About the Couple: When John, a doctor, decided to propose to Tara, his artist girlfriend, he had high expectations for a romantic experience. His plan for a cozy winter walk to a familiar sailboat launch was interrupted, however, by an unexpected nosebleed on Tara's part. Instead, John popped the question to a surprised Tara at his mother's house nearby. John and Tara considered traveling to California for the wedding but decided to stay in Michigan near their family and friends. Check out their beautiful, richly-colored autumn wedding.
While visiting her parents, Tara decided to do a little dress shopping and found this stunning, beaded, ivory gown to walk down the aisle in. Her sister insisted that she try it on although it was strapless, a feature she originally believed she didn't want. Once she tried it on, she loved it!
Tara also wore this vintage-style, floor-length veil. The intricate embroidery and beading complemented the ornate details on the bodice of her gown.
Tara wanted a gorgeous and comfortable pair of shoes she could wear all night. After unsuccessfully scouring her local stores, she finally used the Internet to track down this ivory, bow-detailed, Cynthia Rowley pair. The signature blue soles were her "something blue."
Bride's Tip: Let your family and friends help you with their strengths. When Tara couldn't order the shoes online, her cousin tracked them down in New York and shipped them out to Tara just in time for her dress fitting.
John entered Tara's life at an emotional time-the day following her grandfather's (also named John) funeral. Her grandfather was in everyone's heart on the wedding day, and Tara wore a special piece of jewelry -- a watch her grandfather gave her grandmother in 1939 -- to keep him close. The back is engraved "John to Stella" with the date.
Tara's dad gave her this simple, yet beautiful diamond necklace to wear on her big day.
Tara surprised John with these photo cufflinks, which held images of his late grandparents, who John greatly admired. In reference to his right cufflink, John commented that Grandpa Doug was his right-hand man on his wedding day.
After seeing his fabulous work at her sister's wedding, Tara chose florist and event designer Pieter to help with the big day. Pieter coordinated all the little details to create an unforgettable atmosphere for the happy couple and their guests. When creating Tara's bouquet, he was inspired by her dress and used her favorite flower-yellow tulips.
Tara and John each had one wedding attendant --Tara's sister Mandy and Mandy's husband. An 8-months pregnant Mandy wore a classy chocolate brown bridesmaid dress and carried a pretty bouquet Pieter designed to fit her personality.
Tara and her father arrived at the church in this 1926 Rolls Royce. After the ceremony, Tara and John used it to travel to the reception. This little detail helped give a timeless elegance to the day.
Tara originally wanted a custom-made shrug to cover her shoulders during the ceremony, but when that fell through, she began looking for another option. This 100-year old fur wrap ended up being the perfect accessory for a chilly fall wedding. Tara's look was finished with this sparkly tiara -- a steal at 75% off. Because she purchased it after her dress, she knew it would be a perfect match.
Budget Saver: The Internet is a great place to find fabulous deals. Tara's wrap was an eBay steal at only $50!
Tara's godson and John's nephew served as ring-bearers. Their white shorts and jackets were a refreshing choice instead of miniature tuxedos.
It was important to Tara that the ceremony decorations didn't overwhelm the church where she went to school as a young girl. A few thoughtful touches -- white pew flowers and custom lighting -- enhanced the natural beauty of the space. Guests enjoyed harp and flute music before the ceremony and Tara entered to an untraditional, yet beautiful song: "The Prayer" by Celine Dion.
John and Tara chose not to see each other before the 5 p.m. ceremony, so immediately afterward they took advantage of the golden dusk to snap a few gorgeous photos. October foliage was the perfect backdrop for the mini photo shoot, and Tara especially loved how the leaves complemented the color of her dress.
The reception was held at Forest Lake Country Club. During cocktail hour, guests enjoyed wine and a signature drink, a Spiced Apple Martini. This beautiful floral and candle arrangement dressed the bar.
To avoid confusion and help people find their seats easily, Tara created two framed signs that assigned people to their table. Individual handwritten place cards were arranged on each table. Pieter used birch wood to make the place card holders.
Get the Look: Use a shimmery gel pen to handwrite guest's names on rectangular-shaped scraps of cardstock. Then slide the place cards into wood branch disks that have a small notch carved into them.
The centerpiece boxes were also made from birch wood. Iridescent blue table linens glittered under the candlelight and sparkly dinnerware.
Tara created a J+T wedding logo for their invitations; the same logo was repeated at the top of their menu cards. She hand wrote the reception meal -- a Thanksgiving-style dinner -- and used her industry connections print their menu cards, which were laid upon chocolate brown napkins.
Tara loved the reception spaces beautiful floors, cozy fireplace, and abundance of windows. Another nice feature was the separate areas for the meal and for dancing. The couple provided a basket of flip-flops for guests who wanted to dance in a pair of comfy shoes.
John and Tara's cake matched the rest of their day -- simple and elegant. The three-layer, round cake was decorated with chocolate brown ribbon and tiny dots. Guests could also indulge on a selection of tasty treats including chocolate-covered strawberries and pumpkin cheesecake.
Florist/Designer: Pieter Bouterse; 216/765-0700
Photographer: Jessica Johnston Photography; jessica-johnston.com
Church: Academy of the Sacred Heart; 248/646-8900
Reception: Forest Lake Country Club; 248/332-8300
Wedding Dress: Bridal Boutique of Carmel; bridesofcarmel.com
Hair: Beyond Salon; beyondsaloninc.com
Bakery: Sweet and Savory Bake Shop; sweetandsavoryonline.com
Makeup: Michelle Vidales; Michelle.firstname.lastname@example.org