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real wedding :: event design at shadowland ballroom

Along with planning & coordination, we also offer design services. We get to know our couples and their style, and turn their folders of photos — or for some, just an overall feeling — into a cohesive design that reflects their personality. We offer customized design services, specialty linens and decor rentals and we work with the best florists, lighting companies and rental companies to bring the designs to life.

Kim+Dan’s August 2011 wedding was one that we had a lot of fun designing. Kim is a truie “girlie-girl” and we were so excited to hear that she loved patterns, crystals, and all things pretty & glitzy! She wanted a look that was elegant, and traditional, but with a twist. We provided beautiful patterned linens in her shades of gray & yellow, and Crystal Springs Florist worked with us to bring the floral designs to life. gray yellow wedding details cake centerpiecesThe tables featured several decor elements, including a mixture of silver mercury glass arrangements, tall candelabra pieces and crystal chandeliers. Shadowland Ballroom is full of natural light, so I knew one unique way to bring another “crystal” element into the mix was incorporating a clear/silver chiavari chair. They’re far from traditional, but they’re an amazing decor piece that makes such an impact! I absolutely love them!
Shadowland Ballroom gray yellow wedding detailsA creative floor plan can go a long way in the overall look of your event, and for Kim+Dan we created a unique arrangement at Shadowland Ballroom that took full advantage of every square inch, including round tables, square tables, and long king arthur tables. Unique table layouts are a budget-friendly and easy way to add a little spice to your wedding design!A huge thank you to Kristy Photography, for all of the gorgeous photos!

Need help bringing your wedding day look to life? Event design services are included with both our basic and full service planning packages and are also available as an ala carte service, or in addition to day-of coordination! From rustic chic designs to traditional and modern, we love getting the opportunity to help brides design the wedding look of their dreams!

See more wedding decor designed by Stella Event Design:

real wedding :: lake shore wedding walk dream wedding

Where do I start with this one? I was first introduced to this pair when Sarah emailed me looking for the perfect venue, and I pointed her to The Veranda at the Whitcomb, which I thought she’d love! Then I got to meet the couple in person when, by chance, I was picking up items at the Veranda when they stopped in for a visit. They booked the venue for a May date, since Fall–their first choice–was already booked.  Then fast forward six months—we were planning the Lake Shore Wedding Walk and Sarah+Bill stopped in to say hello at our booth during the event. At the end of the Wedding Walk we gave away a $30,000 Dream Wedding, and when David Krock from the Veranda drew the name we were both shocked, because we both recognized the names—it was Sarah+Bill and I will never forget the cheers and screams that broke out when their names were announced over the sounds of “Tonights gonna be a good night” by the Black Eyed Peas. I honestly can’t hear that song without thinking of Sarah+Bill and their exciting moment back in 2010!

Their wedding took place a year later on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at their favorite venue, The Veranda at the Whitcomb, who was generous enough to sponsor the giveaway and provide their gorgeous location, and they even got their perfect fall date after all! We had a huge host of amazing vendors who helped to make this wedding a reality, and I think I can speak for every single vendor when I say that we couldn’t have asked for a nicer couple to work with!

Sarah+Bill tied the knot at the band shell in downtown St. Joseph with one of our favorite local wedding officiants, Bonnie Corondan of Sacred Ceremonies. They treated their guests to delicious treats from the GelatoSmith gelato cart as they left the ceremony and if you’ve never been to a wedding with a gelato cart, trust us, you are missing out on something amazing! The cake Sarah picked out from Dee’s Specialty Cakes was pretty amazing. I loved how bright and bold it was, and that it was simple and sleek, while still being interested and extremely elegant. It was probably one of my favorite cakes of 2011, and it doesn’t hurt that it was delicious!

The beautiful bouquets were created by Kimberly Layne Flower Company. I absolutely love white on white in the Veranda at the Whitcomb, and the bright pops of yellow from the locally grown sunflowers was perfect burst of color for this fall wedding. I can’t say enough good things about how above and beyond CK Catering went to make sure Sarah+Bill had their dream wedding, right down to creating one of Sarah’s family recipes as an appetizer. The beautiful lantern lighting and uplighting on the Verandas columns was provided by Mod Events. They do an amazing job with event lighting, and this wedding was no different—it helped set a great atmosphere, and amazing lighting for Jennifer Mayo from Jennifer Mayo Studios, who took all of the lovely photos!Sarah+Bills Save the dates created by Cloud Nine Invitation Design were inspired by a classic Woodstock poster, and the birds were tied in throughout the day, from table numbers to the wishing tree cards. It was such a cute personal touch for this fun, laid back couple! Right from the beginning, this couple promised that their friends and family were BIG dancers, and boy did they deliver! I have to say, this was by far the biggest group of dancers I’ve seen and they had some serious skills! Tim Sewcyck of Music Unlimited provided the nights entertainment and kept everyone on the floor all night. Catching all of the days festivities on film were All Star productions—we can’t wait to see the video from this beautiful wedding. You can also see more photos of Sarah+Bills Dream Wedding featured in the Winter 2011 issue of WeddingDay Magazine. Sarah+Bill, we can’t tell you how much we enjoyed working with you to plan your Dream Wedding! We could not have asked for a more caring, fun & amazing couple to have won this honor and we enjoyed every minute of planning with you! We hope St. Joseph will always hold a special place in your hearts and you’ll come back to visit us often!

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

real wedding :: a fall wedding at the veranda at the whitcomb

Michigan wedding designed by Stella Event DesignWe have SO many beautiful 2011 weddings still left to blog and Laura+Joe’s wedding at The Veranda at the Whitcomb is one that I’m very excited to share. Laura contacted us last spring and I knew right away that she’d be a lot of fun to work with! We were hired to both design & coordinate Laura+Joe’s October wedding in St. Joseph, and I was so excited to tackle a fall design project, because it’s one of my very favorite seasons! Laura chose a gorgeous color palette of red, orange, yellow, green and a pop of plum, and wanted a warm, romantic wedding that was beautiful, and a hint of traditional, but not over the top or “frou-frou” (as we like to call it!)

Laura+Joe at The Veranda at the WhitcombWe wanted this wedding to have a warm, fall feeling to it, without being cheesy or too “themed” so we incorporated accents of gold with the chiavari chairs, gold framed table numbers, and gold mercury glass votives. Mercury glass is a great way to mix in metallics while still keeping things soft and romantic! We designed 3 different centerpieces, high, medium and low, which gave the room dimension and visual interest. We have to give a HUGE thank you to Shelly and the gals at Crystal Springs Florist who brought our floral designs to life. They do a great job reading our minds and translating our ideas into reality and the centerpieces were absolutely perfect!

Laura+Joe wedding designMichigan wedding designed by Stella Event DesignWe gave a nod to fall by incporporating metallic gold leaves as escort cards, which hung between two tins filled with curly willow branches. The table numbers each featured vintage South Shore poster prints, which were a great tie-in for this Chicago couple that enjoys their trips to Southwest Michigan’s beautiful lake shore! Warm lantern lighting and colored uplights from Mod Events gave the space the perfect glow, and the beautiful cake was made by Dee’s Specialty Cakes.

Michigan wedding designed by Stella Event Design in St. JosephAll of the lovely photos were taken by Kelly Powers of Kelly Powers 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 :: lindsey+kevin at the Veranda at the Whitcomb

Meet Lindsey+Kevin… we had the pleasure of working with these two for 18+ months helping them to plan their wedding from start to finish. They are a super fun couple who were living in Chicago (they’ve since moved out to California) and planned a destination wedding in Michigan—the brides home state. Lindsey has a demanding job that requires her to travel every single week, so they brought us on board to help them with full service wedding planning. One of the best parts of full service planning is that we get to work with couples for such a long time and get to know them—we absolutely loved these two and they were so much fun to work with! Thank you so much for letting us be a part of your very special day! All of the photos below are from the fabulous Jami Fujawa and Melissa Brentlinger of Jennifer Mayo Studios.

veranda at the whitcomb cottrell wedding

veranda at the whitcomb summer weddingI loved working with Lindsey to create a beautiful design concept for their wedding at The Veranda at the Whitcomb. We used a beautiful navy shantung linen, with lots of crisp white flowers and stationery, and pops of powdery light blue and silver. Lindsey loves photography, so we decided to create a subtle theme using frames, and incorporated them in several places: Behind the dessert table we hung frames that incorporated cute signs with the couples name, cupcake flavors, and their wedding date. The signs coordinated with their other stationery pieces, and it was a great way to create a backdrop for their dessert table, and also let guests know what types of cupcake flavors the couple was offering from Mimi’s Cupcakes! veranda at the whitcomb summer weddingOn the escort card table, we had a focal piece created with a large picture frame that was surrounded by florals…the rest of the table featured various photo frames holding the escort cards. It was adorable! Crystal Springs Florist brought all of Lindsey’s floral dreams to life, and they did an amazing job executing the designs. The tables featured three different centerpieces…a cluster of tiered clear vases featuring white roses, fluffy hydrangeas and lots of candlelight; tall trumpet vases filled with giant white calla lilies and a lower centerpiece that was packed with white blooms. It made for a clean and modern look on the tables that was perfect for this couples style. Overhead, the crew at Mod Event Ligting hung our gorgeous white lanterns that were illuminated with incandescent light. I absolutely love this look– it gives the Veranda such a soft, romantic glow!
veranda at the whitcomb summer weddingIf you’re looking for a special send-off at the end of the night, there isn’t anything much better along the lake shore than some late-night sparklers! It does take a little coordinating with 150+ people lighting them, but it makes for a fun and exciting send-off! We’ll be posting soon about how to coordinate the perfect sparkler send-off, in case you’re interested in making this happen at your upcoming wedding. You can view even more photos from this wedding on our Facebook page!

sparkler wedding sendoff veranda at the whitcomb Lindsey+Kevin, we can’t tell you how much we loved helping you to plan your beautiful Michigan wedding at The Veranda. We wish you many, many happy years and many more amazing celebrations!

love letters :: what our 2011 brides are saying about stella

As a small business owner, it’s always unnerving to bring on additional help, and hope that they will be as dedicated and passionate about your business as you are. Especially when you’re involved with planning one of the most important days in someones life! After having planners Brittany Johnson and Mary Beth on staff at Stella Event Design for almost 3 years now, I still can’t get over how lucky I was to find 2 women who are so talented, dedicated and incredible to work with. They are absolutely amazing at what they do and I can’t thank them enough for being so fabulous!

And our brides agree too…here are 2 sweet love letters from 2011 brides who worked with Brittany and Mary Beth:

Brittany Johnson from Stella Event Design was my knight in shining armor. Only instead of a knight she was the perfect wedding planner, and instead of shining armor she was armed with a plethora of fabulous ideas and infinite patience! Our intimate beach wedding was put together in a little less than four months with the help of the talented Brittany and her team at Stella Event Design. She was able to offer me plenty of suggestions and options to keep us within our budget and still make it look like we spent a million bucks on the wedding of our dreams.

Not only was Brittany there for me every step (and email) of the way, but she was genuinely excited about our upcoming wedding and you could tell that she cared just as much for our small affair as she did her 300+ wedding the weekend before. We were never put aside or treated any differently even though we weren’t a large event; she made us feel like we were the only wedding she had under her belt. And that really says a lot, because Brittany and Stella Event Design are constantly busy planning gorgeous affairs! 🙂

She even helped me with ideas for our small dinner reception as well and I feel like I made a true friend who I hope to keep in touch with for months and years to come. I would recommend Stella Event Design and especially Brittany Johnson to anyone who wants a person who genuinely cares about your special day and will make you feel like you are the only client in the world that matters. Our day wouldn’t have been what it was without her help! Thank you so much, Brittany! I’ll always recommend you whenever I have a chance! :)  

-Mandy W. (2011 bride)


Our planner was Mary Beth, who was AMAZING!! Mary Beth is extremely sweet, kind, and made us feel at ease. Each meeting we had with her was wonderful, and she executed our vision to perfection. Our day ran as scheduled and without flaw because of her, and there is no way we could have had such a beautiful, stress-free wedding without all of her help. From schlepping loads of decorations, cupcakes, etc to the barn and spending hours setting everything up exactly as we discussed (and even better!) to making sure our other vendors were right on point, Mary Beth and her assistant Lexie were the best! Stella Events is the best, and we would definitely say this service was money well spent!!!

-Jill H. (2011 bride)

hiring :: 2012 event planning internships

logoblog0000 copyIt’s that time of year again—wedding season is around the corner and Stella Event Design is accepting applications for interns (Event Assistants) to assist us during our 2012 wedding season.

Who We’re Looking For :: We are seeking junior & senior level students pursuing a degree in a related field (hospitality & tourism, public relations, communications, etc.), who are excited about learning the ins-and-outs of event planning. Weddings can be a stressful and emotionally charged time for a bride & groom and their families—the ideal candidate is hard-working, friendly, calm under pressure, and a great communicator! Most of our events are located in the St. Joseph/Benton Harbor/Harbor Country area, which is approximately 45 minutes from Kalamazoo, 70 minutes from Grand Rapids, and 45 minutes from South Bend. You must be able to travel to Southwest Michigan for events on weekends.

What You’ll Do :: Event Assistants will assist with all day-of wedding tasks including: setting up decor at ceremony and reception sites, assisting vendors with deliveries (ie. cake, flowers, linens, rentals), assisting with ceremony management, assisting vendors as needed throughout the day, ensuring time lines are being followed, trouble shooting problems that arise, communicating with vendors & bridal parties, ensuring accuracy of layouts, and much more.  Event Assistants are always working alongside an experienced Event Planner or Coordinator who is there to direct & teach you! Some assistants will also have the opportunity to work in our office on a weekly basis. You will have the opportunity to assist us with various projects including: assisting with the design and execution of photo shoots, collaborating on design projects, contacting vendors, sitting in on client meetings, learning to create timelines, room layouts and other logistical pieces, and a variety of other tasks that go into the planning of our events. We highly recommend office hours to those who are available, and desire a well-rounded learning experience!

What You’ll Get :: This is an unpaid internship and must apply towards college credit. You will walk away from this internship with hands-on experience in event planning & execution unlike anything you can learn in a classroom. This internship puts you in the action, working with real clients, professional vendors and beautiful locations throughout West Michigan.

When You’ll Work :: Weddings are scheduled primarily on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Interns will be scheduled to work for a 10-12 week period (approximately May 15-August 15 or August 1-October 15) and will be scheduled to assist with weddings most weekends.  We know summers include family obligations and the occasional vacations, so we are happy to take schedules into consideration if given proper notice at start of season.

How to Apply :: If you’re interested in joining the Stella Event Design Team for our 2012 season, please email your cover letter and resume (.pdf format, please) to We will be accepting applications through February and will be conducting interviews in February and March! If you have additional questions, please email (no phone calls, please).

behind the scenes :: wish upon a wedding michigan

Every once in a while, we love to give everyone a “behind the scenes” look at what we’re up to at Stella Event Design. Aside from being in full swing of planning a whole season full of fabulous 2012 events, we have also had the pleasure of assisting with Wish Upon A Wedding, a non-profit that has given us the perfect opportunity to give back. Wish Upon A Wedding is the worlds first non-profit organization dedicated to providing weddings to individuals facing terminal illness and other life altering circumstances, regardless of sexual orientation. The goal of the organization is to pull together wedding vendors to help grant weddings to couples facing terminal illness, who wouldn’t otherwise have the time or opportunity to do so, because of long-term illness, treatments and hospital time. We get to work together to help them have this one very important day that they deserve.

I (Jessica) have had the pleasure of serving on the founding board for the Michigan Chapter and assisting as PR & Media chair for the last year or so.  The last two weeks, leading up to the launch of our chapter, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with newspapers, radio stations and even got to make my first on-camera appearance (nerve-wracking!) on Fox 17, to share the news about Wish Upon a Wedding and the launch of the Michigan chapter. Last week we got to see everything come to fruition as the Launch Party took place at The Crofoot in Detroit, and we officially launched the Michigan chapter.

Wish Upon A Wedding Michigan Board Members

The launch party took place on Tuesday, so Brittany, Kayla and myself hit the road to Pontiac and took part in a very exciting night that was filled with amazing event professionals, a gorgeous venue, incredible band, lots of information about the organization and getting people involved, and lots of Pure Michigan inspired goodness! We were so thrilled to get to be a part of such an amazing organization and such an exciting night. Now that the Michigan chapter has launched, we will officially begin taking applications and start to grant wishes.

Jessica, Kayla & Brittany at the launch party

You can find more info on the organization at, including ways you can be involved, how businesses can sign up to become wish granters and you can watch videos of some of the wishes that have already been granted around the country (grab some tissues, you’ll need them!)

See more photos of the launch party here! All photos are courtesy of JLB Wedding who was the official photographer of the night and did a fantastic job!