Classic + Elegant Downtown Wedding with District Views in Washington, DC

Kelly Hurley and Peter Leoni

Photographed by: Eric Kelley PhotographyLocation: Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C., United States

As they reflect on their first time meeting, Kelly Hurley and Peter Leoni knew there was an instant spark between them. “On our first encounter, we both remember the ease of conversation that flowed between us,” admits the bride. Bonding over their experiences as Division I collegiate athletes – Peter for soccer and Kelly for swimming – for schools that competed against one another, the couple hit it off from the very beginning. 

As Kelly’s parents had purchased home in St. Michaels, Maryland, the couple spent a number of summer weekends on the property, paddle boarding on the bay and visiting the sandy beach of a nearby island. Peter knew that was the perfect place to propose to Kelly. One early morning as the couple ventured out on their paddle boards, it was to Kelly’s great surprise to find Peter bent down on his knee in the knee-deep water with a stunning engagement ring. As an additional surprise, her family had secretly kayaked behind them to celebrate after Kelly said yes.

Wanting to plan a classic and elegant celebration, the lovebirds worked with Michele Hodges Events to select a color palette that incorporated plenty of whites, creams, neutrals, and heavy hints of greenery. When choosing a venue to further carry out their vision, it was important to find a setting that captured their vision of a downtown wedding that perfectly highlighted the beautiful views of the District at night. “We knew from the very beginning that we wanted to have a unique ‘Downtown DC’ wedding that truly portrayed the beauty and history of the city,” muses the bride.

As 175 guests took their seats for the ceremony, Kelly walked down the aisle holding a gorgeous bouquet of mixed garden roses and local dahlias in cream and white, accented with lush ferns and eucalyptuses designed by Amaryllis Floral & Event Design. Two floral arrangements at the altar displayed vanilla-toned roses, hydrangeas, stock, and mixed greenery, which were repurposed for reception décor. 

Following the vow exchange, loved ones enjoyed a special cocktail hour while Kelly and Peter slipped away to view the reception space at Potomac View Terrace alone for the first time. “We had been so involved in every detail of the planning, but to see it all come together, more perfect than we could have ever imagined, brought us both to tears,” shares Kelly. “We were able to enjoy a few minutes alone, taking in the view and embracing our new start to married life, while sipping on our specialty cocktails.” 

Reception tables were decorated with alternating floral arrangements of low, lush blooms including dahlias, roses, and hydrangeas accented with hints of greenery. Perhaps the most exquisite part of the décor was the stunning 20-foot-long floral arrangement suspended above the head table, serving as the main focal point. The table itself featured a marvelous mirrored and wooden design that held golden, lacquered low planter boxes filled with roses, peegee hydrangeas, dahlias, and accents of greenery paired with candles atop gilt candlesticks. 

While enjoying a delicious sit-down dinner service, friends and family were blown away with the vista of the National Mall featuring a direct view of the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument in the background. For dessert, friends and family indulged in a three-tiered wedding cake, as well as a dessert table displaying mini cheesecake bites, s'mores bars, chocolate-coconut brownies, mini pop tarts, carrot cake pops, and key lime pie bites, in addition to the glazed donuts and cookie ice-cream sandwiches that were passed around the dance floor throughout the fun and festive evening. “We were lucky to have amazing weather, which allowed us to not have the dance-floor portion of our reception area tented,” describes Kelly. “Instead, we strung lights across the dance floor and everyone danced the night away with amazing views of the monuments in the background.” 

As Kelly and Peter look back on their special day, the couple shares their advice to other couples: “Take a few moments throughout your wedding day to stop and really take it all in. After all of the months of planning, your wedding day will fly by, but just try to enjoy every moment of it.”