12 Corners Vineyard Wedding 

OH MAH GOODNESS I am so pumped to finally share this September wedding!!!!! This was the most wonderful perfect weathered day with Dani and Mike at 12 corners vineyard (and a really fantastic brewery!).

To say these are some of my favorite people is the understatement of the year. Dani and Mike and their whole vibe/life/amazing personalities make my heart so happy. Not only are these two a TON OF FUN (check out their first dance later….) but they also are incredibly kind, thoughtful and genuine people. I truly adore them and everyone they surround themselves with. I had a blast with their very small wedding party (highly recommend this) while chilling at North Pier Brewing Co and hiding amongst the grapes at 12 Corners Vineyard.

I also cannot explain how much I adore their DJ, Derek Hall. I seriously think he makes the best parties 100x better. And is such a helpful guy. I also hired him for my own wedding happening next fall so I MIGHT BE BIASED but he seriously knows how to make something a great time.  He also noticed how AMAZING the end of the sunset was in the middle of speeches, and we took a little break for EVERYONE to go grab some rad photos. He’s truly amazing.

I truly hope Dani and Mike love these photos. And I also hope my own wedding literally a year from their wedding, has this same weather/vibe/funness going on. Now I will let them take it from here with their notes on the day!

The Beginning: 

Mike and I met online in late 2010. Mike might tell you he viewed my professional LinkedIn profile, but it was another site. We first met in person on December 8th, 2010 and things just kinda felt right. We went to a bar, had a drink or two and basically never stopped talking. We bought a house together in July of 2012, got engaged on April 8th, 2017 and now almost 8 years later we got married September 8th, 2018.

 

Dani’s Dress: 

I had a really hard time finding THE dress. I ended up going to BHLDN in Chicago on Thanksgiving weekend – I had tried on a few of their bridal gowns previously, but nothing struck me. I went to try some of their bridesmaid line. I was alone in the fitting room and the sales woman was like you are BEAMING. I face-timed with my mom, who was less than impressed but I knew it was the one. It was perfect for a winery, easy to wear, so freakin’ comfortable!

Mike’s Suit: 

We got Mike’s suit at Macy’s its from a brand called Bar III, which cleverly uses a man running in a suit as their label. The tie, pocket square, and socks are all from Tie Bar.

 

Venues: 

Prior to getting engaged, we had talked about the type of wedding we wanted. We had come up with a few things that were our non-negotiables. We wanted to take the emotion out of a big financial and emotional decision so the first thing we did was created categories with which to rank our visits. I think we had 7 categories of things. Including, ease of transportation, cost, overall vibe and more. After each venue visit, we separately ranked each category 1-10. 12 Corners not only won on the emotional level but it outranked all the other venues in our makeshift ranking system.

We also ended up at one of our favorite breweries in the area, North Pier, for a first drink of sorts with our bridal party and their +1s. It was a really great way to enjoy everyone who had traveled to be with us and just be all dressed up and have a moment of chill.

The Ceremony: 

The short story is our ceremony was more perfect than we could have ever dreamed. Mike’s cousin Terry officiated it and he knocked it out of the park. The long story is … always trust your gut. Our ceremony was equal parts funny, serious and effortlessly us. We opted to incorporate our mixed heritages and said unique vows from Walt Whitman’s song of the open road. Oh! And we took a selfie!

The Decor: 

The only way I can describe the theme was that I did not want to out vineyard the vineyard. My mom made the gorgeous ceremony signs that matched our invitations. And the centerpieces were a labor of love – I scrubbed the labels off of 80+ bottles of wine. The rest of the décor was minimal, I made the bar signs and the s’mores sign and just stuck them in borrowed frames!

Reception/Dancing/Music: All the fun!

Our DJ, Derek Hall aka The Block Party brought. The. Party. For the speeches, we had Derek play walk-up music, an ode to baseball. He also mixed Go Cubs Go into Mike’s mother-son song. There has never been a more joyful mother-son dance ever.

We opted to make our first dance, a Hall and Oates classic, the last of the formal dances so that we could start the party immediately following. I don’t think a single person left the dance floor all night. Which is a dream and a true testament to Derek.

Your Photographer: 

Rachel and Tina were amazing. Rachel brings light and joy into everything she touches and made our day so seamless. She and Tina both showed up with a huge smile and an easy-going attitude that put my own stress at ease. Taking portraits took what felt like 5 minutes and being grabbed off the dance floor for night photos was the perfect reflection point in the night. I was so grateful to not have to think about anything photo related at any point during the day, because I knew we were in good hands all day long.

Any Advice for couples planning their wedding?

Don’t listen to anyone else’s advice. Okay, if your vendors tell you that your timeline is crazy ambitious, maybe listen to that but, otherwise, the wedding of your dreams is only limited by your imagination. There are no rules so trust your intuition.

 A real piece of advice though – do everything early. That way during the week/ weekend of your wedding you can truly sit back and enjoy!

 

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Briar Barns Wedding

This wedding was THE BOMB DOT COM!!!!!! Not only are Sami and Alex two of the most wonderful people ever. But in their entire GIANT wedding party (I don’t mess when I call a wedding party giant, this was a big one) were some of the nicest most thoughtful people ever! Everyone surrounding their day was amazing and just a joy to work with. I loved everything about their day. From waiting until the ceremony to see each other, singing songs with their family members before dinner and a LOT of adults dancing with ribbons, it was one for the books.

BONUS. My own personal wedding photographer was a guest <3 Her husband was the most helpful wonderful wedding party member, and I made a lot of GIFs of them <3 I really enjoyed spending the day at this wonderful venue (amazing staff at Briar Barns!!!) with Sami and Alex!

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Grand Rapids Public Museum Wedding

SOOOOOOO PUMPED to finally share this amazing day with Dana and Tony!!! This Grand Rapids Public Museum Wedding is one for the books. The most goregous summer day, with the most wonderful people. ALSO TO NOTE: I got engaged the DAY before this wedding so things were even more exciting :D. Thanks to Katie for taking some snaps of me and these babes throughout the day! I will let Dana and Tony take it from here.

 

The Beginning: 

We are both Western Michigan University alumni – we were on campus at the same time, knew the same people, were at the same parties but hadn’t ever met! We both happened to go back to WMU to tailgate for the WMU/MSU football game on Labor Day weekend 2015 and met through our mutual friends – Chris & Sydney! We went on our first date at Founders Brewing Company two days after we met and have been smitten since!

Dana’s Dress:

I had no idea what I really wanted for my big day but knew I loved the uniqueness of designer Hayley Paige gowns, so I went to a Hayley Paige trunk show and fell in love with the first dress i tried on! I ended up trying a few more on but went back to the first one! So many sequins and a trumpet cut to die for, it made me feel like a princess!

Groom’s Suit:

When we started planning the wedding there was really only one thing Tony was vocal about – to be wearing his favorite color, blue. He ended up picking out a dark navy tuxedo with a light blue bow tie & boy did he look handsome!

(there were pretzels you guys……..)

The Ceremony:

The Ceremony was so special…….. but SO HOT. It ended up being around 90 that day and St. James does not have AC so things got sweaty up front! Our priest, Father Ron was incredible and made light of the heat and tried to keep it short but sweet to keep our day meaningful but moving. Walking down the aisle has to be the most nerve-wracking part of the day, but that moment of seeing each other for the first time at the Church was something I will never forget!

A few of the groomsmen took a special moment to remember a friend who couldn’t be with them on this day <3 I was so happy to walk to the Japanese Garden at Frederick Meijer Gardens with them and capture this for them <3

Venues:

The weekend before Tony proposed (unbeknownst to me) we were on a walk downtown GR after eating too many tacos at Donkey Taqueria and walked past a wedding reception going on at the Grand Rapids Public Museum… I said to him, “OMG how much fun would that be to have a wedding there?!” Fast forward just over a year and our ceremony was at St James Catholic Church on Bridge St. and our reception was at the GRPM! Riding the carousel with our wedding party was one of my favorite parts of the day!

The Decor: 

I would call our theme vintage romance maybe…. my mom and sister and all of my aunts really helped execute the idea but my wonderful mother Julie was the main person executing all of my crazy ideas! We all love to go antiquing for vintage items and spent the year before our wedding gathering vintage brass items for center pieces – vases, animals, bells… you name it we found it! Playing on the museum, I thought vintage is only appropriate and we ended up doing little brass animals throughout different center pieces to incorporate the carousel – including unicorns on the head table! It was romantic and beautiful and better than I ever thought it could be! 

Reception/Dancing/Music:

Well, having a carousel at your venue makes for a ton of fun! I loved seeing pictures of everyone having a blast on that throughout the night! But a really special moment at our reception was Tony and I’s first dance. Instead of a traditional love song, we decided to dance to a song that we both love – Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty. It will forever be even more special to us! Our DJ, Justin of JM Katz Entertainment was awesome! He accommodated our different tastes in music and had good ideas and tips for the day he shared with us. We both had too much fun dancing with our guests on the dance floor!

(picture of me for reference of how much fun the carousel actually is <3)

Your Photographer: 

I learned of Rachel’s amazing talent through a friend who had been in a wedding that she shot last summer. Her creativity and the way she captures light was everything we didn’t know we needed for our big day. We did a Skype session to get to know each other and we knew she was it from that moment on! Tony and I were both super nervous about being in front of the camera and Rachel has the ability to make you forget she is even taking pictures. Her passion for what she does is inspiring, her fun and bubbly personality makes you want to have her around all of the time. She did an amazing job keeping our rowdy Groomsmen in check and took the time to capture little special moments all while dealing with the heat of an early August wedding. Thank you a million times over to Rachel and her second shooter for the day – Katie MacGregor. You guys were rockstars and I can’t recommend these two enough!

Any Advice for couples planning their wedding?

Don’t feel like you have to conform to the old wedding social norms… It is YOUR day and should be focused on you enjoying your special moment, not about what guests will think.

 

VENDOR SHOUT OUTS:

Planning/Coordination: LG Event Design

 

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Sundance Studios Wedding

The Beginning: 

We worked together in the kitchen at a restaurant called Vie in a Chicago suburb.  We would go for beers after work together as friends. Slowly we started hanging out on our days off and the rest is history!!

Venue: 

Well, we both live in Chicago and knew we could not afford it there. A friend got married at a venue in Michigan and told us about the company.  When we went to check out the Sundance Studio in Benton Harbor, MI, and we both fell in love! It was vintage-y and unique with an awesome outdoor space.  We also rented out a resort in South Haven called the Sun and Sand Resort for our friends and family. It had a pool, fire pits, and all our amazing friends and family so close to us to hang out and celebrate for the weekend.

Amber’s Dress:

The thought of trying on dresses made me want to barf, but when I tried on the dress that I decided on I started to tear up…. my mom made me say “Yes the dress” at the shop (eye roll). The dress made me feel beautiful and comfortable

Ben’s Suit:

Ben got his suit custom made which was awesome (the boy has a big booty so most dress pants do not fit right ;))!  From the fabric, to the number of buttons on the sleeve, every last detail was chosen by Ben; and he let his fashion flag fly!! Bonus: the tiny boutique gave an awesome industry discount for restaurant peeps.

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The Ceremony: 

The chef from Vie Restaurant where we first met officiated our wedding. It was perfect! My niece Brielle was not having it as a flower girl and she chucked the flowers at the ground for about 5 steps and that was it! A for effort.  Oh and I cried like a baby!

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The Decor:

Since the Sundance Studio was already so awesome, we really did not need much. Some flowers on the table, couple of engagement pics and BOOM!! decor.

cake cutting gifsundance studios weddingAny Advice for couples planning their wedding?

Do not sweat the small stuff!! Have awesome food and drink and make sure you write a list songs you want to hear from the DJ. Take a minute (or many minutes) as a couple together away from everyone, there is so much going on that day. Do not feel the need to visit with everyone and hear their life stories but do make sure to visit!!

Your Photographer: 

Rachel was freaking amazing! Every guest had nothing but great things to say about her. She made us feel comfortable with all the pictures every step of the way; never being pushy, or making it feel mega staged! She has a way of making ever pic look natural because it is!! She is also hilarious soooooooo that helps! We love Rachel!

 

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Black Barn Vineyard and Winery Wedding

This wedding is one of my favorites this year! Not only was the venue amazing and perfect for this rainy on and off day, but Sydney and Andrew were literally my favorite people ever. We had so much fun back at their engagement session, it’s no wonder we had a blast with their Black Barn Vineyard and Winery Wedding. ON TOP OF THEM BEING AWESOME their wedding party was the absolute best, we even have inside jokes (FINGER GUNS! FINGER GUNSSS!) featured in this blog ;). While it was supposed to rain for the ceremony so we moved it inside, everything was still perfect. I absolutely ADORE the ethereal/magical look that getting married in front of big windows gives. It’s one of those things venues always warn me about saying photographers HATE shooting in front of them, but I kinda love it. It’s a common thing that happens when I shoot at The Bottom Lounge as well and I really enjoy it.

Some of my favorite parts of this day included: hanging with goats, fries, dance parties during family photos, the decoration in the barn (I never share this many detail shots), the emotional First Look AND walking down the aisle <3 (proof you can have your first look and tears down the aisle too!), photos with all the wedding party couples and the lack of rain when it was supposed to pour the entire day. I just loved this Black Barn Vineyard and Winery Wedding. But I will let Sydney and Andrew take it from here:

The Beginning: 

Andrew and Sydney met through a mutual friend when they were in college (who ended up being their best man!).  Sydney went to Central Michigan University where she met one of her best friends, Peter.  One weekend, Peter’s childhood friend, Andrew, came to visit him at school.  That’s when Andrew and Sydney first met.  After spending some time together, Andrew told Peter that he was interested in Syd, but Peter told him that she was too sarcastic for him.  So Andrew moved on.

Andrew visited CMU a few more times in the next year.  Finally, Peter decided that Andrew was, in fact, able to handle Syd’s sarcasm, and executed a phone number swap.  After that, Sydney and Andrew were constantly Skyping, texting, and calling.  After another month, they started dating long-distance (Andrew went to school in Detroit).  They continued this long-distance relationship for years, seeing each other only on the weekends, until they finally moved in together in the same city.  That’s when they realized that what they had was wonderful, but seeing each other every day was the absolute best 🙂  From then on, the story is pretty average- he proposed, she said yes, and they got hitched!

Andrew’s Suit

Andrew wanted his groomsmen to spend their money on something they could keep and use, so instead of rending tuxes, they bought suits from Jos A. Banks.  But what really left Andrew spending hours on the Internet was the search for ties.  They bought (and returned) multiple shades of pink and green until they found the perfect hues.  Then Andrew found the tie of all floral ties that ended up going perfectly with the wedding decor and bridesmaid dresses.

The Decor: 

Sydney is not a detail person.  She had been buying/renting some decor here and there, and just figured everyone would help figure out where to put it when they decorated the day before the wedding.  That would be fine, right?

Apparently, wrong.

When Syd shared her plan with her mom and some other vendors, they politely told her that that’s not how things work.  Who knew?!  That’s when her mom offered to take over the decorating for the wedding (with the understanding that Syd would have to do what she decided on).  That was fine with her.  One less thing to worry about.

Syd’s mom then enlisted the help of Aunt Trina, the AMAZING, CREATIVE, ANGEL who pretty much designed the entire look of the wedding.  AND IT WAS PERFECT.  She put together rented items (beautiful rustic decor from Shenandoah’s Rustic Rents), homemade items, and other secret ingredients, to make a garden wonderland with the perfect touch of Harry Potter references.

Also, the florist was MAGNIFICENT.  She reflected the theme and feel perfectly in her arrangements and created a totally gorge floral arch for the ceremony.  And she spent way more time and energy setting everything up than we ever expected her to.

And then Syd and Andrew added tiny plastic dinosaurs to everything because life can’t be too perfect 😉

Sydney’s Dress:

“The Dress” came from Becker’s Bridal in Fowler, MI.  This is where Syd’s mom had purchased her wedding dress, some 200 years ago (just kidding, more like 40).  Syd gathered her mom, grandma, aunt, and maid of honor to go check out dresses.  The dress she bought, a Beautiful Bridal a-line number, was the second dress she tried on.  But she still tried on 8 more, just to make sure she had it right.

Venue:

The Black Barn Winery is the most beautiful place in Michigan (in our opinion).  Andrew and Syd had looked at a lot of venues, but nothing seemed “right”.  Then they visited The Black Barn, and there was no question- this HAD to be where they got married.  It was all Syd could do to keep it together through the tour.  When they got in the car afterward, they both looked at each other and know this was the place.

The Black Barn staff were THE most accommodating, sweet, and helpful people ever.  The grounds of the winery and renovated barn were immaculate.  There was literally nothing wrong with this place.  It was nature-y without being too country.  WIN!

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Thank goodness for friends who secure post-photo / pre-ceremony french fries from McDonalds. Those are true friends.

McDonalds Fries Weddingblack barn vineyard and winery wedding friesblack barn vineyard and winery wedding

The Ceremony: 

The ceremony was to be held outside in the vineyard, under a glorious oak tree.  Unfortunately, the weather didn’t want to be predictable that day.   Even though it never actually rained, the grass was very wet from the rain the night before, and Sydrew (couple name) decided that they didn’t want the guests to get their shoes and clothes all wet on the walk out there.  So they moved the ceremony to the barn.

BUT WHO CARES because it was just as beautiful.  They held the ceremony in front of giant glass doors that looked out to the venue’s pond.  The florist magically attached the arch to the wall and added pretty lights.  It was honestly just a beautiful as the vineyard would have been.  No regrets.

Literally, the only thing that went “wrong” the whole day was that the flower girl got sick on her dress on the way to the ceremony.  Luckily, Syd had gifted her some cute floral bell-bottom pants (so that she could match the bridesmaids), and those, coupled with a borrowed shirt from a guest, made for the hippest flower girl that ever walked the aisle.  You see, Bryn had been practicing this for a year, so there was no way Syd would allow her to miss her moment.  And she rocked it.

Reception/Dancing/Music: 

The reception, DJ’d by the raddest guy around, DJ Chewy, was a blast.  Syd pretty much never left the dance floor  (she even did the worn, synchronized with Uncle Mike).  Andrew got to catch up with all of his out-of-state family.  Guests played corn hole and ladder ball, toured the grounds, and drank grape cider.  Everyone had a blast.  It ended with a not-so-epic-but-still-awesome lift, a la Dirty Dancing.

Your Photographer:

Rachel is the bomb diggity.  She is the best hype woman you will ever have.  Taking pictures can be awkward, but she makes everything seem completely normal.  Her positive attitude, expertise (on everything, not just photography), and talent make for the trifecta of wedding photography.  Plus, her pictures are gorge.  Rachel has to be our favorite vendor that we had.  She’s a ROCKSTAR.

father daughter dance michigan photographer

Any Advice for couples planning their wedding?

#1:  Get a day of coordinator.  We paid a little extra to have a person at the venue do this and it was the best decision we made.  She handled everything, knew everything, and was probably actually an wedding angel sent from heaven.

#2:  Don’t let the little things bother you.  EVERYTHING WILL WORK OUT.  We promise.

#3:  Plan a breakfast the morning of.  It calms your nerves and gets you wedding parties pumped.  We suggest bagels.  They’re tasty.

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