Sometimes, a wedding is so lovely, it’s hard to find the right words to give it proper credit. Such as the case with today’s affair. A wedding that literally glows from the moment she dons her dress, to the very last dance. With a design by VLD Events, linens from La Tavola, photography by Jill Devries and a golden cake by Sweet Heather Anne, make sure to spend some time basking in the beauty.
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From the beautiful Bride… When we started planning our big day, we had a few themes in mind. We wanted a wedding that was respectful of the day and what it meant; we wanted a wedding that was personal, without being cliché; and above all, we wanted a wedding that was super fun and memorable for everyone. And all of this on a budget, of course. Detroit’s incredible art museum (the Detroit Institute of Art, or DIA) provided the perfect atmosphere for the event, and with the help of a rock star team of vendors, the day was everything we wanted and more (we are only slightly biased).
Wedding day festivities kicked off with the Bride (Erin) and 20 yoga-inclined wedding guests venturing to Yoga Shelter in Midtown Detroit for a morning vinyasa class. The bridal parties then hurried to the historic Westin Book Cadillac to get ready. The bridesmaids and bridesmen sipped on champagne (a gift from the Groom, Scott) while the maids had their hair and makeup done; Erin returned the favor with an 18-year-old scotch for the groomsmen.
One of our favorite moments of the day – the first look – took place outside of a cool, urban garden in Detroit. Those emotions, that moment – we’re so grateful to have all of that captured by our amazing photographers. Detroit’s fickle fall weather was even cooperative, and we were able to take pictures outside of the museum with the bridal party and as a couple in the fading afternoon light.
The ceremony was held in the DIA’s magical Rivera Court. The room’s walls are covered with floor-to-ceiling murals painted by Diego Rivera in the early 1930s. We added nothing to the room, which was already lined with beds of calla lilies, except for a hand-drawn map of the museum, courtesy of the talented Kristen Drozdowski. Weeks before the ceremony, we presented the vows we had written to our officiant, JR Roberts. Each of our vows began with a short anecdote, which we planned to share with the audience. The surprise of the day came when – while Scott was delivering his vows – it became apparent to Erin that we had both chosen the same anecdote. Perfect.
We closed the wedding with a “champagne box” ceremony: We each wrote two letters, one to read that morning and another to read in the future. All four letters went into the champagne box to open on our five-year anniversary, along with a bottle of bubbly. The idea is that marriage and our love was something to celebrate, all the time. We sealed the box with a champagne toast during the ceremony.
Guests exited the ceremony through the American Art gallery, and headed to cocktail hour in the DIA’s Woodward Lobby. Although the museum’s Modern and Impressionist Galleries were open for guests to explore, almost everyone headed right to one of two specialty bars: the first, a champagne bar complete with a bar cart, fruits, herbs, juices, and champagne flutes adorned with gold sugar rims; the other, a scotch bar with five different kinds of scotch, served with large “ice spheres,” and decorated with the Groom’s cake representing the “Old Well” at the Groom’s alma mater, UNC Chapel Hill. Guests snacked on fancy passed apps, but the highlight was cheesy bread delivered hot from local favorite, Jet’s Pizza. As a bittersweet touch, we also set out a memory vase to honor Erin’s grandfather, whose funeral was the day before the wedding. The memorial helped us recognize the important emotions from the day before without putting a damper on the joyous emotions of the wedding day.
Guests then moved upstairs to dinner in the DIA’s Great Hall. With its to-die-for ceiling, gorgeous armor displays, and beautifully tiled floors, we wanted to complement rather than compete with the already amazing space. Reception decor included clean ivory linens, creative flowers to bring it life, and subtle (as subtle as gold foil can be) print materials. We also slipped Rivera Court postcards behind each guest’s menu as a souvenir. Erin and Scott entered the reception to “Lose Yourself,” by Detroit’s own Eminem — and later had our first dance to “The Luckiest,” by Ben Folds. The couple joined the bridal party at a long banquet table decorated with seasonal flowers, an armor-colored table runner, pears, ribbons, and gold acorns – and sat at chairs adorned with greenery and flowers (one of our favorite design elements). A Midwest-sized dessert spread followed dinner, including Georgetown Cupcake (the couple lives in DC), the Pumpkin Maple Groom’s Cake, and Mexican Spiced Chocolate wedding cake — both from Sweet Heather Anne. According to most guests, the traditional speeches before dinner – father of the Bride, little sister/maid of honor, and twin brother/best man – were the highlight of the wedding. Late night snacks of Michigan cider and donuts from Yates Cider Mill came in a close second.
DJ Mary Ann Productions rocked Top 40 and Motown tunes all night, with only a brief interlude when the bride lip-synced “The Jackal” for her fellow West Wing fans (pictures intentionally excluded). After the party, Royal Transportation drove a crowd to Cliff Bell’s – an art deco jazz club downtown – for live jazz and cocktails. And finally, after the after party, a few guests (including the parents of the bride!) visited iconic rival coney dog restaurants: American and Lafayette Coney Islands.
Although we leaned heavily on our incredible vendors to keep everything elegant and polished, we still “DIY’d” a few items. The mother of the Bride made over 150 ice spheres for the scotch bar (in sets of three, no less). And the Bride took online calligraphy lessons through I Still Love Calligraphy, allowing her to calligraphy the invitations, day-of signage, and welcome bag tags.
If we could change anything, we wouldn’t. We’d just have the same party again and again.
Photography: Jill Devries | Floral Design: Katie Wachowiak | Wedding Dress: Galina For David's Bridal | Cupcakes: Georgetown Cupcakes | Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas | Bride's Shoes: Kate Spade | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Badgley Mischka Via Rent The Runway | Lighting: The Lighting Guy | Ceremony Music: Panache Entertainment | Wedding Venue: Detroit Institute Of Arts | Bridesmaid Robes: Plum Pretty Sugar | Bridesmen Robes: Lands End | Cake Topper: Better Off Wed | Day Of Print Material: Smitten On Paper | Event Coordination: VLD Events | Groom's And Groomsmen's Attire: The Black Tux | Linens: La Tavola Via VLD Events | Map Illustration: Kristen Drozdowski | Planning And Design Consultant: VLD Events | Save The Dates: Simply Pressed Print Shop | Wedding & Groom's Cakes: Sweet Heather Anne | Wine Box: Mark & Graham