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tented weddings – the myth and the math

We’re currently in the process of planning many beautiful weddings for next season, and in 2013 we’re planning more tented weddings than ever before. So as we’ve been submitting rental quotes and creating budgets, I can’t help but be reminded of how much goes into a tented wedding, and many things people forget to consider when planning a tented wedding. If you have a planner, then it’s smooth sailing, as they can handle the ins-and-outs for you, but if you’re flying solo on your wedding planning, then there are some things you need to keep in mind:

A 2010 wedding on Lake Michigan, photograph by Jennifer Mayo Studios

The key to creating a tented wedding on your own property (or even a rented space), is keeping in mind all of the rental costs you are going to incur. While a tented wedding may seem like the budget-friendly option, let’s take a look at how the numbers break down when comparing a wedding of 150 at a local venue that has a flat $3200 rental fee, to a tented wedding:

Tent Rental (main tent & catering) $1,600 Room Rental $3,200
Tent sides, in case of rain (10) $350
Lighting $400 Lighting included
12×12 Dance Floor $300 Dance floor included
Guest tables (19) $285 Guest tables included
Tables: Cake, gift, food, bar (8) $120 Tables included
Basic white linens for all tables $624 Basic white linens included
Chairs for reception (150) $600 Chairs for reception included
Restrooms $800 Restrooms included
Rental Delivery fee $125
Total $5,204   Total $3,200


This chart only touches on the main rentals needed, and doesn’t even touch on things like china, silverware, staging, bar setups, generators, flooring needs and other additional items that are unique to each event. Keep in mind that the above cost break-down does not include any fees you may be charged if you’re renting a location to host your tented wedding. If you’re hosting on a rental property, you’ll need to consider the site fee as well.

I am not by any means saying you shouldn’t get married in a backyard or on a beautiful piece of family property—that can be a very meaningful and beautiful option for your wedding location—the thing you have to consider is if you are choosing that option only because it seems like the cheaper way to go.  Because in most cases, bringing in all of those rental items will cost you much more than renting a venue (not to mention all of the extra work for you and your family), and that’s something you should realistically consider when choosing between a tented wedding on private property, versus a reception venue.

Besides the actual cost, you also need to consider logistical issues like where everyone will park—do you need to provide shuttle service? Are there any municipal restrictions on cars on the property? Will your music will effect neighbors or cause the police to be called? What you will do in the case of inclement weather—do you need to rent heaters at an additional cost? If you’re having the ceremony outside on-site, you’ll need to consider how you’ll accommodate the ceremony inside the tent in the case of rain.

I’ve said it many times before, in many posts, that not every wedding and every bride needs a wedding planner. But if a tented wedding on private property is something that is definitely the right choice for you after considering the cost and logistics, then you can take a lot of stress off of yourself and your family, by hiring a wedding planner. A professional and experienced wedding planner will be able to ensure you aren’t forgetting or overlooking any of the key elements needed to make your tented wedding a success, manage your rental orders & logistics, and will help you and your family to actually enjoy your beautiful wedding day!

real wedding :: a blush and navy wedding on the lake shore

Meet Elizabeth and Justin, AKA our fabulous May 2012 bride and groom. These two are about the cutest, sweetest couple I’ve ever met. Any one who brings ME a glass of orange juice to our meetings (I don’t drink coffee) is pretty super in my book! Elizabeth is a pediatrician in training, in Chicago so she was one busy bride-to-be, and we had the pleasure of coming on board to help plan and design their lovely May wedding in St. Joseph. Their must haves included an elegant, romantic, but non-stuffy affair that was fun & personal. A lovely color palette of navy and blush pink was featured, with lush florals in shades of pink and white. I just love the texture of the crinkle taffeta navy linens on the guest tables…they softened up the dense navy color and added some beautiful shimmer and dimension to the table tops!

I loved getting to know this couple, and when I heard that they had spent the majority of their relationship travelling 100’s and 1000s of miles to see each other, I knew we had to celebrate the end of their commuting relationship! So in lieu of a guest book, we had a custom hand-drawn map made, that highlighted all of the places they had lived, and travelled to see each other, with a key that explained the meaning of each location to guests. Guest signed and left messages, and it’s an awesome keepsake for Liz+Justin to showcase in their home together!

Elizabeth & Justin, thank you again for letting us be part of your special day—we had so much planning with you (and drinking Orange Juice with you) and we wish you many, many more happy days! Lovely photographs are courtesy of the fabulous Leda at LVL Photography! One more, just because I can’t help myself…

real wedding video sneak peek :: jess+matt at millcreek barns

I absolutely loved this wedding…not just because the brides dress was gorgeous, or because it was one of my favorite design projects of the year, or because the color palette was amazing. Jessica + Matt were hands down one of the nicest couples, with one of the nicest families, that I’ve ever had the chance to work with. Jess and her mom were so much fun to plan with, and it was one of those weddings where I was sort of sad to see it all end!

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

There were great details in this wedding–we tracked down a vintage library card catalog to house the escort cards (which looked like library cards and featured a mad lib on the back), kraft paper menus were tied around peaches at each place setting (our summer interns marked this as one of their least favorite tasks of the year, but they were so cute and completely worth the time!) and their guest book–a vintage book chosen by the brides sister and re-bound into a guest book–sat atop an old blue dresser I found at a resale shop and decorated with doilies, books provided by the brides mother, and beautiful florals from Modern Day Floral. Honestly, there’s more beauty going on here than I can even describe in this little post, so luckily it was captured by our friends over at Highway 61 Films. Check it out!

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 :: heather+johns wedding video

One of my favorite things about this wedding was the ribbons we incorporated throughout the day, specifically at the ceremony. The shades of coral, fuschia and teal were so colorful and happy, and I loved the way they blew in the breeze and added color to the monochromatic white chairs…just beautiful!

Check out Heather+John’s wedding day at The Veranda at The Whitcomb and on Lake Michigan, captured on video by AllStar Productions.

Heather + John from All Star Productions on Vimeo.

press :: featured in The Knot Michigan

Kate+Evan’s beautiful Saugatuck wedding was featured in the most recent Spring 2013 issue of The Knot Michigan! We’re beyond thrilled to see some of their wedding details featured in one of our favorite magazines.Congrats to some of our favorite vendors who worked on this wedding with us, including Modern Day Floral, Ben Pancoast Photography, Saugatuck Center for the Arts &

See more of Kate+Evans colorful Saugatuck wedding on our blog



Photos by Ben Pancoast Photography

real wedding :: vintage charm at millcreek barns

Talk about some pretty details! Ling+John Michael tied the knot Memorial Day weekend in Southwest Michiga, at the always lovely Millcreek Barns. Their wedding was filled with details and vintage charm, and captured beautifully by Lamb+Lark Photography.

millcreek_wedding_anthropologie_inspiredThe bride collected a myriad of vintage items from a friends antique store—everything from vintage crates and books to assorted glassware, watering cans, suitcases, old drawers, and more!  We incorporated all of the items into table designs that were each unique and completely different. Tables were covered with a mixture of burlap runners and overlays—the lovely florals were provided by Crystal Springs Florist, who filled a variety of containers with ranunculus, peony, hydrangea, baby’s breath, roses and Queen Anne’s lace—just to name a few!


millcreek_barn_wedding_details_dessert_tableHow cute is this dessert table? We mixed in old suitcases, tin film canisters and even gardener’s boxes, to showcase an assortment of cake pops and pies, laid atop of vintage fabrics. This is a great example of how florals can really add to your dessert, gift or escort card tables! In lieu of a traditional guest book, guests could choose a vintage post card, and leave a personl note for the couple. When deciding on your wedding “guest book” it’s great to consider ways that allow guests to provide you with more than just their name and address—you sent them an invitation so you already have them. Give them the chance to leave you a heart-felt message, or marital advice and you’ll have tons of fun reading them later!

millcreek_barn_wedding_vintage_detailsmillcreek_barn_wedding_detailsEscort cards were hand-lettered, tea-stained cards featuring vintage keys. We displayed them on our rustic barn wood escort card holder, and accented the table with more vintage books, suitcases and florals. Such a beautiful wedding day for a very sweet couple. Thank you Ling+John Michael, for letting us be a part of your special day!


Photos by Lamb+Lark Photography

15 reasons we know you’ll love the Lake Shore Wedding Walk!

If you follow us on Facebook (you should–we’re tons of fun!)  you’ve definitely heard us chattering– for months–about the Lake Shore Wedding Walk! It’s a unique (really fun) bridal event that takes place in St. Joseph on Sunday, September 16th from 1-4:30 and we’re proud to both plan the event and participate in it! We would love for all of our readers to come visit us, so use promo code STELLABLOG for free tickets when you register online! You can find all of the details on this event at but I PROMISE YOU, you don’t want to miss this event! So go check out the website, buy your tickets, and we hope to see your smiling face there!

Just for fun, here are our “15 THINGS WE THINK YOU’LL LOVE ABOUT THE WEDDING WALK!!”

1. Local wine tastings. Wine! Enough said:-) There will be 6 local wines featured this year!

2. Beautiful tables designed by Stella Event Design and our fave local florists, including some super-snazzy specialty linens you will ooh and aaah over!

3. Food. Food, Food, Food at all 3 venues!

4. Bid on over $11,000 worth of amazing wedding services at the Bridal Bids Auction, with proceeds benefitting Wish Upon a Wedding Michigan!

5. Hop in a photo booth (with your family & friends) and get snap-happy!

6. Ride the trolley through St. Joseph and fall in love with it (we know you will!)

7. Have we mentioned the wine & food?

8. You can meet with 35+ amazing local vendors who are eager to chat with you!

9. The atmosphere is relaxed, fun and low-pressure!

10. Visit 3 of the areas most beautiful venues!

11. Take a ballroom dance class at the Heritage Center and feel confident for your 1st dance!

12. We just received this years bridal swag bags and we think they’re pretty awesome. They include some fun & tasty treats you’ll love.

13. Eat some cupcakes!

14. Again, did we mention the wine?!

15. We’ll have all of our unique decor rentals on-site from Simply Stella Events


real wedding :: a rustic chic garden party at millcreek barns

I know it’s been a long wait since we last posted one of our weddings, but now that wedding season is winding down, and we’re starting to get pro-photos, we’re so excited to share some of our beautiful 2012 weddings with you! And this first wedding of 2012 is one of my very favorites–Emily & Yale tied the knot on a beautiful day in May at the beautiful Millcreek Barns. We had the pleasure of working with Emily+Yale for almost 18 months, offering full service planning, from choosing their venue to designing their decor, we were thrilled to help them bring every detail of this wedding together!

millcreek_barns_rusic_chic_vintage_weddingEmily was my favorite kind of bride—she gave us a color palette to work with, gave us a general idea of her personal style, and let us do the rest.  In getting to know this couple, I knew we needed to pair the traditional with the eclectic, so we put our own rustic chic spin on a traditional garden party! The flowers included seasonal favorites like big fluffy peonies and fragrant purple lilacs, beautiful green hydrangeas, queen annes lace and succulents. The tables featured 3 different centerpieces—a tall centerpiece set atop a weathered white iron candelabra, a  clustered centerpiece that featured assorted bottles and vases filled with colorful stems, books (a nod to the couples love of reading) and succulents in antique glass votives. The third centerpiece was a low arrangement in a weathered wood box. I love that this wedding surprised so many people—throughout the night the bride and groom got comments from their family & friends—many who were unsure about what a barn wedding was like—and they absolutely loved everything! It’s always fun to surprise people with something they don’t expect to see in a barn like Millcreek, yet works so perfectly!

millcreek_barns_rusic_chic_vintage_wedding_centerpieceThe brides mother collects cake plates, so when planning out the dessert table, we knew we wanted to incorporate as many as we could. Luckily, many were even in the color scheme, in green and purple glasses! We covered the table in a beautiful textured moss green linen, and set off the whole display with a beautiful ribbon banner featuring light greens, lilacs, and pops of eggplant and lace.  The delicious cupcakes were from Mimi’s Cupcakes in St. Joseph—our favorite location for tasty cupcake treats!

TIP: If you’re in the market to make or buy a ribbon banner for your wedding, be sure to bring a steamer along with you! it’s almost impossible to store a ribbon banner for any length of time without it creasing and wrinkling, and you’ll be glad you steamed it out so it looks crisp and fresh! Our Event Assistant Holden gets kudos for making this one look so lovely!


millcreek_barns_rusic_chic_vintage_wedding_dessert_tableOne of my favorite details of this wedding was the white knot display, which we created for the first time. You can’t quite read the sign in the photo, but it says,

“While we will forever look upon this day with great joy, we cannot help but feel sadness for our friends and loved ones who, under current legislation, have had their rights to marry stripped away. The White Knot is a symbol of marriage equality. If you choose, please wear this knot to show your support for basic human rights. We hope that one day soon, everyone will have the chance to experience the love and happiness of their wedding day. We believe in marriage equality! -Emily & Yale”

The bride hand tied 100’s of white knots and guests were able to pin them on to show their support. It was a great way for the bride & groom to bring light to something very near and dear to them and I loved that they chose to do this!


My 2nd favorite thing about this wedding…well, maybe 3rd, I really loved the decor design…was the band! Hey Jimmy out of Chicago rocked the barn all night and I have to say I was absolutely blown away…we have been wanting to use them for a wedding for years and they were just as amazing as we had hoped! Emily & Yale, thank you so much for letting us be a part of your special day—we loved getting to know you and work with you—you’re a beautiful couple inside and out and we wish you many, many more happy days!

Lovely photos by Lamb+Lark….Belle rocks! And she actually shot TWO weddings with us at Millcreek this same weekend, so we’ve got more pretty eye candy from her comping up very soon!

Don’t forget to join us at the 2012 LAKE SHORE WEDDING WALK & BRIDAL BIDS AUCTION on Sunday, September 16th! Get tickets HERE and use promocode STELLABLOG for free passes! We’ll have tons of great ideas set up for you, all of our unique rental items, and if you love our design, you can bid on a design package with us worth $1500, with all proceeds benefitting Wish Upon a Wedding, at the Bridal Bids Auction, following the Wedding Walk!

it’s WEDDING WALK season!

Aside from it being the peak of wedding season, which is our favorite (and most busy) time of year…we’re also very excited that it’s once again getting to be WEDDING WALK season, when we work to plan this years Lake Shore Wedding Walk! The Lake Shore Wedding Walk is unlike any other bridal event and is one you definitely don’t want to miss, if you’re planning a destination wedding along the lake shore! This year the event will take place on Sunday, September 16th from 1-4:30 and will once again be hosted by 3 of St. Joseph’s most beautiful lake shore venues — The Veranda at the Whitcomb, Shadowland Ballroom, and The Heritage Center.


Every venue features a unique group of vendors including caterers, bakeries, photographers, wedding planners, florists, cupcakeries, unique decor rentals, hotels, transportation options, lighting, unique favors, handmade items and so much more! We are proud to say that we hand-pick every vendor that participates, to ensure that they are of the highest quality, and will offer you nothing but the best for your destination wedding. Unlike traditional bridal shows & expos, the Lake Shore Wedding Walk is designed to be a relaxed, fun & interactive experience for you to enjoy with your fiancee, bridal party, friends and family. Enjoy food samples, beautifully designed tables capes, interactive events, and more, as you overlook Lake Michigan and explore St. Joseph.

We have some really fun things in store for this years event including:

  • local wine tastings
  • interactive fashion shows at both the Veranda at the Whitcomb and Shadowland Ballroom
  • a huge variety of the areas most talented vendors
  • a “handcrafted marketplace” featuring unique handmade items for your wedding
  • The “Bridal Bids” Auction to support Wish Upon a Wedding


First, you’ll want to REGISTER ONLINE. Now through August 16th use promo code STELLABLOG to receive a complimentary bridal passport! On the day of the event, you can register at any of the 3 venues, where you’ll be given a passport that outlines the activities & vendors at every venue. Follow the signs, or hop on the trolley, to travel from venue to venue and enjoy your day as you explore the event & the city of St. Joseph. It’s that simple! At 4:00, make your way back to the Veranda at the Whitcomb for the “Bridal Bids” Auction to benefit Wish Upon a Wedding!


Starting at 4:30 at The Veranda at the Whitcomb, we’ll be hosting the “Bridal Bids” Auction, which will feature live & silent auction items that can be purchased for your wedding. Items to be auctioned off can be viewed HERE and include venue rentals, wedding planning packages, photo sessions, gift certificates, bridal gift baskets, and more! New items will be added up until the event, so be sure to check back often. You will receive a complete list of auction items when you register, and can visit vendor booths & venues to bid on items. All proceeds from the Bridal Bids Auction will benefit the Michigan chapter of Wish Upon a Wedding, the nation’s first non-profit dedicated to providing wedding wishes to couples facing terminal illness & other life altering circumstances. It’s a great opportunity to receive fantastic deals for your wedding, while helping an amazing cause!

We can’t wait to see you all here! You can check out the Stella Event Design booth at The Veranda at the Whitcomb, and we’ll be auctioning off some services at the Bridal Bids Auction as well, so we hope you’ll join us in making this the best Lake Shore Wedding Walk yet!