Jen + Stephen's Romantic, Lakeside, Northern-Michigan Wedding

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When Jen's inquiry first popped into our inbox, we instantly knew that this was a wedding we wanted to be a part of. 

Her email incapsulated her personality perfectly - warm, personable, and thoughtful. Equally as warm, kind and intelligent is Jen's now-husband, Stephen. They truly glow when they're with each other. As we planned their wedding cross-country (California to Michigan!) we watched Jen and Stephen support one another as they tackled moving, graduating graduate school, and new jobs. It made their wedding day that much sweeter. It was watching two best friends become husband and wife. Um, sign us up for a million more weddings just like this.

Stephen's family lives in Northern Michigan and Jen + Stephen instantly fell in love with the notion of a Northern Michigan wedding celebration. We visited venues on a very snowy March day in 2016 (the day ALD realized we were going to need an SVU if we were going to continue Northern Michigan weddings #thesedangotstuck) with Jen, her mom and future mother-in-law in-tow. When we pulled into the driveway of A Matter of Taste, we all knew this was the spot.  We were greeted warmly by one of the owners, Ginny, who had thoughtfully prepared a full tasting menu for us after learning that Jen was visiting from out of state. We talked about sailcloth tents and where we'd put a live band. We were sold. 

Over the next year and a half, we assembled a true dream team of vendors for this subtly Tuscan soirée. Photography from the unimaginably talented Cory Weber, florals + lavender by our fave Kalin and the #stemssquad, rentals from Northern Michigan guru Alex and the team at Monstrey MacDonald, and jams by the Bluewater Kings Band, it's a celebration we'll never forget. 

Wedding days are always bittersweet for us. We have the joy of watching our planning come to fruition and the sadness of knowing our time with a couple is drawing to a close. That feeling was palpable as we celebrated alongside Jen + Stephen in their first hours as husband and wife. Below, find a few of our favorite images from Cory and help us relieve a sunny July day where love and laughter filled the air. 

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We selected Jen + Stephen's invitation suite from Minted and loved how the muted watercolor greenery set the stage of their subtly Tuscan inspired reception. The boutonnières were crafted with textural greenery which complimented the overall natural vibe of the florals for the rest of the day. 

 
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Kalin created one of our favorite bouquets to date (which happens every-time we work with her), a lush handtied beauty filled with neutrals, pops of lavender directly from her farm and soft greenery. Seriously, you needed some biceps to carry that beauty. Jen's intricate lace gown was complimented by these beautiful lace and chiffon dresses from BHLDN.  

 
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Friends, if you have ever debated whether you want to do a First Look, let Jen + Stephen assure you it's the right choice. We discussed the pros and cons of the First Look for months leading up to the big day, with Jen and Stephen deciding at our finalization meeting that they definitely wanted to have this moment before their wedding ceremony. It did not disappoint. Jen tapped Stephen on the shoulder and he wispered sweet words to her. They glowed. Not pictured here? Kaitlynn quietly crying about 15 feet behind the camera. 

 
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When we began planning the ceremony, Jen had one request: wine barrels. We used the beautiful weeping willow on the lawn to anchor the ceremony space, with gorgeous arrangements topped on wine barrels marking the entry to the aisle. Jen snuck away during hair and makeup to get a peak at the ceremony set-up where she exclaimed "my barrels!". The best kind of moment as a planner.  

Meanwhile, Jen's cousin sweetly serenaded guests as they were seated for the ceremony. Bluewater Kings Band played Tenerife Sea as the processional began, the sun shining down with a steady and warm glow. Then Jen walked down the aisle. More tears were shed by Kaitlynn and Emma.  

 
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Jen and Stephen's close college friend delivered one of the most touching and heartfelt ceremonies, filled with stories of their developing love and commitment to one another. J+S spoke personal vows to one another, more happy tears came. One of our favorite moments? Jen + Stephen comparing notes on their vows as soon as they made their way up the aisle. 

 
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After capturing some truly gorgeous newlywed portraits and shedding a few more of the happiest tears, it was time to get the party underway. Bluewater Kings Band kicked off cocktail hour with a jazz trio while guests enjoyed a serious spread from Matter of Taste and played lawn games. 

 
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Guests made their way under the gorgeous sailcloth tent for dinner where bistro lights created the most romantic ambiance. Tables were adorned with cement urns filled with beautifully untamed herbs - creating a unique centerpiece that varied from table to table. 

 
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After the family-style dinner service concluded, guests gathered around the dance floor to enjoy the most special of dances among family members. 

 
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Jen + Stephen walked down to the lakeside to snap a few last pictures before the sun started to set while guests snagged a piece of pie created with love by the women at Sweetie-licious. Later in the night, we'd surprise guests with a late night snack of pizza and ice cream from Moomers. And who doesn't love a little ice cream and pizza after dancing the night away? 

 
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Bluewater Kings Band kicked off their first set of the night and guests poured onto the brick-paver alfresco dance floor. It was the start of an epic four hour dance party that demanded an encore (or two)!

 
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The night ended with the most spectacular fireworks show right over the lake. You Make My Dreams Come True echoed from the back yard of A Matter of Taste as Jen + Stephen rowed away from their wedding guests (yup, that navy rowboat from earlier photos was actually their getaway transportation). It was a joy-filled evening that we're sure guests won't forget anytime soon. The perfect way to spend a summer night in Northern Michigan, if you ask us. 

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Planning + Design: A Lovely Day // Bride's Dress: Becker's Bridal // Groom's Tuxedo: The Black Tux // Hair and Makeup: Memorable Occasions // Bridesmaid Dresses: BHLDN //  Venue: A Matter of Taste at Tapawingo // Ceremony + Reception Entertainment: Bluewater Kings Band // Catering: A Matter of Taste  // Linens: Linen Hero // Florals: Stems and Sprigs  // Pies: Sweetie-licious // Photography: Cory Weber // Sailcloth Tent & Rentals: Monstrey MacDonald