When Cate Rassman sold a shirt to Paul Afrooz in a clothing store in Pittsburgh in the summer of 2010, she had no idea that she was striking up a conversation with her future husband. Three years later, the pair got engaged in Takoma Park, Maryland, the bride's hometown, with her family in tow ready to surprise her. “I was so touched that he proposed somewhere so personal and nostalgic. It wasn't a flashy proposal, but very thoughtful and genuine,” Cate says.
With a vision of timeless glamour in mind, Cate and Paul decided on the St. Regis Hotel in the bride’s hometown, Washington, D.C., for their wedding on September 26, 2015. The couple's 140 guests joined them on the hotel's terrace for the ceremony and then moved into the stunning ballroom for an elegant reception with a rock 'n' roll–themed party. Although Cate admits she had a hard time picturing how all of the specifics would come together, the bride knew A. Dominick Events would be able to pull off their twist on a classic D.C. affair. Bonnie Sen Photography captured all of the details, seen below.
Cate and Paul turned to Minted for their formal invitation suite, the perfect match for their elegant D.C. aesthetic, but with a modern flourish to showcase their style.
Cate originally imagined herself in a lace sheath, but that vision was quickly set aside when she came across her satin Lazaro wedding dress. The ball gown silhouette featured a sweetheart neckline and embellished belt. This six-foot-tall bride opted for flats with her gown and wore earrings and a bracelet, as well as her great-grandmother’s amethyst ring.
Paul looked sophisticated in a navy John Varvatos suit with black lapels, paired with a black satin skinny tie.
The groomsmen kept it classic in black suits with white shirts and black ties. The bridesmaids wore floor-length navy gowns from J.Crew. Cate's all-white bouquet contained a mix of dahlias, calla lilies, and roses, while her 'maids held punchy magenta bundles of garden roses and dahlias, accented with seeded eucalyptus. To complement his bride's flowers, Paul sported a white dahlia boutonniere, and his groomsmen finished their looks with red blooms.
The venue’s flagstone terrace was transformed for the ceremony with a tent decorated with large white floral arrangements and a statement chandelier. As a string quartet performed classical music selections, Cate walked down the aisle accompanied by both her mother and father. At the head of the aisle stood an incredible all-white flower wall, which served as the backdrop for the couple's traditional vows. Instead of sharing their own words at the ceremony, Cate and Paul chose to exchange heartfelt letters earlier in the day.
The ballroom’s gilded ceiling and three glittering chandeliers were entirely in keeping with the D.C. glam look Cate and Paul were after. Their black, white, and gold color scheme was carried through to the reception space, where round tables were adorned with black sequin linens and finished with black-and-white runners. A mix of tall and short all-white floral centerpieces added some variety to the space while halved pomegranates were scattered across tabletops for an unexpected pop of color.
Place settings included gold silverware and gold-rimmed ivory plates topped with typed menus and confetti poppers. Cate and Paul’s menu included Maryland crab chowder, dill-crusted salmon, filet of beef, and wild mushroom ravioli. For dessert, they offered Persian tea, figs, dates, baklava, and an assortment of cookies.
Guests also enjoyed their three-tiered chocolate-and-almond wedding cake with vanilla buttercream frosting.
The newlyweds spent the evening rocking out on the dance floor to their favorite classic songs performed by an English rock band, Brit Pack. “The dance floor was packed! Paul even got up on stage and played a few songs with the band,” Cate shares.
Along with reminding brides-to-be to keep things simple in the planning process, Cate shares some sage advice for when the details get overwhelming: “Let Etsy do the DIY for you and support an artist!”
Venue, Catering & Cake: The St. Regis Washington D.C. || Wedding Planner: A. Dominick Events || Bride's Wedding Dress & Veil: Lazaro || Hair: Bridal Hair By Remona || Makeup: Amie Decker Beauty || Bridesmaids' Dresses: J.Crew || Groom's Attire: John Varvatos || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Orr's Jewelers || Florist: Amaryllis Inc. || Invitations: Minted || Rentals: Sperry Tents || Photographer: Bonnie Sen Photography