and did not want to deal with the heat and humidity of the summer in DC! Once we set our spring wedding date, I started looking into color themes and really loved the grey tone paired with pink and coral, so that became the base from which we worked out a lot of the other color and wedding theme details.
The more we got into the wedding planning with our wedding planning Janice at Bellwether Events, the more I really enjoyed adding in DIY touches here and there where we could to really make it personal and give our wedding a more intimate feel.
In terms of wedding photography, we knew how important the wedding photos would be not only in the immediate sense, but in the long term. We wanted someone who took great photos, but also took interesting and unique wedding day photos. Something that wasn’t just your standard wedding photo! We were so, so happy to have our wedding photographer, Deb Lindsey, with us on our wedding day. Not only did the photos come out just wonderful, she was so easy-going and really made us feel at ease from our wedding engagement shoot all the way through to the end of our wedding day!
I think one of my favorite wedding memories were the little flag signs that my two youngest nephews carried out during the ceremony. My mom made them and they loved them!
It was very hot during our bride and groom and bridal party photo session before the wedding ceremony, and by the time we got back to the Hotel Monaco, I was so hot and dehydrated. I felt a bit like I was going to pass out. It’s silly to think back on now as I had almost everyone fretting over me – my maid of honor, my wedding planner, my mom, my brothers, the hotel staff and more. Everyone started walking out as the wedding ceremony began and eventually it was time for my dad and me to walk out down the aisle. I remember still feeling very faint (probably a bit of nerves, as well!) and my dad squeezed my arm as we were about to walk out and whispered in my ear, “Alright, this will be just like the Kentucky Derby. Before you know, you’ll blink and it’ll be over” It really put me at ease and that feeling only continued as the wedding ceremony continued. As we started saying our wedding vows, I saw James choke up at one point. I remember I immediately felt better! Like it was just him and me standing up there alone having a moment. After that, I was just on a cloud for the rest of the night!
We had several handmade and DIY wedding details that really made me happy to see on our wedding day. My mom is a retired teacher and thank goodness she still has that crafty gene in her! Many of the wedding DIY details came as a result of her suggestions. On top of that, James is a designer and he made our Save the Date invitations, along with several other details that we easily would have had to spend money on, like our table numbers a the reception. We decided to pick old photos of ourselves at the age of the corresponding table number. James designed the layout of the photos and then my mom, sisters-in-law and myself all assembled them.
Outside of everyone having fun, I’d say our main wedding priorities were a band and photography. We knew from the get-go we wanted a band and we spent a lot of time and energy on finding a great match that not only worked budget-wise, but would have a vast selection of songs and genre options to make sure everyone (from little nephews to parents!) would be on the dance floor dancing! Playlist, our wedding band, was an amazing addition to the wedding reception and we could not have been happier with their performance.
The second awesome memory from our wedding night is of my nephew dancing and singing his little heart out! Leading up to the wedding he had made it very known that he not only wanted to attend the wedding reception, but that he would stay up until the very end. I can’t even remember if he did make it to the end of the night, but I do remember him being handed the microphone by a member of the band and singing the song while a crowd circled around him dancing. It was such a fun moment and set a nice tone for dancing for the rest of the night!
We also had a cute, little wedding favor that was a nice reminder of my hometown in upstate New York. We gave every wedding guest a little bottle of maple syrup that my mom, again, assembled from the local maple syrup farm.
Advice from the bride for other Washington DC area couples:
My wedding advice would be to look into and invest in a wedding planner if you feel as though it’d put you at ease during the process. Everyone always says that the ‘being engaged’ part goes by so quickly because you become so busy with wedding planning and I’d have to agree. We were so lucky to have our wedding planning (Janice at Bellwether Events) throughout the wedding planning process. Beyond just giving me a bit more time to step back and enjoy being engaged and excited for my upcoming wedding, she provided us with so many suggestions and ideas that I honestly can’t imagine not being in our wedding.
Lastly, don’t sweat the small stuff. Something that may seem big at the time might actually be quite small when you look back on the wedding day. I can’t even tell you how many things I just plain forgot to do that seemed like big deals to me at the time, but at the end of the day, I was still married to James and got to spend our wedding day with everyone I loved. That is the biggest detail there can be!
Just relax and enjoy the ride. It’ll be over before you know it!
Congratulations to Katie and James! Thank you for sharing your courtyard wedding in Virginia with us!
The following Washington DC area wedding professionals contributed to their wedding:
Photography: Deb Lindsey
Venue: Hotel Monaco Alexandria
Planner: Bellwether Events
Florals: LynnVale Studios
Lighting: John Farr Lighting
Pipe & Drape: Drape Kings
Catering: Jackson 20 – Hotel Monaco
Linens: DC Rental
Hair and Make Up: Alison Harper & Co.
Bridal Gown: Amy Kuschel
Bridal Salon: Hitched Salon
Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka
Jewelry: Kate Spade earrings
Bridesmaid Dresses: J. Crew
Groom’s Attire: Crown Tailor
Ceremony Musicians: Paul Bangser Duo via Bialek’s Music
Reception Band: Playlist via Entertainment Exchange
Doughnuts: District Doughnut
For more wedding vendors, please visit our Washington DC area wedding vendor guide and for even more amazing local ideas, check out our wedding inspiration galleries and other Washington DC area real weddings.
Photo Credits: Deb Lindsey