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Weddings = Loving & Spending
Rin-rin Yu
12/9/2008



Woodend

Weddings are always such a beautiful, budding, vibrant and harmonious celebration of friends, family and love--until it’s time to plan your own. Naturally, you have every intention to make your wedding better, in your mind, than any other wedding you’ve attended. Funny enough, weddings have a way of leaving your control and taking on their own life form. But before that happens, you have to endure every married friend’s and co-worker’s unsolicited advice. Add some parents, and suddenly your guest list has grown exponentially with no end in sight and your simple celebration can outdo the presidential inauguration. Fear not, Not For Tourists has a few recent newlyweds in the Washington area with down-to-earth, actually useful opinions of their own that you can borrow. Take them and run, down the aisle!

Venue:

Woodend Sanctuary

If you’re looking for sweepingly elegant, yet rustic setting, and don’t mind random deer wandering around your wedding (some people spend lots of money renting animals for their special day), Woodend Sanctuary is your best bet. Straight up Connecticut Avenue within the Beltway, this peaceful plantation harbors butterflies, birds, and other wildlife surrounding the mansion once belonging to a wealthy Marylander. There’s a tented terrace that seats up to 170, though 150 is often the preferred maximum by caterers. Inside, the grand hall doubles as the dance floor, and there’s a Greek portico for cocktails and lots of green space for high-heels to sink into. The space is so popular that it was booked through 2009 on Saturdays except in August; Sundays are a good option as well. Prices drop by more than half in the off season, which is November through March, so let global warming work to your advantage.

Sequoia

There’s a little less fuss involved with a restaurant wedding, and Sequoia’s food is guaranteed to be a hit among guests, if not expensive. American dishes are its main fare, and modern-chic is the theme (a rarity in Washington). Sequoia is situated on Washington Harbour in Georgetown, with giant windows for beautiful views of the river and dancing fountains outside. In warm months, the outdoor patio is open for cocktails and food, if you choose. If you don’t want to make your guests travel far from the hotel, Sequoia is a popular in-city venue choice. Despite its critical (and negative) restaurant reviews, its staff pulls off a great wedding event, since its waiters and bartenders are paid to serve you and your guests and not the hundreds of others waiting for a table.




The Blonde Photographer

Caterer:

Windows Catering

Weddings rarely have really tasty food, but Windows Catering manages to shake that theory with its incredible chef artistry and pastry expertise. Ask for Danielle Couick to be your event planner. Danielle is incredibly organized, fun and laid-back, taking the stress right off your head and bundling the energy into a tasty menu she helps put together based on your requests and favorite foods. If there was ever a time when linen choices made your head spin, Danielle will ease the vertigo with her expertise and pair the place settings exactly as you described from your imagination. While she treats your special day in a special way, she also avoids all the clichés and cheese that normally make more down-to-earth brides roll their eyes. If you’re serving hors d’oeurves, the Peking duck is a winning hit with guests.

Photographer:

The Blonde Photographer

Jaime Windon, i.e. the blonde photographer, paints a magnificent picture--again and again--with her many cameras and boundless energy. Moving as quickly as she talks and shoots photos, she’ll capture every essential and candid moment of your wedding naturally. Jaime works without all the Hollywood glamour and captures, not creates, the moment so you can look back and remember your day exactly as it was. Jaime offers a full set of proofs in an album with a day of shooting, and extras like DVD of all prints, a “trash the dress” session and engagement session. Book her as soon as possible; she’s in high demand and you may need to compete with another couple for her time.




Local flowers

Florist:

Whole Foods of Dupont Circle

Rumor has it that this particular Whole Foods is the top-grossing Whole Foods in the nation and also carries a substantially larger proportion of flowers than its neighboring stores? Be creative and make your own arrangements – whatever you do can’t be that bad, considering flowers are always pretty. Whole Foods carries flowers that are in season and features local flower farms for a rustic touch. Visit the floral department manager a month in advance; orders must be placed at least two weeks ahead. Then go to your local library, take out a few books on flower arranging, assign your wedding party some real attendant tasks, and let your green thumb do the work. Save yourself hundreds of dollars, too.

Invitations:

Designs by MK

This Maryland-based business run by two stay-at-home moms knows what the Washingtonian bride wants in an invitation. Designers Michelle and Mikaely put a lot of dedication into their work-from-home office, coordinating everything through e-mail and phone and creating a tidy, organized folded invitation that is both presentable and informative. Their signature look is the ribbon tacked on by a button, or the little flap with your and your future spouse’s name printed elegantly. Inside, the invitation might contain a file of cards with all the information your guests might need. There are six layouts to choose from and a number of paper selections. If you can get another customer to sign on, you receive a discount off your order.




The Written Word

The Written Word

If you like lost art, which is sometimes known as expensive, the Written Word creates beautiful invitations in letterpress from its very own antique press in the shop. If your budget allows for a couple thousand for these crafty pieces of art, take a visit through this exquisite store and enjoy a well-designed, well-deserved way of announcing your marriage. There are several dozen font designs and images to pick, and guests will be reluctant to pitch them after receiving your invitation in the mail.

Local websites we like:

Theknot.com

WARNING--this site WILL overwhelm you. As soon as you register, it informs you that you have several overdue items on your To-Do list and a couple hundred more left to do. You consider eloping, but remembering that your parents may disown you, you plow on. The Knot does offer excellent local resources and recommendations, but don’t limit yourself to just the Knot’s selections.

Tanglingtheknot.com

When you’re ready to pull your hair out because the laid-back wedding you imagined is anything but, an equally disgruntled bride shares her viewpoints and anecdotes meant to relate and amuse other brides. This blog writer’s wedding is based in Washington, D.C.


Listings associated with this Feature:

Sequoia Whole Foods Market
The Written Word Woodend Sanctuary


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