Sentimental Ceremony + Tented Reception in Maryland

Sarah and Orlando

Photographed by: Jessica Claire PhotographyLocation: Annapolis, Maryland, United States

Although they shared a casual friendship while living in the same dormitory at Georgetown University, Sarah Siebert and “Lando” Juarez did not embark on a relationship until two years after they graduated from school. They ran into one another at the gym they both belonged to in D.C., and after exchanging several emails, Lando asked Sarah out on an official date, one they both realized was the start of something momentous.

Exactly two years later, the couple went on a weekend getaway to celebrate their anniversary — or so Sarah thought. She had packed a special anniversary present for Lando, a vintage 1920s watch (he collects antique timepieces), not knowing that he had brought along a similar gift — an engagement ring — also from the same era, which Sarah had once called her “dream ring.” After a romantic dinner, Lando proposed, surprising Sarah in their room, which had been decorated for them with petals and candles by the sneaky staff at the inn.

Sarah had always hoped to celebrate her wedding at the home where she grew up in Annapolis, Maryland, and Lando was thrilled at the prospect of making his bride’s dream a reality. So much so, he took it upon himself to write a letter to the head of the United States Naval Academy Chapel, the church where Sarah had also attended Sunday mass with her family, asking permission for them to be married there. The chapel is normally reserved for weddings of academy alumni, but armed with the hope that certain government and military affiliations (Sarah’s father is the former U.S. Ambassador to Sweden, Lando’s parents are Lieutenant Colonels in the U.S. Army, and his late father was also a soldier) and his compelling words of love for his future wife would allow them special permission, Lando pled his case.

His letter worked, and he and Sarah were married in the grand chapel during the same September weekend in which Sarah’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents were all married years before. Sarah and her father arrived at the church in a Tiffany blue vintage Mercedes driven by its owner, a dear friend of the family. To personalize the Catholic service, the bride and groom performed a special prayer called “Blessing of the Hands,” which included the moving line “May Sarah and Orlando see their four hands as healer, protector, shelter, and guide.”

Following the ceremony, the newlyweds joined their bridesmaids and groomsmen (whose tuxedos were accented by custom-made pocket squares, a nod to Lando’s signature look) for a stroll through the quaint streets of historic Annapolis to City Dock. A family friend’s yacht awaited them with champagne and balloons to transport them upriver to the reception.

Everyone else was greeted upon their arrival at the Siebert home with a glass of wine, as well as a bar boasting the couple’s take on “Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue” martinis. Complementing the mood was a Frank Sinatra impersonator who sang standards throughout the cocktail hour, as well as Sarah and Lando’s first dance song.

In college, Sarah was well known for having an affinity for the color pink, earning her dorm room the nickname “Pink Palace” because of its dominant color scheme. But for the wedding, the bride included only subtle hints of pink in the iridescent linens and ambient lighting that helped establish a décor that was meant to feel both luxurious and cozy. “I really wanted guests to feel at home, but still have a black tie party,” explains Sarah. Such was the inspiration for the tall lamps that lined each square and rectangular table and the oversized lampshades strewn with orchids that hung from overhead. Various arrangements of roses, hydrangea, and orchids all in shades of cream also decorated the tent in elegant yet lighthearted fashion. “We didn’t have a reception, we had a party,” asserts Sarah, crediting the lively band with keeping the dance floor packed all night long.

Throughout the evening, the bride and groom drank from a Nuremberg Bridal Cup, a gift from Lando’s mother and a tribute to his German descent. Its legendary design allows for two people to drink from it together, and promises love, faithfulness, and luck to those who use it. It was another one of the wedding’s many significant touches that infused a piece of personal history into Sarah and Lando’s new stage of life. “Instead of adding more costly ‘stuff’ to our wedding, we added more meaning to the day,” says the bride. “We let go of such things as stretch limos and pricier wines and instead focused on having a great party that had meaningful elements,” such as forgoing traditional favors for milk and cookies (a favorite of the father of the bride), which guests received at the end of the night.

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