At what is still their traditional vacation spot, Abby Chagares met Joe McDonald at a beach bar in Montauk, New York. Four years later as they prepared to watch and photograph yet another Long Island sunset there, he proposed. Looking back on where their wedding planning journey began, both advise newly engaged couples to reflect on the moments that brought them together as a couple and keep those experiences in mind as the journey begins!


"Hours after the proposal my mom was already on the hunt for the perfect reception venue," admits Abby. While looking for a stately ballroom to accommodate their 400-person guest list, The Fairmont Hotel in Georgetown and its incredible staff emerged the winner. "They always went above and beyond and were a dream to work with," says the bride. Abby's vision was a classic setting with subtle hints of French influence, including a soft, romantic palette of pink, ivory and pale mint green. She and her mother planned most of the event together, but they hired Keren Dubin of Sara Munchick Events for logistics coordination for the final three months. 


Being from DC and now living in New York, Abby had no shortage of the best bridal salons to visit. Seven salons and two cities later she fell in love with a lace embellished design and happily added something "old, new, borrowed and blue" to complete her attire. Her great grandfather was a jewelry designer and a member of Sigma Chi fraternity - as is her father and new husband - so her mother passed along a beautiful Sigma Chi ring her great grandfather made for her great grandmother, which served as her something old and borrowed. Her "new" accessory was a pair of diamond earrings that matched the hand sewn leaf pattern on her gown and the "blue" touch turned out to be her initials and wedding date sewn into her gown.


As a special touch to the weekend guests received delightful welcome boxes that included such things as an itinerary of the entire weekend designed with hand-drawn renderings of the DC monuments in their wedding color scheme, Swedish fish representing Joe's family's business in the fishing industry, Virginia cookies for their first home sweet home and New York cookies for their now home away from home, Capital Chocolates and, of course, Virginia peanuts. Individual "thank you" boxes held a cigar and matchbox with Abby and Joe's wreath logo for the guys and a fig soy candle with matchbox and wreath logo for the girls. For Abby and Joe, the best post-ceremony moment occurred with some impromptu photography following their traditional church pictures. Photographer Bryan Blanken captured the newlyweds running through traffic to get perfect shot in front of the Capital at night. "It not only got our adrenaline running, but it sparked the excitement and reality that we were finally one team, and best friends married for life!" Inside the Fairmont the two made time to visit at each table during the first course to say hello to each guest. Dinner offered blackened jumbo shrimp with sweet potato grits, and grilled filet of beef with red wine jus. Dessert was a wedding cake trio of chocolate euphoria cake, vanilla crème brulee and wild strawberry sorbet. Mini picnic boxes - served late night - held mini sliders and mac and cheese. It was their fabulous band that truly set the tone for the party and following their first dance to "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran, Abby & Joe rarely left the dance floor, celebrating Motown style with music well into the wee hours of a night they will never forget!

-Martie Emory

Photography by Bryan at Freed Photography

Ceremony: St. Aloysius at Gonzaga College High School

Reception: The Fairmont Hotel, Washington, DC

Wedding planner: Keren Dubin of Sara Muchnick Events

Gown: Mira Zwillinger, purchased at Mark Ingram Atelier, NYC

Bridesmaids' Attire: Amsale

Engagement ring: Marisa Perry Atelier, Bands from Tiffany & Co.

Earrings: Boone & Sons, McLean, VA

Men's Attire: Davelle Clothiers

Makeup: Leah Margosis

Hair: Giselle

Invitations: Kim Jackson Designs

Flowers: Distinctive Floral Designs

Rentals: DC Rental

Entertainment: Wright Music Productions & Liquid Pleasure, East Coast Entertainment

Videography: Suburban Video

Transportation:  Reliable Limousine & Bus Service LLC, Vintage Limos BIZ

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