Real Weddings in Alexandria, Virginia

Located minutes from Washington, D.C., Alexandria, Virginia was ranked the “#1 Most Romantic City in the U.S.” by Amazon.com and is an enchanting wedding destination. Between Old Town Alexandria’s historic charm, red brick architecture, stunning waterfront views and countless things to do within walking distance, it’s no wonder couples choose it for their big day.

Looking for inspiration? We interviewed three couples who had their weddings in Alexandria and found out all the details, from planning to partying and everything in between. All agree that Alexandria has that special “wow” factor and guarantees a fun and memorable weekend for guests. If you’re ready to explore an Alexandria wedding of your own, browse VisitAlexandriaVA.com/weddings and reach out for complimentary wedding planning services, and don’t forget to reserve your ticket to the first-ever Alexandria Wedding Showcase on February 19, 2017.

Meng & Albert
Venue: George Washington Masonic Memorial
Spring

elizabethfogarty-220Wedding Photographer: Elizabeth Fogarty

Choosing a Venue in Alexandria

We picked Alexandria based on the fact that our wedding would be local and we needed a central location for everyone – so not too far in or out of DC. We loved the George Washington Masonic Memorial and decided that Old Town would also be a great backdrop for our festivities. We’ve always loved the quaint feel of Old Town with its small businesses and restaurants, and we thought that it would be a nice place to visit for the many out-of-towners.

elizabethfogarty-474Wedding Photographer: Elizabeth Fogarty

The George Washington Masonic Memorial had both a grassy area outside for the ceremony and a grand banquet hall inside the building, as well as a rooftop that had a 360 degree view of the surrounding neighborhoods.

Wedding Planning 

elizabethfogarty-343Wedding Photographer: Elizabeth Fogarty

The most important thing was to make sure that our guests had a great experience. The process was a series of dividing out tasks that we felt strongly about. Meng took charge of décor and food while Albert organized the invitations, logistics (hotels and transportation) and entertainment. Albert formulated an excel spreadsheet that tracked the guests as well as the day of by 15 minute increments to make sure everything was timed perfectly.

The Wedding Day

It was a hotter-than-usual but beautiful May day, the sun was out and it was 90 degrees by noon. We had our ceremony on the front lawn of the Masonic Temple where guests were seated on wooden benches facing an arch made with birch tree branches and decorated with blush colored flower arragements. Meng walked in with her Dad to the song “Over the Rainbow” by the Piano Guys. The ceremony was a short and sweet 30 minutes long and once it was over, guests were free to explore the town while the wedding party went into DC to take photos.

After photos were done, the couple joined back with the guests in a cocktail hour on the staircase of the Memorial. Finally, the day ended with the reception in the Banquet Hall where the couple did their first dance to Jon McLaughlin’s “So Close” and guests ate a family-style dinner of some of the bride’s favorite seasonal and health-conscious dishes.

elizabethfogarty-816Wedding Photographer: Elizabeth Fogarty

Our favorite part of our wedding day was seeing everyone from all walks of life and guests coming from as far as Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Japan, and all across the country gather together, eat, dance, and celebrate with us. Even our dogs, Phoebe and Tesla walked down the aisle as the ring-bearers!

Chris & Jeffrey
Venue: Virtue Feed & Grain
Fall

bhunterco_2015_wedding_chadwickbrown_0073Wedding Photographer: Brandon Hunter

Choosing a Venue in Alexandria

When we started looking for a venue, we chose a few options that we wanted to check out. Our first visit was to Virtue Feed & Grain in Old Town, and we immediately feel in love with the space. One of the early qualities we discussed was something rustic chic. We’re both from the South, and that setting makes such a romantic atmosphere. Virtue’s setup – from the skylights to the windows and the furniture – had everything we imagined.

bhunterco_2015_wedding_chadwickbrown_0602Wedding Photographer: Brandon Hunter

We were also excited to have our friends and family visit Old Town, which is such a unique area. At that point, we were hooked- and decided not to look anywhere else! Since a large number of our friends and family were coming from out of state and hadn’t been to the DC area, we wanted to keep everyone close to the city for sight-seeing. We also wanted flexibility, and Virtue accommodated all of our requests. They have a diverse events menu, a great beer and wine selection, and allowed us to bring in local cupcakes (Jeffrey’s pick) and pies (Chris’s pick).

Wedding Planning

bhunterco_2015_wedding_chadwickbrown_0190-2Wedding Photographer: Brandon Hunter

From the first time we met Emily, the events manager at Virtue, we knew our wedding day would be perfection. Emily patiently walked us through every part of the process. A few days after the wedding, she surprised us with a few behind-the-scenes photos!

The Wedding Day

bhuntercoWedding Photographer: Brandon Hunter

We wanted to have an afternoon wedding at Virtue so that we got to experience it with the sunlight streaming in through the windows but also have it lit up with candlelight. Guests arrived around 3:30, and the ceremony started at 4:00. Afterward, everyone enjoyed cocktails and excellent food prepared by Virtue. Around 7:30 everyone joined us at a DC bar for dancing. It was such a great day being with all of our family and friends. Since we live in the DC area, but we grew up in Mississippi and Tennessee, it was the first time many of the most important people to us had even met. That was a very special time to us. In the end, we couldn’t imagine our day being any more perfect. The weather was beautiful, the venue was perfect, and everyone loved the Old Town area. If we had it to do over, we’d do the same thing every single time!

Julia & Hampton
Venue: Torpedo Factory Art Center
Winter

12628437_10102524297199986_7944345358743401986_oWedding Photographer: Ethan Yang Photography

Choosing a Venue in Alexandria

It was sentimental for Julia – Julia’s family visited Old Town Alexandria often growing up, making a day out of it by exploring the Torpedo Factory, having lunch at the Fish Market, and walking along the water. We wanted our wedding to be a fun weekend event for out-of-towners. It was important to us for the location to be near an airport, easy to get around without having to rent a car, and to have enough cool venues for all the weekend events to be within the same general vicinity. We were getting married in December, and we knew how gorgeous Old Town Alexandria looks in the winter!

12657962_10102524297234916_3404747520808781827_oWedding Photographer: Ethan Yang Photography

The Torpedo Factory appealed to our love of art and interesting spaces. We were never the type to get married in a country club and the Torpedo Factory was just the right blend of colorful and modern.  We knew it could transform from a public art space to a wedding venue that would adapt to our taste. It was untraditional but could still be fancy and formal.  It also had multiple floors/spaces to use throughout the wedding so that no one had to go outside in the cold!

Wedding Planning 

12418883_10102524296027336_6509768994644747291_oWedding Photographer: Ethan Yang Photography

Making sure our wedding was personalized and unique was top priority for both of us. We asked a lot of our friends and family to be involved in both the ceremony and reception to make sure we had the personal feel, and we did a lot of custom details. For example, we wrote personal notes to each and every guest and left them at their seats – we knew we wouldn’t be able to spend enough time with everyone at the wedding, but we wanted to make sure everyone knew how happy we were that they were there. Julia’s mother and her two friends also baked over 500 cookies for all of the guests. For the rehearsal dinner, we were able to rent out both the bottom and top of Gadsby’s Tavern. For the wedding, we were able to fit enough chairs downstairs but encouraged the kids to watch the ceremony from the balcony, which actually added a level of artsiness and fun. We also wanted everything (ceremony, cocktail hour, reception) to be in one building, but for each event to feel different.  The ability to rent all 3 floors in the Torpedo Factory made this possible, and they even opened up an artist studio for the bridal party to hang out before the ceremony.

The Wedding Day

Julia and her bridesmaids got ready in a hotel suite on King Street, Hampton and his groomsmen got ready at an Airbnb in town. The guys went to lunch at Virtue Feed & Grain where Hampton’s dad reminisced about Hampton’s childhood. The girls had mimosas and bagels in the hotel, where hair and makeup was done by Andre Chreky.

We did a first look across the street from the hotel and then did pictures (Ethan Yang Photography) all throughout Old Town. The weather was chilly but cooperative, and we even got some pictures out on the pier. Walking through town with the whole wedding party was a blast–the atmosphere was fun, people were out and about shopping, and stopping to watch us. After photos and before the ceremony, the wedding party enjoyed champagne and cheese in one of the artist studios on the 3rd floor of the Torpedo Factory.

11255491_10102524298053276_2541137479457231212_oWedding Photographer: Ethan Yang Photography

The ceremony went off without a hitch, and then while family gathered for photos downstairs, all the guests made their way up to the 2nd and 3rd floor for cocktail hour. We had passed hors d’oeuvres and drinks on the 2nd floor, and a bar on the 3rd floor, while guests could walk around and peer into the artist studios. The reception was a plated dinner from Main Event, and it was delicious. Dancing then got started after dinner and everyone was on the dance floor the rest of the night. Having all of our friends and family in one place, dancing and having fun was the most incredible feeling – we were so lucky.

 

Alexandria Wedding Showcase

wedding-showcase-instagram_640x640_6Image Credit: Sincereli Photography and Bright Occasions

Ready to check out even more ideas for your Alexandria wedding? Join more than 40 of Alexandria’s finest wedding vendors at the first-ever Alexandria Wedding Showcase. You’ll see why destination weddings in Alexandra come with unlimited opportunities for postcard perfect memories. Experience demonstrations, fashions shows, and ask your questions to our expert panel. Get inspired by new ideas, new trends and the advice you need to make your day uniquely you. This event was made possible by the Alexandria Marketing Fund. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017
11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
The Westin Alexandria

Tickets available at www.ALXWeddingShowcase.com

 

Thank you to the couples and photographers featured in this post for their time and generosity.

Header Image Credit: Sarah Marcella Hallee for Visit Alexandria