Courtney & JJ’s Ronald Reagan D.C. Wedding

February 8, 2018

I’m Manali
Coach, editor & brand photographer based out of Cincinnati, Ohio. When I'm not behind a camera or teaching about systems, you'll find me at a vineyard or cuddled with my cat Keegan on our cozy couch!
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Among the busiest of D.C. streets during the afternoon rush, he looked down. A solid white card in his hands. The cover had a touch of Star Wars of course, his favorite. He flipped it up to see the scrawl he had become so familiar with. He knew it like the back of his hands. He knew it just like he knew the exact amount of years, days, and even hours that he had been dating his soon to be bride. He took in a deep breath and read through his note from Courtney, his love, his best friend. The girl he would be able to finally call his wife today. He closed the letter closed, adjusted his watch and tried his hard to hold in the emotions welling inside him. He could tell that she was nearby, could sense her presence. It felt like an eternity before he heard her footsteps behind him. And at that moment, there was nothing else in the world. Amidst the honking, the bustle of tourists walking by, the fall breeze, everything fell away as he felt a tap on his shoulder. And from that moment on until the end of their wedding, Courtney & JJ were inseparable, just as they are in life. Every laugh, tear, and emotion, they shared together during their wedding day.

From the moment I stepped into the bridal suite with Chelsea, I knew it was going to be a good day. Courtney was the most thoughtful bride I’ve come across, she had everything prepared from command hooks to hang the dresses to the most perfect gift and card for Chelsea since it was her birthday the next day! JJ had been into photography in college and so one of their top priorities for the day was a great photographer, and I can’t think of anyone better than Chelsea for their day. Chelsea and Courtney could be soul sisters; both of them have a sister named the opposite name and a love for good tequila, food of all sorts, and I don’t think anyone else could make JJ & Courtney laugh as much as they did on their wedding day. I’m so grateful that I was able to witness what a dream client (obviously turned friend) for a photographer looked like in real life and to second shoot my first wedding in D.C. (spoiler alert: I LOVED IT)!

Courtney and JJ navigated us around D.C. like pros to have their portraits taken in front of the Monument, and had their reception at the Ronald Reagan building by Federal Triangle. For California natives that paid tribute to where they came from with their signature beer & popcorn for their reception, they really have adopted D.C. as their home. I love that they have pictures capturing their moments together around D.C. on their beautiful wedding day to relive over and over again, for the rest of their lives, no matter where life takes them.

Before I go onto all the pictures, a HUGE shout out to Chelsea Schaefer Photography for having me along!!!


Courtney & JJ did their First Look right in front of the hotel. And you could just TELL that JJ was trying sooo hard to keep it in, but was emotional during it. But all of his anxiety went away the second he turned around to see Courtney looking oh. so. beautiful. These are the moments I live for on wedding days!! I love that they had personal notes for each other right before their first look too, made it all the more personal & emotional!


That dreamy afternoon light & their looks at each other <3





Love how Parisian and classic D.C. these look! And you can’t beat the lighting at sunset 😀


Their reception details were so unique to them! I loved that they tied in SF favorites & Star Wars elements into their decor and even had their favorite beers there!


GUYS. These might be my favorite first dance pictures of all time!! These two were so in love and SO happy while dancing to their song :’)


Look at that bubbly Courtney laugh 😀


You know when you love someone so much you can hardly speak when it comes to say all the good things about them because there are just. that. many. Courtney’s sister could hardly get through her speech she was so emotional and it was so incredibly heartwarming. Courtney went up to her, gave her a huge hug and then held her sister’s hand as she gave her incredible speech.


Courtney surprised her family by changing into a gorgeous red, evening gown halfway through her reception to surprise her dad with for their first dance and to celebrate her Chinese heritage! How cool is this?!

And then JJ and his mom had the sweetest mother son dance right after!!!


Finishing off the night with doughnuts and cake!


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