The couple: Abbey Kendzior came to the D.C. area from Higganum, Connecticut, to attend American University in 1991. Now 42, she is a social worker for Fresenius Kidney Care, working in its Bethesda and Rockville offices. David Stickney, 41, grew up in Eden, New York, and has lived in the D.C. area for 16 years. He works in operations management for the financial research company CFRA in Rockville. The couple bought a house in Rockville’s Rock Creek Manor neighborhood last September.
How they met: One night in 2013, Abbey headed to Bethesda’s Food Wine & Co. solo for dinner. David was there with a friend and the three started chatting. David’s friend made sure to get Abbey’s business card for David before they left. “We might not be together if he wasn’t involved in getting us talking,” Abbey says.
The first date: Abbey suggested an Irish pub for their first date, which was on St. Patrick’s Day, but David thought they should try American Tap Room in Bethesda instead, to avoid crowds. Abbey saw David’s kindheartedness when she returned from the bathroom to find him cheering up a down-on-his-luck bar-goer. Abbey and David continued their date at the now-shuttered Parker’s American Bistro, where they discovered that they had been living across the street from each other in Chevy Chase for 12 years. “I knew that day that I could marry him,” Abbey says. “It was the best first date ever.”
The proposal: Abbey and David had been talking about marriage for a while. They had already picked out a ring—an antique setting from the early 1900s at Pampillonia Jewelers in Mazza Gallerie in D.C.—to go with a diamond that had been in David’s family and was estimated to be from the late 1880s. After a couple of failed efforts to propose—Abbey had a fever on one attempt, they showed up at Food Wine & Co. to find it closed on another—David made their engagement official at the bar at Food Wine & Co., where they had the same bartender they’d had on their first date.
The wedding: Four months after they got engaged, Abbey and David tied the knot on July 4, 2015. “When you’re in your 40s, it’s like why wait?” Abbey says. The ceremony took place in an outdoor garden at the Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa in Mystic, Connecticut. They chose their reception venue—The Boat Shed at Mystic Seaport, an open-air structure next to the river—without seeing it in person.
Number of guests: 130
Patriotic theme: David made table cards, each with a Founding Father’s picture and signature on one side and a short biography on the back. On the escort cards, guests’ names were followed by “Delegates of” and their table name. The couple also created a “Declaration of Abigail and David” document, modeled on the Declaration of Independence. It was written by Takoma Park calligrapher Ron Baker and guests signed their names to the keepsake. The food served at the reception was seafood and barbecue, in keeping with typical Fourth of July fare.
A touch of home: The town where David grew up is home to a kazoo factory so the couple attached a kazoo to each escort card. Guests were encouraged to play a song when they wanted the bride and groom to kiss.
Something to laugh about: Several people pointed out to the couple that they were giving up their independence on Independence Day.
Favorite moment: Abbey walked down the aisle to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” a song with special meaning to her family because The Wizard of Oz was the favorite movie of her mother’s late sister. “We surprised my mom with that and I loved seeing her face as the song came on,” Abbey says.
Cost-cutting tip: The price for the venue included everything from the cake to the alcohol, so costs didn’t escalate as planning went on.
The gown: After trying on seven dresses in 35 minutes at the bridal shop BHLDN in Georgetown, Abbey selected a sleeveless ivory lace gown by Tadashi Shoji.
The sendoff: As Abbey and David left the reception, guests lit sparkers and “The Star-Spangled Banner” played.
The honeymoon: The couple spent a week at the Sandals resort in St. Lucia.
The photos: Connecticut-based Daphne and Dean Photography captured the special day.