DC Wedding Planning Guide | Timelines, Venues, Photos & More!

February 5, 2018

dc wedding planning guide vendors and more by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason

Wedding Planning Tips from a DC Wedding Photographer

After almost 200 weddings, I’ve seen a LOT of weddings mostly in the DC and DMV area. That’s why I wanted to put together a comprehensive, authentic DC Wedding Planning Guide where couples planning their weddings in the District could start! From vendors to your wedding day timeline, I wanted to give couples a sample of what their day could be like as well as some things I’ve learned over the years. Please enjoy everything below and let me know if there is anything I should add or questions I should answer to this DC Wedding Planning Guide!

Planning for Flattering Light on Wedding Day

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.

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.

Collect Addresses for Wedding Invitations Easily: When planning my own wedding, I found Postable and it made it SO EASY to get addresses of wedding guests and family. Learn how to collect wedding guests addresses easily!

epic sunset wedding portrait at breaux vineyards wedding by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason

How to Schedule Your Wedding Day

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

As a photographer, 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.

Need a more visual look? Head over to my free Sample Wedding Timeline!

A Word About Wedding 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.

Here are some of my favorite wedding photos ever!

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!

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.

See all of our favorite DC Wedding Vendors here!

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

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 Darling & Daughters are the queens of DC floral.

DC DJs, and bands

Take a look at our Favorite DC Wedding DJs & Bands here!

Hotels to Get Ready In DC

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 for Wedding Guests 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

DC Engagement 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!

Click here to get a list of the Best Engagement Photo Locations in Washington DC

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.

Questions To Ask When Booking A Wedding Photographer!

Take a look at some of the best questions to ask when booking a wedding photographer and get our answers too! Questions to Ask!

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.