They say it takes a village – and they’re right. On August 24, 2019, I married the love of my life surrounded by our family and friends in northern Michigan, the place where our love began. We were engaged one year prior on August 26, 2018, and while the year of planning was surprisingly fun, I couldn’t have done it without these vendors:
Castle Farms, Charlevoix
I think it’s important to note that your venue is the single most important thing to book first. Venues book up so far in advance that finding the perfect venue that’s available during the month or season you want to get married in can be stressful. I’m glad we found this place when we did. We booked it on September 15, 2018, and while I was looking to do a fall wedding, August 24 was one of the only dates available (and it ended up being the most perfect weather). After booking Castle Farms, we were able to pause on the planning for a few months.
The review: Castle Farms is a pro vendor. They host multiple weddings every weekend almost all year round, and I felt that the second we went there to visit. Their friendly and professional staff showed us around the venue and explained the multiple options of rooms, the two backup rain locations and more. The grounds are stunning with luscious grass and the castle backdrop makes everything look classic.
- Professional, friendly and reliable staff. Very responsive to emails and calls
- Beautiful grounds and multiple options depending on your price point
- Dedicated wedding planner two months out from your wedding and two planners the day of your wedding
- They have many items like chairs and tables and table cloths included in the price and even more for rental
- You can bring in outside alcohol, except wine. You must purchase Castle Farms’ wine and you can do a wine tasting ahead of time to select your choices. We did the Birch White, Rose and Pinot Noir and Champagne for the toast
- The fountain was under construction the day of our wedding. I was really bummed about that given it’s the best focal point of the venue
- During tear down, they charged us extra for the labor in removing these lights over the dance floor. The lights were hung and removed by my dad and dad-in-law and they clearly did all the work…
Arielle Teft Photography
I’m absolutely stunned by the artistic craft of Arielle and her husband. She did our engagement and wedding photos and I just love how she was able to capture moments in a way that never felt staged. See below for some of my favorites:
- Arielle is a true professional. She’s an excellent communicator and kept us informed and updated throughout the entire process.
- She delivered photos when she said she would. (8 weeks after the wedding)
- Her skill is next level. There’s photography, and then there’s what she does which is capture every feeling, emotion and moment so you can relive the most special day of your life over and over again. We are so lucky!
Carriage House Floral Design |Kelsey S. Hendrickson
Floral wasn’t that important to me because I knew I wanted simple and classic. I wanted a floral arch and black centered anemones (until I realized how expensive they were). Kelsey was super helpful with taking my must-haves and compromising elsewhere so that I could stay within my budget. I loved my bouquet and I loved how simple my bridesmaid’s greenery was too.
- She’s accommodating with budget and special requests
- Makes beautiful floral arches, perfect for the castle
- Had vases for the head table’s floral arrangements and allowed me to use them for no extra charge
- Responsive to emails
- She provided a helpful vision board that helped with planning up through the wedding
- She worked until nearly the time of the wedding ceremony, I was nervous that it wouldn’t be ready in time! She was pregnant with no help, so I feel bad just saying that.
- The men’s boutineers looked wilted halfway through the night. It could be the flower, but I noticed it and hope it wasn’t noticed by all!
High Five Spirits
Last disclosure: the owners of High Five Spirits, (Gypsy Vodka, Petoskey Stone Gin and Mackinac Island Rum) are our best friends. They’re one of the reasons Brian and I met, so when we heard that we could bring in outside alcohol, it was a no brainer we would work with them. Adam and Mike also helped us design cool gifts of personalized vodka bottles for our guests! If you’re in Petoskey, Mich. be sure to stop by their tasting room, High Five Spirits and tell them I sent you!
Cakes By Sarah
Full disclosure, Cakes By Sarah is my sister-in-law. She makes the most beautiful cakes and it was a no brainer that she would be making ours. We went with two pink champagne cakes layered with fresh raspberry buttercream and a caramel cake layered with salted caramel buttercream frosted in a traditional swiss meringue buttercream. I’m drooling just thinking about them. Check out her instagram to see the amazing wedding, birthday, anniversary and even smash cakes she’s done.
Our Beauty Pros
MI Day Beauty | Julie and Rylee
I obviously wanted to look my best for the big day, and to be completely honest, beauty pros in northern Michigan are hard to come by. Luckily, I found Julie and Rylee – absolute professionals who did an amazing job at my hair and makeup as well as my bridal party.
- Flexible and accommodating for my trial hair and makeup two months before the wedding
- They did nine girl’s hair and makeup in six hours, I never felt stressed or rushed
- Rylee did such a great job airbrushing the serious acne I had that day – literally the worst acne I’ve ever had. You couldn’t even see it when she was all done
- I was so impressed with Julie’s ability to take everyone’s Pinterest hair inspiration and create it
- The prices were higher than average, but that’s likely due to supply and demand
Joy Abenmode | Men’s Warehouse
I found my dress at Joy Abenmode in Royal Oak, Mich. The designer is LOVA Weddings. I’ve always loved a halter, high neck dress but I would have never imagined that would be the style of my wedding dress. This was about the seventh dress I tried on, and I knew it was the one the moment I put it on. The ladies at Joy Abenmode were so helpful bringing out many styles to try, sinching them with large pliers and celebrating with me when I officially decided on this one.
Brian got his Tux at Men’s Warehouse. Nothing to report here, except that he looked damn good in it.
Our Decor and Rentals:
Good Day Rentals | Lauren Hunter
Lauren is the sister of my best friend. She’s 100% one of the most creative people I know and I love her style. Her wedding was out of this world beautiful and shortly after she got married, she started her own rental business using much of the decor and furniture from her own wedding. Lauren helped me decide on almost all the decor and styling from mixing wood with black and white linen, getting black plates to stand out on the wedding party’s table and more. She has vintage glass, chairs, couches, love seats, milk crates, frames, card boxes, a chandelier and so much more. Her rental company, Good Day Rentals is constantly getting new products, so check her out and see if there’s anything you need for your special event!
Our DJ and Lighting
Encore Event Group
Brian and I both agreed that the venue aside, the DJ was the most important part about our wedding. We’ve become wedding attendee pros over the past two years and if there’s one thing I remember about a wedding it’s the music and how often I was on the dance floor.
All we wanted was to throw a major dance party for our family and friends. We tried really hard to make our “hello rounds” right after dinner because all I wanted to do was dance. We had 4 hours of DJ and it still didn’t feel like enough.
Encore Event Group is based out of Southfield, Mich. Here are some pros and cons we found with working with them:
- They have this website where you can submit your must-plays and your do not plays. That was crucial because we didn’t want to play any songs like the chicken dance, the macarena, cha-cha slide, etc. – and no matter how hard aunt Peggy begged for it, they respected that list!
- Our DJ was high energy and at the same time chill. What I mean by that is he knew it was OUR DAY. He didn’t talk to hear himself talk and only talked in real critical moments like announcing a toast. I think it’s so awkward when DJs and event hosts try too hard to be funny and liked… just play good music and don’t talk!
- We also hired them for some of the lighting, so the up lights and some lights outside. It was nice to combine the services into one vendor like this!
- The system for paying was archaic and we kept getting text and emails that said we needed to pay when we already did. The office manager would send emails at random times in the night and it would only be like half a sentence…
- Because they were not local, we had to pay for their hotels and travel fees. This is pretty normal, but it was something I probably wouldn’t do again and try to hire locally..
Mike Davis Trio
I loved Mike Davis Trio! They were the cutest (in like an old, cute lovely grandpa way). They played whatever we wanted and so we worked with them to play more classical music during the ceremony and then jazz music (our favorite) during the cocktail hour.
What did they play?
- While Guests were arriving: Suite for Solo Cello (J.S. Bach), Air from Water
- Wedding Party Recession: Hallelujah
- Bride song: Canon in D (Pachelbel)
- Recession: Ode to Joy (Beethoven)
- Cocktail hour: anything jazz
Grey Gables catered our wedding rehearsal and it was fabulous! The restaurant is in an old house that sits facing the water and downtown Charlevoix- it’s just gorgeous. A few call-outs and recommendations if you’re thinking about hiring them below.
- They are one of the only high-end dining options in Charlevoix but they are very accommodating and it was overall great working with them
- Great food! They have a lot of options from chicken, fish, beef and even duck
- They clearly work with/at Castle Farms a lot, so it was nice to know that they knew the space and felt comfortable to do what they needed to do
- They had some nice strolling appetizer options for us during cocktail hour!
- I hope this wasn’t the case for everyone, but my salmon was cold at the wedding. Food wasn’t something we really cared about, but obviously that leaves a lasting impression for guests
I have a major wedding prep plan, day plan and timeline that I’d be happy to share it if anyone is interested! Leave me a comment below.