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2011 year in review

We don’t normally post on weekends, but because today is New Years Day, and a great time to reflect on the year, we’re making an exception!

2011 has been a fabulous year at Stella Event Design! Here are just a few things that made 2011 one of our best years yet:

  • We were thrilled to help plan, design and coordinate 33 Michigan weddings for amazing couples from all over the country. Thank you to each and every bride+groom that let us be a part of their special day!
  • Planning the 2nd Annual Lake Shore Wedding Walk–the areas most unique bridal event–was a ton of fun and continues to get better and better each year! Thank you to all the venues & vendors who support this event, and all the brides & grooms who stopped by to visit!
  • We designed a beach-inspired photo shoot for InFrame Bride Magazine that took us up onto a dune (literally!) You can check it out on the blog this week!
  • Jessica got the opportunity to assist an amazing non-profit organization—Wish Upon a Wedding–as PR & Media chair for the new Michigan chapter, which is officially launching on January 17, 2012!
  • We had 2 events featured on Brittany’s ‘Garden tea party inspired’ photo shoot with Bradley James Photography and Katie+Jack’s fuschia+turquoise wedding designed by Jessica at Millcreek Barns
  • We contributed to the April 2011 issue of BRIDES Magazine’s “Party in the USA” feature, talking about what makes Midwest weddings (and especially those on the Michigan shore) so special! (p. 268)
  • We had another amazing group of interns this summer & fall…a huge thank you to Kayla, Blair, Lexie and Stephanie for helping to make our busiest season yet run so smoothly!

A huge thank you to all of the venues and vendors that made our jobs a lot easier! We have amazing local wedding vendors in Southwest Michigan and we can’t say how much we appreciate all of our favorite vendors that bend over backwards to make our couples’ days amazing! We’ve got tons of great stuff coming up for 2012, so keep checking back (or subscribe above) and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for exclusive planning tips, giveaways and photo galleries!

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

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

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

happy holidays from stella event design

Today is our last day in the office before taking off for Christmas break, so we want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! We hope you have a wonderful time with your family, fiance, and loved ones! We’ll be back in the office on January 2nd, but no worries—we’ll have new posts up all next week–so you won’t even miss us!
We would especially like to wish a lot of love this holiday season to all of our 2011 couples — Krista+Luke, Megan+Anthony,  Lindsey+Kevin, Amy+Tony, Faith+David, Lyndee+Aaron, Lacy+Matt, Amanda+Keith, Meaghan+Bruce, Lucy+Matt, Kristy+Matt, Kate+Kyle, Kim+Dan , Katie+Jack, Scott+Ashley, Jill+Ryan, Devin+Dave, Kate+Evan, Sarah+Paul, Jessica+JT, Sarah+Bill, Jamie+Mike, Jessica+Marc, VA+Rich , Carol+Jeff, Sarah+ Jeremy, Dawn+Nick, Catherine+Sean , Laura+Joe, Jenny+Nick, and Kendra+David—thank you again for letting us be a part of your special day, and we hope you enjoy your first holiday season as husband and wife!

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.

faux-stache weddings:: love them or hate them?

Google “mustache wedding”…go ahead…we’ll wait here while you check it out! Over the last year or so, we’ve seen faux-staches make appearances at weddings. At first, it was in photo booths…they’re a cute prop. Just throw on a pair of glasses, a fake ‘stache on a stick and a bowtie, and you’ve got a ready-made photo booth alter-ego. Then, they seemed to make their way onto groomsmen gifts and bachelor-party wares…mustache beer mugs, mustache flasks, t-shirts, invitations and more! I mean, what groomsman wouldn’t want his bachelor party tagged as “A ‘Stache Bash?” It’s pretty catchy. And a total guy thing. I think it’s pretty cute.

mustache-wedding-diy-etsy(Moustache flasks, ‘stache bash invite, cufflinks, escort cards)

But now, the ‘stache seems to be making its way even further into wedding garb..showing up .on escort cards and even in wedding portraits. Beautiful brides with fake mustaches held in front of their faces, bridesmaids photos, photos of the happy couple kissing (each with their ‘stache)…and this is where I start to sit on the fence.

I really want to like this trend, because I think it’s clever, and it’s definitely something that gets a laugh. I think fake mustaches on a stick for photo booths are super cute. But I have to admit when I see bridal portraits of a beautiful bride in an elegant dress, with a big fuzzy mustache, I get a little creeped out. I mean, where is that photo getting put some day? I imagine 15 years from now, kids will see these faux-stache photos and say, “ewww, mom, what’s on your face? Is that what you did at weddings back then? That’s weird.” But love them or hate them, it’s an offbeat wedding trend that doesn’t seem to be going away for the 2012 wedding season, so if you have some wedding ‘stache in your future, check out etsy and all of the fun ‘stache-related goods that the crafty people of the world have come up with for your wedding!

So if you think I’m crazy and mustache weddings rock your world—or you agree with me and aren’t quite sold on the ‘stache bash—leave a comment and vote:: mustaches on your wedding day—cute or creepy?


Stella Event Design is one of Michigan’s premier wedding planning firms, specializing in Lake Michigan weddings. We work with couples from around the country as they plan their perfect wedding in Southwest Michigan. Stella Event Design has a talented team of event planners and is happy to assist brides getting married throughout Michigan and Northwest Indiana.

quick tip:: choosing your wedding colors

I was chatting with one of our fabulous 2012 brides the other day, and she had a dilemma that I think a lot of other brides out there probably share, so I thought I would share!

The dilemma

Choosing a color scheme, when she doesn’t have a “favorite” color, or anything in mind. There are just so many colors to choose from, she doesn’t know where to get started!

Tips to Find Color Inspiration

Take a cue from your closet:: You may have some favorite hues, and not even realize. Take a look in your closet—are there any colors that you see stand out? Is there a color you wear and always get compliments? Perhaps emerald looks amazing with your hair or wine red is the perfect color for your skin tone? Take a cue from the colors that look great on you—you’ll be surrounded by those colors all day, from dresses to linens to flowers!

Venue inspiration:: If you don’t have any favorite colors in mind, consider choosing a color palette that complements your venue. Is there a piece of artwork at the venue you could pull color inspiration from? Does your venue have a subtle color scheme you can take inspiration from?  Does the venue have beautiful upholstered vintage chairs? Consider working your color scheme around elements already present at your venue!

Professional design help:: If you need some help, you can turn to a wedding planner or event designer to help you come up with inspiration for the perfect color palette. We love helping brides & grooms design their perfect days—from the color palette to all of the details, if you’re struggling with the aesthetics of your wedding day, a professional can help take the stress out of the process!


Stella Event Design works with couples from around the country as they plan their perfect wedding in Southwest Michigan and we look forward to helping you make your very own one-of-a-kind memories! Stella Event Design has a talented team of event planners and is happy to assist brides throughout Michigan.

giveaway:: 1 hour planning consultation

This week we’re celebrating our 4th “business birthday” and to celebrate 4 years of planning fabulous weddings, we’re giving away a free 1 hour consultation! Just visit our facebook page, (become a fan by clicking ‘lik’e) and comment before Friday at Noon (EST) and tell us how you would use your time to help you plan! We’ll pick a winner  on Friday at 1:00. So comment now for your chance to pick our brains about anything wedding related–design ideas, room layouts, time lines, ways to personalize your day, vendor issues, budget struggles—you’d be amazed how much we can help you with in an hour! Your consultation can be in-person if you’re local, or via phone for those not in the SW Michigan area, so anyone (any where) is welcome to enter! Comment now and good luck!

Remember, comment on our Facebook page, not here on the blog!!

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

Getting thank you notes from our clients, or reading a sweet online review they wrote seriously puts a huge smile on my face, so we thought we’d share some of our “love letters” here on the blog every once in a while when we receive them! We are so lucky to work with some really amazing brides as they plan their weddings in Southwest Michigan, and we’re so thankful that we’re allowed to be part of their special day!

“Working with Jessica at Stella Event Design was amazing! As a Detroit bride planning a wedding on the other side of the state, it was extremely helpful to receive vendor recommendations that were reliable, within my budget and matched my “vision.” Looking at past event photos, I knew Jessica and her team would come up with something fun, modern and perfect for my theme and venue. I really trusted her judgements and referrals. She was extremely flexible with me since I couldn’t always get there for a face-to-face meeting (or had very short notice!) and answered all emails immediately. She definitely went above and beyond just day-of-coordination and I am very thankful that I had her to help me on the day of the wedding. I literally do not know what I would have done without her. She was very professional and very caring. I never felt like my wedding was just another job to her, or that she was too busy to help me with things. She stayed until the very end of the reception and helped my family load up the cars (very efficiently!). I have nothing but good things to say about her and my experience– VERY highly recommend her and Stella Event Design. You will not regret it!”

-Dawn W. (married 9.24.11 at Willow Harbor Vineyards)


“If you are someone who needs guidance, support, creative ideas, organization & much much more, then Jessica is the one for you! She drove our wedding from start to finish (literally finish, she and her team were the last to leave the venue after the reception).

When it came to my wedding I had no idea where to start, even choosing a theme, flowers and location was all over my head. Jessica and her team came to the rescue, and honestly I don’t know how I would have done anything without them. Jessica has personal relationships with so many vendors that no matter what our budget was she had a reliable vendor to offer us. She personally knew florists, dj’s, venue coordinators, officiants. She came up with the most amazing centerpiece displays (that I would have NEVER thought of on my own) and decor for the reception. All our guests were totally blown away at how beautiful everything was.

All my nerves were totally at ease, everyone kept asking me if I was nervous before the wedding and the answer was always “no” because Jessica was ten steps ahead of me. The day of, Jessica was waiting for me at the ceremony…everything looked perfect, everyone was where they were supposed to be. I would recommend Stella Event Design to ANYONE who is looking for an amazing wedding planner and day of coordinator. You will not be disappointed!”

Lucy B. (married 7.2.11 at The Veranda at the Whitcomb)

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

We’ve gotten some really nice notes and online reviews from this summers brides, so thought we’d share a few here on the blog every once in a while! We are so lucky to get to work with such fabulous brides planning their weddings here in beautiful Southwest Michigan—a huge thank you again to all of the lovely brides who let us be a part of their planning and their special day!

“When I first told my mom I had hired Jessica, she was a little mad at me. Not because she had anything against Jessica, but wedding planners in general. She had wanted to do all things wedding, including setting up the day of the wedding and tearing down. After the wedding, I asked her how she felt about me hiring Jessica and she said, “I don’t know how we could’ve done it without her.” And that’s not an exaggeration.

We got married at Millcreek Barns in Watervliet, which is very much an a la carte site. For day of services, Jessica received all the deliveries, set up the ceremony site, reception hall, coordinated timing for all the vendors, ordered us more alcohol when we were running low on beer, wine, rum and whiskey at 7 pm, double-sided taped my dress up… etc. etc. etc. Her services were so valuable the day of the wedding so we could actually enjoy our day without stress. I can only imagine the panic that would’ve occurred if she hadn’t been there to solve our alcohol situation, but instead it was handled immediately.

I also hired Jessica for decor for the wedding. I’m a bride with eclectic tastes, I love all colors, all textures, all patterns. Jessica found a way to execute my vision without going overboard and being tacky (which I’m really good at!). I repeatedly received compliments on how beautiful our wedding was. Jessica took my vision (or lack of) and picked out beautiful table linens, put together our floral order, created several handmade touches and made my wedding something I can be proud of.

Why hire Jessica? Many people think a wedding planner is out of their budget. I planned my wedding on 18k and Stella Event Design was a pivotal piece to my wedding I could have never done without. Because I was a budget bride, I gave my decor budget to Jessica, and she kept me on budget. Rather than going over budget on flowers because I fell in love with something, she chose a floral arrangement within my budget. She created handmade touches to make my wedding special without being exorbitant. Everything came in at my budget, which is difficult to do when planning a wedding. My entire family was able to enjoy our wedding as much as my husband and I did, because they got to participate in the fun stuff without all the hard work.  Jessica is friendly, responsive, knowledgeable, helpful, professional. All the things that a wedding planner should be.”

-Katie S. (married 8.19.11 at Millcreek Barns)


“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 M. (married 7.1.11 at Jean Klock Beach)




real wedding::lucy & matt’s lake michigan wedding

Matt+Lucy have got to be one of the funnest couples I’ve ever come across…and that’s saying a lot, because we are lucky to work with some REALLY fun people! And while we work with a ton of couples from around the country, they also set the record for our MOST long-distance couple to date….when Lucy first contacted me to start her planning, she was living in England—talk about planning long distance! Since she obviously couldn’t meet all of her vendors in person, we helped to connect her with vendors we knew would fit her style, personality and budget, and we helped Lucy create a design plan that reflected their fun-loving personalities. Lucy & Matt tied the knot 4th of July weekend and wanted to get married on the beach—and what a beautiful ceremony it was—there are few places more beautiful than a West Michigan beach in July!lake-michigan-beach-wedding-veranda-at-the-whitcomb-st-josheph-michiganThe reception followed at The Veranda at the Whitcomb, where we hung large paper lanterns overhead. The tables featured light blue geometric table runners, a mixture of vintage glass, filled with flowers in varying shades of blue, pink, yellow and green, and vintage glass votives. It was simple, colorful and gorgeous! Shortly before the wedding Lucy & Matt relocated to Chicago, but for a nod to his home in the UK, the pair featured a cake on their dessert table adorned with the british flag! Lucy+Matt, thank you for letting us be a part of your special day—we had so much fun working with you to make it a beautiful day!

Photos by Belle& Beau