Real New England Weddings: Nicole Johnson & Louis Thibault

WHEN LOU THIBAULT arrived home to propose to Nikki Johnson, he discovered that his intended bride was very blue. Luckily, it was nothing that a little soap and water couldn’t fix: She’d been dyeing 40 pounds of rice for a project for her preschool class, and was elbow-deep in ink. After a thorough hand washing, however, Nikki accepted his proposal, and soon found herself elbow-deep in wedding planning.

Over two years, Nikki and her mother worked to create the perfect DIY wedding. "I had all these ideas, and we’re very crafty people," says Nikki, who grew up in a home where the sewing machine was always running. (She even made her own prom dress.)

And although Lou had plenty of other obligations – he graduated from the mechanical engineering program at the University of Massachusetts the day before their wedding – he still managed to join in the fun. "Lou was reupholstering a bench just an hour before he put on his tux, because I wanted it in my dressing room for pictures," says Nikki, whose attention to detail did not go unnoticed by her husband-to-be. "I am still so impressed with all the planning, designing, fabricating, and decorating that Nik did – simply speechless," he says.