A Timeless, Elegant Wedding in Washington, D.C.
They say a silver lining of going through tough times is learning who your real friends are. Alison McLaughlin, a senior project manager for U.S. News & World Report, and Rob Lockwood, a media consultant, met when both were students at George Washington University, and had been dating for two years when her father suddenly passed away in 2014. That was when she learned who her future husband was. "It was really hard, and Rob was there for me and my mom so much," she says. When she first heard the news, he picked her up and drove her to her family's home, ordered lunch for everyone, and stayed with them—while still giving them the space they needed. "After that, I knew I could count on him no matter what." Not that Rob himself ever had any doubts. He'd been smitten from the start with Alison's beauty and smarts. "There were no stumbling blocks. I liked and loved her more every day," he says.
Unfortunately, Alison's father's passing wasn't their only challenge. Six months after their November 2015 engagement, then-28- year-old Alison learned she had breast cancer. Rob was by her side as she underwent chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation—going to every appointment, staying positive about the future, and curling up with her to binge-watch her favorite TV shows. "It made me even more confident in our relationship, because if he was so brave and supportive when I was very depressed, why wouldn't we make it through anything?" she says. The wedding was another source of hope. "Thinking about it helped me get through," Alison says. When their planner, Allison Jackson of Pineapple Productions, heard about the diagnosis, she took all but the fun decisions off the bride's plate, providing necessary moments of joy. Four months before the wedding, Alison finished treatment and was cancer-free.
On April 29, 2017, 120 of the couple's friends and family members gathered in a Washington, D.C., private club where Alison's father had been a board member; its Beaux-Arts style was the ideal backdrop for the classic French-blue-and-white celebration the couple wanted. Radiant, Alison walked down the aisle to "Dear Theodosia" from the Broadway musical Hamilton, a personal favorite of hers; it was played by a string quartet that included her aunt and two cousins. Later, everyone feasted on filet mignon and confetti cake, danced the night away to a live band—to songs like Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours"—and rejoiced in the occasion. "It was all so beautiful. Everything went how I hoped it would," Alison says.
As for Rob, he most cherishes the moment when he first saw his bride in her wedding dress. "I choked up," he says. "She was as beautiful as I'd ever seen her. She really, truly, looked like herself again."
Save the Date
Letterpressed invitations, also by Cheree Berry Paper, included a gold-foil monogram, painted beveled edges, and toile envelope liners. The bride wanted a custom monogram to appear throughout the celebration. "I love vintage monograms where two letters are intertwined, so I asked our stationer for that," she says. "It made it personal and timeless-and I love the interlocking look, which is a little more classic than what everyone's doing now, with a small initial and a big initial."
Welcome to the Wedding Weekend
Welcome boxes—including chocolate bars and pink bubbly—featured the same toile used in the invitations.
The Happy Couple
Rob, in a tuxedo from Men's Wearhouse, and Alison, in a dress by Oscar de la Renta and a Vera Wang veil, beamed on their wedding day. Alison knew she wanted a ball gown—in a space as grand as her wedding venue, a dress with presence is all but required. She visited salons with her mom, maid of honor, and a bridesmaid in tow, and "I've never had such an enjoyable experience trying on clothes!" she gushes. It was her friend Kelly who spotted the Oscar de la Renta gown with iridescent hand-sewn lace that she ultimately chose (from another bride's "no" rack!). Though her mom encouraged her to think it over, "I knew that was it," says Alison. "It felt very unique. I loved the lace, the train, and the sweetheart neckline. I never second-guessed it."
The proposal was secretive and pretty special. Rob wanted to surprise Alison, so he ordered an engagement ring from a jeweler in Arizona, then hid it inside an alligator head that he kept on a bookshelf. "I knew she'd never go looking in the alligator's mouth!" Rob says. To pop the question, he asked a filmmaker friend to arrange a fake event at the Jefferson Memorial. It was a very rainy night, and Alison wanted to stay home, but Rob convinced her to go. "I ended up kneeling in a puddle," he remembers. The moment she said yes, their best friends appeared. "I don't even remember what he said. I was so excited and so happy!" Alison recalls.
A stately private club was the wedding site.
A charm with a photograph of her late father graced Alison's bouquet, which included white peonies, sweet peas, mother-of-pearl garden roses, and eucalyptus.
On His Lapel
Rob's boutonnière was an ivory spray rose with freesia.
Alison smiled with some of her bridesmaids, who wore French-blue dresses by Theia.
Bridesmaids carried bouquets of mother-of-pearl garden roses, Vendela roses, Majolica spray roses, and white peonies.
Gifts for the Girls
Alison had custom monogrammed notecards made as gifts for her bridesmaids, who also received Sissy Yates pendant necklaces.
Rob and his groomsmen, raring to live it up.
A Moment with Mom
Alison and her mother were all smiles during formal portraits.
The ceremony programs were flat-printed and bound with gold cords; the backs of the programs named people who'd passed away and couldn't be with them at the wedding, including Alison's dad.
Tying the Knot
The couple shared vows they wrote themselves, followed by traditional vows, before exchanging rings. "Rob got pretty emotional when he was reading his vows which was so cute. He joked, 'This is why there's no social media allowed!' It was a beautiful moment," says Alison.
Rings and Things
The couple's wedding bands, shown here with their printed vow books, were created by Pampillonia Jewelers.
Elegant Escort Cards
The escort-card table was decked out with blue-and-white Canton and chinoiserie vases and a profusion of cherry blossoms, an iconic Washington, D.C., bloom; mirrored risers were set out to display calligraphed envelopes holding escort cards and, later, sweets.
Sorority sisters of the bride mingled at cocktail hour.
Alison and Rob developed these cherry-blossom mule cocktails—made with vodka, Luxardo cherries, and Bermudan ginger beer—as their signature drink.
After the ceremony in the ballroom, everyone moved on to cocktail hour while the room was transformed into this stunning dinner setting. The long head table was lined with heirloom crystal candlesticks with soaring tapers, while glittering chandeliers illuminated the gilded Beaux Arts ceiling—all combining to bathe the room in dreamy light.
Four custom banquettes, slipcovered in toile, with slate-blue dupioni-silk pillows, edged the room.
Topping the Tables
Crystal bowls, filled with flowers, and blue glasses adorned the table. Hemstitched napkins were embroidered with the couple's monogram.
Dinner and Decadence
A 32-foot-long head table ran nearly the length of the room, with a mirrored inset top and toile skirt, crystal candlesticks, and three tall glass risers with hydrangeas, mother-of-pearl and Vendela roses, and tulips.
Please Be Seated
Amaryllis Floral & Event Design made French-blue raw-silk chair covers for the bride and groom, also bearing their monogram.
Buttercream Bakeshop baked up these custom toile-patterned sugar cookies, mimicking the exact pattern of the envelope liners.
The couple's first dance was performed to Ed Sheeran's "Perfect," which had been released just a month before the wedding. Alison, upon hearing the song, had the hunch it would become a popular wedding-song pick. "I was like, 'Let's be the first ones to do this,' " she recalls. They practiced five times before stepping out on to the dance floor.
Let them Eat Cake
The wedding cake, also by Buttercream Bakeshop, included tiers of both confetti and devil's food cake with vanilla buttercream frosting, and was adorned with a gum-paste monogram in gold.
Event planning and Design, Pineapple Productions
Floral design and Décor, Amaryllis Floral & Event Design
Photography, Kate Headley
Videography, Bowen Films
Officiant, Maureen Burke Ceremonies
Stationery, Cheree Berry Paper
Calligraphy, Stacey Shapiro
Cake and cookies, Buttercream Bakeshop
Bride's gown, Oscar de la Renta
Hair, Christophe Jouenne
Makeup, Leah Margosis
Bridesmaids' dresses, Theia
Groom's tuxedo and menswear, Men's Wearhouse
Lighting, Frost Lighting Company of DC
Welcome boxes, Teak and Twine
Wedding rings, Pampillonia
Embroidery, Whyte House Monograms
Bridesmaids' bracelets, Sissy Yates Designs
Bouquet charm, Photo Charm Shoppe