THE COUPLE: Jena Belinkie, 31, and Chris Riley, 30, attended Bethesda’s Pyle Middle School and Walt Whitman High School together. They graduated from high school in 2003, and the bride went on to the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The groom attended the University of Maryland, College Park. Jena works as a commercial broker for CBRE Group, in Washington, D.C., and Chris is a financial analyst at Cushman & Wakefield in Washington, D.C. They live in Bethesda.
THE WEDDING: The ceremony was held at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina in Cambridge, Maryland, on September 1, 2013. The reception was held outside of the hotel on the same date.
HOW THEY MET: Jena and Chris met in sixth grade at Pyle Middle School and dated briefly before becoming best friends. “He definitely was shorter than me back then,” the bride recalls. “And he definitely had blonde hair down to his shoulders.” They remained close friends throughout their time at Whitman High School. The couple attended separate colleges, but when Jena moved back to the Bethesda area after graduation, she and Chris “hung out all the time,” she says. He eventually asked her to a movie and the two started dating again. They were both 22.
THE PROPOSAL: The groom was an auditor at the time and would frequently go out of town for work. One of the weeks Chris was away, Jena went to dinner with a friend. When she returned, there was a knock on the door. She thought it was her friend, but it was Chris. He proposed at the door. “I had absolutely no idea what happened,” she says.
WEDDING COLORS: Turquoise and white chevron
NUMBER OF GUESTS: 415
WHAT MADE THE EVENT SO SPECIAL: The wedding was held on Jena’s late grandmother’s 80th birthday, and the bride made sure her mementos were there for everyone to enjoy. The chuppah, a canopy beneath which Jewish weddings are performed, was made out of her late grandmother’s scarves.
FAVORITE MOMENT: Jena’s first dance with Chris. They were dancing to “Here, There and Everywhere,” by The Beatles, to commemorate her late grandmother, who was a Beatles fan.
SOMETHING TO REMEMBER: “They dance floor was wild,” Jena says. There was an after-party on two boats that pulled up on the dock. “No one wanted to stop dancing.”
CAKE: Multiple-layer marble and chocolate
THE DETAILS: Catering was provided by Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay; flowers, Capital Décor & Events; music, Free Spirit; photography, Michael Bennett Kress Photography; cake, Julie Bakes; wedding planner, Michele Hodges; hair and makeup, Becky Watson, Oxygen Salon and Day Spa.