This Couple's Intimate Hotel Reception in Washington, D.C., Hinted at Their Future Wedding in Cancun
A mutual friend's fortuitous introduction during their first semester of college began Emma and Collin's love story. And while they both felt an initial spark, they decided to spend the subsequent semester—and summer!—getting to know each other better; by sophomore year, they made it official.
Since Emma's birthday is July 5, the couple typically celebrates her birthday and the Fourth of July holiday simultaneously with family—and 2019's double festivities were no different. Only this time, Collin reminded his future bride to pack something nice for a "surprise" during their family trip to Ohio (she assumed this meant a birthday dinner). After appetizers and drinks at a charming local brewery, Collin took her back to the pond in front of her grandparent's house, explaining that her family needed time to set up the house for her birthday party. But once they reached the water, Collin dropped down on one knee—and Emma realized that a proposal was the surprise all along. Both of their families watched the romantic moment unfold from the balcony. The party that followed featured a Champagne toast, catered dinner, and fireworks— the perfect finish to a birthday-meets-Fourth-of-July-meets-engagement fête.
Emma and Collin originally planned their destination nuptials at Nizuc Resort and Spa in Cancun, Mexico. After first seeing the resort on planning team Grit & Grace's Instagram, their site visit in July of 2019 solidified the gulf-side hotel as their dream wedding locale. And though they decided on a longer engagement (it would give them more time to plan!), by June 2020, they realized that their upcoming fall date was no longer possible.
A large wedding with plenty of dancing was essential to the pair, so they made the difficult decision to postpone their large Cancun celebration to November 2021—and on November 20, 2020, Emma and Collin were wed in their living room in Falls Church, Virginia. While the only in-person guest was their dog, Otto, family members and friends joined virtually; they were serenaded by the sounds of Otto chewing on a particularly delicious bone as his parents tied to knot. Since the bride and groom were overwhelmed by the idea of planning yet another wedding, they trusted Laura from Grit & Grace to pull together a reception dinner—one that was completely different from their future Cancun event. The Conrad in Washington, D.C., provided the ideal "staycation" aesthetic they wanted for their 17 guests, says Emma; it gave off "the modern city-chic vibe we were going for." Shades of dusty blue and blush pink played off the mosaic tile in the party space, and favors that nodded to their future Mexico wedding reminded their loved ones that the best was yet to come.
The duo skipped physical invitations for their micro event, but Laura of Grit & Grace and Steph B & Co. surprised the bride and groom with a single suite as a keepsake. The engraved notes featured dusty blue-gray lettering printed on an off-white background. A nod to their future beach wedding locale, the color palette of the set also featured deep blues and neutral sandy tones. Emma and Collin were delighted by this thoughtful touch. "It was a total shock and really brought the day full circle, since no detail was left unturned," says the bride.
Emma is saving her original wedding dress for the duo's 2021 Cancun celebration, so she wanted something unique for the smaller affair. She stumbled upon the "Patsy" jumpsuit by Rime Arodaky while scrolling on Instagram—and as soon as she saw it, knew it was perfect for her Washington, D.C., reception. The modern ivory ensemble featured a nude bodice with mesh opaque sleeves and a sweeping train, all decorated with floral appliqué embroidery. The jumpsuit was tailored at Carines Bridal Atelier and was ready just in time for her big day.
Denim and Pearls
Her pearl-encrusted denim jacket kept out the evening's chill.
Earth Tones for the Groom
Laura gave the couple some ideas for their attire, and when Collin saw one of her recommendations—a mauve blazer from The Black Tux—he knew it was the right choice. The purple-tinged earth-toned blazer featured a hint of pink, and aligned perfectly with the "nod to a beach in Mexico" theme. A white button down, black bow tie, and black trousers completed the look.
Mules for Autumn
The couple's celebration kicked off with a cocktail hour, held on an outdoor terrace at The Conrad. Surrounded by manicured shrubbery and outdoor heaters, the couple and their 17 guests enjoyed the signature sip of the night: Moscow mules, one of Emma and Collin's favorite drinks.
Glass and Gold
For the reception, two king tables were set up in a private room indoors. Guests enjoyed external views of the gardens thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows; across the space, a gold-and-blue mosaic statement wall provided a modern touch. The blush pink velvet dining chairs and blue-and-white tablecloths completed the color story. The pair granted Laura full creative license when designing the party. Their only stipulation? The subtle beach theme.
Blue for the Beach
Tablescapes featured plenty of pink, mauve, and cream blooms, which were arranged in either small, clear vases or white oblong vessels by Sweet Root Village. Tea and votive candles were evenly dispersed down the center of the stations; marbled napkins offered a modern touch and spoke to the abstract linens.
See You in Cancun
The evening's favors—monogrammed Mark and Graham passport covers—were both stylish and utilitarian; guests will be able to use them when they travel to Cancun later this year. Loved ones also scooped up beach bags, filled with chocolate chip cookie mix from a local Mexican vendor and a bottle of Champagne, at the end of the evening.
Gold-painted oyster shells served as salt and pepper cellars and were yet another nod to the beach.
Pandemic Planning Advice
Emma and Collin have one piece of advice to couples currently planning their weddings during the pandemic: "Focus on the important part of the wedding, which is marrying your soulmate!" And if you're having a micro party and a larger celebration down the road? Know that any stress will be well worth it. "It's pretty amazing to be able to celebrate your love twice!" they add.
Photography, Abby Jiu
Venue, Conrad Washington D.C.
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Grit and Grace
Videography, Cinema Clayton Films
Flowers, Sweet Root Village
Stationery and Day-of Paper Products, Steph & B Co.
Bride's Hair and Makeup, Uzma from Makeup by Ana B.
Linen Rentals and Custom Masks, BBJ Linen
Rentals, Maison de Carine; White Glove Rentals
Favors, Mark and Graham
Bride's Ensemble, Rime Arodaky via Carines Bridal Atelier
Groom's Attire, The Black Tux
Engagement Ring, Ascot Diamonds
Wedding Bands, Cartier
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