Photography by Kate Headley.
Erica & Jason’s D.C.wedding combined the classic elegance of a summer garden party with fresh, modern elements for something truly unique – and totally gorgeous. With the expert eye of Pineapple Productions overseeing the design and planning, the couple were able to ‘relax’ (i.e. finish grad school, work full time, and deal with an interstate move!) knowing every detail would be taken care of. Honestly, though, I don’t think I could focus on much else after seeing the jaw-dropping asymmetrical back of Erica’s Romona Keveza gown, which was just so perfect for both the warm D.C. weather and the old-world-meets-contemporary vibe of their day. And I always love an involved and thoughtful bride, so be sure to read all of Eric’a answers below!
Event Planner & Designer Allison Jackson of Pineapple Productions told us the story behind Erica & Jason’s gorgeous stationery suite and welcome bags. “The rose watercolor artwork was custom created by Swiss Cottage Designs and was a nod to the groom’s last name (Rose) as well as Erica’s love of the roses in her grandmother’s garden [where they initially wanted to have the wedding]. For their welcome bags, Erica and Jason wanted to use a motif that was a nod to the Philadelphia LOVE statue, as they were living in Philadelphia through most of their engagement. Bags were filled with DC Brau, mini Sofia Coppola Blanc de Blanc cans, chocolate covered Oreos in the likeness of Penny (Erica and Jason’s beloved dog), White House White Cheddar popcorn and mini emergency kits made by the ever-prepared Erica!”
How did you spend your wedding morning? While getting ready I wanted to a calm, relaxing environment. I invited several friends to meet me for coffee near the hotel, and then I excused myself mid-morning to get ready, and they could continue to socialize with each other. While getting ready, it was just me, my mom, my sister, and my niece. Having just immediate family was such a relaxing way to get ready! We had a lot of fun. (And I have to mention, my friends and I saw Caitlyn Jenner in the coffee shop in the morning, which was an exciting way to start off the wedding day!)
Why did you choose this location for your wedding? I grew up in Washington, D.C., and it’s the city where Jason and I met and lived in the beginning of our relationship. I had always envisioned my wedding in my grandmother’s garden, a place I visited every weekend as a child. When we started planning the wedding, we realized how logistically challenging having the wedding at my grandmother’s house would be. When we visited Meridian House, we immediately fell in love with it – the outdoor space reminded me a lot of my grandmother’s garden, and it had a beautiful indoor space as well. It felt like it was meant to be! My grandmother hosted a beautiful engagement party for us in her garden, which was a wonderful way to incorporate that space into our celebrations.
Are there any details that help tell the story of your wedding? I had a very specific idea of what I wanted in a wedding dress. It took me forever to find my dress, but I was glad I held out to find one that I loved. The dress captured the modern and geometric style we incorporated into our wedding. It was simple, but unique!
Erica says, “our ceremony was a traditional reform Jewish ceremony, which we modified to incorporate interfaith elements (as Jason’s family is not Jewish). We had an intimate ketubah signing before the ceremony, with just our immediate families and two close friends as our witnesses.”
Is there anything special you’d like to tell us about your ceremony? On the day of the wedding, there was a 60% chance of rain. We had a rain plan that we were comfortable with, but we decided to set up the chuppah outside and take the risk. (We had an indoor ceremony set up nearby, and were prepared to do the ceremony without the chuppah if it started raining.) We felt so lucky that the rain held off! The ceremony was beautiful, the sun came out, and it felt so natural in the garden space.
Your ceremony in three words. Simple, reform-Jewish, inclusive.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? We both wanted a simple, traditional ceremony that included our large families. To this end, we decided to have a small bridal party, with my niece as Maid of Honor, and Jason’s best friend as his Best Man.
What was your ceremony music? We chose a string quartet to play our ceremony music, which felt like the right sound for the garden space and style. They continued to play for the cocktail hour, which was held in the linden grove.
Processional: Here There and Everywhere by The Beatles
Bride Processional: Can’t Help Falling in Love With You by Elvis Presley
Recessional: All You Need is Love by The Beatles
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? We chose the rabbi from my family’s reform congregation to officiate the wedding. Over the years, Jason and I had seen him lead several services. He had a template he uses for interfaith weddings, and we modified it to include the elements that were important to us, and eliminate the elements that didn’t feel right. We met with him several times before the wedding, both through Skype and in person.
What were your ceremony readings? The seven blessings (Sheva B’rachot) are the heart of the Jewish ceremony. The blessings represent the joy of creation both in the ancient times and the newest creation, which occurs under the chuppah.
What were your vows like? We used traditional Hebrew vows.
Did you include any other traditions in your wedding? We included a lot of family pieces in our ceremony. I wore a bracelet from my great-grandmother, and held my great-great-grandmother’s handkerchief. In addition, we used my great-grandfather’s Kiddush cup during the ceremony.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? We were really happy to be able to include our large families in the ceremony, while still keeping the ceremony straightforward. We had each of our parents and siblings read interpretations of the seven blessings, which was such an important piece of the ceremony. My nephews were our ushers and ring bearers, and my niece was the Maid of Honor. In addition, the ketubah signing ceremony beforehand was a special moment with just us and our immediate families. It gave us a chance to spend time alone and take in the moment.
In terms of aesthetics, the chuppah even more stunning than I ever imagined. I hadn’t seen it beforehand, so it was such a beautiful surprise as I was walking down the aisle!
Did you have a signature cocktail? Yes, we had two signature cocktails: a Rose Garden Gimlet (Boyd and Blair Potato Vodka, Orange and Rosewater Lemonade, St. Germain, Orange Twist, Edible Flowers) and a Bittersweet Bourbon Street (Bulleit Bourbon, Simple Syrup, Bitter End Thai Bitters, Absinthe, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, Lemon Twist, Cherry.)
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? Every summer, my grandmother has a beautiful garden party, which was the main inspiration for the overall look of the wedding. We wanted the evening to feel like a garden party, while incorporating some more modern elements to represent our personalities and lifestyle.
How would you describe your reception? We wanted our reception to feel like a festive garden dinner party. We wanted to bring the garden inside for dinner and dancing, and the florist and caterer worked together to design a floorplan that achieved this look. The décor incorporated trees, in addition to a lot of greenery and florals. It was important to us that the evening felt elegant, without feeling stuffy. For instance, In addition to assigned tables, we had assigned seating which made the seated dinner a bit more formal. However, we had a family-style meal, which balanced the formal seating with a more informal dining style. We wanted the reception to feel romantic and whimsical, but sophisticated and modern at the same time. Our Event Planner & Designer, Allison, was so skilled at coordinating our vendors to achieve the overall style.
Allison told us “the geometric touches we used were a nod to Erica’s love of science and the fact she is a scientist. (Erica has a PhD in biostatistics and is an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer at the CDC working to control the spread of infectious diseases.) We had geometric lanterns, geometric vases, a custom bar with a geometric laser cut front, geometric toasting glasses, geometric escort cards.”
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Pick vendors you love and trust! We trusted Allison, our planner, 100% to make the right decisions. Early in the process, we felt confident she understood our priorities and style, and as a result it was easy to relax and not obsess about the details. If there were any tough decisions, we followed her advice.
It’s also important to remember that not every single detail has to be the most meaningful. Pick the elements that are important to you to be special and meaningful, and focus on those.
What was your wedding menu? Before we started planning our wedding in detail, we decided we wanted a family-style dinner. Jason and I felt that sharing a meal family-style was a more intimate experience that would give our guests an opportunity to interact and connect around their tables. Early in the planning process, the florist had the idea of having lazy susans on each table, and using the food as a centerpiece. Our tablescapes and menu were designed around this idea. When guests were invited into the dining room, there were small floral centerpieces on trays and little bowls of olives and nuts for guests to enjoy. Before the entrée dish was served, the trays were removed from the lazy susans, and the food was presented.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? For our wedding cake, we had almond cake with raspberry jam and Chambord buttercream, as well as elderflower soaked lemon cake with blackberry jam and vanilla buttercream.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? There were so many favorite moments! Having such an organized wedding planner and well-organized vendors, we felt like we were able to be in the moment. Also, prior to the wedding we took several dance lessons. The first dance was a really fun moment for us to show off our newly acquired skills!
What was your first dance song? Father/daughter or mother/son dance? Jason’s favorite artist is David Bowie, and so we chose Bowie’s Rock and Roll With Me for our first dance. We took dance lessons in the months leading up to our wedding, which turned into one of our favorite date night activities!
When I was in middle school, I always wanted to listen to the Top 40 radio station on the way to school. My dad generally disliked all of the popular songs (it sounded “like noise”), except he loved Shaggy’s Angel – so it seemed perfect as our father-daughter dance song. Jason and his mom danced to Stevie Wonder’s You Are the Sunshine of My Life.
Erica told us, “as well as our wedding cake, we served mini desserts. Then at the end of the evening, we passed mini root beer floats, Jason’s favorite!”
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? We knew I would be finishing grad school in the spring of 2017, but we did not know any more details than that when we picked our wedding date and venue. It turned out we had to do a long-distance relocation, and my new job started two weeks after our wedding. As a result, we moved out of our home in Philadelphia before our wedding, but had not yet moved into our new home in Atlanta. It was a bit stressful and chaotic juggling a move and wedding at the same time. We were so glad to have such an amazing planner and vendors – they made it possible to stay calm and keep everything organized! When we initially planned the wedding, we had no idea that in the lead up to it our household items would be on a moving truck, or that we would be living with my parents! At the same time, having to juggle the move and our wedding, I did not have time to obsess about little details. It may have been a blessing in disguise!