A classic wedding at Le Willard with a ceremony in the round

Courtney and Sam’s ballroom wedding featured a classic design and an in-the-round ceremony. Check out the details of their story and their big day below.

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Photographs by Birds of a Feather Photography

The couple

Courtney, a speechwriter from Germantown, Tennessee, and Sam, a consultant from Clarksville, Maryland, met at a beach fellowship weekend in Myrtle Beach, their freshman year at Clemson.

They arrived blind – with other people – but, they say, they immediately clicked and by the end of the weekend they were inseparable. “The conversation was easy and we had a lot in common,” Courtney says. “Not to mention that Sam was the perfect gentleman. On the way home Sam paid for my Bojangles combo meal and the combo meal of his real date. Sam accompanied Courtney to her dorm and she immediately called her twin sister to tell her about the guy she had met.

She was struck by his kindness and thoughtfulness – keen to bring everyone into the conversation, remembering little details about others, always smiling. He thought she was a “force of gravity” and said he was drawn to her spirit and energy.

For their first real date, they headed to a hibachi restaurant in Clemson called Tokyo. Courtney had mentioned it was her favorite restaurant, but what she forgot to mention was that due to her fear of fire, she hated sitting at hibachi tables – a detail that Sam would probably have used. when he had reserved one. After the date, Courtney said, she opened up about the situation, they laughed, and Sam dropped her off at the library to study. When she got home, she found he had left flowers, chocolate and a sweet note. “For a college student, dinner, flowers and chocolate seemed as special as…” a diamond ring, Courtney says.

Six years later, Sam proposed on Courtney’s family’s annual vacation cruise the day after a big Clemson football win.

wedding planning

In January, the couple first landed an April 2021 date but then pushed the deal to September 18, 2021 at The Willard – “I’ve always dreamed of dancing in a grand, elegant ballroom in a great elegant ball gown,” Courtney explains.

For the design, they wanted classic decor in white, cream and dusty pink for the wedding, followed by a speakeasy vibe for the afterparty.


Among Courtney’s favorite details was the display honoring her father, who died while she was in college. Next to a set of candles and a photo of Courtney as a child, with her father at a dance recital – she dressed as a bride and he as a groom – Courtney placed a note that read: “These candles burn for Glen Paul, who would laugh the hardest, dance the longest, and tell all the best stories. He may not be here today, but he is with us in spirit and lives forever in our hearts. The display, Courtney says, was placed next to the entrance to the ceremony, so it was the last thing she saw before walking down the aisle.

For Sam, setting up the ceremony “in the round” – which they said was particularly warm and intimate, and allowed them to make eye contact with loved ones throughout the ceremony – was the hardest part. most special of the day.

Leading into the reception, a wall of champagne glasses topped with the quote “Underneath the Mango Tree – a nod to their first dance song, Zac Brown Band’s Mango Tree – led guests to their seats.

At the bar, a sign for signature cocktails (a mint julep and a margarita) paid homage to the couple’s dog, Vincent Van Goh. It read, “Just as strong and colorful as our beloved Vincent, these drinks are a work of art,” and accompanied a sketch of their pup. Two sets of cocktail napkins set the tone: first, one with the couple’s monogram and wedding date; the second, which was handed out with drinks served after 9 p.m., featured the Hawthorne logo along with the words “The party continues…” with afterparty details.

Dinner included a choice of pepper-crusted filet mignon, seared salmon, or vegetable strudel, and for late-night bites: pizzas, parmesan truffle fries, and chicken tenderloins. For dessert, the newlyweds sliced ​​vanilla Earl Gray cake, fresh strawberries and Swiss meringue, layered with ginger carrot cake with lemon cream cheese buttercream.

Following the celebration, the honeymoon of the newlyweds in Jamaica.

The details

Photography: bird photograph of a feather | Place: The Willard Intercontinental | Planning and design: Roberts & Co. Events | Florist: Floral and Bloom | Invitations and communication day: flourishing penguin | Cake: Fancy Cake Bakery | Hair and makeup: Modern bridal studio | Bridal attire: Martina Liana (ceremony), Made With Love (reception), both from Maggie Louise Bridal Shop | Groom’s attire: costume supply | Bridesmaids outfit: Azazie | Groomsmen attire: The black tuxedo | Music: Single boys | Transportation: Tanks for rent | Lighting, dance floor and chuppah: Dan Goldman Events | Table rental: Table manners | Champagne Escort Wall: Design and production of revolutionary events

Amy Moeller

Editor, Washington Weddings

Amy directs Washingtonian Weddings and writes Style Setters for Washingtonian. Prior to joining the Washingtonian in March 2016, she was editor-in-chief of Capitol File magazine in DC and before that, editor-in-chief of What’s Up? Weddings in Annapolis.