District 5 Schoolhouse Wedding

I freaking love this day.

I freaking love these two. I barely can come up with the words explaining how amazing this day was, how Kendra and Brad it was, how perfectly amazing their families and friends were (It was also the Michigan State/ Michigan Football game day…>GO GREEN<). I will let them tell you all about it. All I have to say is, this is the most photos I have ever taken at a wedding, the most fun activities/games/stuff to do, and the most wonderful people. So I probably made this post a bit long. But it’s good stuff. I would also like to personally thank Sarah and Monica and the whole crew at Grand Occasions, they were by far, the most amazing planning crew to have around on a wedding day. AND Christian VanAntwerpen for being my second shooter this day and taking some of these rad photos/GIFs.  I freaking love them too!

Now Kendra and Brad, take it away:

How They Met:

Our story begins at a bar in Lansing where Brad’s band was playing in February of 2011. Kendra had an instant crush on Brad, and so when he called her up on stage mid-set to join the band in singing a cover of “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show, she jumped at the opportunity…despite not knowing any of the lyrics. The risk we both took that night paid off, as we’ve been virtually inseparable ever since.

 

The Decor:

Brad named our theme “dinosaur and whimsy” – ha! We knew we wanted things to be quirky, personal, and fun throughout our day, and this included decor. So many people helped us make our day come together. My mom and aunt helped us thrift hundreds of mismatched vases and containers for our centerpieces, my maid of honor made our team bride and team groom buttons, our sister-in-law made us beautiful chalkboard signs, Brad’s best man drew all of our table illustrations and seating chart signs, Brad’s dad built the trellis for the ceremony, and I personally painted about 500 plastic dinosaurs with gold spray paint.

Brad’s Suit:

Brad knew he wanted to wear a heavier tweed or wool suit for our wedding, but it was difficult to find in the warmer climate of Nashville! We finally found the perfect suit at Brook’s Brothers. He couldn’t have looked more handsome!

Kendra’s Dress:

My parents visited Nashville soon after our engagement, and my mom was so excited that we made an appointment at a consignment dress store just to see what was available and what I liked. I found the PERFECT dress right away – a perfectly quirky yet romantic Robert Bullock dress with a full chiffon skirt and lace flowers that almost float when I walked. Way more traditional than I thought I would go with, but I couldn’t have loved it more!

The Venue:

We got married at the District 5 Schoolhouse in Borculo, Michigan. It was the PERFECT place for us – untraditional, intimate, historical, and charming. The staff was wonderful to work with, and the outdoor ceremony space made our dreams come true!

The Ceremony:

The ceremony was amazing. We didn’t follow many traditions, only ones that felt important and meaningful to us. We wrote the ceremony together, along with our own vows. We both had both of our parents walk us down the aisle. Our friend Ted was our officiant, and we had two close friends read passages from literature that were meaningful to us. Kendra is very proud that she made Brad cry!

Reception / Dancing / Fun:

Our reception was pure magic! The speeches, the food, the impromptu pom-pom wars that broke out between tables – so much fun! Though we’re pretty sure nothing could ever top Brad’s dad making a surprise appearance in a dinosaur costume on the dance floor. We closed out the night on a USA themed school bus turned party bus, blowing out the speakers and dancing on the seats. Truly the best night of our lives.

How was your photographer?

Rachel was the best photographer we could have ever hoped for. From the instant we met her, we just clicked. Not only are her photos artistic, beautiful, and full of life, her personality just puts everyone instantly at ease – even when navigating an insanely long list of extended family photos! We couldn’t be more grateful

Advice to Couples:

It can be so easy to get caught up in what other people want or expect on your big day because of course you want everyone around you to be happy and have fun. What we learned is that people will have fun no matter what – it’s a party celebrating two people they love being in love, after all! So you may as well enjoy the process, and make a couple of decisions that are just exactly what you want them to be.

Share on FacebookTweet this PostPin Images to PinterestBack to Top

Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit Wedding

DETROIT has my heart. I have done quite a few weddings in the Detroit area, but this was my “FIRST” (I have second shot a TON of weddings downtown) downtown Detroit wedding. And it was amazing. Perie and Calder are #couplegoals. Their love is infectious and their families just made this whole day 1000x better. I will leave the rest of this up to them. But just had to say, I am obsessed.

How You Met // The Love Story:

We met online! Very modern and not particularly romantic, but there it is. We sometimes marvel at the randomness of it, and how scary that is to think we could have easily never met.  We fell completely in love with each other quickly and thoroughly.

Some of our favorite things early on was to share music with each other, and trade craft beer recommendations. We very much enjoy going out to dinner and hanging with friends, but our “couch” time talking, cuddling, sharing music, and falling in love was wonderful.

Perie’s Dress:

My dress is from BHLDN, and is called the Penelope dress. I loved it because it was the perfect combination of romance, whimsy, and ease. I got it in Seattle with my family at the one and only dress appointment I went on, and bucking tradition (a theme for our wedding), Calder was there for the appointment as well. We both felt it was important for him to share that experience, and I really value his opinion. Later that evening Calder wrote me the sweetest little note on a receipt telling me how emotional the experience was and how excited he was to get married.

I knew I wanted minimal jewelry because the top of the dress was so delicate and beautiful, so I only wore earrings (also from BHLDN). They turned out to be way too long (they kept getting stuck in my hair and on the dress when I tried them on) so my mom broke a few pieces off right before the ceremony. My shoes were Jessica Simpson and were absolutely beautiful, but also horribly, horribly uncomfortable. Walking around to take pictures after the ceremony was a trial, but thankfully I had Calder to make me laugh and Rachel managed to not capture any of the moments where I was grimacing in pain. Of course, they came off fairly quickly at the reception, and my feet were a very dirty black from the concrete floor at the end of the night. I tend to go barefoot as much as possible anyway, so this felt pretty natural.

Calder’s Suit:

The suits were purchased from Men’s Wearhouse. It was important to me (Calder) that the groomsmen didn’t waste $200 on a tux rental when just a bit more gave them something to keep. Despite Perie’s encouragement to be slightly more colorful in work clothing choices, Calder prefers simple, classic colors when dressing up. Luckily, this fit Perie’s vision of the wedding palette and a simple and modern but classic look of the navy jacket and grey pants complimented the style and feel of the wedding we envisioned. Perie loved the berry-colored groomsmen ties and my grey tie provided a nice contrast.

Because I had two male bridal party members (my brother Alijah as Man of Honor, and my friend Chris as a bridesman), I wanted some way to set them apart from Calder’s groomsmen. I had mentioned the idea of bowties to Calder early on and he was NOT interested. I love them though, so it was a perfect compromise and solution to have my guys wear them. Chris and I share a love of Doctor Who (bowties are cool!) so it was extra fun to have them in the wedding, and both he and Alijah looked fantastic.

The Venues:

Our ceremony was outside in the garden of the Whitney Mansion, and the reception was held at MOCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit). We debated briefly between getting married in Detroit or up north in the Traverse City area, however it was never much of a contest. Detroit has been incredibly important to us as the city where we have our first home together, and a place we love and believe in fiercely. It was important to us to share the city with our family and friends (those who didn’t live here already), and make it a part of our wedding. While we both enjoy time up north and Traverse City is Calder’s hometown, Detroit is something we uniquely share together.

Both venues together represented our styles perfectly. The garden was a lovely, plant-filled oasis at an incredible historic site, and the museum was a perfect industrial chic backdrop for our festivities.

Decor:

We didn’t really have a theme for our decorations, though I had a definite ‘vision’ in my mind going into the process. Our inspiration was built from the wedding color palette: berry, green, navy, and grey tones. Neither venue needed much decoration, as they each had personality and style on their own, so we mostly just focused on flowers/greenery and lighting. All of the flowers and greenery came from a local flower farm in the city (literally in a neighborhood in the city! You gotta love Detroit) called Fresh Cut Flower Farm. Sarah, the owner, did an amazing job creating the bouquets and boutonnieres, and also provided an astounding amount of loose florals and greenery for use in decorating. We did all the decorating and floral arranging ourselves, by which I mean my amazing family did all the hard, creative work while I merely provided a loose vision. My sisters created the table and escort cards (free hand calligraphy!), my mom made the beautiful, personalized cake topper (I baked and put together the cake myself. Proud of how it turned out, despite it’s homely appearance!), and Calder’s sister and mother made the cupcakes and gluten-free pie. I can’t emphasize enough how much of a collaborative, DIY affair our decor was.

My dad built the incredible arch for our ceremony and covered it in flowers with direction from my bridal party. My favorite pieces from the reception were the magical glass terrarium globes, which my mother and sisters put together using flowers and moss my mom brought all the way from Seattle (in her suitcase! On a plane!). My aunts and bridal party did the work decorating the museum for the reception, and it couldn’t have turned out more perfect if it had jumped directly out of my head and into the space.

The Ceremony:

We spent a lot of time thinking about how we wanted our ceremony to be. Neither of us is religious, and we both tend to balk at tradition. We ended up settling on the idea of having our nearest and dearest fulfill the role of ‘officiant’ and marry us as a group. We decided that the only reason we were having a wedding, rather than eloping privately, was because we wanted to share this experience with our loved ones and in this spirit, we wanted to make sure to include everyone as much as possible in the ceremony itself. Our dear friend Matt served in the role of Master of Ceremonies and did such a wonderful job providing solemnity, meaning, and humor.

One of my favorite moments (besides our vows to each other) was the song my family sang near the end. Singing has always been a big part of my family (we sing together constantly, randomly, and sometimes annoyingly) and something I love and cherish about us, so I was so happy to have their performance incorporated into the ceremony.

The ceremony was quite long, which I was initially uncomfortable with, but realized that this was the most important part of our wedding and so deserved the love and attention everyone showed it. Calder was always quick to gently remind me, every time I was anxious about what others were going to think or feel, that this was OUR wedding and the only reason to do anything was because we wanted to do it. Each individual blessing from the people we had speak felt so special, and we were so happy to have the ceremony feel completely, uniquely ours.

Reception/Music/Dancing:

When we first began planning, we came up with a few words that represented the feel we wanted for our wedding. The most important of these were: fun and loving. Our ceremony covered the loving part, and the reception was nothing if not fun. The live music was really the cornerstone that set the mood and injected energy and joie de vivre into the whole evening. Live music was something Calder felt VERY strongly about, while I was less convinced it was necessary. It’s a good thing Calder got his way, because he was completely and totally right about how much of a difference live music would make.

We LOVED our band, In the Blue Jazz (who Calder found on the handy Google). They were fun young gentleman (all in their 20s and U of M students) who gave us classy cocktail tunes, as well as Motown/pop/funk/jazz for dancing. They were amazing.

We decided to go with food trucks for dinner, for three reasons: first, catering is expensive (!), second, food trucks are a quintessential Detroit staple, and third, we thought it was fun and unique! Both Saucy Joe’s and Regina’s produced awesome food and we were really happy with this aspect of our reception.

How did your Photographer do?:

We loved everything about working with Rachel! She was calm, energetic, and bossy in the best way. We had a large wedding party that tended to wander and lacked attention, and she did an incredible job wrangling everyone and getting the photos we wanted. Neither of us wanted to spend a lot of time taking photos after the ceremony, and Rachel managed to get through this portion like a ROCKET, and produce lovely photos along the way. We were blown away by all the candid, special moments she captured and how perfectly her photos represented the look, feel, and emotion of our day.

Advice to Couples Planning Their Wedding:

Perie’s advice: Be responsible for and involved in AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE the day of (and even before) the wedding. This was something I heard from other brides (including my sister) but didn’t really take to heart until after the experience. We planned and put together our wedding entirely ourselves, with help from family, and while this worked fine before the day, it was too much to try and maintain while also enjoying the experience of my wedding day. Because I hadn’t consciously set a plan in place to hand over all responsibility to our very willing families, it was very hard to separate myself from the details and just enjoy the moment. I wish I had been able to take a step back, enjoy more time with my bridal party, relax, and focus on the wonderful thing Calder and I were embarking on. I LOVED our wedding, and in the end, couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day and experience, but I have joked since that I never want to go through it again haha.

Calder’s advice- be flexible. Both parties have had some semblance of a vision for what their wedding should/will look like; these visions will not always mesh up. It’s important to find some core elements of the wedding that you both share, and also identify a few individual pieces that are exceptionally important to each person that are non-negotiable. I recommend a focus on fundamentally human, rather than religious or legal, considerations when planning: love, commitment, joy, connection.

 

Share on FacebookTweet this PostPin Images to PinterestBack to Top

YA’LL LIKE HOT DOGS?

Cause I’m down. These two were like “Hey wanna meet at Duk’s we live right next to it!” and I WAS LIKE: “Yes please but can we please do some hot dog photos” with a worried look on my face (they couldn’t see..cause I’m on the phone), their response was “UMM YES!”

This is when I knew I was the photographer for them. We vibe. So well.
Anytime you wanna do photos with food? Count me in.

They get married TOMORROW at one of my FAVORITE venues (I haven’t been to the Bottom Lounge in TWO YEARS! so pumped). Well, technically they are already married…they are just finally celebrating their marriage with family and friends. Also, it may be rude to say. But Lauren’s ring is ONE OF MY FAVORITE RINGS of all time. It’s so fun and unique. Plus she let me GIF it with a hot dog. So maybe thats my bias? Anyway. So pumped to spend this magical day with them in Chicago at the HEIGHT of my busy pumpkin patch season (#sorrynotsorry family farm).

SO JAZZED.

Share on FacebookTweet this PostPin Images to PinterestBack to Top

Grand Haven Engagement Photography

Today is MARRIAGE DAY!!!

WOOT WOOT. The weather has decided to do its own thing and be kinda gloomy/windy. But that won’t stop these two from getting hitched and having a great time. I am so pumped to hang out with them (in just a few hours!!). We met up in my hometown of Grand Haven on a beautiful windy, warm fall day at Kirk Park. I just love that place <3 you get the great beachy vibe but some awesome hardwood forests surrounding it. Dunes are the bees knees.

I am so excited to boogey down with them today and enjoy the windddyyyyy weather. SO PUMPED.

Share on FacebookTweet this PostPin Images to PinterestBack to Top

Michigan Apple Orchard Wedding 

 

OK This is a REAL. GOOD. ONE. HERE.

I have been putting off blogging it for 2 reasons. ONE: I have a lot of weddings to edit and I don’t want to hold back from delivering them, but I am completely caught up to where I need to be for my deadlines. TWO: I feel like blogging this one gives it some sort of finality, like my part of this day, is done and it to be honest, it makes me a little sad! I enjoyed every second of Amanda and Jeff’s Michigan apple orchard wedding. Highlights, of course, were just hanging with Amanda and Jeff, but also their family and friends. Wholy cow guys. CREW GOALS. Some of the nicest most thoughtful people on the planet in this group. My other favorite parts were getting to hang w/ my rad second shooter Christian, and finally getting to meet some vendor Hero’s I have been admiring for YEARS, Jamie Kirby (Heyday Lab) and Kaci Lee (Damsel Floral), you two are amazing. SERIOUSLY. Hire them.

Welp, I am just getting sappy thinking about how amazing this day was. So I will leave it to Amanda and Jeff to tell you more.

How You Met // The Beginning:

Our wedding day was on the 7 year anniversary of the weekend we met, which happened to be at a music festival in San Francisco. We were volunteering in the wine tent (already a good start because from day one, we knew we had the love of live music, wine and free festival tickets in common). Each of us were covering for friends who couldn’t make their shift, which basically means that fate brought us together. 🙂 Since that first serendipitous festival weekend, our love has grown and brought us through many adventures, including living in San Francisco, Berlin and now Amsterdam (which is our current home and a place very near and dear to our hearts). Although we’ve lived and traveled to many places, both of us have Midwest roots (Michigan & Ohio) so it was important for us to get married close to home and our families.

Location // Venue:

We got hitched and celebrated with BBQ, live music (including a surprise DJ set), homebrew, and pie at Crane’s Orchards in Fennville, MI. We really wanted a relaxed, outdoor venue and Crane’s was perfect. Amanda used to go apple picking in their U-Pick orchards every fall growing up, but we had no idea they allowed weddings until we stumbled across one of Rachel’s blog posts from a wedding a couple years ago. Once we found out that Crane’s also has a vacation rental on the property, we were SOLD! We were wed underneath the walnut trees and celebrated in their wooden pavilions, and were lucky enough to serve their homemade pies, apple cider donuts, and hard cider as well!

Amanda’s Dress:

Because we live abroad, Amanda was on a mission to find and buy her wedding dress over the holidays (for sake of convenience and also so her favorite ladies could help her make a decision in person). Luckily, Spring Sweet (the absolute *sweetest* bridal boutique we visited) is based in her hometown of Holland, Michigan and she found her dream dress there. Not only was the dress her favorite, it was comfortable, fairly priced and we were able to support a local business (the best part!). The designer is Willowby by Watters.

Jeff’s Suit:

Jeff found his suit in Amsterdam at SuitSupply, and they were so helpful with helping him find the perfect style and fit. The main event was his bolo tie though. He found a vendor from Montana (CJ’s Rocks & Gems) who specializes in handmade bolo ties and Jeff ordered them for himself and his groomsmen, which turned out to be a special gift for the guys.

heyday labs wedding michigan

The Decor:

None of this magic would have happened without our amazing wedding planner, Jamie Kirby (Heyday Lab). We thought we were crazy people to plan a wedding from another continent, but Jamie had everything under control and actually made the whole planning process fun. From the very beginning, she helped us focus on what was most important to us, which helped guide our overall themes: personal, natural, and fun. We wanted our wedding to feel like an intimate festival, inclusive of our favorite things and learned traditions. This led us to hire two bands and asking our friend to DJ, catering *delicious* BBQ from Two Scotts BBQ, going for lots of greenery and wildflowers (Kaci from Damsel Floral nailed it), and keeping the material decor light since we were lucky enough to be surrounded by the natural beauty of Crane’s orchards and walnut grove (and the corn fields!).

Another highlight was that the groom, Jeff Brush, is a graphic designer by trade and designed all of the printed material (save-the-dates, invites, programs, menus, etc), signage (designed AND hand-painted) and website for the wedding. He was inspired by the orchard itself, so that drove many of our aesthetic decisions.

heyday labs wedding michigandamsel floral arch michigan

The Ceremony:

We wrote our own ceremony with our officiant (one of our dear friends) and our themes revolved around family, adventure and our connection to the earth and our loved ones. Not only was our officiant one of our closest friends, he’s also one of the funniest (pro-tip: ask your funny friend to officiate!) which helped set the tone of our light-hearted ceremony. We mixed family vows with our own personal vows, we each had one of our cousins read a favorite poem and incorporated a Native American wedding vase which was gifted to us by Jeff’s grandmother days before the wedding. All of this created a ceremony that was equal parts sentimental, special, nerve-wracking and funny at the same time.

cranes orchard weddingmichigan apple orchard wedding

Post Ceremony Fun:

We had a hayride and it was a HIT! One of our favorite moments of the day was taking a cruise through the orchards with our bridal party. We also had plenty of lawn games scattered throughout the walnut grove.

The Photographers:

Rachel and her second shooter, Christian, were amazing. We absolutely loved Rachel’s style and demeanor and we actually chose our venue AND her because of her Crane’s blog post that we found. Their enthusiasm and energy were infectious, their personalities made us feel calm and comfortable, and they made the whole process FUN! Our only complaint is that they couldn’t stay longer to party with us! 🙂

The Music:

Because we were going for a festival vibe (honoring the day we met / we just really love live music), we decided to have three different live music sets. For our ceremony and cocktail hour, we hired a bluegrass band called Fauxgrass and they were amazing! They created a wonderful setting in the orchard for our special moment and they even followed us down the aisle after we were married which was SO fun! Next up, we had The Cheap Dates for dinner & dancing and they rocked it! They are an awesome two-man cover band out of Kalamazoo, Michigan and they really got our family and friends out of their seats and dancing to our favorites. Finally, a surprise to everyone (including the bride & groom), we had an amazing DJ set by JK Wilson to end the night with a bang. JK is one of Jeff’s best friends and a groomsmen, and we had asked him to play a simple playlist on his iPod… little did we know that he was planning a full DJ set, complete with glow sticks, special lights, and a fog machine, a custom lighted stormtroopers helmet, t-shirts with Jeff & Amanda’s faces printed on them, and amazing music that made the night one to remember.  (I am so freaking sad I didn’t stay longer to witness this magic….GAH!)

 

The Food & Drinks:

Keeping with the relaxed environment of the wedding, we decided to celebrate with delicious BBQ! We hired Two Scotts BBQ and the food was fingerlickin’ good. Amanda’s favorite was the pimento mac & cheese – yum! For dessert we kept it local and had Crane’s homemade pies and apple cider donuts.

Luckily, we have our very own beer brewer in the family – Jeff’s dad! A Brush celebration is not complete without John Brush’s homebrew beer, so we made sure to have a few of his tasty beers on draft. We also kept it local and had some great West Michigan beers and Crane’s hard cider.

 

dancing with drinksdancing at the apple orchard

Advice For Planning Your Wedding Day:

From Jeff: First and foremost, prioritize which things you want to be the focus of your wedding. Is it the food? The music? The venue? Creating a clear hierarchy of these things really helped us plan our theme and most of all our budget. It’s also very easy to get caught up in all the madness during your big day. Make sure to step back during some point and make sure to enjoy it. Oh ya, and don’t sweat the small stuff!

From Amanda: Hire a wedding planner!!! Preferably one as talented as Jamie. 🙂 She took the stress out of wedding planning, which made the process relaxed, fun and a time I will fondly remember with Jeff. Since the wedding is only one day, you want to make sure you enjoy the process, before the wedding and especially after. Also, don’t be afraid to make it as personal as you want! The most important thing is that you’re marrying your one true love, and sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the details, traditions or expectations of others (and usually you’re putting this pressure on yourself). Like Jeff said, don’t sweat the small stuff!

Share on FacebookTweet this PostPin Images to PinterestBack to Top