Fallasburg Park Wedding 

OY! I am back to blogging! For some reason I feel like blogging a wedding means everything is final, and therefore I have put off blogging this one because I just don’t want it to ever end! THESE TWO!! GAH!!! I don’t want to give it all away but their story is adorable, this day was a gorgeous October day (despite some really close calls with the rain!), and Fallasburg Park in Grand Rapids MI was the perfect backdrop. I’ll let Connie and Mike take it from here:

 

How You Met:

We both work at museums, so it’s fitting that we met at the Michigan Museums Association (MMA) conference in 2012. I (Connie) thought Mike was cute when I first saw him, but Mike was the ultimate professional and didn’t even notice me! After that, we saw each other annually at museum conferences and became friends. Although we secretly liked each other, we each had no idea the other person was into us…even after hanging out several times on what we now joke about as our multiple “first dates.” After the 2014 conference on Mackinac Island, we decided to pay a visit to Whitefish Point on Lake Superior, where Mike had interned at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. This was our first “official” date, and we had a great time!

Venue:

We actually found our venue by accident!  We originally stopped by Fallasburg Park to check out the covered bridge, thinking that it might be a good location for the ceremony. After driving by, though, it was obvious there wasn’t enough space to accommodate all our guests. Disappointed, we drove over the bridge to head home–and immediately discovered the enclosed shelter house on the other side of the park. It was built in the 1930s and has a giant stone fireplace, cool vintage picnic tables, and a beautiful, forested view overlooking the river. We both love history, hiking, and camping, and with such a great rustic look, we knew it was perfect. We ended up getting married outside against the backdrop of fall colors, then moving inside the shelter house for the reception.

The Ceremony:

Although the rain that had been threatening us all day held off for the ceremony, we did have one major hitch in our plans: the person who we had scheduled to marry us was over an hour late! Fortunately, we were able to invite our guests into the reception area early so they could stay warm and enjoy popcorn and board games while we waited.

When it finally took place, we really loved our ceremony. We broke with tradition a bit and had our parents walk down the aisle first, followed by the maid of honor and the bride. The ceremony itself was about ten minutes long, and we customized our vows to reflect our personality as a couple, which made us (and our guests) laugh.

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Mike’s Suit:

Finding my suit was pretty straightforward.  We went with a navy suit since it paired perfectly with our decorations.  I’m also known for wearing checkered shirts so finding one to wear at the wedding was a must.  We topped it off with matching orange plaid ties for me and my best man. The ties were even on clearance! Connie made my boutonniere herself.

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Connie’s Dress:

It only took one day to find my dress! My mom, sister, and I went to several bridal shops and department stores in my hometown in Ohio. I’m rather practical and didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a dress I’d only wear for a few hours, but I also wanted something that reflected my love of all things vintage. We hit the jackpot at a small shop at the end of the day, and I bought the dress directly off the sale rack at a steal–I only had to have some minor alterations done later. I paired the dress with a pair of comfy, bright red heels I’ve owned for years. For my accessories, I wore a pearl necklace and pearl earrings that my grandmas each gave me when I graduated from college. I made my own bouquet out of fall leaves and an assortment of wood, silk, and dried flowers, and my sister made the clip for my hair.

(I literally was BLOWN AWAY that Connie made her bouquet/ Mike’s boutonniere herself!!!! AMAZING!!!)

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The Decor:

With such a great venue, we decided to just go with the rustic look and embraced a classic fall theme. Connie made most of the decorations herself, including the centerpieces, table runners, signage, and floral decorations. It was really fun to come up with creative, cost-effective solutions for the decor. For the centerpieces, we collected branches, then Connie glued fake leaves onto them and arranged them in festive orange vases from the dollar store. For the table runners, she took a class to learn how to use a sewing machine, then bought fabric with a great coupon and sewed all the table runners and tablecloths. All the signs and table numbers were hand-painted and made from scrap wood.

Another great thing about handling our own decorations was the fun fall things we got to do together to prep for the wedding. We went apple picking at a nearby apple orchard and we picked out a bunch of pumpkins and gourds at a local pumpkin farm. (it’s no secret I live on a pumpkin farm, and these two CAME TO VISIT <3 <3 so some of Bethke Farms pumpkins featured here!).

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The Reception:

We wanted our reception to feel like a big, welcoming family event, so we served fall-themed comfort food (pot roast, chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes, the works!) and opted for apple and pumpkin pies instead of the traditional wedding cake. We also served delicious pumpkin cookies, sugar cookies, and s’mores.

Mike’s extended family is known to make good use of the dance floor, so the right music was a must. Mike created a great playlist with song requests from our guests, including lots of Motown classics and some fun dance tunes.

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The Photographer:

Our photographer was AMAZING! Rachel was not just on time–she was early, and she got to work immediately. Without needing guidance, she took a ton of shots of the venue, the decorations, the set-up, getting ready, candid shots of family and guests….it was great. She made us feel super comfortable and had us laughing constantly. She also rolled with unexpected changes really well…like when our officiant didn’t show up. She just skipped ahead to taking photos of the extended family–a total pro!

She was also really easy to get in touch with and was really approachable and flexible, so we really felt like we got exactly what we wanted the day of. Thanks so much for everything!!!!!

 

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Advice to Couples Planning Their Wedding:

Triple-check that all your vendors (especially your officiant!) have your wedding on their calendars. Get their cell phone numbers, and text them friendly reminders.

Don’t be afraid to DIY some things, but plan ahead for craft time. Some things won’t come out perfectly on try #1…or try #2….or try #12.

It sounds super cliche because everyone tells you this, but your wedding day will truly fly by. Don’t stress over unexpected things and try to go with the flow as much as possible. As long as you’re married and everyone gets fed by the end of the day, it will be a success! 🙂

 

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I finally blogged my favorites of 2017!

It always takes me longer than I think it will to go through all of a years sessions and weddings, and meticulously pick out my favorites. I did things a bit differently this year and picked mostly some unshared moments. Some of my favorite stories are behind these images. And while you might not know the full story, the image says enough. I am so beyond thankful for all of the amazing people in 2017 who trusted me to document their lives. I have met so many new people and gained so many lifelong friends for which I will be forever grateful. 2017 brought about amazing things and 2018 is already showing me even more. I am so thankful for this job and posts like this remind me why I do what I do. Thank you.

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Fredrick Meijer Gardens Elopement

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These two.

We scheduled this engagement session for what should have been a gorgeous November day. It poured, all dang day. Then, moments, before we were supposed to meet up it cleared up quite a bit and we decided to meet up around Brads neighboorhood to get to know each other and check out some rad murals around town. They are getting married next summer at one of my FAVORITE venues and I am so pumped to hang out with them again.

Thanks again for letting me hang with you both! Cannot wait for your wedding <3

 

 

Rachel Kaye is a West Michigan based photographer who loves hanging out in Chicago (former resident in the house!). She literally cannot wait for this wedding and would love to chat with YOU more about capturing your love in a unique animated way! Hit her up!

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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.

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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.

 

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