Tell us about the dress and what inspired your look.
I wore a custom Lea-Ann Belter dress. While getting married in the islands, I didn’t want the typical island wedding that a lot of people from St. Thomas have. From the second we started planning, we knew we didn’t want to get married on St. Thomas. We wanted to do something different and started working with Caneel Bay. They have such a classic and elegant resort – we knew it was the perfect place for us. We also knew that we didn’t want a beach wedding. While it’s so easy to pick a beautiful beach at Caneel, we wanted to use Turtle Point so I could wear a more elegant formal gown.
I was inspired by A Midsummer’s Night Dream and rose gold. I knew I wanted everything to be soft and come from the rose gold palette. We chose the dress almost 13 months before our wedding as I wanted my family from Canada to be involved, as well as his family from the islands. With both moms by my side, we tore through Lovely Bride DC and I tried on almost 30 gowns. I knew I wanted a low back, but I was never a bride that dreamt about that special dress. All I knew was that I wanted it to be different, romantic and me. As I was going through the racks – I picked up this blush gown with flower straps. The moms weren’t so sure, but I was adamant that I was trying it on. It fit me perfectly. I just knew this was the dress. Everyone kept telling me it might be too much for an island wedding, but I was determined to wear an elegant piece of art and that’s what this dress was. As we began to purchase the gown, Lovely Bride DC mentioned that it was a gown on loan and that I had just lucked out on walking in when this dress was on display. After a few more minutes, we realized the dress was from a Canadian designer and even better – it was from my hometown of Toronto. I couldn’t have been more ecstatic. It was my little piece of home away from home.
What were the most important details to pulling off your dream wedding?
For me, it was all about the atmosphere. I wanted beautiful candles and long wreaths of flowers strung together across the tables. It needed to feel like a magical forest on this beachfront property. Once I started searching for rose gold decorations, I landed on these long chevron table runners that fit perfectly. They were my starting point and every other decoration was made by me by hand. I knew I wouldn’t be able to purchase everything I was looking for so I spent my weekends at Michael’s flying through the aisles and spray painting everything I needed. From rose gold mason jars, to wooden B&B decorations – everything was pulled together by me. When it came to the flowers, the Caneel Bay florist Felipe is one of a kind. He is a dear family friend and went above and beyond for us. He understood my soft palette and my desire for succulents and green vines with touches of soft pinks and whites. I also located a designer on Etsy (theFindSac) who was able to design all of our artwork that I put into frames I found myself. Everyone kept telling me to stop working so hard on the decorations – that the beach was enough, but I knew in order for this to be special, it had to be something I created by hand.
The final touch was candles – I located almost 100 metallic rose gold and soft gold votive holders. Inside, I placed soft pink votive’s that erected a smell of spring throughout the terrace where we had our reception. It was absolutely perfect. I also wasn’t one for having everything match – the groomsmen wore navy suits from Brooks Brothers and the bridesmaids each picked out their own gowns. I gave them a large color palette and let them run wild. They all came back with these beautiful vintage designs that worked out perfectly. Every girl is made differently and only they knew what they would feel most beautiful in – I had to let them go find that on their own. I knew they would do a great job!
What was the most memorable moment?
At sunset, we walked back to the beach with our photographer for a few final shots. They are some of my favorites. We were both giddy and excited that we were married, that all our family and friends were in one room, and that we were finally married! It was a bit of a farewell party for us as well as several days after the wedding, we were packing our bags and leaving DC for a new adventure in California for a new job I had. Standing on that beach looking out at the water, we knew it had turned out beautifully and we couldn’t be more proud of what we created! My husband is a wonderfully planner and helped equally with everything that took place that day. From the schedule to the music, he played a large part in every detail and it truly was our first big adventure as a team. We were finally embracing the beauty of the island and soaking it all in – it was perfect.
If you could give future brides any advice, what would it be?
Go with your gut. I was told a million times that this formal, elegant dress wouldn’t fit in the islands. That it would be too hot, too cumbersome. I ignored. I wanted to get married in the islands because of the beauty that is Caneel, but I didn’t want to give up the things I would have enjoyed if we were to have married in Canada – rustic elegance, as I call it. I wanted a formal dress with a church veil to represent my Canadian heritage. I wanted the groomsmen in more formal navy outfits and the bridesmaids to wear long dresses. And most importantly, I didn’t want to fall into the trap of the typical island wedding. I learned that you can make anything happen anywhere as long as you’re committed to it. From my Louboutins to my dress – I didn’t give into anything just because I wasn’t getting married at home. Yes, it was a little more stressful sending hundreds of packages to the islands with our supplies, it was worth it in the end because the design and elegance of the event really represented us to a tee. Wear any dress you want! It’s your big day and you only get it once. I was so honored to wear a little piece of home on my special day and my now husband absolutely adored it!
Photographer: Elisha Orin Photography // Dress: Lovely Bride, Lea-Ann Belter // Lovely Bride Location: Washington DC // Wedding Planner: Weddings the Island Way + Allison Sells from Caneel Bay // Venue: Caneel Bay