A Sweet Micro Wedding on the Rooftop of a Washington, D.C., Sushi Restaurant
When college senior Rose caught sight of Dave across a crowded bar at their alma mater, Virginia Tech, he—three years older than she is—had just come from an engineering board meeting. He made a strong first impression. "I was drawn to this well-dressed man as you don't see this every day in a college bar," says Rose. "I simply thought, 'Who in college wears a suit to a bar? need to know him!'" Though they talked for the rest of the evening, they didn't stay in contact—until three months later, when they ran into each other at a different bar. "We exchanged numbers again," says Rose, "just to find out we already had each other's."
Five years later, Dave surprised Rose with a proposal on a weekend trip to Pippin Hill—the venue they later booked for their 150-person wedding on September 6, 2020. "When COVID hit in early 2020, we were hopeful, like many couples, that things would resolve in the next few months and we would be fine by the fall," says Rose. But over the summer, they decided to postpone their larger wedding until September 2021 and exchange vows in front of a smaller group on their original wedding date.
Rose and Dave asked 22 guests to join them for a handfasting ceremony and dinner at one of their favorite restaurants, O-Ku Sushi in Washington, D.C., where a roof deck with city views, an upscale menu, and attentive staff created a chic and memorable event. "We had been there before and it was a special place to us," says Rose. "They have never hosted a wedding before, but they were beyond excited to make it happen for us."
The couple wanted a city celebration that would contrast with the Pippin Hill event they put on hold, and took the opportunity to create a truly personalized ceremony. "We wanted to do some of the things that maybe we couldn't do during our larger wedding: We wanted our parents to give speeches, we wanted to incorporate all of our siblings into the ceremony, we wanted everyone to take fireball shots—Dave's favorite—and we wanted people to have intimate conversations that you don't normally get at a large wedding," says Rose. "We loved the idea of having our immediate family eating family style at a long table, like we would do at home."
With her original wedding dress reserved for the future celebration, Rose set out to find an alternative for the couple's micro event. "Let me tell you, picking a second wedding dress is hard," says Rose. "I knew I didn't want a traditional gown—I didn't want anything too formal—but I also wanted it to be fun and go with our D.C.-chic vibes." With most shops closed, she ordered multiple dresses online to evaluate at home—included an ASOS organza wrap dress with a sequined palm tree pattern that she altered to customize the sleeves. "I felt myself in it," she says. "After the sleeves were adjusted to be my own, I felt very special. It wasn't too formal or too informal. It was fun and lightweight, and I felt it would be perfect for the night." She added shoes from BHLDN, the earrings she purchased to go with her original ensemble, and a necklace Dave's parents gave her the night before the wedding.
Coming Up Roses
Dave chose an Indochino suit that he wore with a white shirt, a dusty rose tie, and inscribed cuff links Rose gave him for the big day. The rich blue of his suit contrasted with the rest of the neutral-and-blush color palette—brought to life in Rose's classic bouquet from Poppy Flowers, which included several of her favorite blooms: "Ranunculus and dahlias and roses," she says. "Of course, roses for Rose."
Heart to Heart
Rose and Dave met on the roof deck for photos before their guests arrived—a moment filled with a variety of emotions. "[We felt] nervous, but so excited and eager to see each other before," says Rose. "Elated during—tears were shed. Looking forward to tying the knot and celebrating after." After the first look, the couple visited the iconic Union Market for more portraits. "[Our photographer] found a painting on the side of Union Market which fit perfectly for the occasion—it was a quote by Yoko Ono. 'Relax, your heart is stronger than you think.' How appropriate for a crazy and unprecedented year. But through it all, love wins, and our hearts are actually stronger than we thought."
Rose and Dave marked their engagement anniversary on the O-Ku Sushi roof deck in June, before they decided to rework their wedding. "We laughed, reminisced on the magical day a year prior, and talked about what we should do about our upcoming September wedding," says Rose. "While sitting there and taking in the sunset over Union Market, I thought to myself, wow, this would be a cool spot for a mini wedding."
Hand in Hand
To help differentiate their micro wedding, Rose and Dave tweaked the ceremony: They didn't have an aisle or processional, and instead of incorporating their different religious backgrounds, they planned a traditional handfasting ceremony. "Handfasting is where 'tying the knot' came from, as you are physically tying your hands together with ribbons or ropes as part of the ceremony. The ribbons are wrapped around your conjoined wrists in the form of a figure-eight or infinity symbol," explains Rose. "Upon the completion of the wrapping, we pulled our hands apart and the ribbons formed a knot. Hence, tying the knot!" says Rose.
Rose's cousin Andy officiated the rest of the ceremony; he read a poem the couple wrote and proceeded over the exchange of rings. "The poem was all about, 'These are the hands,'" says Rose. "These are the hands that will hold you when you're old, these are the hands that will raise our children, these are the hands that will high-five you when the Virginia Tech Hokies win. We thought this would go nicely with the handfasting ceremony."
Near and Far
Many of the couple's bridal party, best friends, and family watched the ceremony over Zoom. "That was a funny recording to listen back to—no one participated in the wedding, but they did have a great internal chat on Zoom while the wedding was happening," says Rose. With only family present, Rose's sister-in-law, Kelsey, ensured the rest of the couple's close friends made an appearance. "She reached out to the bridal party and asked for a picture, printed out their faces, and put the cutouts on popsicle sticks to surprise us," says Rose. "This way they were there in spirit (and on Zoom) and we could take pictures with them!"
An array of bud vases ran the length of the long table, each with different colors and flowers. "The bud vases included a sweet touch from my florist, Cameron," says Rose. "Cameron found blue flowers on a walk with her husband the night before our wedding and included them in our bud vases to be the 'something blue.'"
Black and White
Minimalist place settings included geometric white plates and linen napkins in the wedding's signature dusty rose color—"handmade and rush ordered from a woman in Greece on Etsy!" says Rose. "She was a lifesaver."
Guests toasted the newlyweds with the restaurant's signature ginger and watermelon cocktails, "plus," says Rose, "sake bombs as a whole family and fireball shots for fun."
A Dream Come True
As their loved ones mingled on the roof deck, the couple's vision for their micro wedding came to life. "We knew as the sun would set, we could have this chic D.C. wedding, surrounded by the people who mean the most to us, and simply enjoy ourselves," says Rose. "No black tie, no walking down the aisle, just simple elegance and finding the good during a very weird and sad year."
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
Rose worked closely with the chef at O-Ku to design a menu that included the couple's preferred foods, dietary restrictions, and favorite menu items. "There was so much food: Sushi, steaks, noodles, salads, sashimi," says Rose. "Amazing. But at one point everyone was so stuffed, I told O-Ku to stop cooking!" The meal offered the couple time for the intimate conversations they'd hoped to have with a smaller guest list, and provided them with one of their favorite memories of the day: "Laughing and enjoying the night away with the people who we care about the most," says Rose.
So in Love
Even with a larger wedding on the horizon, Rose and Dave appreciated each moment of their micro wedding. "Something that my cousin and officiant, Andy, said to us while we were planning this wedding was to try and find the positive," says Rose. "He said, 'Thank you for allowing us to have this small wedding, thank you for pushing us to get together as our closest family to celebrate love. Without COVID, we wouldn't be doing this.'"
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