Year after year, I’m inspired by telling the stories of Goodwill’s Achievers of the Year. These are people who have had lives that aren’t as easy as mine but their desire to work hard and be good citizens makes me proud to know them.
And if you’re not familiar with all the wonderful things Goodwill does for this community, you should: http://www.goodwillwm.org/
Changing LIVES through the power of WORK.
Kyle and Sam live in Chicago but they chose to get married at Crystal Mountain in northern Michigan to celebrate the state that they shared some of their earliest and most special memories as a couple. They love the outdoors, the Chicago Cubs, to throw big parties and they really love their dog, Stella. In fact, she was the ring bearer, the table markers were all photos of her, she walked on the bride’s gown as if to give her approval and she even licked the mimosas when no one was looking.
I loved that Sam wore a pearl ring belonging to her grandmother and the diamonds in her engagement ring were taken from Kyle’s grandmother’s engagement ring. The handkerchief she carried, Sam couldn’t bring herself to wash because it was still smudged with her grandmother’s lipstick and still smelled like her.
They entered the reception tent dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and I’m pretty sure Sam’s dad never left the dance floor. Guests warmed themselves by an outside fire to take of the autumn chill. And, oh, the laughter. So. Much. Laughter.
May warmth, laughter and good people follow you all the years ahead.
Ceremony, reception and catering: Crystal Mountain
Florist: Birchwood Flowers
Baker: Kirsten’s Bakery
Hair and makeup: Victoria Sylvester of Escape Salon
Bridal gown: Bijou Bridal, designed by Watters
DJ: Bee Entertainment
Samantha and Leo’s love story began on the first day of Leo’s freshmen year at Kalamazoo College when they met. They were friends for a couple years first — the way all good relationships start — and have been a couple for many years since. Thirty years ago, the bride’s parents had their wedding in the same place. The bride wore borrowed pearls and her engagement ring was made from her grandmother’s. Although the rain caused a few logistical challenges, seeing these two surrounded with such great tradition, love and joy made all that seem insignificant. The emotional ceremony had everyone in tears and then, like magic, the sun came out and soaked underneath the tent and left the evening with a quick, golden sunset.
Ceremony and reception: Franklin Hills Country Club
Invitations: Lee’s Specialty
Florist: Frech Sutherland
Baker: Holiday Market
Wedding musicians: Fleur de Lys String Ensemble
Hair: Peter Mansoor – P. La Salon
Makeup: Leslie Paterra – Todd’s Room
Bridal shoes: Via Spiga
Bridal gown designer: Gregory Parkinson
DJ: DJ Tom T
Second photographer: Merissa Hudnall
Suttons Bay, Michigan
Rain was in the forecast for Seth and Clara’s outdoor vineyard wedding. It’s not what anyone had hoped for and we all were scrambling for backup options. Our flurry of emails back and forth was all for naught; we had the perfect, ideal September day that Northern Michigan typically offers. And, as I knew it would be, all the hard work of planning was flawless. The local honey for guest favors, the display of Clara’s grandmother’s satin wedding gown, the old family wedding photographs, the wooden hand-painted box Clara found at a yard sale, the vintage cake topper, sorority sisters cheers and Viking hats — it all had an absolute unique Clara-and-Seth-one-of-a-kind celebration that I’m still pinching myself that I got to be a part of it all.
Ceremony and reception: Ciccone Vineyard and Winery
Invitations: Ashley Meyers
Florist: Field of Flowers Farm
Caterer: Uptown Catering
Baker: Baked by Josephine
Hair and makeup: Hanna Wagner Designs
Bridesmaids gowns: Jenny Yoo
Wedding shoes: Jimmy Choo
Bridal gown: Watters
Furniture Rental: Fancy Fray
Tent and farm table rentals: Monstrey-McDonald
DJ: Bee Entertainment
Videographer: Traverse City Video
Turning one is a big deal. It means the start of babbled words, wobbly walking and fast-paced crawls. I love that this beautiful Lake Orion family wanted to document this time in their son’s life. Despite mosquitos that thought they were invited to the photo session and air so thick you could cut it with a knife, this kiddo was one of the best toddlers I’ve ever photographed. He smiled the whole time and he loves the family dog (who also knows how to smile!) like a big teddy bear. Thank you for letting me be a small part of your family’s milestones.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Taylor wanted something different for her senior portraits. No beach photos for her. So, we rocked downtown Grand Rapids where she had some favorite street art in mind. We found a warm air vent so we played with her scarf in the updraft channeling Marilyn Monroe. We even made friends with a praying mantis that was hanging out in the city.
“We want you to do what you do best.” Those were my instructions as I photographed this Chicago-area family that came to Muskegon for vacation late this summer. (I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have someone trust your creativity with such conviction.) And, because of that, I photographed one of my favorite family images this year. Can you guess which one?
Grand Haven, Michigan
It was touch and go whether or not Tim and Abby could have their wedding on the Grand Haven pier like they had hoped. The catwalk is now removed and the boardwalk in under construction but the wedding went off as planned with a perfect golden sunset to boot. Thirty of their closest friends and family were invited to the wedding but they had at least thirty more uninvited guests who shared in their day. There were fisherman, photographers, boaters and teenagers but everyone seemed united in Tim and Abby’s love for a few short moments.
South Haven, Michigan
When I sat down with Adam and Anne for the first time and they talked about their wedding plans with me, Anne said something like this: “Basically, we want to throw a really fun party for the people we love with a nod to Adam and I.” If that doesn’t show a person’s character I’m not sure what else does. And if that isn’t enough, you could tell by the outpouring of family that made the table decorations, the flowers, the Polish traditional foods, the desserts and the signs hammered together at the last minute that they must be a couple that put others first. Their family made sure that on THIS day there was more than just a nod but a full embrace. Even after a long and very humid day, Anne tripped while dancing with a little guest but landed with a smile.
Adam and Anne, may marriage — with all its trips and falls — always end with a smile.
Ceremony: Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church
Reception: Bangor Elevator
Caterer: Boogie Barbeque & Catering
Ceremony musicians: Thomas Barth & Rebecca Luppe, of U of M
Bridesmaids gowns: David’s Bridal
Groom’s suit: Joseph Abboud
Wedding shoes: Beston
Bridal gown: David’s Bridal
DJ: Sounds Great!
Second photographer: Andraya Croft
Grand Rapids, Michigan
There are always things at every wedding that touch me. I’m realizing I should jot them down because by the time I get to blogging a wedding, many of those small moments leave me. However, I think there were so many things about Michael and Aubrey’s day that left an imprint that remembering this wedding won’t be a problem. It all started with the gift that Michael gave to Aubrey: a stack of letters each sealed in a separate envelope for her to open on special occasions. And then, I can’t even begin to describe how sacred the wedding ceremony was from the singing, the sound of the harp, the golden iconography, the smell of the incense and even the surprise bagpiper (a nod to Michael’s Scottish heritage.) I loved arriving to the reception to see favorite assorted desserts baked from relatives and a height chair pushed up to the bridal party table so the young nephew was seated along with his dad — one of the groomsmen. They danced to special traditional ethnic songs as the guests sang and encircled the newly married couple. Everything felt alive and the faint thunder of fireworks to celebrate Independence Day seemed to be meant for Aubrey and Michael, too.
Ceremony: St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church
Reception: New Vintage Place
Flowers, invitations and decor: Events by I. Candy
Caterer: New Vintage Place
Cake: Wealthy Street Bakery
Bridesmaids gowns: Adrianna Papell
Groom’s suit: Men’s Warehouse
Hair and makeup: Tanaz
Bridal gown: Hayley Paige
Band: Bluewater Kings
Second photographer: Carrie Turner