This wedding was exactly WHY I love this job.
Sydney and Andy planned things quickly, having known each other FOR A LONG TIME and had only their closest friends and family in attendance. They poured their hearts and souls into this amazing day and the photos show truly how much everyone loves them. I WILL LET THEM take it from here <3
The Beginning: AKA how you met, fell in love etc.
Andy and I met twelve years ago in 6th grade band class, but our family history stretches back even further than that. My parents lived in the house behind his grandparents in our hometown of Battle Creek, Michigan, and our eldest siblings went to school together. Our friendship was almost inevitable. Although we technically started our relationship in junior year of high school, Andy was my first ever boyfriend in 7th grade (and we were each others’ first kiss!). We have always kept the notes we passed to each other during class from this time in our lives.
We were together for 5+ years by the time Andy proposed in October of 2017. Andy proposed to me near our first waterfall on the Fiery Gizzard trail during our trip to Altamont, Tennessee. Eight eager months later, after celebrating our 6 year anniversary, we got married at the Shagway Arts Barn on June 23, 2018, in Ludington, Michigan.
We got married at the Shagway Arts Barn in Ludington, Michigan. The barn is on a beautiful property that was the absolute perfect size for our wedding party (approx. 40 people – though, it certainly could’ve handled a few dozen more very comfortably). Nancy, the owner of the venue, was incredibly helpful and very easy to communicate with whenever we had any questions. The ceremony and dinner were held outside, and dancing during the reception was held inside the barn. There were plenty of great photo opportunities outside as the property is surrounded by lush forest and fields.
We didn’t hire a wedding planner, and we were sooooooo ridiculously moved by how willing and enthusiastic our family and friends were to help out with our big day. Part of the reason we loved Shagway, was because it offered a beautiful canvas for us to craft our outdoor wedding the way we’d envisioned it. With that said, ALL of our decorations were transported via five vehicles and one very long trailer all the way from Kalamazoo or Battle Creek, Michigan, where our parents live. The long trailer was used to transport eight stunningly beautiful farmhouse tables, handcrafted by the brides’ parents, Rick and Tammy Bicknell. So, to simply say that blood, sweat, and tears went into making our wedding such a perfect day would be an understatement. Our wedding day was the result of hard labor, months spent planning, and some very memorable weekly dinners at Sawall’s of Kalamzoo with the grooms parents, Jeff and Lori.
Additionally, All Occasions floral design of Ludington was fantastic in terms of making our wildflower dreams come true. I remember hearing some doubt from others when I told them I didn’t have a color theme for the wedding, but I had full faith that Wendy and Cheryl would find the perfect balance of elegance with wild, natural colors– and they did not disappoint! I loved my bouquet so much!!
After doing some bridal-related Pinterest research, I knew that I wanted flower-applique on my dress, and the plan from the start was to get something ethereal and unique. I went to one other bridal store in Michigan before discovering BHLDN upon further internet research. I immediately made an appointment for a bridal consultation at their Chicago location. I brought my Mom, Tammy, along for the ride, and we were SO in awe of the store’s interior, and especially their bridal suite! Caprice, the awesome gal who helped me discover my dress, greeted us with canned champagne (who knew!) to enjoy while I tried on gowns. About four dresses in, I fell head over heels for the Ariane gown (in all her glory). It was unlike any other dress I had tried on before– it had all my flower applique dreams while still incorporating my childhood ballgown fantasies I didn’t know I still dreamed of. I love it so much. I never thought that I would actually consider framing a dress before now.
The first thing I knew about my suit was that I wanted it to be similar in color to a suit that Jim Carrey wore when he presented an Oscar in 2014. Feel free to Google.
Because it was an outdoor wedding and in the middle of summer, I wasn’t 100% on board with the velvet material his suit was made of. I ended up going with a super comfortable, and breathable suit from J. Crew that I’ll continue to wear for special occasions in the future. All things considered, my wildflower corsage pocket square was probably my favorite part of the outfit. All Occasions in Ludington, MI, did an awesome job putting it together!
The Ceremony: How did it go? Anything special?
The ceremony was absolutely perfect. Even though we did a first look, it didn’t keep us from tearing up a bit! We were incredibly lucky to have such helpful, and hands-on family members taking part in our big day. My Dad, Jeff, was my Best Man, Sydney’s brother, Ricky, was her Man of Honor, our cutie baby nephew, Leland, was our ring bearer (with my sister and brother-in-law, Courtney and Nat, acting as co-ring bearers (; ), and both of our mothers were the most lovely and beautiful flower girls you’d ever laid your eyes on. One of our best friends, Christian Elliott, acted as our officiant and he did an incredible job – balancing light-hearted humor with his own thoughtful insights on our relationship. Another one of our best friends, Alex Tobin, did all of the sound for our ceremony AND reception. After we shared our vows beneath the archway handcrafted by Sydney’s father, Alex queued up “Lovers in Japan” by Coldplay as we shared our first kiss (we timed it so we kissed RIGHT when the main piano riff started). It was an awesome send off for our honeymoon which we happily spent in Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hakone!).
Reception/Dancing/Music: All the fun!
Andy and I also did not hire a DJ. We created a public and collaborative Spotify playlist months before, which our friends and family added songs to leading up to our wedding. Some of our favorites were “The Good Life” by Kanye West, “Yeah!” by Usher, and of course, “Moonlight Mile” by The Rolling Stones, the song we chose as our first dance. Andy shared a dance with his Mom to one of their favorite group’s songs – the Carpenters’ “On Top of the World.” And last but not least, my dad and I had a blast choreographing and mixing our very own surprise mashup for our father-bride dance. We decided to make a go of it no more than two weeks before the big day, and I’m pretty proud of the end result. I loved dancing with my Dad to Marky Mark’s “Good Vibrations” as much as I loved dancing with him to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.”
Any Advice for couples planning their wedding?
Once you set a date, start planning and ironing out details as early as possible. Even little things here or there add up every couple days. There will always be stress, but if you give yourself enough time, all will be good. Take up your family when they offer to help, you’ll be happy to shed some weight from your own to-do list, and it’s an unforgettable bonding experience with your loved ones.
Rachel was incredibly fun and made it easy for us to relax during our engagement shoot and the big day. She was a hit among our friends and family at the wedding and added a great energy to such a special day. We love the creativity she adds by including GIFs, and her attention to detail really makes her photos stand out from other photographers. We’re so happy we met Rachel and that she was apart of our wedding day!