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Karen & Dave's detail of Michigan Made Thatcher's cocktails was a sweet personal touch.

From the bride:

"Dave and I met when the event marketing agency I worked for was hired to plan a launch event for Thatcher’s. Being from Michigan and a typical Chicago self-proclaimed foodie (only meaning I LOVE to eat and drink) I fell in love with the brand and concept of Thatcher’s immediately. After a successful launch Dave invited me to dinner at Longmen and Eagle to celebrate a great event on behalf of the brand. Nine months later we were on our first “real” date. 

Thatcher’s is a culinary inspired line of USDA certified organic spirits distilled in Michigan and we really wanted our wedding to reflect the amazing product that brought us together. We also were very particular about the food and drink and where it would be sourced. We wanted Michigan products to be reflected not only with Thatcher’s but in all of the food and beverage we served."

- Karen

Please join us next week for another fab Northern Michigan Real Wedding!
Please click here to view the entire wedding gallery and click here to see Karen & Dave's Real Wedding feature.


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The year before Kim and Mark said I do, they had been to many weddings for their friends. All lovely of course, but by being guests at all the previous weddings they discovered that they wanted to offer their guests something more; an experience. Both the bride and the groom are from Texas but the bride's parents were originally from Michigan before heading south after college. They had been coming back to Northern Michigan for many years in the summers to enjoy what we all know and feel are the best summers in the world. When Mark popped the question and Kim said yes, the planning began with a vision of having an intimate wedding at their summer home and showing their friends and family from Texas that Michigan does not disappoint.

The wedding inspiration was blended with the lush wooded surroundings of the home and the majesty of the water just steps away. Guests joined the couple as witnesses to their love on the beach. Simple and elegant bamboo chairs with paddle programs greeted each guest held by rocks that the families were collecting the morning before the big day. They enjoyed cocktails on the lawn which was filled with comfy lounge seating featuring bright blue colors and tangerine tones including custom pillows with an homage to the couple's beloved golden retriever who was back home and vintage wooden boats that they loved.

Dinner was in a separate tent on the side lawn. One of the passions the couple and their families have is good food and great wine and when you can't take everyone to a restaurant, they decided to bring the restaurant to them. They designed an open kitchen dining tent where guests ate, drank and were merry over six courses prepared on site just on the other side of the counter from them. The ambiance was just what Kim and Mark were hoping for: toasts, laughter and full bellies.

Be sure to check back on Wednesday for more Suttons Bay MI wedding details from this event, and click HERE to see the full gallery.

Catering:Epicure Catering / Event Floral: Amy Kate Designs Music: Ceremony,Cocktail Musicians: Younce Brothers / Music: Reception Music: Nick Carver Band/ Officiant:Mason Randall / Photographer: Jen Kroll Photography / Rentals: Special Events Rental / Stationery: Gweneth Paige / Venue: Private Residence/ Event Planning & Design: A Day in May Event Planning &  Design / Invitations: Paper Moss / Day of Stationery: A Day in May Event Planning & Design


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Aimee and Benjamin's Mediterranean-inspired wedding food was a rustic, delicious element of the event. The focus of the appetizers was charcuterie, as per Benjamin's request.  Pancettta and coppa were served, along with venison lonza. Grilled artichokes, local goat cheese stuffed pappedew peppers, marinated gigante beans, olives, and handmade crackers from 9 Bean Rows all served as lovely accompaniments. Succulent braised lamb shank with local fried garlic, served on Michigan white beans from Carlson-Arbogast Farm, graced the entree menu. The lamb also came from a fantastic local farm, S & S Lamb. Our climate in Northern Michigan really lends itself to Mediterranean food, so this menu was a perfect choice for a Leelanau County wedding.

Be sure to check back on Monday for another fantastic Northern Michigan wedding.

Click here to see the full gallery. You can view Aimee & Benjamin's Real Wedding feature here.

My Lovely North: Home Grown Cocktails

As mentioned in last week's post, I knew that I wanted to begin my search for the perfect signature cocktail for our Home Coming/House Warming party. I'm not exactly a connoisseur of finely mixed cocktails, but I know what I like when I like it, and I figure that can help me along my way!

During a stay in Grand Rapids this past winter, I had tried some sort of Strawberry, Basil cocktail. I'm unsure of the specific alcohol used, although whatever it was, was far surpassed by the incredibly fresh strawberries and muttled basil. Remembering this incredible flavor, I decided this where I should start my search.

I found a fresh bunch of basil from our local Farmer's Market and a few select strawberries from my small garden. I had a bottle of L Mawby Detroit conveniently chilled in our fridge and thought it would be a perfect pair. Although I don't own a mortar and pestle, *note to self*, I was able to lightly chop and mash the strawberries. Placing the strawberry into the glasses, I tore a couple of basil leaves, and while dropping into my glasses, pressed them into the strawberries to get the flavors fusing. I poured my Detroit over the mixture and toped with a slice of strawberry and a large basil leaf.

Letting sit for about 15 minutes, I let everything sit together for a while in hopes that it would pop the tastes a bit. And boy did it work! I found that at first the strawberry is extremely strong in smell, and the basil in taste, whereas upon taking a sip, the mixture truly complimented the sparkling detroit. Although I did love this cocktail, it's not quite as 'light' as what I'm looking for, so perhaps I'll head towards the sangria route!

Stay tuned next week to see what I wrestle up for Pieter's homecoming!!

A HUGE thank you to my amazing friend Betsy for our Mr & Mrs rocks glasses wedding gift!

Ask the Expert: Ian Sterling | Master Mixologist

One of the first things that arise in the discussion of wedding planning is, of course, the bar. The bar is often the focal point of an event and deserves thoughtful consideration in terms of what will be offered and how it will be served. I recently had a chance to interview master mixologist and bartender extraordinaire Ian Sterling about the nuances of a well stocked event bar.

How long have you been tending bar and what is your beverage of choice?

Over twenty years now, can't believe it!  CHAMPAGNE! Beverage choice for me is always based on food, mood and weather. My tendency is to go for beverages (alcohol or not) that are acidic and clean.

Beer and wine are sometimes the only alcoholic beverages offered at a wedding. If this is the case, how many different varieties of each do you recommend offering? Should the beer be bottled or keg?

Wine: Dry Sparkling, New World Chardonnay, Old World Pinot Blanc, Small amount of Riesling, New World Cabernet, Cote du Rhone. Beer: Brown ale, Domestic Lager, Small amount of Non-Alcoholic beer. I prefer kegs with a coil system for beer for a couple different reasons. Easier to setup, use less ice, less cooler space required, cost effective. Bottles can always be added if necessary.

How does the addition of spirits effect the aforementioned variety, and what are the standard (although we know nothing is standard in the wedding industry!) spirits offered at a wedding bar?

Obviously introducing spirits will drop your pars on beer and wine. The varietals I mentioned are basic and will cover most tastes.  Standard Spirits: Vodka, Flavored Vodka, Spiced Rum, White Rum, Gin (small amount if at all), Whiskey. Most of the events I serve run 2nd tier spirits mixed in with some 1st tier (well) spirits. Absolut, Sky Flavored (raspberry, blood orange, citrus), Captain Morgan, Cruzan Light, Tanguray, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels. Vodka usually "sells" 5 to 1 of everything else. Vodka Soda in the summer is popular. Spiced rum is popular. Tequila is probably not necessary unless you are going to use it for Margarita's or signature drinks. I like have a inexpensive bottle of Amaretto to cover the those craving sweet. Triple Sec, Roses Lime, Grenadine, Dry/Sweet Vermouth for Martini's.

Certainly there are a lot of factors that effect the outcome, but how does one calculate the amount of beer, wine and spirits that are needed for a party?

It's amazing how much the bride and groom know about their crowd. Spending a small amount of time discussing their friends, family and co-workers is a huge asset in deciding quantities. It's a percentage game.

Hours the bar will be open, season, age demographic, venue and multiple bars all hold weight when deciding quantities. Beer is pretty straight forward. Knowing how many beers in each size barrel can give you a rough estimate of what you'll use. Liquor and wine can be estimated as well provided you have experienced staff behind the bar. Hiring a seasoned professional will keep the bar on track, anticipate needs and make sure the guests have a good time.

Are there any items you would avoid offering? Why?

Super Labor intensive Drinks. Muddling Herbs can slow service especially if your party is 100 or more guests. Also,post ceremony tray passed sparkling wine. Offer a specialty drink instead. Most tray passed sparkling wine is wasted either because the guest does not want it or it gets warm. Order a nice Italian Prosecco and offer it at the bar. You'll go through less product.

What is your best piece of advice for engaged couples when planning and purchasing for the bar?

Keep it simple and have faith that what ever you offer you friends will be pleased. Also, try to avoid multiple bars. If you are having a big wedding one large bar will be more efficient in terms of Labor and opened product for which you may be charged.

Do you have a favorite cocktail to make? To drink?

To Make: Leelanau Lemonades or a top shelf Margarita because most everyone smiles on the first sip. To drink would be a really good Side Car.