Using history as a backdrop

With a presidential inauguration behind us, the cherry blossoms due to bloom in the months ahead and spring quickly approaching, wedding bells are sure to be ringing through the marble halls of Washington. Today, young couples strive to host the perfect wedding, but the perfect wedding cannot be complete without the perfect location.

Washington, D.C., has plenty of beautiful and original locations for couples to tie the knot. From the grand white monuments of the National Mall to the alluring gardens of historical presidential homes, the District of Columbia can serve as a backdrop some very elegant wedding ceremonies.

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In recent years, some weddings in the D.C. area have been almost as historical as the locations themselves. A prime example is President Lincoln’s Cottage — the white cottage in which Abraham Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation during the summer of 1862 still serves as a reminder to guests of freedom and equality, and it has just recently started renting out the grounds to couples for what can be the most important day of their lives.

Last April, Lincoln’s Cottage held not only its first wedding, but also the first same-sex wedding ceremony to take place on a military base.

“It was kind of a big deal,” said Sahand Miraminy the events coordinator for Lincoln’s Cottage.

The lucky couple was Dan Vukelich, a self-proclaimed Lincoln buff, and Travis Hollenbeck, a former military paramedic. They had originally planned on holding the ceremony in Florida but quickly changed their minds after a tour of the grounds. The historic significance, coupled with D.C.’s acceptance of same-sex marriages, played an important role in their decision — not to mention it was also less expensive.

Package deals range anywhere from $4,250 to $15,000.

“It was important to us to spend our money in D.C. if we were going to do it,” said Vukelich. “Not only because it’s where we live, but more importantly, it’s the jurisdiction that’s kind of supporting us.”

Despite a little evening rain, the wedding “ended up flowing really well,” said Vukelich.

Most weddings do not come with the opportunity for guests to roam the halls of the home of one of the most famous families in American history while having the chance to get up close and personal with historical artifacts. The beauty and uniqueness of the site was enough to replace the glitz and glamour often associated with a wedding. Instead, they focused on the little things.

“It was very informal,” Vukelich said.

“It wasn’t like a forced ‘sit down, eat a meal,’ you know,” Hollenbeck said. “We had a string quartet, but just good food, beer and liquor, really.”

Despite the fun and celebration of the evening, the couple did take a moment to reflect on the significance of the occasion and the location.

“Those of us who are Lincoln buffs — even if you’re not, that’s hallowed ground,” Vukelich said. “I mean, not just because he and his family walked through those very rooms, but he [Lincoln] wrote the Emancipation Proclamation in that house. So to be there was very special to us, and I think our guests appreciated it as well.”

For Hollenbeck, the images of civil war surrounding the cottage while Lincoln desperately tried to reunite the country once again was also worthy of reflection for the former military paramedic.

“The cottage is there, but it was also an active military base at that time, so there were a lot of wounded soldiers, and then you’ve got the graveyard in the backyard and he’s right in the middle, surrounded by war, plus he’s seeing fresh graves every day, so it’s weighing pretty heavily [on him],” said Hollenbeck. “It’s a unique piece of land up there. It’s kind of the hidden gem of D.C.”

The availability of the site makes it a good choice for those who want to waste little time waiting for the special day to arrive.

“We are pretty lax about things as long as we have availability,” said Miraminy. “We have a lot of availability on the weekends, but we would prefer notice about a month in advance.”