The Washington Post

Washington “It Girl” Ashley Taylor engaged to Matt Bronczek

Ashley Taylor and Matt Broczek at the Washington Ballet's gala in May. (Daniel Swartz/

Washington doesn’t have enough “It” girls as it is, and now Ashley Taylor is off the market. Last Saturday — on her 29th birthday — boyfriend Matt Bronczek popped the question.

The granddaughter of former chief of protocol Lloyd Hand and jeweler Ann Hand moved to D.C. six years ago to manage Hand’s boutique and model in the store’s ads. The glamorous blonde quickly became a leading figure on the young professional social scene, chairing benefit galas and founding her own charity to donate prom dresses to needy students.

She attracted even more headlines for a high-profile romance with the three-decades-older multimillionaire real estate investor Joe Robert. During their rocky two-year courtship, the pair got engaged and set two wedding dates before finally calling it quits in 2008.

Bronczek, also 29, first spotted Taylor at the wedding of mutual friends last summer. The two formally met about a month later, and things quickly turned serious. “It’s been so easy and so wonderful,” Taylor told us Thursday. “He’s the funniest, happiest, most outgoing person I’ve ever met.”

Their families were introduced soon after: Bronczek, the son of FedEx Express chief executive David Bronczek, grew up in Canada, Belgium and Tennessee. He moved to Washington after college to work for Sen. Bill Frist, did a stint at FedEx and is now president of Federal Home, a high-end renovation and construction company based in McLean. (Dovetails nicely with Taylor’s new career: She recently left the jewelry business for real estate at Washington Fine Properties.)

The proposal wasn’t really a surprise. Bronczek asked Taylor — who’s a certified gemologist — to help design her own engagement ring, a large cushion-cut diamond framed by 20 small stones and six more on the side (27 is her lucky number).

He slipped the ring inside what she thought was a standard present during their Labor Day getaway. “It was a great birthday,” she said.

First marriage for both. The wedding will take place next summer.


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