There’s one question everyone asks when a planner gets married. Do they plan their own wedding??
Without a shadow of a doubt, the answer for me was YES!
This moment admittedly was never one I truly envisioned happening. When I first entered into the wedding industry 14 years ago, I knew I “loved love”, but the act of celebrating others love was more important than the need for my own. Fast forward to meeting Melisa and the entire name of the game changed. I was in it for the long haul, and our story deserved a special type of attention.
Like true millennials, we met on Bumble. I was in the area visiting the DMV from Charlottesville, VA for my dad’s wedding. After listening to my dad and his wife share their vows, I couldn’t help but wonder why I didn’t have my own similar love story. That night, after arguably two too many glasses of champagne, I re-downloaded the dating app. Melisa was my first swipe!
Since we didn’t live in the same city, the build up for our first date was a slow burn. Melisa lived in Silver Spring, Maryland and I lived in Charlottesville, Virginia so we were 2.5 hours away from the convenience of most people’s first dates. Lucky us, right? After chatting on Bumble for a week or so, we then felt comfortable exchanging numbers. From there, we essentially became penpals. We were constantly keeping up with one another via phone and text while living our otherwise separate lives. It was clear that there was an attraction between us, but both of us had been burned before so taking it slow was perfect.
After about a month of Melisa patiently waiting for me to say yes to a date, I couldn’t resist. I decided to take a risk and drive to her in Silver Spring. She made us, quite arguably, the worst stir fry dinner at her apartment and our (now favorite) Black Walnut Old Fashioneds. She had a full night out planned for us after, starting with going to a whiskey tasting pop up her friend was hosting and ending the night at the gay bar downtown. We laughed a lot, grew much more comfortable around one another with our friends, and ended up literally dancing the night away.
The hopeless romantic in me was absolutely smitten!
We got married in the backyard of our first home. Melisa and I work so hard to create a life we’re immensely proud of. Knowing we had family coming from all over, including the Netherlands, having them soak in our love story in a place that means so much to us was wildly important. We wanted to share our full lives with them as we were about to continue to commit to fully sharing our lives with each other.
More important than the location for us was the date. September 17th has been a date on my calendar for the past 10 years, well before I met Melisa and well before I actually truly believed I would ever get married. So much so, in fact, that it’s been on my friends and families calendars all this time. The fact that it so happened to fall on a Saturday in 2022 sealed the deal for us. We plowed through a speedy 6 month engagement, super happily, knowing that my DREAM date of September 17th was actually going to become a reality.
As a wedding planner, I’m lucky enough to have seen many invitations over the years. I decided to combine a few of my favorite suites from over the years and create my own. Since our wedding was a surprise “Engagement Party turned wedding”, our Engagement Party invites were already created with a rich green envelope and pale pink invite. I knew I wanted to make our wedding invitations complement them, while also introducing new colors into the mix. I decided that pistachio would balance the rich green from our engagement party envelopes and muavey-purples would play really nicely with the pale pink engagement party invitations!
Our place cards doubled as handwritten thank you cards to every one of our guests. It created a really sentimental moment during dinner when everyone discovered the personal note. *cue the tears!* I went ultra rich with the fig color to pop against some lighter elements I knew would be on the tables. Everything together balanced so nicely and was an unexpected palette that was so perfectly Fall!
The most important thing to us both was keeping the day authentically “ours”. That meant foregoing a lot of the traditional elements of wedding days and doing what just felt right to us. We weren’t hidden away from each other before our ceremony. Instead, we spent time together that morning enjoying each other with our family and friends. We chose to walk ourselves down the aisle individually, as a stance of us entering into this new phase of our lives completely free.
Kory from Springvale Floral and I have been friends for years. We originally met while working together in the Charlottesville, VA weddings market and easily became fast friends. After we both relocated to the DMV area and started our own businesses, having her design our florals was an absolute nonnegotiable.
For our wedding flowers, she used Smokebush and Ninebark foliage, Silver Lace Vine, Chocolate Queen Anne’s Lace, Brownie Tulips, Black Cosmos, Milka Star Clematis, Red Hades Butterfly Ranunculus, Lavender Delphinium, Black Pearl Lisianthus, Lavender Sweet Pea, Amnesia and Purple Haze Roses.
She chose the tulips as a nod to Melisa’s family from Holland. Many of her choices were intentionally chosen to reflect what was in season, the lisianthus, dahlias and foliage, for example, were all sourced from a farm near Charlottesville. The Silver lace vine and cosmos were also provided by a local farmer as well.
A part of the planning fun for me was to bring pieces from both of our lives together into a cohesive design. We incorporated tulips for Melisa’s family from Holland and some other subtle Dutch blue design elements (i.e. our cocktail table linens, lavender toss cones, and ring containers).
Before guests sat down for our ceremony, we had a hightop table with floral patterned tissues for “happy tears” and blue patterned vellum cones (a subtle nod for Melisa’s Netherlands family) filled with lavender for them to toss after we said “I do.”
Our welcome table had fig colored textured linen with champagne displayed in a bronze tub with floral ice cubes. Every detail mattered to us to help elevate our guests’ experience, so we even added blackberries and mint to the water for an extra special touch.
My mother passed away in 2019, but including her in the day was a top priority for us. We designated a special chair for her in the front row to have her presence be there and felt. We included one of our favorite photos of her and Springvale Floral help us adorn the chair with beautiful flowers. When Melisa and I both walked down the aisle we carried an individual loose white flower, which was placed together on her chair. We asked our guests to take a moment of silence with us before we began.
As another nod to my mother, I brought back a childhood tradition. Every holiday or special occasion my mom would take my sister and I to go get our nails done. She called them “fancy nails” because she had the artist paint flower art on a few fingers/toes for that extra flare. For our wedding day, I treated myself to fancy nails knowing it would make my mama proud.
Melisa is from Suriname, a country in South America, and her first language was Dutch. She included some Dutch in her vows and our officiant opened with a few lines in Dutch as well. It was a beautiful way to subtly tie in her past and also the language most of her family speaks.
Melisa wore a pink hued khaki tailored suit that had a blush undertone to it. She’s a simple girl by nature, so her look was polished and clean. One of our dear friends, Ana, handmade her bracelet with Herkimer diamonds, which are sacred in Hawaii where we first got engaged.
Melisa knew I was going to wear heels, so in order to keep us around the same height she chose to wear platform loafers. Instead of carrying a traditional bouquet, Melisa opted for a contemporary approach. Our amazing florist created an all flower lapel on her suit to match my bouquet.
Knowing that our plans were to frolic around DC immediately after our ceremony, I didn’t want a dress that required “help” from anyone. Even though I originally dreamed of a long sleeve gown with a full train, I put my practical hat on and considered my overall comfort. I decided to take a dress off of the rack from BHLDN and modify it. Our friend’s mom, Ginnie, helped create the most beautiful tulip bottom skirt, a subtle nod to the Netherlands, and added an asymmetrical pearl shoulder detail to give it an extra flare.
My shoes were a low block heel covered in pearls. My earrings were my most favorite accessory, which were handmade to compliment Melisa’s bracelet. They were dripping with herkimer diamonds and had a gorgeous larger pearl detail on the bottom which tied together my entire look. They were beyond perfect and are now my most precious piece of jewelry, aside from my wedding rings!
For our ceremony, we wanted to keep as much of the focus on us as possible while just enhancing our backyards natural beauty. Our backyard has a naturally gorgeous lush garden feel, so our job was already half done. We chose clear ghost chairs for our guests for a sleek and minimal profile and framed the aisle with overgrown garden meadows. At the top of the aisle, Springvale Floral created an absolutely stunning display on top of a sentimental piece of furniture we had at home. When I first started my wedding planning business, I splurged and bought myself a gorgeous rose gold mirrored desk. It was only fitting that now, as I was planning our wedding, to use it as a main feature.
I’m definitely the sentimental sap between us. While Melisa was working on her comedic bit I was reflecting back on our 5 years together and crying every time I tried putting pen to paper.
My vows started by acknowledging how closed off my heart was before I met Melisa and how, somehow so easily, after I met her it opened up. There was an undeniable series of “yes” moments that brought us so strongly together, where I just took the leap and went with wherever life was trying to take me. From being reluctant to even meeting her, becoming an item, relocating cities to move in together, buying a house, getting engaged, and everything in between…there wasn’t a single other person I could have ever imagined navigating through life with.
“If I only had you for the rest of my life, I’d consider it a life worthy of living.”
“There’s no ounce of me that wants to ‘life’ without you. And our existence together is my personal definition of perfect.”
We both ended our vows the same, without having discussed it prior. “Angelica/Melisa, I choose you.”
We then moved our ceremony florals over the Lulu’s Wine Garden to give them a second life. Our aisle meadows accented the low dividing walls there perfectly, while our welcome table arrangement made for a wonderful bar arrangement. We stretched our flowers even further by bringing the rest of them to The LINE Hotel for our family dinner! That just goes to show that when you start with an amazing product, the rewards speak for themselves!
We also decided to have a cocktail party style afternoon reception instead of a more formal structured event. After our private morning ceremony, our friends met us downtown in DC for (what they thought was) our engagement party. Melisa shocked the jaws right down from everyone shortly after we thanked them for sharing our wedding day with us! After our time at Lulu’s Wine Garden, we walked to one of our favorite bars, American Ice Company, to have our first shot, a Pickle Back in lieu of a first dance. It’s been a fan favorite with our group of friends and has signaled the start of “one hell of a good time” for our friends!
From there, we invited the same private ceremony group to a family style dinner at The LINE Hotel in DC. We laughed, enjoyed each other, listened to some impromptu speeches and soaked in our first married meal together!
Since it was a smaller event, we created a playlist to play at the venue throughout the day. We certainly didn’t discriminate with our playlist and had songs from Beyoncé to Shania Twain. Our goal was to include as many female musicians as possible throughout the night. We wanted to vibe to feel like the classiest of Pride parties with some soulful songs thrown in for the sap of it as well!
Planning & Design: Angelica & Co. Weddings
Ceremony Venue: Private Residence
Reception Venue & Catering: Lulu’s Wine Garden
Family Dinner: The LINE Hotel DC
Photographer: Hannah Bjorndal for La Vie En Rose
Florist: Springvale Floral Design
Hair & Makeup: Caitlyn Meyer Beauty
Photo Booth: Maryland’s DJ
Favors: Crumbl Cookies
Transportation: RMA Limousine