An Al Fresco Summer Wedding in the Gardens, Groves and Halls of Meridian House.

We envisioned an elegant, al fresco garden party. We wanted our guests to feel as though they had stepped off the city streets of DC and into an enchanted, European-inspired evening. The Linden Grove at Meridian House with its tall, lush green trees was the perfect setting for our vision.

-Danielle and Mike

At the heart of Danielle and Mike’s wedding was an unforgettable dinner party reminiscent of their dates at favorite restaurants. While the details evolved over three and a half years of planning and four wedding dates (thanks to the pandemic), the experience of a multi-course chef’s tasting menu dinner remained the top priority. 

An al fresco setting was fitting as Mike proposed to Danielle in Napa and their long-awaited honeymoon was set for Tuscany. The Linden Grove at Meridian offered a unique setting for long dining tables shaded by the candlelit boughs of the trees. 

Danielle’s gown was made-to-order from Mira Zwillinger. Hand-crafted in Israel with hundreds of rose appliques, it was perfectly suited to their garden setting. Tara Franklin of Tara Styles was on hand to dress and perfect Danielle’s wedding day look. 

The threat of a dreaded summer storm moved their ceremony indoors to the Loggia, Danielle’s favorite room in the house. The ceremony was family-centered with Mike escorting Danielle’s mom down the aisle, Danielle’s dad walking her down the aisle, Danielle’s brother officiating the ceremony, Mike’s daughter was Danielle’s maid of honor, and Mike’s son was his Best Man.

After two years of social distancing, Danielle and Mike finally gathered all of their friends and family in one place to celebrate their vows. 

The storm passed during the ceremony so guests moved throughout the house and gardens for cocktail hour. Their specialty cocktail, a play on a whiskey sour, was topped with a stencil of an emu as a nod to one of their earliest dates at the D.C. zoo where Danielle befriended the resident emu.In honor of their dogs, they each had their own signature drink. They adopted Darwin in September of 2020 and since then had planned to have a Darwin Sour as their specialty cocktail, as a play on Danielle’s favorite – whiskey sours. When they unexpectedly adopted Walter less than three months before the wedding, they added in Walter’s Single Malt Scotch Bar to feature several of Mike’s favorite scotches.

The couple’s two rescue dogs, Darwin & Walter, were the highlight of cocktail hour. Adopted during the pandemic, the two pups were lovingly watched, styled, and entertained by the Furever and Always team.To fit the black-tie dress code, they both wore custom tuxedos. These tuxedos ended up being one of the most special parts of the wedding, as they were hand-made in and shipped from HappyDog Pet Couture in the Ukraine during the start of the war there. To show their support and appreciation, Danielle and Mike pinned Ukrainian flags on the lapels of the canine tuxedos.

To make light of their many COVID-induced date changes, they listed all four wedding dates on napkins at cocktail hour – with the three postponed dates crossed out and the final date, June 11, 2023, in large font. We also framed copies of the numerous save-the-dates, date change announcements, and invitations that we sent out over the several-year planning journey, and the etagere from which guests collected their escort cards was decorated with framed photos from our July 2020 elopement.

As the sun set, guests entered the Linden Grove for dinner. Danielle and Mike worked with Edge Floral Event Designers to fill Meridian House’s stunning Linden Grove with an abundance of naturally arranged hydrangeas, roses, and other florals that further drew out the enchanted forest feeling. They hung hundreds of tea lights in small glass spheres in between the trees – when the sun went down, the twinkling lights made the grove feel absolutely magical.

Candle-laden glass orbs dripped from the trees while tall taper candles reached up from the summer blooms in hues of blue and soft whites ran along the center of the tables. Hand-made ceramic plates in hues of soft blue and mint stacked on the table were topped with a ribbon-tied five-page menu. 

While the decor was stunning, the food was the centerpiece of the evening. Each course touched on a favorite experience and memory in the couple’s relationship. They worked with the team at Susan Gage to design a custom 5-course tasting menu that included gougères, a gazpacho tower, a spring burrata salad, sea bass, and hanger steak. As candlelight became the focal point, guests offered toasts in honor of Danielle and Mike before joining them indoors for their first dance. 

The guests returned to Danielle’s favorite room, the Loggia, for her favorite course: dessert! A stunning display on a gold etagere accompanied the three-tier square marbled cake. For dessert, we offered two flavors of wedding cake plus a trio of ice cream sandwiches, butterscotch pots de crème, Nanaimo bars, vanilla and lemon panna cotta, and an assortment of miniature cookies and brownies.

Handmade truffles by J. Chocolatier displayed on silver trays accompanied the European coffee station where liqueurs were available to customize the locally roasted coffee.

Creative Team

Planning & Design: Aimee of A. Griffin Events

Venue: Meridian House

Photography: Eric Kelley

Catering: Susan Gage Caterers

Dog Styling & Care: Furever and Fur Always

Stationery: Sincerely Addison

Florals: Edge Floral Event Designers

Specialty Rentals: Something Vintage

Ceremony Music: Cherry Blossom Strings

Reception Music: Sam Hill Entertainment

Bridal Stylist: Tara Styles DC

Bridal Salon & Designer: Carine’s Bridal, Mira Zwillinger