I love Jillian Mitchell‘s photos because they really capture the energy of her clients and their weddings – that’s why she’s a Snippet & Ink Select vendor! It’s so clear from these images that this wedding and the bride and groom were full to the brim of love and joy… plus they chose a venue with a working carousel, so it would be hard not to enjoy yourself!
The couple opted to get married in the town where they live: “Michael is from Australia, and my family lives in South Carolina, so anywhere we chose would have been a destination wedding for at least half the guests – might as well have it where we currently live so it was convenient for us to plan. Our venue had it all: a beach, views over Long Island Sound, an already gorgeously decorated space, a roof and walls in case of inclement weather, and oh yes a WORKING CAROUSEL.”
I asked the bride what her favorite part of the day was. “This is an impossible question,” she says. “Was it when we were walking back down the aisle after the ceremony? Was it when we snuck out back to make out during the reception? Was it laughing hysterically during the dance? Was it revealing the sex of our baby after the speeches and getting a standing ovation (I was five months pregnant at the time, and we had the ultrasound technician write the sex on a card, then we opened the envelope at the end of the speeches)? I think the best part was seeing so many people smiling so hard and really truly wishing us deep happiness. It was the BEST feeling in the world.”
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? We (yes, both of us) read the book A Practical Wedding and chose a few key words that were important to the feeling we wanted the ceremony and reception to have: fun, meaningful, inclusive, relaxed, and elegant. In terms of visuals, we used a photo of one of the carousel horses to guide the color scheme, and focused on the colors that were already part of the venue: silvers and golds, dusky purples and pinks and sage green. We knew we didn’t want a “carnival” so instead our theme was “vintage carousel at the beach.” I scoured the internet for photos that spoke to me. We spent a lot of time working on the ceremony with our amazing officiant. The theme of inclusiveness guided a lot of our decisions for the ceremony.
Did you include any traditions in your wedding? What made our wedding so special (besides the fact that it was ours) was the goal of inclusiveness, which guided a surprising number of decisions. We both had our parents walk us down the aisle, we had the bridal party read a poem during the ceremony; we had the entire audience agree to support us in our marriage. After the ceremony we took a big group photo of all the attendees and asked everyone to sign our wedding certificate as witnesses (a take on a Quaker tradition) – both these items are framed in our apartment, and the latter now hangs above our bed.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Don’t forget about the ceremony – that’s the whole point, after all! I really really recommend reading A Practical Wedding at the beginning of the process.
What advice do you have for other brides? See above. Set a budget and choose your three priorities (for us it was venue, photography, and food), and then go low rent on the rest of it. Don’t forget about the fussy little bits like programs and reserved seat signs – we printed them ourselves and it’s such a relief to just get them out of the way as early as possible. And if you get overwhelmed, just remember that planning a wedding boils down to decisions and logistics.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? We got buddies to DJ and we rented a full PA system for them for under $100 and it sounded awesome. Find a great venue. Ultimately, you’re throwing a party for other people, and they won’t care about your dress or your bouquet. They’ll care about how happy you look and how meaningful the ceremony was. (And they’ll REALLY care about the food and if there’s enough booze.). Also, if you’re working with a tight budget, TELL YOUR VENDORS UPFRONT; they will try to massage things so that they work for you – and if your vendors aren’t like that then get new ones!
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of the day? Two things: life and death. Both relate to my speech (because why shouldn’t a bride give a speech?). My grandmother had passed away about five months before the wedding. She loved flowers and flower arranging with a passion. So, instead of tossing my bouquet to the tiny collection of single girlfriends, I had originally planned to give it to her. Instead, during my speech I gave it to my grandfather. He put it on her grave on their 66th wedding anniversary, just two days after our wedding. In my speech I also brought up how this was as close as I was going to get to winning an Academy Award: I spent hours in hair and makeup, I was wearing a gorgeous dress, I got to thank everyone who had supported me along the way, etc., etc. And what awards show would be complete without the drama of opening a gold envelope? So then we had our brothers, the future uncles, come to the front and open then envelope containing a card with the sex of our baby on it. Upon the revelation that it was going to be a girl, everyone went nuts and gave us a standing, cheering ovation. (Her name is Francesca, by the way, and she is why I am answering these questions at 3AM several weeks after I was supposed to.)