Story by: Jennie Whistler • Photo by: Amy Tewalt from Generations Photography
The church has been booked; the entrees chosen; the dress has been pressed and family has arrived. It’s been a hectic eight months since Lauren Hidalgo and Kelby Gassman won the 2013 Dream Wedding Giveaway and the time has finally come for them to take the short walk down the aisle to enjoy the rest of their lives together. Read on for all the details on the ceremony, the food, the dress and this couple’s journey to marital bliss.
Friday, October 11, 2013 – 7 p.m.
Charlie Palmer’s Steak House
Crystal twinkles in the soft, low lighting of Charlie Palmer’s Steak House, located in the foggy shadow of the U.S. Capitol building. A fine, misty drizzle is falling, but the air inside couldn’t be more electric. Waiters zip back and forth in crisply pressed shirts and vests and elegant strains of music waft in through the private dining room as the guests of Kelby Gassman and Lauren Hidalgo’s wedding trickle in.
Hidalgo, in a dark red, sleeveless dress and Gassman, looking sharp in a crisp suit, welcome their family and friends with laughter and smiles. As cocktail hour comes to a close and guests take their seats for a three-course meal, the family begins the welcoming process. After a blessing from the couple’s priest, Gassman’s grandmother and grandfather make a welcome. Family has arrived from all over the world—Utah, Canada and Scotland—to share in this joyous event. They smile broadly as they pronounce to be overjoyed that Hidalgo is, “part of the family now.”
A bibb lettuce and endive salad with smoky bacon starter is followed by a choice of either steak or grilled salmon, and accompanied by a constant stream of wine from DuCard Vineyards. For dessert, sweet and sticky fruit cobbler or crème brulee, while family and friends laughed, clinked glasses and toasted a long and happy marriage to the almost-newlyweds.
Saturday, October 12, 2013 – 10 a.m.
St. Robert Bellarmine Chapel
St. Robert Bellarmine Chapel is a small but warm and reverent building located on George Mason University campus. Gray morning light pours in through the colorful stained glass window above the main pulpit casting bright shadows on the sprays of orange, purple and green flowers from A Flower Blooms. Soft music plays and guests gather for the traditional Catholic ceremony, and finally, it’s here. The wedding of Kelby Gassman and Lauren Hidalgo begins.
A rich solo, performed by Floyd Jones, leads the bride in on the arm of her father. Hidalgo is stunning in a flowing white gown with delicate beading and a billowing train. The sight of her brings a glowing smile to Gassman’s face as she appears in the double doorway. As they meet at the end of the aisle, neither one seems nervous—only joy is shining out as they join hands beside the pulpit.
The ceremony opens with a prayer and a hymn, sung by the entire congregation and continues with blessings, jubilant songs and readings from friends and family. It is a ceremony steeped in rich tradition and devotion; a ceremony that underlines the sacredness of marriage and honor through love, support and trust. It is about the joining together of two families to make one; a solid partnership, through good times and bad. As Hidalgo and Gassman slip the rings on each other’s fingers and recite the traditional and sacred vows, Gassman wipes a blissful tear from Hidalgo’s cheek. The two say, “I do,” and become one.
Saturday, October 12, 2013 – 12:30 p.m.
After the ceremony, the wedding party makes its way to the elegant Foxchase Manor in Manassas for the reception. Grand white pillars and curled molding adorn the façade and neatly groomed hedges march along the border. This stately manor opens into a foyer ornamented with heavy velvet curtains along the back wall, hiding the main dining room from view. Guests sample hors d’oeuvres of mini, spicy crab cakes, shrimp with delicate dipping sauce and caprese skewers.
Guests take full advantage of the photo booth, provided by Photo in a Box, adorning silly hats and feather boas to take pictures that they’ll leave in a book as a gift for the newly wedded couple. After about an hour, the announcement is made and guests are finally invited into the main dining hall.
A wide and sunny room with floor-length windows and butter yellow walls opens as the red velvet curtains are raised. Tables with white linen clothes and tall bouquets of orange lilies and purple roses surround a dance floor. Crystal chandeliers glitter in the afternoon sun and relaxed strains of jazz from the live band, Big Ray and the Kool Kats, float amongst the crowd. We wait with anticipation to welcome the new couple. However, no one quite expects the entrance they receive.
The wedding party is announced two-by-two and as they enter, making their way to the dance floor. Once Kelby and Lauren arrive, without warning, the entire wedding party suddenly breaks into an unexpected choreographed dance number to the upbeat and apropos, “Marry You,” by Bruno Mars. The guests jump to their feet with cheers as the wedding party boogies through their way through a medley of songs, from Beyonce’s, “Crazy in Love,” to “Love Shack,” by the B-52s. It’s a delightful surprise and a perfect representation of this fun-loving and energetic couple.
Once the group strikes a final pose and the cheering and the laughter dies down, Kelby and Lauren come together for their first official dance as husband and wife. Love is clearly in the air; the couple is on their own cloud nine, singing along to the song, kissing and smiling their way through. As the song ends, guests ebb in and around the couple to give their congratulations. As the celebration continues, the meal begins, catered by Better Events Catering.
It starts with a crisp salad of tossed greens, tomatoes, carrots and peppers, drizzled with vinaigrette and is followed by a buffet of delectable entrees. London broil is grilled with shitake mushrooms in a rich mushroom gravy and chicken Florentine is stuffed with fresh spinach, cheese and onions in a roasted red pepper sauce. The entrees are accompanied by buttery green beans and stuffed red bliss potatoes. A pile of pillowy dinner rolls and sweet cream butter round out the meal with a station of freshly brewed coffee. For dessert, guests enjoy Pinkberry frozen yogurt with an array of tasty toppings like cheesecake bites, granola and fresh fruit. And of course—who can forget the cake? A tier of assorted cupcakes by Cupcakes Actually replaces a traditional wedding cake so guests can pick their favorite flavor from pumpkin spice, almond, chocolate or vanilla.
The cake cutting follows the meal and the couple gathers around the four-tiered groom’s cake, make by Swiss Bakery. The cake is festooned with images of winged dragons, knights and maidens in distress—it looks like something straight out of a fairy tale. The couple cuts into the vanilla sponge cake with mocha buttercream and give each other a gentle taste—no food fighting here.
Winning a wedding contest is a strange thing; the couple attains a multitude of services from a variety of different vendors, and then is tasked with making the wedding a personal affair. Kelby and Lauren managed to do this with grace and humility. Everything from the quirky table numberings and stationary to their big intro dance to the cakes and even the flower arrangements was a perfect showcase of their own personalities and interests.
When asked about their experience, Lauren responds gracefully, “We felt so lucky to win back in March and even more so on the wedding day,” although she admits that the last six months have been nothing short of a whirlwind. “It was definitely stressful at times, “she says, but “I think the day of and the rehearsal/rehearsal dinner went great, everything went off without a hitch.”
So how does one deal with the “whirlwind” of vendors, family and emotions?
“There was a moment during the reception when Kelby and I could finally stop to catch a breath. We didn’t say anything and we just looked around. It was so awesome to see all our friends and family bustling about having a good time and [we reveled] in the fact that they were all here to see us get married. All that joy in the room was because they cared about us and wanted to witness us hand ourselves over to one another. It was really an amazing feeling.”