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DC Wedding Guide | Venues, Timelines, Photos and More!

Photography

Photographing weddings is super personal to me. When the music stops, you’ve had your last drink and you finally snuggle into bed with your spouse, your photos and your video will be the only things you have left from your wedding day.

Often times I’ve found this season can make you feel unwelcome and even excluded as dive into your wedding research but I have good news for you: My couples don’t fit in a box and I never expect them to.

No matter where you’re from, who you pray to, what you weigh, who you voted for or who you love,  your story and legacy, as well as the depth of your relationship and those in your lives, are what matter to me most.

I exist to eliminate fear, create connection between those who are divided, and to help people become fulfilled in who they are and who they’re becoming.

That’s why I believe my job is just more than photos.

Light

Although how the light looks and the timing may be the last thing to think about for your wedding, I believe it’s the difference between good and great. Having light that goes into your eyes during the ceremony doesn’t necessarily provide that sweet and sacred moment we all dream of.

Having your ceremony in a nice spot of shade (at the actual time of ceremony) is fantastic, or if you can’t do that I always say try to have the sun behind the officiant as a good rule of thumb.

If you can, I fully embrace the idea of having your ceremony as close to sunset as possible especially during the hotter months. July & August are just codenames for sweaty guests, squinting eyes and a daylight dance party (awkward!). Don’t be afraid to start later during the day.

Wedding Planning Tips

After almost 200 weddings, I’ve seen a LOT of weddings. The two biggest factors I’ve seen in a great wedding day though have been an emphasis on a stress-free experience and fantastic light. I do a lot of communication with couples before the wedding day to help make sure everyone’s on the same page and that the wedding day goes by smoothly.

Also, although I love creating portraits for my couples a lot of them fear missing the cocktail hour or a portion of the party. That won’t happen. Give me 20 minutes or so in the best light possible and we’ll make magic. Also this time is a refreshing breath of air during a crazy and fun day that “goes by so fast”. That alone time is a perfect pause for introverted couples as well.

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Example Wedding Timeline

It’s best to build out your wedding day starting with sunset and going from there both before and after.

I usually begin the day about an hour before hair and makeup are finished, then we usually do a first look after that which takes about 15 minutes. From there we can do any immediate family and wedding party photos too! This can take an hour or so depending on group sizing.

After the ceremony, I love to get couples to their cocktail hour and reserve some extra portrait time closer to sunset. Us three sneaking away during salads is as mentioned a nice refreshing moment and doesn’t have us miss anything!

With most weddings, my couples usually prefer to have me during getting ready until the reception and party end. Wedding coverage for that is normally about 10-11 hours.

1:00PM  – Final Details & Getting Ready Photos with both partners

3:00PM – First Look with your partner! And a few portraits of course!

3:15PM  – Wedding Party (Bridespeople & Groomspeople) Photos

4:00PM – Family Photos. This is optional but if you want to have your entire cocktail hour taking portraits at sunset or with your guests, you can do family photos before the ceremony!
4:30PM – Couple in hiding/final pre-ceremony prayers, traditions, ketubah signings, etc.

5:00PM – Ceremony!!! (You can adjust everything after this based on how long your ceremony is! For some of my couples, it’s an hour, for others, it’s only 12 minutes!)

5:30PM – Cocktail Hour Begins – Photographer with Bride & Groom for Portraits.

6:30PM – Cocktail Hour Ends. Guests are seated for the reception.

6:45PM – Introductions, first dance, toasts.

7:00PM – Dinner

7:30PM – Portrait time with you and your partner!

8:00PM – PARTY TIME! 🎊

11:00PM – Last dance. Reception Ends.

DC Wedding Planners

Wedding planners are awesome, even if just for day of coordination and to have someone make sure you didn’t forget anything at the end of the night! Planners allow you to just relax and take it all in on your wedding day.

I highly recommend PINKBOXE, and Simply Breathe Events. These two can make your day incredible.

DC Wedding Venues

There are so many wedding venues in DC and it’s surrounding Virginia and Maryland areas! From indoor and modern, to outdoor and historical, one of the most sought after wedding markets is right here in our backyard! These few should start you off in your search with an idea of what’s around, but feel free to see our list of DC wedding venues here!

Some of our favorite DC Wedding Venues:

District Winery
The latest DC wedding venue is both a magical winery, modern, and hybrid outdoor/indoor wedding venue! District Winery has finally opened and is available for District Winery weddings and events!
See real District Winery Weddings

Woodend Sanctuary
A tranquil wooded outdoor ceremony venue tucked away in the forests of Maryland. An autumn wedding ceremony, like Scott + Amanda’s, is sure to be spectacular with the acres of golden leaves on the trees and on the ground. With a historic brick mansion nestled in the sanctuary for wedding receptions, Woodend is a beautiful place to exchange vows any time of the year.

Real Woodend Sanctuary Weddings

Fairmont Washington
Located at 24th & M, in the heart of Washington’s fashionable West End, and adjacent to historic Georgetown the Fairmont Washington D.C. is the perfect place to host your celebration in capital style.

Real Fairmont Washington Weddings

How to Choose a Wedding Venue

When you choose a wedding venue it is often one of the first things a newly engaged couple dives into. At the same time, it’s one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in the planning process. When you start looking for that perfect wedding venue, I encourage you to follow these six professional wedding planning tips + tricks from one of DC’s Wedding Planners Sincerely Pete Events on How To Choose A Wedding Venue 

DC Hair & Makeup Artists

When it comes to makeup, it seems many of our couples want a natural but enhanced look. It’s great! You don’t need to go too heavy on dark eyes like the old days.
Vintage Veils and Kara Waggoner are my ride or die makeup artists.

Wedding Dress Boutiques in DC

BHLDN, The Bridal Room, and St.Anthony’s Bridal all have options with great taste and a range of budgets.

DC Videographers

If you want a videographer, it’s important that they are awesome and can work well with your photographer to help your day go more smoothly!

Shawn Fisher Productions, Arbor Films, and Wise Films are my favorites!

DC Florists

Rocking Bird Flower Co and Eight Tree Street Florals are the queens of DC floral.

DC Bands and DJs

Why does no one talk about how hard it is to choose a DJ? It’s tough!

DJ Craig Wood and Dan Goldman are where to start.

st francis hall wedding portraits in the gardens by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason

Hotels to Get Ready In

For gorgeous light and lots of space (we’ve all gotten ready in a musty, hot hotel room with our friends and it is NOT great), I recommend an AirBnb or these hotels: Canopy at Hilton, InterContinental Wharf, The LINE Hotel,

Things to do in DC

There’s so much to do in Washington DC for your wedding that can make your guests coming from out of town feel like your wedding was an experience! Lots of my couples have opted for:
• Seeing Nationals baseball games after their rehearsal dinner
• Touring the National Mall and museums
• Wandering through Chinatown
• Visiting The Wharf or Yards Park

epic dc sunrise engagement at the reflecting pool by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason

Portrait Session Locations

Need some location inspiration for engagement sessions or wedding portraits? Although for engagement sessions I highly recommend choosing a location that represents you and your unique story, these key DC engagement session locations can help spawn some ideas for you two! Here are links to sessions shot at the following DC locations:

Lincoln Memorial
The US Capitol
Yards Park
Hillwood Museum
Georgetown
CityCenter
Union Station

Planning an Engagement Session on the National Mall
Want to do a few photos at a memorial or near the Washington monument? You’ll want to be prepared and have the proper permit so here are our tips for Planning an Engagement Session on the National Mall

What to do when it rains?

Just remember, all of your vendors have worked in the rain before and your photographer always has a pulse on the weather. If there is one thing that I love and appreciate about my couples, it’s that they trust me! Sometimes I select portrait locations that most people wouldn’t consider attractive and that may mean finding a dry spot. My best advice is to breathe, have a few umbrellas if you’d like, and be ready to get married.

Frequently Asked Questions

How would you describe your style/what is your approach?
The biggest thing I care about, more than flowers or table-settings is your story. Who you are, how you got there and how everyone in attendance at your wedding plays a role in your life is my biggest priority. I primarily love a journalistic style as I’m with you most of the day while giving direction and coaching during portraits, family photos and wedding party photos to help you feel the most relaxed and look your best.

To learn more about me and my personality, head over to my About section.

Do you have any limits on coverage time or the number of photos taken on the wedding day?
We never put any limit on photos taken. Most of our clients need between 9-11 hours of coverage depending on logistics of the day, ceremony happenings and such.

How many photos do we get?
We typically deliver 50-100 photos per hour of wedding coverage depending on the size and scope of the wedding day.

How do we get that fancy wedding book you made?
My Wedding Guide is for every Mason Photography couple whether in Washington DC or elsewhere! Once you book, one will be on your way including preferred vendors, timeline assistance and useful tips for making your wedding day go smoothly.

What is your favorite part of the wedding day?
This sounds cheesy, but after shooting a ton of weddings, I can honestly say my favorite part of any wedding day is the emotion. Whether it’s tears or laughter, hope or sorrow from the memory of a family member who couldn’t be there, that’s where the best stories are! How will future generations of the family interpret these images we’ve created? That’s the question we’re asking every time we touch a camera.

Do you have a second photographer?
In general, I shoot alone unless logistically it looks like we could use another photographer. These are provided a la carte to any package.

Do you travel for weddings?
Absolutely! Don’t let distance cause you to hesitate one bit. I’ve shot in 16 different countries and 49 states (Looking at YOU Alaska!) for clients and love new scenery! We can even work on the logistics of costs together.

Are all of our photos edited?
Color, exposure, and composition will be customized just for you with the Mason Photography look and feel you see on this website!

Do you retouch the images?
Generally, no. That said, all of the work you see on this site has not been retouched.

Can I print the images?
You’ll receive fully processed high-resolution JPEG images 1-month after your wedding via an online gallery (#NerdAlert!). The gallery provides a place for you and family to order professional prints as well as have access to your photos around the world! You can download these files too! Technically they’re still “owned” by me, but again you’re welcome to download and use them as much as you’d like.

Do you take wedding day family portraits?
Of course! These are special, whether it’s just immediate family, or a 200-person group shot (true story!).

Can my uncle take photos during my wedding ceremony?
Personally, I want my uncle to be watching me get married and participating in the day but that’s up to you!

Do you have insurance?
Sure do. Let me know if your venue needs my info.

Can we see some full galleries?
You bet! This is the first thing I send to clients when they Email Me

What is your pricing and availability like?
Head over to our contact page for more information! Email Me

How do we book you?
The contract must be signed alongside a 50% non-refundable retainer to reserve the date and choose a package.

Can we meet up?
Of course! I’ve found the best weddings we’ve ever shot were because our personalities and vision matched up perfectly well for who we were documenting. Most couples opt for coming by the studio or grabbing coffee just to see if we all mesh and I highly recommend it.

About Me
I grew up in southern Delaware in between farmland and beaches, and have lived in DC for 6 years now. Working on motorcycles, playing guitar and hosting movie nights at the house with my wife are what I’m doing when I’m not photographing weddings.

For me shooting weddings is simple: I love incredible people and getting to tell the world about their incredible stories.

Let’s tell the world about yours.

 

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