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your perfect ceremony begins with a great officiant

During wedding season I tend to have some pretty crazy dreams…everything from missing brides & grooms to exploding wedding cakes, bands who show up in cut-off tshirts…you name the wedding nightmare and I have had a crazy dream about it! The other night I dreamed that I was not only planning a wedding, I was also officiating it. Even worse than officiating (which I don’t do)…I didn’t realize I was supposed to be officiating! I stood up front and had no idea what to say. I fumbled my way through vows and when it came time for a scripture reading, I had to pull out my iphone to look up the verses.  At one point there was a 5 minute lull while I sorted through papers and attempted to figure out the order of the ceremony. All around it was a complete nightmare for someone like myself, who has absolutely no desire to do public speaking!

Rev. Bonnie Corondan

Obviously this is a scenario that will never happen to me, as I don’t officiate weddings and have no desire to do so in the future. We work with some really amazing officiants and I respect how much preparation time, composure, experience and training goes into becoming a top-notch officiant. But it does remind me of the importance of a great officiant, and I can’t stress enough that it is COMPLETELY worth the $300-400 you’ll pay for an experienced officiant. Trust me, it’s not just about hiring someone who is ordained—anyone can do it online these days in an effort to make a few extra bucks.  It’s important to hire someone who will get to know you; is an excellent writer, so they can craft your personalized ceremony; and most importantly, is an excellent speaker.  An experienced officiant will also be able to give you some great suggestions on ways to incorporate your personal story, style and beliefs into your ceremony.

While your ceremony may only be 30 minutes long, you can trust me that it will be a 30 minutes everyone will remember if you have an officiant that struggles through the ceremony, incorrectly pronounces your names (or forgets your names—eek!) or fidgets, stammers and fumbles their way through your ceremony.  So do your research—meet with potential officiants in person, ask for references, and get to know them—you’ll be glad you did!

Photo by Ben Pancoast Photography

real wedding sneak peek::a lake michigan beach wedding

Amy and Tony tied the knot June 10, 2011 outside on the beach despite many threats of storms.  I was literally checking the weather more than once an hour up until the arrival of the ceremony chairs!  We could not have pulled off this beach ceremony without our awesome team of vendors—  430 studios beautifully captured the treasured moments of the day, Crystal Springs Florist created the colorful gerbera daisy bouquets and aisle decor, and harpist Carl Payne set the tone for an intimate family-centered ceremony.  My favorite part of the ceremony was the horse-drawn carriage that whisked the bridal party away for a short ride after the ceremony.  Such a cute and fun idea!  Thank you Amy and Tony for letting us be a part of your special day, it was a pleasure!


Posted by Brittany Johnson (Event Planner)

Tips on having (or not having) children at your wedding

Many brides and grooms have chosen to have their receptions be “adult only,” in other words, no children! Some do it because it saves money, or keeps the guest count low and others do it because they just don’t want to have to worry about the screaming or crying that comes along with little kids in uncomfortable formal wear.  Below are some tips on how to approach the “adult-only” reception, and how to accommodate children if they do attend!

In the Invitation…

Opt for inner and outer envelopes, and when addressing them, put only the adult names on the inner envelope. Hopefully, this should be a red flag that children aren’t invited.  However, some people will write in their children’s names anyway and send it back to you, so if this is the case, then a polite phone call is best, explaining that it is an adult only reception.

Bring on the Babysitter…

If the parent’s still want to bring their children with them, especially if it is long distance, think about providing babysitters. At Stella Event Design, we have provided brides with recommended babysitters that can come to the hotel to take care of the kids for the night, whether it is a babysitter per room or a couple of babysitters for all the children of the guests. It gives the parents the opportunity to bring kids along, while still enjoying the party!

Kids Table…

If you do want children at your wedding, consider having an all kids table. This can be a lot of fun for you to create as well as for the little guests. I see it as butcher paper instead of a rented table cloth and crayons (wont mess up little dresses or suits). You can also provide each child with their own container of games, coloring books, and other knick nacks. This will provide hours of entertainment for the little ones and the activities in the fun kit can match your wedding colors and theme. Even though entertainment is provided, there are always the children that have separation anxiety and will sit by their parents no matter what. If your venue offers a separate space, you can even think about having kids in a separate room with their own party…kid-friendly foods, games, entertainment, and of course childcare, so mom and dad can enjoy the “adult” reception!

Kid friendly food…

Ask your caterer if they can make special meals for the children attending such as macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, etc. How many children really want roasted chicken and seasonal veggies? They’ll get to eat what they like and you’ll get to save on your food costs!

Posted by Kayla Weems (Event Assistant)

real wedding sneak peek::megan+anthonys lake resort wedding

Meet Megan+Anthony, one of the sweetest couples we’ve had the pleasure of working with, and an absolutely adorable couple! These two kicked off our summer wedding season with their beautiful Lake Michigan wedding held in Harbor Country’s quaint Union Pier. They couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day—it was the epitome of a perfect summer wedding with a ceremony on the lawn, delicious dinner overlooking Lake Michigan (very important to these two talented chefs),  tons of dancing with the Matt Stedman band (one of our favorites), a late night gelato cart and twilight photos on the beach! Southwest Michigan wedding photographer Ben Pancoast shared a few sneak peeks, and I can’t wait to share a full recap of this beautiful wedding soon—there were so many great details! And the dress….GORGEOUS! Megan & Anthony, congratulations on your special day and thank you so much for letting us be a part of it!

real wedding::shannon+dave at the veranda at the whitcomb

Back in September we shared a sneak peek from Shannon+Dave’s August 2010 wedding in St. Joseph. But it was such a fun wedding and such a wonderful couple, I wanted to share more details on their day, as well as some more eye candy courtesy of Kelly Powers Photography! One of my favorite details of this summer wedding at the Veranda at the Whitcomb in St. Joseph was the desserts! Shannon wanted to share pies with her guests instead of wedding cake, so what better way to have her centerpieces do double duty—each table featured a pie on a porcelain cake stand, wrapped with a garland of flowers! It was adorable (smelled wonderful) and was such a cute and personal touch. Shannon and Dave cut their own pie right at their table! I love mix and match bridesmaids dresses—Shannon had all of her bridesmaids choose a black dress, and it was a great way for each of them to show their own style. After a beautiful beach wedding on a picture-perfect Michigan day, guests enjoyed a beauitufl outdoor reception at the Veranda at the Whitcomb.

veranda-at-the-whitcomb-wedding-st-joseph-michiganAnd their signature cocktails? The “Matrimo-tini” and “White Wedding Sangria.” Too cute. I also loved the escort cards—-each name was attached to a tiny drink umbrella which we put in shallow wicker trays filled with sand and shells–they were bright, beach, and held up to the light breeze! Unique escort cards are a great way to spice up your wedding details. Remember, if you can write or attach a name to it—it could be an escort card—so get creative!

basilica monday::ken+katy’s notre dame wedding

Happy Basilica Monday! For those of you not from the SW Michigan/NW Indiana area, Basilica Monday is an exciting day when brides hoping to tie the knot at The Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus, get to vie for their 2012 wedding dates! For alumni, students and parishoners, it’s THE day to secure a ceremony spot at the basilica! So good luck to all of the lovely ladies out their hoping to get their perfect wedding date today! In honor of Basilica Monday, here’s a basilica blast from the past, Ken+Katy’s 2009 ceremony at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, followed by a beautiful reception at the Heritage Center in St. Joseph, Michigan.  Photos by Southwest Michigan wedding photographer Ben Pancoast


so long 2010…it’s been fun!

Every year (usually a bit closer to New Years–oops!) I write a post reflecting on our year and looking forward to the coming wedding season. It’s such a great opportunity to look back at what we’ve accomplished and have learned and set goals—I didn’t want to skip it, even though I’m a tad bit late this year!

First, a long list of thank yous….

First and foremost, thank you to the 29 couples who allowed us to be a part of their special day—we appreciate your trust and we truly could not have asked for better clients. We were so blessed to work with amazing brides & grooms that were filled with love for one another, amazing ideas and brought with them fantastic family & friends.

To the venues & vendors who are kind enough to refer us to their brides over and over, our sincerest thanks—we love working with you and always look forward to weddings where our paths will cross! Thank you for trusting us with your beautiful venues and your wonderful brides & grooms…it’s a recommendation that we don’t take lightly and we truly appreciate. A special thank you to the handful of vendors who are always ready to listen to my ideas and help me out—I think you all know who you are and many of you have stood by me since day 1—you’re the best!

This year was our very busiest yet, and not only did we plan more weddings than ever before, but the Stella Event Design team grew with the addition of event planner Brittany Johnson! As a small business owner (and a detail-oriented one at that) adding someone to the team wasn’t an easy decision, but I couldn’t have asked for a better fit! After a fantastic year as an event assistant, Brittany joined us this summer after graduating from Taylor University, and it couldn’t have been more seamless–she has an amazing heart, an incredible work ethic and attention to detail, and our brides & grooms loved her!

And while we’re thanking people, I need to mention we had 4 amazing interns this summer and fall—Kelsey, Emily, Gina and Morgan—-these ladies get a huge shout out for all of their fantastic work this summer in helping us make some fantastic events happen!

It was an exciting year for Stella Event Design in the press…we were featured in 2 issues of BRIDES Magazine, the March issue where we shared Midwest wedding trends, and June, when we were asked to share our ideas for an intimate reception at an art gallery. So a huge thank you to the gals at BRIDES Magazine who included us in those articles—they were bucket-list moments! We were also thrilled to be included in Brides Michigan, InFrame Bride, Off the Water and Michiana Brides!

In 2010 we also planned our first big bridal event, the Lake Shore Wedding Walk! Over 150 brides and grooms and 300 people joined us in St. Joseph as 4 different venues and 30+ fabulous vendors were showcased. We hit the ground running in May and it was a whirlwind 4 months getting the event together by September 19th, but we were thrilled with how it turned out and are excited to make it an annual event, with the next one coming up on Sunday, September 18th! A huge thank you to the venues that hosted the events: The Veranda at the Whitcomb, Shadowland Ballroom, Krasl Art Center and The Heritage Center, as well as all of the fabulous businesses who participated, and of course a huge thank you to all of the destination brides & grooms who joined us!

In 2011 we’re looking forward to our busiest wedding season yet, we’re working at some new and exciting venues, and we’ll be trying some new things! We can’t wait to see the beautiful weddings, fun couples and new adventures that 2011 has in store for us!

giveaway::30 minute consultation

This weekend we’re celebrating our 3 year “business birthday” because, let’s be honest, even businesses deserve a great birthday party! In honor of 3 years of fabulous brides & grooms, beautiful weddings and exciting changes, we’re going to give YOU a little present!

Visit our facebook page and leave a comment with 3 WORDS THAT DESCRIBE YOUR WEDDING STYLE! We’ll randomly choose a winner who will receive a COMPLIMENTARY 30 MINUTE CONSULTATION with Stella Event Design (in our office or via phone). Do you have etiquette questions? Wonder what time you should have your outdoor ceremony? Who are some of our favorite vendors? What are some easy tricks to cut your budget? You’ll have 30 minutes to pick our brains with all of your wedding-related questions. You have until Monday at noon, when we choose the winner!

Take me to Facebook—I want to win!

visit us:: grand rapids wedding affair

If you’re planning a Grand Rapids wedding, or are tying the knot in West Michigan, be sure to stop in and visit us at the Grand Rapids Wedding Affair this Friday, October 15th from 5-9pm at the Grand Rapids Public Museum in downtown Grand Rapids! Not only is the museum a beautiful and unique location you can consider for your event, but you’ll get to meet tons of great vendors on all 3 floors of the museum! We’ll be right at the top of the stairs on the 3rd floor, so be sure to come up and say hi to Brittany and I!

real event::lake shore wedding walk, part 2

Here is a sneak peek from Shadowland Ballroom, one of the 4 stops on the Lake Shore Wedding Walk! At Shadowland we hosted the runway-style fashion show including gowns by Wedding Belles in Stevensville, and ‘maids dresses from Alexa Claire Boutique & the Tux Shop in St. Joseph! Brides could also check out some of the lovely place settings, centerpieces by Beikmann Associates Floral, taste delicious treats from The Bistro, talk with the guys from Music Unlimited and hop into the MOD photo booth!

lakd shore wedding walk
A huge thank you to Shadowland Ballroom for being a stop on the Wedding Walk, and for helping us to make this event such a great experience for all of the brides & grooms that joined us!

All photos by Jennifer Mayo Studios