landlocked bride® | midwest + mountain west wedding inspiration

plan a modern wedding in the middle of the country

Christina and Aaron had their wedding at her parent’s home in Union Pier, Michigan. The ceremony was held on the private beach overlooking Lake Michigan.  Not only was this an awesome combination of beach and backyard weddings, but it had unique details throughout. Personalized papel picado, luchador catering staff, and an expanding paper cake topper definitely made this wedding one both their guests and this blog will remember.

Photographer: Justin Bursoni Photography / Catering: The Tamale Spaceship / Wedding Planner/Coordinator: Stephanie Smith / Flowers & Decor: Dilly Lily / Bride’s Dress: Badgley Mischka / DJ: Style Matters DJ

Fall is upon us! It might have been upon you already, dear reader, but here in Texas where I currently live, it just showed up. Luckily, this wedding is perfect for ushering in my fall mood, as it features vibrant orange flowers, ominous skies, and nautical rope details everywhere. Then there is the fact that it took place at a boutique hotel that MIGHT be haunted that’s perfect for exploring as a new husband and wife, and said couple chose a delightfully classic cake topper, and I am just completely charmed by this wedding on Lake Michigan.


From the Photographer:

Becky and AJ are sailors on Lake Michigan. They wanted a wedding that incorporated their love for the water and their love of the autumn season. The Perry Hotel allows for both since the ceremony and reception locations both face out towards Lake Michigan and Little Traverse Bay. The fall colors were almost at peak and it was a gorgeous fall day in northern Michigan.

Photographer: Paul Retherford Wedding Photography / Hairstylist: La Dolce Vita Salon / Catering/Venue: The Perry Hotel

I was born with that infuriating middle ground of artistic talent. I can get away with a basic sketch and I can design you a business card, but I will never paint you a picture that will bring you back in time or take your breath away. But, I truly appreciate and value those who can.

That’s why I’ve chosen “The Art Coast of Michigan,” or Saugatuck/Douglas County, as today’s Hometown Honeymoon. It’s not far from many of you Landlocked Brides and its an art mecca that has stood the test of time. It began as an artist colony in the late 19th century and today offers gorgeous scenery, adorable lodging, art galore, and even its very own beach, Oval Beach on Lake Michigan. Below, we’ve collected a few images, places, local art, and scenery to inspire you to plan your own honeymoon in the area or even to just inspire your planning and dreaming for your big day.



MI5 MI8 MI10 MI Art MI13

 Crane Orchards & Cider Mill  . Maplewood Hotel  . Ivy Inn 

The Felt Mansion  . Oval Beach . Sweetwater Sailing . Saugatuck Boatcruises

Treats & Trifles  . Peterson Mill . Oval Beach

Have you been to Saugatuck? What did you like best about it? What other small-town Michigan hideaways would you recommend for a honeymoon?

I am definitely swooning over this wedding today. The bride and groom pulled together a handmade but polished vintage affair by incorporating borrowed china and silver, a cigar bar for him and a candy bar for her, and the bride’s unique dress and gorgeous bouquet. And then there are the hand sewn, coordinating escort cards, napkins, and table numbers-I’ve always loved this way of designating tables! I think my favorite part though, are the shots of the bride and groom post-ceremony, loving on each other in the beautiful greenery.

From the Photographer:

Neele and Walter planned a hometown wedding in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and they and their families and friends worked tirelessly to make it hit the vintage but modern mark Neele was looking for. They sewed 250 napkins, matching runners, and escort cards, laid out a cigar station and a candy bar, made moss covered initials to hang on the church door and stage throughout the reception, and sourced silver and china from relatives.

Photographer: J. Nelson Photography / Reception Venue: Cascade Hills Country Club

Color and the urban setting. Enough said to catch anyone’s attention!

Studio Finch

From the Photographer:
Elle and Tommy hold their pride of Detroit like none other. And indeed, the city has much more pride beauty and vibrance then anyone would ever guess. As we walked down the streets filled with colored murals, and neighborhoods, there was a pride in people’s eyes- excitement! so to speak. Honestly, being an outsider (living in Chicago that is) that made me very excited for Detroit, with it’s growing breweries and numorous community gardens- it shows a growth in the city. Elle is currently going to Law School in the city, and Tommy is a comedian (literally!) He performs as well as teaches improve in the city. They met in college at Michigan State and have an adorable little dog named Artie.

I admire anyone who can plan a wedding in a short time frame. I have had the pleasure of doing it a few times myself, but when a bride and groom do it, they get my kudos. Because it’s not easy to have it all come together so well. Laurie and Colin had the help of their friends and family, which makes the process not just easy, but enjoyable, too. And, had I not told you that bit of information, you would have had no idea they planned their wedding in three months.

Lime Green Photography

From the Photographer:
Laurie and Colin’s wedding was held at Laurie’s parents’ farm in Metamora, MI. Her wedding attire was a secondhand find at Rosebud’s (her dress, her veil, her hairpiece), and the bridesmaid dresses and tuxes were handmade at Sue’s Custom Sewing. Laurie added the flower clips to her shoes from an Etsy seller, borrowed her great grandmother’s jewelry, and had friends help make her invitations. All of the decorations were either handmade, secondhand bought, or borrowed. The handkerchiefs that wrapped the bridesmaid’s jewelry (gift) was by the bride’s great grandmother. Laurie made the centerpieces by gluing vintage plates and glasses together. The cake topper was made by her friend. The cupcake station was assembled with the help of family friends with a vintage ice cream sundae spoon server and vintage syrup dispensers. During the ceremony, Laurie and Colin each drew half of the Ichthus fish in clay to signify their unity in Christ in lieu of a unity candle. And above all…they planned their wedding in THREE MONTHS.

Ceremony / Reception Venue: Private Residence | Caterer: Impreza Catering | Photography: Lime Green Photography | Stationery: Antiquaria | Wedding Gown: Sophia Tolli | Shoes: Nina Shoes | Tuxedo and Mens Attire: Sue’s Custom Sewing | Veil / Bridal Accessories: Rosebud’s Bridal and Tuxedo | DJ: Ryan Thero

I love reading a couple’s story. And, Melissa and Andrew were sweet enough to each share their sides of their story – all the more reason to really get into this post. It’s a beautiful thing to see how a couple evolved over the year and what ultimately led them down the marital path. Thanks to their photographer, Paul, for sharing their big day with me.

Paul Retherford Wedding Photography

From the Bride:
One random weekday night during my Junior year of college, my best friend asked if I would come with her to the CMU’s Men’s club soccer game to watch a guy she was interested in. What I had not known was that I would for the first time meet the man I was going to marry, my future Husband.

AJ caught my eye from the second I saw him on the soccer field, unfortunately for us, timing wasn’t right. It was not until four years later that fate brought us together……..

In 2008, we randomly bumped into each other while cheering on our beloved Chippewa’s at the Motor City Bowl. AJ & I hit it off from the night we reunited and have been inseparable since. Our first year together was filled with phone calls and monthly visits as AJ lived in Kentucky, and I in Michigan. Each phone call & visit brought us closer together, so much so that when the time came, both of us knew a move was in our near future! My love for AJ was so strong, I took one for the team! A month after graduation, my parents & I packed all of my belongings and headed for Lexington!

Nine months later, I found myself preparing for my first holiday (what is now my FAVORITE Holiday!) away from my family. Just like he always does, AJ knew exactly what to do to make me feel better; he took me for a walk at one of our favorite places, the Arboretum.

But what I did not know was that AJ was about to make this day one that I would never forget…..While on our walk, AJ spotted a bench in the middle of a tree covered trail. While walking over to the bench, AJ pulled out his camera and tripod (while I thought to myself, “I really taught him well!!”), and asked for a “Easter” picture. AJ began to set up the camera and before I knew it, he was at my side talking to me and kissing me. It was at this moment that I realized AJ was down on one knee, holding the most perfect, beautiful ring, asking me to be his wife…..and of course, I Said “YES”!!!

From the Groom:
‘Twas was the night before Christmas and all through the house,
Love was in the air and I had no idea I was about to find my spouse.

Ok, ok maybe it was the day after Christmas but I couldn’t resist. December 26, 2008 will forever be remembered in my mind. I met up with friends to attend the Motor City Bowl at Ford Field and cheer on my alma mater Central Michigan University. Our cheering section grew larger as we sat with a group of lovely young ladies that we had known previously from our college days at CMU. Among them was Melissa or “Mel” as they call her. See, I had been introduced to Mel before but we were acquaintances at best. At that time she had a boyfriend and being the respectable man that I am, I steered clear. However, this time was different. She was newly single and from what I had heard, she was quite the catch. As the flame of hope faded for CMU’s chance at victory (they lost 24-21) Melissa and I had sparked an interest in each other.

As the Holidays ended I made my way back to Lexington, KY. We had exchanged phone numbers with the hopes of keeping in touch. And so it began with weekly phone conversations and monthly weekend trips between Michigan and Kentucky. Through the many adventures that we experienced together in such a short time I was starting to see how unique and beautiful Melissa really was. It was a fortune that I had received on one of our dates to PF Chang’s restaurant in Lexington that summed it up best and it read:

“You are about to embark on a most delightful journey”

This has truly become the motto of our relationship together. After multiple late night discussions Melissa decided to move to Lexington to start her first professional job, and I like to think more importantly to be closer to me. As time passed our relationship continued to develop and become more natural. I started to realize that she was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

After mustering up the courage to ask her parents blessing (which they gave thankfully) I began planning the proposal. It was Easter Sunday and we decided to go for a walk at the Arboretum by UK’s campus, a place we both enjoy for its beauty and nice running path. Ring in my pocket and trying to act calm I led us down a little used walking trail. Knowing Mel’s love for photography I suggested we stop and take an Easter picture. After posing for many a photo for my Mom I learned that it’s best to always have doubles, so I said let’s take another “just in case”. It was then that I pulled the ‘ole switch-a-rue and turned the camera to the video setting. I proceeded to drop to one knee and ask Melissa to be my wife…she said “yes”!!!

Ceremony Venue: Pere Marquette Depot | Reception Venue: Hilton Double Tree Bay City | Floral Designer: Memories by Candlelight | DJ: Storm DJ Show | Cake Designer: VanillaBean Bake Shop | Hair Stylist: Magnolia Salon & Spa | Officiant: Rev. Brian Tuttle | Photographer: Paul Retherford Wedding Photography

Arielle Doneson Photography

This wedding has so many personal and unique details (and ideas), it makes me want to plan another wedding of my own. Since the couple loves books (and Jon is a writer), they carried their love of books and reading out throughout all of their decor. And, in lieu of a traditional guestbook, they used a large map and had guests share travel ideas and suggestions. Something they can share on a wall in their home – genius!

And, my favorite part? The ringbearer’s little speech. How cute is he?!

Bryan and Mae

From Bryan and Mae, the photographers:
Brittany and Jon’s wedding day was unique and beautiful. These two cherish the people around them and threw a big wedding to celebrate with them all. Jon is a writer and they are both lovers of books, so their wedding was themed around “story”, their story and the many books that have impacted them. Their ceremony was at Wealthy Theater in Grand Rapids, an aged theater with cozy red seats and a beautiful marquee. At their reception, each table was numbered as a chapter and books were everywhere. Escort cards were also bookmark favors for guests to take home with them, with the calligraphy done by the bride’s twin sister. They also love travel (they honeymooned in Greece!), and incorporated that into their wedding design as well. Instead of a guest book, they had a map on the wall that guests could pin travel tags to with a little note and travel suggestion. It was a great idea and now they have a great piece to hang on their wall to inspire future travel plans. It was a lovely celebration!

Ceremony / Reception Venue: Wealthy Street Theater | Caterer: Martha’s Vineyard | Bakery: Nantucket Baking Co. | Floral Designer: Horrocks | Photographer: Bryan and Mae | Wedding Gown: Allure | Bridesmaid Dresses: ModCloth | Hair Stylist: Hair Technique | Calligrapher: Molly Jacques Illustration | Transportation: Grand Rapids Trolley Co.

It’s always a great thing when you have a family member who already works in the wedding industry. They can offer advice and insight that you don’t want to take for granted. Tyler’s Mom just so happens to be a successful florist in Grand Rapids, and when her son proposed to Erica, she knew she wanted to have a hand in making their day special. And, Shelly did just that by integrating earthy and natural elements into all of their decor that added a unique touch.

Hetler Photography

From the Bride:
Tyler and I first met while hanging out with friends at a bar in Grand Rapids. We dated for four years before he proposed. Our original date to be married was February 2012, but we changed it to October 15, 2011 because I couldn’t possibly wait that long! Planning the wedding was really easy for us. Tyler’s mother, Shelly, is a wedding florist who does amazing work! She helped us with decor ideas and ended up creating some fabulous arrangements for the church and reception venue. It was beautiful! Our wedding day was perfect. We had so much fun celebrating with our family and friends and couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Ceremony Venue: Remembrance Church | Reception Venue: English Hills Country Club | Bakery: Cake Connection | Florist: Shelly’s Designs | Photographer: Hetler Photography