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.

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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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Kalamazoo Wedding Photographer

 

This was a most wonderful day! Despite a VERY RAINY DAY we had a blast exploring the hotel and getting creative for portraits. Super thankful for awesome clients like Ruby and David who planned a most amazing day and got so much help from family and friends to put on this event! Can’t wait to come back to Kalamazoo for more weddings 😀

The Beginning: 

David and I met through a mutual friend at the time while attending Wayne State University.  We would all meet up at a table in the undergraduate library and study together, and eventually, David and I became friends.   One day, we really started talking and he asked me out on a date to go get Thai food together at both of our favorite restaurant.  I didn’t actually want to go,  or make it a real date,  because I wasn’t interested in a relationship at the time, but one of my friends really pushed me to give it a chance.  I’m glad I did because we had a great time and were really compatible.  We began dating, eventually, David went away to the University of Arizona for over two years for his master’s degree, and we lasted through the distance and the difficulty.  We figured if we could get through that together then we could really get through anything.  After 5 years of dating, David proposed!  We designed a ring together, but he didn’t tell me when he picked it up, and he proposed to me at midnight the night of our 5 year anniversary.  A little over a year later, we were married!

kalamazoo wedding photographer

Ruby’s Dress:

I spent so much time looking for the perfect dress!  I went to a total of 6 bridal shops, 5 of them without my fiancé at the time, and couldn’t find anything.  The last shop I went to, I brought David with me, and we picked one out together in 20 minutes!  It’s called Poppy, by Casablanca, and I ordered it in light champagne.  I had such a difficult time finding a dress, because Indian brides can’t wear white, so I had to find something appropriate, comfortable, within my style, and also in as close to gold as possible, which was a real task.

David’s Suit:

David purchased his suit from a wholesale retailer near our apartment at the time.  It was navy blue, and he wore the most adorable gold bow tie with it.  He looked so very handsome, even though he had forgotten the matching belt to his shoes at home!

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Locations:

We searched for venues for what felt like ages!  I think we went to around 10 different locations to try to find the perfect one.  We were really trying to keep within the budget, but also stick to a particular look.  There was always something off about all the locations we went to, until we found Cityscape Event Center in Kalamazoo!  We were able to do our ceremony and reception in one location, one ballroom even, just separated by draping.  It had a very modern and classy feel, which is what we really wanted.

kalamazoo wedding photographer

The Decor: 

Our colors were mainly navy, gold and just splashes of purple.  Groomsmen and bridesmaids wore navy outfits, with gold bow ties for the men and gold shoes for the women.  We purchased wholesale flowers, and my matron of honor, Sonia, and bridesmaid, Liz, really helped so much in getting the centerpieces and bouquets together the morning of the wedding!  They spent so much time gluing ribbon together, and cutting the flowers!  I also have to give a shout out to the guys, particularly David’s groomsmen Pratik and Ryan for helping so much with carrying things back and forth from our hotel to the venue!

 

The Ceremony: 

For our ceremony, we tried to combine as much Jewish and Hindu tradition as possible to accommodate both of our families, while still keeping it short, sweet and to the point!  We didn’t want our guests sitting or standing around for too long.  We had our officiant, who was one of David’s best friends, perform a part of the Hindu fire ceremony, in which the couple takes 7 steps around a sacred fire, getting blessed 7 times as they go.  We also married under a chuppah which is a kind of Jewish wedding alter, and David did the ceremonial breaking of the glass at the end of the ceremony.

Reception/Dancing/Music: All the fun!

Our nephew, Ethan, was really killing it on the dance floor the entire time!  We had no idea he could dance so well!  Our officiant, Brad, was also giving Ethan a run for his money on the dance floor!

Our cake, purchased from Sorella’s bakery in Livonia, was amazing!  It was beautifully done, and tasted so great!  Everyone loved it!

Our bartender was also great – good conversation and was great at her job.

wedding photographer kalamazookalamazoo wedding photographerAny Advice for couples planning their wedding?

Start planning so early!  Time runs away from you so quickly!  We thought we had so much time, but with life happening at the same time, and moving to a new house, we were scrambling to do so many of the little details at the last minute.  I didn’t end up getting the chuppah that I wanted, or the exact flowers, and so many little things were left at home, but at the end of the day, David and I were married, which is the entire point of the whole day!  Don’t stress about the little things, because there will always be something that goes wrong!  Just enjoy your day and have a good time!

Your Photographer: 

Rachel Kay was fantastic!  Everybody loved her personality, energy and vibe!  The photos we’ve received so far are so much more than what we expected!  I wish that we were able to book her for a longer period of time!

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Bottom Lounge Wedding Chicago

Have I mentioned that I love everything about weddings at The Bottom Lounge?

I’m just finding a general trend in that allllll of my couples who get married there are legit the chillest most fun people ever. They plan these rad parties and want to enjoy time w/ family and friends. I’M A HUGE FAN. I could go on and on about this day but Sarah and Brad did it better so I will let them take it from here 😀

 

The Beginning: 

We first met the summer before 7th grade and started dating junior year of high school, spending two years taking awkward dance pictures, declaring our everlasting love, and experiencing the ups and downs of high school sweethearts. At separate colleges and nine hours apart, we broke up after three years together.

Another three years came and went until we grabbed a coffee before Sarah left to work in Spain. Spain brought many calls and even a visit from Brad! Though still apart, we were very much back together.

Sarah moved back stateside and Brad popped the question! We tied the knot and threw our favorite party ever nine years after we first started dating.

Sarah’s Dress

I fell in love with getting a dress from BHLDN before I actually found a dress to love at BHLDN. On that first visit I tried on many a dress to tepid “Nice’s” from mom and sister but was determined to return. I brought in a family friend and my dad to continue the search. My dad pointed out the winner, the Suri Gown, and I felt awesome and COMFORTABLE for every pic and dance. Good call, Dad!

Brad’s Suit

Brad wanted a gray suit and I wanted it to be at least a little fun! We headed to Suit Supply downtown and found a medium gray suit with a light pattern (that was the little fun). He looked so sharp! To bring in some brightness we added an orange ranunculus boutonniere and a floral tie.

Venue:

We got married at Bottom Lounge in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. The bar/music venue was perfect for our Spain in Chicago vibe–BL made us sangria and paella to enjoy and we had the city as our backdrop! Their event manager, Natalie, was a huge support for the months ahead and the Big Day itself. (rachel here, Natalie is AMAZING and the most fun ever <3 I just love her and it’s a huge reason I love BL)

The Decor: 

We wanted bright, bold colors with some Chicago touches. Brad’s Aunt Martha was a godsend when it came to turning our nebulous ideas into beautiful sketches and, ultimately, gorgeous final products! Paper flowers made by friends and family, a hand-painted floral tablecloth by Martha and Aunt Leslie (they even did the bridesmaids and table flowers!), and stenciled tiles for the centerpieces gave us our Spanish feel. Our graphic designer friend Lena created our “Seating Map”–a recreation of the Chicago’s El Map for our seating chart. It came together beautifully. We feel so lucky to have our talented, generous friends and family who helped us pull it off!

The Ceremony: 

The ceremony started off with the HVAC loudly kicking on and the El whizzing by. Safe to say it began with a bang! The pastor of our home church, Dave, performed the ceremony and the vows we cry-wrote each other were cry-read. It all felt very personal and true to us.

Reception/Dancing/Music: 

What a night! Sarah’s aunt and uncle Emceed the reception to keep with the personal theme. The speeches made us laugh and left us teary-eyed. We devoured pies from Chicago’s Bang Bang Pie and brought out Chicago-style hot dogs for a late-night snack. Brad’s crowdsourced playlist and our DJ kept the tunes coming for much dancing and merriment, but the night had to end eventually (despite Sarah’s continued Cardi B requests).

Your Photographer: 

Rachel was pure JOY! She was fun, creative, professional, and so easy to be around. Our families and wedding party all raved about her. The best was that it all felt so natural even for us not-a-photo-couple. With Rachel behind the camera there was plenty of being in the moment and documenting the best day! Katie, her second shooter, also brought her A game and we can’t wait to enjoy their amazing work for many years to come. Thank you!!

Any Advice for couples planning their wedding?

The day goes so quickly–from a plan to a memory in an instant–so take plenty of moments to just look at your people, the family, friends, wedding party, and, of course, your betrothed, and bask in the lovey glow.

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