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?

It’s nautical.

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.

It’s simple.

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.

Find about more about Shelby on her websiteblogInstagram, or Facebook!


by Shelby Ferguson

There are advantages to being engaged for both a long and short amount of time.  More time means less hustle and more time to contemplate and explore all of your options.  Less time means more hustle but greater decision making ability, because there’s no time to second guess yourself.

So what if you’re in that first category, what if you have lots of time and are tempted to change your mind once or twice or a hundred time during the planning process.  How do you stick to your plan?

1.  Create a clear and concise vision
Start by figuring out how exactly you want your wedding day to feel. Do you want it to be relaxed?  Elegant? Fun? Surprising?  Pull together a few keywords to use as descriptors for the day.
Next, find images that represent those words and that feeling.  Create a mood board.  The board doesn’t need to be filled with exact replicas of items you want at your wedding but rather images that set the tone for the event.  If a couple of your keywords were colorful and fun, you might add an image of a balloon bouquet.  That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to carry a handful of balloons down the aisle, it’s just representative of those key words.
Once your board is created, make sure every decision you make correlates back to that vision.  Everything should somehow flow with the tone of your mood board.  It will give you an anchor point and hopefully planning won’t go too off course.

2. Choose ideas that represent you
It is really easy to open a magazine or log into Pinterest and instantly be overwhelmed with gorgeous wedding ideas.  From the venue search to dress shopping, the options are really limitless.  To help narrow down those ideas, consider who you are both individually and as a couple.  If you’re a city girl through and through, a barn wedding might not be the right route for you – even if there is a gorgeous barn in your area.  Likewise, if you see a pretty bridal makeup tutorial with crimson red lips and yet you’ve never worn lipstick a day in your life, that might not be the right look for you.  You need to feel natural and relaxed, stretching yourself too far out of the box might sound like a good idea at the time but planning a wedding is already unfamiliar territory, don’t add more stress to yourself.

3. Ask yourself the purpose of said item and/or task
Bear with me a little bit on this one.  If you have to ask why you’re doing something, then you most likely don’t need to do it.  This will help make up your mind on most decisions and eliminate unnecessary ones.  Case and point, if you don’t care that you have a book or sign with every guest’s signature on it – you’re not planning on displaying it on your coffee table, hanging it on your wall or putting it in a keepsake box, then you might not actually need a guest book.  That means you can stop Googling and reading articles on the 20 most popular guest book alternative for 2016.  Don’t stress over details that don’t fit with your overall visions (point 1) or that don’t represent you (point 2).  

4. Stop Shopping
This means Pinteresting too.  Once you find your dress, don’t step into another bridal store.  Once your floral designer is locked in place with a beautiful proposal, stop looking at bouquets.  When you’re a wedding guest at your cousin’s wedding, admire the beauty but don’t compare and start rethinking ideas.  Just because it was beautiful and well thought out, that doesn’t mean that its right for you so don’t ask her where she found her linens or charger plates (head back to point 2, again).

5. Don’t focus on wedding trends
This is pretty much me circling up to point 2, yet again.  Trends in the wedding industry change really quickly.  If you’re engaged 1 ½ years, that’s potentially 2 wedding seasons worth of ideas that you’ve seen.  So in order to save yourself from some of the madness, delete the trends from your brain.  Focus solely on yourself and your relationship.  Just because gold and rose gold are really hot right now, doesn’t mean you have to use them if you’ve always been a silver girl.  Focus on design aspects that you’ve always loved.  For me, robin’s egg blue has been my go to favorite color since I was 14 and I still love wearing clothing in shades of aqua, adding pops of duck egg into my home and of course a little Tiffany’s box will always make my heart pitter patter.   For me, that’s timeless and part of who I am.  Stick to those same principles and it less likely for you wedding to feel outdated before it actually takes place. 


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.

Find about more about Shelby on her website, blog, Instagram, or Facebook!

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!


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! 

My Lovely North: Handsome Valentine

For me, Valentine's Day has never really been my favorite Holiday. Yes, it's certainly one of the only that's directly in celebration of our love for one another (which I'm always a cheerleader for!), but I've never truly celebrated it with enthusiasm. Having celebrated the majority of my Valentine's Days blissfully unaware, cynically single or separated from my love by his work on the oceans, I never truly 'look forward' to this love-peppered Holiday, but this year proved new, exciting and very, very special. Feeling a little under the weather a fancy anything hadn't come to mind in celebrating our Valentine's, let alone being romanced over a lovely candle-lit dinner, but Pieter was preparing for just that.

Pieter has always been an extremely sweet and thoughtful person so every day truly holds a reminder of why I love him so very much. This past Valentine's he truly pulled out the stops in preparing an incredibly thought out dinner over candles and listening to our favorite tunes. We opened a bottle of wine from our wedding and got down to the prepping! The menu consisted of baked brie & water crackers with honey and blackberry preserves, deviled eggs and spinach salad with strawberries, candied walnuts, goat cheese and raspberry vinaigrette. Having laughed, chatted and helped ourself to the spread before us, we quickly realized it was a lot of food and just the first half of a whole dinner. We decide to take a couple of hours to enjoy each other's company and start prepping for the main dinner.

After a while of relaxing and cooking, we sat down to very special dinner of Surf and Turf. Pieter had selected a couple of lobsters, small steaks with blue cheese and vegetables. I had actually never had Lobster and rarely eat steak so this was definitely a special occasion. Everything was so beautiful prepared, deliciously tasting and I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with gratitude and love. I snatched up the best one, ladies! This February 14th didn't just make me thankful for my special, handsome Valentine - it made my thankful to be able to celebrate the way we did. I found myself thankful for the roof over our heads, the warm home we've created, the food in front of us and the relationships we've built together. Oh Valentines...you're really quite lovely.