by Francis Pollonais-La Foucade
Nature-based and eco-friendly themes are particularly suited to DIY brides. I’ve recently worked on a no fuss, no “bling”, but rather a simple and natural “enchanted garden” affair. Here are some DIY friendly elements from weddings that were impactful and super affordable.
TIP: All you’d need to replicate them is some spray paint, glitter, glue sticks, a glue gun,
good time management and a patient groom.
This area comprises most of your décor real estate, so it’s vital that you nail your theme here. For this type wedding linens should be natural in texture and/or colour. I used ivory damask linens with chocolate napkins and burlap/crocus bag runners on the head table.
TIP: Burlap is particularly nice to use as the edges fray nicely to create a fringe (no sewing required). Burlap can also be used to create overlays if desired.
The floral arrangement centerpiece comprised chrysanthemums and local anthuriums. The flowers were set in a tall glass vase, the top and bottom of which was wrapped in raw rope. The vase was filled with inexpensive sand under the roped portion and white deco stones in the exposed portion.
TIPS: Local flowers are cheaper and more easily accessible than foreign flowers; glass vases are now rentable from a number of design and accessory rental companies; and deco stone is sold by the bag at almost any garden shop, for less than TT$60.00 a bag (one bag was able to fill nine vases).
If you’re not a florist you can still create relevant drama by using flowers that lend themselves to spray type arrangements (see photo next page), which are very easy to put together. Orchids and calla lilies are good examples of this type of flower. There are a number of tasteful looking silk orchids and calla lilies on the local market that are quite reasonably priced (you can especially take advantage of wholesale prices). Silk arrangements work particularly well for the DIY bride as arrangements can be made well in advance of the wedding.
Ikebana styled arrangements or the common bromeliad (the plants that grow on trees and telephone wires) sprayed gold and lightly glittered arranged on natural stone tiles would also be quite workable with this theme.
The wedding theme was “LOVE GROWS”, so for keepsakes, each guest was given a small potted plant. In this case rosemary, lavender and balleria. These were also placed on the tables to add to the garden look and feel. To embellish these, each plant was placed into a 2lb brown paper bag with the top rolled down to just cover the pot and tied off with two shades of ribbon. The tag, depicting the theme to the front and care instructions to the back, was attached to a craft stick or as we say in Trinidad, a palette stick (available in almost any colour at local craft stores).
Note: the front and back were printed on two separate tags and stuck on the front and back of the stick to ensure that the back was readable.
TIPS: The potted plant was sourced locally for TT$5.00. Another option for an inexpensive keepsake is customized flower seed packets.
The ceiling treatment consisted of dried branches embellished with tasteful silk flowers, handmade silk flower garlands and artificial, flickering votive candles. For a touch of “bling”, faux Swarovski crystal beads can be added.
TIP: Use whites, pastels or brightly coloured flowers for an evening wedding, as the human eye loses its ability to differentiate colour with the reduction of light.
For warm intimacy with that touch of glitz use white or amber string lights, votives and votive holders, metallic and/or crystal finishes (glitter, spray paint, metallic chargers, metallic or crystal beads).
Foyer & Guest Book
In the foyer, where the guest book table was located, I changed the wall texture of the existing wall by printing a large format stone texture on to a substrate, which was easily mountable in the space.
TIP: This may be financially out of reach for some brides but an alternative texture can be created using crumpled brown paper with a gold distressed finish applied to it, or dried leaf overlay gilded in gold.
Note: You should check with your venue regarding decorating parameters, especially as they pertain to points of attachments for props, and get the relevant approvals. The worst thing that can happen is to have your plans and props arrive only to be told that all decor items must be free standing—that is, you cannot attach anything to ceilings, walls, etc. If such rules apply, a support system would have to be incorporated as part of your plan.
Alaric and Ngozi
The ceremony was held at St. Joseph’s R.C. Church, Scarborough, with the reception at Brash Villa, Mt. Irvine, Tobago. The grounds of the villa were beautifully lush and full of character, thanks to the Spanish-influenced architecture. The swimming pool—of great significance to Ngozi, Nigerian Olympic swimmer—provided a serene glow, while the unobstructed view of the Buccoo Reef was simply breathtaking.
Theme & Décor
The couple set out to create an enchanting, romantic, and sophisticated outdoor experience for their wedding. White with vibrant accents of blue and berry—expressed in different elements and luxuriously illuminated—effectively showcased their personal style: minimalist and elegant, with punches of colour. Ngozi and Alaric designed every element of their wedding, with ample help from their family and friends in putting it all together. The entire event was the couple’s ‘DIY labour-of-love’, as almost every aspect of the wedding was emblazoned with personal touches.
The bride had her dress custom-made at Designer Loft in New York. Designer Elen Paumere created the lace, open-backed, V-neck item with an empire waist, ending with layered lace and chiffon at the bottom. Her shoes were by Calvin Klein and jewelry came from thebridaljewelrystore.com and Akribos.
In line with incorporating splashes of color throughout their wedding, the couple thought that colourful socks for the groom and groomsmen would be a hit. Alaric’s berry-coloured striped socks matched his tie and the lining of his custom-made suit, complementing Ngozi’s berry crystal-accented shoes, flowers and bridesmaids’ hair accessories. The groomsmen’s blue socks balanced their blue-checkered ties, which was well-paired with the bridesmaids’ blue dresses.
Wooden “I am His” and “I am Hers” signs hung at the back of the bride’s and groom’s chairs, and other wooden signs spelling out words such as “Love”, “Dream”, “Laugh”, and “Live” decorated various areas of the venue. The guest book was a unique wooden box containing wooden hearts on which guests could write their wishes.
The favor boxes, accessorized with a blue ribbon and a heart label, each contained a bracelet—as a token of the donation that the couple made to the charity One.org on behalf of their guests—along with Serbian sweets.
Candle holders on the tables and the white Chinese lanterns framing the dance area added a soft, romantic glow to the setting. The couple took advantage of the outdoor setting with its breathtaking views to send berry-coloured lanterns wafting into the sky along with their hopes, prayers, and wishes. It was an absolutely beautiful moment as Alaric and Ngozi each sent off their lanterns, while the guests lit and held sparklers.
This wedding symbolised not only the union of two families, but also the harmonious blending of three cultures: Caribbean (from Alaric’s side), African (Ngozi’s Nigerian roots) and European (Ngozi’s Serbian background). Aside from hosting the wedding in Tobago, the Caribbean isle was also represented in the wedding cake—a traditional black rum fruit creation. Nigeria was represented by a special ceremonial tradition of the Igbo people (Ngozi’s Dad’s tribe): breaking of the kola nut, performed by Ngozi’s Dad at the start of the reception.
Then during the reception, the newlyweds, along with the wedding party and the bride’s parents, changed into traditional Igbo-inspired attire and performed a dance. Serbia was abundantly represented by the sprig of rosemary that adorned every guest on arrival, symbolising good luck, warding off the bad, and bringing the couple fertility. The rosemary sprig was also incorporated into the bride’s bouquet and the groom’s boutonniere. Everyone also had the chance to sample Serbian treats, some of Ngozi’s favorites, as part of the wedding favors.
Photos by Aaron Dieppa Photography
The couple envisioned a wedding weekend that would significantly incorporate their guests, as all 28 were flying to Mexico to witness their marriage. Thara and Aaron prepared welcome bags for each guest with snacks, games, and even a personal newsletter from the couple! The newsletter included an itinerary for the weekend and suggested activities that guests could enjoy while at the resort: snorkeling, tennis, spa, fishing, kayaking, etc. The wedding guests also got a handmade map of the hotel and surrounding area, a Spanish/English page of phrases, sun hats, and little painted wooden turtles to keep by their bedside with a note that said: “In Mexico, these hand-painted wooden figures are believed to keep bad dreams away”.
The day before the wedding, guests were treated to a ‘tequila tasting’. A representative from a major tequila manufacturer joined them at the resort, explained the process of making tequila, and administered the tasting of different varieties.
Thara and Aaron chose the extraordinarily beautiful outdoors of the El Careyes Resort for their ceremony and reception—the same place where they got engaged.
Theme & Décor
The couple went with a Mexican theme and wanted to incorporate their personal, simple yet elegant style into all the elements of their wedding and reception. They opted for light orange and light blue as their colour scheme, and created an emblem with their initials, “T&A”, which was used on the wedding invitations, welcome bags, wedding program, and other printed items.
Tall, white umbrellas were set up around the cocktail area for shade, and hanging lanterns lent a soft glow to the setting for their dinner reception at the hotel. The evening ambiance was made even more exquisite with a bonfire.
On the morning of the wedding, after breakfast, Aaron—accompanied by his two groomsmen and a few of the other male guests—went to the Polo grounds. They split themselves into two teams and played a friendly game. The women had their own agenda too: after a tear-jerking champagne toast and light breakfast, they joined together for a private outdoor yoga class overlooking the water. The wedding ceremony itself was in the late afternoon, followed by cocktail hour with a live Mariachi band and canapés (appetizers). The reception with dinner, cake, and dancing brought the unforgettable night to a close.
Although neither Thara (Toronto-born, of Guyanese parentage) nor Aaron (born and raised in Indiana) is Mexican, they incorporated one special Mexican wedding tradition into their ceremony. Mothers of the bride and groom both wrapped a lasso of orchids around the couple, symbolic of protecting the love that would bind them together for the rest of their lives.
Thara’s dress, by designer Jim Hjelm, was an all-lace, V-neck, and very low-back number, and her veil was custom-made by designer Sara Gabriel. Her only jewelry was a pair of earrings—that Aaron had gifted her on one Christmas—and her engagement ring.
Orange roses lavishly decorated the top of the white-curtained ceremonial structure under which the couple exchanged vows, and potted flowering plants decorated the border of the area. The lasso used in the ceremony was made of orange orchids. Roses featured prominently in the bouquets: Thara’s had red roses (that were actually supposed to be orange!), and her two bridesmaids (her sisters) carried orange roses mixed with an array of tropical flowers.
In keeping with the Mexican theme, of course, nothing less than a tres leches cake would do—deliciously created by the hotel chef. The cake topper (ordered from etsy.com) was a custom hand-crafted paper representation of Thara and Aaron, dressed as they were on their wedding day (the bride’s favourite detail of the wedding).
The Mariachi band and a solo guitarist provided the Mexican-flavored music during the cocktail hour and dinner, and everyone danced to the couple’s selected playlist at the reception.
The groom and groomsmen wore chili pepper boutonnières (an idea the couple got from a magazine), and bells, parasols and maracas were all keepsakes for the guests. Thara and Aaron hand-crafted name tags for each guest’s place setting at the dinner table, where they also placed a small bell with a note saying that the newlyweds would kiss anytime a bell rang!
Parasols were set up in baskets so that guests could each take one and use it as sun-shade during the ceremony. Pairs of maracas were also placed in baskets so that guests could take them to shake after the ceremony as the couple walked back down the aisle as husband and wife. As a parting gift, the couple gave guests a hand-painted Mexican Christmas tree ornament (Christmas would have been celebrated in two weeks).
One moment that really stands out for the couple was having Aaron’s grandfather perform a reading during the ceremony. Aaron’s grandparents were almost 90 at the time, yet still made the trip for the wedding. After the couple’s first dance during the reception, they played their grandparents’ favorite song…and the once-upon-a-time newlyweds danced alone with everyone watching.
The couple met online through a mutual friend while they were still teens. Their first date was a movie “lime” at Alydia’s house. Luckily, their parents knew each other and consented.
Brad planned a vacation in St. Lucia which included an all day catamaran cruise. The couple had a lovely trip to the sulphur springs, went snorkeling and had lunch at a plantation. When they got back to land Brad started talking about how lovely the sunset at the hotel was (he had been there before on a boys’ lime); he was worried they were going to miss it as the shuttle was dropping off at their locale last.
When they got back to the resort Alydia opted to refresh before going onto the beach. As soon as she was dressed, Brad literally dragged her out of the hotel room and onto the beach, got down on one knee, and asked her to marry him. Alydia responded, “Are you serious?”The look of sheer terror on Brad’s face told her that he was.
Alydia was totally surprised because Brad always rolled his eyes and shrugged off any mention of marriage. Brad gave her the ring his grandfather used to propose to his grandmother and his dad to his mom.
Alydia wanted her wedding to be soft, yet elegant, with a hint of romance. Pink, she says, is the colour of true, sweet, innocent love.
The reception venue was adorned with flowers in light pink and fuchsia gerberas, star-gazer lilies, white spider mums, white asters, light pink and fuchsia spray roses, purple chrysanthemums, leather leaf and rice fern.
Cake (and cake table decor)
The couple opted for an ivory and cream cake with decorative sugar flowers and a light dusting of iridescent glitter on the detail. The cake stood on an etched glass stand and was accented with flowers such as pink and fuchsia gerberas.
The bride wore an Alfred Angelo Piccione Bridal Gown in diamond white. The gown is silk taffeta with a ruched base, metallic embroidery, crystal beadings and a semi-cathedral train. The dress was originally a halter but was altered into a sweetheart neck. It was French bustled for the reception.
Accents included an Alfred Angelo ivory veil, pearl and diamante silver earrings, and a keepsake tri-string pearl wristlet with diamante detail.
The groom wore a black pinstripe suit (locally purchased); his tie was handmade by a family friend, from a David’s Bridal watermelon satin sash.
The bride opted for variegated fuchsia pink roses with leather leaf base, lightly dusted with silver glitter and embellished with silver based crystal drops and crystal string beads, and hand tied with sheer fuchsia ribbon.
The groom wore a variegated fuchsia pink rose and ivory tuberose with leather leaf base wrapped with light pink satin ribbon and embellished with crystal. His groomsmen wore mini spray roses in light pink and fuchsia.
Flower Girl and Ring Bearer
The flower girls wore Alfred Angelo dresses; the ring bearer wore a Lords and Lads suit with ring pillow from A Wedding Showcase and More. Previous Page: (clockwise from left to right): couple with wedding cake; Relate Studios photobooth; photobooth with props; little girl with photobooth props; fuchsia pink roses bridal bouquet; ivory table napkin folded into a simple star with a pink gerbera.
Photography: Juma Bannister, Relate Studios, relatestudios.com
Decor and Flowers: The Flower Garden Limited, (868) 653-1789
Cake: June Peters, (868) 798-0162
Accessories (baskets, ring pillow, unity candle): A Wedding Showcase and More, www.aweddingshowcase.com
Hair: Hair by Giovanni, (868) 657-3666
Make-up: Amy Webster (868) 350-6003