January-February 2022 | Weddings

Weddings of the year

In our annual feature, we peek inside the celebrations of four couples

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Photo by Jana Scott

A long-awaited day

With 17 guests at their backyard wedding, a bride and groom kept things small and personal

The Couple: Elizabeth Greenfield-Weiss (maiden name Greenfield), 37, grew up in Bethesda and graduated from Walt Whitman High School in 2002. She has a master’s degree in social work and is involved with breast cancer outreach and advocacy. Brett Weiss, 38, moved from Alabama to Potomac in 1999. He is a 2002 graduate of Winston Churchill High School and is head of operations at Fairway Asset Corp., a mortgage lender in Silver Spring. They live in North Bethesda.

How they met: In June 2017, they matched on the Jewish dating app JSwipe. Brett lived in Bethesda and Elizabeth was in graduate school at Columbia University in New York. They texted and talked on the phone, but Elizabeth says she didn’t think anything would come of it since they lived in different cities. “Because I never really thought that we would meet, I was more open with him. I sort of let it all out there, and he was still interested,” she says.

Photo by Vince Ha

The first date: A few months later, Elizabeth was in Maryland for a friend’s baby shower, and she and Brett went on a date at Pike & Rose in North Bethesda. “It was comfortable from the start,” says Elizabeth, who was charmed by Brett telling her that she was pretty and opening doors for her. They had dinner at Del Frisco’s Grille (now closed) and walked around the shops. Brett says he thought it was a good first date: “We had some vibe going on between the two of us and I was hoping for a second date.”

Difficult news: The couple dated long distance until Elizabeth moved back to Maryland in the spring of 2018. They were getting serious, with talk of ring sizes and wedding dresses. Then, in June 2018, Elizabeth was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. “I didn’t want him to feel he had to stay,” Elizabeth says, “that he had to do anything sooner than he was ready to do because of the situation.” Brett says it was a lot to process, but he was hoping for the best. He stayed by her side through surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, and Elizabeth’s cancer is now in remission.

Photo by Vince Ha

The proposal: On the one-year anniversary of their first date, Elizabeth was a little suspicious when Brett started cleaning their house and suggested that she get her nails done. While she was gone, Brett went to the crafts store and bought faux butterflies, birds and grapes. He moved the furniture out of the living room and used the items—along with roses, sunflowers, seashells and rocks—to create a large heart-shaped arrangement on the floor. When Elizabeth walked in, Brett got down on one knee. They celebrated with dinner and Champagne at Sushiko in Chevy Chase.

The wedding: Originally, they were going to get married in October 2019. Elizabeth was still in the midst of cancer treatments, so they put their plans on hold. They were considering a spring 2020 wedding on Zoom but waited until they could safely hold a ceremony in person. They got married on Oct. 18, 2020, in Elizabeth’s parents’ backyard in Bethesda. They had 17 guests.

Photo by Vince Ha

The ceremony: Brett and Elizabeth were married by Mikhail Manevich, the cantor from Washington Hebrew Congregation who had performed at Elizabeth’s bat mitzvah in 1997. Close family and friends participated in the Jewish wedding tradition of the seven blessings, in which seven people offer a blessing for the couple.

The setting: Elizabeth’s parents had spruced up their backyard by stringing lights on trees, adding plants and installing a flower-covered chuppah. It rained the night before, so Elizabeth’s heels sank a bit into the soft soil during the wedding. But it was warm enough that they didn’t need heaters for the tent that was put up for the reception.

The dress: Elizabeth bought a new dress two weeks before the wedding because she’d recently had another surgery related to her reconstruction and wanted something that fit better. It was formfitting with a slight train, a halter neck, and a keyhole opening in the front that she had a seamstress fill in with lace to cover her scars.

Photo by Vince Ha

DIY pros and cons: “The most important part was trying to make it as personal and homey as possible,” Brett says of the decorations (flower garland, candles, face masks printed with the bride and groom’s names) that they either ordered online or made themselves. “We were pleasantly surprised that we got it all accomplished.” But there were downsides to the scaled-down affair. Elizabeth says she missed not having the help of a matron of honor. They had a music playlist, but without a coordinator it didn’t get played as planned. And at the end of the night, the couple pitched in with cleanup—not a typical way to end your wedding festivities.

The unexpected: Elizabeth’s brother posted real-time congratulations online to his sister and new brother-in-law, not realizing the couple hadn’t told anyone else that they were getting married and hadn’t planned to until after their mini-honeymoon at the Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels on the Eastern Shore. “I had like 75 messages on my phone, and my parents started getting calls from their friends,” says Elizabeth, who posted the news herself the next day and quickly set up a registry in response to all the inquiries. “I thought we were going to end up with a menorah for every night of Hanukkah if we [didn’t] set up a registry. That’s when we did a mad dash and put things online.”

Vendors: Dress, Amsale from BHLDN; flowers, Bell Flowers; photography, Vince Ha; seamstress, Designs by Nicole; tent, Talk of the Town.


Photo by G-day Photos

United in faith

For a bride and groom who grew up going to the same church, their wedding was a celebration of shared beliefs

The couple: Lauryn Butler (maiden name Cofer), 27, and Nathan Butler, 28, are both from Silver Spring. She graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring; he graduated from Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville. Lauryn is a research assistant with the Henry M. Jackson Foundation at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Forest Glen; she focuses on HIV research. Nathan does geospatial intelligence work as an image technician with Maxar Technologies in Herndon, Virginia. They live in Columbia, Maryland.

How they met: Lauryn and Nathan grew up together. Their families were longtime friends, and both attended Living Word International Christian Church (formerly Immanuel’s Church) in Silver Spring. After college, Lauryn and Nathan returned to the area and discovered that they shared similar ideas for starting a young adult ministry at their church. They formed a leadership team with mutual friends and began getting to know each other better while working on the program.

The first date: Nathan asked Lauryn to dinner at Panera in 2016 under the guise of talking about church-related business. They spent two hours chatting about their lives and interests, and their friendship deepened over the next couple of years. In 2018, Nathan brought Lauryn to Brookside Gardens in Wheaton to tell her how he felt, and their relationship became official. They say their first “actual date” as a couple was in downtown Silver Spring. They ate at Nando’s, then went to Guitar Center (now closed) to browse the merchandise. Lauryn plays guitar and keyboard, and sings; Nathan plays bass guitar.

Photo by G-day Photos

The proposal: In December 2020, Nathan decorated a gazebo at Brookside Gardens with lights, candles and rose petals. He’d arranged for Lauryn’s best friend to bring her there, blindfolding her to ensure the surprise. He timed the proposal for sunset. Lauryn says she got a bit emotional. “I shed a few tears, and I’m not known for being much of a crier,” she says.

The wedding: The ceremony was at Life Source International Church in Baltimore on Oct. 17, 2021, with 200 guests.

The music: As worship leaders at their church, Lauryn and Nathan are part of a band, so they wanted live music at the wedding. A string trio played Canon in D as Lauryn walked down the aisle. A husband-and-wife duo sang at the ceremony and led guests in singing worship songs.

Favorite moment: Given their religious backgrounds, taking Communion together was meaningful. “We’re both rooted in the Lord,” Lauryn says. “So starting our marriage off that way was really special.”

Photo by G-day Photos

The unexpected: Lauryn’s dress had a long train, and she struggled with its weight while walking to the altar. “I had my bouquet in one hand and was holding Nathan’s with my other—no hands to free my dress—so I stumbled up the steps a bit,” Lauryn says. She did make it to the altar. “You look back at it on video and it doesn’t look that bad,” Nathan says. Lauryn says: “It was pretty bad. When I finally made it up the steps there was like a sigh of relief. It was kind of funny.”

The reception: Dinner and dancing were at Martin’s Valley Mansion in Hunt Valley, Maryland. The venue featured an elegant Victorian style, with columns, high ceilings, and a large chandelier over the dance floor. Keeping to the burgundy, gold and blush colors of the venue, the couple added burgundy flower centerpieces in gold vases, candles and some pink lighting around the room.

Time out: The couple reserved a private room to enjoy their own cocktail hour and hors d’oeuvres with their wedding party during the time between photos and dinner. “We didn’t miss out on the food, which I’m really happy about,” Lauryn says. “They say brides don’t eat, but I ate.”

Photo by G-day Photos

Fun moments: They asked a good friend who is a pastor to give a blessing before dinner, and he first got the guests to do “the wave” all around the room. “It was a fun way to start things off,” Lauryn says. In a nod to Nathan’s Liberian heritage, the guests did a traditional group dance known as the grand march. People follow one another dancing in pairs and then hold up their hands to create a tunnel that others pass through continuously, typically to a West African Afrobeat song. “It’s very festive sounding,” Nathan says. “Everyone joined in and they looked like they were having a great time.”

The speeches: Several tributes were given in honor of Nathan’s father, who died of heart failure in March 2021. “That made it feel like he was there. I was really appreciative,” Nathan says.

The honeymoon: Right after the wedding, the newlyweds spent a week on Florida’s Marco Island. They went sightseeing on bikes and hung out on the private beach at their hotel.

Vendors: Catering, Martin’s Caterers; decor, Mocha Events (Kimberly Cofer and Risa
Mason); dessert, Creative Cakes; DJ, The Covenant Child (Maurice Opera); flowers, La’Brand’s Florist; hair, Styles & Designs by Tie (Tie Carrington); invitations, Zazzle; makeup, IDO Kreationz (Michline Brice); limousine, Lasting Impressions; orchestra trio, Melodic Strings; photographer, G-day Photos (Jide Durosomo); videographer, K and A Photo and Video; wedding planner, Adelines Events (Addy Simms).


Photo by Kyla Jeanette Photography

Ballroom bash

A Bethesda couple’s wedding at the Willard featured vows they wrote themselves, a choreographed first dance and a cake with five tiers

The couple: Candice Lockwood (maiden name Yi), 32, grew up in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. She is an attorney adviser with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. John Lockwood, 33, grew up in Annapolis. He is an attorney adviser with the Federal Communications Commission. They recently bought a house in Bethesda.

How they met: In 2018, Candice and John were working as judicial law clerks for trial judges in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County in Rockville. Both had graduated from The George Washington University Law School, but never met as students. “John was the smartest of our clerkship group. He was my go-to guy for asking questions,” Candice says. “I also noticed how he treated others in the courthouse. He was so respectful. That really started to open my eyes to him being more than just a friend.” John was struck by how pretty, kind and genuine Candice was—plus, she could hold her own in the law clerk softball league. “Candice was the leadoff hitter and was quite the star,” he says.

The first date: After a day of work at the courthouse, John made a spur-of-the-moment decision to ask Candice out for dinner that night. They went to Barcelona Wine Bar in D.C.’s Cathedral Heights neighborhood. Candice knew that John was an avid traveler and had spent a summer in Spain, so she thought the Spanish restaurant was a good chance to learn more about him and get his recommendations on tapas and drinks. They enjoyed tempranillo, a Spanish red wine that’s now one of their favorites because it reminds them of their first date.

Photo by Kyla Jeanette Photography

The proposal: During the first year of the pandemic, Candice and John had new jobs and were dating long distance, each living with their parents in their hometowns and saving money on rent. They went on a getaway in October 2020 to upstate New York. John’s plan was to go to Indian Lake in the Adirondacks and canoe with Candice to a campsite, then hike to a beautiful vista to propose. “Mother Nature had a different idea. There were thunderstorms in the area, so we couldn’t really be out on a lake in a canoe,” John says. They went to Ithaca instead. John found a little-known trail to hike near Cornell University, and when they reached the top of a cliff overlooking a bend in the river with the fall colors in the background, he knew it was the perfect spot. He got down on one knee. “I was really taken aback. I didn’t see it coming,” Candice says.

The wedding: On Oct. 16, 2021, the couple got married at the Willard InterContinental hotel in Washington, D.C., with 100 guests.

Photo by Kyla Jeanette Photography

The vows: The pair wrote their own vows. “John really embodies the values of kindness and unconditional love. I tried to express that the best I could,” says Candice, who also added some humor about John’s favorite baseball team. “I vowed that I would grieve with him when the Detroit Tigers lose season after season.” John says he tried to make his vows heartfelt. “Because we each took the time to carefully craft them for each other…that made it so special,” he says.

The food: Candice and John say they are “big foodies,” so they enjoyed planning dinner with the Willard’s in-house chef. Appetizers included mini beef Wellington, bacon-wrapped scallops, tuna tartare on a wasabi-infused cracker shaped like a spoon, and lamb lollipops. Dinner started with watermelon, feta and apple salad, and cauliflower soup; the main course featured oven-roasted chicken or salmon topped with crabmeat.

The desserts: The Willard’s pastry chef made a five-tiered cake with alternating layers: lemon chiffon cake with raspberry cream filling and Swiss meringue buttercream frosting; and chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache and chocolate buttercream frosting. Candice and John also served sticky rice cakes, a Korean wedding tradition. “It helps the couple remember to stick through life’s challenges together,” says Candice, who is Korean American.

Photo by Kyla Jeanette Photography

A highlight: Candice and John basked in the moment while sitting at a sweetheart table in the middle of the room. “Everyone was just happy, laughing, enjoying the evening,” John says. “There’s so much going on in the world. We wanted an evening away from it, where they could enjoy themselves and each other’s company.” Candice says she savored the feeling of having all their friends and family in one room without a care in the world. “After the year of isolation, it was so great to be together. That feeling is something I really treasure,” she says.

The dance: Candice and John choreographed a first dance to “Conversations in the Dark” by John Legend and had been practicing in their basement, but not with Candice wearing her bridal gown. They were concerned about pulling off the moves. “Right before we came in for our grand entrance to the reception, we did just a quick little practice in one of the side rooms and I kept stepping on her dress. I was very nervous,” John says. “But when it came showtime, everything went smooth and well.”

The honeymoon: In late October, the newlyweds spent two weeks in Hawaii. They hiked the Kãlepa Ridge Trail in Kõke’e State Park on Kauai, snorkeled with sea turtles on a catamaran tour, and took surfing lessons at Kalama Beach in Maui.

Vendors: Alterations, My’s Bridalterations; bridesmaids dresses, Revelry; bridal gown, Demetrios; dance floor lighting, SMERFEvents; DJ, Premonition of Mixing Maryland; flowers, Petalos; hair and makeup, Shine, Tina!; invitations, Minted; music, Amaris Trio; photo booth, The Prop Stop Photo Booth; photographer, Kyla Jeanette Photography; rentals, Honeywood Event + Tent; tuxes, Lapel; videographer, Riverlight Films.


Photo by Jana scott

Vineyard vows

A Gaithersburg couple infused a sense of humor and fun into their celebration at a winery in Virginia

The couple: Caroline Umosella-Marinos (maiden name Umosella), 32, grew up in Olney and graduated from Connelly School of the Holy Child in Potomac. She works in digital advertising for Single Grain. Cory Marinos, 30, is from Florida and works as a physical therapy assistant at Manual & Sports in Rockville. They live in Gaithersburg.

How they met: In 2015, the two were introduced by a mutual friend at the Wine in the Woods festival in Columbia, Maryland. Caroline was working at the festival as the director of marketing for a winery, and Cory was volunteering as a wine pourer with a friend. “I thought he was hilarious, super nice…very ‘go with the flow,’ ” Caroline says. A month later, the two spent time together with friends in Ocean City and the sparks flew. “It was pretty immediate. We never left each other after that,” Caroline says. It wasn’t until later on that the couple realized through a memories app on Caroline’s phone that their paths had first crossed on Halloween in 2013 at Union Jack’s (now closed) in Bethesda, where they had randomly taken a selfie together.

The first date: They met for brunch at MoCo’s Founding Farmers in Potomac. “I had been talking about how much I loved chicken and waffles and I wanted to take her there,” Cory says. The next day they went to rio in Gaithersburg for brunch, then walked around and talked, and later had dinner. “It was one of those dates that turned into a whole weekend event,” Caroline says.

Photo by Jana scott

The proposal: After four years of dating, Caroline was convinced Cory was going to propose while they were on a trip to Seattle. “By convinced, she means expected,” Cory says. “She sent me an article with the top 10 destinations in Seattle to get engaged.” Caroline did her hair and makeup every day, wore cute outfits, and waited while moments like sunset at the Space Needle came and went. Cory instead surprised her the next weekend at one of her favorite places—Assateague Island. “I wanted to come out of left field and really get her heart going,” Cory says. After a day at the beach, he got down on one knee on a boarded pathway. “I’m not dressed up, my nails are broken and then he just randomly proposes with a Ring Pop,” Caroline says. Throughout their relationship, when Cory would say he was saving for a ring, Caroline always said she didn’t need a ring—she just wanted to marry him and would say yes to a Ring Pop. He had a real ring at the beach condo.

The wedding: Caroline and Cory planned to get married on June 12, 2020. Because of COVID-19, they rescheduled to Oct. 23, and then finally tied the knot on May 21, 2021. They cut their guest list from 170 to 85 to comply with safety restrictions and livestreamed the ceremony for those who couldn’t attend.

The venue: The festivities were held at Morais Vineyards and Winery in Bealeton, Virginia. They were married outdoors under a pergola and celebrated afterward in a ballroom that was decorated in dusty blue and rose gold.

Photo by Jana scott

The ceremony: “My favorite part was the vows. Cory is a man of few words and was really nervous about writing his vows, but he did the best job,” Caroline says. Cory acknowledges that writing his vows was stressful: “She’s an incredible writer and wordsmith, and I knew I couldn’t compete with that.” But in the end, their sentiments overlapped. “She said she’d always be my cheerleader and I bust out laughing because I had the exact same line in my vows,” Cory says. “It was so coincidental and fitting for us.”

A sense of humor: “We are a very silly couple, always try to laugh, play pranks on each other, joke around, so we tried to infuse that into our wedding,” Caroline says. They knew that Gary Rutter, Caroline’s godfather, was the right choice to be their officiant when he showed up at the rehearsal dinner wearing an over-the-top pope outfit and a hat like Moira Rose’s from the Schitt’s Creek sitcom. He added just the right amount of humor to the ceremony, including a joke about Cory and Caroline getting married on their third wedding date. In a nod to the couple’s shared love of The Office, Caroline walked down the aisle to an orchestral version of the theme song from the popular television show.

Photo by Jana scott

The cake: The Passion Bakery Cafe in Sandy Spring designed their cake, which included a custom topper—a scuba diver and a mermaid—that picked up on the couple’s wedding logo. The cake also featured an edible golden retriever that looked like their dog, Waffles.

The first dance: Cory and Caroline took dance lessons at Arthur Murray Dance Center in Gaithersburg and did a choreographed first dance to “Cheerleader” by Omi. Midway through one of many twirls, the unseasonably hot day and heavy ball gown caught up with Caroline, who recalls thinking: “This is not good.” Feeling queasy, she ran from the dance floor and Cory followed. She got sick, but quickly recovered to enjoy the rest of the evening. “Luckily, the bridal party started dancing on the dance floor like nothing even happened. It turned out to be totally inconspicuous,” Cory says.

Good timing: The couple felt lucky to have their wedding in the “golden time” when most people were eligible for vaccinations, and before the delta variant, Cory says. “It was definitely worth the wait. It hit all our expectations,” Caroline says. “One thing that COVID has taught us is that togetherness and being with friends and family is a gift. …It really made everything sweeter and made us a lot more appreciative.”

The honeymoon: The newlyweds spent 10 days at the Cocobay Resort on the island of Antigua, where they had a private villa and their own pool. They went snorkeling and discovered the fun of handheld sea scooters to propel them underwater.

Vendors: Cake, The Passion Bakery Cafe; catering, The Chef’s Table; decor and florist, Electric Events DC; dress, Curvaceous Couture; event planners, Christine Ash, Danielle Fisher and Linor Shemesh of Save the Date LLC Events; hair, Nancy Kongsomboom; makeup, Sweet Virginia’s Beauty + Salon; music, ‘Round Midnight (Entertainment Exchange); photographer, Jana Scott; transportation, Coughlin Transportation; tuxedos, The Black Tux; videographer, Washington Talent Agency.