When Matthew Kopko decided it was time to propose to Michelle Ochs, his girlfriend and co-founder of CUSHNIE ET OCHS, he knew he wanted to take her back to where they first met. So he invited her to meet him at the clock in the center of Grand Central Station so they could go out to lunch, and instead he surprised her with a proposal. Then they headed upstairs to the site of their first date, the Campbell Apartment, where he'd arranged for them to have a private lunch, just the two of them.
They wanted an intimate celebration, so they headed south to Jamaica with 80 guests in tow, celebrating at Flower Hill in Montego Bay with the island's gorgeous landscape in the background. The private villa gave them the ultimate flexibility, meaning they could customize the day to be exactly what they wanted. And on July 11, 2015, with their friends, family, and photographer Silvia Foz in tow, they wed on a platform over the pool, dined on the lawn, and finished the night off with a splash — in the pool!
Keep reading to see this fashion designer's tropical wedding!
"We had been to Jamaica several times, but Matthew and I had never seen the villa before," says Michelle. "When we got there, we realized we couldn't have asked for more!" Nestled between the mountains and the sea, it was the perfect natural setting.
Michelle paired her custom CUSHNIE ET OCHS gown, embroidered with shimmering beads, with a pair of equally ornate Christian Louboutin sandals and "M" and "K" studs. Her bridesmaid (and CUSHNIE ET OCHS co-founder) Carly Cushnie wore a custom blush jumpsuit, seen above.
The over-water ceremony space was decorated with a wooden altar, draped in white fabric and accented with blush and peach blooms. Michelle's brother walked her down the aisle before she and Matthew exchanged impromptu vows. "We said our own vows, but never wrote them down!" she reveals.
In Jamaica, ceremonies have to take place before 6 p.m., which meant the couple rearranged their day a bit. "We signed the marriage license in the middle of the ceremony, then finished up as the sun set," she explains. At the end of their vows, the minister had the guests stand and help him bless the marriage. "Everyone shouted 'Bless this marriage!' as we were pronounced husband and wife!" says Michelle.
During cocktail hour, guests sipped Planters rum punch and raspberry mojitos, served in mason jars. The bride and groom, who wore a J.Crew Ludlow tuxedo in appropriately nautical navy, took pictures around the villa.
On the lawn, guests sat at two long tables beneath a clear-top tent. "We served the meal family-style to encourage people to interact with one another," says Michelle. "We really wanted it to feel like an intimate dinner party." Tables were topped with pink roses and peonies and scattered with candle. "We chose simple, low arrangements so everyone could see," she says.
After a locally-inspired meal (the coconut curried lobster was a huge hit!) the couple cut into their wedding cake, a traditional Jamaican fruit confection decorated with fondant ruffles. Then guests headed into the villa — just as the rain came down. "It thankfully cooled things off a little bit, and everyone stayed dry," says Michelle. A dessert table displayed passion fruit mousse, raspberry Linzer torte, Key Lime pie, and Nutella cheesecake — "It was ravaged!" says the bride. There, Matthew and Michelle shared a first dance to "Take Care" by Drake. "It's rap, but still slow enough," says Michelle. "By the end of the song, everyone was on the dance floor!"
At the end of the night, Michelle changed into the CUSHNIE ET OCHS swimsuit she'd brought to wear on the boat the next day. "Everyone ended up in the pool since they brought their suits with them!" says Michelle. The night ended at 12 on the dot, because the bride knew it would have lasted all night otherwise. "We had a drink just the two of us after everyone left. It was so nice to have some quiet and soak it all in."
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Flower Hill
Wedding Planner: Melanie Miller
Bride's Wedding Dress & Bathing Suit: Cushnie et Ochs
Shoes: Christian Louboutin
Jewelry: Jennifer Fisher
Makeup: Michael Anthony
Bridesmaid's Jumpsuit: Cushnie et Ochs
Groom's Attire: J.Crew
Florist: Tai Flora
Invitations & Paper Goods: Minted
Music: DJ Smoke
Rentals: Novelty Party Rentals
Photography: Silvia Foz