We have a really special wedding for you today. Molly and Ben exchanged their vow at the DC War Memorial, then took their guests on a bus tour of DC on the way to their reception. They had a totally unique wedding complete with changing both their last names to one with significant meaning for them! You will love this Iconic DC Wedding on a Budget! Xoxo, Jessica
Molly + Ben
April 28th, 2018
Washington, DC | DC War Memorial and Agora
What was your total budget? Please provide a budget breakdown.
Our budget included – clothing for multiple events, two dinners, and 1 breakfast, hiring a tour bus, hiring a wonderful photographer, a driver for Ben and Molly, and all the park permits for renting out a spot on the National Mall.
Venue, Food, and Beverage: $18,200
Ceremony Specifics: $1,200
Stationary/Paper Goods: $360
Misc. : $1,600
Rehearsal Dinner: $1,890
Morning after Brunch: $447
Total: approx $34,000
How many guests did you have?
We had 113 guests.
How did you meet?
Ben and Molly joke that they won the Super Bowl. In 2014 both found themselves at a watch-party, but neither was too effused with the actual game. Thankfully, they soon found each other for company. After excitedly realizing that they both work in international development, and are both into biking and camping, they couldn’t wait to see each other again! Conveniently, Molly was moving into the same home as one of Ben’s best friends. Ben started showing up regularly, making any excuse to come by, hoping for a chance encounter with Molly. Eventually, this friendship turned into something more, with a first date at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian and ramen soup afterward. The rest is history!
What is your proposal story?
Ben proposed to Molly while in Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada. This trip was supposed to be a multi-day canoe trip, however, several weeks prior Molly broke her wrist and Ben scrambled to find an alternative plan. Instead, the two went on a multi-day backpacking/camping trip in the beautiful provincial park of Killarney. This park is filled with quartzite cliffs and small lakes. On the day that the Ben proposed, the two hiked to Topaz Lake, which is a beautiful topaz colored lake with white quartzite surrounding it. The sun was reflecting off the water when Ben asked Molly if she would be his forever. Molly obviously said yes!
Tell us about your wedding vision.
Ben and Molly wanted a wedding that was in DC – the city where they met, fell in love, own their home, work, and live – a dinner that was filled with delicious, vegetarian food, and a ceremony and reception that didn’t exclude their dear friends and family. They also wanted a wedding that was simple and as stress-free as possible. They didn’t want to spend the weeks before trying to make decorations and worrying about logistics. For these reasons they chose to not have a bridal party, to not set wedding colors, but rather have the theme be simple and elegant.
Since they chose DC as their location they also decided to make DC part of their decorations – this included getting married on the National Mall in one of the many monuments. They hired a double Decker bus to give all the guest a tour from the ceremony on the mall to the reception in DuPont Circle. They held the reception in an iconic part of town. This allowed all of their out of town guests the opportunity to see DC!
Tell us about your attire choices.
We went with what felt right, comfortable, and who we were. Our theme was simple and elegant. While we both set clothing budgets, we agreed that if we found something we wanted that wasn’t too crazy over our budget we would get it – because we are only getting married once, right? We wanted to do it right!
What was most important to you while planning? Was there anything you chose to splurge on or skip?
Simple and no stress was always the theme of our big day. However, in the early stages of planning, we set a goal statement and whenever we felt that we were being excessive or needy, we went back to that goal statement to see if it fit within ours.
That being said, if you were to ask a guest on an area where we splurged – the food would probably be their answer – we bought out a restaurant for the night (which I encourage any budget savvy bride/groom to do instead of hiring a traditional caterer). We had a minimum of food and alcohol that we had to meet that night – so we had a five-course dinner, filled with delicious vegetarian food, several dessert options and an open bar for most of the night.
Ben and Molly are also both huge foodies (Molly grew up on a culinary herb farm and her childhood was centered around cooking and eating delicious home-grown food as a family. So that is what Ben and Molly wanted to replicate at their wedding – the coming together of families and friends, centered around delicious food, where good conversation and laughter could happen. Molly and Ben didn’t want the meal to be rushed, they didn’t want guests to go home feeling hungry (as both Molly and Ben have experienced at other weddings). They also didn’t want the night to be on such a tight agenda that no one was able to enjoy the evening, the meal and the company they were sitting with.
What were your favorite parts of the day?
Favorite memory is when we announced what our new last name was going to be. We had both told our families in advance that we were changing our last name to a unique word, however, we told them that they would find out at the ceremony what our new last name was. Inspired by our love for hiking, we chose “Kairn.” Kairns are trail markers made of piled rocks. By choosing this word, we are demonstrating our intention to help mark the way for each other through life, which we also symbolized by creating seating cards out of stones.
Tell us about your wedding flowers.
To keep the wedding simple and to take in the natural beauty of the mall, we chose not to have any flower decorations. For the bridal bouquet, we just went with a variety of white flowers with greenery to complement the white marble of the monument and the green lawn of the mall.
Tell us about your wedding cake.
Since we chose to have the reception at a restaurant which came with multiple kinds of desserts, we didn’t feel the need to spend more money and have a cake.
What did you do for favors?
Our party favor was an experience – instead of giving guests a small object we decided to give them a tour bus ride through DC. We felt that this experience would last longer than any small item we shared with them.
Please describe and DIY, handmade, or personal items.
My personal favorite detail that we did ourselves were our escort cards – or as I like to call them, our escort rocks. Ben and I had chosen a while ago to change our last name together to a unique word that held significant meaning to us. Kairn, is the word we chose and for those that know and love the outdoor, a cairn (yes, we are spelling our new last name with a K instead of the traditional spelling) is a pile of rocks along trail paths that are guiding the pathway, offer support to hikers, and are a measure of reassurance Ben and I felt that we are these things to each other. So we thought that we would use rocks as our escort cards to guide our guests to their table.
Did you include any family heirlooms or special traditions?
We discussed using Molly’s Osage heritage in the wedding – however, her sister had gotten married only 11 months prior and incorporated the Osage Wedding traditions in her wedding and Molly didn’t want to do everything her sister did in her wedding. And sadly Molly and Ben didn’t have any family heirlooms as part of the wedding.
Do you have any advice for couples planning their wedding now?
First and foremost, I would recommend setting a goal/vision statement for couples planning their wedding. When we were disagreeing about something for the wedding, we always went back to our goal to make sure we were following what we had both intended.
Second recommendation – and this depends on what type of wedding the bride and groom are after, but rent out a restaurant. It made everything 100% more simple.
Photography: Erin Tetterton Photography • Ceremony Venue: DC War Memorial • Reception Venue: Agora • Event Planning: Laura Runnels • Floral: Greenworks Flowers • Stationery: Minted • Hair: Glam squad • Wedding Dress: BHLDN • Groom’s Attire: DC Custom Clothiers • Submitted via: Matchology
Editor’s note: During this time of quarantine and social distancing, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Learn more here.