Real Wedding: Ashley & Jonathan

Ashley and Jonathan's wedding could not have been more beautiful. They got married in Boyne Falls, outside, on a gorgeous sunny day. Their celebration was full of DIY rustic touches and fun details, such as mini BLT appetizers and individual key lime pie desserts. And just wait until you read the sincere thank you Ashley wrote to all the vendors who helped make her vision come to life!

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From Ashley: Jonathan and I were living in NYC when we met through mutual friends at a Christmas party. He grew up in Manhattan and went to school in Philadelphia, I grew up in Michigan and went to school in Arizona, so when we got engaged the biggest decision was...where? We had a specific vision for what our wedding would be and our number one priority was choosing a meaningful location. I grew up spending summers in northern Michigan and took Jonathan there to meet my family shortly after we started dating. That weekend was the first time he told me he loved me, and in the 6+ years we've been together it has been a place of nothing but happy memories. It became even more sentimental after my father passed away in 2012, because it was one of his favorite places to be. Getting there is not easy and given that all of our guests would be traveling, the reaction of most was ... "You're making me fly to Michigan?" But we knew once they were there it would be worth it.  

Our vision for the wedding was an intimate natural setting that didn’t feel like a wedding factory. We came across photos Cory Weber shot of a wedding at a private home in Boyne Falls, and the folks at Weber were nice enough to put us in contact with the owner. Turns out she was in the process of preparing her property to rent out for weddings and events so we visited and booked without looking any further. My family had a cottage in Boyne growing up, so it seemed too good to be true. 

We wanted our guests to experience not just a wedding day but a weekend in Northern Michigan. Most stayed at Bay Harbor and were able to enjoy the lake and downtown Petoskey. On the wedding day we shuttled everyone to Boyne on buses from By The Bay Transportation. 

Being a Graphic Designer and Art Director I'm a bit of an aesthetic control freak. The first decision I made was our photographer, Tec Petaja. He shoots film, has an amazing eye and when you look at weddings he has photographed you feel like you were there. I wanted someone who would capture the authentic moments of our day, and he did not disappoint! As a bonus, he lives in Nashville but is from the area and appreciates it as much as we do. 

We knew we wanted to hire a videographer but as the necessities were booked it fell out of our budget. The guys at This Is Practical were amazing and worked with me to come up with a plan that fit our needs. They filmed the whole day and gave me the footage so that I could edit myself to save the cost of those hours. They did an absolutely beautiful job, and one of my top recommendations to brides is to do video; the weekend flies by and being able to watch it back is truly priceless. 

Having an outdoor wedding on private property means you bring everything in, and when we started calling rental companies I felt discouraged. We wanted our decor to feel inspired by the venue: natural, rustic and the perfect balance of casual and elegant. Most companies seemed to have the same options and nothing felt unique. So what we couldn't find, we bought (silverware, napkins, runners, miscellaneous decor) or had made (the ceremony arbor), which is not as extravagant as it sounds when you get resourceful and creative. 

We found wood from old barns that had been knocked down and made all of our signage, and bought chalkboards with coupons from Hobby Lobby for menus. My mom and aunt sourced vintage mismatched silverware and coordinated each and every place setting to be the perfect mix of patterns. We searched all of Michigan for farm tables before connecting with Ben at Fancy Fray who had just started building 20 of them. We called every rental company in Michigan to find chairs that looked rustic. ("Those old ones you have in the garage that you don't even advertise? Yes, that's exactly what we're looking for.)" Linens for our serving and cocktail tables came from La Tavola in California, which we assumed would be over budget but was comparable to some of the options we found locally. My advice to brides is to make as many phones calls and do as much research as you can, because these days there are no limits to your options. We also had a number of rental companies interested in expanding their assortment because we insisted that updated options would be worth the investment. I was able to sell most of what I purchased to our vendors. You never know until you ask!

Jen Haf at Bloom Floral Design in Petoskey was our florist and so much more. We immediately connected and she really made sure she understood our style and vision. She was reassuring about the ability to pull it all off in an unconventional venue and went above and beyond to partner with us on decor choices and coordination with other vendors. We went with a neutral palette that beautifully complemented the venue; lots of greens and textures arranged organically. We mixed wooden boxes with interesting small vases in different materials, and did tons of simple votives for candlelight. Jen also worked with the caterer to decorate the food display with mixed vases of leftover flowers from our welcome party on Friday night. If you find a vendor that you really connect with don't be afraid to ask them if they can help you in other aspects beyond what they do. These people have worked on hundreds of events, seen it all and therefore are your best resource. 

We talked to a number of caterers who warned us about the complexities and costs of serving food at an outdoor location, and at one point considered pulling the plug because it seemed like too much. Dan Kelly on the other hand told us we could drop him in the middle of a corn field and he'd be able to feed 500 people. He helped us build a unique and non-traditional menu for the cocktail hour and dinner buffet that included things like grilled cheese bites with tomato soup, mini BLT's, local whitefish, a baked potato bar and fresh veggies. The food display was important to me and Dan was incredibly accommodating, allowing us to provide dishes and serving pieces of our own even though they all weren't the most functional. Boyne County Provisions helped us complement the vibe with a mix of wine, liquor and craft Michigan beers. We weren't interested in the traditional things like bouquet toss or wedding cake, and instead opted for individual key lime pies for dessert from our favorite local cafe. 

We exchanged hand-written vows under a custom made arbor and were married by a dear family friend, which made our ceremony special and personal. Our music was simple and beautiful, played by a Spanish Guitarist, and two of my cousins sang a song together. One of my favorite parts of the day was hearing speeches from my Mom, MOH and our best man. Later in the night our caterer served grilled pizzas and guests warmed up by the bonfire with s'mores and sparklers after the sun went down. Our band played mostly Motown and we danced until 1am.

Photography: Tec Petaja / Videography: This is Practical / Ceremony & Reception Venue: Double K Estate / Floral Design: BLOOM Floral / Bride's Dress: Monique L'huillier / MOH Dress: Joanna August / Stationary Suite: Ashley Meyers Design / Farm Tables: Fancy Fray / Linens: Bride & La Tavola / Reception Chairs: RentalEX / Ceremony Chairs: GJ's / Tent & Dishes: Rental Express / Make-up: Mari at Talulu / Hair: Sara Birnbaum / Day of Coordination: A Moment in Time / Catering: Catering by Kelly's / Band: Soul Xpress / Ceremony Music: Music by Gael / Bar: Boyne County Provisions

Look for more of Ashley's DIY details in tomorrow's post!