Carly and Charles, who met as coworkers at the Amazon offices in Seattle, had gone from “just friends” to “more than three years of dating” by the team they traveled to Paris in November 2022. “It was our second visit to the city in a year, and we were up for a morning run before a day of walking, eating, and exploring,” says Carly. “We were running through the Luxembourg Garden when I could tell he had something planned. We stopped in front of the main fountain in the park and he got down on one knee.” Though Charles still claims that Carly was too overwhelmed to give an audible “yes,” the couple came home engaged—and ready to plan their wedding.
Their first idea: A destination wedding in France. “I was a French major in college, and Charles has become a bit of a francophile,” says Carly. “A lot of our closest friends and family are in the stage of starting families, so we worried an international trip might make it hard for our VIPs—in hindsight, we now know they would have showed up wherever we told them to.”
Instead, they opted to celebrate in Washington. D.C., their current home city. The French-inspired aesthetic of Meridian House caught Carly’s attention immediately, but with the venue’s only available date in late July, she worried that a six-month planning timeframe wouldn’t be long enough. She broached the idea to Laura Ritchie of Grit & Grace—a full-service planner the couple had been considering. “Laura was all over it, and her positive attitude and confidence made the extra investment [of a full-service planner] worth it,” says Carly.
Since the couple enjoys hosting in their home, they wanted that same sense of coziness and hospitality to extend to their reception. “I love thinking through everything from the aperitif offered as guests come through the door, what snacks whet their appetite without filling them up too much, what’s the scratch-made meal of the day, what’s in the bud vases that are spread across the table and throughout the house, which candles are burning where, what’s the playlist, and how dim is the lighting?” says Carly. “With this in mind, we wanted it to feel like we were hosting a really lovely evening for our people.”
See more details from the couple’s 75-guest wedding, held on July 22, 2023—including their rooftop first look and garden ceremony—in these photos from Nikki Daskalakis.
Carly and Charles didn’t settle on a specific color palette, but based their wedding design around the bride’s favorite shades. “I love moody colors and timeless aesthetics that are still modern,” she says. “Lots of greens, deep reds and yellows with a mix of dusty pink notes and white here and there.” Invitations from Minted previewed the vibrant, summer-inspired emerald and ruby combination.
Carly visited several bridal salons in two different cities without trying on a gown that felt like the perfect fit. “Like every bride, I wanted something uniquely me, and I just hadn’t found it,” she says. But when a stylist at Carine’s Bridal Atelier brought out a layered tulle Ines Di Santo frock with a plunging neckline and intricate embellishments, Carly realized that her idea of what she liked might not be as clear as she had thought.
“If you had told me at the beginning of the process that my dress would have tulle and sparkle, I’d have told you to GTFO, but there was something about this dress that was special,” she says. “I truly hadn’t (and still haven’t) seen anything like it. The shape of the beading reminded me of something slightly vintage and Art Deco, which played nicely with our venue.”
She added detachable shoulder streamers—instead of a veil—which allowed her to make subtle changes to the gown throughout the day. “With the beading of the dress, I didn’t need to go overboard on accessories,” she says. “I opted for a pair of pearl statement earrings by A.B. Ellie to balance the sparkle.”
Carly’s wedding-day beauty vision was simple: “I wanted to look like the best version of myself,” she says. “My goal was to keep the look really clean and pretty, with slight embellishments like a delicate, winged liner. I had the same approach with hair—simple and reminiscent of how I typically wear my hair, down and with waves.”
Though she tested multiple lip colors, she ended up with her go-to shade—Yves Saint Laurent #217, Nude Trouble. “The photographer wanted to photograph the lipstick along with other accessories, but the case is so well-loved from living in various pockets of purses over the years, it was unphotographable,” she says. “Just another example, at least for me, that sometimes simple is better for moments you’re going to remember forever.”
Sweetroot Village created Carly’s oval-shaped bouquet, which was “loaded with airy layers of blooms in warm neutral, coffee and terracotta tones; hints of peach; chartreuse-, olive-, and sage-toned greens; and flowing vines, including roses, ranunculus, anthurium, autumn olive, eucalyptus, and jasmine vine,” says the bride.
Charles chose a custom Suit Supply jacket and pants in a textured, gray-green fabric, which he wore with a white shirt, cream-colored tie, and contrast-edged pocket square.
Carly and Charles met for their first look on a rooftop that offered memorable views of their neighborhood. “I loved the idea of capturing that moment, when it’s just the two of us, before all the chaos and excitement of the day,” she says. “Seeing each other after the build-up of the morning was such a relief. Seeing my future husband standing outside, looking out at the city we now call home with the Washington Monument in the background…it all felt so surreal, and I just couldn’t wait to give him a hug.”
The Meridian House’s garden offered a shaded spot where Carly and Charles exchanged their vows. “It didn’t need much, but we opted for a ground meadow in the shape of a circle, around which our guests were seated,” says Carly. Growing flower arrangements in shades of red, peach, and orange encircled the couple during their ceremony.
One of the couple’s favorite moments was watching their flower girls—nieces JoLee, age 4, and Rivers, 3—make their way down the aisle. “There was a moment when we weren’t sure they would make it all the way down—but the lollipop bribe worked,” says Carly.
A string quartet performed “Slow Burn” by Kacey Musgraves as Carly’s father escorted her down the aisle. The ceremony, officiated by Carly’s college advisor and French professor, included a reading of an excerpt from one of the couple’s favorite songs, a ring-warming ceremony, and vows written by the bride and groom. “Our officiant made our ceremony really special, interspersing bits of Albert Camus and Antoine de Saint Exupery throughout, along with his trademark good humor that made an impression on me as a freshman,” says Carly.
The gardens, columns, staircases, and walkways at the couple’s venue lent themselves to the couple’s love of all things French. “Meridian House caught my eye early in the process because it had major 19th-century France vibes—both in architecture and landscaping,” says Carly.
Flower frogs holding paper blooms and escort cards under tiny cloches were displayed on an arched, black, cane-backed shelf, and elevated on risers made from vintage books. The same design elements extended to the couple’s bar, where a sign detailed their three signature drinks—named after the couple’s dogs and cat. “Probably the most basic part of our wedding, but hey—we love our fur fam,” says Carly.
During the reception, guests were seated at two long tables flanked by fireplaces in a book-filled space at the Meridian House. “The easiest and most fun part was flowers and designing the table scape, because that’s stuff I love to do at home—albeit on a much, much smaller scale,” says Carly.
She chose “piece-y, moody, and organic floral designs in shades of white, warm neutral, coffee, and terracotta with hints of peach” for the centerpieces, and added green-patterned linens, terracotta chargers, round-cut menus, and vibrant summer fruits. “The flowers for the ceremony were re-used for the reception and I still cannot get over the fireplace installations, which were truly magical,” says Carly.
After the newlyweds shared their first dance to City and Colour’s “Northern Wind,” Carly and her father took to the floor as James Taylor’s “Secret o’ Life” played. “Partway through, Charles asked my mom to dance with him, and they finished out the song with us,” says Carly. “One of my favorite parts of the whole day.”
Spilled Milk Catering provided the couple and their guests with an “elevated comfort” menu that included grilled peach and burrata salad, sea bass, and braised short ribs over summer risotto. “Good food—like the food we serve friends and family in our home—was so important to both of us,” says Carly. Miniature desserts added a sweet finish as the night ended. “Our wedding marked the first time much of our family and friends met those from the other side,” says Carly. “One memory I have from dinner is looking around at all our people, intermingling, eating, laughing, talking, connecting, having a great time. That made me so, so happy.”