Leah + Drew / Northern Michigan Wedding Photographer / Sojourn Lakeside Resort Gaylord

Friends, I am so excited to share Leah + Drew’s dreamy wedding day with you. There were so many elements of the day that had me in near tears. From the location (Sojourn Lakeside Resort) to the incredible details (Smitten Events outdid themselves!) it was a day not to forget.
I have been enjoying asking my incredible brides + grooms to give me a write up of their own account for many of the posts I’ve done in the past year. Leah was kind enough to share details of the planning and day with you all /

I’m not someone who dreamed of their wedding day their entire life. When Drew proposed in June of 2016, the only thing I envisioned was a low-key trip to city hall…but Drew had other plans. Drew is a romantic and heart, and he made it very clear that he wanted a wedding wedding. I was more than willing to go along with this- how could I deny my fiancé something that was so adorably important to him? Once we decided to do the damn thing, I was faced with a unique set of obstacles. I was planning to start a masters program at University of Chicago in August, while Drew would be staying at his job in New York City. We had also decided to get married in Northern Michigan- I’m originally from Michigan and I liked the idea of doing it in a laid back “up north” setting. In sum, this meant I was planning a destination wedding while living in a different state from my fiancé…all whilst managing the stress of grad school and my internship. Fun!

In many ways, this meant that we had to be extremely decisive throughout our planning process. The thing I heard the most from other brides was that their wedding was a blur and that they barely had a moment to really enjoy the company of their guests. With this in mind, we wanted really wanted to get married in a private place where our whole family and closest friends could stay onsite so we’d have the opportunity to spend quality time with our loved ones during the weekend. This was a tall order, but we were delighted to find Sojourn Lakeside Resort online, and once we saw it in person we knew it was the ideal location. It was the only place we looked, and we just decided to roll with it.

Another important decision was hiring wedding planners. You know those people who have color-coded planners and remember to send chic birthday cards? Yeah…that’s not me. The contents of my purse is 80% garbage and I lose my phone on a weekly basis. Since organization is not my strength, I had to admit to myself that a planner might be necessary. When we met Janelle and Ellen from smitten events, we knew they’d be perfect for us. They’re both so chill, and will seriously bring your vision to life (no matter how crazy). I remember coyly asking what they thought about an idea I had to pitch a “glamping” tent to use as a hang-out spot for the wedding. I was sure they’d say that it was silly or unnecessary, but instead they embraced the idea and made it amazing. They also did my flowers, which I LOVED. Having them to fall back on was such an incredible blessing for planning- they took all my random, half-baked ideas and made them awesome. It was also so great that they immediately understood the vibe I wanted, and were able to make great suggestions for vendors (including Amy! She’s the BEST btw).

The actual day of the wedding was pure magic. I felt incredibly calm, and I was just so excited to marry my dude. The forecast looked pretty grim leading up to the day of the wedding, but I found myself weirdly embracing the possibility of rain (googling beautiful raining wedding photos helped ease my nerves). Just as I had resolved that I’d need to wear rain boots under my dress, the forecast changed the morning of our wedding and it didn’t rain one bit.

I think our favorite thing about our wedding was how intimate, personal and true to us it felt. My stepfather was our officiant, and we wrote our own vows- which I would suggest to anyone on the fence about this. We skipped lots of traditions (no first dance, no giant bridal party, no bouquet toss etc.) and just did the stuff that sounded fun. Your wedding should be fun! We had such a great time that I’m kinda sad we don’t get to do it again. It was a beautiful, joyful day that just brimmed with love.



Meredith + Garrett / Bay City Wedding Photographer / Michigan Wedding

Hello friends! I’m bringing you a wedding that was so sweet and special and filled with so much love and work that I asked Meredith to write a few words about her day, the planning and some words of wisdom. Enjoy the images and reading her experience. I have heard from many of you how much you are enjoying the write ups from the newly-married couples!

From Meredith: Our wedding day was simply magical. It was a day Garrett and I had been dreaming of since we were only 17 years old–yes, we are high school sweethearts. We were so excited to commit ourselves to each other surrounded by love and laughter from our family and friends. I remember several times throughout the day just stopping and soaking everything in. It was all so surreal and all the months of planning had led up to this special day. Overall, we wanted a effortlessly chic wedding with neutrals, lush florals and greenery to accent the natural setting of my parents backyard on a lake.

The entire wedding was a labor of love. Garrett and I decided early on in the wedding planning process that we wanted to have the ceremony in a place that was very near and dear to our hearts so we were married in the same church as my grandparents, parents and several aunts and uncles. Family means the world to us. We also settled on my parents backyard for the reception, another location which meant a lot to us as a couple. We are forever grateful for my parents allowing us to use their home as our reception location. Having your wedding in your parents backyard is no easy feat. There are several logistical issues and you are practically starting with a blank slate for a reception space. Thankfully, a family friend had recently planned her daughters wedding at an estate in northern Michigan so she was able to provide an immense amount of guidance along the way. But like I said earlier, it was truly a labor of love–Garrett and his dad built the bars, my aunts constructed a beautiful edison bulb chandelier to hang over the dance floor/cake table, my cousin designed all of the graphics and paper goods, my sister and cousin wrote the guests names on glass tiles in calligraphy, my uncle strung the lights throughout the tent, my dad dedicated several days to yard work,  and my mom worked endlessly to organize and plan every single detail for the special day. Like I said, it was a lot of tough work, a lot of hard work but in the end–it was all worth it. We wanted something unique and an experience our guests would remember forever.

Having an outdoor wedding reception comes with a lot of worry and struggles. I don’t think I’ve ever checked the weather as much as I did the week leading up to our wedding (it predicted thunderstorms or rain all week). And somehow the weather worked out perfectly. It thunderstormed in the morning, cleared up on our way to the church, poured in the middle of the ceremony and then cleared up for cocktail hour and pictures. It is crazy when it all works out. It is hard when you have a vision so solid in your head and you think the weather may change it. But hey, I’ve heard rain on your wedding day is good luck anyways!?  Additionally, with a non traditional wedding venue, you have to bring every single thing in–down to the salt and pepper shakers and trailer bathrooms.

We also had to find vendors (or “friendors” as we liked to call them) who we trusted and understood what we wanted for the day. When we would meet with our vendors, they just “got us.” No other way to explain it–we clicked! (cough cough: Amy Carroll’s availability may have determined the date of the wedding).

Our day was perfect–a day we will never forget. We are so beyond grateful for all of our amazing family, friends and vendors who dedicated their time to our wedding.

One last tip for brides:

Enjoy every minute–it will all be beautiful.


Ashley + Greg / Sayulita Mexico Wedding / Destination Wedding Photographer

A few months ago we traveled down to the pretty surfing village of Sayulita Mexico to shoot Ashley+Greg’s wedding day. This couple is near and dear to our heart…both wonderful friends and watching their love story form and come together was amazing to witness.

They planned their wedding day living in Colorado but these two are complete wanderlusts so planning a destination wedding seemed like the perfect choice. I asked Ashley to write her blog post as I thought her story and planning adventures were a tale many of you would enjoy reading. So with no further ado…

When Greg and I got engaged, there was little question in our minds on the location of the wedding. Not long after we met, Greg and I attended a yoga retreat together at Haramara, a sacred gem of a retreat center located just south of Sayulita, Mexico. Greg had visited the area numerous times and instantly fell in love with the rawness, pure beauty of nature and authenticity of the quaint surf town. A few days into the retreat I was walking with Greg down the winding dirt path through the jungle to get to the beach when I was overcome with a feeling that we’d get married there someday. It was one of those moments that takes your breath away. I kept it to myself since we were still in the “beginning” stages of our relationship and didn’t want to come off too pushy in the direction of marriage (quite) yet. Not a day later we were near the same spot and Greg stopped and said “I have this strong feeling that we’re going to get married here someday”. As divine alignment would have it, fast forward a few years and that vision became a reality.

Due to our free-spirited nature, we wanted to create a ceremony and celebration that stayed true to who we are in our everyday lives: simple, authentic, adventurous, spiritual and connected to nature. There is a secluded beach we would climb across rocks to get to from the retreat center. Perched high above the ocean, on a large bluff overlooking these rocks was a beautiful structure that was hard to make out from the ground, but I was always curious if it was a private home, boutique hotel or some other retreat center. Luck would have it that while browsing Pinterest in wedding planning mode, I came across a random photo of a wedding set up on a beach and I just knew it was “that” beach. I clicked on it, following the link to the photographer’s website highlighting the wedding. At the bottom of the post was a link to the location website. Upon investigation of the site I discovered an aerial photo of the location. Sure enough, it was “our” beach with a private residence, Teitiare Estate, that holds events. Perfection.
Holding true to the intimate vision of our ceremony, we planned one evening with just fourteen of our closest friends and family to witness our union, barefoot on the beach, next to the very rocks we climbed over years before. Teitiare Estate arranged a dreamy dinner on the beach post ceremony with mouth watering local food and cocktails made right on site. Afterwards, we cabbed it back into downtown Sayulita to wander the streets of our beloved town and celebrate.
Knowing our friends would want to join in on the Mexican celebration, we opened the invite to join us for as little or much of the wedding week as they could with the culmination of a Friday night party on the beach at Don Pedro’s, a favorite local open air restaurant with a lovely outdoor space to hold our gathering. Being music lovers, Greg curated our favorite beats that eventually led to an epic dance party in the sand, under the full moon.
Since we live in Colorado and I hail from Grand Rapids, Michigan, I made a trip back to my hometown to go dress shopping at Bianka Bridal with my mom and best friend. The three of us walked into the appointment, all were pulled to one dress hanging on the wall and agreed it could be “it”. Since the dress seemed to have such a powerful energy, I selected it as the first one to try on. I knew immediately it was mine as soon as I put it on. Having my mom and best friend immediately break out into tears as I walked out of the dressing room sealed the deal. I tried on others, just for fun, but nothing compared.
The rest of the wedding planning came together very organically, using SayulitaLife.com to find a florist, Carmen McKnight of Flora Amor, and housing rentals for us and our guests. Flora Amor went above and beyond on our expectations for the flowers. I gave her some direction and she blew it out of the park, doing a beautiful job of incorporating my own feathers brought from Colorado into the designs. My local Fort Collins hairdresser, Carissa Buhl, was an obvious choice for my hair. I half joked during a routine visit I wished I could just fly her down to Mexico to take care of my hair for the celebrations and she expressed her excitement to do so. Well worth the splurge! The photographer decision was a no-brainer since one of my best friends from Michigan is a ridiculously talented photographer (she didn’t pay me to write that, by the way). We got a good laugh that many years ago, way before I knew I’d actually get married, I asked her if she’d travel to shoot my wedding. Love it when things like that come full circle. I also chose to bring in other meaningful details, like wearing my grandmother’s wedding ring during the ceremony and wearing my mom’s wedding dress she got married in, in Mexico back in the 70’s, while getting ready on the ceremony day. Greg’s mom graciously knit a gorgeous shawl for the occasion. A local Fort Collins artist, Jessie Moench of Bubble Beadwork, worked with me to create custom earrings to bring together both Greg and my birthstones as well as special stones and crystals with personal meaning. Greg and I put together our own ceremony from start to finish, incorporating a sacred alter and having our close friend, Matt, perform an opening invocation. 
Keeping everything low key and true to ourselves is what made our celebration so special. We would not have changed a thing. By listening to our intuition and allowing things to show up as they did, made both the planning process and the event itself to be effortless and memorable.