Rachelle and Kevin are beautiful people inside and out. This engagement shoot shines with joy, love, and happiness. Not only that but it shows off some of our Northern Michigan landscapes at their best - the peace, the serenity, and the breathtaking natural beauty. Rachelle and Kevin were married here in Northern Michigan just a few short weeks ago and we can't wait to see their wedding photographs. Thank you Weber Photographers for sharing this amazing couple and enchanting shoot with us!
Hi, we're Brittany and Devin Smith, a husband and wife wedding photography team who are as equally passionate about your marriage as we are about your wedding day. We believe that marriage is a big deal and we love celebrating this season of life with our couples.
How did you get into the wedding industry?
We kinda stumbled into wedding photography. Brittany started the business first after graduating from University of Michigan with an engineering degree that she didn't love. Her mom bought her a camera as a graduation gift and the rest is history. It's kinda funny how we lay out our plans but the Lord determines our steps. We know we're exactly where we're supposed to be, serving and celebrating our fabulous couples.
How would you describe your style?
We're always going for natural and authentic. Our goal is to capture your wedding day in the most true-to-life way possible. From the 'poses' to the finished product - we want to provide you with your first family heirloom to cherish for generations to come (without wondering why your photos look too trendy :)).
What is your favorite part of a wedding?
Hands down the relationships. We truly believe that the wedding day itself is the culmination of a beautiful season of life. We love that weddings are celebrating the commitment a bride and groom are making to spend the rest of their lives together, but they are also the celebration of lots of other beautiful relationships. You have spent months bonding with your mom, sister, grandma, and bridesmaids over every little detail. Your families have gathered from near and far and your grandparents are so pumped to have everyone together. Life is all about relationships and weddings bring out the best of them.
What are some of your favorite trends from this wedding season?
Natural florals. I love that we've moved away from perfectly round balls of flowers and have put more emphasis on flowers in their natural state. I think they're especially complimentary to the beautiful, natural backdrops of northern Michigan - and really compliment the photos. Sometimes we underestimate the flowers, but they are one of the few choices you'll make that end up being in the majority of the photos.
What advice do you have for couples about choosing a photographer?
When you actually sit down and start thinking about your wedding day timeline you'll notice that you end up spending more time with your photographer than anyone else - even more than with your new spouse! Your wedding day is such an intimate time - be sure you're choosing a photographer whom you feel comfortable inviting into that sacred space. As photographers we never take that invitation lightly.
How far in advance should a couple look into booking your services?
Our wedding coverage always includes an engagement session, so we'd love to start working with you right away to get beautiful engagement photos for you to use. We usually end up being one of the earliest vendors you'll choose.
What advice do you have for couples about the planning process?
We believe that relationships are built and strengthened during the engagement season. All the time you spend with your mom choosing centerpieces, with your grandmas and aunts at the showers, with your maids at the Bachelorette extravaganza, and with your new mother-in-law doing whatever you've entrusted her with - this is where the memories are made and where the foundation for the rest of your lives is being laid. Lean into that. Yes, the details of the wedding day are important, but remember, it's about more too. Spend this time pouring into what matters and enjoy it for all it is - the beginning of a beautiful life together.
What do you love about Northern Michigan?
We both grew up spending summers at the lake and winters on the ski slopes. In our opinions, there's nowhere more beautiful than up north. We love boat rides, early morning ski club, late night campfires and s'mores, 4-wheeling through the woods, and spontaneously jumping in the lake with our clothes on! But what we love most about northern Michigan are the people. To us, up north means our favorite people and our favorite memories together.
by Celia Mulder
The other night I was out celebrating one of my friend's engagements. Her now fiancee popped the question on New Year's but it took us a few weeks for our schedules to sync up and allow us to get together. I was, of course, beyond excited for her. This engagement was a long time coming and it was finally here! We toasted champagne and oohed over her sparkly diamond.
Once the excitement calmed down (a bit), she fixed me with a serious look and said, "But, what do I do now?"
I knew what she meant. Now that she was engaged, how does one go about planning the actual wedding? What are the first steps? It's a common assumption that engaged couples start by picking a date but there are actually a few couple of decisions to make first. As I talked this through with my friend, I came up with this handy little list of the things do to before setting a date .
1. Celebrate! A lot. Call your parents, go out with your friends, make sure Grandma knows. Bask in the excitement because the next months of planning are going to be busy.
2. Sit down with your fiancee and decide what both of your must haves are for your wedding. Do you absolutely want to get married in the spring? Have you always dreamed of a beach ceremony? Or a huge cathedral wedding with everyone you know? Is it important to your fiancee that you get married near their family cottage or in their hometown? This will help you determine if a certain place or season is important to one or both of you and help you get an idea of where and when you have your wedding.
3. Determine your budget. Before you start looking at fairy tale venues with huge rental fees, figure out a budget that works for you both. Are your families contributing? How much? It's an awkward conversation to have but an important one to do early on. Your budget determines everything from your dress to your vendors, even to the time of year you get married (some venues have off season wedding discounts). You need to know if mom and dad are pitching in or if you'll be footing the bill.
4. Figure out a guest count. You don't have to know exactly who's getting an invite but a rough idea of how many guests you'll have will greatly influence your venue options. Most venues (particularly indoor venues with limited space) have a max number of people they can fit and going over that number can make for a squished, uncomfortable experience for your guests.
5. If you're going to hire a full-coordination wedding planner, this is the time to do it. You have an idea of when and where you want to get married, what your budget is, and how many people you're inviting. Wedding planners can take this information and help you find the perfect venue to fit your requirements and vision.
6. If you don't hire a wedding planner, now is the time to start looking for venues. Remember to have a couple of dates in mind, even if you're looking a year in advance. Venues, especially popular ones, book far in advance and your first choice may be taken. Also remember to bring along your list of must haves and ask lots of questions about what the venue does or doesn't allow. Maybe you want to have a cigar bar but one of your potential venues has a no smoking policy. You'd want to know that before you hire someone to handroll cigars at the reception.
Congratulations on your engagement! I hope this list helps you transition smoothly from the "I'm getting married! What do I do?" phase into the planning phase.
Celia Mulder is the editorial director for Simply Blue Weddings and an event coordinator with Sincerely, Ginger Event Design & Production. When she is not immersing herself in weddings she writes comedy romance novels, makes terrariums, and works on her multitude of creative projects. She loves the moment at a wedding when the bride first sees her vision come to life.
I've been lucky enough to recently join the Simply Blue team in hopes of bringing to you the step-by-step process of a bride planning her wedding in Northern Michigan.
But before this all begins, before the planning and stress and excitement, I'd like to take a moment to introduce myself, my fiance, and my plans.
I'm a true northern Michigan gal. I was born in Traverse City and haven't gotten that certain 'bug to leave' that most Northern Michiganders tend to come down with. I love everything about Traverse City and surrounding area. From cruising the winding, tree-canopied roads that cut through the thick woods of Glen Arbor, to the seemingly limitless horizon seen from across the vast vineyards of any winery on Old Mission. Peninsula to peninsula, I love it all. These places also encompass my meeting of Pieter.
Although Pieter is not from Northern Michigan directly, his journey from Grandville, Michigan, brought him here to attend the Great Lakes Maritime Academy where we met in the fall semester of 2006, in a library. He told stories, I laughed, and our friendship was truly a bond. But after a couple years, we drifted apart. It wasn’t until November of 2009 that a chance reconnection arose, when we decided to meet for a couple of beers in Grand Rapids, where I was attending Kendall College of Art and Design and he was visiting for the holidays. It didn’t take much to remember why we had been friends for so long.
The holidays came and went and our friendship continued to strengthen. In May of 2010 we realized we held deeper feelings for each other. We dated until March of 2011, when Pieter took his first job after graduation as a 3rd Mate on a Great Lakes ship. Although we were unsure of how long he would be gone, we both felt it was a great opportunity, and so he left. He was gone for 112 days and we only saw each other for about two weeks of that entire time period. To say it was rough would be like saying Captain Crunch only SORT of shreds your mouth to pieces. The rough patches faded, and soon the countdown ran its course. His arrival home not only meant that he'd be mine again for at least a month (his allotted time off) but also that we could continue our relationship like 'normal' people.
He was home for only ten days when he decided to ask me on a full-day-date; we would do everything we loved to do in Traverse. On the morning of Wednesday, July 13th, we woke up, jumped on our tandem and headed out. We headed to Espresso Bay to grab coffee and sped to the Farmers’ Market to make sure we’d get the good scones. After taking most of the day pretty lazily (the best way to spend a Traverse City summer day), Pieter mentioned going to dinner. I chose Amical, but first, Pieter insisted we go to Left Foot Charley's for a glass of my favorite cider: Cinnamon Girl. We arrived, once again on tandem, at Amical for our 7 o’clock reservation. We enjoyed a delicious dinner, as you can only expect from the incredible menu, on the patio. *I’d like to take a moment to say how oblivious I was all day, because Pieter is just this sweet and thoughtful on every other day.* After dinner I suggested we watch the sunset at Clinch Marina.
After leading me up past the path to a grassy area, my confusion wasn’t attributed to why we were off the path, but to why Pieter didn’t realize I was wearing heels. Grass and heels… do not mix. My oblivious state continued as he turned his back on the glittering bay, faced me, and whispered into my ear that I ‘would always be his home’. (Once again, Pieter’s always sweet...I was epitome of clueless). It wasn’t until he knelt down onto one knee that I truly grasped what was happening.
This moment that I experienced, that so many couples experience in their own way, will always be held so close to my heart. I think I’ll forever remember exactly how the wind felt against my cheek as we cried and kissed and cried and laughed and cried a little more. I'm engaged... and I can't wait for the future.
Oh, and yes, the ring looks amazing with every outfit.
Photos courtesy of Alicia Magnuson