Michigan Backyard Beach Wedding from Kelly Sweet Photography
December 4, 2013
Classic WeddingsBackyardSummer Weddings
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!
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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, "..to 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.