This Elegant Fall Wedding Took Place Just Steps from the White House

A garden-inspired wedding in November? This cozy Washington, D.C. celebration proves there’s nothing prettier.

Updated 12/20/16

Photo by Kate Headley

Emily Berce wasn’t even present when it was decided that she and Jeffrey Wainwright needed to go out on a date. “My friend met him at a Nationals’ game in May of 2013, and insisted on setting us up,” says Emily. “She thought we’d be the perfect match, and she was right!” When they finally met in person, Jeff and Emily discovered they’d been living just a block away from one another in Washington, D.C.’s West End, and they knew it really was fate.

A year and a half later, on Emily’s 30th birthday, Jeff surprised his girlfriend with a weekend at the Inn at Perry Cabin. “He proposed just before we headed to dinner,” Emily remembers. “It was the best 30th birthday gift I could have asked for!”

With so much of the year still ahead of them, the couple decided on November 7, 2015 as their wedding date and invited 180 guests to join them for an evening of autumn elegance in the city they call home. Starting with an intimate ceremony at Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart at Georgetown University, followed by a reception with White House views at the Decatur House, they created a lively and approachable, but perfectly refined, wedding with lush garden details, and tapped Pineapple Productions to bring it to life.

“Honestly, the hardest part of planning was waiting for our wedding day!” says the bride. “Working with such a reputable planner took all the guesswork out of the details.”

With so many pretty details, a fabulous photographer was an absolute must, and Emily and Jeff hired Kate Headley to capture every sweet moment. Take a look for yourself!

Photo by Kate Headley
Photo by Kate Headley

The couple’s silver-blue invitation suite featured a drawing of the D.C. skyline and a clean, classic design. The same drawing was used on the couple’s welcome boxes, which included some of their favorite snacks and coffee from Emily’s home state of Texas.

Photo by Kate Headley

The architectural bows on Emily’s navy Kate Spade peep-toes were a beautiful complement to her embroidered, lace-edged handkerchief, which was a gift from the bride’s sister. The bride’s textured bouquet combined rich fall hues, mixing dahlias, garden roses, ranunculus, veronica, scabiosa, and privet berries with deep red corylus foliage.

Photo by Kate Headley
Photo by Kate Headley

For a classic wedding in the Capitol, Emily’s Lela Rose wedding dress was the perfect choice. It featured a sweetheart neckline topped with sheer lace and cap sleeves, and a fit-and-flare skirt with lace appliques. She covered the deep-v back with a delicate veil.

Jeff’s suit was a bespoke J. Hilburn design in a rich navy. His simple boutonniere combined white ranunculus, eucalyptus seed, and corylus leaves.

Photo by Kate Headley
Photo by Kate Headley

Emily’s sister (and maid of honor!) was seven months pregnant at the wedding, so the bride knew she’d need to choose a designer with maternity options. “I let each of my bridesmaids pick an Amsale gown in champagne-colored silk chiffon so they could select a style they felt was comfortable and flattering,” she says. The three women carried bouquets that complemented Emily’s, with blush dahlias and roses alongside geranium foliage.

Photo by Kate Headley
Photo by Kate Headley

Jeff’s two groomsmen also wore bespoke navy suits from J. Hilburn. The dark hue was perfect for a fall day in D.C.

Photo by Kate Headley
Photo by Kate Headley
Photo by Kate Headley

“We loved the intimate, old feel of Dahlgren Chapel,” says the bride. “It was important to us that the church feel full and cozy, so the smaller size was perfect.” Two large urns, full of dahlias, roses, hydrangeas, larkspur, and eucalyptus were placed on either side of the aisle.

Photo by Kate Headley
Photo by Kate Headley

After the ceremony, the newlyweds made their getaway to the Decatur House in a vintage car draped with a garland of eucalyptus and roses. “We loved getting to share different parts of D.C. with our guests,” says the bride.

Photo by Kate Headley
Photo by Kate Headley

At the Decatur House, guests’ seating assignments were written on slate blue cards and displayed on a table with soft gray linens and a lush flower arrangement. Cocktail hour took place in the carriage house, where guests sipped Kir Royals, a drink the bride and groom fell in love with during a recent trip to France.

Photo by Kate Headley

The reception took place in the garden courtyard, beneath a clear-top tent lit with antique brass lanterns and aged-metal chandeliers.

Photo by Kate Headley
Photo by Kate Headley
Photo by Kate Headley

Round tables were dressed in two colors, with half featuring gold linens and the other half topped with slate blue velvet. Centerpieces were made up of low vessels full of seasonal blooms, arranged in three different styles to avoid looking overly matching. “We mixed faceted antique brass lanterns, brass candle holders, and copper bowls,” says Emily, “and the flowers ranged from dahlias and roses to veronica, privet berry, slate blue hydrangeas and eucalyptus.”

Photo by Kate Headley
Photo by Kate Headley
Photo by Kate Headley

Gold-rimmed china and white hemstitch napkins completed the place settings, along with a sprig of rosemary in remembrance of the guests who weren’t able to be present.

The menu was a big priority for Jeff and Emily, and included some of their favorites alongside seasonal items. “We had tomato soup shooters and mini grilled cheese during cocktail hour because Jeff loves them,” says the bride. “And we swapped the standard salad for charred fall squash with pistachio hazelnut lavosh.” Guest then dined on either tenderloin or halibut. But the treats didn’t end with dinner! The coffee and tea station was accompanied by cranberry and pistachio bark, and tray-passed desserts on the dance floor included chocolate chip cookie dough bonbons, mini crème brûlée, mini pecan pies, and tiny slices of pumpkin pie — all perfectly seasonal, of course!

Photo by Kate Headley
Photo by Kate Headley
Photo by Kate Headley

Once dancing began, the bar in the carriage house was transformed into a bourbon tasting bar, serving some of the groom’s favorites. A 10-piece band took to the stage, which was set in front of a backdrop painted with the same D.C. skyline from the couple’s invitations, setting the scene for the party to come.

“The band can make or break a party, and ours was fantastic,” says Emily. “The dance floor was full all night!” That is, of course, except for the newlyweds’ first dance, to “You are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne.

Photo by Kate Headley

The five-tiered wedding cake was covered in textured buttercream, fading from a deep spoon texture on the bottom tier to a smoother wave at the top. Guests chose between two flavors: Apple cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting and caramel filling and almond cake with raspberry buttercream and raspberry jam. The florist used dahlias and corylus leaves to accent the soft white hue. “When we cut our cake, the first piece somehow managed to fly out and onto the table!” Emily laughs. “It wasn’t very graceful, but it definitely put a smile on our faces.”

Photo by Kate Headley

When it was all said and done, Jeff and Emily headed to Hawaii for a honeymoon on Kauai and the Big Island — with lots of sweet memories to look back on. Says the bride, “Make sure you select a photographer whose work you love and whose personality you enjoy, as you’ll be spending the entire day with them. We are so happy we did!”

Ceremony Venue: Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart || Reception Venue: Decatur House || Wedding Planner: Pineapple Productions || Bride's Wedding Dress: Lela Rose, purchased at Hitched || Veil: Hitched || Shoes: Kate Spade || Hair: Hair by Giselle || Makeup: Leah Margosis || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale, purchased at Hitched || Groom's & Groomsmen's Attire: J. Hilburn || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Haltom's Fine Jewelers || Flowers: Amaryllis Inc. || Invitations: Cheree Berry Paper || Music: Nation of Elan Artists || Catering: Design Cuisine || Cake: Fluffy Thoughts Cakes || Tent: Sugarplum Tent Company || Photographer: Kate Headley

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