The Offbeat Bride: Gretchen, Community Manager
Her offbeat partner: Sean, Project Manager
Date and location of wedding: George Washington Masonic Memorial, Alexandria VA — January 23, 2016
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
I was going for an Old Hollywood vibe for the wedding. I wanted gold and glitter and glitz everywhere, with some subtle Harry Potter touches to reflect my lifelong love affair with The Boy Who Lived. Of course, an additional element was added into the mix when Winter Storm Jonas decided to crash the wedding. #Snowzilla!
Tell us about the ceremony:
My uncle is an Episcopalian bishop, and his son (my cousin), is also a reverend, and both of them were able to fly in to officiate my wedding. My parents' faith is very important to them, so we had a traditional Episcopalian ceremony with a few personal touches added to make it even more meaningful for my fiance and myself. In addition to the liturgical vows, we exchanged personally written vows (Sean's were amazing — I was a sobbing mess!), and I replaced one of the biblical readings with a literary excerpt (from Corelli's Mandolin).
I hired my friend Chad's string quartet, Triforce Quartet, for the ceremony music, and while 3/4 of the members were unable to get to my wedding due to the blizzard, Chad walked two miles in the snow (literally!) to get there and performed some of my favorite pieces of video game music for our processional. The groomsmen walked in to “Dearly Beloved” from Kingdom Hearts, my bridesmaids walked in to “Melodies of Life” from Final Fantasy IX, and I walked down the aisle to “Aerith's Theme” from Final Fantasy VII.
Our ceremony backdrop was made up of nearly 1,000 white and gold paper cranes that my sister, bridesmaid Holly, and I hand-folded and strung. We had our ceremony in the theatre of the George Washington Masonic Memorial, which has a wonderful, grand ambiance with colored ceiling lights, gorgeous marble columns, and red velvet seating, so not a whole lot of additional decor seemed necessary.
Tell us about your reception:
My coordinator, Caitlin McIntire, made every element of my Old Hollywood theme come to life, from getting our DIYed gold wine bottle centerpieces on the tables, filling said bottles with flowers we ordered ourselves from a floral wholesaler, placing the chalkboard signs I'd made, setting up our dessert table and popcorn bar, and so much more.
I labeled the tables after some of my favorite classic Hollywood movies, like Singin' in the Rain and Some Like It Hot. Our favors were Ferrero Rocher chocolates to which I hot-glued paper wings so as to turn them into golden snitches from Harry Potter, and our awesome wedding cake had a snitch on the bottom tier as well as a “Mischief Managed” cake topper I got off of Etsy.
I made cake stands out of thrifted plates and glasses for the dessert bar, I made chalkboard signs out of old picture frames, and I hand-made our card box out of all seven Harry Potter books by carving out the middle of the books and turning it into a “hidden safe” book stack. Our guest book was a piece of red silk to honor my half-Chinese heritage.
One of my favorite moments of the reception was right after my sister finished her wonderful and moving Matron of Honor speech: my not-quite-three year old niece and flower girl, Mia, ran up to her mom, grabbed the mic, and said, “Love you, Pookie!” (her pet name for me).
What was your most important lesson learned?
If you'd asked me a week beforehand, I would have said that my biggest challenge was probably trying to commit to the seating chart or something. But that was before Winter Storm Jonas blew in and changed my whole perspective. Getting hit with multiple feet of snow on your wedding day really forces a gal to adapt, y'know?
When we realized how bad the storm was shaping up to be, we made a quick decision to move our getting ready location from my parents' home in Falls Church, VA, to the Hilton Old Town Alexandria, a hotel located just half a mile from our venue. So we spent a large part of Thursday night calling to book rooms for my family members, the bridal party, and more. The blizzard also meant almost half of our guest list was unfortunately unable to actually make it to the wedding, but it never felt like anything was lacking in the slightest. I have some seriously amazing family and friends — people who rebooked cancelled flights many times over, came in early, and had to stay late in order to attend our wedding — and the night was full of love, light, and life!
- Photographer: Jon Fleming Photography
- Videographer: Doug Stanford
- Coordinator: Classic Occasions by Caitlin
- Caterer: Main Event Caterers
- Venue: George Washington Masonic Memorial
- Cake: Simply Desserts
- Flowers: ordered in bulk from Potomac Floral Wholesale and arranged by my bridesmaid Holly
- Uplighting and Draping: Electric Entertainment
- Officiants: The Right Reverend Neff Powell and the Reverend Bingham Powell
- Dress: Hayley Paige Guindon Gown
- Shoes: Seychelles Brave Dress Pump
- Bridesmaid Dresses: Rent the Runway
- String quartet: Triforce Quartet