DC Wedding Photographers: Manya & Michael at the Hay-Adams

An elegant black tie affair and one of the best views in Washington
Manya and Michael are bright, charismatic individuals who are comfortable in their own skin and love life.  They share many interests like traveling and spending time in the kitchen together (cooking, baking and “enjoying the fruits of their labor,” as Manya put it, haha).  They also share a love of learning and the same witty sense of humor.
When I asked Manya why they chose me as their wedding photographer, she shared, “You are a perfect fit for our different styles. I am attracted to your creative and artistic sensibility and Michael was especially taken with your meticulous execution of candid, natural, shots. The combination of the two, along with your sense of humor and personality, sealed the deal for us.”
She went on, “I really enjoyed working closely with you all day.  We felt that you and Kris were truly part of our team. You were in command but never intrusive with us or our guests. Everyone has mentioned how lovely you both are and are so excited to see the upcoming photos. We would definitely recommend you to all of our friends without hesitation.”
Manya & Michael chose the elegant Hay-Adams as their wedding venue.
Manya explained the reasoning behind their decision, “The view. The service. The elegance. The food…. we knew that the professionalism of The Hay-Adams would be first and foremost and we, and our guests, would be extremely well taken care of. The Hay ended up going so above and beyond our wildest dreams. You can not underestimate the comfort that comes with knowing that we do not have to worry about anything with The Hay-Adams at the helm.”
Manya mentioned the views, here you can see the Washington Monument in the background as Manya’s make-up artist, Ana Buitrago, puts the finishing touches on her lips.
Michael shared, “Manya as my wife…..I like the sound of that!  She is my partner in all things here and now, and in the future. She is smart, funny, and calls me out– she’s a total Smoke Wagon, too!”  Lol, a little military history reference, classic Michael!
Manya, you are absolutely stunning…
With an early Spring wedding, Manya knew keeping warm with her sleeveless gown would be key, so she brought her fox stole.
I placed her stole behind her elegant bridal bouquet, the work of florist, Philippa Tarrant.
I really wanted to capture the stunning view outside of the window of Manya’s Hay-Adam’s suite, and thanks to a generous window ledge was able to show off those sweet and sexy Kate Spade pumps…
Manya’s neice, Anika, brought a book with her everywhere that she went.  I noticed her sitting here by the window light and there was a beautiful, classic elegance about it.
The swans on the wallpaper almost seemed to be listening and coming to life in a moment of sweet, whimsy…
Talk about sweet, how about this little flower girl?
Meanwhile the men were partaking in preparations of their own in their Hay-Adams suite.  Here Michael’s father assists him with his cuff-links…
Manya shared, “I fell for Michael because of his humor, kindness, generosity, passion, and he is oh so handsome.  He makes me think, we share a joy for the world around us: food and travel…  I love how we learn together, non-stop.”
She went on, “He makes me want to be the best version of myself. All of these things made me certain that I never wanted to let him go. We truly are partners in every way, now and in the future.”
All dapper and ready to go… Michael’s authentic, gentlemanly sophistication comes across so well in this photograph…

Michael works for the United States Government and feels a real sense of pride and patriotism, so being situated next door to the White House really appealed to him.
Kris snapped this photo of  Michael and his groomsmen along with his and Manya’s fathers in front of the White House lawn– what a view!
Off the Record is a chic, subterranean-level bar in the Hay-Adams Hotel known for its proximity to the White House and as a respite for Washington’s political elite.
Here Michael and his groomsmen stand beside artists renderings of iconic politicians.  I really like how these men “pop” against the red walls in their classic tuxedos.
Michael stated that his favorite moment of the day was his and Manya’s private moment on the balcony for their “first look.”
He  shared, “First look at her was jaw-dropping. She had kept all aspects of her wedding dress a secret, and so I had no idea what to expect. When I turned around and saw this vision of loveliness, beaming at me, my heart skipped a beat, or many.”
He went on, “I could only think I would prove worthy of her on that day. And now, I hope the same for the future….a partner to share life’s ups and downs with. Arm in arm, hand in hand.”  I have many photos of this moment, but I really like the raw, natural feeling of this one as Manya wipes a tear from Michael’s cheek.
Manya shared, “When I first saw him up on that balcony, my heart was racing and I thought to myself ‘Oh my God he’s handsome!’ I was so filled with love and excitement that I just wanted that moment to stretch on for a while. Thank you, Lisa, for letting that happen.”
Here they are enjoying the moment– Michael dipped her back and Manya burst out laughing!  Manya continued, “I am looking forward to sharing our journey together. The ups and the downs and knowing that we have each other’s back. I am looking forward to a lifetime of laughter and cooking and passion and travel and quiet times together.”
Manya is an artist and really wanted creative photography that is unique and one of a kind.  She likes color and drama in art and was drawn to the elegant details in the Hay-Adams lobby.  I tried to combine all of those ideas into this single photograph (haha, I know!).
You can see the enormous chandelier and intricate plaster ceiling detailing bathed in gold light, set dramatically against the deep walnut molding and wainscot.  The natural light from the front door was intense and blue (a perfect contrast to the gold) and perfectly silhouetted Manya and Michael, reflecting them in the marble flooring…
They considered a walk in Lafayette square but opted for a moment hiding away in Off the Record instead.  😉  Manya commented, “My love of Off the Record runs deep. I go there after work with friends for one of the best martinis in town. It is very Old Washington, grown-up without being stuffy. The people watching is awesome and I have had the pleasure of talking to some fascinating individuals at the bar over the years!”
I wanted to capture the ambiance of the chic lounge, including the red velvet upholstery and mood lighting and of-course this lovely couple.  It is a combination for an intimate, natural moment that Michael likes and the color, creativity and drama that Manya likes.  I used the velvet chairs to give them some privacy, it almost looks like a stolen moment…
In this next photograph, I took the concept of the wall art a bit farther and added Manya and Michael to it, literally, haha!
Prior to the ceremony there was a Ketubah signing.  A ketubah outlines the rights and responsibilities of spouses and is an integral part of a Jewish wedding ceremony.   Here the rabbi was speaking and explaining the text.  I thought that everyone’s hands looked so interesting.
Here is the moment when Michael signed the ketubah.  I like how Manya is watching him approvingly…
Here Manya hugs her brother as he holds the shofar, another part of a Jewish wedding ceremony and gave her a huge hug!
A sophisticated, chic portrait of the bridal party in one of my favorite rooms of the Hay-Adams, the Concorde room.
Here are the rings, ready for the wedding ceremony– they are gorgeous and I love the reflections as well…best-dc-hay-adams-photographer-creative-unique-artistic-125The ceremony was held at the Top of the Hay, whose balconies you have seen earlier. Rabbi Deborah Reichmann was amazing, she was respectful of the couple’s desires and their histories and is warm and open– she spoke both to the significance of the wedding occasion and brought everyone together with her sense of humor and sharp wit.
best-dc-hay-adams-photographer-creative-unique-artistic-128During the seven blessings, the couple shares wine– here is Michael’s sip…
I have so many images from their ceremony and wasn’t sure which to share, so I thought showing the second-favorite moment of Michael’s day was in order.
It was turning around after being pronounced husband and wife to see the joyous faces of their families and friends applauding them as a newlywed couple!
Here is more of that moment from a different perspective… Michael held his beaming mother’s hand as he walked passed her and everyone applauded, such a lovely moment!
We captured many family portraits beneath the chuppah, as family portraits were important to this couple.  Here a photo of the happy pair with Manya’s parents.
The chuppah is a wedding canopy used in Jewish traditions, Manya & Michael’s incorporated lace and pearl beading from Manya’s mother’s gown.
A unique floral sculpture greeted guests at the entrance to cocktail hour…
As guests headed into cocktail hour, Manya and Michael head out to the balcony again, this time on the far side of the terrace to watch the sunset together.  I have a few traditional shots as well, but especially like this colorful, creative one that I thought might tickle Manya’s fancy ;).
If you look closely you can see a laughing couple, the American flag, vibrant colors and a pretty sweet reflection…
Manya shared, “We wanted a classic, formal, elegant style and chose navy, silver and white as our colors… We wanted the linens and tones in the room to be neutral to allow the key playerskey players (the people and view) to truly shine.”
Michael shared, “As an engineer and student of military history, I feel I speak multiple languages. One of which is how the military communicates. In this case, we used the military alphabet for table numbers.”
The guests’ view during dinner was absolutely breath taking!
The florals were incredibly elegant and unique.  Manya shared, “Philippa  is a lovely woman who is truly an artist. She was open to doing more interesting and nontraditional flowers for the wedding. I respect her immensely for her sculptural take on flower arranging and her eye toward the beauty of letting the flowers be themselves.”
I had the pleasure of working with Cherry Blossom Events again, this time  working with event designer, Alison Golt.  She was prompt, professional, organized and friendly.  The last wedding I worked on with Cherry Blossom was featured in the Washingtonian, we both have our fingers crossed for this wedding, too!
Fantastic, heartfelt speeches were given by many wedding guests.  Resulting in laughter, tears and in this case, cheers!
Michael and Manya are foodies and loved that the Top of the Hay featured it’s own chef and kitchen and asked Director of Catering, Alison Okobi if I would be able to pop in and capture their dinner in progress.  Michael had dreams of photos of pretty little filet mignon’s all lined up like soldiers, haha…
Alison is amazing and granted his request, so I found myself capturing candid moments behind the scenes in the kitchen… the team was amazing, their attention to detail was an art form.  Here are those filets, Michael:
best-dc-hay-adams-photographer-creative-unique-artistic-142Michael stated, “As with many other aspects of our wedding, Manya and I wanted to personalize the cake cutting. So why not use a military saber and knife instead of just your everyday silver. We have many shared friends serving our country and the saber and knife represent our way of honoring those who have served, continue to serve, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Michael continued, “The saber is a 1902 US Army officer’s saber…representing the history of all service branches. And the knife is a Yarborough Fighting Knife, serial numbered to Green Berets. LTG Yarborough is a fellow Seattleite…my home town….and considered the Father of US Special Forces.”
Manya seems just as excited to use the saber as Michael is!
Time for the first dance, everyone’s reactions are priceless…
Time for the Hora…
Michael said, “NASCAR–the only true American Sport. I remember watching the 1979 Daytona 500 live on TV and have loved the sport ever since. Heck, my Bachelor Party was a road trip to the Capital of NASCAR….Charlotte. So when Manya talked about a napkin as part of the Hora….I thought, why not NASCAR-ize it with a symbol of celebration!!!”
Eventually Anika put down her book and joined the party on the dance floor.  Here she is with her grandfather.  She looks taller than him, but it is just because she is leaping up in the air!
best-dc-hay-adams-photographer-creative-unique-artistic-153Manya and Michael further personalized their wedding with feature tastes of the evening.  The Hay agreed to use Michael’s legendary chocolate chip cookie recipe in order to share it with all of Manya & Michael’s wedding guests.
Michael explained “I have been working on the recipe since the age of 10 when I used my own money to buy butter for the cookies!  Many of my friends have tasted these cookies, and have developed a small addiction to them….how could Manya and I not include them in our celebration?!? And you can’t have chocolate-chip cookies, without ice cold milk, hence the milk shooter accompaniment.”
Here he holds a cookie and milk shooter, yes, Michael, they were perfect!
Stepping out on the balcony was something that Manya and Michael enjoyed several times during their wedding day.  It seemed appropriate to end their wedding blog with this…
Manya and Michael, thank you for choosing to have me by your side on your wedding day!  It was my pleasure and I can’t wait to show you more photos!  All the best, Lisa  PS:  Readers, if you want to see more of Manya and Michael you may want to check out their dreamy engagement session at the National Arboretum here.
UPDATE: I received a lovely note from Manya after they received their full set of photos, “We LOVE the photos.  You have done such a wonderful job telling our story and capturing the day and night in it’s entirety.  I love how you have really illustrated the elegance, love, and fun of the celebration.  Many of our friends have had a chance to look at them and everyone has had fabulous things to say. I love that you captured us and our guests at our very best.  Each time that I look at several of the pictures, I get a little misty remembering what a special day it was.  We can’t thank you enough for being part of our team and going so above and beyond in making us feel and look fantastic.  Thanks so much and we are looking forward to working with you to put the album together.  Best, Manya.”

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