By: Mariam Yazdi
Photos By: Stephane Lemaire
“Someone told me there’s a girl out there, with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair…”
These were the lyrics which sent Terry Barragan down the aisle to join her love, Tony Montelongo, exchange self-written vows, and finally walk the same path.
“That beautiful man is here to get his haircut,” Terry told her niece, as Tony entered the salon for his regular cut. The two had been dancing from a distance for years, before Terry’s niece Marlene took the cue, conspired with Tony’s daughter Marina, and three months later…
“It wasn’t our usual date night,” Terry beams, “we had just finished a session at the gym and he invited me over for dinner afterwards. When I arrived, I could tell he was really nervous because he was acting strange. I began to get nervous myself; my first thought was, ‘he’s lured me here with wine and steak and now he’s going to dump me!’”
Little did she know, her husband to-be was cultivating an extraordinary moment from an ordinary night. Tony got down on one knee and proposed to his beloved: “I had been praying for a marriage with love and substance, but I didn’t realize what I was really praying for, was you.”
Terry knew she wanted to take this important step with her husband from the get-go. They were true with each other from the start; they were open and honest and did not put up a front that is so common in dating. When they fell in love, it was to each other’s essence and not to false impressions. Their life events had mirrored each other impeccably. Timing was truly paramount.
“We both needed to go through what we went through to be ready for each other.”
Together with the support of family and friends, they prepared for over eight months. Initially wanting something small and intimate, they soon realized how loved they both were as the guest list quickly grew to 400, with 360 in attendance. Terry’s sister formed a Wedding Committee for the couple, helping them maximize their few free days off. While attending various wedding expositions, Terry became fond of the work of florist, Laura Carrillo. With Pinterest as her muse, Laura identified her style with two words: vintage chic.
“It really helped to know what I wanted. I communicated my ideas with everyone who helped us put the wedding together and they all used their talents to make the vision come to life.”
Terry chose her wedding gown at a local El Paso bridal boutique. She initially envisioned something formal, lacy, and blush in color, forgoing the traditional bridal look. But when her sister insisted she try on a beautiful champagne-colored wedding dress, Terry got the exact reaction she was looking for.
“My daughter took one look at me and gasped, ‘Mom, you look absolutely beautiful!’ That was the exact reaction I was looking for, and at that moment I knew I had found the dress.”
The earrings she wore were a gift from her fiancé, a pair of chameleon topaz Swarovski crystals, which change color to reflect the wearer’s ensemble.
Terry took a DIY approach by hand-crafting her decorations; much of the preparation resulted in hours of cutting, snipping, and folding paper flowers, which draped a brick walk that back-dropped the cake table.
The celebration was held at the Epic Railyard Event Center near downtown, and turned out to be one big party, just as the couple wanted. Instead of having the typical events that make up a ceremony and reception, the Montelongo’s crafted a party that trimmed all the stuffiness and kept all the fun.
Instead of waiting for cocktail hour after the vows, the couple treated their guests to prenuptial drinks and aperitifs. Along a 14-foot nosh table lay an elegant spread of cheeses and olives, set up by Terry’s sister. To drink, the couple had hand-picked bartenders from a local restaurant to make their signature beverage: the jalapeno cilantro margarita.
Walking down the aisle to a live acoustic cover of Going to California by Led Zeppelin, Terry and Tony met at the altar to be wed by Terry’s cousin, a judge in New Mexico. The couple’s great friend, a pastor, also shared words of love; with that, the couple exchanged their personal vows and became husband and wife.
Terry and Tony kept true to their non-traditional festivity by sharing an intimate first-look before the ceremony, forgoing the dollar dance and bouquet toss, and entertaining every segment of the wedding with music. They walked into their reception to a live mariachi band, enjoyed the acoustic guitar during dinner, and transitioned to a DJ with a variety of music and props, causing guests to be pried from the dancefloor when the clock struck one in the morning.
Soon after, the Montelongo’s boarded their flight to the Tahiti Islands, where they began their marriage in tropical bliss.
Terry does not regret sparring the help of a wedding planner. Together with the help of family, friends, and all professional collaborators, their event resulted in a day that exceeded the couple’s expectations. She attributes the success of the day in part to her sister who helped coordinate the flow of the day’s events, guiding guests from cocktail hour, to ceremony, to reception, and addressing any logistical concerns, leaving the couple to enjoy their day free of stress. Terry describes her wedding day in one word: amazing.
Not only did the Montelongo’s craft an exceptional day, their personalities were demonstrated through every detail that made up the wedding. Terry emphasizes this advice to create a day that will satisfy the heart and bring forth the uniqueness of both loves: “when it comes to planning your wedding, there are no rules. You don’t need to have any sort of traditional wedding ritual if you don’t want to. It is your day to celebrate becoming husband and wife and you are free to create it however you like.”
Venue: EPIC Railyard Event Center
Stylist: Barragan’s Salon & Spa
Flowers: Laura Carrillo
Catering: La Vianda Catering
Tables/Décor: Laura Carrillo
Bride’s Dress: White Lace Bridal Boutique
Cake: Chris Carpenter
DJ/Lighting: Neils Carrasco