All photos by the talented Leah @ Studio Juno. Note: Most are originals, but some have been cropped for a closeup.
All mushiness aside, the details behind the scenes for those interested:
There isn't really a back story behind our decision to get married. No proposal story, no engagement ring to show off. Sorry romantics :( All I asked for was to be married on our anniversary, whether it be this year, next year, etc. The date is special to both of us, so it wasn't too hard to convince bf. We loosely chose this year because the timing felt right, but at the same time, fully aware that if our laziness wins out, there's always next year.
Location: Originally we planned on having a civil service at the local courthouse. Turns out, the only counties/district that offered this on site were located farther away, so it wasn't as hassle-free as we had hoped. We figured if we have to put some work into this, then we would rather ask an officiant to marry us at a more scenic location (trees, water, etc.) closer to home instead. Old Town Alexandria fit the bill nicely. There's a stretch of about 4 miles of waterfront that overlooks the Potomac River which made for great photo backdrops.
Our actual civil ceremony was held in the public garden at Carlyle House. It came down to $175/hr with a minimum 2-4 hours for a permit to get married along the waterfront or for free at a nearby public garden. It was a pretty easy decision to go with the garden, even if it meant there's a chance random strangers could be looking on during the ceremony... or possibly even photobombing. We completely lucked out the day of and had the garden all to ourselves. The forecast predicted t-storms on and off throughout the day, and while we experienced a few sprinkles here and there, that meant everyone else stayed indoors.
My look: My bridezilla moment was figuring out what I wanted to wear. Usually I trust my gut and just go with the flow, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure this one out. I kept waffling between options until the very last minute, and only then did I woman up because I ran out of time. Initially I was going to wear the Sunner Delancey dress with either my Miu Miu flats or Ann Taylor Iris sandals while carrying a bouquet of peonies tied with a navy ribbon. In my head, I was envisioning a casual and preppy look.
As much as I love the Sunner dress, I found myself "just browsing" other dresses. I suppose looking back on it now, in my heart I knew it wasn't "the one?" Then Ann Taylor came along with a sale on their wedding collection. I told myself that I was ordering and trying on dresses "for fun." Given my track record, who was I trying to kid?! The Juliet gown fit me nicely off the rack and only needed hemming, so there I was, back to square one with decisions to make. At this point, we were ten days out and neither bf nor myself had our outfits picked yet, hahaha. Sigh.
I eventually decided that yes, the Juliet gown is the one because: 1) bf's outfit ended up being more formal than originally planned and 2) my mom expressed her desire to see me in a longer, more "bridal" dress. So I nixed the original idea and went for casual elegance instead, with a black and white theme. I used two photos for styling inspirations: a 2010 J.Crew ad and a gorgeous Paris elopement. Both were simple, girly, and completely my cup of tea.
Flowers were a bit tricky. I knew I wanted a small bouquet, as a normal-sized one would be too grand for the occasion. As for the actual flowers, I figured I would just pick something that's currently in season. I walked into Whole Foods the day before and immediately fell in love with mini white calla lilies. Whew! Glad to have some decisions that didn't require much thought. The clean look and size of these flowers were simply perfect.
For hair, I debated between loose waves a la Blair from Gossip Girl or a low ponytail down the middle of my back. I personally think I look better with my hair down but wasn't sure if my frizzy hair can withstand the hot and humid summer heat. I ended up with a look that's somewhere in-between, mostly down with more curls than waves and one side clipped up. The curls didn't last the entire night (I blame the typical humid summer weather), but for a good enough portion during photos, so that's all I could really ask for.
His outfit: I left bf's outfit completely up to him. Was it smart? In hindsight, probably not, haha. He ended up buying a suit at full price on the very last weekend and finished accessorizing the night before. There were a few moments of panic, like when we drove to three malls to find all the suiting pieces in his size, or also placing a rush order online for accessories to complete the ensemble. His shopping style is the complete opposite of mine, so I'm just glad that we both loved the final look of a dark gray suit with a skinny black tie.
Photography: We nixed the idea of asking a family member to take photos pretty early on. A stress free day should be for everyone, not just the two of us. We're not entirely selfless for wanting a pro though. If we were going to get all dressed up, there better be some awesome evidence to show for it when we're old and toothless (sorry family and your point-and-shoots).
We stumbled across Studio Juno after googling for outdoor weddings. We fell in love with her photos, both the composition and bright colors that seemed to pop more than other photographers'. Thankfully she was available on our day and patiently put up with our slow decision making as we didn't have any details to relay back until about a week prior.
I had mentioned that the two of us are kind of awkward in photos. It doesn't matter that I take outfit pictures for the blog, acting natural in front of the camera will never come easy. Leah helped put us at ease, giving directions on how to stand, where to look, etc. We had a great time, laughing and enjoying every minute possible.
Cost breakdown: Both of us are pretty good savers, so money wouldn't have been an issue had we wanted a traditional wedding. Luckily we have pretty cool parents so nothing was really expected of us... besides inviting them I suppose. We talked about what was important to us vs. just doing things for the sake of tradition. From here, we slowly came up with a plan. Sure there were some areas where we spent more money (ahem hair + makeup), but there were also others that pleasantly surprised us. Since I'm nosy and I like hearing others talk about personal finance, it's only fair if I share too. Perhaps some people may even find this helpful:
Location: $0 at Old Town Alexandria - waterfront and Carlyle House garden
My outfit: $153 Ann Taylor Juliet gown + $0 hemming by family friend + old J.Crew sash from dress / $30 flower hair clip from Etsy StudioMirela / necklace (gift from aunt) / old Valentino ballerina flats / $190 hair and makeup at Beautiful Life Salon / $17 mini calla lilies bouquet from Whole Foods
His outfit: $545 Express Micro Twill Photographer suit (jacket, vest, pants) / $63 Express 1MX Extra Slim Fit shirt / $42 Express skinny stripe silk tie / old Bostonian shoes / $0 boutonniere by family friend
Rings: $24 hers and $20 his wedding bands
Marriage license: $30
Photography: $500 with Studio Juno
Dinner afterwards with family: $340 for 10 people at Carlyle
Total = $2004 (We do have plans to treat relatives and friends to dinners at a future date, so that cost is TBD. Same goes for the honeymoon... TBD.)
Thank you for letting me share!