May 17th is a special day for two reasons: it’s the date of my sister Caridad’s birthday and it’s the day that Rinelle and JP were married! May 17th fell on a friday this year and let me tell you, I am now convinced that Friday morning weddings should become a new trend! I woke up around 4:30am, double checked my gear and was on the road to Old Town Alexandria, Dunkin Donuts in hand by 5am. (Side note for photographers, I always recommend prepping your gear the day before your wedding. It definitely helps me sleep better!).
I arrived at Hotel Indigo where Rinelle, JP, and their bridal parties were getting ready as the sun was rising to welcome their wedding day. Hotel Indigo in Old Town Alexandria has some of the largest windows in their hotel suites which let in the most beautiful light as everyone prepared for the first look and 9am Ceremony. Rinelle and JP have been in a relationship for many years and were friends prior to that! Last May, on the day of JP’s college graduation, he proposed to Rinelle among their families and close friends. <3
Rinelle and JP’s Maryland wedding ceremony was held at Temple Hills Chapel (Rinelle’s childhood chapel where she is a choir member and organist) and wedding reception was held at the River View in Lorton, VA. This was my first River View at Occoquan wedding and I fell in love with the modern design and incredible light in the space!
In their wedding questionnaire, Rinelle and JP mentioned that they were camera shy and appreciated a lot of direction for photos. Let me tell you, they were far from it! The first look also helped get some of the jitters and emotions out (highly recommended!). I teared up too when Rinelle surprised JP with a canvas of his pup Popcorn who passed away a month before their day. Maybe it was the lack of sleep that did it but I think it was their joy together and ability to let go of the stress from their day to truly be present. It was so beautiful to meet Rinelle and JP and their families and have the opportunity to capture the new chapter of their wonderful relationship!
This year of planning their dream wedding came with its extra challenges as JP moved across the country to pursue his career in San Diego. Rinelle worked very hard on many DIY objects for the wedding which included everything from designing the invitations, the floral hoop centerpieces, calligraphy welcome sign and seating chart, florals, the acrylic place cards and the circle arch which was used in both the ceremony and reception. I was blown away by her details and wasn’t surprised that she has a lettering and modern calligraphy shop on instagram and etsy! https://www.instagram.com/creatdfor/. Rinelle was so kind to share her perspective from her wedding and all her preparations for a wonderful DIY Wedding:
"What will I remember most about our wedding? The butterflies I felt when I saw JP for the first time, the quality time we spent with our friends and family preparing for the big day, and the fact that we were able to pull off the DIY wedding of our dreams! One thing JP and I knew for sure was that we wanted our wedding to feel like “us”—modern, romantic, and very meaningful. And I think we did just that.
I’m always up for a good DIY challenge, so I was excited to put my skills to the test for our wedding. Fortunately, we had the best wedding party to back us up with all the DIY efforts. Seriously… we couldn’t have done it without them!
The first DIY was one of the biggest challenges—our invitations! I’ve done calligraphy work for weddings and events in the past, but it was my first time ever designing a full invitation suite. I drew all the florals and lettering on my iPad Pro, and then used MS PowerPoint to add the text. Since I’m a calligrapher, the lettering part was easy—but I’m not much of an illustrator at all, so the florals took me forever! After a few weeks (yes, weeks!), we were finally happy with the design of the suite. I printed the invitations at the local print shop, carefully added gold foil to each invitation, and with help from my MOH, meticulously tore all the edges by hand. We got envelopes from Amazon and I hand-lettered the addresses. Sans postage, it cost us around $1.96 per invitation!
We wanted a simple and clean look for our welcome sign, seating chart, and place cards. So we went for a classic combination—white on acrylic! We made the gold stands using PVC pipes and spray paint, and attached the signs with shower curtain hooks. I used my go-to (Sharpie oil-based paint pens) for the hand-lettering on the signs. We found blank hexagon acrylic place cards on Etsy, and I added the calligraphy using a classic dip pen and white acrylic ink (the Brause EF66 nib is my favorite!). The quote for our sweetheart table was actually a last-minute project and it ended up being one of our favorite pieces! We’ve always loved that excerpt from Walt Whitman’s poem and are happy we were able to incorporate it into our wedding. My mom and I thrifted the gold frame a while back as a “just-in-case-you-need-it-for-your-wedding” kind of thing. It worked out perfectly! The art of calligraphy is something I hold close to my heart, and being able to do the calligraphy for my own wedding was truly special!
The table numbers are made from glass we repurposed from old picture frames. We used vinyl number stickers, and added the glass to wooden stands we found on Amazon.
Next up—the florals! Yes, we tackled all the florals ourselves and lived to tell the tale! (The florals lived too!!) We bought the florals for our bouquets and boutonnières from Middle Atlantic Wholesale Florist in Alexandria, VA and put them together ourselves. We got a big box of Italian Ruscus from TheGarlandGuy on Etsy, and they added the perfect ethereal touch to our wedding (we used them for the pew decorations at the chapel, and repurposed them for the tables at the reception). The pillar candles are from IKEA and the cylinder vases are from the Dollar Tree. The leaves thrown during our sendoff came from my mom’s garden, and we made the sendoff cones out of music sheets from one of JP’s favorite artists.
Our biggest DIY (literally!) was our 7ft circle arch! We fell in love with the idea of a circle arch early on, and even tried to DIY the actual arch itself. That didn’t work out as planned, though. Our initial design ended up looking like an egg so we had to scrap it. I mean, we’re all for eggs, but it just didn’t quite fit the modern-romantic ambiance we were aiming for! So we bit the bullet and purchased a metal garden arch, spray-painted it gold, and added faux florals and greenery using tons of floral wire (and maybe a little Scotch tape). The whole process from start to finish probably took about 10 hours, but was well worth it in the end! The best part? It collapses down to six pieces… with the florals all still attached!
Lastly, our centerpieces! The floral hoop centerpieces are basically mini versions of our giant arch. I found these little unicorn hula hoops at the Dollar Tree and gave them a makeover using a little bit of spray paint, faux florals, and greenery. They’re held together at the base by some floral foam and a small clear plastic plate sitting atop a cylinder vase—all from the Dollar Tree!
With a little bit of imagination, trial and error, and a sense of humor for when things don’t go according to plan, there’s nothing you can’t (at least try to) DIY. (Except maybe the egg arch… touché, giant egg arch, touché.) We’re still in awe that everything came together so beautifully and are so grateful we get to relive our wedding day through Katherine’s amazing photography!"
Photography by Washington D.C. Wedding Photographer Katherine Elizabeth Photography
Wonderful Wedding Vendors:
Photography: Katherine Elizabeth Photography
2nd Photographer: Christina Moshogianis
Planners: Susana Cresce (HeyBride)
Getting Ready Location: Hotel Indigo
Church: Temple Hills Chapel
Venue: The River View
Florals, Calligraphy, Decor (by the bride!!!): creatdfor
Videography: Vu Nguyen
Cake: Rose Ave Bakery
Donuts: B Doughnut
Music: Reginald Alignay
Hair: VyVy Pham (TressHC)
Catering: Great Blue Heron Catering
Wedding Gown: Watters
Bridesmaid's Attire: Lulu's
Groom's Attire: Suit Supply
Groomsman's Attire: The Black Tux
Engagement Ring: Blue Nile
Wedding Bands: JewelryClassDC