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real wedding video :: a lovely vintage beach wedding on lake michigan

Kim & Brian – 07.19.13 from Forever Fossilized, LLC on Vimeo.

Check out this lovely video of Kim+Brian’s 2013 wedding created by Forever Fossilized. They did a fantastic job of capturing this fun couple and beautiful outdoor wedding! Kim & Brian planned a destination wedding in St. Joseph all the way fro California, and we were thrilled to be able to work with them in planning this sweet, vintage-inspired event.

Stella Event Design Services: Full Service Planning & Design

real wedding :: a colorful wedding at the blue dress barn

I absolutely love this color palette! You can’t get much cheerier than a beautiful sunshine yellow, paired with a lush green. And my very favorite thing about this beautiful Blue Dress Barn wedding, is that in lieu of a bridal party, the bride & groom asked their guests to join them as their attendants, by wearing the wedding colors! So the entire wedding was filled with guests donning their shades of green and yellow. How cute!


The ceremony was held on the beach of Lake Michigan. Personally, I find it hard to beat the beautiful backdrop that a beach wedding provides…the sound of the waves, the blowing dune grass…it makes for a truly enchanting setting for a ceremony.



I absolutely love her cheery yellow bouquet, wrapped in burlap ribbon…the perfect rustic accent for a barn wedding! The beautiful florals were done by Crystal Springs, and I believe the rest of the photos by Jennifer Mayo Studios speak for themselves!


Jennifer + Brian, thank you for letting us be a part of your beautiful wedding here in Southwest Michigan…we wish you many, many more to come!



real wedding :: an all-inclusive beach ceremony in Holland

Beach weddings are something we’ve always gotten a lot of emails, phone calls and visits about. Which beach can I get married on? What if I have a large group and need to set up chairs? Which musicians will plan on the beach? How do we handle parking fees? For some people, a small intimate beach ceremony is all they’re interested in, and they want to skip a big, traditional reception. For some, all of the details that go into a beach ceremony are just more than they want to handle. So in 2012 we started offering All-Inclusive Beach Ceremony Services, which bundle together everything a bride needs, from picking the right beach to an officiant, flowers, bamboo arch, aisle decor, boutonnieres, chairs, musician and photography….plus our help in pulling it all together before hand, and on the day of.


Christan was one such bride, who just didn’t want to manage all of the hassle that goes into a beach ceremony. She gave us her colors, let us know what decor she wanted (ferns with white lilies up the aisle, blue chair sashes, and a bamboo arch with blue and white fabric) and we took care of everything. We booked a cellist, provided a photographer, worked with the beach to secure permission and setup times, and on the day-of we loaded everything in, set up, and tore it all down. Christan+Jeremiah just had to show up and enjoy their ceremony.They also had us set up their reception decor, so prior to heading to the beach, we spent the morning at their reception hall placing centerpieces and favors, decorating the cake table, and making sure everything was perfect for their arrival later that evening.


All-Inclusive Beach Ceremony packages are completely customizable and can include as little, or as much as you need, from decor and flowers to officiants, musicians and rentals—and all of your decor can be tailored to your own personal style & color scheme. Working with Christan was so much fun & we loved making her beautiful beach wedding dream a reality—thank you for letting us be a part of your special day, Christan+Jeremiah!

Lovely photos by Gingertown Photography

real wedding :: a colorful saugatuck wedding on lake michigan

Kate+Evans beautiful September wedding took place in the lovely lake shore town of Saugatuck. Just North of South Haven, and South of Holland, Saugatuck is an artsy beach community that is brimming over with lovely little shops, beautiful beaches, and unique spaces. Kate+Evan live in California, so we assisted them in designing & planning their destination wedding almost entirely via phone and email. They hosted their ceremony at The Porches, a lake front rental property with a pretty ceremony area overlooking Lake Michigan. It also played host to their tented rehearsal dinner, and served as home-base throughout the weekend!

saugatuck wedding the porches saugatuck wedding ceremony the porchesI loved all of the details of this wedding. They chose a gorgeous color palette of orange, and yellow with pops of red and we had so much fun incorporating their vibrant colors throughout the day, from the flowers to the bridesmaids belts. The floral designs created by Jennifer and her team at Modern Day Floral were just stunning. For the reception we brought in brown chiavari chairs, a beautiful chocolate brown patterned linen from La Tavola, lots of mixed glass, gold mercury glass, bright flowers, and little pops of succulents. There was an underlying theme to the wedding of “Home is wherever I’m with you”…the escort cards were hung from vintage keys, and each table was named after a street that the bride or groom had lived at. At each table there was a framed story written by someone who lived with them at that address, as well as a photo of them! It was so cute and guests spent a lot of time walking from table to table checking them all out—it was a great way to get people to mix and talk! The table numbers were mock street signs.

saugatuck wedding ceremony the porches bridesmaidssaugatuck center for the arts wedding detailsKate+Evan hosted their reception at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, and we absolutely fell in love with this venue! They rented the entire facility, and had access to any spaces they wanted to use. It was a lot of fun to come in as a planner and get to determine how we would use each space of the building throughout the event. The cocktail hour was hosted in the newly renovated rain garden outside, and then guests moved into the covered pavilion area for dinner. Inside, the lobby was used for the band and the dance area, and with its 3 huge glass garage doors, it was the perfect setting for a dance party. We used one of the art galleries as a lounge, featuring red chairs and couches, and cocktail tables for guests who wanted to sit and chat, instead of dancing! saugatuck center for the arts receptionKate+Evan, thank you so much for letting us be a part of your beautiful celebration! All of these lovely photos were taken by Ben Pancoast of Ben Pancoast Photography!

real wedding :: mandy+keith’s lakeside wedding in St. Joseph

Mandy+Keith tied the knot on a beautiful day in July and we could not have asked for more perfect weather! This couple is one of the sweetest I’ve worked with and so much love could be felt as family and friends watched Mandy+Keith say I do. After the intimate lake front ceremony, guests held sparklers and created an aisle for the bride and groom to walk through as they headed to pictures on the beach. Very fitting for Fourth of July weekend and it made for some great photos!

michigan beach wedding sparklersmichigan beach wedding detailsMandy loves Tiffany blue and found bridesmaids dresses that matched the color perfectly.  She paired the dresses with bouquets of red dahlias (which I absolutely love!) and red jewelry pieces from etsy.  The girls looked gorgeous!michigan beach wedding Mandy+Keith, thank you for letting us be a part of your special day.  It was a privilege to witness the beginning of your life together and we wish you many, many more happy times together!

Images by Bradley James Photography

photo shoot :: a nautical-inspired wedding tablescape

Way back in June—when wedding season was in full swing and life was much to busy to blog anything—we participated in the InFrame Bride Magazine tablescape photo shoot challenge, where 5 Michigan wedding planners are asked to design their version of a given tablescape theme. It’s not a competition, just a chance for all of us to show some unique ideas, and our personal approach to our theme! The overall theme was “the seasons” and being on the lake shore, we chose Summer so that we could show off beautiful Lake Michigan! We can design our tables absolutely any way we like, so photo shoots like this are always more difficult to design than weddings, because we have SO many choices…there’s no bride to keep in mind, and we’re not designing it to reflect someones personality, so the sky really is the limit on what approach we take with these photo shoot designs!
michigan beach wedding inframe bride magazineFor our design, we decided to take a unique approach to a “nautical-theme”…while avoid the usual nautical look of stripes, navy, and anchors everywhere. Our vision for this table was having it look as though it were recovered from a ship wreck, without being kitchy or themey. A romantic table that looked fitting right along the lake, with nods to items you’d find from an old washed up ship wreck….woods, metals, lots of organic and earthy materials, and of course little nautical details such as the ship wheel, chest, glass baubles, fishnet and rope. More than anything, we wanted it to feel romantic, like you’d just LOVE to sit at this table on a romantic summer night.

michigan beach wedding inframe bride magazine table setting

michigan beach wedding inframe bride magazinemichigan beach wedding inframe bride magazine cake sign The fun thing about photo shoots is that you can create your table anywhere, using anything. You don’t have to worry about the practicality of replicating your table 20+ times for a 150 person wedding, or if someone could actually eat a meal at your table, teetering atop a sand dune. So yes, you guessed it, we hauled our table, our cake, 10 lb (not joking) linen, and every other detail up and over dunes, to get it to our ideal spot over looking Lake Michigan and the light house. It was grueling and something I don’t hope to do again, but it was well worth it—who wouldn’t want this view from their sweetheart table! With so many vendors involved, we had to set the date for our shoot weeks in advance, and we were horrified to find it down pouring the entire day. It rained buckets up until about 30 minutes prior to our shoot, and started raining again about 30 minutes after finishing! While we did have a backup location, we were SO thankful we got to truly create our dream shoot in the ideal spot— right out on the beach!
michigan beach wedding inframe bride magazine table A ton of amazing vendors made this possible, and helped bring our vision to life. A huge thank you to Ben+Mindy From Studio 6.23 for shooting this for us, and being so much fun to work with! Jennifer Ederer and her team at Modern Day Floral were tasked with bringing our floral dreams to life, and like always, they nailed it with this one! The gorgeous water-inspired cake with it’s soft gradient of dark to light was provided by the very talented Dee Appelman of Dee’s Specialty Cakes and that adorable custom sign was created by Steffany Segar of Steff’s Shabby Signs! We also have to give a huge thank you to 2011 intern Kayla Weems, who helped dream up this design, had her hand in some of the hand-made details, and assisted me in setting up this crazy table! This went to print in the 2011/2012 issue of InFrame Bride Magazine, so if you see the magazine, be sure to pick it up—there’s a ton of amazing photos to check out and lots of inspiration!

All photos by Studio 6.23

real wedding::an anthropologie-inspired wedding at the veranda at the whitcomb

Back in June, this happy couple said “I Do” in beautiful Southwest Michigan.  Their intimate church ceremony was followed by an anthropologie-inspired reception at The Veranda @ The Whitcomb, where guests enjoyed a delicious meal form CK Catering and a band that kept them dancing all night long. One of my favorite things about this wedding was how unique everything was. Each and every one of the guest tables was completely different.

Anthropologie inspired wedding MichiganWe used a huge collection of milk glass, vintage bottles and silver pieces to create an eclectic mix of centerpieces. A huge thanks to Crystal Springs Florist for pulling it all together! Another detail we just loved was the cake topper! The bride and groom both love owls and their cake topper was two owls in a nest – so cute! The burlap runners added a nice touch of texture to the tables while still keeping the tables bright and clean looking–simplicity was definitely the key to this one!  A huge thanks to the girls at 430 Studios  for capturing the beautiful details of the day.

real wedding sneak peek::a wedding at the veranda in st. joseph

The last month has been NUTS around here, and we’re so excited to get to share so many of our June weddings already! It wouldn’t have been June without a crazy wedding schedule filled with fabulous beach weddings! A beach ceremony followed by a reception at the Veranda is (in my opinion) an amazing combo! The open-air setting of the Veranda is such a perfect complement to a wedding on the shores of Lake Michigan. The marigold and gray color combo was another winner—I just loved how clean and bright everything looked, with crisp white linens, gray napkins, gorgeous pops of yellow in the centerpieces and we  hung some beautiful clusters of lantern lighting over the dance floor!

veranda-wedding-st- joseph-michiganThe flowers from Crystal Springs couldn’t have been more perfect…from the adorable craspedia balls, to the oncidium orchid centerpieces, they were as bright and fun as this couple! Jessica+JT, thank you so much for letting us be a part of your special day—we LOVED working with you and we are so glad you got the PERFECT day for a beach wedding—you deserved it! Many best wishes in the future! Thanks to the lovely ladies at 430Studios for all of the gorgeous photos!

michigan beach weddings 101 | the photos

Posted by Jennifer Mayo, Jennifer Mayo Studios

From a photographer’s perspective, the landscape of Southwest Michigan offers an abundant variety of photographic opportunities.  Beach weddings along the shores of Lake Michigan provide for expansive views of long, romantic coastlines and nostalgic lighthouses.  From New Buffalo to Grand Haven, Lake Michigan is also home to numerous charming lakeside towns that provide the backdrop of urban architecture for wedding day images.  Take a drive just a few minutes inland and you’ll be surrounded by a picturesque countryside.


As a photographer who also frequently photographs Windy City weddings, photographing events in big cities often presents some logistical problems that require allotting larger spans of time for dedicated photo shoots on the Big Day.  The nice thing about photographing weddings in West Michigan is that so many different photo locations are in such close proximity to one another and traffic is usually not an issue, so you can often visit most of your favorite spots for pictures and still manage to finish cocktail hour with your guests.


While planning a three o’clock wedding might seem like a good idea, later is usually better… West Michigan is at the far end of the Eastern Time Zone pushing sunset back to as late as 9:30 pm in the middle of the summer.  Mid-day sun is the least favorable time to take photos at the beach.  The sun can create harsh, unflattering facial shadows when high in the sky and often causes squinting.  Evening is a much better option for photos at the beach.  Take advantage of Lake Michigan’s sunset coast and consider the possibility of taking a few minutes away from your reception if your venue is in close proximity to the beach to take a few pictures at sunset.  If the middle of the afternoon is the only possibility for achieving photos at the beach, parasols to create shade where it is otherwise unavailable also make adorable props at the beach and water resistant varieties are even available if you’d like them to double for your rain plan.


Regardless of the time of day, a photographer experienced at photographing weddings at the beach will be equipped with the techniques to capture beautiful images in a variety of lighting conditions.

Photos by Jennifer Mayo Studios

michigan beach weddings 101 | weather


Last week it rained and snowed in the same week—if you know Michigan, you know that the weather is unpredictable! So if you’re planning a beach wedding, you also need to consider what you’ll do in case of inclement weather. Will you reserve a nearby pavilion? Will you use your reception location as your back-up? Will you cross your fingers and pray for sunshine? (I don’t suggest the latter)

Some ideas for back-up locations:

  • Your reception venue
  • A local art gallery
  • A covered pavilion (many local beaches have these)
  • Your local church
  • A museum

One thing I always tell brides and grooms to keep in mind, is that a summer rain storm rarely lasts all day. An optimistic spirit comes in handy if you’re thinking of a beach wedding! We’ve had a handful of weddings where the day has started off with thunder storms….after hours of rain the sun comes out, our staff dries off ceremony chairs, sets up decor last minute (so it isn’t destroyed in the rain) and the ceremony can still go on as planned! So if you wake up to storm clouds on your wedding day, don’t give up just yet—-you very well may still have that beach wedding you’ve dreamed of!

Rain isn’t the only weather culprit at a beach wedding….a sweltering hot day can make 100 guests sitting out on the beach WISH for a downpour! Consider providing your guests with paper fans, sun parasols or battery-operated handheld fans to keep them cool and comfortable! Because the last thing you want during your vows is Great Aunt Mary passing out!  (More “Michigan Beach Weddings 101”–The Dream, Location)

Dreaming of a beach ceremony in Southwest Michigan? Find out how our Beach Ceremony Services can help you plan a gorgeous stress-free Lake Michigan event!

Photos by Haylee Dixon Photography, from the beach wedding of Jenny+Spencer