Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Wedding
Every day in this job is a dream. No two weddings are alike and no one is doing this over and over again. It’s something really special to be a part of. I am sooo thankful that Megan and Jay picked me to be their photographer! I will let Megan and Jay take it from here!
Megan and Jay had been unknowingly crossing paths for years. Though it wasn’t until one fateful day during Kalamazoo Pride 2016 that their paths would begin intertwining. Jay first noticed Megan in a rainbow tutu, smiling ear to ear as she volunteered in the beer tent. He immediately wanted to know who was this intriguing woman? While Megan did not notice Jay on that day, she did add him on Facebook. Jay thought this meant she had also noticed him and was disappointed to discover that Megan was in a relationship. Megan then traveled to Germany for a five month internship and started a travel blog. Jay began reading her blog. Meanwhile in Germany, Megan continued reading Jay’s blog. When Megan returned from Germany, Jay sent a message asking her if she wanted to go out and trade travel stories. Megan agreed and a few days later the two had their first date at Food Dance. One date turned into three and three turned into a dozen. Jay and Megan spent the first year traveling, adventuring, playing board games (though there is a small list of games that can no longer be played due to disagreements over the rules), and laughing. On one grueling 12 mile hike, Jay realized that he wanted to build a life with Megan.
Megan was wearing a wedding gown she found at BHLDN in Chicago while shopping with her best man, Nate. She saw the dress online previously and fell in love with it instantly. The veil was passed down from Jay’s maternal grandmother and has been worn by the Maddock women for multiple generations. The blue sapphire ring was passed to Megan from her mother, Sandy. The shoes Megan DIY’d using spray glitter and crafted rebel alliance charms found on Ebay. Earrings were made to fit my gauged ears and purchased through Etsy.
Jay found his suit while shopping with his best friend in Ann Arbor. After trying on what felt like a dozen suits (because it was a dozen suits) he found a dark gray suit that he loved. From the suit, Jay added a floral tie and a burgundy vest. He customized burgundy shoes with the wedding date on the heel and the Star Wars rebel symbol on the toe (crafted by Megan).
Venue and Decor:
Megan and Jay said their “I Do’s” at the Kalamazoo Institute of Art. It was a beautiful venue for the ceremony and the reception; giving the added bonus of open galleries for their guests to peruse.
Jay and Megan wanted to balance their nerdiness with elegance and weaved star wars and harry potter accents into both the ceremony and the reception. Jay built the wedding arch out of copper piping and tulle.
The ceremony was everything Megan and Jay could hope for. The processional included a family friends’ daughter, Mia as the ring keeper (instead of a ring bearer) who held the rings in a golden snitch, followed by three bubble blowers, Arya, Indi, and Quinn in Gryffindor colors. Jay was escorted down the aisle sandwiched between his parents and mother-in law to “Beyond” by Leon Bridges. Megan was escorted down the aisle by her father to a cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. The ceremony was officiated by their close friend who made it beautiful and meaningful. Their friend Betty shared some touching words about love and their relationship. A humorous and thoughtful venn diagram presentation was given by their friends Jill and Jessica. Megan‘s sister, Lindsay, read and excerpt of Andrea Gibson’s poem “Give Her”. Jay and Megan chose a unity ceremony using mimosas to symbolize joining their lives together.
Reception/Dancing/Music: All the fun!
Jay and Megan made the reception representative of them and who they are. Each table had a donation jar encouraging guests to make a contribution to Planned Parenthood and Centerlink before clinking their glasses. Jay’s best man, Jack gave a toast that was funny, caring, and thoughtful. After, Nathan, Megan‘s man of honor shared a humorous and loving toast of their friendship and his hopes for the couple’s future. Jay surprised Megan during their first dance with a friend singing their song live, “Your Song”. After the first dance the dance party started. There was also a photo booth that also served as the guest book. The night was the best night ever. Megan and Jay are still glowing from being surrounded by all their favorite people.
Any Advice for couples planning their wedding?
The best advice we have is to make it yours and to focus on the big picture because small mishaps will happen but they won’t define the day our your journey as a couple. And share wedding planning responsibilities because you’re a team!
Rachel is a phenomenal photographer who makes even the most awkward couple (that’s us!) feel photogenic. She is authentic and almost immediately feels like a friend who you can trust has your best interest (and side) in mind. She is patient and has a special skill for getting couples into beautiful shots. Best of all she really listened to what we wanted our photos to be like and spent time where we had prioritized.
THE MOST STEAMY hot June day EVERR but holy cow was it amazing. We bopped around after Lauren and Brads first look to different air conditioned spots and just had the greatest time. The Waterview Loft at Port Detroit is an amazing venue for a wedding. Such a wonderful view of the river and in such a fantastic spot in the city of Detroit. I just love heading over to the East Side. I will let Lauren and Brad take it from here.
We met in high school! Brad moved to Ohio to play junior hockey our senior year and finished high school at the school I attended. A friend of mine introduced us the first day Brad moved to town so that he would have at least one familiar face on the first day of school. From that day on I thought that he was way out of my league and I would regularly tell my cousin how dreamy I thought he was. A couple months into the school year he ended up with an injury and needed someone to help carry his books and help him on and off the elevator between classes- I jumped at the opportunity. We started off as really good friends (mostly because I think we were both too stubborn to admit that we liked each other), but as our friendship grew our feelings for one another were undeniable. We dated long distance as Brad played college hockey and I went to graduate school and the rest is history!
I got my dress at The Wedding Shoppe in Berkley, Michigan. It was just my mom and I that day, which was nice, because I knew she would give me her honest opinion and I wouldn’t have a crowd of people swaying my decision. It was my first time trying on wedding dresses and I knew I wanted to find something I was comfortable in so that I could dance and have fun on my wedding night. I tried on several dresses, but something about this dress made me feel so amazing. I loved that it was traditional in that it was ivory lace with a long train. But also loved how the off the shoulder style and low back made it a little edgy. I also couldn’t help but think of Brad’s face the first time he’d see me in the dress.
Brad and his groomsmen wore a black suit by Calvin Klein with Penguin gingham skinny ties. He knew he wanted something classic, but also something versatile that he and the guys could wear again one day. They wore State and Liberty dress shirts, which was perfect because it ended up being 90 degrees and humid that day. He surprised the groomsmen with custom embroidered dress socks with their initials the night before the big day.
Waterview Loft was the first and only venue we visited. As soon as we walked into the space we were sold. We had a lot of out of town guests, so we knew we wanted a venue that could have the ceremony and reception in the same place. It also gave our guests the chance to really experience downtown Detroit, especially because a lot of Lauren’s family had never been before. We were really drawn to the indoor/outdoor feel since Michigan’s weather is so unpredictable. From initial planning to our wedding night Waterview Loft made everything so simple. Their attention to detail and ability to make our families feel special was like no other.
Hockey has always been a big part of Brad’s life and it’s really what brought the two of us together. We were so grateful to have Pastor Andy officiate our wedding. He not only is a Pastor at Brad’s church, but also is a fellow hockey lover and the Chaplin for a local hockey association. He made our ceremony short, sweet, and personal. The night of our rehearsal our wedding coordinator recommend we take a moment to really stop and take it all in after we were pronounced husband and wife. If we could go back to any moment that day it would be this one!
Our floral and décor was done by Emerald City Designs. The venue honestly speaks for itself so we knew we wanted to keep the décor simple, modern, and elegant. We stuck with mostly greenery with touches of blush and white floral for our centerpieces. We kept the color palette natural and added lots of candles to set the mood. The ceremony space is bright and airy with views of the river. We accented our aisle with floral arrangements at the beginning and a greenery arch at the end. After one meeting with Emerald City Designs they were able to bring our vision to life on our wedding day and it couldn’t have been more perfect!
We are both big dance floor lovers, so we were all about having good music and lots of dancing. Pro DJ services did an amazing job playing a variety of music that got everyone on the dance floor. The staff at Waterview Loft made sure that no one in our families was without a drink at anytime throughout the night. We still have people coming up to us telling us how much fun they had at our reception. Brad and I didn’t want the fun to end, so we invited everyone back to our rooftop suite at The Courtyard to continue the party!
Any Advice for couples planning their wedding?
Don’t get caught up thinking you need all the extras you see on the internet. When it’s all said and done it’s about your love for one another and two families coming together. Everyone says your wedding day goes by fast and it’s so true! Take every opportunity you have to soak it all in. Don’t forget what the day is all about and most importantly- have fun!
Rachel was AMAZING! First off, she is the most energetic and friendly person we have ever met- even when it was 90 degrees and humid at the end of June. The photos she creates are works of art and you can tell how much she loves what she does through her work. From our engagement session to our wedding day we felt so comfortable; almost like we were just living our lives and she happened to be following us around taking pictures of it. Brad and the groomsmen tend to feed off each other but Rachel did an awesome job at keeping them in check while letting them have fun. She was full of advice during the planning process and kept us all on schedule while she captured our day perfectly!
This day was incredible! The Inn at St Johns is an amazing venue to hold all of your wedding day needs. I loved hanging with Maggie and Jimmy and all their people <3 They are awesome. huge thanks to my second shooter for slaying today as well <3
We met our senior year of high school after sitting next to eachother in physics class. The day we exchanged phone numbers he asked me on a date and the rest I think you can figure out. We have stayed best friends throughout four years of college (Go Blue), moving, first adult jobs, becoming puppy parents, and planning a wedding lol
Since our colors were blush, navy, and pink the men opted for navy suits that were from Joseph A. Bank. They were great to work with and the prices were so reasonable the boys decided to buy their suits to keep for other occasions as well. Only other real accessory were the ties which Maggie got though a website called Tie Bar to match the bridesmaid dresses well
I picked my dress in just one day last May 2018 when I went shopping at Mimi’s Bridal Boutique in Ann Arbor. I brought some of my bridal party, mom and mother-in-law, and grandmas so I had quite the *crew* while shopping. When the stylist pulled the Hayley Paige Dare gown off the rack I didn’t even want to try it on, but after giving in and trying it on it was everybody else’s reaction that made me know it was the dress.
Since we had many people traveling from out of state to be at the wedding with us we decided doing a ceremony and reception at one venue would be the most convenient for everyone. Luckily, we live very close to the popular Inn at St. Johns which is an old Catholic Seminary turned into conference center. Our ceremony was held in their gorgeous catholic chapel and our reception down the hall in their Grande Ballroom. The location was perfect for guests attending, has a beautiful property for photos, and great spaces for the big day.
We did a scripture service in the catholic chapel at Inn at St. Johns. The priest who married us was from my home Parish of St. Kenneths in Plymouth and we were so happy he was able to come and perform our marriage ceremony. (side note: best priest ever! He was fun, had a great ministry AND turned them around to face their people during the ceremony <3 it was awesome)
Emerald City Designs was our go to group for decor! They were amazing and did all of our flowers, linens, stationary and menus for the tables, and signage at the wedding! Their team was also a huge help in planning a timeline for the wedding day and giving us insight into what we really needed.
Our reception was in the Grande Ballroom at Inn at St. Johns and it was the perfect space! The food was amazing, the cake (shout out Zingermans in Ann Arbor) was amazing and everybody had a great time. Our DJ is a local radio DJ in Ann Arbor and also happens to love next door to my parents and be a close family friend. He knew that Jimmy and I love some good throwback songs and it was fun to work with somebody who had already known us for years before the wedding!
Any Advice for couples planning their wedding?
Everything will get done! Pace yourself and realize that although everybody wants everything to be perfect making sure you and your guests enjoy themselves is the most important thing. Spend time with family and friends who came to celebrate YOU and try to enjoy the day as much as possible because it flies by! Also, treat yourself as a couple following the wedding and spend some quality time together talking about how awesome the wedding was instead of planning details for the wedding!
Rachel was amazing! We also had a second photographer for our day who also happened to be named Rachel and she was a wonderful person to work with to even though we hadn’t met her until the wedding day! Most people are not used to having photos taken of them on the scale they are taken on your wedding day and Rachel made us, our bridal party, and family feel natural in front of the camera. They truly cared about the shots we wanted and made sure to include all the important family and friends that came. Jimmy and I didn’t feel like we hired a photographer, but we felt like we had friends just taking photos of us all dressed up!
Grand Haven Michigan Beach Wedding
This day and these two mean SO MUCH TO ME! See, I met Ryan first in high school. He was always just this really nice nerdy guy, kinda quiet but once you got to know him a really fun time. I was elated when his FIANCE Renee contacted me about shooting their wedding. Honestly, they are so perfect together you couldn’t imagine them being with anyone else!!!! I had a freaking BLAST hanging out with them for their engagement session it’s no surprise I enjoyed this wedding more than ever! I will let them take it from here but enjoy this rainy Grand Haven Michigan Beach Wedding.
Once upon a time, we both swiped right on OKCupid… and his nerdy-delightful opening lines were a slam dunk! We met up for beers at Bdubs the next day, and it was officially confirmed that Ryan was a fantastic human inside and out 🙂
We both had kids from previous relationships, so we took our time making sure that our blended family was also destined to be a success. On our third anniversary, we were out to dinner downtown Detroit when Ryan whipped out a ring box! Renee said “but of course!” and that was that.
Renee’s style is super casual, so finding a wedding dress that felt appropriate, still fun and wasn’t a million dollars wasn’t the easiest thing in the world. The first time she went to look at dresses she couldn’t find anything that really felt right; when a 40% off sale at David’s Bridal a month later convinced her to try again, she realized that she couldn’t stop looking at an ivory lace dress from the David’s Bridal Collection that had previously been out of the budget range. With a local seamstress’ expert help (shout out to Quality Alterations in Ann Arbor!), we added halter straps and cut off the chapel-length train for a Renee-approved beachy feel 🙂
Knowing that early June on Grand Haven beaches can bring unpredictable temperatures meant Ryan and his boys were destined for breathable but comfy clothes! We found them reasonably-priced stylish linen shirts at Macy’s and then worked with Men’s Warehouse to order JOE custom pants in a light gray that matched our color palette (along with a matching custom vest for Ryan). He’s been a huge fan of Rainbow flip flops for years, so he and the boys wore light gray Rainbows to complete the look.
The rain most definitely did not stay away on our wedding day, but luck was on our side — the sun decided to shine during our First Look photos and during the ceremony!
We worked hard to create a script that captured the spirit of our relationship, and with our friend Jack officiating, it was an amazing balance of fun and serious (including our unity shot “ceremony” with tequila)! Musical selections from the Doctor Who soundtrack supplemented our secret theme 😀
Ryan grew up in Grand Haven and knew right away that a beach ceremony was perfect for us; the quiet North Shore Beach in Ferrysburg was exactly what we wanted, and renting the picnic pavilion there meant that we had an easy Plan B in case it rained the day of.
Choosing a reception location was a bit trickier! In the end, it was the Grand Haven Visitors Bureau that mentioned Porto Bello had a popular reception hall… it was the last one on our list of venue tours, and it stole our hearts immediately. The charm of the Story & Clark Piano Factory building and the close proximity of Odd Side Ales helped clinch the deal, especially since our guest list was expected to range from 150-250 people and the venue could fit up to 275. Our life goals were to throw a wicked awesome party to celebrate, and Porto Bello’s Harbourfront Grand Hall easily helped us accomplish that!
We’re avid Doctor Who fans, and our inner nerds couldn’t resist sprinkling fantastic hints of the Doctor throughout the event… but avoided anything over-the-top obvious. Our colors were Tardis (navy) blue, light gray and white, and strayed towards a “rustic” / “starry night” theme that was mostly DIY: mason jars filled with fairy lights, navy burlap table runners, and fun wood-based signage accents. Our orchid and hydrangea flower choices were based partially on Renee’s obsession with orchids but mostly what fit within the budget — Linda from Thrifty Florist was immensely helpful when it came to making budget-friendly recommendations that were still in line with our Pinterest inspiration photos!
Our wicked awesome party was a huge success, according to the stories we’ve heard since! Our dinner buffet was delicious, the drinks kept flowing and the music kept everyone dancing… We’re huge 311 and Blink 182 fans, so our night wouldn’t have been complete without a few of our favorite songs; our DJ from Mitten Entertainment read the crowds with ease and had us jammin’ all night long.
Any Advice for couples planning their wedding?
If you’re a to-do list kind of person, find a solution that lets you group tasks by rough due date and track notes — we used a Trello wedding planning template that separated tasks into to-do lists per month, and it was perfect for dumping ideas & thoughts about tasks that didn’t need to be finished yet so that you could better focus on what was important in the short-term. It became our shared central location for anything wedding-related that we needed to solve!
Ryan knew Rachel from way back when in high school, and it wasn’t even a question for him on who he wanted to photograph our special day… Rachel’s energy is contagious. From her reasonable advice while planning to her everpresent skills on the day of the wedding, this girl was key to ensuring we’ll have our favorite memories captured forever. She kept us all on schedule, managed to capture all the photos we’d dreamt of, and handled every curveball the day threw at us with finesse!
Meadow Brook Hall Wedding
I just wanna go back and relive this day at Meadow Brook Hall over and over and over again. Never have I ever met a more kind and thoughtful group of people (including guests!) This day was just so perfect in every way. We spent all morning getting ready in the POURING rain. Just watching it cascade down. It wasn’t even supposed to rain this day so it was really out of nowhere and quite annoying. We all were diligently watching the forecast and things were not looking good. It looked like we would have to move the ceremony inside. HOWEVER Alex and Eli made a great last minute call and decided to risk it. It ended up being PERFECT. So perfect that the freaking SUN came out during their ceremony and they walked back down the aisle in the sunshine. I am so happy to share this amazing day with everyone. I will leave it up to Alex and Eli from here <3
We met at work when I (Alex) was fresh out of college. Eli had been with the company for a few years and was incredibly intimidating. He was this handsome, outgoing, successful salesman that everyone wanted to be. Little did I know at the time, he’s the biggest goof that would keep me smiling every day for the rest of my life. We never spoke for about the first 6 months on the job, and one day he randomly asked me if I wanted some Starbucks. I thought this was his way of flirting so I was nervous when he brought the coffee to my desk…then I found out he had gotten coffee for other girls in the office, which made me jealous so I immediately returned the favor by asking him out for a drink after work. The rest was history, and we’ve been together ever since.
I wanted to keep my dress shopping more personal to minimize others’ opinions, ensuring I got the dress that I truly wanted and not what others thought I should have; so, I only brought my mom and my sister along. I found my dress at the very first shop we went to, and it was only the second one I tried on! I put on several others, but I kept reverting to this one. When I wore it, I could just picture Eli’s face when he’d see me in it for the first time, and I felt so sure about this dress I didn’t bother going anywhere else.
Eli has always loved keeping his style up to date – he was pickier about his suit, bow tie, cuff links and shoes than the bride! He really wanted a classic look to match the overall style we were going for with the venue, which is why he decided on the classic, black tuxedo with silk lapels. Eli’s shoe game is like no other so, naturally, he had to go with an awesome pair of red bottoms to make a statement with the black ensemble.
We had looked at about 10 venues, and none matched both of our wish lists. We both agreed it needed to be a venue where ceremony and reception could be at the same place; minimizing travel times for our guests. Eli really wanted a venue that had both an indoor and an outdoor area so that people could enjoy the weather since Michigan only has a few nice months to do this. My big thing was I wanted a venue with a lot of character so that we could keep decorations minimal; I wanted the building to speak for itself and tell a story in its own. We were both getting fed up with disappointment after each venue we visited, and Meadow Brook Hall was the last one we looked at. We both looked at each other after we toured it, and Eli could tell by the look on my face that we wouldn’t be checking out anywhere else – we had found the place!
We still get goosebumps thinking back at how PERFECT the ceremony was. Our plan was for the ceremony to take place in the rock garden, and the rain almost ruined those plans. The weather was pretty doom and gloom; it came down to the wire on whether to move the ceremony inside and thank goodness we rolled the dice to keep it outside regardless of the forecast! The rain stopped as everyone took their seats, and as the Rabbi was pronouncing us husband and wife, the sun literally broke through the clouds and shone down on us as we had our first kiss. GOOSEBUMPS. The fact that the quartet played “Don’t Stop Believing” as we made our exit made it that much cooler.
After finding the venue, I knew exactly the theme I wanted – VINTAGE. The venue, Meadow Brook Hall (previously the Dodge family estate) was built in the 20’s and is so beautiful on its own that all I needed to focus on was the reception tent. I wanted the tent to flow with the mansion’s interior, so I stuck to a lot of gold and knew I needed candles and flowers with burgundy accents all over. Emerald City Designs helped me bring my ideas to life and it couldn’t have been more perfect! My dress had a long lace train, which went with the vintage decor, so I decided to keep with the aesthetic and go with the “classic Hollywood curls” hairdo to really tie everything together. From the venue, to the outfits, to the reception decorations, everything felt like we had gone back in time for the night.
Reception/Dancing/Music: All the fun!
I can’t thank our wedding party enough for keeping the dance floor poppin’ all night! There wasn’t a moment that the floor wasn’t packed. The Hora was part terrifying, part AMAZING; being up in the chairs looking down at everyone’s faces is a priceless moment – it almost made us forget how scary it was gripping to a chair for dear life. The DJ did an incredible job playing all sorts of music that got people of all ages out on the dance floor. Watching my grandparents get up and dance is a moment I’ll never forget; it was like a glimpse into our future.
Any Advice for couples planning their wedding?
Don’t fall victim to thinking you need to be everywhere at once! Don’t get me wrong, our wedding was the best day of our lives, but our biggest regret was not breaking away during the reception to have a moment for just the two of us to soak it all in. Talking to every guest is exhausting; you deserve a moment of solitude to truly appreciate everything happening around you. It happens in the blink of an eye, so make sure you have an amazing photographer to capture everything!
It’s impossible to describe how amazing Rachel is in just a few words; she lives and breathes to make her clients’ memories the best they could ever imagine. Not only did she drive 3 hours, with the flu, to take our engagement pictures, she still had more energy and enthusiasm than anyone else we’d ever met! That’s when we knew we were in perfect hands for our wedding day. She makes everyone feel so comfortable in front of the camera and has the brightest personality; making everyone laugh is one of her best qualities. Outside of her awesome character, her pictures are indescribable. She has a way capturing the candid moments so perfectly that when you look back at them, you go back to that moment and relive it all over again. Rachel’s artwork is a living, breathing time machine and we couldn’t be more thankful to have her capture the best day of our lives.
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