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a venue tour & photo shoot at hidden vineyard wedding barn

How time flies! Back in October we were invited out to Hidden Vineyard Wedding Barn in Berrien Springs to set up a Spring-inspired wedding shoot. We’ve been to the venue a few times to finish and we’re happy to get to share a little tour of the space and let you have a peak at what it has to offer. Plus, we have some pretty eye candy, so be sure to read on to the photo shoot at the bottom! Lovely photos by the very talented Ben Pancoast Photography, who is always so much fun to work with, even when we’re wrapping up a shoot at 11pm!

So let’s start with a little virtual tour of the exterior: The back of the property features picturesque scenery that includes a giant pond and views of the rolling country side and vineyards. The balcony at the back has great views and your ceremony could be hosted in the back of the barn, or under their beautiful old Catalpa tree that sits on one side of the barn. Lots of space and lots of options!
2014-01-08_0001 They did a great job with the interior of this venue. The upper level features the main entertainment space…the guest areas, restrooms and catering prep room. The lower level features a lounge area, brides room, grooms area, and another set of restrooms. (Clockwise  below: brides room, mirror collection in the brides room, lounge area that sits outside of the bridal room, upstairs women’s restroom, and the grooms area)
2014-01-08_0002The main area of the barn fits about 150 comfortable, and the covered deck area can be used for additional seating if you like. We did several layouts for our shoot, utilizing a mixture of long and round tables, which I think works really nicely in this space. Hidden Vineyard Wedding Barn does not have in-house vendors, so you have the flexibility of bringing in your own catering, bar service, alcohol, etc, which is always nice. Beloe (upper left) you’ll see the view from the barn out onto the deck that overlooks the property. There is a lot of room for a cocktail hour on the deck, or in the yard just below the deck!
2014-01-08_0003Now moving on to the pretty stuff. We picked this pretty blue that pops alongside the wood of the barn, accented with a pale yellow napkin, threw in some of our brick brown rattan chargers and used a fun and textural mix of flowers including: hydrangea, astilbe, scabiosa pods, freesia, succulents, roses, snapdragons, tulips, craspedia, ranunculus and Queen Anne’s Lace.


The lovely cake was provided by C’est La Vie Cakes, who are always such a pleasure to work with! We shot in the evening, during the same time that weddings usually take place and wrapped up around 11:00 when they usually end, so I’ll leave you with a night shot of the barn as we welcome one of Southwest Michigan’s newest wedding venues onto the scene. Thanks for inviting us out to design your pretty space!
The Team
Venue: Hidden Vineyard Wedding Barn
Photography: Ben Pancoast
Design & Floral: Stella Event Design
Cake: C’est La Vie Cakes
Linens & Rattan Chargers: Stella Event Design
Place Settings: CK Catering

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!


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!

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.

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!

dessert dilemmas

In 2013, it’s rare not to know someone who needs to or chooses to avoid foods with gluten or animal byproducts. When planning your dessert menu for your reception, however, accommodating the dietary needs of all your guests may feel a little overwhelming. If you are worried a traditional wedding cake just might not work for you there are alternatives out there; here are a few to consider.


Photo by Lamb + Lark

Gluten Free or Vegan Wedding Cake: One alternative to a traditional cake is to find a Southwest Michigan bakery who can create a completely gluten free or vegan cake. A word of caution though, be sure to discuss your exact needs with the baker, especially if you choose a bakery that doesn’t have a completely gluten free or vegan kitchen.

Cupcakes: Another alternative or supplement to a traditional wedding cake is to do a table of cupcakes for your reception. One nice thing about this option is it allows you to have both gluten free, vegan, and traditional options for your guests. The cupcakes can be arranged on different tiers or trays with labels that say which options are gluten-free, vegan, or that list the different ingredients. Labels are a good way to prevent confusion or possible cross-contamination for your guests. You may also want to label any flavors that contain nuts.

Photos by Lamb + Lark

Photos by Lamb + Lark

Dessert Bar: Another option to consider is a dessert bar with small, finger-food sized desserts. This not only gives you the option to have a variety of delicious treats for your guests, but also gives you the option to have certain desserts specially made and labeled for all the different possible needs and wants of your guests. Keep in mind that there are alternatives options to almost every traditional type of dessert now including favorites like cake pops, cheesecakes, and pies.

Fresh Fruit: Adding fresh fruit to your dessert menu can be another option–especially in the summer months. The natural sugars in most fruits are often a safe alternative for many people with gluten allergies or vegan lifestyles to the ingredients in other baked goods.

No matter what option you chose for your wedding always be sure to taste test the different desserts or get a referral from a wedding planner, before you purchase them from a baker or caterer. If you’re in the St. Joseph area one local vendor to check out is Kat’s Hot Cakes in Bridgman, specializing in vegan baked goods.

design inspiration :: beautiful backdrops

One of the big trends of 2012 continuing through to 2013 is the backdrop. If you are considering incorporating a backdrop into your wedding design there a few things you may want to consider.

What kind of backdrop:
One of the first things to think about is the type of backdrop you want. Some of the popular styles include wooden doors, chalkboards, and a mixture of draped curtains, furniture, frames, and/or dishes. One of the nice things about backdrops are they are completely customizable to your style. Some couples are even using blank canvases or chalkboards for backdrops and letting their guests create art or write messages during the reception.

Where to put the backdrop:
Given their size, it’s important to think about where you want to put your backdrop and how you want to use it in your wedding. You want to find a way to make it prominent while not allowing it to overwhelm the other details of your design. Here are few options to consider:

Photo booth: One great way to use a backdrop is as unique location for your photo booth. It can provide a fun, unique background for photos of you, your wedding party, and your guests.

Head table: If you are planning to use a head table for you and your wedding party another place to put your backdrop is behind your head table. It will pull your guests attention towards that space, and it can help make that reception space even more tailored toward your style.Dessert or Gift Table: Another option is to use a backdrop to set apart your gift or dessert table. A backdrop for one of these tables can give you nearly unlimited options when it comes to the design of your backdrop — above, we used the backdrop to hang descriptions of each cupcake flavor! A backdrop is also a great way to dress up a gift table, as they are often tucked into a corner!

Ceremony: If you are looking at backdrops consider using them in the ceremony space. They can make a beautiful frame for where your vows take place, especially in outdoor weddings!

If you choose to use a backdrop make sure it’s something unique to you! If you are looking at designing your backdrop yourself, Pinterest’s wedding backdrop boards are one place to get started.

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

a cozy holiday entertaining idea


When the weather gets cold, I can’t help but start to think about tasty hot beverages. I don’t drink coffee, but I’m a huge fan of hot cocoa! Which got me thinking about the fun ways you could incorporate it into your holiday entertaining.  Start with some delicious gourmet hot chocolate, and then provide as many delicious garnishes as you please!

Tasty topping ideas:

  • Peppermint sticks
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Homemade marshmallows
  • Ginger snap cookies
  • Chocolate chips (or mint chocolate chips, even better!)
  • Marshmallow fluff
  • Rock candy sticks
  • Homemade biscotti
  • Chocolate dipped spoons
  • Whipped Cream
  • Nutmeg, cinnamon and other spices to dust on top
  • Candy crumbles: toffee crunch, peppermints, candy bars
  • For the adults: Peppermint schnapps, Kahlua or Baileys

I think a fabulous assortment of cookies would be the perfect accompaniment to a hot cocoa bar, and you could even create some “take home” mugs for your friends and family to enjoy later. Include a keepsake mug, hot cocoa mix and a chocolate spoon, and wrap it beautifully.

find wedding inspiration

If you’re having trouble finding inspiration for the look of your big day, don’t think you have stick to the traditional two color wedding concept to tie all the elements of your wedding together. There are lots of other areas you can draw inspiration from, so don’t be afraid to get creative— after all, it is your day! Here are a few different types of unique inpspiration to get you on the right track…


Draw inspiration for your wedding from an era, like recent couple Megan+Will. They chose a 1950’s garden party as the theme of their wedding and reception. All the details, from her dress to the table arrangements were 50’s inspired (and many pieces were vintage!) and it made for a beautiful and one of a kind event! (Photos by Ben Pancoast Photography)
paper flower-dress


Use geometric shapes as the focus of your wedding, just like bride (and Stella Event Design friend) Amanda! With her polka dot dress as inspiration, she she carried her love of polka dots through all aspects of her wedding from the cake to the escort cards. There were even polka dots on the brides maid’s bouquets! (photos by Nicole Dixon)



Be inspired by fabric, or a pattern you love. A great example of this is from April Foster, of April Foster Events! She recently entered the Inspired Creations Contest hosted by Elizabeth Anne Designs and The Sweetest Occasion. She incorporated a blue and green fabric pattern into her design concept, from the dessert buffet to the table setting, making for one perfectly tied together display, and it’s a great example of a modern twist on the two-tone wedding! (Photos by Megan W Photgraphy)
green-blue collage

So, when it comes time to choose your theme, don’t be afraid to step outside the box and find inspiration from an unexpected place. Incorporate your personality into your special day, and you’ll make it as unique as you are!

Posted by:: Emily (event assistant)