Story by Liesel Schmidt + Photography by VNESS Photography
When Leah Freeman swiped right on Matthew Petroff back in February of 2018, she had no idea that this one would truly be IT. And their first date? Unforgettable. “We had a fabulous first date in Georgetown with a massive cheese plate and French 75s followed by beers and live music at Ri Ra. It was truly a great time,” Leah recalls before breaking out into laughter. “Matt was a total lightweight!”
That “total lightweight” made an impression though. Matt eventually moved to Charlotte a few months into dating. After a brief pause, the two decided to regain contact. By January of 2019, they entered a long-distance relationship. In the end, love won out. By the end of August, Matt moved back to DC and in with Leah.
Three days after Christmas of that year, Matt gave Leah a gift that far surpassed any that had been under the tree. “We’d been at my parents’ place in Westchester, New York, for the holidays,” explains Leah, a government contractor who works as a Senior Communications Specialist, while Matt works as a Marketing and Proposal Manager. “Matt had told me to pack something nice for this place that he’d found for dinner—as if I normally dress like a troll,” she says in an aside, her sense of humor clearly evident. “By the time that day arrived, I swear Matt changed the plans five times. Dinner became brunch. The 2:00 p.m. reservation became 1:00 p.m. When we finally arrived at Harvest on Hudson, we had a fantastic brunch accompanied by many peach Bellinis (I got the carafe). Afterward, we walked out by the water and Matt got down on one knee. He’d gotten a professional photographer to capture the moment and do our engagement photos, which we took full advantage of.”
11 months later on November 21, 2020, Leah dressed in a simple yet stunning ivory crepe dress and walked down the aisle in the Sunken Garden at Mount Vernon, taking one step at a time toward her future—a walk that had not been without challenges. “The week before Matt and I were set to get married, Virginia changed their restrictions for events with 250 people down to 25,” Leah says. “We had to disinvite two-thirds of our guests and replan our event entirely, so we decided to use our rehearsal location as our new venue. For replanning a wedding in two days, it was honestly gorgeous.
Having been pronounced as married, the wedding party shifted to the Verandah Room for an elegant plated dinner and a celebration that culminated with Leah’s cake to end all cakes: a two-tier naked cake made with vanilla sponge layered with fresh strawberries and vanilla buttercream with a white chocolate drizzle and topped with fresh fruit. It was a sweet finish to their day—though the fun of their honeymoon is yet to come. Better still? Their big wedding party is booked for December 2021 at the Alexandrian as originally planned. And while they might still be awaiting that day, they’re glad to have already started their FOREVER.
Venue: Mount Vernon • Photographer: VNESS Photography • Gown: BHLDN • Tux: Nordstrom Rings: Mervis Diamonds • Cake: Alexandria Pastry Shop • Hair/Makeup: Emily Hilden • Flowers: Petal’s Edge • Coordinator: Jessica McMahon