Post-wedding planning depression would, logically, turn a bride off from all things related to aisles, cakes, dresses, and table settings. But not Bree Ryback. The DC resident was propelled to begin Capitol Romance after she got hitched in the city. After struggling to find vendors and resources that weren't overly traditional, pricey, and reflected her personal sensibilities – she sensed that others might want to plan what she describes as "a practical, personalized, and alternative wedding in Washington, DC."
Ryback now has a tiny empire of wedding-related media and services: Capitol Romance, the blog, started in 2011 and is updated at least daily with engagement shoots, wedding recaps, vendor profiles, and pieces on the ins and outs of, say, flowerless tablescapes; her wedding coordination business started in September 2012; and on Sat., May 4, she'll host her first DIY workshop in partnership with the Ulysses Room.
"I had seen workshops done by other vendors (non-wedding related) before and always thought, ‘Man, wouldn't it be cool to host workshops where couples could come and actually learn from a professional, on how to make DIY elements for their wedding day?’" Ryback says. "No one else was doing it, and I thought there was a need, but I was too scared to really start planning them. But then I met the outreach coordinator from the Ulysses Room at a networking event, and everything just clicked."
The May 4 workshop will be run by Ciao Nina, a local artist who makes delicate, bridal-focused headpieces. And there's a whole bunch more on the calendar. The bimonthly sessions, all run by a local artist or maker, will cover chalkboard signs, paper details, and makeup application.
"I wanted to not only help couples and their friends and family learn to make wedding crafts, but also meet some really awesome, local DC businesses in the process too! That way couples can make some of their wedding day items—helping to make their wedding personalized, and handmade—but also meet a talented professional that they might hire to make some of the bigger wedding day items," Rybeck says.
Rybeck points to that emphasis on local as a major shift in attitudes toward weddings in the Washington area. The traditional, often pricey wedding isn't going away here, but there's increasingly more space for and attention paid to lower-fi, individualized big days. If that narrative sounds familiar, it's because local-obsessed might be a good way to describe what's going on in DC retail and culture right now.
Per Rybeck: "The wedding scene in DC is changing, and completely different than it was 3-plus years ago. I mean...that is Washington, DC in general and it's definitely affected the wedding scene. There are just more people in DC now that care more about having a meaningful, simple wedding, one that is a reflection of their beliefs/personalities and one that doesn't cost a million dollars." She also points to DC's legalizing of same-sex marriages as a driver for more destination weddings here.
"I've worked brunch weddings, weddings of 12 people on the Mall, and huge 130-plus multicultural weddings—all very different, but all very true to the couples getting married," Rybeck says. “I think DC is finally realizing that you don't have to have a million dollars to get married here anymore.”
Photograph by Stephen de Leon & Courtesy of Capitol Romance