Michigan Surprise Wedding Renewal from Jamie May Photography + White Dress Events
July 18, 2013
VintageEstate WeddingsFall Weddings
We're big fans of all parties in the wedding category, including a fabulous inspiration shoot. But what you are about to see is something that warmed my heart like no other soiree has ever done. White Dress Events and Jamie May Photography set out to pull together a gorgeous shoot, inspired by the 1920's - already a good start. But when they found a very deserving couple (a must read, see below) to act as models, they turned the whole shindig around and threw this lovely bride a surprise vow renewal. September's Bride gussied her up right, and her husband of twenty years couldn't stop smiling. You won't be able to either, after one look here.
From the planner... I fell in love with the Felt Mansion the first time I saw it. It is such a gorgeous estate with a long history. That is why when Jamie May Photography asked me if I wanted to do a photo shoot together I said "Yes... if it is at the Felt Mansion."

Planning a photo shoot is a lot like planning a wedding, and given that so much time and work was going to be devoted to this shoot, I really wanted to make it count by choosing models who were a real couple and who deserved a day of pampering. Jamie and I went on the hunt. We didn’t have to search too far to meet John and Tracey Weatherwax. John and Tracey have such a beautiful and inspiring love story. They just celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary (can you believe it...they look so young) and NEVER had a wedding. Their story goes a bit like this: John and Tracey met right after they graduated from high school. John was headed off to the Army and Tracey was off to college but they fell in love quickly. The spent a lot of time writing letters back and forth and it was in one of those letters that John first told Tracey he wanted to marry her. After several months, John got his assignment with the Army and it was taking him to Germany. He of course did not want to leave Tracey behind so he put on his best suit and some cologne, got down on one knee and asked her to marry him...on a payphone! She said yes. They were married in a civil service with only her dad and sister as witnesses. They always said that one day they would have a wedding. Well many things happened over the next 20 years that kept pushing that dream off. They spent a few years in Germany, and then headed back to the US all while Tracey was trying to finish college. Finally they decided to begin their family and unfortunately discovered that they were unable to have children. Of course this was heartbreaking for both of them but they always believed that there was a bigger plan for them. John and Tracey decided that they would adopt and became an instant family of five when they adopted their three sons...all at once! You can imagine that with three busy boys, that dream of a wedding was put on the back burner for a really long time.

Fast forward to our photo shoot...I knew that this photo shoot would give them the wedding photos they never had and they were so thrilled to be asked! Then I got to thinking, why not give them the wedding they never had! I shared my idea with John (of course I was going to need some help) and asked what he thought about surprising Tracey with a vow renewal ceremony. John was delighted so the planning began. Just a few family members were invited along with their pastor who would perform the ceremony. All the while, the details were kept from Tracey who still thought she was the bride in a photo shoot. Jamie and I took Tracey dress shopping and she was able to have the experience of trying on gowns and being a bride. All the vendors who were on board for the photo shoot were even more excited about this project when I shared with them the turn of events. A surprise vow renewal...how fun!

The day of the photo shoot came and it was flurry of activity to get everything ready and to keep the surprise from Tracey. Now keep in mind that there was a team of about 12 people on location for the shoot and Tracey was the only one who did not know what was really going on! We went through the motions because it still really was a photo shoot. John and Tracey had a first look which was so heartwarming. Right before Tracey waked down the stairs to meet John who was waiting for her, she said to me “This makes me wish I had a wedding.” Oh, I just cried when I sent her down to meet her husband....she only had to wait about another hour and she would have a wedding!

The guests arrived secretly without being spotted, their three children arrived in their adorable Gatsby attire and it was time for the vow renewal. We gave John and Tracey a few private moments to chat and John told her he always wanted to give her the perfect wedding, he did NOT tell her what was about to happen. They walked out of the mansion and that is when Tracey saw all of her family waiting! It was the moment that made it all worth it for every single person involved. Her dad walked her down the aisle and she and John renewed their vows in front of all the guests who could not be there the first time. There was not a dry eye there! My heart is still warm just thinking about it!

Now on to the details...Being that the mansion was built in the 1920’s we really wanted to create a style that complimented that time period. The Great Gatsby was our inspiration and you will see several elements from the book throughout. Skeeter Parkhouse from Eastern Floral was my partner in design! Together we created a lovely dining room scene with vintage china, gold chargers, crystal vases, towering silver candelabras and gorgeous flowers.

We set up the bar in the library. We used a variety of gold and ivory pictures frames, flowers, vintage books, suitcase and barware. The bar was complete with a Gatsby inspired drink menu.

Second Floor Bakery provided the amazing cakes we used on our dessert display. Seven different cakes in varying sizes and styles were placed on top the most beautiful mix of cake stands. Fresh flowers, ivy, and gold bird nests were tucked in around the ruffle, rosette and gold accented cakes. We used stacks of vintage china and dessert forks to complete this look. My favorite little touch is the gold frame around the forks. How cute is that?

September’s Bride styled our bride from head to toe. She wore a lovely silk gown, stunning jewelry, a black faux fur and a birdcage veil. Carrie Whiting from Flawlessly Finished Event Artists made the bride beautiful with gorgeous hair and makeup. Her and her assistant arrived dressed in their own 1920’s inspired outfits. They did an amazing job! Later, the bride changed into a second set of more glamorous jewelry from What A Gem Jewelry Boutique. Stunning!

A beautiful invitation set, table number, seating cards, drink menu and my favorite, the “Our Love Story” poster were the lovely pieces created by Jamie Lynne Creative. Inspiration Video was on hand to capture this entire day and their finished video will leave you reaching for a tissue.

It was such a wonderful and inspiring day! We all walked away tired but with full hearts knowing that we gave something to this couple that they will never forget!

Event Coordination & Styling: White Dress Events | Floral Design & Styling: Eastern Floral of Grand Haven | Photography: Jamie May Photography | Venue: The Felt Estate | Stationery: Jamie Lynne Creative | Cinematography: Inspiration Video | Wedding Gown, Accessories & Groom’s Attire: September’s Bride | Additional Accessories: What A Gem Jewelry Boutique | Hair & Makeup: Carrie Whiting, Flawlessly Finished Event Artists | Cakes: Second Floor Bakery | Rentals: The Rental Company | Vintage Rentals: Refunction Junktion Vintage Rentals | Models: Real Couple: Tracey & John Weatherwax