An Out-of-Towner’s Guide to Planning a Pure Michigan Wedding

Conrad Chase and Abigail Paul are in the process of planning their dream Pure Michigan wedding. Today, they give us an inside look at the process and their reasoning behind choosing Michigan as their ultimate wedding destination.

Photo courtesy of Andreijka Photography

Photo courtesy of Andrejka Photography

My name is Conrad.  I was born in Chicago, have lived in 4 countries, traveled to 15, and spent countless months in major cities around the U.S., including Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and other places considered to be the center of the action, attracting the best of the best.

I have to be honest – two years ago when I was presented with the opportunity to relocate to Michigan, I considered the move to be a temporary one, which would have me back in these major markets in no time.

However, what actually happened (and what I am sure happens to every other guy who falls in love and doesn’t see it coming) is I bumped into the most beautiful and amazing woman in the world, in the most unsuspecting of places, Buchanan, MI.  You have heard of Buchanan, right?  Wrong.  Not many out-of-staters like myself have, which is why this story gets even better.

So here I am, starry-eyed and in love, learning all about this new lady who has come waltzing into my life.  She is from Southern Michigan, as are her family and friends.  Our dates include winery tours, days at the beach, athletic events on the most pristine beautiful lakes, all in Michigan. Very quickly, my calls back to my friends and family became full-blown endorsements for Michigan and aggressive solicitations to get them here to experience this wonderful place!

Photo by Dennis Lee Photography

Photo by Dennis Lee Photography

Well, as you can imagine, our relationship took its course and we quickly moved from dating, to wedding planning.  When evaluating the options of how and where we would get married, all kinds of ideas came to mind.  A destination wedding in the tropics, a church wedding and a high-rise reception in a major city, and more.  However at the end of the day, we both agreed that it would be so much more special, to bring everyone together, as close to our home and our life in Michigan, as possible. We wanted to show them all of the wonderful things in Michigan she has grown up with, and I have grown to love.  With the decision made, we began our planning.

The Venue:  What could be a better setting for a Michigan wedding, than in a barn, on a vineyard, closely located to Buchanan.  We will tie the knot at the Hidden Vineyard Wedding Barn in Berrien Springs. (Birth place of Mohammad Ali… another fun Michigan fact!)

Photo by Nate Farran

Photo by Nate Farran

The Vendors:  We wanted all of the elements of the wedding to be meaningful, and representative of Michigan, and also be appropriate for a barn wedding. We chose a wedding designer from Buchanan called Rustica.   Their shop is located in downtown Buchanan, and is a place that Abby and I go on Sunday mornings after grabbing fresh brewed coffee, and see what new artisanal items this husband and wife team have crafted up.  The music is from a bluegrass band from Southern Michigan called the ArtGomperz.  We both thought it fitting that if we were tying the knot in a barn, a banjo must be involved.  This brings us to food and drinks.  Our main course is a pig roast with a pig from a local Michigan farm.  Additionally, all produce, cheese, bread, beer, wine and spirits are coming from local farms, breweries and wineries.  Even the desert will have a number of delicious items from Cherry Republic, a staple of Michigan tourism.

As I am writing this post, I am looking out the back yard, over the largest inland lake in Southern Michigan, at the boats, jet skis, families on pontoons, and dogs happily running and playing in the shallow water.  I have spent years of my life looking for best places, best cities, most excitement… I never thought that I would find it here, in Pure Michigan.

For more on planning a wedding in Michigan, see our Pure Michigan Weddings board on Pinterest or watch the replay of our live chat with local wedding expert Megan Swoyer.

IMG_3815Conrad Chase is a business development executive for a growing technology company, Data Realty, headquartered in South Bend IN.  His beautiful fiancée, Abigail Paul is a dentist in Eau Claire, Michigan.  The couple share common interests such as travel, Crossfit, and family.  Abigail and Conrad reside in Buchanan, MI with their 2 cats, Susie and Stimpy.

 

Planning a Mackinac Island Wedding from Five Hours Away

Native Michiganders Mark Jordan and Kristin Yash are in the process of planning their dream wedding on Mackinac Island. Today, they give us an inside look at the process and their reasoning behind choosing the picturesque island for their wedding location.

We chose Mackinac Island as our location because it is the most beautiful place in Michigan and because it was where we had our first vacation together.

When we first picked our location we were not sure how it was going to work since it was five hours from home but the staff in particular the wedding coordinator, Alana, at The Island House changed our mind in an instant.  We had never been to The Island House previous to booking our venue. We fell in love with Alana and all of the staff we met that would be a part of our special day.

The best part about being five hours away is there was an excuse to travel to the island multiple times before the wedding. Not to mention that working with our wedding coordinator has made my life a breeze. She is so attentive to our needs, responds to emails and phone calls within seconds even after 11pm at night.  She is helping me the day of the wedding with setup and when we come up to visit it is like we are spending time with family and friends we have known for years.

Alana provided us with a detailed list of Mackinac Island Wedding vendors that again made for simple planning. In total, Mackinac Island Wedding vendors are providing flowers, party favors, carriage tours, wedding cake, DJ, Pastor and the rehearsal dinner.

We are so in love with where we picked, we would do it every year if we could. Best planning experience I have ever had due to amazing staff and location. For anyone planning a wedding with travelers coming from far distances, I highly recommend the Pellston airport; it is only 15 minutes away by taxi.

 

Mark Jordan (groom) is from Livonia, MI and Kristin Yash (Bride) is from Hartland, MI. We met in August 2011 in Royal Oak, MI. We currently live in Royal Oak, MI where we just built our first home in 2012. We got engaged on July 8, 2013 at Cliff Bells in Detroit, MI and we will be celebrating the big day on Sunday September 1, 2013 at The Island House on Mackinac Island. 

For more on Mackinac Island, visit michigan.org.

You’re Invited: Pure Michigan Weddings Live Web Chat

It’s wedding planning season in Pure Michigan, and we’re excited to speak with local weddings expert Megan Swoyer as brides-to-be plan their special days.

Megan will be joining us for a live chat on Wednesday, February 27 at 7:00 p.m. right here at the box below. Learn more from Megan below and get your questions ready for the chat!

Michigan is the proverbial oyster for brides and grooms when it comes to great places to marry. 

Although I followed a traditional path, marrying in a church and hosting a reception at a nearby established country club, attendees still were able to bask in a bit of Michigan’s beauty.

A mid-June affair with temperatures hovering in the low 80s and a golden sun popping from cerulean-blue skies, the event of my life took place on a perfect Michigan late-afternoon and evening.

Touches of the Great Lakes State peppered my day, from the glaciated rolling golf-course fairways and greens just off the reception patio to the Gayle’s chocolate desserts, straight from Royal Oak’s sweetest kitchen (Gayle uses Michigan cherries and syrup in many of her treats!) to the Michigan wines that filled our glasses. Nothing could have made it more special.

But for the next wedding in our family, I’d love it to be a 100 percent Pure Michigan experience. I’d say there’s a good chance my two sons and their many cousins will, in the not-too-distant future, make that very decision.

But where? I’ve interviewed enough brides, grooms and wedding planners as part of my magazine- and newspaper-writing career to know about a lot of tantalizing locations. Not to mention the weddings I’ve attended. One of the more vivid and intimate affairs I recall took place on the lawns and in the gazebo of a Northwest Michigan hotel (that bride sure didn’t need anything ‘blue’ — Lake Michigan was just steps away).

From Upper Peninsula log-style facilities a Petoskey stone’s throw from the shores of Lake Superior to a country road leading into a covered bridge to the grounds of an historic lighthouse to a vineyard path to a cherry farm (are you tired yet?), there’s a lot of ground to cover when selecting a romantic site that suits you.

As a bride and groom — or someone looking for a romantic site to celebrate an occasion (hey, I’m celebrating 20 years of marriage this June!) — your only dilemma will be narrowing it down to one special location.

There truly are almost as many options as there are grains of sand on Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (and yes, you can marry there, but you’ll need a permit).

Check in with me during Pure Michigan’s live chat at 7:00 p.m. on Feb. 27. We’ll gallivant in vineyards, stick our toes in lakeshore sands and glimpse a stunning panoramic view from the top of a lighthouse tower, all in the name of love … and discovering the best spots in Michigan to say “I do!”

Megan Swoyer is a freelance editor and writer based in Michigan. She covers topics ranging from travel, food and interior design to gardens, fashion, the arts, bridal and entertainment.