The Unexpected Inspiration Behind 4 Real Couples' Weddings
A destination, a décor detail, even the weather you're hoping for can serve as the starting point for your wedding plans. Here, four couples reveal the one not-so-random element that led to the celebration of their dreams.
The Inspiration: An island
"I was born and raised on St. Thomas and never really considered getting married anywhere else," says Rachel Walker Whitlow. She and her groom Matthew Whitlow wanted water views, "but we'd invited more than 300 people, so most island venues were too small," she says. Eventually they toured Coral World Ocean Park, the island's marine park. "We loved its indoor/outdoor spaces, and there was a beach for photos!"
The waterside venue was stunning on its own, so they stuck with simple, elegant island décor like shells, candles, and lights strung throughout the property's palm trees. They also hired a moko jumbie, a stilt walker who performs at the island's carnival, to get dancing started.
Many of the guests were visiting St. Thomas for the first time, so the couple planned a host of activities in addition to the wedding, including a catamaran sail, a welcome dinner at Rachel's uncle's home overlooking the harbor, and a barbecue at Magens Bay beach the day after the wedding.
Social media works well when people are traveling. "We created a private Facebook group to keep everyone updated about activities. It was easy and effective!" says Rachel.
The inspiration: Snow
"I've always wanted a winter wedding," says Kaela Shaw. "I love the monochrome of snow, the way it all blends together—it's so peaceful."
Setting the Scene
Kaela and fiancé Chris Pinard chose January 2 for their wedding at Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa, in Cambridge, Ontario. "We wanted a beautiful property so that if the snow fell we could take outdoor shots against the white landscape," says the bride. The winter weather inspired the décor, too. "We wanted inside to feel cozy, since outside would be cold and snowy. We used antique gold accents on tables and lots of candlelight."
"We took our photos before the ceremony because we wanted daylight," says Kaela. "The girls wore snow boots beneath their dresses, and the venue brought us blankets that we used as wraps."
Swap pricier fresh flowers for less costly greenery, which feels festive in winter. "It's a time of year when that type of arrangement is expected, and it looks great with a snowy landscape," says Kaela.
The Inspiration: The Bride's Family Home
Lexie Fisher's parents purchased the property nestled on 100 acres when she was just four years old. "It's where I grew up playing games in the pastures with my cousins—it's where all our memories are," says Lexie. When she and Nick Larson became engaged, Lexie father suggested they makeover the property to host the wedding at home. "We worked on the house for a year and a half."
To prepare for the wedding, Lexie and her family transformed the barn on the property, laying concrete floors, pressure washing it free of oil paint, and rewiring the electrical. They also leveled part of the property's land to make way for the wedding tent where the reception for 422 guests was held, and cleared out the property's old milk barn, turning it into a kitchen for the caterers.
They used reclaimed materials wherever possible, turning wood from a barn and from the old house into a bar, on which photos from the old house were displayed. Whiskey barrels from the ranch next door served as high top tables, while Lexie's uncle used reclaimed boards to create a marquee that read "Real Love," a nod to the couple's first dance song by Clean Bandit. "The lights on the sign lit up when we did our dance," she says.
It was important to the couple that they put money back into the community, so they made donations to the local high school and Lion's Club, whose students and members volunteered at the party.
When you're planning a wedding on your property, be sure to check in with your insurance company. "We had to extend our homeowners policy because of liability, and provide transportation," says Lexie.
The Inspiration: Flowers
"I'm such a flower snob," jokes Holly Knudsen. "I had to have all the best springs has to offer." Holly and her fiancé John Knudsen IV, secured the Fort Worth Zoo, in Texas, for April 25. "So many of my favorite blooms are at their peek in April," she explains.
"I booked my florist, Maxine Owens of the Southern Table, 15 months out. I loved her bold, wild style and her ability to incorporate tons of textures and colors into her work," says Holly.
Creating a Backdrop
"I knew the flowers would be bright, so we went with a neutral palette for other elements, like gray and blush-colored linens. I also had the bridesmaids wear black so their bouquets would really stand out," says Holly.
Best Floral Moment
"My bouquet had all of my very favorite blooms: peonies, sweet peas, poppies, ranunculus, fritillaria, and garden roses," says Holly.
Trust your florist to make the call about where to spend. "I had a budget to stay within, but I let Maxine move money around without having to make multiple line-item updates to the invoice," Holly explains.