A Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Georgetown, Inspired by a Hot Air Balloon Proposal

Gay Marriage, Real Weddings
Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Reception Space Interior

Photo: Jose Villa

Sometimes the very best things happen when you least expect it. Just ask David Barnhart and Kevin Ford, who first met when David hired Kevin as a personal trainer. "We became best friends, and the rest is history!" says David. In August of 2013, Kevin and David both knew they wanted to get married. They decided to propose to each other, so they took a secret trip to Napa Valley. "Kevin surprised me. He had the rings we'd bought [to eventually use as wedding bands] with him on our sunrise hot air balloon ride, and we spontaneously exchanged rings and proposed to one another," says David. Their planners, Jamie and Kate of Simply Chic Events, latched on to the hot air balloon theme, infusing the grooms' reception with vibrant hues and mixing in woven elements to mimic the balloon baskets.

An unexpected twist? The weather. The original plan had been an intimate Friday evening ceremony for 110 guests in their Georgetown backyard on June 13, 2014, followed by a formal dinner at Tudor Place, a gorgeous property across the street, and then a festive bash for 230 the next evening. "A few days before the wedding, we realized it was going to be pouring, so we changed the schedule," says Kevin. Instead, they had a formal pre-wedding dinner on Friday night, then asked the guests to come to their home on Saturday before the party to witness the backyard ceremony. Once vows were exchanged, they headed to The Powerhouse for the reception. "We were lucky that the ceremony was at our home, so we could change the schedule as needed," says David. And even with the hiccups, it was absolutely stunning. But don't take our word for it — see the breathtaking details below, photographed by Jose Villa.

Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Nuetral-Hued Custom Invitation Suite with Gold Details Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Wicker Welcome Bag for Guests Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Grooms' Notes for Each Other

Photo: Jose Villa

A combination of neutrals and textures added depth to the invitation suite, with contemporary calligraphy and gold elements blending perfectly into the modern design.

While they didn't have favors, Kevin and David put together welcome bags for out of town guests, with elements from both of their hometowns as well as their current home in D.C. They added baseballs for the kids, Georgetown Cupcakes, and milk jars as a nod to the dairy farm where David grew up.

Kevin and David wrote notes to one another to share before their ceremony, and had their calligrapher, Angelique Ink, write out the letters onto gorgeous gray paper.

Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Outdoor Cocktail Hour Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Grooms Portrait Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Wooden Place Cards

Photo: Jose Villa

On Friday, guests gathered for cocktails at Tudor Place before heading to the sailcloth dinner tent.

The grooms opted for gray and blue suits for the Friday evening dinner, reserving their tuxedos for the Saturday night bash.

As guests made their way toward the tent, servers carried trays displaying the escort cards, written on stained birch wood in white calligraphy. "The wooden cards were fresh and unexpected, while the tray presentation felt formal," says Kevin.

Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Tables with Bright Centerpieces of Peonies, Tulips, and Freesia Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Upholstered bar Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Place Settings with Wicker Placemat

Photo: Jose Villa

Inside the tent, a mix of round, rectangular, and long tables were topped with barely blue Irish linens. Punchy centerpieces of peonies, tulips, spray roses, freesia, and kumquats were arranged down the center of the table, accented with polished candlesticks and white pillar candles. In the corner of the wood-floored tent, an upholstered bar was flanked by arrangements of greenery and kumquats. At each guest's place, a wicker placemat was topped with a gold charger and set with gold flatware.

Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Woven Baskets Hanging from Ceiling Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Balloon Basket-Inspired Wicker Details

Photo: Jose Villa

Woven baskets hung from the ceiling, bringing in an extra element from the grooms' balloon engagement in wine country.

Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Colorful Centerpieces and Wooden Table Numbers Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Bright Centerpiece Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Place Settings

Photo: Jose Villa

The abundant flowers and candlelight were a beautiful combination of organic, loose elements and refined details.

Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Bright Centerpieces Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Wooden Table Numbers Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Cocktails with Kumquat Garnish

Photo: Jose Villa

Tented wooden table numbers matched the escort cards. The grooms didn't offer signature cocktails, but they did have kumquats on-hand as a garnish to match the design scheme. "We wanted our guests to enjoy their favorite drinks, not ours," laughs David.

Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Grooms Outside

Photo: Jose Villa

"We wanted our guests to feel like they were at an intimate dinner party," says Kevin. The menu included sea bass en papillote, eggplant rollatini, and a trio of miniature desserts. They also passed boozy adult popsicles in flavors like Mojito and Bourbon Peaches 'n Cream.

"We saved our first dance until Saturday night, when we had all of our guests with us," says Kevin. A friend MC'd the evening, helping them turn their celebration into an over-the-top rehearsal dinner. "She adapted her script to talk about how we were about to get married, instead of how we were just married," Kevin continues. Adds David, "It took us a while to settle in to having all of the attention. We were nervous about the changes, but it ended up being even better this way: It gave us a night to settle down and start enjoying the weekend."

Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Grooms Getting Ready Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Groom Portraits

Photo: Jose Villa

The next day, the grooms got ready for their ceremony together, an idea they borrowed from their photographer. "Jose told us how much he loved getting ready with his husband before their wedding, and we're so glad we listened to him," says Kevin. "We laughed, we cried, we even panicked — but it was together as a couple." David and Kevin loved having their ceremony in their backyard, as they were able to share a moment watching their guests arrive from an upstairs window.

Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Backyard Ceremony Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Exchanging Vows Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, First Kiss Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Grooms in Tuxedos

Photo: Jose Villa

A platform over the pool created plenty of space for stained wooden benches with linen cushions.

At the ceremony, David and Kevin exchanged traditional vows, administered by the grooms' two sisters. "We wrote our own vows to exchange during the party later that night, which were serious but also a little funny," says David. "We wrote them as the rain came in a few days before our wedding. It really centered us and calmed us down."

Kevin's black-on-black tux and David's dark blue tux with black lapels embodied their "festive formal" dress code.

Vibrant Backyard Wedding in Washington, DC, Hands

Photo: Jose Villa

At The Powerhouse, guests who weren't at the ceremony snacked on passed hors d'oeuvres and sipped margaritas as they waited for the newlyweds arrived. "We wished we could have fit everyone in our backyard, but this was a great second option," says Kevin. The videographer played a personal introduction video, then Kevin and David got on stage to exchange their personal vows before going straight into their first dance and a dance to "True Colors" by Cindy Lauper with their mothers.

"We felt that we had a lot of freedom planning our wedding, because we didn't have as much of a 'script' as a gay couple," says Kevin. "Whether you're gay or straight, just be yourself! Embrace that freedom and plan the wedding you really want, instead of being trapped in a box."

Ceremony Venue: Private Residence || Friday Reception Venue: Tudor Place || Saturday Reception Venue: The Powerhouse (now closed) || Wedding Planner: Simply Chic Events || Kevin's Tuxedo: Canali, from Barneys New York || David's Tuxedo: Isaia, from Barneys New York || David & Kevin's Shoes: Salvatore Ferragamo || Wedding Bands: De Beers || Floral Design: Amaryllis, Inc. || Invitations & Paper Goods: Haute Papier || Calligraphy: Angelique, Ink || Custom Signage: Paper Tangent || Music: Elan Artists, Party On The Moon || Catering: Susan Gage Caterers || Cake: Cakes by Colin || Rentals: Party Rental Ltd., La Tavola Fine Linen || Videographer: Monachetti Weddings || Photographer: Jose Villa

Find Local Vendors Wedding Wire

Can't get enough of this stunning wedding? Then see every aspect of David and Kevin's wedding day come to life in their video below.

Give a Subscription to Brides Magazine as a Gift

Get personalized planning advice, exclusive offers and must-read wedding news.

Thank You
for Signing Up!

Check your e-mail inbox for the latest updates from brides.com