One Couple's Fall Wedding at an Ohio Art Museum
Matt Clemmer knew Katie Stratton was the one before uttering a word to her. Both artists, they planned their first meeting strictly for business: Matt, a former muralist, was on the hunt for an artist to recommend to clients as he'd shifted his focus towards opening a tattoo studio. "I saw her walking into the coffee shop, and my inner voice immediately said, 'There she is.' Not 'There's your appointment,' but, 'There's your wife,'" says Matt.
Although neither of them wanted to begin a relationship, Matt's first impressions were correct. They shut the coffee shop down and moved to a 24-hour spot where they continued to talk. (And, in a twist of fate, Matt had picked up a bouquet of white daisies just minutes before their appointment—for no reason other than it felt right. At the end of the night, he gave Katie the flowers, only to learn that white blooms are her favorite.)
Their relationship started slow and steady, first as friends. "I would check in with her asking, 'Do you love me yet?'" jokes Matt. Ultimately, they did fall and love, and later agreed that a wedding ceremony wasn't necessary to commit to each other, so Katie, her son Max, and Matt moved in together. In 2012, three years after they met, their family grew with the arrival daughter, Phoebe. That's when things changed. They decided they wanted a wedding to celebrate their love in a season of their lives where all of their family and friends could join in. Matt surprised Katie with a vintage ring on Christmas morning in 2012.
They opted for a long engagement of five years, and set a date for the Tuesday evening of October 10, 2017, in their town of Dayton, Ohio. On the big day, 102 guests joined them for a laid-back celebration at The Dayton Art Institute that married Katie's vision of ethereal timelessness with Matt's love for ornate, vintage touches.
The Simple Invitations
The bride designed her own invitation suite, building off of a simple, modern aesthetic and a gray and gold color palette. "I found a photo of gray handmade paper with a gold wax seal and thought the two together were so beautiful and different," says Katie. "It makes so much sense, because the sky in Ohio is grayish in the fall and the trees turn gold."
The Bride's Look
After browsing a few local boutiques, Katie ended up with a nude skirt and lace top combination by Emily Riggs Bridal. "I hadn't seen the dress in person but in photos the silk fabric drapes so beautifully," says the bride, who chose to wear nude instead of white.
Katie wanted to keep her bouquet neutral and soft, so Evergreen Flower Co. created a loose arrangement of white English roses (the bride has an affinity for white flowers) and clusters of fall foliage.
Her Vintage Ring
Matt picked out a vintage gold ring with emeralds for Katie. "I was drawn to it—I knew it would be perfect for her," says the groom. Its unconventional square shape fell perfectly into place with their one-of-a-kind day.
The First Look
Matt says his first look with his wife-to-be was one of his favorite moments of the day. They met at the great hall in the museum, which overlooks downtown Dayton. Matt stood at one end and Katie walked about 40 yards to meet him as "A Song for Zula" by Phosphorescent played in the background.
"Matt was just standing in the middle of this big gorgeous marble room," says Katie, "I will never forget seeing him there." Katie walked about 40 yards towards Matt. "It was like time stopped," he says.
One Happy Family
Family hid around the corner during their first look. Max, Katie's son, came out first to be with the couple. "It was him and her when I first met Katie," says Matt. "When Max came around it was like the whole first look all over again. That was a moment of complete fulfillment and healing." Their daughter, Phoebe, joined them for a moment together before they took photos with the wedding party.
A simple and organic boutonnière of white spray roses, petite foliage, and privet berries was tied together with silk ribbon.
The Bridal Party
Katie's bridesmaids were all family: Her three older sisters and her niece, Emma. They stuck with the palette in gray ASOS dresses with bundles of berries and golden leaves, arranged by Evergreen Flower Co.
The Little Ladies
Phoebe (right), the couple's daughter, was the flower girl. Katie's niece, Poppy, also joined in the celebration.
Katie walked down the aisle with her dad to the sounds of Viva La Strings. Instead of the traditional language that suggests her father was giving her away, the minister referred to her dad as the person who "supports this woman in her marriage to this man."
The couple shared personal vows, and had a small scripture read during a hand binding, where Phoebe and Max wrapped Katie and Matt's hands together with a silk ribbon. The scripture, Song of Solomon 8:6, reads, "set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm."
The Seating Chart
The ceremony flowed right into the reception. A seating chart, designed by Katie, invited each guest to "find your seat, grab a drink, and a bite to eat."
The couple worked with Something Old Dayton to outfit the space with vintage rentals. Crisp white linens let the natural beauty of the venue's architecture shine and added an ethereal touch.
"We wanted it to feel like a party we'd throw at our home, but on a bigger scale," says Katie.
The bride wanted the centerpieces to channel the vibe of a Dutch still life painting, so Evergreen Flower Co. arranged cut fruits, grapes, foliage, and blooms in clusters with clear table numbers. Paint palettes were right in place at the art museum and at the wedding of these two creative love birds. Each centerpiece was slightly different, making each table a little more unique.
The Sweetheart Table
The couple sat at a sweetheart seating, which Something Old Dayton styled with a vintage table and Lucite chairs. "We actually got to sit down and eat together which is so rare at weddings," says the bride. "People would come up and talk to us, so it ended up being really nice, and it kept the flow more casual."
Guests helped themselves to an offering of hors d'oeuvres, like mini braised beef sandwiches, pear and brie quesadillas, and heirloom carrot tarts, all by Elite Catering. The spread also included a macaroni and cheese bar that ended up being just as much of a hit for the adults as the kids.
The First Dance
The newlyweds shared a first dance to the tune of "Beauty" by The Shivers, and Katie danced with her father to Audrey Hepburn's version of "Moon River."
The dancing continued with Matt and his grandmother breaking it down. She passed a few months later, so it also happened to be the groom's last dance with her. "She asked to be pulled up out of her wheelchair to dance and it was incredible," says Matt. "We were two-stepping to '80s music."
One Sweet Setup
Katie painted a mural backdrop for the dessert table. "The room where we had our reception is beautiful, but it was dark, so I thought it'd be fun to lighten things up with a big mural," says the bride. She freehanded a landscape in soft, neutral hues that melded with the gray and gold palette.
The three-tiered confection at the center, by The Cakery, had layers of caramel carrot cake, chocolate, and vanilla-almond and apricot.
Something for Everyone
Photography, Jenny Haas
Location, The Dayton Art Institute
Catering, Elite Catering
Flowers, Evergreen Flower Co.
Stationery and cake backdrop, Pencilbox Art and Design
Cake, The Cakery
Macarons, Michelle's Macarons
Music, Viva La Strings
Head table styling and furniture, Something Old Dayton
Bride's gown, Emily Riggs Bridal
Hair, Sweetly Pinned
Makeup, Monica McAlpin
Bridesmaids' dresses and shoes, ASOS
Groom's suit and menswear, Express
Groom's shoes, Aldo