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Modern Blue Dress Barn Wedding

On top of all the modern charm that this wedding holds, including pink peonies you could take a bite out of and ruffled coral bridesmaids dresses, it is jam-packed with love of the sweetest variety. Highway 61 Films captured moments that will warm your heart in their beautiful film, from a flower girl wiping away her tears at the powerful ceremony to the buzzing reception and ear-to-ear grins. For even more, check out the full gallery from Studio 6.23!


From the beautiful Bride…It’s an annual tradition of Matt and I to go to the Ohio State and Michigan State football games. We’ve gone every single year since the year we first started dating. (2 years running.) The week prior to the game, Matt let me know we were to tailgate with his co-workers that happen to be Michigan State Alumni. (My alma mater, not Matt’s, so I was very excited to be surrounded by more MSU fans than Ohio State.) Fast forward to 1 week later, September 29th, the day of the big game. Both teams were top BIG 10 teams so it just-so-happens to be an even bigger rival year than the years’ prior. Keeping tradition alive, Matt decides to take me on a detour to a Cider Mill to pick up homemade donuts and cider to bring to the tailgate on the way to East Lansing. Still not expecting anything and running extremely late, I agree to make the detour and pick up the cider and donuts. Now, if anyone has ever experienced warm, gooey, homemade donuts from a Michigan cider mill, you’ll know how upset I was to not be able to eat these delicious treats due to my Celiac disease. While contemplating eating a donut and feeling sick for the rest of the day, Matt goes to the car and grabs a brown, greasy, paper lunch bag and hands it to me. “I made them for you.” He says. I open the bag to find a handful of homemade Gluten Free donuts. The engagement ring was SUPPOSED to be hiding within the bag of donuts and instead, it is sitting right on top of them. Matt gets down on one knee and asks me to marry him. To make this long story a little shorter, I spent the next 45 minutes in the car thinking we were going to share our engagement with co-workers of his that I hardly knew. We arrive in East Lansing to a surprise tailgate party with my entire family and all of my best friends from Michigan and Chicago. People traveled hundreds of miles to share this special day with us and I still get butterflies every time I think about it!

Planning ended up being a little more difficult for me than I had originally thought. My Pinterest boards seemed to be scattered and trying to narrow down a handful of ideas/details seemed to be impossible for the girl who loved EVERYTHING. That’s when hiring Aletha at Pearl’s Events, LLC changed my life. She helped me narrow down an idea that was 100% different and everything Matt and I ever wanted. We’ve been to what seems like a million weddings and we wanted something different; something no one else had. When Aletha suggested the idea of a NO burlap, GLAM barn theme, we went with it. When people hear “Barn Wedding”, majority assume: “burlap.” That’s exactly what we didn’t want. The more glitz, glam, gold, and “Southern” charm, the better for us! (We are Charlotte natives now!) We started with the flowers by Elizabeth at Posh Petals. She had done weddings at the Blue Dress Barn before and was thrilled to try something different. Aletha and her team were also excited for the “Southern Glam” theme. Our photographers (Ben + Mindy at Studio 6.23 also happen to own “Fancy Fray,” a vintage wedding furniture rental company. It was so convenient to be able to talk photography as well as pew seating for 250, couch rentals for family seating and lounge area, coral doors for our entrance, etc. Having the ability to work with vendors that had previously done weddings at the Blue Dress Barn made the planning process a lot less stressful than originally imagined. As for the entertainment and other vendors, we went with Carolyn Berry at Two Unique for catering. They were the wild card for us who had never done a wedding at the barn before. To follow my own words of advice (below), I trusted the professionals and they delivered above and beyond our wildest dreams! Our photographers, Ben + Mindy at Studio 6.23 were amazingly sweet and so easy to work with, and Jason and his crew at Highway 61 films were absolutely fantastic and created one of the most beautiful cinematic wedding videos we’ve ever seen.

Matt and I were married in Benton Harbor, Michigan. About 2 hours from his hometown of Chicago, IL, and 3.5 hours from my hometown in Detroit, Michigan. It was the perfect in-the-middle “destination” wedding for the couple that didn’t really want a FULL destination wedding. We wanted a party, something our family and friends would never forget. We started the weekend out at the Painted Turtle Inn for the rehearsal dinner. A backyard BBQ and Pig Roast with everyone invited to the wedding. (I think 150+ total people showed up.) It was very important to us that everyone willing to spend the time and money to come to our wedding be included in ALL of the wedding festivities. Red and white checkered tablecloths, sunflowers and wild flowers picked from a field adorned the tables, and we were able to welcome all of our family and friends to an unforgettable weekend.

I recently quit my full-time advertising job to become a yoga teacher. While Matt woke up with a hearty breakfast catered at the Painted Turtle Inn, I greeted any guest who wanted to join me at the beach for a morning yoga session. About 15 people showed up and for some, it was their very first yoga class ever. What an amazing feeling to wake up, share an hour of yoga with the ones you love, and marry the love of your life a few hours after that! After yoga, my bridesmaids and I went back to our rental house in downtown St. Joseph to start and finish pampering sessions. It was so beautiful to spend the day every woman who has made such an important impact on my life! (3 mothers, 4 sisters, 5 nieces, and my 5 very best friends!) When pampering was finished, we took a limo to the barn. All except for myself exited the limo and I patiently waited for my father who I had not yet seen. He arrived alone in his camper (Yep, CAMPER!) that he had been using to cart the rest of our very large family in for the weekend. It was here that him and I had our “special” moment that we had been waiting for our entire lives. The moment had finally come for us to walk down the aisle together. We waited behind a tree for the song to come on that I knew I would walk to the moment I first heard it. “Just Say Yes” by Snow Patrol ended (the song the bridal party and Matt walked to) and “Come to Me” by Goo Goo Dolls started. I told my dad “just 30 more seconds” as Aletha at Pearls Events, LLC informed me I could start walking. It was a very special moment that I needed. (Note to future brides: TAKE that moment!) :) As I turned the corner and saw Matt standing there next to my step-father who was performing the ceremony (his first ceremony ever!) I couldn’t help but feel as though no moment, past or present, could be better than this.

We really wanted our wedding to include something for everyone. Prior to the ceremony, guests could enjoy Macarons from Le Petit Macaron in 4 different flavors, water and our signature drinks. The post-ceremony, cocktail hour included our signature drinks once again, with an heirloom tomato bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, cigar bar, corn hole games, as well as a giant “Jenga” game. After the wonderfully catered dinner from “Two Unique,” guests crowded the dance floor for a concert-like reception performance from the native Chicago band “Final Say.” If guests tired of dancing, the lawn games, cigar bar, bon-fire pit and fro-yo dessert truck were open for business all night long. With half of the guests being from the Motor City, we rented a 1967 classic Chevrolet truck for our photo booth from Pat Moran Chevrolet in Detroit. Guests could sit in the front seat and rev the engine, or, pile in the back for pictures taken by Ben + Mindy the entire night.

Words of advice for future brides DON’T STRESS and TRUST the professionals! They know what they’re doing.

Photography: Studio 6.23 | Cinematography: Highway 61 Films | Event Design: Pearls Events | Planner: Pearls Events | Floral Design: Posh Petals | Wedding Dress: Modern Trousseau | Invitations: Love, Jessica Handmade Invitations | Ceremony Venue: Blue Dress Barn | Reception Venue: Blue Dress Barn | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Lula Kate | Catering: Two Unique | Band: Final Say | Groom's Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Bar: With A Twist | Fro-Yo Dessert: Spoonlickers | Photo Booth: Pat Moran Chevrolet | Vintage Wedding Rentals: Fancy Fray

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Michigan Backyard Beach Wedding from Kelly Sweet Photography

Some of  you (especially those of you in North Carolina) might recognize this beautiful bride. She’s a news anchor on Fox News Rising in Charlotte and it is our greatest pleasure to be able to share her big day with you. And we’ve got it all, from Kelly Sweet Photography, from the gorgeous gown hanging in her parents home to the first dance under the trees and chandeliers. I just really hope you’ve got some time to kill in the gallery because it just keeps getting better!

It wouldn’t be these two without a fabulous video (the groom’s an actor!) and Blueberry Creative definitely stepped up to the plate with this highlight film…


From the beautiful bride… To some, Nick and Tara’s relationship- from their first date to the big day- can be summed up with one word: Fairytale.
But if you were to ask the couple, they would sum up the last seven years with a single word: Adventure- A beautiful, challenging, exciting adventure; one they’ve enjoyed every single step of the way.

Nick and Tara met on campus at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. They connected first on the volleyball court during an intramural volleyball game. Tara says their relationship began as friends, then slowly evolved into something more when- by random chance- the two both enrolled in the same study-abroad program to Ireland. It was there, in the rolling green hills of a country they both felt drawn to, that they fell in love. Their lust for life, exploration, trying new things and meeting new people bonded these two together.

Tara and Nick are no ordinary couple, nor do they follow the path most often traveled. Nick is an actor and entrepreneur. Tara is an evening news anchor in Charlotte, North Carolina. To their friends, they are the “Hollywood Couple”- to them, they are just two crazy kids fulfilling their dreams. When they are not in front of cameras, they are planning out their next adventure. It’s hard to find a rare-open afternoon where Nick and Tara aren’t hiking, sailing, paddle-boarding, wine-tasting, traveling, spending time with family, or quite honestly, laughing. These two love life… and each other.

Though it wasn’t until November 4th, 2011 that the couple decided to make that love official. Unlike many of their friends, they didn’t want rush into marriage, so they didn’t. They dated nearly seven years before Nick decided to pop the question, and when he did, he blew it out of the park.

At the time, they were both living in Grand Rapids Michigan. A few weeks prior, Tara had accepted a job as the new host of “Fox News Rising” in Charlotte, NC and her family in Stevensville, Michigan was planning a good-bye dinner to celebrate their new chapter. That afternoon, Tara had a speaking engagement at her alma-mater and Nick was suppose to meet her there so they could drive to her parents’ house together. She recalls waiting two hours for him before he called to say that he was running late and couldn’t meet her. “I told her to go on without me,” says Nick. “I was so annoyed,” says Tara. Nick laughs recalling the moment, “It was all part of my plan!”

What Tara didn’t know at the time was that Nick was already at her parents’ house setting up for the most romantic proposal ever; one that would surely surprise the woman he knew, was hard to surprise! On the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, Tara’s favorite spot in the world, Nick set up a red carpet, lined with tiki torches, rose petals, candles and music… it was there, he popped the question.

“It was such a special moment!” says Tara.

Once the couple moved to Charlotte and got settled in, Tara began planning their Michigan wedding for June 29th, 2013. Thanks to the help of many people (and Pinterest!) they were able to execute the wedding of their dreams.

Tara and Nick were married on a beautiful summer day in the bride’s hometown of Stevensville, Michigan. She wore a form-fitting lace Enzoani gown, he wore a custom-made Abbeydale suit. They exchanged their own vows in St. John Catholic Church in nearby Benton Harbor, followed by a fairy-tale reception at her parents’ home on Lake Michigan; the same beautiful, special spot Nick proposed. Tiki torches scattered the property, a vintage crystal chandelier hung from a 75 year old Oak tree over the dance floor, and music, laughter, and the sound of waves and dune grass blowing in the summer breeze set the fun and romantic tone of the evening.

Tara wanted the evening to reflect her laid-back style. The bridesmaids wore two different style dresses- a short, one-shoulder, light pink chiffon dress. The other, a strapless beige chiffon dress. Each bridesmaid was encouraged to display their own personal style- from their hair and nail-polish color to their make-up and shoes. “I wanted them to be themselves!” says Tara. And the romantic feel of the soft color palette all together was very romantic, exactly was the bride was hoping for.

Another favorite for the bride: A white vintage couch placed right in the dune grass overlooking the lake. It made for amazing bridal party pictures! And the guests loved taking their own pictures on it during the reception.

Other than mood lighting, executed beautifully by tiki torches, candles, street lamps and a large chandelier hanging above the dance floor, Tara’s other main priority was music. They hired the Jerry Ross Band out of Detroit, Michigan. And according the couple, they rocked the house! The dance floor was packed all night long. The couple’s first dance was to “I’ll be” by Edwin McCain, the bride’s favorite song.

The grooms main priority; DESSERT! Nick has quite the sweet tooth. With that in mind, instead of getting a large wedding cake, the couple opted for a small cake and a large dessert table full of cupcakes, cake-pops, tarts, brownies, shooters, etc. They also set up a separate candy-bar table. “It was amazing!,” says Nick.

Other special DIY touches at the reception; a wooden sign nailed to a large tree displaying all their travel destination spots and how many miles away they were from the reception location. We also made little signs designating certain areas, for example, “Beach” “Bonfire” and for the dance floor, “Dance your faces off!”- We didn’t want to take ourselves too seriously! According to guests, everything was so “Tara & Nick.”

The couple’s favorite moment of the night: Stepping near the top of the bluff together, turning around and overlooking the entire reception. “The love and laughter in the air was electric,” says Nick.

And it truly was. “Our reception was nothing short of magical. The dune where we held the reception was so special to me- it’s where I would play, sit, and think as a child,” says Tara, “ have all of our loved ones there meant the world to me. We had to jump through so many hoops to have the reception at that location, but we made it happen.”

And making things happen is what Nick and Tara are all about. They thrive on new challenges, yearn for new adventures, and enjoy tackling life hand-in-hand every step of the way.

“Life is a journey.. and I couldn’t be happier tackling life’s greatest adventures with the woman of my dreams,” says Nick.

Marriage, they say, is their favorite adventure yet. And executing the perfect wedding.. was step #1.

Photography: Kelly Sweet Photography | Videography: Blueberry Creative | Event Planning: Stella Event Design | Floral Design: Crystal Springs Florist | Wedding Dress: Enzoani | Cake: Bit of Swiss | Ceremony Venue: St. John's Catholic Church | Reception Venue: private residence | Bridesmaids Dresses: Coren Moore Inc. | Bridesmaids Dresses: Jenny Yoo | Makeup and hair: Sarah Allchin | Band: Jerry Ross Band | Photography - Assistance: Laura Ford

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