I Do (and Don’ts)
I Do (and Don’ts)
I Do (and Don’ts)
I Do (and Don’ts)
I Do (and Don’ts)
I Do (and Don’ts)
I Do (and Don’ts)

I Do (and Don’ts)

Design Army, Washington, DC, Washington, District of Columbia, 2010


Project brief: To highlight and showcase a collection of wedding gowns.

Approach: Wedding etiquette dictates many dos and don’ts for the happy couple. But no prenuptial protocol is more important than the look of the wedding dress. The summer/fall issue of Washingtonian Bride & Groom takes a look at the latest wedding fashions and planning faux pas, a creative project that inspired designers to declare “I do.”

We shot the magazine feature at a relatively unknown treasure in Washington, DC—the Armed Forces Retirement Home. The venue afforded us some of the most unique and unknown buildings in the nation’s capital. One location, Grant Hall, actually once served as a grand recreation facility with indoor tennis courts, dance hall and even a bowling alley. The building, which gave us shelter during a rainy first day, was dark and cavernous. Getting from one end to the other required a flashlight and a lot of courage! But what the spaces lacked in natural light, they made up for in natural beauty, not to mention built-in props. Having scouted the space weeks before the shoot, we knew we’d be able to use many of the items found in the vast hallways and basements of the buildings. The large open spaces allowed us to build our famous DIY sets with atmospheric special effects but without special permits—a long-coveted logistic perk.

On day two, we moved across the grounds to the old hospital facility. Despite the now-clear skies, the conditions only grew worse. We had to make our own rain and found ourselves on the very edge of the grounds (almost a mile from the wardrobe room). In order to fit in all the day’s planned shots, we had to time everything down to the minute, not unlike a wedding ceremony.

At the end of the shoot, we captured 15 images (13 made the cut). The biggest challenge to shooting in these amazing buildings was the lack of electricity; we had to bring all of our own sunlight (aka HMI lights) on set. But neither stormy weather nor lack of voltage would rain on this wedding day. In the end, we created an array of riveting photos that made for a stunning spread, one to have and to hold, from this day forward.

Effectiveness: Since the magazine’s launch in 2009, it has seen a steady increase in newsstand sales and advertiser revenues. Currently the magazine sells well over 15,000 units for the larger metropolitan DC area; Martha Stewart sells about 11,000 units. Sorry, Martha.

Juror Notes

Fresh way to look at the category. Nicely executed. Local publisher doing better than national. Clever writing, great photographs, great art direction.

Collections: AIGA 365: Design Effectiveness (2011)
Repository: Denver Art Museum
Discipline: Editorial design
Format: Magazine


Design firm
Design Army, Washington, DC
Creative directors
Jake Lefebure, Pum Lefebure
Art director
Pum Lefebure
Lucas Badger
Cade Martin
Washingtonian Bride & Groom