Carnegie Institution of Washington- DC Wedding Photographer: Kyle & Kaylan

Playful southern gentlemen wed in DC with style– even their bridal party is ready for Vogue…


This fabulous black tie affair combined timeless style and tradition with playful, whimsical elements.  Kyle and Kaylan’s wedding day was as touching, joyful, charming and unique as Kyle and Kaylan are themselves.  I’m excited to share their story with you…

The day started at Kyle’s suite in The Jefferson.  Paper goods were masculine and timeless with a touch of whimsy– their custom wedding invitations were influenced by men’s tailoring.  Kyle & Kaylan met in DC and live in Dupont Circle, so the envelope was lined with a map of downtown.   Invitations created by Laura K Designs and calligraphy by Sandpiper & co.  A classic window-lit wooden chessboard gave me a perfect linear yet organic background to accentuate these details…


Kyle and Kaylan’s goal with florals was to keep everything clean and simple.  They didn’t want florals that were too feminine, but wanted the women to have beautiful bouquets to hold.  This bouquet was held by Kyle’s mother and featured white spray roses and freesia.  Florals by Sweet Root Village


Tia Styles of House of Styles is a personal friend of the grooms and was the make-up artist for the event.  She was able to create perfectly fitting looks for everyone from Kyle’s 13 year old sister to his grandmother.  Here you can see bridal party and family members in the Jefferson socializing as their hair and make-up is finished…


The Jefferson created the perfect classic, timeless backdrop for Kyle’s portraits.  We used the library, lobby, suite and front walk for these images…


The image above was inspired by Peter Pan, a theme that you will see later in the wedding, the tall open window with an orb of light creating rainbows and shadows, brought a touch of whimsy and fantasy to Kyle’s classic portraits.    carnegie-institution-of-washington-dc-wedding-photographer-81carnegie-institution-of-washington-dc-wedding-photographer-91

Time to meet Kaylan… he is a southern gentlemen with a huge heart, just like Kyle, he is intelligent, handsome, and so much fun to be around.  Here he is straightening his jacket while his friends chat over wine…


I photographed Kaylan’s portraits as he walked to the Carnegie Institution of Washington to meet Kyle for the first look.  I wanted to show off his good looks and also his quirky perspective, his sweet sense of humor… this is what I came up with 😉 …



LOVE this image…



Kaylan arrived at the Carnegie Institution of Washington (also called the Carnegie Institution for Science) in the heart of Washington DC and anxiously waited for his “first look” with Kyle.   The air was cool, the sky was a vivid blue with bright sunshine.  The architecture at Carnegie is absolutely breathtaking– I sought out to capture it all so that they can re-live all of these moments for years to come.  🙂

For the first look, I had Kyle and Kaylan stand back to back, as equals, they covered their eyes and turned simultaneously to see each other.  Kaylan said he was so excited and enjoying the pomp and circumstance of it all…



When I was talking to Kyle and Kaylan about their favorite vendors from the day, they mentioned me and how Kyle knew for years that I would be the photographer for him.  We had met though his work, Wedding Wire, maybe five years ago and he’s been kindly following my work ever since.

He also shared that they love how I capture architecture and all of it’s grandeur without having the couple disappear– they knew the Carnegie Institution would be an incredible space for me to work with.   I like how you can see the name and detailing above the pillars and the grooms below here…


This is when they noticed the cufflinks.  They had actually purchased these without each other knowing and chose the same Brit-Lit themes, Peter Pan cufflinks for Kyle were purchased from Beneath Glass Designs, and Mad Hatter Cufflinks for Kaylan were by the Spangled Maker.  carnegie-institution-of-washington-dc-wedding-photographer-22


You’ve seen their chic, sophisticated taste, and their kind, sentimental natures, but I think there is a lot more of their playful, goofball sides to show you.  Here Kaylan was straightening Kyles tie, which resulted in this…


Also showing their creative, quirky sides, is this gravity defying image… Kyle helps Kaylan to take life less seriously, to have fun and explore.  This photo shows the couple basically walking on air under Kyles lead, which fits them and the Peter pan quote that Kaylan chose to engrave in Kyle’s wedding band so well…”Come with me and your heart will fly on wings, forever in Never Neverland.”


The entire bridal party met Kyle and Kaylan on the steps of the Carnegie Institution.   What a timeless, dramatic black and white look…


A couple of  fun “out takes” from the gorgeous editorial inspired image that opened this blog post…


Guests began to arrive, they climbed the marble stairs and were greeted by a whimsical, hand painted mirror that served as their wedding program.

Wedding details came together beautifully thanks to Tricia McLister from Ashlee Virginia Events.  They helped Kaylan and Kyle to personalize their wedding even further, and was able to lead and guide them.  Tricia and Ashley were upbeat, professional, kind and a joy to work with!


Tricia had the idea of sequined table linens which was playful, tongue and cheek and a nice touch.   You can see them here along with Kyle and Kaylan’s guestbook which was custom designed by yours truly and contains my photography from their engagement session which you can see here.


The bridal party walked down the marble spiral staircase into the rotunda where they were seated in the round.  They wanted a very warm, intimate feel, so the seating arrangement and soft lighting was used for that effect.  The lighting was done by John Farr.


Their vows and ceremony were very personal as well.  Celebrant Clare Palace lead the ceremony and would have been, using their children’s literature analogy, their fairy godmother.  She was able to create a unique and meaningful ceremony that perfectly fit these two young men.


I climbed the stairs to photograph an aerial view of the ceremony, what a very stunning space and unique seating arrangement!


Kyle & Kaylan moved from the center of the circle to the outside to hear an amazingly beautiful performance of by three of Kyle’s close college friends who performed with him in an a capella group in UVA.  They sang “Always” by Scott Alan which was incredibly moving. They sang it in three part harmony and in my humble opinion sounded even better than the recording that I linked to above 😉 .


(A brief historical aside…  Kyle proposed coincidentally on the same day at the Supreme Court struck down Prop and DOMA, which gained federal recognition to all gay couples.  You can view a timeline on the history of the freedom to marry.  DC was one of the first places in the US to give full partner benefits.)


 Kyle and Kaylan’s wedding bands are Trinity de Cartier.  They are three bands in three different types of gold, intertwined.  The rings design was created by Louis Cartier, who chose the rose gold to depict love, yellow for fidelity and white for friendship.
Kyle & Kaylan chose to add another personal touch to the rings, having them engraved for each other as a wedding day surprise.  Kyle chose a line from Alice in Wonderland as he and Kaylan have joked that it’s not about finding someone who isn’t crazy, it’s about finding someone whose crazy works with yours.  Alice says to the Mad Hatter, “You are entirely bonkers, but I have a secret, all the best people are.”
Kaylan, chose another quote from classic British children’s literature, without knowing that Kyle had done the same.   He chose (as you probably guessed from my image above) a quote from Peter Pan.  “Come with me and your heart will fly on wings, forever in Never Neverland.”


I love the contrast between the light and dark and all the vibrant colors involved in the “kiss” image above.  Following the ceremony was cocktail hour which Kyle and Kaylan were able to fully enjoy with their guests since all of their photography was completed prior to the ceremony.



Escort cards were placed in birch branches to bring in an organic element to the reception, table numbers featured artwork of DC landmarks and were created by Shanna Michele Designs.


Kyle and Kaylan take a Zumba class together twice a week and entered the reception with cocktails in hand and struck their zumba pose to much laughter and applause fro their guests.



Kyle can sing– he’s actually quite amazing.   Kaylan really wanted him to preform at the wedding, and asked Kyle about it.  Kyle said there was no way– it would be nerve wracking and too stressful, that there really wouldn’t be enough time to rehearse or pull it off, etc.  The truth is that Kyle wanted to sing to Kaylan from the beginning, but that he wanted it to be a surprise ;).

Several of the men who were in an a capella group at University of Virginia were invited to the wedding as they remained close friends after college.   They surprised Kaylan by singing background accompaniment to Kyle’s lead.  They sang “I’ll Be”  a song that they sang together in college.  It was a perfect fit and really touched Kaylan.


Kyle and Kaylan are very close with their mothers.  They chose to dance with both of them together. Kyle shared that his mother and grandmother were his loving supporters and greatest counsel members, they are both caring successful driven people.  He also gets his sense of humor from them, as they are quick and funny and keep things light, too.


Kaylan shared that his mom is the most important person in his life.  She looked so beautiful and had so much fun.  She was the only person in his immediate family that attended the wedding and made quite the trip to be there, as Kaylan’s family is from Alabama.   There is something so incredibly beautiful about the relationship between a mother and son, and I think that Kaylan’s mothers eyes say it all– they show the depth of love that she has for him.  It’s a beautiful thing.


Kyle and Kaylan’s first dance was to Katy Perry’s “Unconditionally”  Kaylan loves Katy Perry and the lyrics are perfect.  They were closely surrounded by their friends and family and I used a lense with high compression to magnify that effect.  I’m drawn to the color in this image as well.



Uplighting changed from warm pink tones to blue for the reception.  They wanted to energize their guests and get them out on the dance floor.  🙂  Party time!!!!  If you look closely you can see that everything happened so quickly that the cork wasn’t even on the floor yet.  his expression is priceless!



Kaylan wasn’t the only katy Perry fan in the house, when DJ Lil’ E played “Roar” all the guests were out on the floor roaring, except for this dude in the left corner, he’s ready for his library vogue moment hahaha.


Being that the Carnegie Institution for Science is a historic property, there were limitations on the sort of celebratory exit items that were allowed, because they were not able to use sparklers or confetti, Kyle & Kaylan got creative and came up with the idea of using sound rather than visuals.

They decided on using jingle bells to compliment their winter theme and wrapped them in navy and white striped ribbon.  Guests lined up along the outer staircase and rang the bells for Kyle and Kaylan’s grand exit.


Kyle and Kaylan, thank you for choosing Kris and I to be a part of your wedding day! You both are genuine, caring, kind, bright individuals who are incredibly thoughtful, joyful and so much fun to be around.  You are why I love being an LGBTQIA+ Wedding Photographer! You a great deal of effort into your wedding day and I’m happy to be able to capture how perfectly it all came together for you.  Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you and your family and friends!!!

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