Wedding Planning Advice from #ZolaCouple Sara and Jesse

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This newly married #ZolaCouple fell in love over Nationals games, buffalo wings, and cheap beer. What’s their trick to planning a wedding while balancing demanding jobs and taking care of their dog Lou? A “no computer at the dinner table” rule that allows them to compartmentalize their various responsibilities while putting each other first.

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How did you meet?
Jesse and I met while participating in a walk for the homeless with mutual friends on the National Mall in DC (where we live) in November, 2010.  However, we re-met and hit it off further at a neighborhood bar in February 2011 – and the rest is history! We fell in love over Nationals games, trips to local beaches and lakes, and buffalo wings with cheap beer :).

How did you get engaged? 
Jesse and I became proud parents to a 10-week-old Brittany Spaniel, Lou, in July 2013 – a week after we moved in together. Lou has been our best friend and has completed our family ever since that day. Jesse of course had to include him in our engagement story, and he did so in a great way – the three of us went walking along a bridge in Adams Morgan (the neighborhood in DC that we live) the morning after my 28th birthday. This is a bridge we frequently walked with Lou, and Jesse proposed as we were mid-way across the bridge, overlooking Rockcreek Parkway (a beautiful scenic area). The best part is that he completely surprised me further by pulling together all of my friends and family at a favorite bar for celebratory drinks afterwards!  Every single one of them were at my birthday party the night before, and no one blew the secret that this was about to happen!

What was the first thing you did after you got engaged?
Jesse and I love to travel. Every year after my birthday we try to take a fun trip together.  The week we got engaged we went to visit friends in Austin, TX and a few weeks after that we visited friends in Denver, CO – both places Jesse was very familiar with but I had never been to!  We had a great time celebrating our engagement with friends over live music, great beer and food, fun hikes in Boulder, and trips in our friend’s convertible throughout Austin.

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Favorite cocktail? Sara: Pimms Cup (our wedding cocktail!) Jesse: Bud Light (it never gets old!)

Who’s the cook between the two of you? I have to give credit to Jesse – while we both like to wow our friends and each other with new recipes, Jesse whips up the best 5-star, healthy, comfort food meals in DC – all after a hard day of work, taking Lou to the dogpark, and fitting in a workout!  Last night, as our first dinner at home as a married couple, he made a twist on Braciole (a favorite Italian recipe of my family’s) – using our new immersion blender to whip together a sauce of so many vegetables, spices, cheeses, meats, and wine that I couldn’t get enough of!

Ideal night in?   Cooking together, drinking too much wine, catching up on reality tv, snuggling with Lou, and one-on-one Apples To Apples if I get my way.

Favorite way to relax together?  “Urbanhiking” – going for long walks with Lou throughout DC’s gorgeous and unique neighborhoods.

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Any tips for balancing wedding planning with your everyday busy life?
It’s crucial to prioritize soon after you get engaged what is important to each of you individually and as a couple to make sure you stay true to yourselves throughout the wedding planning process.  Jesse and I both have very busy, demanding, yet rewarding jobs.  One factor that we decided early on in dating was that we needed to put 100% effort into our jobs but we also couldn’t lose site of one another; our relationship is what matters at the end of the day. After moving in together, we (specifically, Jesse) established a “no computer at the dinner table” rule — and (while I sometimes break it) that’s a motto for how we try to live our relationship — compartmentalizing our various roles and responsibilities while putting each other first. Jesse and I are both very healthy, active, and outgoing people – and it was important to keep this in mind and never let wedding planning or wedding stress, similar to our jobs, get in the way of fitting in a workout, taking our dog for a walk together, going to out to dinner with friends, or picking out our wedding cupcakes (coconut, lemon blueberry, and dulce de leche- mmm)!  At the end of the day –  engagement and wedding planning should be fun!

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What are you most excited for on your registry?
Jesse and I have an extreme love for cooking – and drinking while doing so :).  Given this, my mom has essentially gifted me a full kitchen over the last decade so we didn’t need to start from scratch. Our registry was a chance to upgrade the essentials and throw in a few fancier, more special items that speak to our personal tastes.  Jesse was most excited for our new set of Cuisinart 15-piece Knife Block Set and Cuisinart Chef’s Classic 11-Piece Hard Anodized Cookware Set.  Sure enough, we use these both nearly every day — and I love watching Jesse’s face light up when he playfully brags about his fancy new knife skills as he’s slicing and dicing meat and veggies for our healthy meals. I would be lying if I said that the Schott Zwiesel Classico Decanter and Old Dutch Wine Chiller weren’t two of my favorite items – both which accompany me while Jesse’s slaving over the stove. On another note, we both loved that Zola allowed us the flexibility to add items outside of what’s included in the Zola inventory.  Specifically, we organized a few cash funds for our upcoming honeymoon to Italy and Croatia, allowing guests to contribute to our flights, a sailing trip to Croatian islands, or a day trip to Tuscany.  It’s been so fun to see guests get equally excited about our honeymoon itinerary!

See some of our favorites from Sara and Jesse’s registry below and make sure to check out their entire selection here.

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1. Areaware’s Turtle Box
2. Cuisinart’s Griddler
3. Reed Wilson Design’s East Coasters

Images || Engagement photos via Bonnie Sen of Bonnie Sen Creative Photography


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