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WASHINGTON WEDDINGS Sally Stiebel and Mark Ein MARRIEDSEPTEMBER^ Mark Ein is a businessman and investor. He is CEO of Venturehouse Group and founder of the World TeamTennis’ Washington Kastles. Sally Stiebel, a UVA graduate, is a policy analyst with Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti, a government relations firm in Washington. THEWEDDING_ The grand affair took place at Ein and Stiebel’s new residence, the Beall-Washington House, formerly owned by Katharine Graham. Honeymoon in Lake Como, Italy. DETAILS_ The bride wore Vera Wang with Christian Louboutin heels. The groom wore a Brunello Cucinelli tuxedo; a custom Charvet tuxedo shirt; Tom Ford bowtie, cummerbund and shoes; and vintage Cartier studs and cufflinks. Wedding planner David Stark Design and Production, Donna Newman Photography, Films by Francesco Videography, catered by Design Cuisine, six-tier round cake by Fluffy Thoughts Cakes. Music by Élan Chamber Strings, Ira Gonzales 5 Piece Bossa Nova group, The Hot Sardines, DJ Hapa and The Village People, with a performance from the English Beat at the rehearsal dinner. SPECIALTOUCHES_Embedded in their custom monograms were the initials “EAWO” (everything always works out), which was the wedidng theme and the couple’s personal motto. NOTABLEGUESTS_ Sen. Mark Warner, Jonathan and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Valerie Jarrett, Larry Summers, Ted and Lynn Leonsis, Raul and Jean-Marie Fernandez, Kay Kendall and Jack Davies, Russ and Norma Ramsey, Mitch and Emily Rales, Reed and Delphine Krakoff, Josh and Marjorie Harris, Tony Blinken and Evan Ryan, Murphy Johnson.



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Erika Paola Gutierrez and Rodrigo Garcia MARRIEDMARCH^ Erika is the president and founder of epgPR, a Washington public relations firm. Rodrigo is the owner of Serendipity3 restaurant in Georgetown. THESTORY_The daughter of former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and the son of Marlena Cooke, the widow of former Redskins owner and billionaire businessman Jack Kent Cooke, met in 2008 through mutual friends. Two years later, they were engaged at Little Palm Island in the Florida Keys. THEWEDDING_Classic, romantic Latin-themed at Renaissance-style Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami, Fla. Honeymoon in Maldives. DETAILS_ The bride wore Marchesa gown and veil, gold Stuart Weitzman heels, her mother’s diamond tennis bracelet, an ivory rose in her hair and three long-stem lavender roses, the groom’s favorite. The groom wore an ivory tuxedo jacket and black tuxedo pants with a blackand-white pocket square. Produced by Jackie Ohh Events. Carlos Baez Photography, Mena Catering, Digby & Rose stationery, Gipsy Kings cover band, f lowers by Avant Gardens. SPECIALTOUCHES_Bilingual ceremony (Spanish/English), traditional Mexican lasso and gold coin blessing ceremonies. FAVORITEPART_ The bride’s dance with her father. “When it was time for us to dance, we barely moved. We just stood there and hugged each other,” Erica said. NOTABLEGUESTS_Mr. and Mrs. Rafat Mahmood, Esther Coopersmith, Morton and Grace Bender, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson and Michael and Mariela Trager joined in the mix of Washington society and politicos.


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Jenée Moore and Gerald Padmore MARRIEDAUGUST^ Jenée is the daughter of high-tech executive Mark and Brenda Moore (who donated $1 million to the new Smithsonian African American History Museum). She is a student earning a second bachelor’s degree in fine arts photography at Howard University. Gerald is the son of Trypetus E. Cooper Padmore and Gerald Padmore Sr. and is an entrepreneur. THESTORY_Passionate volunteers, Jenée and Gerald met at a community organization function. Later, they ran into each other and exchanged numbers. Gerald proposed after the couple watched a Redskins game in the bride’s father’s owner’s suite at Fedex Field. THEWEDDING_ Four hundred guests were treated to a sumptuous affair organized by event planner Andre Wells, who heeded the couple’s desire for an elegant wedding and reception that mixed African culture and personal touches at Dunbarton Chapel and Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium. Honeymoon in Bora Bora, French Polynesia. DETAILS_The bride wore Pnina Tornai; the groom Tom James Company custom tuxedo. SPECIALTOUCHES_ A photo booth for guests, a 5-foot-tall Sylvia Weinstock cake and eight 15-foot-tall oak trees adorned with Spanish moss and candles adding to the reception’s enchanted forest ambience. FAVORITEPART_ When specialty entertainment act, The Drumatics, joined guests on the dance floor for an interactive jam session. NOTABLEGUESTS_ Celebrity DJ MC Lyte, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Earl Stafford, CEO and President of Northern Virginia Urban League Cynthia Dinkins.

Victoria Lee Ingenito and Taylor Rees Shapiro MARRIEDOCTOBER^ Victoria is a senior health policy analyst for UnitedHealth Group. Taylor covers the Fairfax County Public School System for the Washington Post.

THESTORY_ The daughter of a pharmaceutical executive and a thoroughbred horse breeder met the son of longtime Washington Post sportswriter Len Shapiro and Middleburg Life founder and Washington Life columnist Vicky Moon in 2004 while playing polo at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va. Taylor proposed during Washington National Cathedral’s candlelight Christmas Eve service before 3,000 onlookers. THEWEDDING_ An Art Deco ceremony at The Willard Hotel and Crystal Room combined the couple’s Jewish and Italian heritage. Honeymoon in Istanbul, Turkey and Paris, France. DETAILS_ The bride wore Jenny Packham with custom-made satin and pearl peep-toe pumps, her paternal grandmother’s 1920s diamond watch and wedding ring, maternal great grandmother’s early 1900s pearl drop earrings and grandfather’s powder-blue handkerchief. The groom wore white piqué tuxedo shirt, Indochino custom midnight-blue shawl-collar tuxedo, Maus & Hoffman black velvet tuxedo slippers with skull and crossbones and a Stout Woodworks wood wedding band. Wedding coordinator Christina Canalez. Live It Out Photography. Willard Chef O’Hanlan. William Arthur Stationery. Elan Artists and The Blue Tips Rhythm Review, Bill Enright of Edge Floral Design. SPECIALTOUCHES_The vows penned by Taylor, a longtime friend officiating as 85 guests surrounded the couple, the song “Digital Love” by favorite band Daft Punk reimagined by jazz group Elan Artists at ceremony’s end, 5,000 cookies baked by the bride’s mother. NOTABLEGUESTS_ A mix of Capitol Hill staffers and government contractors.



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Sandra Conchar and Aleco Bravo Greenberg MARRIEDJUNE ^ The only child of Karen and Robert Conchar, Sandra was raised an accomplished equestrian. He is a real estate investor and executive producer in Fresh Produce Entertainment and the stepson of the late Herman Greenberg and Mrs. Herman Greenberg, and the son of the late matador Jaime Bravo. THESTORY_ After rooting for Sandra, a former national sidesaddle champion, at a competition his family sponsored, Aleco introduced himself. They’ve been together ever since. THEWEDDING_ The sunset ceremony and reception took place at the groom’s family’s 1740 estate, Rutledge Farm, in Middleburg, Va. and was attended by 350 guests who enjoyed barbecue and dancing into the wee hours. Honeymoon in South Beach and West Palm Beach. DETAILS_ The bride wore Alfredo Angelo; the groom Ralph Lauren. Jordan Koepke Photography, cake by Little Apple Pastry Shop, flowers by Corner Garden and Music Now Entertainment. SPECIALTOUCHES_An American flag planted next to the couple representing Aleco’s stepfather who died in February 2010, sunflowers and Aleco playing matador with Sandra’s dress in honor of his father Jaime Bravo. FAVORITEPART_The bride’s arrival by horse-drawn carriage. NOTABLEGUESTS_A mix of Washington, Las Vegas and Hollywood plus Middleburg equestrians and polo players with presiding official Hon. William Newman and Sheila Johnson, flower girl Terry Moore, best man Preston and Anita Madden and ring bearer Jaime Bravo.


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Kiki Ryan and Tim Burger MARRIEDMARCH^ Kiki is a public relations manager at Susan G. Komen and former journalist with Politico, MSNBC and the Washington Examiner. Tim is a crisis communications consultant and writer and former journalist for Time, New York Daily News, Bloomberg, Roll Call and Legal Times. THESTORY_The couple met as reporters in 2009. He proposed August 2012 outside the famed Casino building on Southern California’s Catalina Island, the site of the bride’s parents’ first kiss over 50 years ago. THEWEDDING_Rustic Art Deco at Mission Santa Inés, decorated with historic frescoes with a reception at Sunstone Winery, Bride’s Cottage at Alisal Ranch. Honeymoon on the Paul Gaugin luxury cruise to Tahiti. DETAILS_The bride wore Carolina Herrera, a sterling rosary that the bride’s grandfather gave her mother on her wedding day, and her great-greatgrandmother’s cameo, Kate Spade shoes and her mother’s blue garter. The groom wore steel gray Burberry suit with a skinny black tie. Produced by Tara Bassi Party Design, Allyson Magda Photography, New West Catering, Digby Rose Stationery, music by KC Campbell of VOX DJs, f lowers by Mindy Rice. SPECIALTOUCHES_Side trips and nods to the location’s appearance in the wine-themed film “Sideways” and a hashtag and Instagram for friends’ photos of the wedding. “It was so fun being able to see everyone’s pictures — hundreds of them — in one spot,” the bride said. MEMORABLEMOMENT_The bride’s father’s toast, encouraging the couple to tell each other daily: “I love you more than yesterday.” “And we do,” said the bride. NOTABLEGUESTS_Polson Kanneth, editorial producer at “ABC World News withDiane Sawyer”; Politico Senior Producer Christine Delargy; Michael and Mary Kathryn Steel; Google’s Rob Saliterman; and former senior advisor to Pres. George W. Bush Barry Jackson.

Claire Anna Kimsey and Benjamin Bailey Edwards MARRIEDMAY ^ Anna is senior vice president and education practice director for Dutko Grayling. Benjamin is a policy director for Aviation, Science and Space at the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation THESTORY_The couple met in 2009 when Bailey struck up a conversation with her during a flight to Atlanta. In August 2011, while on a trip to New Orleans, he proposed at his favorite restaurant.

Alison Starling and Peter Alexander MARRIEDAPRIL^ Alison is an anchor with WJLA ABC7. Peter is the White House correspondent for NBC News. THESTORY_The couple met as reporters at competing news stations in Seattle in 2002. After a long-distance courtship, they got engaged beneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris.



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Sophia Hunt and Mark Stafford MARRIEDSEPTEMBER^ Sophia is the daughter of the late Yvonne Hunt and John Hunt Jr. She is a project manager for a government contractor. Mark is the son of philanthropists Earl and Amanda Stafford. He is CEO of Wentworth Group Entertainment and director of CAYA Ministries. THESTORY_Sophia met Mark through a mutual friend. After running into each other three times, the two finally sat down together over a meal where Mark realized he would marry Sophia one day. THEWEDDING_Alfred Street Baptist Church followed by a contemporary reception at Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium for the couple’s 325 guests. DETAILS_ The bride wore Ines DiSanto. The groom wore a custom-made tuxedo from Geoffrey Lewis Ltd Custom Tailors. SPECIALTOUCHES_Event planner Andre Wells helped bring the couple’s dream wedding to life with creative food stations offering West Indian and Soul Food paying homage to the couple’s cultural backgrounds, a six-tiered cake with elements from the bride’s gown, and artist Demont Pinder’s onsite portrait of the couple’s first dance. FAVORITEPART_ “The exchanging of vows was a very special moment. Seeing the reception at the historic Mellon and being surrounded by loved ones, sharing amazing food and dancing,” said the bride. NOTABLEGUESTS_ A mix of philanthropic and business leaders.

Music — The Key Element to Any Successful Wedding Celebration BY A N DY KU S H N E R , E N T E R TA I N M E N T D E S I G N E R , A N DY KU S H N E R E N T E R TA I N M E N T


veryone’s lasting memory is whether or not they had a great time. Music is the single-most driving force in determining the success of any wedding celebration.What can you do to ensure you have the best entertainment possible? When researching a band, there are five Andy Kushner critical elements: First, singers must not (Photo by Rodney Bailey) only present a professional and energetic image they must have amazing voices that move you emotionally. Second is the talent of the instrumentalists, which is often overlooked with a focus on the singers. The rhythm section establishes the musical feel getting people excited to dance.Third, lead singers must know how to connect and engage a crowd. It’s a highly specialized skill to not simply give a performance for people to dance to but rather to make every person feel like they are part of a shared experience. Fourth, the leader must be someone you can connect and relate with and who exhibits great leadership skills since they set the tone for the band, which then sets the tone for the party. Fifth is stability of reputation. It’s natural to have turnover just as in any business. Therefore, research their consistency of success. Ignore what talent providers say about themselves. Investigate press, awards and testimonials they have actually received. Seek out what other clients say about the act and the person who formed and leads them. Ask industry professionals whom they recommend and why. Bands provide more energy than a DJ, however, some people prefer to hear songs as they were originally recorded. Have a thorough meeting or call with your prospective DJ because they can make or break the party. Word of mouth is the best judge of how good they are at packing a dance floor. My personal philosophy is to custom-design the flow of the performance for each individual client and create an emotionally impactful experience. Most acts do what they do at every other person’s wedding. Each bride and groom has their own vision and so the entertainment must adjust their presentation to be unique to every client. Thoroughly research your options. If you have an event designer/planner, put them in touch with your entertainer’s point of contact early in the planning process. Express your personal vision. It is the day and time for you and every one of your guests to have the most amazing party you have dreamed of. Great planning and collaboration is what will make that dream come true!

Named a “Top 25 Trendsetter,” multi-award-winning entertainment designer Andy Kushner turns simple ideas into extraordinary celebrations by custom-designing music for each individual bride’s wedding. Among clients and top event designers and planners, Andy has a reputation for his precise attention to scale, budget and personalization. To learn more about how he is transforming the traditional way of doing things with entertainment, visit his website or contact him at 301-869-8855 and


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Washington Weddings  

From the February 2014 issue of Washington Life Magazine

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