March-April 2022 | Weddings

Boyds couple hosts casual wedding with country flair

The event included a bouncy house, a barbecue dinner and a visit from the police

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Photo by Ana Isabel Photography

The couple: Suzanne Toerge (maiden name Garrett), 42, grew up in Utah. She works as a sustainability strategy leader at American Honda. Jeffrey Toerge, 38, grew up in Potomac and graduated from Winston Churchill High School. He is a real estate agent with Weichert in Bethesda. They live in Boyds.

How they met: When Suzanne moved from California to Washington, D.C., in September 2017 and was looking for a place to live, a friend connected her with Jeffrey, who is licensed in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. They stayed in touch after he found her a condo in D.C’s Tenleytown neighborhood. They consider their first official date to have been in February 2018, when she invited him over to watch her favorite movie, The Man From Snowy River.

In January 2020, Suzanne went to Japan for work for what was supposed to be a year. They planned to keep in contact but were “not making any big promises,” Suzanne says. Due to the pandemic, she ended up coming back to the States in October 2020. She arrived in California, where her company placed her, and Jeffrey met her to quarantine for two weeks in a hotel. One day, Suzanne told him, “‘I really just never want to be without you,’” she recalls. “And he said the same thing.”

Photo by Ana Isabel Photography

The proposal: Jeffrey popped the question during the 2020 Christmas holidays. Suzanne was in Maryland only for a visit—she didn’t move back to the East Coast until September 2021—so Jeffrey felt the time crunch. He saw his window of opportunity when Suzanne went to a hair appointment. In the midst of a long-term renovation of his house, he used the materials at his disposal. “I had about 30 minutes to put something together and made a sign with spray paint,” he says. When Suzanne saw the sign asking her to marry him, she spray-painted “yes.”

The ceremony: Suzanne and Jeffrey wed on Oct. 16, 2021, at their Boyds home with about 70 guests present. The couple said “I do” under a tent placed in the yard between the garage and the house. The ceremony started around 5 p.m.—just as a rainstorm subsided—with a friend, John Watts, officiating, and a string trio providing the music. Jeffrey’s nephew was “ring security,” and his nieces were flower girls, launching bubbles with pink plastic guns just before Suzanne walked down the aisle.

Photo by Ana Isabel Photography

The reception: The six-car garage served as a cocktail hour space, where guests could sign a wine barrel from the Maggie Malick Wine Caves in Virginia, a favorite spot for the couple. They moved to a larger tent in the backyard for dinner and returned to the ceremony area for dancing. “We just wanted it to be the best party ever, and it just happens to start with a wedding,” says Suzanne of the reception. A DJ got everyone grooving with classics like “We Are Family” and “Y.M.C.A.” A highlight of the festivities was the all-white bouncy house. “Adults were kicking kids off of it,” Jeffrey says with a laugh. The reception didn’t wrap up until around midnight, but police arrived around 11 p.m. for a noise complaint. “I quite honestly probably would have been upset if the cops weren’t called,” Jeffrey says. The party favors were “wedding recovery” bags, complete with Pepto Bismol and earplugs.

Photo by Ana Isabel Photography

The food and drinks: The newlyweds entered the tent for dinner on Jeffrey’s lawn tractor to the tune of Kenny Chesney’s “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.” Money Muscle BBQ in Silver Spring served a plated feast that included brisket, ribs, collard greens and cornbread. “The barbecue, we felt, set the stage for more of a casual affair,” Jeffrey says. A food truck arrived later in the evening, slinging late-night bites like wings and s’mores. “I now hold the record for helping one of my groomsmen gain 12 pounds over a weekend,” Jeffrey says with a laugh. “We didn’t mess around with the food.”

At the open bar, “Jeff’s Country”—a bourbon and apple cider concoction—“packed a punch,” Jeffrey says. For the cake, the couple opted for a gluten-free vanilla confection with blueberry filling.

The outfits: “I actually didn’t think I would be a wedding person, and then I ended up having two dresses,” says Suzanne, who wore an off-the-shoulder Stella McCartney gown (paired with a necklace from her late grandmother) for the ceremony and a flowy Catherine Deane dress for the reception. For the groomsmen’s outfits, Jeffrey says he “wanted an excuse to force everybody that didn’t have cowboy boots to get cowboy boots.” Corduroy blazers, slim ties and jeans completed the western ensemble.

Photo by Ana Isabel Photography

The honeymoon: When the newlyweds needed to bring Suzanne’s company car from California to Maryland about a month after the wedding, they took the opportunity to go on a cross-country road trip, stopping at sights like the Grand Canyon and visiting friends along the way. But after more than a year of long distance, the couple is “just happy to be in the same place together,” Suzanne says. “Just being at home was enough.”

Vendors: Cake, Les Delices French Bakery; calligraphy, Molly Z Design & Calligraphy; catering, Money Muscle BBQ; decor, florals and rentals, Pretty Little Wedding Co.; entertainment, Lucy Black Entertainment; event planning and design, SG3 Events; hair and makeup, Lori Nansi; lighting, Atmosphere Inc.; menus, Minted Weddings; photography, Ana Isabel Photography; tents, Sugarplum Tent Company; transportation, MJ Valet.