Yesterday we brought you one of Kathy and Brian Widdis’ summer weddings that took place at Caberfae Peaks Ski Resort. Thought that was kind of cool (to have a summer wedding at a ski resort) and the wedding was just so pretty!  Today, we have another wedding from Widdis Photography that was this fall. Brandi and Neil had always talked about having a destination wedding, but when it got down to planning, they decided that having their family and friends surrounding them on their wedding day was way more important than an exotic location. So, they created their own little paradise in Michigan where they could celebrate with their loved ones!

from the beautiful bride …

Neil and I have been together for seven years and during our time together, we always pictured our wedding on a beach on some remote tropical island. But after Neil proposed, we started working out the logistics of what it meant to plan a destination wedding during a recession. We realized that most (if not all) of our family would be unable to attend…which was completely unacceptable for both of us. So rather than fight the reality of our situation, we decided to simply roll with it.

Neil’s dad lives in a subdivision that maintains a private beach on Wing Lake (Bloomfield, MI) and after getting approval from their home owner’s association to host a large-scale event, plans got underway. Our goal was to create a comfortable, casual atmosphere, similar to what you would experience at a tropical wedding — great food, good music, festive drinks…all outside on the beach!

Once Neil and I chose the date in September, we were off! At once, my graphic-designing brain kicked into high gear. I scoured wedding blog after wedding blog, getting validation that a bride really could take care of most of the details herself, “borrowing” a few ideas along the way (like thank you notes at each place setting). I chose colors that would fit with the fall date but could easily reflect the beach atmosphere we were trying to create — chocolate brown and wasabi green. The bright fresh green was the perfect color because it allowed me to pick flowers like dendrobium orchids and funky, modern spider mums. And chocolate brown grounded the event in elegance…giving me a palette of perfect neutrals to create details like the burlap table runners, the sand, the palm fronds. We wanted every single detail to feel deliberate, hand-chosen, and reflect us…casually and elegantly. We even went so far as to name all sixteen tables with names of locations we had at one point discussed as possibilities for our destination wedding, and then created a seating chart welcoming our guests to “Our own private paradise.”

Ultimately, because we were willing to compromise our “fantasy” to make sure our family was present at our special day, they all stepped up to help; the execution of all the details really became a family affair. My mother baked for months to give us a dessert table she was proud of. She also added the green accents to the girls’ brown dresses and even created the flower girls’ pomanders out of tulle and pearls. Neil’s mother created the flower garlands that hung on the bamboo arbor we built over the foot bridge to the island where we held the ceremony. Neil’s sister painted all of the signs directing our guests to the games, ceremony, etc and really made them more than just utilitarian. Neil’s step-mother created the arrangements that flanked us during the ceremony. My girlfriends came over a few days before, and we arranged all of the flowers and built the capiz shell napkin ring/place cards. And my exceptionally talented sister sang the song for our first dance: Make you feel my love by Bob Dylan. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house! I couldn’t have done it all without all of their help, and our day certainly wouldn’t have been as memorable.

And for those of you who may be interested in Brandi and Neil’s tropical inspired menu …

Our caterer jumped on board with the theme, making suggestions for tropically-inspired stations that would allow our guests to casually meander through the buffet:

Lakeside Luau ~Petite Pulled Pork Sandwich (petite onion rolls and barbecue braised pork garnished topped with coleslaw; Gorgeous Grilled Vegetable Display (served with roasted garlic-lemongrass aïoli); Polynesian Chicken Skewers (seared in pineapple glaze); Sesame Noodle Salad (shredded red cabbage, julienne bell peppers, scallions, crisp peas, and fresh cilantro tossed with teriyaki sesame dressing)

Big Island BBQ ~ Mango Grilled;  Salmon Maui Onion Salad (carrots, cucumber and radish sprouts with lime-sherry vinaigrette); Ginger-Soy Grilled Flank Steak (served with jasmine rice and stir-fried vegetables); Asian Green Salad (mixed greens, mandarin oranges, crispy chow mein noodles and teriyaki vinaigrette)


A few parting words from Brandi …

I can’t imagine changing a single detail of our special day. It was so comfortable, and I truly believe our guests had an amazing time. And as you can see in Kathy’s fantastic photos, Neil and I certainly did.



Our thanks to Kathy at Widdis Photography and congrats to Brandi and Neil!!

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Other Credits: — Wholesale Tropical Flowers and Blooms By The Box.com , and  Holiday Catering.

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