Christine, global health recruiter & Jenny, child and family advocate
Sum-up of the wedding vibe: Recreating our first date surrounded by color, family, and community.
Planned budget: $7,000
Actual budget: $5,740
Number of guests: 13
Where we allocated the most funds:
Photography: We also paid to fly our photographer across the country because we love her work so much!
Where we allocated the least funds:
We saved tons of money by having a non-traditional reception. We purchased VIP tickets to the Taste of DC culinary and cultural festival, and the Taste of DC team took care of the rest! They graciously provided a private tent, tables, chairs, linens, and even a security guard. The festival entertainment included fantastic bands, DJs, dance floors, games, and more! Our entry tickets included drinks and easy access to DC’s best restaurants. We coordinated with a handful of food and dessert vendors beforehand and they gave us good deals on our catering orders. Our family also donated the flowers and the rehearsal dinner.
What was totally worth it:
Amy Gray Photography! Amy felt like family from the moment that we met on Skype. She made us feel completely comfortable and captured our elation and love beautifully.
What was totally not worth it:
Feeling guilty for not inviting friends. We kept the wedding small with immediate family only. We announced that we were getting married the night before the wedding through a video posted on Facebook. While we missed our friends, this was the best decision for us. We plan to celebrate with friends for a big anniversary in the coming years.
A few things that helped us along the way:
The Taste of DC team’s hospitality and generosity were incredible! We literally sent an email to a generic address on the festival website, asking about group tickets since we planned on celebrating our wedding day at the festival. We explained that we ate, drank and played giant Jenga at the Taste of DC during our first date four years earlier. Cathy from the festival team immediately called to share her enthusiasm and warmth.
From there, the Taste of DC went above and beyond to make our day even more special than we could have imagined. They designed a custom “Just Married” banner for our private booth and presented us with the most creative and thoughtful wedding present: our own giant Jenga set with our names engraved! They announced our first dance on the main stage and played our song (Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl”) while surrounded by cheers and love from hundreds of festivalgoers. They then took us five stories into the air on a crane for an aerial view of the entire festival and the U.S. Capitol. It was truly amazing! Everything and everyone at the Taste of DC far exceeded our expectations. We truly felt like royalty.
My best practical advice for my planning self:
Don’t feel confined by existing packages or traditions. At the same time, borrow heavily from the weddings you love. We knew we wanted to do a small, pop-up wedding. We were inspired by many pop-up weddings we’d seen online—they were simple, less expensive, focused on love, and full of personality. But we also wanted to spend quality time with our loved ones and not feel rushed in a public space, so we created our own semi-elopement, semi-pop-up festivities complete with an engagement-style photo shoot beforehand. This combination allowed us to get the most out of our day (plus hair and makeup!) while still enjoying the informality of a pop-up wedding.
We started our day at the Renwick Museum and Union Market for some couples photos, and then met our family at the Blind Whino Arts Club in our Southwest DC neighborhood, which provided a stunning backdrop for our intimate, pop-up ceremony. Jenny’s former boss and longtime mentor, Congressmember Karen Bass, officiated. Since our first date included a bike ride and the food festival, we hopped into pedicabs and headed to the Taste of DC for an alternative reception. It was a marvelously unique way to celebrate our wedding day—and completely us!
Favorite thing about the wedding:
The outpouring of love from the community. At the Taste of DC festival, dozens of strangers showered us with presents, asked to take photos with us, and whispered inspiring messages into our ears. Diverse crowds cheered around us during our first dance. Our ceremony at the Blind Whino concluded with enthusiastic children throwing confetti alongside our family. The security guard at the Renwick Museum welcomed us with a bear hug. Amidst a divisive and polarized election season, our wedding day felt like a colorful burst of unity, love, and connectedness. We are so very grateful and humbled by the genuine warmth we felt from everyone we interacted with. Love trumps hate!
Anything else To Share:
We met our pedicab drivers, Marc and Zack, on the street two weeks before the wedding. Marc was dropping off tourists at the White House. We were on a run. Even though we were sweaty, we decided to approach Marc and ask if he might be interested in participating in our wedding day. Even with the flu, he made it happen! We blasted our favorite music as we swerved through the DC monuments, laughing the entire way. Marc and Zack were so full of love that they joined our celebration after the pedicab ride. Jenny’s mom loved dancing with Zack and his long beard!