The Offbeat Bride: Madison, Staff Assistant
Her offbeat partner: Justin, Pharmacist
Date and location of wedding: Blackwall Hitch (cocktail hour), waterfront pier (ceremony), Il Porto Ristorante (reception), Old Town Alexandria, VA — January 17, 2017
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
We planned our wedding in a little over a month. After being together over a decade we were ready to get married, so we picked a date and started planning. We wanted our family to not work much and we wanted everyone to just relax and enjoy each others' company.
We met all of our guests at a cocktail hour at Blackwall Hitch (a restaurant on the water) in a gorgeous overhanging bar that looked out over the Potomac River. We had the chance to greet everyone and get relaxed before the ceremony. We then had the guests all walk out to the edge of the pier and we had a quick ceremony on the water. From there, we walked one block up to Il Porto Ristorante (an Italian restaurant) for dinner and the reception.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Our ceremony took place directly on the waterfront. We caught the last bit of daylight and there was a soft rain. Guests gathered around the pier and stood on in watch. Our daughter was the flower girl and I was walked down by my dad. As she walked, the guests unexpectedly created an archway with their hands. We stood alone, as we didn't have a traditional wedding party. The ceremony was officiated by a friend as we exchanged personal vows and rings that were made by Justin himself. It was short, personal, and sweet.
Tell us about your reception:
Our reception was held in the upstairs of Il Porte Ristorante, a local Italian restaurant. We had about 80 people and it felt cozy. The space was already nicely decorated with pots and plants against a beautiful interior brick. The only real decoration we provided was a bit of sage as name cards. I associate happy memories to smell and sage is a favorite for us both, so it made sense to have it as the decor as well as part of my bouquet.
Another friend was the DJ and did a fantastic job with setting the mood and keeping the party going. Everyone was able to order dinner and dessert. We had a few traditional pieces: a first dance to "Stand by Me," cutting of the cake (though it was actually banana bread — a staple in our house), and toasts given by friends.
We played the shoe game which was a lot of fun. We provided decks of cards on the table for guests who wanted to play, and we danced… a lot. Instead of a guestbook, we had a bucket list, which returned really wonderful ideas. The reception ended a bit earlier than we anticipated, but we continued the party at the hotel and really had a great time.
What was your most important lesson learned?
I expected the biggest challenge to be our timeline, as we planned this in a month, but ultimately it ended up being the budget. We wanted to do this as cheaply as possible, but finding space in the DC area is expensive. We wanted to keep it under $10K and we did.
Our family and friends were a huge part of the day and that's how we really wanted it. Overall, we kept the day to things that mattered most to us and really made sure the day was a reflection of our true style and relationship. Stick to what matters to you, take advice (and then do what you want), and remember that even though this is an important day, you still have your whole life together, so try not to stress.
- Photographer: Leslie Swan Photography
- Dress: Gossypia
- Suit: Express
- Flower Girl Dress: Nordstrom
- Cocktail Hour Venue: Blackwall Hitch
- Reception Venue: Il Porto Ristorante