My Lovely North: Home Sweet North

After your honeymoon tan has worn off, your gifts are all unpackaged and you’ve settled into married life, ideas start to cross your mind as to what’s the next step. Some couples are content in their current flow and others begin to look towards change. For some, a baby may be on the radar and for other couples like Pieter and myself; a new home is the next star on our horizon. Interest rates are at an all-time low and the list of available houses is quickly dwindling. Our first concern in purchasing became location, and so our search began.

There’s no question that we live in one of the most beautiful places in the planet. My favorite locations within Northern Michigan are Traverse City proper, Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula. Within these three locations, there’s always such variety in both home style and neighborhood range. Downtown Traverse offers beautiful, older homes, Old Mission Peninsula provides the homes surrounded by vineyards and rolling scenery, while Leelanau Peninsula boasts spectacular views of West Bay and perfect woodland settings. There are seemingly unlimited options to say the least!

Along with choosing your location, when deciding to live in Northern Michigan your list of must-haves should quickly be hammered out, as well as your flexibility with those must-haves. For Pieter and myself, our must-haves included location, 3 bedrooms, 1+ bath, a garage and a yard. We were willing to substitute a garage for a lower price and/or yard – what can be built simply needs the space, right? So all in all, you could say that our must-have list was a bit flexible.

Once your must-haves list is set and your pre-approval is taken care of, find yourself a good realtor! We absolutely love, love, LOVE Linda Schaub with Real Estate One, and couldn’t be happier to recommend her. She helped my brother and sister-in-law find their dream home and fell nothing short of amazing in helping us through this process.

One important lesion was learned through Linda is that in our Northern Michigan area with the low interest rates, there are currently fewer homes than there are buyers, so hop to it! Buying a home may not be on the horizon for all of you beautifully newly-wedded couples, but if it is, I wish you the best in all of your home-hunting endeavors, and will keep you all posted on our hunt for the perfect home!

This fabulous map creation can be purchased here on Etsy

Real Wedding: Jenn & Jonathan, Traverse City, MI

The thing that stands out the most in this week's Real Wedding is how fresh and natural it feels.  To complement the beautiful end-of-the-summer day for their wedding, Jenn and Jonathan added their own natural touches to both their beach ceremony and Brengman Brothers Crain Hill Vineyard reception. We love the different containers they used to display the gorgeous hydrangeas!  The traditional flower pots, silver bowls, and wooden crates helped to pull off a unique, natural, and clean look. Head on over to the Real Weddings page to see the photo gallery from Jenn & Jonathan's wedding.  Be sure to see below, for all the talented vendors that took part in their big day.

Photo by Dan Stewart Photography

Bride’s Dress: Allure Bridal from To Have and To Hold / Bride’s Cowboy Boots: Square Deal Country Store / Bridesmaid Dresses: Ella’s Boutique / Groom & Groomsmen Suit & Ties: J Crew / room & Groomsmen Shirts: Jos A Bank / Groom & Groomsmen Suspenders: Captains Quarters / Preparation Location: Private Cottage / Ceremony Location: Family Rental Cottage / Reception Location: Brengman Brothers – Crain Hill Vineyard / Hair & Makeup: Style North Salon / Flowers: Mother of the Bride / Caterer: Grandview Catering / Cake: Potter’s Bakery / DJ: Mickey Walker / Transportation: Celtic Shuttle / Photographer: Dan Stewart Photography / Photo Booth: Motion Booth / Party Favors: Murdicks Fudge

Out and About: Left Foot Charley

Traverse City has become a mecca for the local agricultural industry. As a community, we've welcomed our local farmers, chefs and brewers with open, and might I add eager, arms. With wineries being an abundant destination option, Left Foot Charley adds a simple, yet decadent spin with their luscious hard ciders.

LFC prides themselves on three beautiful ciders: Classic Hard Cider, Ginger Hard Cider and my personal favorite Cinnamon Girl - a beautiful spicy blend Michigan apples and Sumatra Cinnamon. Similar to the always unpredictable weather of true Northern Michigan, LFC's brewers often brew according to what moves them. Experimenting in oak, cinnamon, honey, different yeast, apple blends, carbonating techniques, and fermentation temperatures, the ingredients may change, but their taste and quality is unwavering.

Although Cider and wine is their specialty, they also pride themselves on their beautiful and carefully selected location, gently set amongst creeking oaks behind Building 50 of the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. This location allows LFC a gorgeous space that would be a beautiful choice for a fun engagement photo session or a rehearsal dinner, catering to your individual needs as a couple.

Recently, LFC has been host to the deliciously talented Kristin Karam's Ethnic Eats where for $12 you can enjoy a taste of such food as Cuban, Mexican, Cajun, Indian or Lebanese dishes (along with many more), and your choice of Cider or Wine. Hurry down on Thursday nights from 5-7 to take advantage of this delicious treat, as it's while the food lasts!

SBW Vendor Spotlight: Trattoria Stella

Living in Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties and the surrounding Northern Michigan area, we're lucky to be surrounded by fabulous restaurants, chefs, local wines, homemade pastries, cheeses, etc. (the list could go on and on!).  What if you could combine all of those things into one restaurant and transfer everything that restaurant has to offer to your wedding meal?  You can!

Since opening their doors in the basement of the building previously know as the Traverse City State Hospital, Stella (as we locals refer to it) has been serving up fabulous dishes day after day.  Chef Myles Anton- a 2010 Michigan James Beard Award Nominee- creates a menu that is constantly changing from day to day with a focus on locally sourced ingredients, fresh produce, and homemade bread, cheese and pasta.  The hustle and bustle of the restaurant business only allows Trattoria Stella to accept a limited number of off-site catering events each year.  However, I can speak for the lucky ones in saying that if you book Trattoria Stella as your wedding caterer, you won't be disappointed.  Check out Trattoria Stella under the "Caterer" section of the Vendor Guide.

Photos courtesy of: Studio B. Photography and Jen Kroll Photography

Traverse City Voted Top Foodie City

This past summer, Traverse City added another accolade to its list being voted the Top Foodie City by  The search began with the 200 most livable cities- yes Traverse City was named one of America's Best Places to Live- and then the criteria was considered.  From farmers markets and independently owned restaurants to quality of life and cost of living, Traverse City reigns when it comes to "foodies [flexing] their taste buds". Whether it be the award winning restaurants, wineries, farm markets, dairies, or cherries, Traverse City has something for everyone.  The Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau has certainly done their part by creating the Tasty Traverse Self Guided Foodie Tour which touches on locations in both Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties.  The WOMP and LPVA websites are great places to start for those wishing to try the local libations.

The opportunities are endless when it comes to the places your taste buds may take you, but in my opinion its the unlisted locations that are the true foodie finds.  As if you need any more options, here are a few of my favorites (all located in Traverse City):

Trattoria Stella - 1200 W Eleventh Street - (231) 929-8989

Located in the basement of the historic building previously known as the Northern Michigan Asylum, Stella- as we locals refer to it- embodies the farm-to-table philosophy.  Chef Myles Anton (2010 James Beard Award semi-finalist for "Best Chef, Great Lakes") has cultivated close relationships with local farmers and producers and uses their products daily.  His creative spin on Italian fare and an ever-changing menu has made the restaurant a success since its opening in 2004.  For the bride looking to get married in Northern Michigan, Trattoria Stella caters too!


Amical - 229 East Front Street - (231) 941-8888

Located directly on the famous Front Street with stunning views of West Grand Traverse Bay, Amical is a quaint bistro specializing in European cuisine.  Although the inspiration for their cuisine has evolved since opening in 1994, their food remains just as delicious and their staff just as friendly.  Whether you stop in for lunch on their Front Street patio, for dinner next to the fireplace after a long day's work, or come in on a Sunday for their full menu brunch, you won't be disappointed.


Red Ginger - 237 East Front Street - (231) 944-1733

The newest of my favorite dining venues in Traverse City, Red Ginger opened its doors in November 2007.  Since then, it has made quite the statement.  With their ever-so-successful happy hour from 3:00 pm to 6:30 pm Monday through Saturday and the addition of the outdoor dining area, Red Ginger is only a couple doors down from Amical but couldn't be more different.  Chef Dan Marsh's passion for Asian cuisine is evident and his modern take on classic Asian dishes- think Pad Thai, Bento Boxes, and Sushi- makes Red Ginger a restaurant I keep coming back to.  Soon-to-be brides should consider their Lotus Room- located above the restaurant- as a potential Rehearsal Dinner or Reception location.


Photos courtesy of Trattoria Stella,, Amical,, Red Ginger & Cornerstone Architects