A Washington, DC wedding is ideal for those who love this great country and all that it stands for. From iconic emblems, such as the Capitol Building and the sleek obelisk of the Washington Monument to the physical tributes to great leaders, a wedding in our nation’s capital is full of pride and honor for the US of A.
As the seat of federal government, Washington draws citizens from all across the globe. The rich cultural, political, and ethnic mix has created distinct neighborhoods that each possess their own unique blend of shops, restaurants, bars, and attractions. A truly diverse metropolis, DC offers a little bit of everything under the sun.
Each spring, the landscape of DC—particularly around the memorial-centric Tidal Basin—finds itself covered in a snowy pink cloud of cherry blossoms. Whether you participate in the national celebration of these famous flowering trees or simply use the delicate blooms for stunning photos, a springtime wedding in the District is naturally romantic.
A few miles south of the Capital you’ll find Northern Virginia, a prime spot for mountain vistas, wine country toasts, and celebrations rife with rustic elegance. It’s a rare area that marries city and countryside quite so well.
With monuments, memorials, and museums around every turn, DC calls to those who live to learn. Whether your passion is architecture, American history, visual arts, or cultural knowledge, the District has tours, excursions, and sightseeing options galore to keep eager minds busy for days.
Ballgown or sheath? Lace or tulle? Simple or sparkly? These are just a few of the gajillion questions you might face when trying to pinpoint what kind of wedding gown speaks to you, which is a daunting task even for the most style-conscious bride. Luckily, Washington D.C.’s dress experts are at the ready to help you weed through the racks of shapes and sizes, so get yourself to a local bridal shop and let the Great Try-On begin. Just remember to keep an open mind and a trustworthy second opinion by your side (two aunts, five cousins, and three work colleagues are not encouraged). After you’ve honed in on the dress, it’s time to consider your entire wedding ensemble from head to toe, including shoes, accessories, and jewelry...yep, that means bling, baby. Hie thee to a wedding ring and jewelry shop to find the ideal frosting for your bridal look, whether that be a pair of demure pearl studs or some serious sparkle action. Guys can get in on the goods, too: what better time to splurge on a pair of legit-fancy cufflinks or wristwatch? And of course, you’ll both need wedding bands; otherwise that whole “ring exchange” part of your ceremony will fall rather flat. These purchases will be some of the most fun and memorable of your whole wedding planning experience, so dive in and get to shopping.
We have no doubt that you’ve got your daily beauty routine down to a science, but for a wedding day look that you’ll wear well into the night, get the professionals involved. Book a trial appointment with D.C. hair and makeup stylists in advance of your wedding so you can lock down a style that suits you to a T. These experts will help you show off the loveliest version of yourself so that your natural beauty shines from every angle. Even if you’re more the DIY sort, consider bringing in beauty pros just this once; trust us, on the day of your wedding, it will feel amazing to have that “look super hot” aspect checked off the list. This is your time to shine, so indulge a little...why not be utterly unencumbered and ready to go by the time the big day rolls around? Warm up for your wedding with a trip to one of your local spas for a massage and mani/pedi. Whether you bring friends for a facial or treat yourself to a bit of alone time, relaxing before the main event will go miles towards focusing your mind on your person and your vows, instead of those pesky little details.
We’re sure your whole DC wedding day will be a slam dunk, but let’s take a moment to think about the ceremony aspect of this matrimonial undertaking. While it might be more fun to plan the party first, where you say your “I do” is kind of crucial, don’t you think? Thankfully, the DMV is chock full of stunning venues where you and your darling might like to wed. If you’re dead set on a particular reception space, consider locating your ceremony nearby—or, as is often the case in Washington, DC weddings, in a different area on the same site. Once you’ve found the right spot, there are ample wedding officiants available to assist with the ritual aspect of the ceremony. Meet with a handful of different celebrants if need be to find a person who understands you and your partner and feels like the right choice to run the show. Next, the ambiance: turn to District ceremony musicians for help here. There are a plethora of options, from single soulful guitars to string quartets. Finally, meet with one of our fabulous Washington DC wedding photographers to find the right person to snap their way through your wedding day. The result of your work will be a personalized ceremony that utterly suits you and your partner.
It’s time for the dessert of the wedding planning process: reception wrangling. Whether you’re looking for a grand ballroom or an open field, the DC area has copious options. Once you’ve selected the space, it’s time to consider the set dressing. Turn to DC wedding photographers for their serious talent and savvy when it comes to capturing every tearful speech and signature dance move. Your friends and family have come from all over to celebrate your union, so kick off the proceedings with some celebratory signature cocktails and mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres made by DC’s finest wedding caterers—oh, and did we mention DC wedding cakes? They're pretty wonderful, too. Next, fill the room with gorgeous arrangements made by talented local florists and tunes courtesy of your live band or DJ. Look into pairing up with a wedding planner who will coordinate your team and make sure those day-of questions get taken care of. Once your loved ones have a bite and beverage in hand, they’ll be ready to raise a glass to their favorite newlyweds, and you’ll be ready to bask in those sunny wedding toasts.
Your aisle promenade has been practiced, the wedding party has stood in their customary line, and you and your partner are eye-wateringly close to turning those “I do”s into the real thing. Don’t spend the night before your wedding dining on stress-induced takeout: plan in advance so that once the rehearsal is over, you and your loved ones can walk into a nice restaurant, sit down, and smile about how wonderful it is to be you in this moment. Washington, DC’s restaurant options are both abundant and excellent. Head to Jaleo DC for coursed tapas a la José Andrés, one of DC’s most beloved chefs. Or try Poste Brasserie in the Penn Quarter, where gorgeous, modern French cuisine is the standard. For casual American food and a relaxed atmosphere, look into booking the upstairs dining room at Sixth Engine. You’ll have your choice of hors d’oeuvres and coursed dinner menus, plus ample room to invite any auxiliary wedding party guests and family members. You’ll cherish the opportunity to welcome everyone to your wedding weekend before the day kicks off.
Don’t put down that sparkler just yet: extend your send-off with a darling farewell brunch for your close friends and family. We know, we know: you're tempted to dig into a piece of Washington DC wedding cake your thoughtful caterers snuck into your hotel fridge last night instead of hauling yourself out of bed. A brunch might seem like lots of extra effort, but it’s worth it to know that a prepared meal is just a short walk (or cab ride) away the morning after your wedding—plus, all the post-wedding stories are so much more fun when they’re fresh. If you’re browsing for just the right spot, Bistro Cacao, by the Capitol building, offers a French brunch with a Croque Monsieur that will settle any rumbling stomachs. The DGS Delicatessen has a semi-private space perfect for family-style brunch, complete with delectable Jewish fare and a killer house Bloody. Check out Sette Osteria on 14th Street if you’re into an Italian brunch spread, Bellinis and all. Of course, we’ve got suggestions in spades; check out our recommendations below for local spots with scrumptious spreads that can help you plan brunch for a crowd.
Let’s be real: the next best thing to getting married is getting an invitation to a wedding. Tearing through the thick paper, anticipating a meaningful event on the horizon, opening mail addressed to you that isn’t a bill...we could go on. Your save-the-dates and invitations are your guests’ first glimpse into the world of your wedding, so it’s best to involve the experts. Head to a local invitation and paper goods boutique to get started. Washington, DC’s calligraphy and paper pros will help design a suite of paper goods to reflect the tone and flavor of your wedding, as elegant or earthy as you like. Your invitation set is the place to drop hints (or broadcast info outright) about the dress code, if you’ll be offering a meal or cocktails, or if there is an opportunity to get in on a reserved block of hotel rooms. With DC’s specialists on your side, printing up an invitation suite that suits your affair will be a cinch.
Earn your hospitality badge by putting together some charming, DC-inspired wedding welcome bags for your travel-weary out-of-town guests. To add some local flair to your bags, you can’t go wrong with this Compass Coffee tote, with its slick “Made in DC” logo. Next, hand off the hard-hitting information, like a map and an extra copy of your wedding itinerary that will help out-of-towners get to where they’re supposed to be. Make your map truly personal by pointing out some of your favorite, perhaps lesser-known tourist attractions in the area. Places like the Renwick Gallery, the American arts and crafts museum, and the U.S. National Arboretum are savvy suggestions: a bit off the beaten track, but lovely nonetheless. Make opening your bag a treat by including some local snacks, like a handy snack bar from Kate Bakes, or go decadent with sweets from Undone Chocolate. Finish the bags with a handmade thank you card so your guests will know, in your own words, how fabulous it is to have them there. For more suggestions, check out our ideas for DC wedding welcome bag ideas that will impress your guests with all the best the District has to offer.
After planning your whole event, a detail that seems insignificant—like picking out a wedding favor—can get pushed to the bottom of your to-do list and stay there. Trust us: favors are the perfect pick-me-up for your guests, and they don’t have to be small or boring. Imagine the excitement if Urban Poutine pulled up to your reception right as folks were beginning to think about a late-night snack. If you’re looking for a take-home treasure that might last a bit longer, we can think of nothing finer than Mambo sauce from Capital City Co., the originators of the tomato-based DC condiment somewhere between a sassy ketchup and a hot sauce. Looking for something your guests can keep for years? Head to Hills Kitchen to pick up some Capitol Hill cookie cutters, which make great, functional souvenirs. The list doesn’t end there, friends: read on to get more great Washington, DC favor ideas.
Tying the knot in one of our nation’s top tourist cities is certainly special, so make the most of it. In between wedding festivities, your guests can spend time enjoying all of the free historical sites and area landmarks while also exploring the local culture and vibes. Suggest some extra sites that you and your partner particularly enjoy, for example the Newseum or the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. For your convenience, we put together some of our favorite places below for you to browse and share with guests. For more ideas, refer folks to TripAdvisor’s recommendations for things to do in DC. From the National Mall to Georgetown and every destination in between, DC is always a treat.
Welcome to dining in the District of Columbia, where the food is fresh, diverse, and abundant. DC is home to some of the finest restaurants in the country, Michelin stars and all, but you don’t necessarily have to go for fine dining to find yourself ooh-ing and aah-ing over your meal. Suggest Le Diplomate for visitors looking for tantalizing French fare and bonus café culture. Succotash offers a locally sourced, Southern-style menu with Asian flair for brunch, lunch, and dinner. Send your picky friends to GCDC for their glorious grilled cheese options and loaded tater tots. Gather round and read on for more suggestions on the finest bites in the city.
We presume that, at some point, even your most tenacious out-of-town guests will need to stop and rest for a bit between weekend festivities. If you agree, it’s best to look into some convenient places where you, your friends, and your family can hit the hay. (Note: actual barns are not encouraged.) Our suggestion? Make sure last-minute planners don’t get caught without a place to stay by reserving blocks of rooms in advance of the big day, hopefully far enough in advance that you can drop a quick note about hotels into your invite (or at the very least, on your wedding website). It’s also kind to make reservations at a few different price points, just so friends have an option or two. If there aren’t many suitable venues near your reception, consider somewhere close to a Metro stop, or perhaps arrange for transportation back to the main hotel post-party. Have a look through our suggestions for a sweet spot to stay in DC below.
That blissful period between the ring slipping on your finger and well-meaning loved ones asking about your wedding date happens to be a narrow window, friends. Prolong your pre-wedded bliss for as long as possible—and make new memories to boot—by booking an engagement photo sesh with an A+ Washington, DC wedding photographer. This is an excellent opportunity to get to know your photographer, and for s/he to get to know you: they’ll need to have some idea of what makes you smile on your wedding day, after all. Once you’ve found your photographer, it’s time to pick your backdrops (hint: we love when couples show off their favorite areas of DC in their shoots). If you’re stuck and looking for a little spark to get you going, check out our list of favorite engagement shoot locations, complete with suggestions from some stellar District photogs.
A bachelorette shindig in the District is bound to be one for the books, wherever you stay and play. If you aren’t a local, you really can’t go wrong spending your day winding your way in and out of the incredible—and, for the most part, free—museums and monuments in the main part of the city. Tune into your crew to see where their interests lie; will you head to Blowout Bar DC for a bit of quintessential girl time with champagne in hand, or while away the afternoon enjoying the Potomac in a kayak from Boating in DC? In terms of food, you’ll be able to find something for everyone, dietary restrictions and all. For lunch, hit up Buredo for a sushi roll literally as large as a burrito. Baby Wale is the place to head for dinner and drinks, what with their bar food being absolutely off the charts. If you’d like to end the weekend with a real treat, do brunch at Table and be sure to go for the bottomless mimosas. After all, it’s your party, and you can day-drink if you want to. For more suggestions on how to plan a DC bachelorette party for the ages, consult our guide.
All history buffs—or just big-city partiers—preparing to say “I do” should consider slipping away for a bachelor weekend in the District, because this city blends culture, history, and fun seamlessly. Be the guys taking ridiculous selfies in front of the Washington Monument, then thoughtfully reading the plaques. Make your exit from Escape Room Live, if you can: you and your best buds will be on a team trying to solve a quandary of your choice in a race against the clock. If you aren’t really puzzle people, spend the afternoon drinking beers and eating flatbread at ChurchKey—don’t miss out on their mac and cheese sticks, either. In the evening, catch your friend’s favorite band at the 9:30 Club,then polish off the weekend with a leisurely brunch on the upstairs outdoor patio of Local 16. Their bottomless pre-fixe brunch includes your choice of beers, mimosas, or bellinis, so whichever you choose, you can’t go wrong. Stick with us: we’ve got tons of [bachelor party ideas] to help you make the most of your friend’s last celebration as an unmarried man.
Where would we be without the immensely talented pool of Washington, DC wedding vendors? Their passion for planning, commitment to their couples, and incredible ingenuity is what makes the local wedding scene as remarkable as it is, and it's the unique team behind every wedding working together that makes each event an affair to remember. Their combined experience and expertise is second to none, and we want you to benefit from it while assembling your dream team of vendors. Check out our Spotlight Series for in-depth Q&As with the best of the best in the industry, and make sure to read the articles they've contributed to Borrowed & Blue for the most reliable wedding tips and tricks, straight from the source.
As our nation’s capital, Washington, DC is always abuzz with commuters and businessfolk going about their day—not to mention the tourist traffic that moves through the city all year round. Consequently, you’ll need to put a serious strategic planning initiative in place to make sure your wedding goes off without a hitch. Eliminate some of this headache by trying to pick a wedding date that doesn’t conflict with any seismic DC events. While no one can plan for delays caused by presidential convoys, avoiding high traffic weekends—like the 4th of July, for example—will cause everyone to breathe a sigh of relief. Borrowed & Blue likes to look out for our own, so we’ve put together a list of Washington, DC’s biggest events that might cramp your party’s style.
Check out some other useful local online resources to get you acquainted with all things DC, from travel guides to the local restaurant scene to great local wedding blogs run by our friends in the industry:
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