After seeing Brian and Elaine's wedding photo from Mary Kate McKenna, I feel like I just came back from a mini-vacation in DC. Brian and Elaine had a contemporary wedding that incorporated both of their families' traditions (Catholic and Chinese). So that means we get to drool over BOTH of Elaine's wedding dresses (yay!). They also took photos around Washington, DC, including entertaining the tourists at the Capitol Building and photos on one of the DC Ducks. Not sure what that is? Keep reading!

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Did your wedding location and date hold a special significance for you?
We wanted a local wedding that was central for our family and friends, and we liked the idea of a historic house within Washington DC. Fall is both of our favorite season, so were looking for an October wedding.

Tell us about the details of the day.
We had an 11 am ceremony at the Decatur House on Lafayette Square in Washington DC. Elaine and her wedding party prepared at the Mayflower Hotel beforehand and came down. The ceremony was performed by Brian's cousin, Rev. Thomas Marciniak S.J. in the garden of the Decatur House. After the ceremony, the guests retreated into the carriage house for a cocktail hour while the families came together in the garden for a Chinese tea ceremony. For the reception and the tea ceremony, Elaine changed from her white wedding gown into a traditional Chinese red dress.

After the tea ceremony, we were introduced in the carriage house along with our wedding parties. At this point, the carriage house and garden were opened up for a buffet lunch, including a dessert bar and cupcake display. In addition to the cupcakes, we also had a small red velvet cake with a handmade rooster and hen couple cake topper (since we were both born in the year of the rooster) and a custom rugby ball groom's cake decorated with the logo and the colors of Brian's rugby team. The reception included a photo booth that guests could use to take personal pictures for our guestbook. After the reception, we went on a tour of DC with our photographer to get a collection of unique pictures around the city.

Did you create any DIY projects?
Our programs were folded origami fortune tellers. We found a template online, printed them out on nice paper and then folded them.

What was the most meaningful part of your day?
We worked to have a contemporary wedding that incorporated both of our families' traditions (Catholic and Chinese). This included Brian's cousin officiating the service; a Chinese tea ceremony where we were able to bring together and welcome both families; and a traditional red Chinese dress that Elaine wore during the reception. It allowed us to honor all our family members as well as show our appreciation and respect for our families.

We also included a number of touches to honor the family members that could not be with us on that day. Elaine's father had passed away two years earlier and she carried a locket containing a picture of her father. We also lit a memorial candle at the head of the aisle as a memorial.

Did anything funny or out of the ordinary happen?
We had a photo booth set up that our guests really enjoyed using. It was fun going through the pictures taken afterward. We had groups of seven people trying to fit themselves in a photo booth at a time, as well as four rugby guys try to squeeze in the little space.

After the wedding, we went to take some extra photos around Washington, DC, and we enjoyed taking some of our photos on the DC Duck boat where Captain Dale even gave us both the signature quacker whistles to use in our photos.

Do you have any advice for couples planning their wedding?
Figure out the most important things for you (whether it be a certain venue/food/photographer) and book them early. The rest will fall into place.

When you are making decisions about all the details, just go with whatever you want, not what you think people are expecting or what "is usually done." If you do this, you will enjoy your wedding and, if you enjoy your wedding, everyone else will too.

Take time and work hard to find good vendors and make sure you are comfortable with who you have picked. Make sure to do research and check references/passed work, but also meet with them personally to make sure that your personality meshes with theirs.  These are the people who will make sure all of the details will fall into place and finding good quality people will make your day much easier.

Vendors:
Photography: Mary Kate McKenna Photography
Catering: Federal City Catering
Invitations and flowers: Highway to Hill
Venue: Decatur House on Lafayette Square
Music: VLA trio (book them through Grand Staff Events)
Cupcakes: YoCake
Groom's cake: Fancy Cakes by Leslie

Check out more photographers, dresses and invitations in Washington DC.