By Shelby Ferguson
Planning a wedding in northern Michigan is truly unique. While I’m not necessarily what you might call a world traveler, I don’t really think there’s another place quite like it. The crystal waters of Lake Michigan, the rows of pristine grape vines, the hills and the valleys, the waves crashing on the white sandy shores, the dune grass, the autumn array of colors, the charming waterside towns and summer’s unceasing display of watercolor sunsets are just a few of my favorite reasons to love this region.
So it really comes as no surprise that so many couples opt to marry here. It’s magical and nostalgic with endless possibilities from the rustic to the refined. One of the most common things I hear as I sit down with a couple planning their Northern Michigan nuptials is how they want to capture the Northern Michigan style and share the essence of what makes it so special with their guests. Which leads me to the question, what is Northern Michigan style?
With so much of the state being surrounded by water, it’s really no wonder that water has such a great impact on our way of life. From tug boats, to yachts to the sails boats with their masts proudly raised high – there’s a magical power to the water and it captivates the audience of both locals and visitors alike. The cool color palettes, the gauzy look of an old fish net and the reflection of a sparkling summer sun across the mirror like water surface all provide the perfect source of style inspiration.
If you’re from any part of Michigan, there’s a pretty good possibility that you either had a place or knew someone who had a place “up north”. It was the summer getaway and your weekend escape. Work and fussy details don’t follow you here and there once was even a time that cell service was practically obsolete and wi-fi barely existed. While progress has slowly crept into Michigan’s northern regions, it’s still a place where life can slow down. Emails don’t have to be answered in an instant and front porch sitting is a favorite pastime. For this reason, life just seasons a little simpler and styles, venues and décor choices seem to reflect this. I find most couples telling me they want a wedding reflecting the Michigan vibe are seeking this laid back atmosphere to their day.
It’s agriculturally rich.
Fresh produce stands. Rows of wildflowers. Wine, cider and other indulgent beverages are a plenty. There are so many growers and cultivators of the earth. And of course the fisheries too. During the summer, one can practically live on the land. As you’re planning a wedding, this is such an easy way to pay tribute to the area, feeding your guests cherries and asparagus, serving beer brewed with local hops and carrying a big bouquet of homegrown flowers.
I jokingly once told my husband that Leelanau is what you get when you mix a high class yacht club with a bunch of hippie farmers. While it was said in jest, I think there is some truth within that which you can spread across the area. There’s an organic, earthy vibe that fills the air brought by generations of farmers who know the land. It’s a mix of humble farmland, rolling hills and carpets of ferns. All who visit seem to truly appreciate the harvest. There’s a sophistication and love of the water. There’s much rustic and cottage inspired design. Pulling all of these details together in a way that represents what you love about being up north is what makes each wedding truly unique. I think this is Northern Michigan style.
Shelby is lead wedding planner, artistic director and floral heart behind The Day's Design. She delights in celebrating romantic, natural and fancy free occasions throughout Northern & West Michigan. When she's away from her design work, you'll find her at home with her hubby and two beautiful baby girls, daydreaming along the shores of Lake Michigan, strolling through local antique stores, picking wildflowers or blogging more about wedding and life adventures at The Day's Dream blog.