This Couple's Vendor Team Pulled Off Their Romantic Washington, D.C., Elopement with Just 10 Days Notice
Ashley and Daniel's formal wedding was scheduled to take place in May of 2020, with 100 guests in attendance. However, a majority of their loved ones would need to travel—from all around the world—in order to be there, but travel grew increasingly limited as the global pandemic hit the United States. "Many countries had begun instituting travel restrictions with lockdowns and quarantines, and working from home becoming the norm," explains Ashley. "Out of concern for the safety of our friends and family, we knew that even though our wedding was still 12 weeks out, it was the right decision to postpone."
Although they made peace with their decision, the pair kept thinking about how significant their original wedding date was to them. "Our wedding had been scheduled for the week of our 10-year anniversary," Ashley explains. "With all of the uncertainty in the world and feeling that life is just too short to wait, we decided we just wanted to be married already." The next day, they reached out to their event planner and designer, Laura Ritchie of Grit & Grace, and shared their intentions to elope—and that they wanted it to happen in just 10 days so it fell on their actual anniversary.
Laura was on board and pulled out all of the stops to ensure the day went off without a hitch. She coordinated with the couple's floral designers at Sweet Root Village to get a bouquet; secured the services of their talented photographer Lisa Ziesing of Abby Jiu Photography for the day; and arranged for a wonderful officiant. "Honestly, Laura made the whole planning process look seamless," says Ashley.
When considering possible elopement locations, Goodstone Inn immediately came to mind. "I had just seen a post from Laura on Instagram about a previous wedding she had planned at Goodstone, and the photos were stunning," Ashley recalls. "We had even been there before." Goodstone featured lush greenery and a touch of historic charm, allowing Ashley and Daniel to retain the essence of their original garden wedding but on a much smaller scale. "Since it would just be the two of us, we really wanted a setting that would make it feel special and real to us as we exchanged our vows," says the bride.
If they have one piece of wisdom for other couples faced with the prospect of postponing their wedding, it's this: Keep in mind the purpose of a wedding is to be married to the love of your life. "You may have to adapt your plans out of necessity," says Ashley, "however, even a day that is completely different from what you expected can still be incredibly meaningful."
A Delightful Dress
Time was of the essence when it came to selecting a wedding dress. "Hands down the hardest part of the planning process was figuring out how to dress ourselves with only 10 days and worldwide shipping delays," says Ashley. Since her original gown was unfinished, Ashley turned online to BHLDN for a garment she already had her eye on. "I had been considering it as a reception dress for a while because it was such a contrast to my actual gown," she says. "I loved the simple elegance of it, with such understated details, like the lace along the open back and the high slit in the skirt." The crepe ensemble featured a tailored silhouette and long sleeves with covered buttons on each wrist—and was in stock and available for overnight shipping. "It was a total gamble ordering this dress and praying that it would work without any alterations!" says Ashley. "I had never even tried the dress on before, but thankfully so many other brides had posted reviews that it really helped me decide what to order."
An Exciting First Look
The couple met along the garden path that led to their cottage before heading over to their ceremony spot. "I had been flustered while getting myself ready—not the easiest without a professional stylist on hand!" says Ashley. "But as soon as it came time to walk outside and see Daniel all dressed up, the butterflies really set in."
"I think Daniel could probably hear me trying to breathe through the nerves, but as soon as he turned around, it didn't matter—because it was just him and me," says Ashley of the moment.
A Timeless Bouquet
The white spirea, garden roses, spray roses, scabiosa, and butterfly ranunculus in Ashley's bouquet were set off beautifully by fresh green ivy.
An Intimate Ceremony
Daniel and Ashley walked down the aisle together, towards the historic, ivy-covered wall of the old Manor house at Goodstone Inn that served as the backdrop for their vow exchange—which was masterfully officiated by With This Ring I Thee Wedd. "Our ceremony wasn't specifically religious, but it did follow a more traditional structure with wonderful readings," says Ashley. Those included "Love Is an Adventure" by Pierre Tielhart de Chardin; "Gift from the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh; "Soul Mates" by Lang Leav; and a quote from the closing paragraph of Justice Kennedy's marriage ruling. "I remember just feeling this emotional connection to Daniel," Ashley recalls of the heartwarming service. "We had this completely uninterrupted eye contact where we were both just deeply present in the moment listening together to our officiant's perfect ceremony. I don't know if all weddings feel that way, but there was something truly special about having just the two of us experience our wedding together."
Ashley's parents were able to witness the ceremony via FaceTime.
Sealed with a Kiss
The couple concluded the ceremony with a romantic kiss.
Table for Two
Laura Ritchie of Grit & Grace surprised the couple by recreating one of the tablescapes planned for the pair's formal wedding. "Working with DC Rental and Design Cuisine for the rentals, and Sweet Root Village for the flowers, they created a sneak peek of what our wedding will look like in 2021!" says Ashley. "It was a complete shock!"
Textural Place Settings
Scalloped gold-rimmed chargers in white contrasted beautifully with black dinner plates for the couple's place settings. Gold flatware added additional shine, while glossy black-and-white menus served as the finishing touch.
Music and Lyrics
Another surprise arranged by Laura? The evening's music—she invited the couple's DJ to set the mood during the ceremony and dinner. "I don't know how he managed it, but the songs he selected were all so romantic and moving that it really set the scene for the whole day!" says Ashley. "Music is such an important part of a wedding that can be easily overlooked, but a soundtrack can really capture the emotions that you are feeling and elevate them. DJ Dan had some of my favorite songs playing and it was a truly incredible surprise!"
A Memorable First Dance
Daniel and Ashley had originally planned for a medley of songs for their first dance, but since it would just be the two of them at the elopement, they improvised and chose something that they had been listening to recently. "We danced to 'Ocean' by Karol G because we really loved the song, and lyrically the meaning was perfect: 'No matter how life changes, my happiness is thanks to you,'" explains the bride.
A Special Guest
The pair's pup joined them for photos on their special day.
Photography, Lisa Ziesing for Abby Jiu Photography
Venue, Goodstone Inn
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Laura Ritchie for Grit & Grace
Videography, 87 & Smith
Flowers, Sweet Root Village
Menu Cards, The Dandelion Patch
Officiant, With This Ring I Thee Wedd
Bride's Gown, BHLDN
Shoes, Rene Caovilla
Groom's Attire, The Black Tux
Engagement Ring, Pavé Jewelers
Music, DJ Dan of Premier Service DJs
Rentals, DC Rental; Design Cuisine