National Arboretum Wedding DC: Mark & Tony

This National Arboretum Wedding united biking enthusiasts, Tony and Mark.  They were wed among the National Capitol Columns, after spending the morning preparing at the Wharf Canopy Hilton in Washington DC.

Their wedding colors were orange and blue.  I was elated when I realized the orange vintage style bikes were available for use outside of the National Arboretum which was also blue!!  I love how this photo captures their joy, interests, venue, and color palette:

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Why Rhinehart Photography?

They share, “Working with Lisa was fun and easy. Throughout the day she was invisible and unobtrusive, photographing real moments, which is exactly what we wanted.  We loved that she gave us creative ideas and took posed photos as well during the times we set aside for those.  The process was comfortable, we never felt overly directed.”

They continue, “Lisa had creative ideas for that we wouldn’t have thought of and we had a lot of fun doing them.”

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Strength, Steadfastness, and Beauty

They smile, “We specifically chose the National Capitol Columns as the backdrop to exchange our wedding vows. To us, the columns represent Strength, Steadfastness, and Beauty–all things we see as qualities of a good relationship.”

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The Wharf DC Canopy Hilton Wedding Preparations

Tony is such a dapper groom!  Handsome, joyful, and so excited to be tying the knot!

wharf dc Canopy Hilton wedding photographer groom with glasses holding jacket wearing gray suit with blue bowtie smiling at camera during getting ready portraits

Creative Perspectives by Wedding Photographers

Mark shares, “Tony was impressed by the second photographer getting on the floor to get a unique perspective during toasts.”

Get low! My second photographer, David took this– dude, I’m impressed!

black and white photo of wedding guests toasting with champagne creative unique artistic angle photographing from below during getting ready at dc wharf hotel Hilton

Capturing Emotional Moments

Tony shares, “Having my sister, Barbara, officiate meant the world to both of us. We’ve always had a close relationship. At times she was like a mom to me since we lost ours when we were so young. She has a heart of gold and is always the first to help others. She’s always there for me, which is why it was meaningful to have her as our officiant.”

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The Card that Touched My Heart

Tony shares, “Mark’s card touched my heart because he used the compliments I always give him and built on that to show why we work so well as a couple.”

One of the most important focuses for me on a wedding day is capturing the full range of emotions.  From laughter to tears.  It’s all beautiful!

black and white emotional photo of groom wiping tears away from his eyes while reading letter from groom on wedding day during getting ready at dc canopy hotel

Special From the Moment we Met

Tony shares, “I knew within the first six months of dating that I would marry Mark. Coming out of a previous relationship of 20 years, I was not looking for another.  I had not dated in 5 years and was not interested in dating. Then he rode into my life… (literally, since we met biking, haha!) and wham I was immediately drawn to him and never looked back.”

Tony continues, “From the moment I laid eyes on him I knew he was special. A big wide smile, handsome, friendly, easy to talk to, loves to be outside (biking, hiking, traveling, running), sharing the same ideas but having a better perspective on life, compassionate, open, always seeing the best in everyone!!” 

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Getting Ready Suites that Suited Their Personalities

They share, “Our separate preparations suited our personalities—we each had our own hotel suite to get ready with our groomsmen. In Tony’s, the music was jumping, champagne was flowing, and it was full of family and friends. Mark’s suite was more subdued. He enjoyed getting ready with his loved ones in a relaxed setting.” 

The mood may have been relaxed, but the laughs and socks were off the charts:

black and white photo of guests laughing while getting ready inside DC Hilton canopy wharf hotel best authentic candid wedding photographer

Full of Life and Love

Mark shares, “Tony is full of life and love. He’s smart, adventurous, and well-traveled; we never run out of things to talk about! I love that he is motivated and goal-oriented, and I’m thrilled to join him in his goal to run a half marathon in every state. We also make a good pair because we are both competitive and constantly challenging each other; in the end, it makes us both better.”

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First Look at The Wharf DC Canopy by Hilton

Including a second photographer during wedding coverage is something that most of my couples opt for.  In this case, it gave me a chance to station my second photographer, David, up in the hotel room while I was on the ground getting close-ups of the action!

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A First Look Worth the Wait

Mark smiles, “I couldn’t wait to get down there and see the man I was going to marry. I caught a glimpse of him from above while he was getting in place and got even more excited than I already was.”

best award winning DC photographer two grooms hold each other during first look with building architecture behind them wearing gray suits smiling at each other

Completely in Awe

Tony says, “I was in awe when my eyes saw Mark on our wedding day. I still could not believe this man was going to marry me. He is so much more than me and deserved so much more.  Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. He was so handsome and more on our wedding day. He really glowed!”

I loved capturing their emotional first look and being able to incorporate the amazing architecture from The DC Wharf Hotel!

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Balancing Each Other

Tony says, “Mark and I share so many of the same ideas yet at the same time have our own perspectives. We can talk about anything without being offended by the other’s views, and we balance one another. Where there is strength in one, the other leverages. It works so well.”

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They Met Biking!

Tony & Mark share, “We met on June 26, 2017, at the Smithsonian Metro station, the meeting place for the Tuesday evening bike ride with the LGBT Meet-Up cycling group, Outriders.”

They continue, “It was Mark’s first outing with the group after a year of watching virtually from the wings. Tony had ridden with Outriders in previous years but this was his first time back after being at the Air War College in Alabama.”

They smile, “Tony chatted with Mark during the ride and made sure to sit next to him at dinner. A few weeks later, they went on their first date…and the rest is history!”

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National Arboretum Wedding Preparations

Mark & Tony share, “We wanted to find something in DC that was quintessential DC, but also outside so that our guests could enjoy themselves without masks. When we realized the Arboretum did weddings, it was the perfect setting—not only did it have the columns but the whole area just spoke to us.

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Moments and Portraits

I love to offer a variety of styles of portraits on a wedding day. Capturing candid moments is just as important to me as taking some traditional portraits as well!  Here is a “smile and look at the camera” traditional shot:

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Moments are My Focus

While I make sure to get several traditional portraits throughout the day, my real focus is on moments.  This is probably why they shared that I was unobtrusive.  Here I think I’m hunkered down peering through the hydrangeas to include them in the frame.   I love the way Mark is loving on Tony here, adjusting Tony’s pocket square.

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Orange & Blue, Ready for GQ!

They share, “For colors, Mark and his groomsmen had orange accents (Mark’s favorite color), and Tony and his groomsmen had blue accents (Tony’s favorite color). The grooms and their groomsmen also wore fun blue and orange socks to bring everybody together and show the union of two people.”

I love to offer editorial style group portraits on a wedding day!  I love to help each person out with posing and bring out their inner supermodel.  Mark & Tony did such a great job combining both of their favorite colors into their groomsmens’ outfits.

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National Arboretum Wedding Ceremony

Mark & Tony’s wedding guests were greeted by the beautiful sounds of strings before the ceremony began.

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A Stunning Ceremony Location

Guests were greeted with glasses of champagne and meandered through a winding meadow path.

They were blown away when seeing the National Arboretum Columns for the first time!

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Perfect Symmetry & Even a Rainbow

Tony shares, “During our grand entrance, we had a spot where we were stood and waved to the crowd—we were so surprised and touched to see everybody waving back at us! It was so unexpected.”

With my second photographer on the ground, I knew that I’d be able to aim for the stars in terms of composition while he got the “safe shots” from the wedding guests’ perspective.

I snapped this image as they paused to wave to their guests, framing Tony’s sister (the officiant) beneath their interlocked hands, and all of the wedding party and guests below their wave.  As I did so, some sunlight came in from the corner and created this rainbow prism effect on the glass of my camera lens.

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Two Photographers, Two Perspectives

This is a prime example of a time when it is a huge advantage to have two photographers as the photo above and below were taken only a few seconds apart.  It varies from wedding to wedding, but in this blog post, 8% of the photos you see are from my second photographer.  Having someone to capture the more straightforward photos allows me to take pretty big risks (that usually pan out, but not always haha) while also providing you with traditional shots and alternate perspectives in your full set.

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The Handshake Joke

Mark shares, “During what Tony thought was our first date, I greeted him by reaching out to shake his hand. Tony later told me he was utterly confused as he greets even friends with a big hug, so here was his date shaking his hand. Luckily, he asked me out again and this time, I knew we were on a date. The handshake has been a running joke ever since, so it was fun to shake his hand during the ceremony after being egged on by the crowd.”

Tony shares, “There were handshakes throughout.  The funniest part of the wedding (that got me good) was Mark’s handshake right before our kiss!! That was perfect Mark!!

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Intentional Camera Settings

Here I purposefully underexposed the photo to show the dramatic sky and pool. I got just the right angle to isolate them in the background.  Yes, I climbed up and down the hill a few times throughout the ceremony.

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Getting the Rings

I love this candid photo of Tony’s groomsmen pulling the wedding rings from his jacket pocket!

colorful wedding photographer groomsmen gets rings out of pocket during wedding ceremony in front of National Capitol Columns Washington DC

Colorful Sights & Attire

Here I am getting low to capture the flowering clovers, blue sky, and full scene during the ceremony.  I love color, so the guests’ colorful attire, including a fuschia hat, was right up my alley!

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Vows from the Heart

Mark shares, “I knew exactly what I wanted to say in my vows and barely made any edits after my first draft.”

Tony shares, “My vows came from my heart and soul. Mark has had such an impact on my life and perspectives.  Every word I said was true!”

I know a lot of photographers prefer overcast days, and while that light is the easiest to work with, I love intense mid-day light too, and the vibrant colors and dramatic shadows that it brings.

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Layering to Tell a Story

I try to layer as much into one photograph as possible.  Here Mark and Tony smile at the reader, as Tony’s niece wipes a tear from her eye.

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Tony smiles, “Raising our hands together with our rings – Phenomenal!! Our hard work of planning the ceremony was complete with looking my man in the eye (probably with a tear). Sealing it with the rings we picked together and raising our hands high with our guests acknowledging it’s complete. Having our family and friends there to support us was exuberating.”

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Reflections on Reflections

Reflections are one of my very favorite things to play with as a photographer.  As they walked away together I captured their reflection and the reflection of the columns and blue sky in the pool below.

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Just Married!!

I was so honored to witness Mark & Tony get married!  Such a sweet moment:

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National Arboretum Wedding Reception

Mark & Tony share, “We chose to wed at the National Arboretum for its splendor and outdoor spaces. Both of us share a love and passion for the outdoors, and we wanted to showcase one of the prettiest places in DC for our guests, many of whom live outside of town.”

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Love the smiles, groupings, and floral print seen throughout cocktail hour.

I totally get why there is a circle gathered around this woman, her speech was amazing– what an incredible heart and mind.

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Spilled Milk Catering always has the most beautiful, unique, and delicious treats!

national arboretum cocktail hour close up of amazing food

A Truly Professional Team

Mark & Tony hired such an amazing group of vendors for their wedding. I was honored to be one of them!

Here the vendors put the finishing touches on the tables, assuring that everything is perfect for Mark & Tony:

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Bright & Colorful Decor

They share, “All of our flowers were a combination of orange and blues to show our union. We wanted the décor to be bright—half of the dinner tables were squares with blue and white floral tablecloths and the other half were round tables with a plain blue tablecloth. Adding bright orange napkins made for a colorful pop. We wanted clean and elegant lines, with a contemporary feel.”

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Unique Personalized Menu Cards

Mark shares, “Tony and I had a lot of fun individualizing each guest’s menu card. To keep with the National Arboretum theme, we chose a flower or tree that best suited each guest’s personality and wrote a few lines on their menu card describing why we chose that flora specifically for them.”

He continues, “It was a big hit and our guests could feel the love we poured into that.”

national arboretum wedding place settings orange napkins on white plates with flower on top of personalized menu cards with blue floral tablecloth

Tony shares, “Probably one of the hardest things we took on was personalizing the menu cards, but it was fun! We still have friends reminding us of their flower or tree…they truly know how much we love them! Even a few have saved them as a fond memory of our wedding.”

If you look closely, you can see the guest, Shelly, reading her menu card. Mark & Tony chose a Yellow Rose to suit her personality.

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An Elegant, Contemporary Wedding

They share, “The theme we strove for was elegant but contemporary. We knew we wanted the wedding to be intimate with only family and close friends.”

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Sunset at the National Arboretum

Sunset photos are always some of my favorite photos of the day, but just look how incredibly stunning this sunset was! Here I silhouetted them against the backdrop to bring out the colors.  What stands out most to me is the orange and blue!

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The Happiest Newlyweds

Seeing Mark & Tony happy and smiling at each other all day long brought a huge smile to my face while photographing them!

colorful vibrant DC wedding photographer two grooms smile and hold each other during sunset portraits at national arboretum wedding reception

National Arboretum Wedding Reception

They share, “We added the pianist at dinner for something special and elegant before kicking into high gear with the DJ.  We loved what both brought to our reception.”

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Welcome, Husbands!

I love how truly happy and excited all of the guests are to see them being announced into the reception.

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Capturing the Scene

I use a wide array of lenses to capture the elements of the day.  Capturing the location and ambiance is a big part of that.  Here I frame the guests chatting under string lights on the patio as their salad course is served.  I wanted to include the silhouetted trees framing the group.

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Sister Speeches

Look closely to see Tony and Mark framing Tony’s niece and sister-in-law as they speak:

creative DC wedding photographer sisters give speech framed by grooms during national arboretum wedding reception

Heartfelt Emotion

The emotion was palpable in this space and between these two.  Here I am low and close, trying to capture those glimmers in their eyes.

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Gorgeous *Blue* Hour

I know everyone is wild about “golden hour” photos (I am too) but how about “blue hour?” Just as stunning!

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Emotion, Personalities, Expression

As a wedding photographer, I always set out to capture all of the “key” moments of the day, but I also always make sure to capture everyone interacting with each other!

best candid authentic DC wedding photographer national arboretum wedding reception on patio grooms chat and laugh with guests during dinner

Thankful Couple

Mark shares, “Another favorite part of the wedding day was visiting with each of the tables during dinner to thank our guests for coming and hear how they liked their personalized menu cards.”  This gentleman was one of my very favorite wedding guests for sure, here he is joking with Tony:

national arboretum wedding reception groom greets guest during dinner at outdoor tables on patio with string lights in background

Priceless Expressions

Here Tony’s expression is absolutely priceless!  I think the black and white photo really brings out the emotion capturing the joke and all of the personalities so well!

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National Arboretum Wedding Speeches

Here the grooms lovingly have their arms around each other while listening to the groomsmen’s speeches during the wedding reception. I love the warm, welcoming vibe the candles and table settings give off.

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The intimate feel of an outdoor evening celebration in a garden is really the most amazing thing!  I highly recommend this to all of my couples.

I know it’s tricky, especially if you are concerned with rain, but wow, the vibes here were extraordinary:

authentic candid best wedding photographer groom kisses groom on cheek during speeches

Bringing the Party

The DJ brought the party to their wedding reception and got all the guests on the dance floor! If you look closely, you can see Tony having a good time. 🙂

candid colorful best wedding photographer national arboretum reception guests smiling and dancing with string lights above them

Dancing the Night Away!

I love this photo of Mark & Tony dancing together during their reception. I paid careful attention to make sure the string lights, guests & their bow ties, and a wedding ring were in the shot!
best national arboretum wedding photographer two grooms holding hands dancing together during wedding reception on patio with guests behind them

Mark & Tony’s National Arboretum Wedding Slideshow

I loved being a part of this couple’s special day and being an LGBTQIA+ Wedding Photographer. See even more photos from Mark & Tony’s National Arboretum Wedding set to music in the slideshow below!

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3 thoughts on “National Arboretum Wedding DC: Mark & Tony”

  1. Absolutely stunning!!! My heart is filled with warmth and love, remembering Mark & Tony’s breathtaking wedding day!!!

  2. Absolutely stunning. I have known Mark since he was in high school. Seeing the amazing pictures during this perfect wedding makes my heart so happy. You really did a phenomenal job!

  3. What a magical day! It was so elegant, yet seemed like such fun. Mark, you and Tony looked blissful. What a gift to have found the “one.” Love and Light to you both!

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