How To Start Wedding Planning: 4 Realistic Goals

How To Start Wedding Planning: 4 Realistic Goals

Alright friends – engagement season is almost upon us. It’s a super exciting time for couples and us wedding professionals alike and everyone always wants to jump right in and start wedding planning. We’re all for this! The earlier you start working on details for the big day, the easier the process will be for all involved. But before you go all willy-nilly into planning your dream wedding, we want to share some advice: setting realistic goals and visions for how your wedding will turn out is KEY to making it a success. This is always easier said than done so we’ve compiled a list of a few of the most important “realities” to be aware of and just what this means for your wedding.


This is a big one y’all. It may not be the most pleasant or comfortable aspect of wedding planning, but it is critical that you dive into this before doing much else. Have those conversations with your partner and your family (if they will be involved in the finances) as soon as possible so you know what you’re working with. 

We think it’s beneficial to use the tools available to you online (like this one with average budget percentages) to help set realistic ideas of costs. There are a ton of articles and websites out there to help get an idea of how much a venue typically costs, how much you should expect to spend on catering, what floral arrangements will be possible, etc. But it’s also a great idea to ask around. Use friends that have been married recently or vendors you might be interested in as a reliable resource. Just remember, national averages aren’t always the most accurate depending on the area you are hoping to be married. (If you are trying to keep costs down, consider the benefits of a small town wedding to help!). 

It’s also important to realize the difference between a “Pinterest” wedding and what is realistic for you. We’re all about dreaming big using the images you see online as inspiration for your wedding but for most couples, a $50,000 floral budget is out of reach. Don’t let this dash your hopes – scaled back versions of your favorite photos are usually a possibility and can still give you the look you want for a more conservative budget. Take the photos below for example – the photo on the left is the inspiration photo which likely had a hefty price tag. But by cutting back on the number of rugs rented or purchased, the number of large pampas grass arrangements, and the smaller arch pieces,  you can achieve a similar style. Being honest with yourselves about what is doable financially will help you set more realistic goals.


For many couples, this will be the first time you really experience planning a wedding. It’s best to start asking yourselves right away what level of commitment you have in terms of your time. We tend to think many people underestimate how much of your day-to-day will go into planning and how much brain space the details will eat up. From researching, contacting, and providing details to all your vendors to activities on the actual wedding day – you will end up investing a ton of time in this process. The first question to ask is whether hiring a wedding planner is in your budget to help (and if so, come read why our favorites are so good at what they do!). Having a planner saves you so much time and really helps keep you on track. 

If a planner isn’t within your budget or you simply want to do a lot on your own, be real about how much time you have to commit and therefore what projects to take on. If you have a demanding job, DIY’ing invitations or decor pieces probably isn’t the best use of your time. You may want to consider renting items from a local vendor who can deliver, set up, tear down, etc. to free you up. Or maybe it’s best to go with that modern, minimalist vibe to keep the wedding classy and elegant without spending too much time on procuring, transporting, and styling, a ton of decorations. Yes, your newfound love of calligraphy would be a great personal touch to escort cards but do you have the hours to devote to completing this task?

It also helps to have conversations with friends and family when you start wedding planning about their level of commitment. The last thing you want is a friend or family member reminiscing about your wedding and the only thing they remember is how much work it was! If you have willing helpers, awesome – they are a God-send, but talk with them beforehand about what exactly they are open to helping with.


This one can be a bit tricky because everyone has special dynamics for their personal circle of friends and family. But here are a few things to consider that usually apply to most. 

Your guest attendance is likely going to be different than you expect. We have been doing weddings for a long time and have been tracking predicted attendance versus actual attendance for years. Our insights show that 18% of your invite list will not be able to attend. Covid has definitely changed this over the past couple of seasons but we think it’s still a really good metric for estimation. Knowing what your final guest count will likely be helps you estimate food costs, alcohol consumption, how many centerpieces you’ll need etc. Overall it helps you fine tune your budget. We’ve also found that this percentage doesn’t seem affected by travel distance or even the day of the week you plan to have the wedding therefore making it an even more reliable tool.

Another key factor to help set realistic expectations for guests is to really take into consideration what will keep them happy. We’ve found that guests are happiest when they know what to expect. Get your Save-the-Dates out early, let guests know about the area of the wedding if it’s unfamiliar to them, give them information about the venue (is it outdoors, where is parking, etc), and if dietary accommodations can be made. Informed guests are happy guests and this shared knowledge helps prevent guests who show up angry because they had different expectations.


We learned very early on in this business that each couple’s “perfect” day is so drastically different. We really try to steer away from using this term because it sets the tone that perfection is what you should strive for and any hiccup in the process leads to an imperfect result and your day is ruined. We’ve seen enough weddings to know that all planning processes and all weddings days will have some bumps in the road – it’s unavoidable. Even if you have thought through every detail and communicated extensively with vendors and friends/family, some things will be out of your control (just look at the Covid situation – who saw that one coming?). This doesn’t mean your day will end in disaster. So maybe instead of spending your time stressing about perfection, spend some time discussing what matters the most to you. Maybe even make a list of those key factors and revisit it often. This way, when something unexpected pops up, you can put it into perspective. Does this issue affect the parts of my wedding I ultimately care the most about? If it does, brainstorm solutions or reach out for help. If not, perhaps you’ll find yourselves better able to brush some of those missteps out of the way and continue to enjoy the process and the day. In the end, you want to enjoy this time and this amazing experience with your new partner and not allow the facade of the perfect wedding to detract from that.

With all of these tips in mind, we think you’ll be ready to start wedding planning with a realistic mindset and it will make this journey so much sweeter. And once you’ve given these steps some thought, let us know and we’d be thrilled to help you put the plan in motion!


(in order of appearance)

Lauren Crawford Photography

Andrea Godfrey Photography

Matt Bigelow Photography

Shane Cleminson Photography

Laurenda Marie Photography

Cassandra Eldridge Photography

Santiago Murillo Photography

Rebekah Albaugh Photography

Emma Deboef Photography

Lauren Crawford Photography

Michigan Vendor Spotlight: 1928 Planning Co.

Michigan Vendor Spotlight: 1928 Planning Co.

Our goal in doing these vendor spotlights is to highlight and give credit to some of the amazing vendors we get the pleasure of working with here in our little corner of Southwest Michigan. But truth be told, no spotlight can shine bright enough to give the amount of credit that is due to our friends at 1928 Planning Co. If you are a numbers person, their numbers speak for themselves. Seven years as a premier Michigan Wedding Planner, over 800 events to their credit, and an (almost!) embarrassing amount of awards from top wedding companies. Put simply, these ladies know what they’re doing and they do it well.

But all of these accolades aren’t what sets 1928 Planning Co. apart from the other Michigan wedding planners – it’s their heart and passion for what they do and for the couples they serve. Yes, we know that’s a bit on the sappy side but it’s the most accurate way to frame the reason for their success. Having worked alongside this company for all seven years, we can say with confidence that getting married at The Vineyard wouldn’t be the awesome experience it is without their dedication. 

From days starting before dawn steaming linens to late nights spent stoking the fire pit, 1928 Planning shows up and rocks these events every.single.time. They have seen and done so much and yet – they will still tear up if they witness a first look, they will laugh sincerely at best man speeches, and they will gladly accept the hugs from couples at the end of the night who “couldn’t have done this without them”. This is who they are – as individuals and as a company – and those are the people you want by your side for one of your most important days.

Now that our gushing is through – we thought the best way for you to get to know them like we do was to sit down for a little Q&A. Let me assure you, you’ll want to read and screenshot and save all of these answers because there are some valuable and time-tested tips here! So we present to you: 


Michigan Wedding Planner : 1928 Planning Co.

All answers are a combination from 1928’s Lead Planners!


A:  Wish I had your answer… lol. I’d say mixing creativity with organization and structure was the draw. The planning and process is the same but the product is always different, so it’s hard to get in a rut when it comes to the output of what we do. 


A: 30 minutes before guests arrive when the venue decor sits perfectly as it should. I also love the minute before we send a bride or groom down the aisle and tell them to soak it in, live presently and enjoy it. We’re really lucky to be so close to an intimate moment like that.


A: This won’t be the lovey-dovey movie you’re probably looking for, but I love “ I Love You, Man” and “Bridesmaids” and “27 Dresses”. They are all funny takes on the dynamics of wedding planning, relationships and friendships and they poke fun at the many stereotypes and nuances of wedding planning.



A1: I’ve been called a friend. It means a lot because of how much we invest in each other between phone calls, emails, and face to face time. We have been relationship building for 1.5+ years typically and to be called a friend, not a hired vendor, has really stuck out to me.


A2: Their day was perfect because of all of my hard work and they did not have to worry about a thing.


A1: I’d do the color scheme and flowers differently. At the time I loved it, but I’ve evolved a lot more from a designing perspective since then and I think I could have done something way more suitable to our personalities than I knew how to back then. I encourage clients when doing our design services with them to really think about that and ask themselves “is this me?”.

A2: Invite less people and decorate more.  We had roughly 250 people and I used small round fishbowls with glass beads and floating candles that the venue owned.  I did not have time to put thought in any of it with working out of town and 2 kids. Nothing existed like this back when I got married, lol!


A:  I vote NO. Personally I didn’t have a first look and will never forget that feeling of seeing him first when I was walking down the aisle. I do agree with a lot of the pros of first look – especially when it has something to do with “having more time to be together before the wedding and enjoy our wedding today together”. But when I hear someone want to do a first look just because their photographer recommends it for timing, I say no. Find a photographer who can work diligently with a shot list post-ceremony, maybe comes with a second shooter to move things along, and by all means get as many separate bridal party photos and portraits done as possible pre-ceremony to only leave “together-shots” after the ceremony.


A1: Our linens, including full cloths, runners and napkins. A wedding that steps away from white on white always grabs my eye in photos. Investing in a bold or statement linen allows clients to do less from a decor standpoint, including florals, because the transformation in the look of the linen does that! At minimum, we recommend considering a head table, or dessert table to be a different linen inspiration so it can be given the focal point it deserves.

A2: Yard games – small town Michiganders love a good game of Cornhole. We include a custom decal on the Cornhole boards to add to the customization a lot of people look for when planning their wedding vibe.

Feel free to browse their Rental Collection for inspiration ideas!


A1: I think color is (finally) making its way back. We’ve been living in a neutral wedding world for awhile, and I’m excited to see a return of vibrant hues, particularly gem-colors.

A2: We’ve seen a shift this last year and think we’ll continue to see in 2022: less traditions! Not a lot of full bridal party announcements, head tables, cake cutting (or having a cake at all), bouquet + garter toss, traditional guest book etc.


A: I’m thinking we’ll continue to see smaller guest count weddings and a shift or restructure of their budget to be focused more on the experience. Less guests = more of everything else.


A: The seclusion. You’re fully submerged (is that the right word?) in the vineyard and I think that really enhances the experience for guests. You don’t see the parking lot, the road, streetlights, etc. It’s just you and the outdoors.

Check out other unique features of our winery wedding venue!



A1:  Perfectly curated playlists. If you’ve hired a DJ or band, give them a smidge of guidance but don’t micromanage the playlist. Let them vibe with your crowd so your dance floor stays packed.

A2: The seating chart. Steer away from assigned seats when possible, to avoid the extra work. Let guests know what table to sit at, but let them choose the seat. In the scheme of it, that close to the wedding, this is a stressor we recommend removing.

A3: Tedious decor details. DIY is fun until it isn’t. Guests remember the food, bar, venue, and music the most.



A: 1. How much can you relinquish control and trust someone else?

2. What do you expect from a planner? A personal assistant? No planners are apples to apples.

3. Talk live with the planner and make sure you vibe well prior to signing a contract. We want to match well with you just as much as you. We want our couples to understand who we are and make sure the connection is there live before we are contracting with you.

Bonus: Is the planner flexible on services (a-la cart) or do they only have certain packages to choose from?

Browse 1928’s flexible service options!


A1: Be active in correspondence we share and ask us questions. No question is silly. We also want to know all the details and sometimes people think it doesn’t pertain to what we are doing as your planner, but the more we know  – the better. 

A2: Trust that we know what we’re talking about. Trust those you’ve hired that we can make this amazing for you.

And there you have it friends – some great input from the experts! If you want to learn more about this amazing Michigan Wedding Planner – 1928 Planning Co – feel free to visit their website to explore services offered, drool over their rental collection, or even reach out to get more details. You won’t be disappointed.

If you can see yourself working alongside 1928 Planning Co to perfectly execute your Vineyard Wedding, we’d love to hear from you!

Featured Photographers: (in order of photo appearance)

Brick and Pine Photography

Michelle Muliken Photography

Kathy Davies Photography

Santiago Murillo Photography

Sweet Lemon Drop Photography

430 Studios

Alyssa McElheny Photography

Rachael Osborn Photography

Kati Mallory Photography

Meg Van Kampen Photography

Michael Koch Photography

Real Wedding: Fall Vineyard Wedding in Michigan

Real Wedding: Fall Vineyard Wedding in Michigan

Our partners at 1928 Planning Co. have developed a really stellar process for guiding couples through wedding planning. One of our favorite parts of this process is getting some back-story from couples. It’s a few seemingly simple questions that results in us hearing the most amazing stories. Grace & David came through with some fabulous background and we knew from the start, this was going to be a fun outdoor fall wedding filled with really personal touches. 

Although Grace & David live in Chicago, they have a strong connection to Michigan and have been visiting this area with their respective families for years. So when deciding where to get married, their shared Michigan history and love of Michigan fall, made the choice to get married here easy. They chose The Vineyard because it fit their vision for an outdoor fall wedding that would showcase their unique style.

If you’re thinking an outdoor fall wedding might also fit your vibe, please reach out to get some info! Or if you find yourself still on the fence about having a fall outdoor wedding, let us help with some pros and cons based on our experiences.


To show their appreciation for Michigan fall, Grace & David added some great personal touches that truly take advantage of the season. The wedding party wore black and white to allow the natural fall colors surrounding them to stand out. Guests were treated to the very fall-esque treats of donuts and taffy apples for dessert and were able to enjoy them alongside the cozy fire pit. And if all of this didn’t already show their guests how appreciated they were, Grace & David also had a basket of warm pashmina’s to snuggle up in and a hand sanitizer station (a considerate gift of safety in this post-Covid world!).

So much of the decor fit perfectly together to create a cohesive design of simplicity and natural beauty. From the rustic farmhouse tables to the elegant crystal chandelier, each piece chosen balanced the others for an informal but classicly beautiful wedding. Greenery garlands adorned the long tables while centerpieces of white hydrangea, garden roses, and hybericum berry were the focal point for others.

Upon arriving at The Vineyard, guests were greeting with wine tasting and a welcome bar to get the party started on the right foot! Stationed appetizers included the always delicious bacon wrapped dates (I swear, you would love these despite their name!) and tomato bisque shooters with mini grilled cheese. Dinner was served from a choice of three options including CK Catering’s Maple Whiskey chicken. There was even a late night snack of quesadilla’s, walking tacos, and a nacho bar to ensure no one left hungry.


Overall, Grace & David’s outdoor fall wedding was the perfect showcase for their love and the extent this couple went to share that love with friends and family. Thank you for letting us be part of such a wonderful day!

You can check out Grace & David’s full gallery below along with shoutouts to their amazing team of vendors that made it all possible!



Venue: The Vineyard at 12 Corners

Planner: 1928 Planning Co.

Catering: CK Catering

Bar Service: Beverage Specialists

Rentals: 1928 Planning Co. (Napa tables, Victoria table, gold dessert trays, wood arch, fire pit, lounge furniture)

Lighting: Schades of Light (Cafe bulbs, crystal chandelier)

Florist: Flowers by Anna

Photographer: Just For a Moment, Weddings by Jessica Eileen

Band/DJ: Kaleidoscope Events

Baker: Froehlic’s Bakery

Transportation: Royal Excursion




Grace & David’s October Michigan vineyard wedding was a mix of rustic fall touches and classic elegance. Guests enjoyed the outdoor fire pit, cozy pashmina’s and wine tasting prior to the ceremony.


The ceremony took place in the apple orchard at The Vineyard. There will 8 bridesmaids and 9 groomsmen to make up the wedding party. Grace’s Father was the officiant and nieces and nephews were honored at the ring bearers and flower girl.


Grace & David made sure to show their appreciation to guests who were treated to a welcome drink, wine tasting, plated meal and a full round of late night snacks. The happy couple even used David’s Grandmother’s glasses for toasting.


Grace & David reside in Chicago but shared a mutual love of Michigan where both families have been vacationing for years. Although the pair had known each other for years before dating, it was only a happy accident that they shared a long car trip together to start up a romance.

How to Plan a Classic Wedding in Michigan

How to Plan a Classic Wedding in Michigan

There is something about classic wedding photos that make us feel nostalgic and innocent, hearkening back to a simpler time. No wonder we find that engaged couples gravitate toward the elegance of a wedding style that draws on classic decor, food, dress and ambiance.

Luckily, crisp, elegant, and memorable weddings never go out of style – it’s about looking past all the fads and choosing elements that have remained truly timeless. These styling tips will help you plan a wedding that transcends time by incorporating traditional and classic touches in a fresh way that’s still very “now” in a style we at the Vineyard at 12 Corners call Classic Elegance.































Click to start planning your classic wedding today!

Choose An Elegant Backdrop

When it comes to choosing a venue, think elegant and simple – a subtle canvas upon which you can layer some more traditional and classic elements without it feeling over-done. At southwest Michigan wedding venue, The Vineyard at 12 Corners, we find that the combination of a classic white tent and the additional touch of a winery, perhaps with wine-themed decor, set against a view of the vineyard, create a perfect backdrop for a classically elegant wedding. 



































Keep Decor Timeless 

Classic neutrals like black, white, and grey can be blended with deeper colors like navy and emerald hues for effect, and you might incorporate metallics for an upscale, extra-elegant feeling. Light, summery colors can work, too – in this case, blending soft shades like pink, white, and natural tan can create a romantic feeling.  






















Floral arrangements will often center around well-known flowers like roses, dahlias, hydrangeas and peonies, often in a simple color palette and large arrangements. You can’t go wrong incorporating florals into table decor, along with small touches like chargers and flat napkin folds to add extra sophistication to tablescapes. Additional touches like personalized guest books in colors and lettering that match invitations and guest place cards can be a nice touch. 

































Let us help you plan the classic wedding of your dreams!

Whatever you do, don’t overlook lighting: luxurious, elegant elements like large chandeliers add flair, while more delicate details like string lights and lots of candles add to the romance. When used together in the right combinations, your lighting scheme can guarantee great photos.  



































A Traditional Experience

When it comes to the itinerary, a Classic Elegance wedding typically sticks to the tried-and-true. At the Vineyard at 12 Corners we find that most couples planning a Classically Elegant wedding choose to offer a cocktail hour with passed appetizers, a full bar with a signature cocktail or two and a traditional seated dinner. If a late-night snack is on the menu, it’s usually a caterer-created option that’s easy for guests to grab. Traditional, tiered wedding cakes are common in this style of wedding as well. 






















You’ll likely lean into the most recognizable order of events, too, from the toasts and speeches to classic wedding dances. If you do choose to shake things up by changing the typical lineup or incorporating unusual activities, keep those surprises sparing to maximize impact and maintain the classic feel.


































Let’s Get Started

Ready to bring Classic Elegance to your wedding at the Vineyard at 12 Corners? Our beautiful, elegant winery setting offers the perfect backdrop for the timeless wedding of your dreams, with plenty of flexibility to use the space in creative ways to make your experience unforgettable. Contact us and we’ll get started!

How To Plan Your Michigan Boho Wedding

How To Plan Your Michigan Boho Wedding

What’s not to love about a boho wedding? They’re natural, laid-back, and the lack of “rules” and tradition means you can make the experience completely your own. 

From statement entrances with vines of greenery to rustic tablescapes and exotic outdoor settings, couples are looking to Mother Nature to present a bohemian new take on traditional weddings. Here are some styling tips to keep in mind as you plan your Beautifully Boho wedding. 

Down-To-Earth Decor

There aren’t many rules to follow with a bohemian wedding, so you can get as creative and unconventional as you want. From tablescapes to seating, one option is to think earthy and eclectic. Create an “I-just-put-these-together” look using reclaimed wood, bud vases, mismatched chairs, and textured flowers. Or, play with statement pieces and delicate, fresh flowers to get a chic and slightly more formal effect. 

When choosing colors, think muted, soft tones that lean toward a natural palette: soft pinks, lots of natural shades, cream, tan, and so on. More vivid hues like deep turquoise or burgundy can pair well with the softer, more subtle tones; just use them sparingly as accents to keep the natural, hippie vibe in place. If you’re aiming for a more dramatic effect, textured metal and electric colors are a great addition to natural elements. 

At Southwest Michigan wedding venue The Vineyard at 12 Corners, our couples often work macrame items into the decor. We also see more unusual uses of fabrics and textiles, like patterned rugs in outdoor areas and throw pillows as accents. Wicker and rattan are used in shades and seating for a natural, outdoorsy look. 

Click to start planning your Michigan boho wedding today!

 Fairyland Florals












It’s no secret that flowers and greenery play a big role in a Beautifully Boho wedding. At the Vineyard at 12 Corners, we often see pampas grass, greenery and oversized floral pieces in arrangements and archways. Loose and luscious, these wild-looking natural accents give the impression that nature has taken over the wedding and reclaimed the setting.












Ethnic and vintage accents blend together, making everything look straight out of a mythological fairytale. With a little bit of creativity and vision, a boho wedding can create stunning results with a more modest budget.












Let us help you plan your boho wedding.

Unique Guest Experiences

Attention to details is a must when it comes to planning your Beautifully Boho wedding. From table settings to music to gifts, all details are carefully crafted to showcase the couple’s style and offer their friends and family a unique experience. Get involved in the process as much as you can to put your own spin on the overall aesthetic. Surprise your guests by introducing interactive activities, like a Polaroid selfie or photobooth station or old-school yard games, to add a fun twist to every aspect of your wedding. Boho weddings are all about creativity and freedom of expression, so your guests won’t quite know what to expect when they attend yours. Take advantage of that sense of anticipation by infusing originality and adventure into every aspect of their experience!











Eclectic Menus

When planning food for a bohemian wedding, think eclectic options like farm-to-table, international cuisine, street carts, or traditional favorites. There are no wrong answers here, so if you like a specific type of food or drink and know your guests would enjoy it, it’s worth discussing with your caterer ways of incorporating it into the menu. 

For example, maybe you want ice cones or summer punch for cocktail hour. Or perhaps you fancy a dessert station filled with cotton candy and salted caramel popcorn. Whatever you choose, the way in which you present your food can really draw focus and set the tone of the day.

At the Vineyard at 12 Corners, our couples often offer a wider array of bar options.. Cakes are typically very simple and often adorned with flowers similar to the ones used in decor – but it’s even more common to see unusual desserts like doughnuts or cookie bars.  

Click here to find out more about having your Michigan boho wedding at the Vineyard at 12 Corners!











Let’s Get Started

Ready to start planning your Beautifully Boho wedding at the Vineyard at 12 Corners? Our rustic, nature-inspired setting offers the perfect backdrop for the bohemian wedding of your dreams, with plenty of flexibility to use the space in creative ways to make your experience unforgettable. Contact us and we’ll get started!



Engaged? Start Planning Your Michigan Wedding Here.

Engaged? Start Planning Your Michigan Wedding Here.

Congratulations on your engagement!

….so, now what?


From picking a wedding venue to choosing a date, the first steps to planning your wedding can be overwhelming. Whether you’re dreaming of a rustic country wedding, an elegant winery wedding, or aren’t sure exactly what you want yet, your imagination is probably dancing with images of gorgeous gowns, flowers and Instagram-worthy table settings. All that dreaming is fun, but getting carried away can make it hard to know where to focus your planning first.

As wedding professionals, we’ve seen it all, and we know how many decisions there are to make! But the good news is, you don’t have to figure out every detail right away. Before you fall too far down the Pinterest rabbit hole, take a few moments to set yourself up for low-stress wedding success by making sure you’re tackling these 3 big steps in the right order:

1. Ask the big questions.

Since you’ve already found this article, we’ll assume you’ve started doing at least a basic Google search on venues and locations. But before you get too far into picking out venues, it’s a good idea to have a discussion with your fiancee to make sure you’re on the same page about some basics. Establishing a few important details up front can help you narrow down your choices and start making decisions instead of getting paralyzed by too many options:

  • Location. Will you get married near your current home, choose a spot between your hometowns, or have a destination wedding? 
  • Venue type. While being flexible about the type of wedding venue you’re looking for will open up options, some couples have their hearts set on a specific look. For example, if you and your fiancee both know you’ll want something very specific like a rustic Michigan winery wedding, the search will be relatively straightforward (and maybe that’s how you found us!) On the other hand, if you have only a general idea of the kind of wedding you want, or the two of you think you want different things, you may need to get more creative with your search (more about that later.)
  • Time of year. You’ll need to have at least a basic idea of how soon and what time of year you want to get married, but we recommend holding off on choosing a specific date until you’ve locked in a venue, since that is often the limiting factor.
  • Budget. While you will likely need to do some research to find out what kind of wedding budget to set, it’s a good idea to have at least a ballpark idea of your range. (Psst – when it comes to getting the best experience for your dollar, we believe small-town weddings provide the best value!) 
  • Size. Will the wedding be an intimate event, or will you need space for 300? This may drastically affect both your location and the availability of venues, so carefully consider not only how many people are on your “must-have” list, but also how easily the major players will be able to travel to the locations you have in mind. 
  • Style. Start looking at wedding-related Instagram accounts and Pinterest boards to get a feel for the aesthetic you’re most drawn to. Many venues can accommodate a wide variety of wedding styles, from beautifully boho to rustic, or classic elegance to vintage, but certain venues will definitely lend themselves better to a particular look and feel than others. 

2. Research venues.

Now that you’ve answered some of the most important questions, it’s time to start looking for a venue. Whether you’re starting from a wedding website like The Knot or starting from scratch on Google, the more detailed you can get in your search, the better your results will be. That’s why it’s great that you already made the big decisions: your research will be so much more effective! For example, if you know you want an elegant winery wedding between Chicago and Detroit, using specific search terms or filters will help you find appropriate venue websites. Once you’ve located a few venues that catch your eye, double-check details like how many guests they can accommodate and price ranges.

Once you’ve found a few venues you like, reach out – it’s time to schedule a tour. And prepare to ask a lot of questions! Check out these articles to prepare for your venue tours:

3. Choose a date. 

Chances are good that you fell in love with a specific wedding venue – or perhaps it was a tough choice, but budget or location helped you narrow it down to a winner. Now that you’ve settled on a venue and know their availability, it’s time to choose a date! When making this important choice, here are a few things to consider:

  • Work schedules and time off. How much time will you be able to get off on either side of your wedding? How many days do you want the festivities to last? These days, many couples are opting for Friday weddings because they often open up more availability and can also set the stage for a relaxed weekend with family and friends.
  • Weather. If you’re planning an outdoor wedding in Michigan, your date window will likely naturally be limited. If you’re an adventurous couple, you may be able to use Michigan’s unpredictable weather to your advantage by choosing a date on the edge of the season that other couples shy away from – or you may find that you prefer to play it safe and choose a time of year that’s likely to be mild and dry. Whatever you decide, make sure your wedding venue has a backup option in case of inclement weather. For more tips, read our guide to planning an outdoor wedding.  


Once these three steps are done, you’re ready to dive in on all the fun details like choosing a gown, selecting a menu, and planning the wedding festivities. Our partner 1928 Planning Company can help you with those details and more, and their blog is a fantastic source of wedding stye inspiration. 

Congratulations again on your engagement!  Love the idea of getting married in the unique setting of a Michigan winery surrounded by a lush vineyard? Get in touch and we’ll go to work planning a special and memorable day for your wedding party, guests – and especially for you and your fiancee.


Winery Wedding Venues: Unique Features

Winery Wedding Venues: Unique Features

Choosing your wedding venue is a big task. There are a ton of factors that figure into what could be the biggest decision you make after the initial “yes, I’ll marry you!”. With the abundance of venue styles to choose from, narrowing your focus is a great start to this big decision. So let’s explore the unique features winery wedding venues can bring in hopes this will help you make the right choice.

(Featured Image Photo Credit: 430 Studios)

 Feature 1: Built In Wedding Theme

corks for wedding



















 (Photo Credit: Rebekah Albaugh Photography, Absolute Photography, Kitty Lee Photography)

I tend to think the term “wedding theme” comes with an unfortunate mental picture. Too often this phrase makes our minds  jump to cheesy decor and plays into every part of your wedding. But in reality, subtle reflections of a theme can help you keep control in the overall design. And winery wedding venues have an easy built in theme to play off.

Consider beginning with a wine color scheme and build on the shades that naturally blend well with this deep hue. Wines and dark burgundies can easily be mixed into flowers or wedding party attire. You could also incorporate corks or wine bottles into your decor. You could even treat guests with wine glasses or small bottles of your favorite varietal as a favor. The wine theme doesn’t have to be obnoxious. Instead, it can give you an easy Pinterest search to get those creative juices flowing. You can always check out our board for Winery Weddings for even more inspiration!

Feature 2: Access to Great Wine

Michigan Wine, wedding wine

(Photo Credit: 12 Corners Winery)

True, you can often serve great wine at many venues, but with winery wedding venues there’s a bit more meaning behind it. I have to admit, it’s just a cool feeling to be sipping great wine while being surrounded by the actual grapes that created that goodness.  Often this is a chance for people to experience the greatness of 12 Corners wine for the first time if their distribution hasn’t reached your area. It’s a unique opportunity and can often lead to a newfound favorite for you and your guests alike. You can always get an idea of the amazing offerings of 12 Corners wine by visiting their website.

Feature 3: Outdoor Spaces

vineyard wedding tent



















(Photo Credit: Sweet Lemon Drop Photography)

These next two features were touched on a bit in our last post about why outdoor wedding venues are so great. But let’s dive in a bit more. Winery wedding venues often have an abundance of space to work with outdoor spaces being a big part of that. Having the option to create unique features for guests outdoors gives you access to some ideas that might not be possible when space is limited. Again, drinking wine  among the vines where it grows is something special. And to be honest, we often find wedding guests happily popping grapes in their mouths just because you can.

Feature 4: Guest Experiences

welcome drink, wedding drinks



















(Photo Credit: Durling Photography)

Now this one gets interesting. Our goal for all couples we work with is to provide you the opportunity to design your wedding. It’s safe to say most couples have this innate desire to do something different, something that will make your wedding stand out. This is where crafting unique guest experiences comes into play. Winery wedding venues definitely lead the way in offering some pretty fantastic options. Start thinking about all the ways you want to immerse your guests in all that surrounds them so they feel appreciated, loved, and relaxed enough to let loose and party.

Wineries are happy places so you’re already starting out with happy guests. Add in some different experiences – like perhaps a welcome sangria for guests when they arrive. Now you have a crowd that is excited and ready to join you for the celebration.

Feature 5: Effortless Elegance

vineyard wedding tent



















(Photo Credit: Kati Mallory Photography)

It pretty much goes without saying that wineries and class go hand in hand. Why would winery wedding venues be any different? Without having to put in much effort, a winery wedding is naturally elegant and sophisticated. Even if you aren’t the “sipping with my pinky up” type of person, a touch of elegance is never wrong. Sure, you can still have a wild party (we want you to have stories to tell!) but with a setting like this, your wedding can be the perfect mix of fun and fancy.

Wrapping Up

We want you to design your day, we want you and your guests to remember it always, and we want to make both possible with little stress. So it’s time to type in your search term of winery wedding venues and make that big decision just a bit easier. And remember, we’re always here to help!

Outdoor Wedding Venues – Are They Right for You?

Outdoor Wedding Venues – Are They Right for You?

When it comes to choosing your wedding venue, there are a seemingly infinite number of options. It can be difficult to narrow down the venues worth touring and try to determine what will be the best fit. Outdoor wedding venues have been growing in popularity for good reason but just because you like the idea of an outdoor venue, doesn’t mean it necessarily suits your needs. With the crazy amount of choices you will soon be making while wedding planning, let us help you out with this one! From a team that has hosted almost 600 outdoor weddings – we’re going to give you the “real” talk on outdoor wedding venues.

(Featured Photo: Brandon Shafer Photography)

 Outdoor Wedding Venues Have Lots of Pros

 Beautiful Scenery at Outdoor Wedding Venues

outdoor wedding venues vineyard tent



















(Photo credit: Sean Cook Weddings)

The great thing about most outdoor wedding venues is that they are in naturally beautiful locations. Wedding venues near water, wedding venues in rolling countrysides, or wedding venues in (hint, hint!) the middle of a vineyard all have something spectacular in common – picture perfect views. Many outdoor venues aren’t set in big downtown cities so they offer serenity and privacy just simply by where they’re located. With an abundance of photo locations often right at the venue, giving you more time to enjoy that lovely scenery with your guests.


Outdoor Weddings Bring Beauty, So You Can Keep it Simple

outdoor wedding venues copper arch wedding ceremony



















 (Photo Credit: Ashley Galminas Photography)

This one goes hand in hand with our first “pro”. Because of the natural beauty associated with many outdoor wedding venues, you often have the ability to keep it simple. Gorgeous surroundings means you can go easy on the decor if you want. It can take some time, creativity, and usually lots of money to transform an indoor space into the wedding you want. But with a sunset, some grape vines, and the stars – you don’t have to work hard to make the space beautiful.

We’re also talking simplicity for your guests. Many outdoor venues have onsite ceremony options and onsite parking. This means your guests can arrive without frustration, remain in the same location, and just enjoy themselves without having to worry about the logistics of getting from place to place.


Lots of Space at Outdoor Wedding Venues Means More Room for Experiences

outdoor wedding venues rental furniture



















(Photo Credits: top- Kati Mallory Photography, bottom- Rebekah Albaugh Photography)

One of the wedding trends we get really excited about is a shift in focus on guest experiences. Yes, it’s your day, but you want to make it memorable and fun for your loved ones. Choosing an outdoor wedding venue can often give you some room to let that guest experience come to life in ways it wouldn’t be possible with an indoor location. Think lawn games, fire pits, food trucks, etc. You can almost choreograph the space to guide your guests from experience to experience while giving them room to celebrate with you in ways they enjoy.


Unique Weddings Can Easily Be Designed Outdoors

outdoor wedding venues great photography



















 (Photo Credit: Rachael Osborn Photography)

Although we have seen that growth in outdoor wedding venues recently, it’s still so easy to find unique options. The wedding venue you choose, should reflect who you are as a couple. Styles for outdoor venues vary from rustic to elegant, casual to formal, and everything in between. Most outdoor venues give you the ability to express yourselves and create memorable events because they shy away from what is typically found in hotels, banquet halls, or country clubs. If you take the time to discover what is truly important to you and how you want your day to “feel” you can narrow down your search and select an outdoor venue that is perfectly you.


Outdoor Venue Cons & How to Mitigate


Navigating Michigan Weather

outdoor wedding venues vineyard umbrella



















(Photo Credit: Lauren Crawford Photography)

This is honestly the biggest concern for most couples when deciding if an outdoor wedding venue will work. Will it be hot? Might it be cold? Will it rain? All valid concerns. You don’t want to spend the duration of your planning worrying about something that is completely out of your control – it sucks the fun out of the process. However, doing your research when looking at venues can put your mind at ease. Always ask the “what if’s”. What is the plan if it rains, where will people go, how does affect the spaces you’ll be using? What if it’s cold, how does that change the flow of experiences my guests encounter? Is there an emergency plan for severe weather? If you are unsatisfied with the answers any venue gives you to these questions; move on.

You have to plan for the worst and be okay with Plan B if it’s needed. If you can only imagine your wedding day at a certain venue in perfect conditions, it might not be the right fit for you. Weather will always be a factor but as long as you take the time to think through scenarios, you’ll find it doesn’t have to be that constant worry in the back of your mind.


Dealing with the Outdoors and Bugs

(No photo here – no one wants to see pictures of bugs…)

Like it or not, there are some less glamorous parts to planning a wedding. If you are considering an outdoor wedding venue, how to deal with bugs can be one of those unsavory topics. Flies, and mosquitoes, and bees – oh my! The last thing you want to be doing on your wedding day is swatting away flies or trying to itch a fresh mosquito bite. If you have a fear or pretty intense distaste of the winged pests, you may want to reconsider your outdoor vibe. Bugs here and there are part of the territory. However, if you are looking at experienced and reputable venues, they will have thought of this already and hopefully taken the steps to keep your space as bug free as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask a venue what measures they use to control the issue. If they are like us, they will tell you the lifecycle of a mosquito is 21 days, and yes – we treat our spaces every 21 days – so fear not.


Outdoor Venues Come with Limited Dates

outdoor wedding venues perfect for photos



















(Photo Credit: 430 Studios)

If you are reading this, you are likely planning your wedding somewhere close to our little corner of Michigan. Which means with good old Michigan seasons – we have a limited number of dates we can host outdoor weddings. Depending on the venue, Michigan wedding season often runs May through October. That’s only 6 months of Saturdays to choose from so those will be at a premium. You will want to start looking early and make some of those big decisions pretty quickly because dates fill fast.

In the end, your choice of venue is very personal and there are so many factors to consider but if you think an outdoor wedding venue might be right for you, we’d love to talk through your ideas! Just reach out!


Skip the Big City: Small Town Weddings Win

Skip the Big City: Small Town Weddings Win

Why a Small Town Michigan Wedding is Right for You

Without giving up my age, let’s just say I’ve been doing weddings for quite a while now. When we first began on our venue management journey almost all the couples we hosted had some connection to our lovely little corner of Southwest Michigan. Maybe they grew up here, maybe they vacationed at the beach, maybe they graduated from a nearby university and had the chance to see first hand the beauty of Lake Michigan, the unique wineries and breweries, the welcoming feel a quaint town or the peace some farmland can bring. And they chose to skip out on the busy day to day and overwhelming task of planning their wedding in a bigger city. But as the years have gone by, the connections to our area have become less of the reason couples choose to travel this way. We see more and more couples coming to beautiful Southwest Michigan (many for the first time!) just to host their most amazing day. Sure it can seem like a tough task to tackle – planning from afar, having to find local vendors, asking guests to travel – but here is why they continue to take that leap. And a few tips for how to quiet your worries about planning your mini-destination wedding.

Reason #1: Cost – Plain & Simple

I find myself telling couples when they come to view our venues, we get to see the best side of sticker shock in our little town. Yes, weddings are costly and yes, you still want to create the wedding of your dreams, so the simple solution is a small town wedding. Couples heading this way from larger cities like Chicago, Detroit, Grand Rapids, etc. take a look at costs associated with a wedding in our area and their mouths drop open – that’s the sticker shock. And then, a sigh of relief. “Maybe we can invite all the guests we want to celebrate with! Maybe we can do those creative food stations! Maybe we won’t have to take out a loan for this!” Big cities are glamorous but come with a hefty price tag. So take a look at a smaller town and start pinning all those extra little details you were dreaming of incorporating – it can ALL be within reach.

Reason #2: Unique Experiences

Yes, hotel and country club weddings are exquisite – but how many have you attended? If I had to guess, I would say many couples I work with have at least three other weddings they have to attend and/or plan around when getting ready for their own. It’s just a natural instinct that you want yours to stand out – to provide your guests with an experience they will remember for all the right reasons. So picking up and traveling just a little distance gives you the chance to create a wedding that is a whole new kind of lovely.

St. Joseph/Benton Harbor in particular is a great setting for your guests to enjoy more than just your wedding day. Of course there is the draw of Lake Michigan and the beaches – but there are also some killer restaurants (lots of farm-to-table in this area!), a whole trail of wineries and breweries to enjoy, hotels, unique shops, rental homes, etc. There is a solid reason this area is a tourist destination – show your guests a good time, create amazing memories, and get hitched all with one great weekend!

Reason #3: It Really Can Be Easier

Planning a wedding from a distance can be tricky but let’s focus on all of the details that can be easier than trying to plan in a big city. Parking – really I don’t need to say more about this. How much easier is parking in a small town versus the hassle of finding a space in a big city? So.Much.Easier.

Less Distraction –  if you choose to get married in or near your home town, do you ever really step away from it all to focus on your day? You run errands on lunch breaks or get sucked back into work and inevitably you find yourself wedding planning right alongside your day to day life. If you plan a small town wedding you get the opportunity to make a clean break from everyday and fully immerse yourself in your wedding, your family, and your friends.

Fewer Options – initially this may seem like a negative but if you are anything like me, or the hundreds of couples we work with, too many options can be overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, fewer options doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on quality. There are some unbelievable wedding professionals in this area! Researching options and making connections with your vendors doesn’t take as much time and is far less stressful to narrow down your top picks.

Still on the fence about trying to escape the big city? Let these tips for a small town Michigan wedding make your decision just a bit easier.

Tip #1: Do Your Research

Think broadly with this one! You don’t just want to get to know the venues in these smaller towns. There are so many other factors to consider. Conduct your research on the area as a whole. What can my guests do in town? What does lodging in this area look like? Are there local events I need to consider? Who are the best local vendors? Yes, finding the perfect venue is important and can narrow down the towns you research – but make sure to dig a little deeper and look past the venue itself. Some of the answers you’ll find by doing this will make planning so much easier in the long run.

Tip #2: Keep Guests Informed

You obviously want your guests to have a great time and remember how amazing your wedding was. The easiest way to make them happy is to prepare them for the weekend so they can relax and enjoy all a small town has to offer. Get those Save-the-Dates out early and include lodging information. Put important area information on your wedding website – things like directions to important places, area attractions, parking information, transportation options, etc. And if you decide to put welcome bags at hotels or rental houses, include a timeline for your guests to follow. Your well informed guests will love you for this extra effort!

Tip #3: Hire a Wedding Planner

Hiring a wedding planner is probably the obvious answer to making any wedding easier. But it’s even more important if you are hosting a wedding in a location other than “home”. Local wedding planners will know the best vendors, will be the most realistic about what to expect when budgeting, and will have all the in’s and out’s of the area you may not even consider. Plus, letting a planner take care of all the details is the best way for you to be able to spend time with loved ones without needing to run around crazy the entire weekend. Our friends at 1928 Planning Co. are SO good at what they do – check out their blog to see other tips and resources for planning!

So take a deep breath, take our advice, and this will be you – crushing your small town Michigan wedding!

 If you want to find out more about how your vision fits with our corner of Southwest Michigan, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Photo Credits!

Craig Watson Photography

Michael Koch Photography

Rebekah Albaugh Photography

The Boulevard Inn

Kati Mallory Photography

Kitty Lee Photography

Sweet Lemon Drop Photography