Have we got a summery wedding for you today, with a gorgeous color palette and so many details that the bride created herself. When Ampersand Wedding Photography submitted Tammy & Matthew's wedding to us, I was immediately taken by the sweet pin wheel theme, perfect for a sweet summery outdoor affair.
I reached out to the beautiful bride to see if she was open to sharing a bit about the love story of her and Matthew, and what went into the planning process of their beautiful day. She's quite the savvy bride, doing many of the details and planning herself, with great advice for to-be-wed brides. She sounds a bit like myself 3 years ago, even down to how she and her groom met! Here's their story:
We actually met online, and three and a half years later I am (finally) comfortable saying that! We met using OK Cupid, and I know our story isn’t typical. We were sort of ‘matched’, meaning he rated me highly and then I in turn rated him highly (without knowing beforehand who had rated me); so I sent him an email. He was the first person I emailed. It was one of those generic “Hey, I liked your profile…I’ve never internet dated before…etc.” We emailed for two months; then met in person at a local bar for happy hour. We were there for 5 hours, and only left because it was closing. He was the only person that I proactively emailed, and only the second person I went out with. And that was all folks.
It was more of a mutual decision, rather than a proposal. We had talked about getting married when
we lived in Houston, Texas, but neither of us wanted to get married there. Long story short, we were at the point where Matthew was living in Montreal, and I was staying in Vermont with Matthew’s aunt and we still weren’t engaged. I was having trouble getting into Canada (even to visit) and even though I had applied to immigrate to Canada, we weren’t married so it would be more difficult for me. I told him that I’d feel much more at ease if I knew that we would be getting married at some point in the near future so that we could actually be together. And he said “So let’s get married then.” And that was it! We didn’t even have a ring (but I don’t wear jewelry, so I didn’t mind). We are both shy, so this was more fitting for our personalities than a big to-do.
We knew we didn’t want a hotel/reception hall wedding, with uplighting and gigantic sparkly centerpieces and a ten-tiered cake. I wanted the overall theme to be “fun and relaxed”; like a giant family picnic. Something where people left saying, “wow, I had a great time!” I knew that I wanted to be outside as much as possible, and by the water. Luckily for us, Montreal is an island! I love anything that’s retro/vintage/thrifted/one of a kind, so that’s the direction I tried to go in. I thought it would be fun to try and thrift decorations for the wedding. That way I’d save money, have fun shopping, and also have completely unique décor. I did manage to thrift some things, but in the end, I ended up making most everything myself. This kept with the one of a kind aspect, and the handmade decorations to me, felt like being at someone’s house for a party. Plus, our ceremony/location was a city park which is actually an island itself, so were surrounded by water on two sides, with a lot of patio and garden space. It was great.
I actually wanted green at first, since that’s my favorite color. But the more I tried to put things together in my mind, I realized that green might be difficult in terms of flowers and other decorations. Plus I wanted really bright colors for the summer. I love teal/aqua/turquoise, or whatever you want to call it. Similar enough to green, but enough blue to make it distinct. Red just seemed like the obvious choice to pair with it. I also thought that it would be easier to find dresses or shoes in red for bridesmaids or flowers, if we decided to get flowers. In the end, my mother found a line of fabrics by Clothworks that incorporated the red and aqua theme, so we designed our decorations and accessories around those fabrics.
I hadn’t thought about it much before I met Matthew, but I knew that I didn’t want anything too flashy. No beading, ruffles, pouf, train, crystals, etc. I don’t even wear jewelry! Just a basic shape; with maybe some lace. I knew I liked chiffon too. For my first shopping excursion, my mother and I met in Boston and went to the Running of the Brides at Filene’s Basement. Very crazy! But, I looked at it as a once in a lifetime opportunity (especially now that they’re going out of business), and a chance to find a really great dress at a discounted price. We were definitely not as prepared as some of the women. They had teams and signs and matching outfits and a game plan. We just showed up trying to stay warm (end of October in Boston!) and awake. When they opened the doors, it was complete chaos. You run in and try to grab anything you can, and then you start trying on and trading dresses. Probably an hour in I knew that I probably wouldn’t find anything, but there are so many dresses that I couldn’t stop. Plus, a lot of them were sample sizes, and I am not a sample size (even if it said ‘12’, it’s a lie). Plus many were damaged in some way, so there would have been a high alteration cost. The cheapest dresses I saw were around $500, and that already more than I wanted to spend. I didn’t want to end up with something that I didn’t really want, just because it might have been a good deal. We left after about 5 hours, had lunch, and then ended up at David’s Bridal.
I picked out some dresses and described what I liked to the consultant. For me it’s hard to say what
I “like” because I like a lot of things! I just have to see them. I wanted to see the options and then go from there, rather than try to describe some dress that might not even exist and hope they had something like it. I think I ended up trying on 5 dresses there, two of which were tea length. That was also a hard decision because I knew it would be June and hot and tea length would allow me to move around and dance. In the end, I just got really tired and I didn’t think I could do another shopping trip like this, so I wanted to get something that day and be done with it. I ended up with a long, strapless, chiffon dress with a small amount of flower/beading detail at the bust line. There were a few other dresses that I might have liked better had I tried them on, but they didn’t have my size, so I thought, this is only one day and this dress is really pretty. Plus they had my size, it fit, and it didn’t need any alterations, unless I wanted a bustle. And it was on sale. Sold!
I had three close friends as bridesmaids. Catalina is a longtime friend from college, and my other two bridesmaids, Lauren and Amelia, are close friends from a former job. Their dresses and shoes both came from Target! We had some zipper issues with some of the dresses, but otherwise I would recommend their bridesmaid line. Very affordable, easy returns, and quite a few colors and styles. The shoes were $11.50 on sale and totally fabulous.
The Detailsplaced a dinner menu on one side, while the other side held a picture corresponding to each picture in the seating chart.
Table numbers – made using those wonderful little Ikea Tolsby frames, I painted them red and then
Table numbers – made using those wonderful little Ikea Tolsby frames, I painted them red and then
Programs – I found the idea online and my husband designed them (he studied graphic design). They were red and white circles, attached in the center with star shaped brads. They had info like family, wedding party, officiant, flower girl, list of events, etc. On the front it had our names, date, and |For Your Spinformation.”
Seating chart – Again designed by my husband from an idea I found online. We had a photo representing each table (which were named after world locations) and then a list of names next to each. I wanted something we could hang at home afterwards.
Necklaces – Made these for myself and bridesmaids; red for them and aqua for me.
Bouquets – I made these for myself and three bridesmaids. They consisted of small fabric pinwheels in bouquet form; red for them and aqua for me.
pinwheels with some rhinestones.
Salt and pepper shakers – These I bought from another bride who had just gotten married, and she had gotten them mainly from garage sales. They were all different and I loved it. One of the first pairs that I pulled out of the box were from St. Kitts, which is where my mother in law is from, so I knew it was meant to be!
Aisle “Runner” – My mother made extra large pinwheels that we used to line both sides of the aisle.
When the ceremony was over, a friend moved them to the terrace area of the reception building so
people could enjoy them all night long.
Favors – color coordinated bags (featuring robots and monkeys) that I filled with chocolate. I sealed them with a personalized thank you stickers from us, which also had the date. I’m half Swiss, so we used Swiss chocolate (as if there’s any other kind).
painted dowels. We placed about 5 or 6 of these in milk bottles to look like a vase with flowers. The
milk bottles were from Vermont where I had been living; I got them all at the co-op.
Table linens – My mother used some of the fabric I had purchased and made table overlays. She also made fabric squares that went in the center underneath each milk bottle.
Cake/cupcake stands – Also from an idea I found online. I found glass plates and platters in various sizes at the dollar and thrift stores. Then I glued vases, candlesticks, and glasses in between them to make one, two, and three-tiered stands. I also made small fabric pinwheels that our baker used to decorate the cake with.
Out of town Guest bags – I made these for my family and a few friends. I bought reusable bags from the pharmacy and then filled them with snacks, water, and postcards from the dollar store. I also put maps of the city and brochures for local events that were happening that weekend.
Photo guest book – I made a photo book at shutterfly.com with lots of blank, white space, so that people could sign it. I really wanted something that we would actually look at again.
We were limited on possible dates (summer in Montreal gets really busy) as well as
location (we needed it to be near downtown/the airport), we were a little limited on what we could
choose. Plus we had a budget to consider, and we also didn’t know how many people to expect at
that point. I went online and searched for potential places and tried to find reviews. I found Parc Jean Drapeau pretty quickly and when went to look at it, we (I) knew right away it was a great spot. Plus the park society was very friendly and helpful and they do a LOT of weddings there, so I was comfortable with our choice.
The Planning Process
Really, by the time I got my act together, I started planning in late December and we got married atthe end of June. So about 6 months. I did most of it by myself, with help from my mother, Matthew, and Matthew’s mother as it got closer. You have to understand that I was in Vermont, Matthew was in Montreal, my mother was in California, and Matthew’s mother was in Lebanon. So I can sum up my planning in one word, Google. I Googled for hours on end, and then when visited Montreal on the weekends, I would make plans to meet with vendors, visit the park, buy supplies, etc. I really don’t know how else I would have done it. I’m not sure why people hire coordinators, because it was not that difficult. All you’re doing is adding a middleman to the process, and that seems silly. You know what you like, so search for those things online and then go from there. I guess it’s more of a time issue for brides, but I had lots of time, so that’s what I spent it on! You can get so much done through email and phone calls without having to run all over the place. I read a lot of reviews too so that I knew whether or not certain vendors were recommended. Some I contacted never responded or were quite rude (which I’ll never understand), so I didn’t pursue them any further. I also used websites like theknot.com, weddingbee.com, and budgetsavvybride.com, among others. It was really helpful to post messages to other brides and get some feedback.
There are so many! Seeing Matthew in his tuxedo, listening to his vows, seeing friends and family I hadn’t seen in years (and seeing them all get along), eating the wonderful catered food, listening to very endearing speeches by friends and family, watching the kids wear the napkins as capes and chase each other with pinwheel wands (or swords?), feeling supported by my close girlfriends, being really glad that most of the difficult stuff was over, cutting and eating the best cake in the world, being forced to finally wear jewelry (that ring!), being excited about having Matthew as my partner, missing my father because he could was not there, dancing to soca music with Matthew’s mom and aunts and trying to understand their West Indian accents after (quite) a few drinks, loving how everything looked in the reception space, having people tell me that everything looked amazing and that they were having a wonderful time, having the perfect weather and setting for the waterside ceremony, and the list is really endless. I had a really great day.
We didn’t, mainly because of the cost and Matthew’s work schedule, but also because it’s not easy for me to travel in and out of Canada while my immigration paperwork is under review. When it happens though, we are planning on St. Kitts so we can visit Matthew’s family.
Yuki Bakery – yum, yum, yum is all I can say!
Vanilla Twist Catering – people are still talking about the beef tenderloin.
Parc Jean Drapeau – one of the prettiest parks in the city
Hurley’s Irish Pub – one of the best bars in the city
Ampersand Wedding Photography– very laid back and wonderful to work with
Wedding Paper Divas – they ALWAYS have deals
Tammy JZ – for wedding accessories
Keep calm and carry on, preferably with a drink in hand. Realize what is important and then what of that is actually do-able. Realize that you will probably offend your friends and family if you don’t take their advice or go with their ideas. Along with that, you need to be firm when you’re defending your plans (and get your fiancé to help you!! Make him (or her) help!) Try to enjoy the process too. I got to a point where I just wanted it all to be over (which I think a lot of brides do), but the planning part should be fun too. And enjoy the actual day. By that point the details are so insignificant that no one will notice but you (and you might not even notice things until you see pictures like I did), and you don’t want to waste your wedding day because you’re upset about the napkin fold style. Hopefully it’s a once in a lifetime event for you so, you want to have fun and remember it fondly.
Such a charming wedding! I absolutely adore the pin wheels! I wonder if Tammy would be able to share with us a DIY?! (Insert a wink and a smile here...) The color palette is really eye catching as well, I think aqua and red are perfect together.
I love how Tammy knew her vision once she figured things out, knew what she wanted, was resourceful, and the end result was something she will truly cherish and remember for years to come. Everything looked like it was done by a professional! Well done, Tammy!
What a find with those bridesmaid gowns and shoes from Target, by the way! I love the aqua dresses paired with red accessories, and how Tammy's accessories were opposite of the bridesmaids.
Many thanks to Tammy for sharing with us the details that went into planning your beautiful day! We wish you and Matthew all the happiness in the world and a big congrats on your recent nuptials. Enjoy your honeymoon when you are able to! (We love the Caribbean!)
Many thanks to Ellen Ross with Ampersand Wedding Photography for submitting to us Tammy & Matthew's wedding!
Photographer: Ampersand Wedding Photography, Charlotte, Vermont
Bouquet Designer: The Good Time Gal - Tammy JZ @ Etsy
Invitation Designer: Wedding Paper Divas