Five Years in DC

Christmastime 2009!

I probably say this every year, but wow – it’s hard to believe I’ve been living in Washington, DC for a full five years now! When I think about how I’ve lived here far longer than the length of college, it blows my mind. It sure has been five wonderful years of change, growth, new friends, and a smattering of amazing memories. When I graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2009 (pretty much the worst year to ever graduate, job-wise), I knew I wanted to find a job and live in either Washington, DC (first choice), Atlanta, or Charleston. Luckily for me, a plethora of non-profit headquarters are based in DC, so I found an amazing first job. After joyfully accepting the job offer, I packed my bags and moved 1.5 weeks later, which was five years ago, the day before Halloween. The way it all happened was all-around a God thing, and I am deeply grateful for where I am and the places I’ve been. I must admit, I didn’t think I would live in Washington, DC quite this long, so it’s a little surprising, even to me, that five full years have come and gone. You grow up so much in your mid-twenties, and I love that I’ve done a good bit of ‘growing up’ in this beloved city of mine.

Today, I thought I’d share with you five things I’ve learned from living in DC:

5. Your job doesn’t define you. I think it’s pretty obvious that DC is a career-oriented, competitive, ambitious place to live and work. Almost anytime you meet someone, the first question you’re asked is “what do you do?” I don’t think too many other cities are so defined by the job that a person has or the amount of connections or name-dropping. But it’s a funny quirk of DC’s that you learn to get past (or just start name-dropping yourself!). Though having a job that you’re happy with is clearly an important facet of life, I’ve learned that it’s definitely not everything. So many people are stuck in a job where they work endless hours or get paid nothing (or sometimes, both) – and they end up miserable. I think finding happiness outside of your job is crucial to living a balanced life, especially in such an ambitious, career-oriented city. Yes, a job is pretty necessary… but so are meaningful relationships, giving back/giving to others, enjoying living in such a multifaceted city, and finding joy in your life.

4. DC is all about the happy hour (or brunch)! Maybe this stems from #5, but happy hours are key. I’ve visited a lot of cities, and have friends all across the country, and I don’t think too many other cities do happy hour quite like DC. I don’t think a single week has gone by where I don’t meet my friends for happy hour, and so many social events and work events are happy hours, too. Maybe it’s the need for a drink at the end of the day, or the lure of inexpensive drinks/bites to eat (I still wouldn’t call it inexpensive, though), or it’s just a good time of day to unwind with friends… but DC knows how to do happy hour, and do it well. Oh, and if you’re ever in town, you know I can recommend the best places to go! I have long loathed eating alone, as meals are a great time to be social and get together with friends. Therefore, I am definitely a fan of happy hours – the most important part being that I get to catch up with friends, meet bridal clients, or network with others!

3. It will always take you at least fifteen minutes longer to get anywhere than you think it will. Oh, traffic. If you know me at all, you know traffic is the bane of my existence. And DC traffic is the worst (really, it is. Top two in the country, always!). For a punctual, and leaning on the early side of punctual, girl like me, there’s little I dislike more than being late to anything. I learned pretty quickly that you can never actually estimate the amount of time it will take to get anywhere, no matter if you’re walking, driving, or taking the metro. But throughout the years, I’ve had to learn to relax a little and just come to accept this fact, hard as it is. Depending on traffic, I can drive from my home to my office in sixteen minutes… or in an 1 hour and 45 minutes. Depending on delays on the metro, I can get from one place to the next in twenty minutes… or forty five minutes. You just never know, no matter how hard you try to plan it in advance and prepare. Whenever I drive South for a trip, I know I’ll likely go 40 miles in 3+ hours, and this tends to happen at least once a month! Traffic is one of the two things I sincerely dislike about DC (the other being the cost of living). But I’m trying to be more flexible and extend more grace about this!

2. Though DC is such a transient city, community is everywhere. Combining a transient city with twenty-somethings who are already transient means there is a lot of coming and going! Though I’ve lived here a solid five years, I have very few friends who have done the same. Only a handful of friends who moved to DC around when I did are still here, and I’m thankful that they are. This stage in our lives is a very mobile, temporal time, as new jobs, new careers, grad school, marriages, and even babies enter the picture, causing plenty of moves. Some people become overwhelmed or burnt out from fast-paced city life, or some want to live closer to home, or some want to move abroad. Though it’s so hard to see dear friends move, it’s also something that I’ve come to accept and even embrace by this point. It’s not too hard to stay in touch, especially if it’s one of those lifelong-type-of-friends, and I assume that one day I’ll move away, too. Not too many 22 year olds, that I know of, move to DC and believe that they’ll also settle down here, too. Despite the incredibly transient nature of Washington, DC, there is also a deep sense of community here – which I adore. I have made so, so many treasured friends throughout my five years here, and I am profoundly grateful for their friendship. I moved to DC knowing two people, and I’ve since come to call many my friends. From church to small group to book club to happy hours to work to volunteering to meet friends of friends (and friends of friends of friends, even!), I’ve come to know and love so many people. Everyone wants to feel like they belong, and if you look for it, community – a deep and meaningful community – is likely just around the corner. I have been so blessed by the friendships I’ve built over the years, and I have loved living here because of that.

1. Washington, DC is a magical city. It truly is! I have had so many ‘pinch me’ moments, especially the first year I lived here – knowing that this city is my home. Seeing all of the monuments lit up at night, or glimpsing a stunning sunset while kayaking over the Potomac River, or attending Easter service at the National Cathedral, or seeing the Nutcracker at the Kennedy Center, or attending the White House Christmas tree lighting (x3), or going to an Inaugural Ball, or running around the National Mall… all of these are actually happening – to me! I try to never take it for granted that I live in such an amazing city, that it’s our nation’s capital, and that this city makes countless “bucket list” travel lists. I feel so fortunate to live here – and to love living here. Though there are some negative sides to DC, as with any place in the world!, there are a plethora of incredible things, places, and people that I marvel at daily. Whether it’s DC at Christmastime, or DC during Cherry Blossom season, or right now, autumn in the city, I simply love this place that I call home.

 

Cheers to year six!

Thoughts on four years in DC!

Mount Vernon Fall Wine & Sunset Festival

I’ve made huge progress on crossing things off of my annual Fall to-do list, and one more item was the Mount Vernon Fall Sunset & Wine Festival, held annually at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home on the Potomac River. I’ve been to the beautiful grounds, farm, and home of George Washington at least a dozen times throughout the past five years, but I’d never made it to the infamous wine festival every autumn.

My friend, Mollie, and I managed to snag tickets before they sold out, and we joined thousands of other people for an evening of wine tastings at Mount Vernon. It was a pretty dreary night, weather-wise, so the sunset part of the evening wasn’t quite as stunning, but we enjoyed the pristine views of the Potomac River and the surrounding lands from atop the hill that the beautiful mansion sits on.

About twenty local wineries were present at the wine festival, and each was doing a tasting of its wines. It was an interesting way to do a wine tasting, that’s for sure! Since there were swarms of people, you had to wait in a haphazard line & hope the sommelier filled up your wine glass with a small tasting of each wine. Most of the time, we were able to make it to the front of the table so that we can actually learn about the kind of wine we were tasting. There were so many great wineries (all from Virginia, I believe) represented, and Mollie and I especially loved two wineries, in particular. You know visiting local vineyards is one of my favorite weekend activities! We were able to have a picnic dinner on the lawn, take a tour of George Washington’s home at night, and then venture into the wine cellar, which I had never seen before. It was a lovely evening filled with beautiful views, great wine, and plenty of American history – and we even got to meet George and Martha themselves!

Chili & Cornbread Fall Dinner Party

Hosting dinner parties brings me so much joy, and I dearly love the planning and preparation, the dreaming and designing, and the sense of hospitality and community that comes from a great dinner party. And dinner parties don’t have to be complicated or fussy! Bringing friends together for our annual chili and cornbread dinner party (can you tell I adore autumn?) was simple, delicious, and oh so fun. It didn’t take me but a few minutes to put together a Fall-inspired tablescape with some mini pumpkins and gourds, my glass candlesticks and gold tapers, hand-calligraphied name cards, and gold chargers.

The dinner party was simple and rustic, and chili is the perfect dish for a hearty, inexpensive, and easy Fall dinner menu. We also baked my Mom’s famous broccoli cheese cornbread, drank mulled red wine, and indulged in pumpkin desserts to round out our meal. Getting together with friends and sharing a meal together is the heart of a dinner party, and it brought me so much joy. It doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or stressful to gather together around a dinner table. I definitely think the world needs more dinner parties; don’t you?

Here is the recipe for the absolutely delicious broccoli cheese cornbread – it’s a Fall staple, and we all adore it!

And my tried and true tips for hosting a dinner party!

Etsy | Let Love Guide Us Cards & Envelopes

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My very favorite Etsy shopLet Love Guide Us, has expanded and now has these gorgeous custom envelopes liners with the embossed stationery and paper goods! Granted, I am a little biased, since this is my darling sister’s Etsy shop… but I know you’ll agree! She creates gorgeous, unique embossed cards (birthday, thank you, congrats, baby, and so many more) in a smattering of beautiful colors, and I think these new lined envelopes kick up these cards a notch! I love how personalized and hand-crafted each card is, and I adore being able to send out these cards to my friends and family. card4 card3

Check out all of Bridgette’s unique and marvelous goods on her Etsy shop … these cards would be an amazing and customizable Christmas gift for friends, co-workers, neighbors, or as a hostess gift for holiday parties!card2

Wedding | Leslie & Graham

Goodness… where do I even begin? My dear, darling friend Leslie was married to Graham earlier this Fall, and their wedding radiated joy, love, and Christ’s abundant presence in this marriage. Not only was it the wedding of such a close friend, but it was a wedding I helped plan and coordinate from the beginning. I suppose you could say it was the biggest Stephanie Scholl Events wedding thus far! It was a complete honor to help Leslie and her family plan so much of this wedding, and it couldn’t have been more perfect in every way.

I think I could write a novel about my experiences in planning their wedding, about my friendship with Leslie, in how everything miraculously came together, and about what a special day it was. I’ll try to spare you that novel, but I was so happy to help them out, and they were so easy to work with in return. I adore all of the meaningful details, time-honored traditions, family presence, and Christ-honoring ways that this couple infused into the wedding and their entire engagement, as it was truly a reflection of who they are as a couple. Graham and Leslie are so evidently in love, and it was such a blessing to watch their relationship bloom from the very beginning and to be there for their wedding day. Their ceremony and entire wedding weekend was overflowing with grace, beauty, faith, and love, and it was all-around stunning and personal. Leslie was a breathtaking, radiant bride and was so eager to marry the love of her life!

One of my favorite moments of the day (there were countless, really!) was being there with Leslie and her dad; sending them down the aisle to her groom. It was such a special, tender moment, and I couldn’t have been more excited for them. The details and decor and personalized touches were so meaningful and were chosen with such care, and it was all so beautiful. Despite a call for rain the entire wedding day, and for an outdoor ceremony, it never did rain. The sun came out about an hour before the ceremony, and I can only take that as a sign from God. Seeing all of the bridesmaids and groomsmen gather together with the minister, bride, and groom to pray over their marriage was such a testament to the kind of people Graham and Leslie are and to what their marriage will certainly be like. Sweet and heartfelt words, happy and nervous tears, laughter, and giddiness overflowed throughout the entire day, and it was a wedding day filled with so much sheer joy.

Personally, it was one of the best days of my life, as well. I had so many ‘pinch me’ moments throughout the entire 16+ hour day, and I can hardly call it ‘work.’ I felt so sure of myself and my skills (in the most humble way!), and I was just so excited to be there for Leslie and Graham as both a friend and as their wedding planner. I had so much fun the entire day, to put it simply! And I hope that all of the guests were able to enjoy themselves the entire afternoon and evening, too. It’s hard not to when you’re surrounded by such a loving couple & wonderful family and friends.. plus an incredible atmosphere. Every single person and vendor I worked with and encountered was wonderful, from the amazing bridesmaids (such dear friends of mine now, too!) to the chair rentals to the families to the church to the Boy Scouts who helped me set up 160 chairs in 100% humidity – and everyone in between. To me, weddings are a compilation of the things I love most in the world, as well as it being the start of a beautiful marriage and the couples’ married lives together. Leslie and Graham were a dream to work with, and I couldn’t have been more blessed as a wedding planner – and as a friend.

Planner: Stephanie Scholl Events

Photographer: Erin Kranz Photography

Ceremony: Forest Hill Church
Reception: Renaissance Charlotte South Park Marriott
Dress/designer: Poffie Girls/Maggie Sottero
Bridesmaid dresses: Donna Morgan
Rings: Diamond’s Direct
Shoes: TOMS
Makeup: Cynthia Carrington
Suit: Men’s Wearhouse
Ceremony music: Gentry Eddings II
Caterer: Renaissance Charlotte South Park Marriott
Cupcakes: Deb’s Cakes
Flowers: Party Blooms Inc.
DJ: All the Right Grooves
Stationery: Tim Stopar Designs
Calligraphy: Leelyn and Company

All photos on this post were taken by the talented Erin Kranz Photography, and check out her blog post of Leslie & Graham’s wedding here!

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Here’s to a lifetime of love, joy, & laughter with one another, Leslie and Graham! Thanks for being amazing – love y’all!!

“We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19

BHLDN Wedding Fair

Like I mentioned here, I attended the BHLDN Wedding Fair at Anthropologie in Georgetown; what a beautiful event it was! I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from the fair, but I had a great time, though it was more geared toward brides and the newly-engaged. You can’t go wrong when you’re greeted at the door with a glass of champagne! Several prominent, wonderful vendors from Washington, DC were there to mix and mingle with guests, and their varying table displays were marvelous. Almost every aspect of wedding details were there, from a calligrapher, bridesmaid dresses, wedding dresses, wedding planners and designers, florists, photographers, a photo booth, caterers, makeup and hair artists, and more. There was great representation from all facets of the wedding industry, and I was impressed by the quality (and friendliness!) of every business there. And, in addition to the champagne, there were appetizers and hors d’oeuvre, macarons and cupcakes, and handmade marshmallows in every flavor. I was able to pick up a slew of business cards for my future brides, as well as hand out a few of my own. Inspiration and beauty was everywhere (clearly, as this was in Anthropologie/BHLDN!), and the floral arrangements were especially exquisite. I had a great time, and all local brides should definitely be on the lookout for future events with BHLDN!

Some of the fabulous local vendors there were:

BHLDN Georgetown

District Weddings

Maggie Austin Cake

Succulents and Saffron Floral Design

Meant To Be Calligraphy

Evoke Planning and Design

 

Wedding Inspiration | Dahlias

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via Cottage Hill Magazine | via Style Me Pretty | via Style Me Pretty

via Style Me Pretty | via Style Me Pretty | via 100 Layer Cake

Ahh, dahlias. They are one stunning, perfect flower, and I can’t get enough of them lately! I was out for a run the other day, and I stumbled across this one magnificent pale, pale pink dahlia bursting out of a neighbor’s garden (the picture below). It was huge and stunning – enough to make me stop and document its beauty, for sure. As the last of the dahlias fade away this season, I created a simple inspiration board with pale pink and cafe au lait dahlias in mind. Some dahlias can be absolutely staggering in size, and I love how utterly perfect each and every dahlia is. We have quite a marvelous Creator, indeed! Dahlias are certainly a showstopper of a flower. The soft, billowing movement of the bride’s dress and veil, the ribbon curls of the floral invitation suite, and the calligraphy backdrop of the wedding ceremony all work in harmony to complement the dahlias in the floral bouquets and centerpieces. This inspiration board combines the romanticism and the sweetness of a dahlias with natural accents, soft lighting and candles, and gold accents.