A Behind the Scenes Peek at Mackinac Island Wedding Photography

We recently had the chance to sit down with Mackinac Island Wedding Photographer, Andrejka Photography, and ask a few questions about what it’s like to be a wedding photographer on Mackinac Island, why she chose the island, what makes it so special, and share a few stories. Here’s what we found out:

Photo by Andrejka Photography

Q: Why did you choose Mackinac Island to open your photography business?

A:  Clients and fellow photographers often ask why I would leave beautiful California to go to an island in Michigan…well nothing compares. Being a photographer on Mackinac Island isn’t like anywhere else in the world. I’ve photographed weddings and portraits all over the world. Being a photographer on the island is about more than just shooting pretty pictures. It’s about introducing my clients to a whole new world, giving them an insider’s experience to an island that is unlike any other.

Q: What do you want newlyweds to remember about their Mackinac Island wedding?

A:  I want couples to feel connected to the location, the venue and the people. This is a location where a couple has the opportunity to be part of a community that isn’t necessarily their own. By day two on the island they can walk into a restaurant and the bartender will know their name. Their wedding coordinator is having dinner next to them. Their florist is outside walking the dog. This is something you can only experience on Mackinac Island. I want couples to feel a part of something larger than just their 4-hour wedding day. They should leave the island feeling like they’ve gained a lifelong friendship with a unique location that only a few truly get to experience at its fullest.

Photo by Andrejka Photography

Q: What makes Mackinac Island a unique destination for weddings and wedding photography?

A: Vendors work together as a team more than anywhere else I’ve ever worked. We not only see each other at events but we see each other at the grocery store. I have most every wedding coordinator on speed dial.

Q. How does your job as a wedding photographer on Mackinac Island differ from other destinations?

A: As an island photographer there are certain skills that make our jobs unique. Besides knowing the secret places for photos, and having the relationships to make extra special things happen, having an island bike that can hold your equipment is a must. Also, having the endurance to make it up those hills is critical in chasing after your couple’s carriage rides. Shooting while biking is a skill that doesn’t hurt as well.

Q: Have you ever had any funny or unexpected happenings while shooting wedding photography on the island?

A: Only on Mackinac Island. I had left my bike for my assistant to use and was quickly back to the resort when I realized the wedding party was going to pass me in their carriage. Well as I’m speed walking with all my equipment in hand a dock porter friend with a big bike basket (no name to protect the innocent as what I’m about to tell you is technically illegal) pulls up to say hi. I’m clearly in a hurry and he says ‘Hop in. I’ll give you a ride.” Next thing I know I’m being carted like a piece of luggage down the street with my equipment in my lap and feet hanging out of the basket. It worked! I beat the carriage to the resort with time to spare.

Photo by Andrejka Photography

Q: Have you had any close calls or mishaps while doing wedding photography on the island?

A: I always meet with my couples the day or two before their wedding. One day I met with a couple who happened to be from New Orleans and we started going over the plan for the next day. It included a second line from St. Anne’s Church to the Island House, an awesome idea. Not a far distance, no big deal right? Only as long as you have a permit and police escort. This was the first they were hearing of the permit and escort. Luckily, I was on my way to the Tourism Bureau where the director at the time quickly called the police station, got a permit, and had an officer there just in time as the ceremony ended. With all of the horses there are certain rules that keep everything under control, not everyone knows these rules. It is helpful to have island vendors who either know the rules or know people who know the rules. Can you imagine if the 50 New Orleans locals were taken to the little Mackinac Island jail? Not the memory they were necessarily looking for!

About Andrejka Photography

My first camera was a hot pink point and shoot in junior high. It should have been clear at that young age that photography would become more than just a hobby. I’ve always loved documenting life, however I began to realize that photography meant more to me than an image here and there. It isn’t just the art that brings joy to my profession but the many friends I’ve gained along the way. I couldn’t imagine doing any else. The excitement of love and life inspire me every day.

My love for people mixed with a background in fine art is the perfect combination for a professional photographer. It is life’s important moments that inspire my creative eye. My work has been featured in a variety of national and interview television shows, magazines, marketing ads and websites. Currently I split my time between two beautiful locations – Southern California and Northern Michigan. I have also had the pleasure of photographing portraits and weddings around the world including Hawaii, Mexico, Spain, Italy, France and even Macedonia. Follow Andrejka Photography on Facebook

Have you or someone you know gotten married on Mackinac Island? Tell us about it! 

Six Reasons You’ll Want to Golf on a Frozen Great Lake

You don’t have to leave the Midwest this winter to enjoy a mind-blowing round of golf. The U.P. Ice Golf Scramble will take place March 1, 2014, in St. Ignace. Calling it a one-of-a-kind event just doesn’t do it justice. Mindy Rutgers from St. Ignace Visitors Bureau tells us why:

1. A Chip Off the Old (ice) Block

You know your favorite course like the back of your hand. You may have even golfed all of the interesting venues in Michigan.  Let St. Ignace introduce you to a new course and a new twist on your favorite pastime. Anyone can say they shot the back nine, but how many of your friends can say they played on 12 plus inches of ice? Few duffers can lay claim to rounds on Lake Huron or Lake Michigan, but the UP Ice Golf Scramble has courses on both of the lakes.

2. A Fun and Level Playing Field

Literally and figuratively – this outing offers a level playing field. Literally – because the lakes are flat and the courses as level as Mother Nature can make them. Figuratively, because we’ve constructed an event that places the emphasis on fun. It’s a two-person, best-ball scramble, which is our way of saying that even if you’ve never golfed in your life, partner up and take a swing at a winter adventure. No handicaps. No pros. Just fun.

3. White is The New Green

Swap your golf cart for a sled and turn your white golf balls a color of your choosing and you’re ready to play one of the three courses offered – the Chief Wawatam on Lake Huron, the Mighy Mac on Lake Michigan or the Greenland, also on Lake Michigan.

4. Go to the Extreme

Golf is traditionally a quiet, relaxed sport. But in this age of amped-up activities, bucket lists, and thrill-seeking, what could be more extreme than playing through atop 20 fathoms of icy cold waters? St. Ignace has a long history of using the frozen Great Lakes as a playground – from snowmobiling to pond hockey championships – but if you haven’t golfed Michigan or Huron, you haven’t taken full advantage of the state’s winter wonderland.

5. A Mighty Mac of a Prize

Teams can also enter a decorated sled for judging and a chance to win two tickets to the top of the Mackinac Bridge towers. These coveted tours don’t come around often, so flex your creative muscle and get to work on a showpiece sled that will dazzle the judges and your fellow golfers.

6. Golf Clothes Never Looked So Good

Are you turned off by the stuffy attire required on some courses? Ice golfers can forget about the preppy polo shirt or the golf knickers. Pack your thermal underwear, your fleece and anything else that can provide layers of warmth. Make sure you have a touk (a knitted winter hat) or a Stormy Kromer (a stylish wool cap made in the Upper Peninsula) and remember your sun glasses because St. Ignace is known for beautiful winter sunshine!

Learn more and register for the U.P. Ice Golf Scramble at www.stignace.com or call (800)338-6660.

Have you ever played golf on a frozen Great Lake? Tell us about your experience!

Mindy Rutgers is the Executive Director of the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau. She has worked in Michigan’s tourism & hospitality industry since 1996, holding posts in the Detroit metro area, as well as in the Upper Peninsula. She is also a seasoned ice golfer, but will focus on hosting, rather than competing in, the UP Ice Golf Scramble. 

A Visitor’s Guide to Exploring Frankenmuth – Michigan’s Little Bavaria

To celebrate the kick off of Zehnder’s Snowfest in Frankenmuth next week, guest blogger Craig Sterken takes us on a tour of some charming attractions in Michigan’s Little Bavaria.

If you’ve ever dreamed of spending a winter’s day in a charming alpine village, but don’t have the funds to fly to the Bavarian Alps, a weekend visit to Frankenmuth, Michigan might be the thing for you. Nicknamed “Little Bavaria”, this small city in the heart of mid-Michigan will have you believing you’ve been transported to your dream village within minutes.

Photo by Craig Sterken Photography

Teeming with charm, Main Street offers shops, boutiques, restaurants, a brewery, and a step back in time with horse and carriage rides.  A carriage ride will take you through a picturesque neighborhood and through the downtown area. Afterwards, you have your choice of two well known restaurants. On opposite sides of the street you’ll find Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth, famously known for their chicken dinners and the Bavarian Inn, widely known for its home-cooked German fare. Both establishments also host gift shops and fine wines.

The Cass River wends its way through town and is flanked on one side of the river by the Bavarian Inn and the Bavarian Inn Lodge. An appealing covered bridge, known as “The Zehnder’s Holz Brucke” spans the river connecting the two properties. Available to both cars and foot traffic it adds to the delightful scenic views of Frankenmuth.

Photo by Craig Sterken Photography

For shoppers who want more than the boutiques in town offer, there is River Place. Over 40 shops offer goods for the discriminate shopper. River Place has pleasant walkways, benches, and paths to stroll, linger, and enjoy, even in winter. For entertainment beyond shopping you can also visit Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel and Indoor Waterpark. Providing wet and wild family fun and relaxation it can be a wonderful respite from the winter weather. They even provide complementary shuttle service to Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth restaurant.

Photo by Craig Sterken Photography

Though Frankenmuth is widely known for their many festivals throughout the year winter brings Zehnder’s Snowfest. One of the most well known snow-sculpting competitions in North America, it is also host to the National Collegiate Ice Carving Championship and the High School Snow Sculpting Competition. You’ll be able to watch the snow sculptors at work and ice carvers employing their skills with chainsaws, picks, and even handmade tools created for the job. This year will be the 23rd annual completion and will be held January 22-27.

Photo by Craig Sterken Photography

Don’t forget to visit the southern outskirts of town and visit Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. Bronner’s is the World’s Largest Christmas Store. Founded in 1945 by Wally Bronner, it is open year round and bustles with activity as shoppers, tour busses, and cars come and go. Over 100,000 lights are lit throughout the season and it provides the perfect atmosphere for getting yourself in the Christmas mood. It’s easy to spend an entire afternoon shopping for ornaments, artificial trees, Santa suits, or for resting your heels in their cafeteria.

Frankenmuth just has so much to offer. On a recent visit my wife and I stopped for wine tasting at St. Julian Winery, shopped for a comforter at Frankenmuth Woolen Mills, ate lunch at Tiffany’s, and bought freshly roasted chestnuts from a vendor on Main Street.  So, if you’re looking for a weekend full of family fun, a good meal, or a romantic getaway with that alpine village feel, Frankenmuth delivers. Visit one of the bustling shops or just quietly sit on a bench sipping hot chocolate and watch the fun unfold around you.

Craig Sterken is a freelance photographer and lifelong resident of Michigan. His photos have been published in travel publications, magazines, brochures, and websites throughout the state.  His prints adorn the walls of homes, offices, hospitals, and businesses and can be purchased online or in various galleries and shops in Michigan. Visit his website CraigSterken.com or on Facebook  for more information.