Carolyn and Franco met through mutual friends. Originally from San Diego, CA, Carolyn works on the hill specializing in Energy and Environmental Policy. An Oakton, VA native, Franco works in DC for the software industry. Carolyn moved to DC and a family friend had introduced her to a close friend in the area, with the charge of making sure she got introduced to good people. The friend happily agreed, but when she found herself more than a little busy with her legal career and ten children, she delegated the task to Franco. It was not a romantic introduction at all— the two became fast friends, enjoying deep conversations about theology, politics, and love of medieval history.
Their first date was at the Iron Gate near DuPont Circle. Well, kind of. Franco had asked Carolyn to grab dinner to get to know her better but there was no thought of romance from either of them at that point. Then through a funny series of accidents we’d wound up scheduling a Friday night dinner at one of the most romantic restaurants in DC. Franco always says when he walked in his first thought was, “wow this place is amazing. I should take a date here!” Carolyn was similarly confused, wondering to herself how this semi-professional introduction had turned into a candlelit dinner. Though we were nothing but acquaintances at the time, and it wasn’t till later that we started dating, we still like to count it as our first date. Because of those conversations, they knew that we would be very good friends for a long time; they just had no idea it would be so much more than that!
Carolyn’s first Impression of Franco is gregarious, handsome, philosophical, and a little mysterious. In fact, Carolyn was in the process of telling Franco she couldn’t spend any more one-on-one time with him—though hoping she wouldn’t have to explain that it was because she was falling in love with him—only to find out that the feelings were mutual. Franco’s first Impression of Carolyn was intentional, brilliant, gorgeous!
After a few long discussions to make sure we they on the same page about the nature of marriage, they began dating! They dated for about a year before getting engaged. The two had talked early on about how if you’re asking the tough questions and dating intentionally, that a year was more than enough time to get to know each other and judge compatibility. Carolyn recalls, “I think we knew a few months (maybe weeks) into dating that we were meant for each other, but thought it was prudent to make sure all our friends and families agreed.”
They were engaged on December 8 on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at Immaculate Church. This was where they had gone on one of our first dates; it was a very early morning mass followed by 6 hours of talking over brunch. Franco carefully orchestrated with Carolyn’s entire office to get her out of work for the afternoon. I thought we were just going to a quick lunchtime mass to celebrate the Feast day, but he had other ideas. He had coordinated with the little old ladies who usually lock up the church, requesting that they keep it open later that day so Franco could ask Carolyn to marry him. She said she had that “yes” ready for months, “It was perfect and intimate in this spectacular empty church that we loved so much.” Afterwards they went to lunch where they had our first date, the Iron Gate and then sat down for cozy winter cocktails in the lobby of the Tabard Inn across the street while we called all our friends and family to share the exciting news. Carolyn and Franco were engaged for six months and a day, not that they were counting!
Carolyn and Franco wanted a certain elegance, yet simplicity, so guests could feel comfortable and able to enjoy themselves. It was very important that the wedding was all about tradition and family, which is what marriage is all about! They said, “We made sure to invite as many kids as possible and they really made the party; they were tearing up the dance floor all night long!”
“We wanted something very simple and traditional and were thrilled that the same engraver who had done my mom’s wedding invitations was still in business down in North Carolina,” said Carolyn.
Carolyn’s favorite wedding detail is her grandmother’s dress. Tang’s Alterations in Manassas handled the restoration and alterations of the 1950’s wedding gown. The bride was very complimentary of the service saying, “She did a spectacular job, walking me carefully through every step of the process and taking exquisite care with the delicate vintage silk.”
The mother of the bride made Carolyn’s veil. She wanted a traditional sheer veil with a minimal border, so her mom designed it and convinced her to go with the cathedral length!
Carolyn wore Franco’s mom’s diamond earrings that her father had given her on her wedding day. All of his sisters and nieces also wore the earrings for their weddings.
Carolyn’s shoes were simple and comfortable wedges. “I thought it was cute that they had “Franco” in the name,” Carolyn explained.
Franco’s favorite wedding detail is his Great-grandfather’s cufflinks; they’re elegant gold squares, brought over from Cuba by his family.
The reception space embraced the beautiful outdoor setting. The decor was organic with white flowers, greenery. “My mom actually brought out several huge suitcases of greens from the backyard of my childhood home which she turned into spectacular, wild looking arrangements in giant silver urns,” described Carolyn. There were white candles sprinkled throughout and warm, glowing lanterns with pale green linen napkins.
“I had a mix of green freesias, white French peonies, and vitality roses, which are very fragrant” Carolyn said, “I wanted it to smell as good as it looked!”
All of their foods were representative of their families. Many of the appetizers were variations on Cuban favorites, though they also had some California rolls to honor all the West Coast family that had made the trek out to DC. Also included are Danish blue cheese on endive with a spicy caramelized pecan. For the main course, guests had a Cuban or Danish option: flank steak with pico de gallo or salmon with a creamy dill sauce.
Carolyn’s father and Franco’s brother, both music aficionados, put a lot of thought into putting together an amazing dancing playlist.
Franco came up with a signature wedding cocktail, which he named the “Sweet Carolyn”. The base was a Cuban pineapple soda with Fris, a Danish vodka, representing heritage from both of their families.
They had one vanilla buttercream wedding cake from Buttercream Bakeshop in Shaw. Then the second cake was a kransekake, which is a traditional Danish dessert made from scratch with almond flour by the Maid of Honor and bride’s sister.
Carolyn and Franco spent their honeymoon on the island of Mo’orea in Tahiti. Initially they were planning to go to Caribbean, but with Zika still around, they opted for French Polynesia instead. Mo’orea was spectacular, with dramatic mountains that seem to rise straight out of the turquoise water. They had a fantastic time snorkeling, hiking, and touring the tiny island on their vespa.
The newlyweds say, “It is such a joy to wake up every morning next to your best friend. We were so excited to move in together and share the great joy and excitement of building a home together as newlyweds.” The two are now living happily ever after in Washington, DC.
Alterations, Tang’s Alterations, tangsalterations.com
Bride’s Shoes, Franco Sarto
Cake, Buttercream Bakeshop, buttercreamdc.com
Catering, The Chef’s Table, tctcaterers.com
DJ, Jimmy Nalley, bialeksmusic.com/djs/jimmy-nalley
Florist, Morning Bird Designs, morningbirddesigns.com
Groom’s Shoes, Magnanni
Groom’s Suit, Hugo Boss
Hair and Makeup, Fibi at Allure Spa, allurespadc.com
Invitation Suite, Reaves Engraving, reavesengraving.com
Lighting, Sammy’s Rental, sammysrental.com
Linens, DC Rental, dcrental.com
Officiant, Fr. John Vidal
Rental Company, Sammy’s Rental, sammysrental.com
Videographer, Washington’s Best, washbest.com
Wedding Party Attire, Nordstrom, shop.nordstrom.com