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floral services for your 2014 wedding in southwest michigan

Happy Monday! We’re fresh off of working a beautiful wedding this weekend at Millcreek Barns, and we’re in the mood for an announcement! After years of dreaming, months of planning, and more recently–weeks of hard work on a new workspace–we are thrilled to officially announce that we will be offering in-house, full service floral design to our clients! Please excuse all of the exclamation points in this post, but we’re pretty excited! Last week we visited one of our wholesalers to pick up some Spring blooms to play with, and here are a few little pretties we whipped up for fun…a big thank you to our office neighbor Ben Pancoast Photography for snapping some pretty pics for us!

southwest michigan florist

We’ll be sharing many more details about our floral services next month, when we launch our shiny new website as part of our re-branding project, but we just couldn’t wait to share!

So why add floral services, you may ask? Well, after years of offering design services, it was a natural evolution for us. We’ve been picking out the blooms, the containers, linens, lighting and every other visual aspect of weddings for our design clients, and the one area we lacked control over the vision we had was the actual creation of the floral pieces. Now don’t get me wrong, I can’t say enough good things about the florists we’ve worked with over the years–they’re beyond amazing and they’ve done a wonderful job for us–but we’re very excited about how simple this will make the design process for our wonderful brides. So after years of “playing” with flowers, acting as florist for our friends & family and taking an amazing floral design course in Chicago, we’re very excited to take the next step of offering this service to our brides!

We’re offering services in 2013 on a very limited basis, as our planning schedule is already full, but we’ll be offering it throughout 2014, for any Stella Event Design clients who are wanting to add our floral services to their planning & design services. We’re SO excited about how easy and seamless this will make the design process for our brides, and the creativity and control it will give us to ensure things are perfect for our brides.  And for brides who are interested in utilizing our planning & design services, but already have a florist secured—no worries—we’re still happy to work with any and all area florists to make your day perfect! So stay tuned, you’ll be seeing a lot of pretty florals popping up on the blog from here on out.

A special thanks to our office neighbor & wedding photographer Ben Pancoast for the pretty pictures he snapped for us!


inspiration :: some weddings are for the birds (literally)

One of the popular trends for the 2013 season is the bird themed wedding. Birds have a long-standing tradition of being seen as symbols of love, with many species such as the lovebird mating for life. If you’re considering incorporating birds into your design here are a few ideas to help you get started!

Wedding Wear:

  • Jewelry: There are many jewelry designers who create beautiful, bird themed necklaces and bracelets which can be a beautiful addition to you and your bridesmaids wedding day style (and can make great gifts for your bridesmaids as well).
  • Headbands/Headpieces: From a simple white or peacock feather headband to a more ornate, avant-garde look, there are many different headbands or hairpieces that can customized as part of your style.


Invitations and Save-the-Dates:

  • Many designers for invitations and save-the-dates are offering bird-themed designs. There is everything from more rustic looks with traditional lovebirds and birdcages to elegant designs featuring swans or silhouetted flocks of birds. No matter what your taste in design is, you will likely be able to find a designer who has a look or can create a look that fits your style perfectly.

Photo by Studio 6-23

Design Elements:

  • Bird Cages: Bird cages can be incredibly versatile as far as design is concerned. If you are considering an outdoor wedding in a wooded area they can be hung tastefully from branches. In a reception space they can make one-of-a-kind elements for centerpieces.
  • Chair Backings: If you have a more rustic style for your wedding, consider having love birds silhouettes as your chair backings for either your wedding or reception space. 
  • Gifts for Guests: Birds can be incorporated into your favors for your guests as well. One idea from Etsy is to use Muslin bags featuring birds. These can be a fun, creative,  customizable addition to your style.


  • Cake: There are some beautiful cake designs that are bird themed. You can incorporate silhouettes of birds, bird cages, or branches to create a one of a kind cake style that fits your overall theme.
  • Cake Topper: An alternative to a completely bird themed cake is to go with a more traditional cake design and have a bird themed cake topper.
  • Cupcake Flags: If you’re having cupcakes at your wedding, you can incorporate birds by creating cupcake flags which feature a bird silhouette. It’s a simple way to tie in your dessert to the rest of your theme without it being too ornate or time consuming.

12 unique guest book ideas

A guest book can be one of the treasured keepsakes from your wedding–and one of the few tangible things you walk away with on your wedding day, aside from your photos (and your fabulous new husband, of course!). It provides a way, years down the road, to remember all your guests and the memories you created together on one of the most special days of your life. But for todays weddings,  guest books are no longer restrained to a physical book; there are many unique, creative, and fun alternatives  you can use to make your guest book something to treasure.

Make It Something for Your Home: a guest book doesn’t have to be something you put in a box somewhere and forget about until you move. It can be a functional part of the decor in your first home together. Check out these unique, home decor inspired guest book ideas for a little inspiration:

  • The Guest Book Quilt: If you, a family member, or a friend loves to quilt, a wedding guest book quilt may be a great option for you. For this guest book, you can either have precut pieces of fabric, or, if you have the time and space, a completely finished quilt guests can either sign their names on and/or write messages to you as couple. This idea isn’t limited to only a quilt. You could also do this with a tablecloth or runner.
  • The Photo Frame Guest Book: Another thing you could do is have a photo of you as a couple, possibly a favorite engagement photo, printed and matted with a white or black frame. You can then set it up on an easel for guests to sign with black or silver pens or fine tipped permanent markers. Later, you can have it framed and hung in your home.
  • A Ceramic Guest Book: If you find a ceramic piece you both like, such as a platter or vase, you can have your guests sign it with permanent markers. Later you can bake it in your oven at home to keep the ink in tact.
  • An Art Piece Guest Book: There are many ideas on for guests books that can double as art pieces for your home. One of the more popular ideas is the thumbprint tree guest book. This guest book is created by having a tree with many, curving branches painted onto a white canvas. Guests then put their thumbprints unto the tree using different colored paints and sign their names in black ink either over top of the leaf or underneath it. Pictured above, a long-distance couple had a custom map of all the places they lived during their courtship, which guests signed to later be hung in their home!
  • A Scrapbook or Photo Album Guest Book: If you have a lot of photos of you as a couple, you can create a photo album or simple scrapbook with plenty of room around the photos for your guests to sign their names or write short messages and/or pieces of advice.
  • A Favorite Game as a Guest Book: If you have a love for board games or table games one option you have is to use a favorite game as your guest book. One way this can be done is to take a game like Jenga and have each of your guests sign their names and/or write a short message on the blocks.
  • A Piece of Furniture as a Guest Book: Bring refurbished pieces of furniture such as a small bench or a rocking chair for guests to sign, and then utilize it in your home!

Make It Something Unique to You: You can find a way to make a guest book as unique as you are as a couple. It can be something that represents your interests, who you are as a couple, or an idea that inspires you.

172 and 173

A vintage book rebound as a guest book with custom nameplate. Photos by Lamb + Lark

  • A Time Capsule Guest Book: Create a time capsule guest book with the help of your guests. Have each guest write down a piece of advice and place it into a box the couple planned to open on their five year anniversary. Another similar idea is to use wine bottles instead and have guests write words of encouragement on bottles that can then be opened on your five, ten, and fifteen year anniversaries.
  • A Hollowed out Guest Book: You can create a unique wedding guest book by hollowing out a heart shape in a vintage book and having each guest sign a heart shaped piece of paper that they tied together with raffia and kept in the book.
  • A Wish Tree Guest Book: Another popular trend for non traditional guest books is to do a wish tree where guests write their best wishes for the couple on pieces of paper and then hang them from a tree. A variation of this is to do a wishing well where well wishes or signatures are placed on the smooth wishing stones.
  • Cards as a Guest Book: Place cards out for people to write in instead of a traditional books. These cards can be either opened after the reception or saved for as special occasion such as a first anniversary.

Vintage post card guest book — photos by Lamb + Lark

You Can Make Your Guest Book Interactive: Your guest book doesn’t have to be something where your guests just stand in line to sign a book. It can be a fun, interactive way to have your guests get the chance to interact with each other.

  • The Photobooth Guest Book: If you are having a photobooth at your wedding you have a great opportunity for your guests to have a great time while creating an incredibly unique guest book for you to cherish for years. What you can do is have your guests go through the photobooth, and then you have them take one set of their photos and place the other set in a book for you. You can have plenty of space for them to write fun messages, memories, or even just sign their names, and you can kill two birds—a favor and a guest book entry–with one stone!

videography at your southwest michigan wedding

You’ve dreamed about every detail of the day you say, “I do,” and when the day arrives, it can pass in the blink of an eye.  Along with photography, one way to relive the best parts of your wedding day is to hire a videographer.

As wedding planners, we regularly see videography services on the end of many brides lists when it comes to their budget, but we always hear rave reviews from brides who do choose video services. It’s certainly something you want to look into, and decide if it’s a fit for you on your big day.

Jessica + Matt – Pure Michigan from Highway 61 Films on Vimeo.

Consider the benefits of hiring a videographer:

  • Capturing the depth of moments throughout the day. Your photographer will catch the defining images of your wedding day. Your videographer will add depth to these images. Capturing expressions, sounds and movements on film will allow you to witness the full range of emotion that crosses the groom’s face when he catches a first glimpse of his bride.
  • Seeing moments you may have missed. Your wedding day will be full of activity, and you may miss small, meaningful moments among your guests or bridal party. Your videographer has the opportunity to notice and film these moments, giving you the chance to see every important part of your day.
  • Remembering well wishes from your loved ones. Your videographer can record sentiments from those closest to you throughout the day, as well as reception speeches and toasts. Being able to revisit the sweet words of those who love you will be an encouragement long after your wedding day.
  • Creating a unique story. Your videographer will edit your video, add music, and create a stylistic film that ties the details from your day into a story. Your video will express your personality as a couple and be one-of-a-kind, just like your wedding day.

Preserving your wedding day memories on film is a worthwhile investment. Browse online portfolios and ask your wedding planner or vendors for recommendations as you search for the right videographer for your wedding.

Posted By Kristen Larson, Event Assistant


hiring a wedding photographer :: friend vs. professional

Your wedding pictures forever capture each special moment from your wedding day. From first kiss to first dance, your wedding day images are reminders of the butterflies, laughter and tears. For the budget conscious bride, it can be tempting to choose a friend or family member with a nice camera if the photographer of your dreams is expensive. However, it’s important to know the value of hiring a professional photographer, and carefully weigh whether or not it’s the best area to make your budget cuts.

 The Pros of Hiring a Professional Wedding Photographer

  • Experience: Professional wedding photographers are used to shooting weddings. They know when to anticipate and capture big moments. Check out their website for their wedding portfolio. This will give you a good idea of the types of images you will receive.
  • Equipment: Skilled wedding photographers have a variety of lenses, flashes, and other tools to enhance your pictures. They can capture quality images indoors and outdoors.
  • Style: Photographers with several years of wedding experience have developed a style that comes out in their pictures. If you want your wedding pictures to portray a specific theme, they will know how to capture it.
  • Professionalism: Wedding photographers know how to build professional relationships with their clients. They know how to create natural poses and prevent awkward moments. They also have standards, such as contracts, set in place to insure your satisfaction.
  • Consistency: Professional photographers will provide consistent quality in all of their images.


Friend or Family: Pros & Cons

 If you decide to hire a friend or family member, make sure you are comfortable with them and know what to expect. Consider these pros and cons:


  • Experience: More people are buying nice cameras and labeling themselves photographers. However, a lack of training and experience can cripple their shooting or editing capabilities. Especially if your photographer has never shot a wedding before, it can be difficult for them to do the best job. And if your friend or family member is a professional photographer, consider if they have specific experience in weddings, as there are many moments in your special day that can’t be redone!
  • Pressure: Your Pinterest board may be filled with stunning images that you want your own photos to resemble. An inexperienced photographer may have difficulty producing your ideal pictures, and might feel nervous or under pressure to live up to your expectations.
  • Professionalism: Professional photographers have standards for their relationships with their clients. Lines can be blurred when your photographer is a friend. In addition, a photographer who is also a guest may have a hard time filling each role for the day.


  • Budget-friendly: If your budget is a main concern, this is an area where you can save. Make sure you provide your photographer with an appreciative gift if they volunteer to work for free!
  • Comfort: If you’re close to your photographer, working with them can be a fun experience.
  • Time: Many professional photographers clock out after a set amount of hours. A friend or family member may be more willing to stay until the night ends.

Wedding pictures should be one of the best ways for you to remember your day. No matter who you choose as a photographer, make sure your expectations align with their abilities.

 Posted By Kristen Larson, Event Assistant

inspiration :: seating options for you and your bridal party

Your head table is an important part of your wedding reception. There are several options to consider. Think about what kind of interaction you want with your bridal party and take a look at these pros and cons:

Traditional Head Table

The traditional head table is featured at the front of the room. Typically, two or three rectangular tables are lined up next to each other. The bride and groom sit in the middle with members of the bridal party on each side.


  • This option recognizes your bridal party as a significant part of your wedding. If you place a high value on the role of your bridal party in your wedding, this is one way to make them stand out.
  • A traditional head table fits within a traditional theme. If your wedding day vision includes time-honored customs, this is a great option.


  • The layout reduces how many people you can talk to when seated.
  • Bridal party members are separated from their dates.
  • If you have a large bridal party, this option can look awkward or overwhelming.


King Arthur Table

The King Arthur style table can be at the front of the room or run down the middle of the room. Several rectangular tables are lined up next to each other with chairs on both sides. The bride and the groom sit in the middle, and members of the bridal party sit on both sides.


  • This option honors the significance of the bridal party and allows them and the couple to interact freely with each other.
  • The bride and groom are more approachable to their guests.


  • It can be harder for guests to see the bride and groom and recognize them as a focal point.
  • Privacy for the couple can be difficult.


Sweetheart Table

The sweetheart table is traditionally a smaller circular or square table at the front of the room. The bride and the groom sit at the table by themselves or are sometimes joined by the maid-of-honor and best man. The rest of the bridal party sits at a separate table or with the other guests.


  • The bride and groom have more opportunities for private moments during the reception.
  • Members of the bridal party are able to sit with their dates and mingle with other guests.
  • A sweetheart table is romantic and sweet, making it ideal for similar themes.


  • The bride and groom will have less interaction with their bridal party.
  • This option can sometimes come across as exclusive to guests.

Choose an option that will best fit your vision and your style as a couple. Leave a comment and share what option you think will work best for your reception!

 Posted By Kristen Larson, Event Assistant

michigan wedding weather :: for better or for worse, in rain (or snow) or shine!

“What will I do if it rains?” If you’re saying “I do” in an outdoor ceremony, this thought may run through your head more than once. Preparing a back-up plan is the most important step you can take to be ready for unpredictable weather, and to maintain your sanity leading up to your outdoor event.


Your “In-case-of-rain” plan:

Be familiar with your venue and location.  If you’re not familiar with the area, your wedding planner will be a helpful resource and can help you to research “Plan B” locations. If you’ve planned a ceremony on the beach in St. Joseph, be aware of reception locations such as The Veranda at the Whitcomb or  Shadowland Ballroom. Both are within minutes of the beach and can be found easily by your guests if your ceremony has to be changed to an indoor affair. Also consider using a beach that also has a covered areas, such as Shadowland Pavilion on Silver Beach or the pavilion on Jean Klock Beach. Either can be rented and used in lieu of a wedding out on the sand.

Consider using your reception venue as a ceremony back-up location. If your outdoor ceremony is taking place close to your reception venue, you can easily move indoors. Leave space in front of your head table to serve as an altar. This works well at location such as Millcreek Barns and the Blue Dress Barn, where ceremonies are held outdoors, weather permitting.

Be aware of how your ceremony decorations can fit within your reception. Flowers lining the aisle can be pinned to your head table as decorations. Flowers in mason jars can be incorporated into centerpieces. Special carpeting or petals can be used to define an indoor aisle space. Consider moving your arch or arbor inside, if the venue permits.

Assemble a “rain team”. Your wedding planner will take action at the first hint of inclement weather, but talk with several people who can assist in contacting friends and family, and re-directing guests to the new location. Consider creating a calling tree for family to use in contacting guests about the change in venue!


No snow? No problem! 

Some brides get married in December or January in hopes of creating a winter wonderland wedding. If the skies aren’t offering hopes of snow, plan for ways to still achieve your vision.

Incorporate wintery decorations. White Christmas lights are an easy way to create frosty illusions. Snowflake napkin rings add subtle beauty to your reception. Considering incorporating white branches in your centerpieces to mimic the look of wintery trees.

Utilize your bridal party. Time to get creative! If your perfect wedding day picture includes snow, but the flakes aren’t falling, have white confetti on hand. Your bridal party can toss it around you for a fun and unique picture.

Talk to your photographer about day-after photos. Day-after wedding photos–sometimes called “Trash the Dress” or “encore” sessions– are a popular trend right now, so talk about this possibility with your photographer. Maybe the snowstorm you were counting on will come a day late. You’ll have the pictures you want, and a fun excuse to wear your dress for a second time!


No matter what the skies are holding, if you are prepared with a plan, your wedding day can be just as you envision. We wish you clear and sunny (or snowy) skies on your special day!

inspiration :: adding sentimental items to your wedding design

Using items that hold sentimental value in your wedding is a memorable way to enhance your theme. Your theme provides inspiration for all of your wedding decorations, reflects your personal style and creates the mood for your special day. If you’re looking for ways to create a meaningful wedding day, think about these options:


  • Consider choosing wedding attire worn by previous generations of women in your family. Perhaps your great-grandmother’s veil is tucked away in a closet, or your aunt makes broaches by hand. Ask family members for meaningful ideas.
  • Take time to learn what certain colors and flowers mean and choose combinations that reflect your style.
  • Ask a creative friend or family member to make small items, such as a flower girl basket or a ring bearer pillow. This adds a personal touch to your ceremony.

Photos by Lamb + Lark


  • Use photographs, memorable locations and significant dates as table numbers that tell your love story.
  • Include figurines or other small decorative items that reflect your interests in centerpieces.
  • Display pictures of your grandparents and other family members on their wedding days on your dessert table or gift table.
  • If you and your fiancée share a mutual hobby (or want to bond over learning a new skill!), use it to make unique favors for your guests. Make apple butter or handmade chocolate candy as fun treats for your guests to take home.

Sentimental items will make your wedding unique and memorable. Be creative and ask people you love for their ideas – they will enjoy helping you make your day special.

wedding websites for your michigan wedding

Websites for weddings, sometimes called “Wedsites” have seemed to grow more and more popular over the past few years. estimates “About 75 percent of couples marrying last year had websites.” For destination brides planning a wedding in Southwest Michigan, utilizing a wedding website is a great way to keep your guests informed on the local area and weekend events and accommodations!

With customizable templates and multiple page options for listing all the details of the wedding, wedding websites can be an extremely convenient way to share information with loved ones. They can also be a great way to relieve stress from having to repeat details and answer questions as the date grows closer–all the information is available for everyone you want to share it with in one place. You can easily share your website link on your social networking pages and include the link either on your save-the-dates or in the invitations.

A lot of wedding websites include features which can not only help relieve stress but help you stay organized. Most websites have a page for you to include details and directions to accommodations, attractions, the ceremony space, and reception space for your guests. Some websites also include a page for you to list or link to your gift registry and/or for guests to electronically send money or gifts.

There are quite a few free or low cost websites which are customizable to fit you and your needs. Here are a few to look into if you are searching for a place to host your own wedding website:

This site offers a free wedding website as well as a free mobilized website. Some of its features include customizable pages from preloaded themes and a personalized web address.

This site offers a free wedding website along with the option to upgrade to one of their paid packages (you have the option to pay either by the month or the year). Some of its features include an area for uploads for guests to download, optional password protection for privacy (your guests sign into your website with a password), and a wedding day countdown.

The Knot
This site offers a free wedding website which is also mobile friendly. Some of its features include multiple themes which can be filtered by color or style, a place for guests to RSVP, and a place to include a gift registry.

This site offers a free wedding website. Some of its features include a guest book visitors to the site can sign and an iPhone app. Their templates are extremely easy to use and modify.

Wedding Window
This site offers both a free and premium websites. Some of its features include templates you can customize according to color, a guest book, and an area to keep a blog.

inspiration :: garlands & pennants galore

If you’re looking to use garlands for your wedding the options for how to use them are basically unlimited. You can use them as part of the scheme for your tables at the reception. You can weave them throughout your ceremony space by hanging them from your chairs or benches for your guests.  You can hang garlands from beams or ceilings in your ceremony or reception space to create dimension and depth. You can even use them in your photos. There are many types of garlands out there, but here’s a look at four of them:


Flower Garlands: Though these may arguably be the most traditional of the garlands, they can range from beautiful, simplistic arrangements to ornate masterpieces. The classic appeal to these garlands can also make them easier to incorporate into your theme, though fresh floral garlands do tent to be a pricier option than their fabric, ribbon or burlap counterparts. These would be a beautiful addition for weddings at a natural location such as Millcreek barns, Blue Dress Barn or The Veranda at the Whitcomb.

Paper Garlands: Garlands created out of pages from a copy of your favorite book, the sheet music to your favorite songs, or notes written to you as a couple from loved ones can not only be special and memorable but can create a unique aspect to your overall design.

Photo by Lamb + Lark

Photo by Lamb + Lark

Pennant Garlands: Pennant garlands, also called banners or buntings, can be a way to add a hint of playfulness to your theme while still keeping a formal feel. You can do anything with your pennant garland from having solid color pennants which match your color scheme to pennants that spell out something meaningful to you as a couple.

Fabric Garlands: Depending on the type of fabric, these garlands can range from rustic to sophisticated. They can also be created out of recycled materials which make them a great alternative to other garlands if you’re trying to have a green wedding!

If you’ve found a unique way to use garlands please share it by leaving a comment!