one night much similar to any night really, i was bored and was browsing projectwedding.com among other wedding websites and forums, and along my search i came across an application for a "win your dream wedding" contest. i sat there and answered the questions really just for fun... and a week later, we got a call telling us that we are in the top 10 finalist couples!
haha it is quite an honor to be selected. i really don't think we'll win although it would be extremely amazing, but we're having fun being a part of it as it is.
WE WON!!!! We won a dream wedding worth 100k sponsored by Us Weekly and weddingchannel.com! Thank you for those who supported us along the way!
Here is a link to our story:
Please check the site to follow the wedding planning! It is completely unbelieveable.
eric was home on leave from his tour in iraq. a few days before he was set to leave, we loaded up the car with some snacks and our beagle, indy, and headed to the skyline drive in the shenandoah valley. we had done this before so I really thought nothing of it. on our way out, eric insisted that we pull over to watch the sunset. i remember thinking "my he's being really kissy tonight" but enjoyed it nonetheless. after the sun had set, we sat there for a little but and shortly after, with his arm around me, eric whispered into my ear "van, will you marry me?" i was in shock and didn't really know how to react and blurted "are you joking??" and after a few several "omg"s and an exchanging of a few words, i said "yes!" and we just hugged. after talking a bit more, eric then said "oh, do you want to see the ring?" haha It wasn't as smooth as the proposals you see on tv, but it was very real and very sweet. we then stood up, he gave me a hug and kissed my forehead and said "i love you, fiancee". there is absolutely no way I can ever forget that day-- oct. 3, 2008.
These photos are taken before and after the proposal!
at the risk of sounding cliche, our wedding day was without a doubt the best day of our lives. i can't remember another time when i felt so filled with love and happiness. as far as i'm concerned, our wedding was absolutely flawless, and now i am in a dream marriage with my dream man after having celebrated our dream wedding.
both our ceremony and our reception took place in the pavillion room of the ronald reagan building and international trade center. when i first stepped into the room, my jaw just about hit the floor. it was so beautiful, i couldn't believe this was our wedding!
we had a string trio, the bridal party walked to taylor swift's "love story" and i walked down the aisle to "canon in d". the ceremony programs were provided by ceci of new york, who also made our beautiful invitations:
my sister-in-law was ordained to marry us. she and i got very close while eric was deployed in iraq, and she was there to listen to me when i just so desperately missed him. during the ceremony, my sister accompanied on the piano as my cousin sang "lucky" and in between verses, our officiant read clips of letters exchanged between eric and i during his deployment. it was such a beautiful and touching moment, and easily one of the highlights of our day:
and here we are lighting our unity candle, exchanging rings, and finally our kiss and the first time we are pronounced man and wife!
our guests walked out of the pavillion into the huge foyer to be greeted with a wonderful cocktail hour and to an escort card table.
meanwhile, the wedding magicians transformed our ceremony space into our reception space. we were completely blown away with the end result.
there were several different centerpieces, all tied together using the same flowers. janet flowers provided us with the beautiful centerpieces as well as the lovely bouquets:
and lets not forget the sweetheart table:
and our guests rocked out to the best live wedding band ever. they were seriously amazing, and if you have a budget for them, i highly recommend them. they are the source band from elan artists. they had our guests up on their feet and dancing before the dancing even started and even had them chanting "one more song" by the end of the night.
our first dance as husband and wife was to "the way you look tonight" by frank sinatra. it was a compromise, since eric's genre of choice is country, and mine is r&b. haha
my dad and i danced to "my girl". i actually wanted "you are the sunshine of my life" but my dear father who thinks he is a professional ballroom dancer insisted that he cannot rhumba to that!
i dont know how i ever got so lucky to experience such an amazing and unique wedding planning situation, but i thank my lucky stars everyday for it. my dress experience was no exception. i was sent to nyc to visit the vera wang boutique and it was every girl's dream come true. the associates there were beyond nice, and i got the complete star treatment.
finding a dress was so difficult because they were all so lovely, but as soon as i put on this one, it was a no brainer. this was the one for me!
my dress was all i could ever dream of-- classy, a touch on the simple side, and still made a statement. i never dreamed i'd walk down the aisle in a vera wang!
the dress is a modified trumpet with layers of laser-cut organza.
for the ceremony, i wanted to keep things more traditional and wore the dress with a matching sash. i changed the sash to black for the reception.
yesterday i was fortunate enough to get my hair done by ricardo rojas. he is a celebrity hair stylist and has done hair for mariah carey, paris hilton, heidi klum (just to name a few... and believe me, he's done a ton more than that!) he gave me the oxygen mask treatment that madonna gets. and he did things to my hair that i never thought possible. i LOVE the look and hope to recreate it on my actual wedding day. i took this photo when i got back to the hotel room. i will try to update with the real photos when they are published on usmagazine.com.
(day of) my hair was beautifully done by meg walsh of carola myers hair and makeup. she was so sweet and very good at what she does. we gave her the hair inspiration done by ricardo rojas, seen above, and she was able to make my hair look the best its ever looked. i could not be more happy with how it turned out!
along with the celebrity hair stylist, i got a chance to get a makeover with eve pearl, celebrity makeup artist. she's done celebrities including brooke shields and justin timberlake and brought sexy back to me! we told her and ricardo that i'm going for the 40's glam look, smokey eye make up and red lipstick. she gave me fantastic tips for both! i couldnt believe the end result. i can't remember another time when i looked and felt so good! again, i will update with photos when i get them. for now, here is a photo taken by my blackberry
here's a closeup of the eyes:
here is the official makeover photo, courtesy of us weekly:
(day of) i can not say enough about carola myers of carola myers hair and makeup. she is just the most down to earth and humble person you will ever meet and she is an artist behind those makeup brushes. she did make up for me, my bridesmaids, our mothers, and our officiant, and i'm tellin you, we all looked amazing, even with all our different face types. she was so good, a friend of mine at the wedding hired carola for her own wedding, and i got the privilege of having my makeup done by her again. ladies, especially if you're in the dc metro area, i highly recommend carola myers for hair and makeup. you will not be disappointed!
the girls are getting new dresses too! i told my wedding planner that my original plan was to let my bms choose their dress style, as long as the dresses are all by the same designer and are all the same color. she took my idea into consideration, and introduced me to lela rose. lela rose has a line with the dessy group and is known to have dressed jenna bush's bridesmaids.
here are the dress selections made by my bms:
(day of) here are my lovely ladies in their lela rose selections above. they looked amazing and it was so fun because they were each in a different style.
today, eric and i had the pleasure of meeting janet of janet flowers located here in the dc metro area. she was so kind and down-to-earth, and immediately got a vision of what we were interested in. we let her know that we were shooting for a very fall theme, with warm fall colors. our wedding planner sent her some images of what we liked, and the following photos are just a sneak preview of what she has in store for us. she is amazing!
Here are a few photos they vendor sent me. The flowers on the orange linen are a mock up of the cocktail hour area. Its meant to be a little more bright and modern as opposed to the warm and classic feel of the reception (please disregard the green wall of her studio):
so we had the opportunity to meet with our florist for a second time (us weekly needed video footage) and this time, i remembered my camera! here are some photos of the revised cocktail hour flowers and better photos of the first centerpiece mockup:
(day of) here are some photos of the flowers provided to us by the wonderful janet flowers:
our cake was provided by the legend herself, sylvia weinstock. she is a cake genius! our cake was 4 tiers, 4 layers and consisted of a chocolate cake with chocolate mousse, expresso, and coconut filling as well as a white cake with raspberry, apricot, and peach filling. sylvia does not believe in sacrificing taste for looks. she doesn't use fondant and everything on the cake is edible-- those flowers are handcrafted! and she piped a lace design on the side of the cake that matches my vera wang wedding gown!
i can't say enough great things about monachetti. these guys are amazing and just really chill, great to have on a wedding day full of stress and nerves! i could write a novel to describe how much i enjoy these guys and how talented they are but i will let their work speak for itself!
click on the links to watch the following videos:
this first video is of us getting ready and our first look
the second is of our ceremony and reception
they also shot videos for us weekly of our walkthrough and food tasting at our venue
and also captured us picking our flowers.
***If you're going to watch only one of my many videos, I ask that you watch this one of a special peformance done by my sister, cousin, and sister in law.
while eric was in iraq, he corresponded with an associate from tiffany's. he told the associate that his then-girlfriend was "simply elegant". <insert "awwwww!"> after they exchanged a few emails, eric went with the round brilliant with the bead set band. he could not have done better, and all by himself folks! no consulting of my sisters or his. who doesn't love a man with good taste in jewelry?
when we first got engaged, eric and i dove straight into wedding planning and decided that out of our three obvious choices (california, where i'm from; indiana where he's from; dc where we met and currently live) that the washington dc area was the most appropriate. after all, we met here, and we work here still, and we will be starting our new life here together. well along with a washington dc wedding came a washington dc price tag. no fun! we first found and fell in love with the ronald reagan building & international trade center and quickly crossed it off our list due to budget. well when the contest rolled around, we described to our wedding planner that we wanted something that was very "dc". something that had the intricate architecture, the high ceilings, detailed columns... and she found the ronald reagan building too! it was meant to be!
the ceremony will take place in the pavillion room
following the ceremony will be a cocktail hour, where the pavallion will then transform to the wedding reception:
(above photo by Kate Triano)