“Without any number of other love stories, we would never have been able to have our own,” says management consultant Kathryn Bailey of her romance with Jon Bellish, a program development manager. Which is why when planning their fall 2013 wedding, she had each invitation envelope lined with a copy of a love letter written by her great-grandfather in the 1880s to his future wife. It’s also why, after their Episcopalian ceremony in Washington, D.C., she and her groom gathered all 135 of their guests for a group photo at St. Alban’s church. “I think of that picture as our new family’s first heirloom,” Kathryn says. “We love looking at it.”
On the day it was taken, their nearest and dearest had plenty to look at, themselves, starting with the sweeping city views from the rooftop Potomac View Terrace, where the couple held their reception (though the pair met on a ski trip in Vail, Colorado, and now live in Denver, Kathryn grew up in D.C.). “It’s on the National Mall, so you could see almost every monument, from Arlington National Cemetery to the Jefferson Memorial,” recalls Jon.
Before tucking into beet and asparagus ravioli, beef tenderloin, and pistachio-crusted halibut, revelers sipped locally brewed beer—a particular thrill for the newlyweds. “Kathryn’s high-school history teacher made it,” says Jon. “For Coloradans, the only thing better than beer being brewed nearby is knowing the person who did it.” (That wouldn’t be the only suds-fueled highlight. Postparty, at a nearby bar, Jon’s younger brother challenged Kathryn to a beer-chugging contest, which was judged by the priest who had just performed the ceremony. “She lost,” says Jon. “That time!”)
After dinner came dancing—and an impromptu performance from the groom, who hopped onstage toward the end of the night to play bass with the band on Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic.” It was a high point for Kathryn, though Jon singles out a different moment as his most memorable: “I looked around and realized that everyone I care about was there.” Well, almost. They didn’t know it then, but in 15 months their family circle would widen yet again, when they welcomed their newborn son, Samuel.