The last time I was in Virginia, and stopped by Washington D.C.- I was on a week-long vacation with my parents during a break in my Summer college classes. We had driven down, which felt like it took 15 hours (when in reality it had only taken a little over six) and stayed at a resort that was- no exaggeration- in the middle of the woods in West Virginia. The closest civilization and WiFi connection was at a rest stop approximately several miles away.
As cut-off as we were- I had a great time. I spent my days hiking, lounging by the pool, playing mini-golf, and watching syndicated ‘Criminal Minds’ episodes on the REALLY old TV I had in my room at the resort- which in hindsight- is not an appropriate program to watch when you’re in a VERY rural, wooded area and no one can hear you scream…
… Anyway! Last week I once again made the trip to Virginia- solo this time (and in a very nice rental car because I didn’t want to put the mileage on my poor little KIA. It’s been through enough!) to stay in tiny- but very pretty- Alexandria. The trip wasn’t solely to enjoy a nice long drive or satisfy my ‘Walking Dead’ fanatic side, of course- but to attend a wedding with my BFF from San Diego, Duncan! His long-time friend Linda, who lives in the Alexandria area- was getting hitched to her now-husband, Arash- and Duncan was flying in for the ceremony.
On Friday, after a few traffic jams (thanks, New Jersey Turnpike)– I arrived in Alexandria just a couple of hours after Duncan’s flight had landed and he had gotten situated. My accommodations were MUCH different than my last stay in Virginia, by the way. I stayed at the Westin Alexandria, where the view was a little less woodsy and a little more populated- and I didn’t have to drive twenty minutes to find places to eat, shop, or check my e-mails.
No sooner had I checked into my room and dropped off my bag when I had to turn right back around and hurry over to Shamshiry in nearby Vienna to meet up with Duncan and introduce myself to the then soon-to-be-newlyweds for the first time at their rehearsal dinner. Arash is from what I quickly discovered is a very big and VERY fun Persian family- so Shamshiry seemed like the ideal place to get everyone together pre-nuptials to eat and toast the couple. I was so happy to see Duncan again (it’s been months) and meet some of he and Linda’s friends.
Also? I’ve never tried Persian food/dishes before- and it was really, really good!
While Friday night had been sunny but cool outside- Saturday morning was a snowy, sleeting, mess. I had opened the curtains to my hotel room, saw what was going on outside- and pretty much just closed them back up immediately and tried to forget about what was happening. THANKFULLY, the snow gradually turned to rain, and then the rain gradually turned into sunshine- and even though it was pretty cold outside for the remainder of the day- the conditions were much better for Linda and Arash’s wedding in the afternoon.
The ceremony was beautiful. I loved Linda’s dress (and the bridesmaids all looked stunning in their matching deep red colors!) and by the time the actual ceremony had finished- we still had enough time to get over and get approved by security for the reception at Fort Belvoir. Up until now, I’d never been on an actual military base- and I wasn’t sure what to expect- but WOW that place was huge. I didn’t realize bases were pretty much isolated towns- but there was a gas station, a pizza place, a hospital, schools- and a Starbucks (granted, it was closed, but still.)
The only thing Fort Belvoir didn’t have was power. The electricity around a section of the base had been unexpectedly cut out by a fallen tree- and part of that section included the Officers Hall where Linda and Arash’s reception was going to take place. Despite a potential disaster- spirits remained high. The Officers Hall was gorgeous, and I think everyone was too busy admiring the scenery (and enjoying the open bar) to really notice that the lights were out. When it started to get darker and darker in the room- and candles seemed to be in high demand- the lights magically turned back on. Just in time.
Duncan and I agreed the snow/sleet and then the power outage would be a memorable (and admittedly pretty funny) story for Linda and Arash to tell years and years from now when talking about their special day.
With the lights back on and the DJs able to play some music- it didn’t take long for the party to kick off. I had SO. MUCH. FUN. dancing with Duncan, his friends, the bridesmaids, and even some of Linda and Arash’s family. The speeches from the best man, the Maid of Honor, and the proud fathers of the bride and groom were really emotional and moving- and even though I didn’t participate in the bouquet toss- I thought one of the little girls walking away with the flowers was a really sweet touch.
Duncan and I stayed late into the night, but we had a few things to do the following day- and we had to bid farewell to everyone so we could head off base and back into town.
I was scheduled to drive home on Sunday afternoon, but Duncan and I had wanted to grab brunch with a friend of his who was also in town for the weekend and do a little sight-seeing, first. It’s not every day we get to spend time together- or time in D.C. for that matter- so we wanted to make the most of it.
Although the initial brunch plans fell through- we had managed to grab some great lattes at Bourbon Coffee before we went for a long stroll around the Washington Monument, the National Mall and Reflecting Pool, and The White House. The weather was considerably better throughout the afternoon than it had been in the previous days and when it came time for me to say a tearful goodbye to Duncan and head back to my car- I had left my coat in the backseat and cracked the windows down throughout my eight hour drive home.
Overall I had an INCREDIBLE time. I can’t thank Duncan enough for inviting me to be his guest and being such a gentleman throughout our weekend together (he has perfect manners!)– and I also have to thank Linda and Arash for including me in their most magical of days. Should you two ever see this post- I wish you both nothing but the best as you start this new chapter of your lives together. You’re a beautiful and inspiring couple!
I really do love Virginia and D.C.- and I’d like to go back sooner than later and for a longer stay next time!