Well this wedding was amazing. 1) it was in my HOMETOWN of Grand Haven Michigan. So it was just like I woke up and didnt’ have to drive a million hours and really enjoyed my time. 2) Emily and Zach are seriously some of the kindest people in the world. Their family and friends also were incredible and it was just an amazing day to be a part of. I am getting kind of emotional thinking about how wonderful this day was, so I’m gonna leave the rest to Emily and Zach:
We met on a dating app (thank you, Tinder) and our first date was at a bar in Ann Arbor, MI in July of 2015. Our first date was slightly terrible yet extremely memorable as we each dealt with our nerves in VERY different ways with me being shy and essentially nonverbal and Zach talking nonstop to make up for the awkward silence. Despite this, there were definitely sparks and luckily I agreed to a second date. After that, we were essentially inseparable and have been each other’s best friend and better half ever since. This past year, we bought our first home in Spring Lake, MI and moved here with our fur babies Dobby and Meeko.
We got married at St. Mary’s in Spring Lake, which was especially special for me because that was the church in which my parents got married and where I went growing up. Father Dave made the ceremony and the entire process so easy and wonderful. Our reception was at the Harbourfront Grand Hall in Grand Haven, MI. We loved the atmosphere created by the “Old Piano Factory”, as most locals refer to the building, and were so happy to be able to use the space.
The Ceremony: How did it go? Anything special?
Our ceremony was short for a Catholic ceremony, which we were very thankful for! Trying to remember what to do next was probably the most nerve-wracking part of the day, but it Father Dave led us through the entire thing and we felt nothing but love and joy. After the ceremony, we took the Harbor Trolley from the church to the reception hall, with bar stops and photo stops on the way and it was a BLAST.
I don’t think I’ve loved to wear anything more that I loved wearing my wedding dress. I got my wedding dress from a shop called BHLD in Chicago, IL. I was so amazed at how easy the process was and only tried on 6 dresses before deciding that this was the “one”! I brought all my bridesmaids and my mom with me to shop in Chicago and we had an awesome girl’s weekend to celebrate saying yes to the dress, complete with drinking too much wine and eating too much cheesecake.
Zach and his groomsman Aaron took a trip to Men’s Warehouse to pick out the suits for the wedding, something that he was not looking forward to doing but ended up having an awesome time. I told Zach the color and let him decide the rest :). He settled on dark navy tuxedos for him and his groomsmen, because he wanted to be classy AF and what’s a better excuse to wear a tuxedo than at your own wedding?!
Our decor and flowers were from Events by iCandy in Grand Rapids, and they did such an amazing job! We chose to rent flowers and decorations rather than purchase them ourselves, and it was such a good decision. I gave the designers at iCandy the colors I liked and told them the general style we were looking for, and it surprised me how quickly and easily they threw together EXACTLY what I was thinking. Our decorations we tones of gold, burgundy, green, and blue and we used a zillion candles to make the reception feel warm and romantic. My mom made the backdrop behind the head table and also recruited a very efficient candle-lighting crew to light the large number of candles before the reception. Events by iCandy also set up the decorations at the church and reception hall, which was a big stress reliever.
Our reception was SO much fun! I think one of our favorite moments of the day was walking into the reception hall. It was an overwhelming happy feeling to see all of our friends and family there smiling at you and being there to celebrate with you. Despite the night starting off with a sappy speech by my dad (he was the cutest), the rest of the night was filled with laughter and so much dancing. The combination of awesome food, donuts, an open bar, and an amazing DJ made it the best night ever. We started dancing at 7:00 pm and didn’t stop until 11:00 pm. Walking the three blocks from the reception hall to the bed and breakfast that we stayed at was definitely a struggle after all that dancing, but it was so worth it!
Your Photographer: Tell us all about them 😉 What you liked or didn’t like. All the deets from the day of:
Rachel was honestly the best photographer we could have picked to document our wedding day! We were worried about photographs feeling to posed or unnatural, and so we picked a photographer who we thought would make sure we didn’t feel that way, and she nailed it. She provided direction while also allowing us to completely express ourselves and have an awesome time while doing it!
Any Advice for couples planning their wedding?
Plan early and find either a wedding planner or close family member/friend to help you with all the tedious aspects like phone calls, emails, and scheduling. It helps SO MUCH to spread out those responsibilities if you can. And don’t forget to take a step back on your day and soak in all the love radiating from family and friends; they’ve come to celebrate your love and that is the best feeling.
How can one person shoot in one location so many times and it’s literally never the same? WELL because I really truly believe no two wedding days are alike. Even in the same space. Rose and Seth used The Bottom Lounge in Chicago to the FULLEST of it’s potential and I am just STOKED to be sharing images from their day. They got ready at the Kimpton Hotel Allegro and then we bopped around on the most fun / quirky of busses to a few spots for photos and spent the rest of the time hanging w/ their family and friends. Their ceremony made me WEEP and their first dance was by far my favorite everrr. I will leave the rest up to them but just know I adore these two sooo much.
Seth and his friends ran a show at the Conservatory Theater in Chicago called Improv Gladiators. At the beginning of 2015, Rose‘s improv group, “In a Pickle,” decided last minute to sign up as participants. Without much warning, the Pickles took the stage on Week 1 of a 6-week improv competition show.
Seth was the hilarious host of Gladiators, so you may think this was love at first sight—it wasn’t. The two barely took notice of each other for the first five Fridays. Rose assumed Seth and his friends were clique-y (spoiler alert: they are, but Rose is now part of the group so it’s cool) and Seth was used to improvisers coming and going all the time so he didn’t think it was worth striking up a conversation.
Enter the co-host: Drag Queen, Mane. After that 5th week, Mane asked if Seth thought any of the improvisers were cute. Seth pointed to Rose. Being an expert matchmaker, Mane called Rose over later and asked if she was single because Seth thought she was cute. Flattered, Rose got straight on Facebook that night and friended Seth as an extremely subtle way to let him know she was interested.
Subtlety doesn’t work on Seth, though, and the two didn’t actually speak until the next Friday night. Mane called Seth over and the two endured a few minutes of awkward small talk, ending with Rose inviting both Mane and Seth to her birthday party the next night. After many hints, Seth failed to get Rose‘s number before she was ushered out by her sister and some friends who wanted to go home. Once again, Rose took to Facebook and messaged Seth her number so he could come to the party.
He did not come to the party.
Seth did, however, take Rose out for her birthday that Monday afternoon. The two enjoyed a day date which included coffee and tea at Julius Meinl before dinner at Sushi Mura. After that, they became inseparable and the rest, as they say, is history.
Rose knows better than anyone that I don’t like shopping. Not in that stereotypical “guys hate shopping” way, but in my own “I’d rather not talk to people” way.
That said, Rose convinced me to try Trunk Club and get myself a fancy custom suit and, amazingly, I felt super comfortable with the whole process. My parents came down for the initial fitting and suit selection, and I got exactly what I wanted – simple and fancy, but still me. They even embroidered the date of the wedding on the collar (I did have a stress dream that they got the date wrong – but they didn’t!)
There’s nothing quite like wearing a suit that’s made JUST for you. And I felt well taken care of by Meghan and the Trunk Club team. Now I’m just looking for excuses to wear my suit. I guess I’ll just sleep in it.
I was a PAIN about the whole dress shopping part (just ask my mom and sister). I really don’t feel like I have a strong aesthetic and the thing no one tells you about wedding dress shopping is that everything is so pretty! You really just need to decide what vibe you’re going for, which again, for an indecisive bride, was difficult.
After about a million dress appointments, I was torn between two gorgeous dresses that were totally different styles but I leaned on my mom, sister, friends and thinking about our venue to make a decision.
I do know that my dress was the right one in the end because it fit our indoor, loft-style Chicago wedding so perfectly. It’s Karen Willis Holmes from Bella Bleu Bridal and it’s the Anya gown. I felt like a bride and a movie star all night long!
We toured a few venues in Chicago but Bottom Lounge felt right from the start. Natalie, the coordinator, made us feel so taken care of and made us feel like they were a well-oiled machine there. Turns out, we were right! Everyone kept remarking about how smoothly things went between our indoor ceremony (the train passing by the open windows behind us was a delight to the out-of-towners), the cocktail hour on the deck and then the family style meal and reception. They took care of us so well and we’re forever grateful. We highly recommend this spot to other couples!
Our theme was “wedding”…which is to say we didn’t feel like we needed a theme. Lavender is my favorite color so we mostly just knew the palette we’d be working with. Our table numbers were library cards from Etsy attached to books from my dad’s collection (he passed away last year very suddenly so we looked for different ways to still incorporate him into the day).
Our phenomenal florals/decor came from Jessica at Anemone Chicago and she was so great to work with. Our mouths literally dropped when we saw what she and our event coordinator, Natalie, did for us that night. Jessica made a stunning chuppah for our ceremony, a killer “Mazel Tov” wall piece, floral hair combs for myself and my sister/maid of honor and fun floral cuffs for the moms.
We know nothing about flowers or wedding centerpieces, but she worked so nicely with my mom and sister who also added their touches to the night. My sister is an artist so she made the gorgeous wall hangings for behind the head table and Jessica was so great about letting that shine on that wall and accenting it with some greenery. We would highly recommend Jessica and Anemone to other Chicago folks, you won’t regret it!
Oh boy, the ceremony. Our friend Claire officiated and she is one of the smartest, funniest and best people we know. She KILLED it and was so warm and hilarious and set us on the path to an unforgettable ceremony. We said our own vows and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, mostly stemming from Seth’s insanely touching vows. There was so much laughter, so many tears that were coming from every emotion you could imagine. Per Jewish tradition, we were supposed to break the glass at the end but we all realized too late that no one had set it at the chuppah. Luckily, we were all quick on our feet and just improvised the best man handing Claire an imaginary glass. She mimed handing it to Seth and everyone bought into it and yelled Mazel Tov after he “smashed” it. Most guests thought that we had planned that moment because no one skipped a beat, which is just indicative of the phenomenal people we surround ourselves with.
Our cocktail hour was on the deck outside and it was a perfectly warm, beautiful evening. The space inside was flipped for our reception and everyone was seated for a family style dinner. After some amazing speeches from my sister/MOH, the best man and mother of the groom, we headed into the first dances. Seth and I didn’t practice our dance and just decided to wing it. We forgot that anyone was around and just looked at each other and danced like we were in our living room.
Seth and his mom had a very nice slow dance together before it was time for the father/daughter dance. I struggled a lot with how to approach this part of the night and wound up deciding that since my dad was such an energetic, social person, we should still have this moment. I said a little bit about him and then invited everyone to the dance floor to dance to the song that we would have chosen. I think we had all 160 people dancing at the same time and it was very special.
We then danced the horah and our families lifted us up in our chairs and, despite the fear on Seth’s face, it was such a highlight and again cemented to us how our friends and family would always be there supporting us throughout our lives.
Rachel was amazing from the start. We chose her because her pictures had so much life in them rather than the boring, lifeless wedding portraits. We instantly trusted her to get pictures that felt like “us” and that started with an incredible engagement session and ended with wedding photos that perfectly encapsulated our day and who we are as people.
Rachel is efficient yet fun on the day of, and she has a unique ability to command a space (she’s a boss babe) and get even the least photo-enthusiastic people to join in on the action. Her second shooter, Katie, was also a joy and we’ve loved the sneak peeks we’ve seen so far.
Our only critique is that Rachel had to go back to Michigan after she wrapped up so we didn’t get to party with her all night 😉
Any Advice for couples planning their wedding?
Do your best to choose your battles. There are some parts of the wedding that your family will care about more than you do, so remember that this is also a time for others to express their love for you and sometimes that means putting their interests before your own. And that’s okay!
Also, don’t sweat the small stuff because things are going to go “wrong” but as long as you’re with the love of your life and supportive family and friends, nothing will be able to wipe the smiles off your faces.
12 Corners Vineyard Wedding
OH MAH GOODNESS I am so pumped to finally share this September wedding!!!!! This was the most wonderful perfect weathered day with Dani and Mike at 12 corners vineyard (and a really fantastic brewery!).
To say these are some of my favorite people is the understatement of the year. Dani and Mike and their whole vibe/life/amazing personalities make my heart so happy. Not only are these two a TON OF FUN (check out their first dance later….) but they also are incredibly kind, thoughtful and genuine people. I truly adore them and everyone they surround themselves with. I had a blast with their very small wedding party (highly recommend this) while chilling at North Pier Brewing Co and hiding amongst the grapes at 12 Corners Vineyard.
I also cannot explain how much I adore their DJ, Derek Hall. I seriously think he makes the best parties 100x better. And is such a helpful guy. I also hired him for my own wedding happening next fall so I MIGHT BE BIASED but he seriously knows how to make something a great time. He also noticed how AMAZING the end of the sunset was in the middle of speeches, and we took a little break for EVERYONE to go grab some rad photos. He’s truly amazing.
I truly hope Dani and Mike love these photos. And I also hope my own wedding literally a year from their wedding, has this same weather/vibe/funness going on. Now I will let them take it from here with their notes on the day!
Mike and I met online in late 2010. Mike might tell you he viewed my professional LinkedIn profile, but it was another site. We first met in person on December 8th, 2010 and things just kinda felt right. We went to a bar, had a drink or two and basically never stopped talking. We bought a house together in July of 2012, got engaged on April 8th, 2017 and now almost 8 years later we got married September 8th, 2018.
I had a really hard time finding THE dress. I ended up going to BHLDN in Chicago on Thanksgiving weekend – I had tried on a few of their bridal gowns previously, but nothing struck me. I went to try some of their bridesmaid line. I was alone in the fitting room and the sales woman was like you are BEAMING. I face-timed with my mom, who was less than impressed but I knew it was the one. It was perfect for a winery, easy to wear, so freakin’ comfortable!
We got Mike’s suit at Macy’s its from a brand called Bar III, which cleverly uses a man running in a suit as their label. The tie, pocket square, and socks are all from Tie Bar.
Prior to getting engaged, we had talked about the type of wedding we wanted. We had come up with a few things that were our non-negotiables. We wanted to take the emotion out of a big financial and emotional decision so the first thing we did was created categories with which to rank our visits. I think we had 7 categories of things. Including, ease of transportation, cost, overall vibe and more. After each venue visit, we separately ranked each category 1-10. 12 Corners not only won on the emotional level but it outranked all the other venues in our makeshift ranking system.
We also ended up at one of our favorite breweries in the area, North Pier, for a first drink of sorts with our bridal party and their +1s. It was a really great way to enjoy everyone who had traveled to be with us and just be all dressed up and have a moment of chill.
The short story is our ceremony was more perfect than we could have ever dreamed. Mike’s cousin Terry officiated it and he knocked it out of the park. The long story is … always trust your gut. Our ceremony was equal parts funny, serious and effortlessly us. We opted to incorporate our mixed heritages and said unique vows from Walt Whitman’s song of the open road. Oh! And we took a selfie!
The only way I can describe the theme was that I did not want to out vineyard the vineyard. My mom made the gorgeous ceremony signs that matched our invitations. And the centerpieces were a labor of love – I scrubbed the labels off of 80+ bottles of wine. The rest of the décor was minimal, I made the bar signs and the s’mores sign and just stuck them in borrowed frames!
Reception/Dancing/Music: All the fun!
Our DJ, Derek Hall aka The Block Party brought. The. Party. For the speeches, we had Derek play walk-up music, an ode to baseball. He also mixed Go Cubs Go into Mike’s mother-son song. There has never been a more joyful mother-son dance ever.
We opted to make our first dance, a Hall and Oates classic, the last of the formal dances so that we could start the party immediately following. I don’t think a single person left the dance floor all night. Which is a dream and a true testament to Derek.
Rachel and Tina were amazing. Rachel brings light and joy into everything she touches and made our day so seamless. She and Tina both showed up with a huge smile and an easy-going attitude that put my own stress at ease. Taking portraits took what felt like 5 minutes and being grabbed off the dance floor for night photos was the perfect reflection point in the night. I was so grateful to not have to think about anything photo related at any point during the day, because I knew we were in good hands all day long.
Any Advice for couples planning their wedding?
Don’t listen to anyone else’s advice. Okay, if your vendors tell you that your timeline is crazy ambitious, maybe listen to that but, otherwise, the wedding of your dreams is only limited by your imagination. There are no rules so trust your intuition.
A real piece of advice though – do everything early. That way during the week/ weekend of your wedding you can truly sit back and enjoy!
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