When it came to their quirky Alice in Wonderland wedding theme, Michelle Burnham and Ryan Johnston definitely went the distance. Each of their 100 guests was assigned a character from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass books, and everyone was expected to dress accordingly. “I was Alice and Ryan was The Mad Hatter,” Michelle explains. “My dad was The White Rabbit; my mom was The Queen of Hearts. Ryan’s parents were The White King and Queen. In our wedding party, we had The Cheshire Cat, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, flamingos, The March Hare, The Caterpillar, Humpty Dumpty and Bill the Lizard. Our guests came as everything from rooks and pawns to flowers and playing cards, and our emcee was the Jabberwocky.”
Michelle had just over a year to pull her fantasy fete together and says when Ryan proposed on a beach in Florida, her mind started whirring with thoughts of an Alice in Wonderland wedding. “I’m from a family of five and three of my sisters are already married. All of them had traditional weddings,” Michelle says. “I knew I wanted something very unique. Ryan was into my idea and from there my sister Shannon and I started planning.”
Michelle chose her parents’ London, Ontario home as her location. The sisters then began the task of finding the decor and props they needed to transform the backyard into a storybook setting. Michelle had Alice and Mad Hatter garden statues; she found pink flamingo lights at a garden store and a life-size chess set at her niece’s summer camp. Her parents had a croquet set and her mom found topiaries with white roses, a few of which were then painted red.
For her starring role as Alice, Michelle wore a frilly tulle mini-dress, which was customized with a blue ribbon sash and details. Her blue satin shoes were custom-made and she found the perfect accessory—a blue top hat fascinator—on Etsy. When it was time for her important date, she met Ryan at the end of a garden path for their “I dos,” ones they, of course, personalized in the tradition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice writings.
Guests were wowed by the fantastic staging of the ceremony, but even bigger treats were in store as the reception kicked off. A signature cocktail, “The Pink Flamingo”, was served, followed by a casual dinner featuring a fanciful menu. “I think the food was one of my favourite elements,” Michelle remarks. “We had food stations, all inspired by Wonderland characters.”
At The Walrus and The Carpenter station, oysters were served. The Dormouse station featured cheese. The Caterpillar station had gourmet mushrooms. The candy bar was created by Shannon, who owns the sweet emporium Candy Culture, and Michelle made The Cheshire Cat cake pops and cupcakes herself. To make sure their guests took a little bit of Wonderland home with them, Michelle and Ryan gifted their guests with tea favours. “Ryan and I had an amazing group of people with us that day who embraced everything about our Alice in Wonderland wedding and made it so much fun,” Michelle recalls with a smile.
Michelle Burnham and Ryan Johnston, June 11, 2011, London, Ontario.
Photography courtesy of Tami McInnis (www.tamimcinnis.com)
Ceremony and reception location: The bride’s parents’ backyard
Dress: From The Pacific Mall, altered by Lesley Gills (905-627-2916)
Hair: Michele Breda
Makeup: Michele Breda
Music: Music Central Entertainment
Cake: Baked by the bride (email@example.com)
Cupcakes: Baked by the bride (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Caterer: The Steel Grill
Favours: Candy bar by the bride’s sister’s company Candy Culture; Teas from DavidsTea
Flowers: Village Vines Florists
Stationery: The Paper Boutique
See all of the photos from this Alice in Wonderland wedding here.