Crissie and Mike have close ties to Michigan and a North Woods wedding was a no brainer for the couple. The design of the day was centered on the elegance and grace of the natural location. “…The white bark of the birch trees, the intricate, delicate arms of the ferns that cover the forest floor, the lush greens and the cool blues of the trees and lakes.” We love the was event planner and florist The Day’s Design brought the vision to life with graceful, fern-centric florals. The bridal party stunned in their blue and blush hues with delicate greenery crowns and we love the woodsy-elegance of the reception at Elberta Life Saving Station. Lucky for us, Samantha James Photography to capture breathtaking imagery of Crissie and Mike’s big day.
Mike and I both have close ties to Michigan, even though I grew up in California and we met in New York City! So it was easy for us to pick the north woods of Michigan to host our wedding – a town that my family has been visiting every summer since 1906. We wanted our wedding to capture the endless, almost magical loveliness of its setting. There’s an elegance and grace ingrained in the woods of Northern Michigan. The white bark of the birch trees, the intricate, delicate arms of the ferns that cover the forest floor, the lush greens and the cool blues of the trees and lakes.
It’s easy to think “up north” and “nature” and stereotype them as rustic – but these woods are not unpolished or artless. These woods are not typical; they’re full of magic. We wanted our wedding to mirror that natural, enchanted elegance, and wanted our guests to experience the magic that fills the air.
Our ceremony took place in The Meeting House – a gorgeous wood auditorium with vaulted rafters and barn door windows that open into the surrounding woods. When guests entered, we wanted it to feel as if they’d stumbled upon an enchanted fairy hideaway. As if the meeting house grew up out of the surrounding woods, and many of the organic elements remain inside.
Garlands of greenery snaked their way down the aisle floors, and small clusters of geometric golden lanterns sat among the greenery – aglow with candles and fairy lights. At the end of the aisle, elegant birch trees formed the chuppah, framed with an asymmetrical garland.
Neither of us are very religious – but Mike was raised Jewish so we built our ceremony around Jewish traditions, infused with our own unique details. One of Mike’s fraternity brothers performed the ceremony for us. My father built our chuppah and it was draped with Mike’s grandfather’s tallit. We had our siblings read a personalized version of the Seven Blessings. And we drank wine from a local vineyard out of the Kiddush cup from Mike’s Bar Mitzvah.
For the reception, we moved to the Elberta Life Saving Station – an historic building on the Betsie Bay, just off of Lake Michigan. Cocktail hour took place on the patio of the Life Saving Station, overlooking the bay. I surprised Mike – a die-hard U of M football fan – with a giant cutout of Jim Harbaugh’s (their head coach) face as a prop for our photo booth. We decorated with details like a hand painted sign instructing guests on how to dance the Hora and geometric gold lanterns that echoed the ceremony decor.
I wanted to add as many personalized details as possible to the day: Mike and I stained the wood for all our signage, and I hand-painted them. I lettered all the escort cards and place cards by hand, and the little gold dinosaurs added a personal (and whimsical!) element as well. There’s a conservatory garden in Chicago (where Mike and I live) that has a “Fern Room”; as you enter the room a sign explains that ferns are an ancient plant, and have been around since the time of dinosaurs. In fact, it says that a small dinosaur would feel right at home in that room. As you walk through the room you can spot small plastic dinosaurs hiding in the ferns. Mike and I have always gotten a huge kick out of that room, and since ferns played a huge part in our florals, invites and decor, the little dinos felt like a perfect fit.
Dinner and dancing took place in a tent along the side of the Life Saving Station, with views of the bay and a gorgeous Lake Michigan sunset. We capped off the night with cake and a build your own sundae bar, and a dance party complete with glow sticks.
We had an amazing team of vendors who helped us pull off a perfect day. Shelby of the Day’s Design whose organic and whimsical florals were an ideal fit for our vision, and who effortlessly coordinated the day-of-details. And the soft, dreamy style of Samantha James Photography was perfect to capture the day – the final result was even more beautiful than we could have hoped for. An amazing representation of our happiest day.
Photography: Samantha James Photography // Day of Coordination & Florals: The Day’s Design // Ceremony Location: Congressional Summer Assembly Meeting House // Reception Venue: Elberta Life Saving Station // Catering: Catering by Kelly’s // Cake: Crescent Bakery // Rentals: GJ Rentals // Hair & Makeup: Memorable Occasions