After spending all that money on the dress and the hair and the makeup (among other things), there is only one thing left to do: make sure you never forget how good you looked on your wedding day. Hence the importance of wedding photos. And couples aren't just going to the chapel for pictures, they're heading to other locations before or after the ceremony. The Jefferson, the Lincoln and the Mall are obvious choices for great scenery; here are a few of our picks for photo options off the beaten path.
Although a lot of D.C. has a decidedly urban vibe, it isn't hard to find a little greenery. At the Arboretum alone there are 446 acres of picture-appropriate locations to choose from. The azalea collection would certainly make a nice backdrop as would the grove of state trees. Or add a little architecture to the mix by heading to the curved archway of the Chinese moon gate at the bonsai museum or the freestanding Corinthian columns that once lined the east portico of the Capitol.
In search of a more aquatic backdrop? Hains Point, the tip of land where the Potomac and Anacostia rivers meet, offers a mix of views, plus lots of trees and grass. For an only-in-D.C. feel, take photos at the Tidal Basin, but if it's anytime near the Cherry Blossom peak, get there super early, unless of course you think tourists would perfectly complement the wedding party.
If a background with a view of the city is important, your first stop should be Netherlands Carillon. On a hill nestled between Arlington Cemetery and Iwo Jima, the bell tower that was a gift from the people of the Netherlands is not the only interesting site. Face away from the carillon and capture a perfect view of the Mall, the Potomac and Memorial Bridge. After that head down GW Parkway to either Gravelly Point or Lady Bird Johnson Park, where the views of the Washington skyline are at their most impressive.
If you appreciate the urban landscape and want to capture some of the D.C. architecture, I can only begin to scratch the surface. Both the colonnade facade and the arched interior of Union Station could spice up some photos, while the starkness of the Temple of the Scottish Rite would make an interesting contrast against a seafoam green wedding party. Better yet, head to Kalorama and take photos at the Spanish Steps where 22nd dead-ends off S Street. While the D.C. version isn't quite up to the caliber of Rome's, this little-known gem lined with flowers and tucked away behind a cul-de-sac is one of the more romantic spots in the city.
One other thing to note is that in May, the Park Service began charging anywhere from $50 to $250 for wedding photos. Rumor has it that the new policy isn't being strictly enforced, but it's definitely something to keep in mind.