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Destination I Do
Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Blissful Winery Wedding in Michigan

Words by Alexandra Aley
Photos courtesy of Kellie Hetler Photography


From teammates to lovers, Monica and Chris first met on the local club swim team. It didn’t take long for the two to hit it off while chatting on the Stevenson pool deck. Eleven short years later, they would be reflecting on this moment during their wedding vows. 

The couple, who are originally from Chicago, knew they wanted to host a destination wedding away from the city. Choosing a location was easy thanks to their mutual love for the state of Michigan. 

“We went to college in Michigan, a lot of friends still live in Michigan, and we traveled all around the state,” the couple says. 

While traveling around, the couple stumbled upon Traverse City and instantly fell in love. Freshwater beaches, vineyards and its charming atmosphere made it hard to resist. They loved it so much that Chris even asked Monica to marry him there!

In their search to find the best-fitting venue in the area, the couple visited three different locales. 

“We looked at the first two and felt defeated. They weren’t for us and didn’t have a good back-up rain plan. However, when we went to Aurora Cellars, we instantly fell in love,” Monica says. 

Tucked away in the hills of northern Michigan, the boutique winery made a chic spot for an intimate ceremony. 

Planning the details of the wedding was made easy thanks to their wedding planner, Katherine of Katherine Grace Designs. “Our vendors were so helpful,” Monica says. The couple met with their DJ from Northern Beat Entertainment and photographer, Kellie Hetler, on multiple occasions to help make important timeline decisions. 

Unfortunately, logistics for lodging weren’t as easy to navigate as other elements of the planning process. Traverse City, being such a popular destination, made it difficult for the couple to find hotel blocks. Most hotels were not willing to accommodate, so they recommended that guests turn to Airbnb and VRBO.

Wanting to encapsulate a classic and timeless feel on their special day, the couple took it upon themselves to create a few tailored, DIY elements. The bride creatively made all the signage for the day - including the most adorable illustration of the couple's golden retriever, Mack, for the signature drink. Naturally, they coined the beverage "Mack's Margaritas."

“Additionally, my mom made homemade Limoncello for each guest table," Monica says, "and we made signs for those bottles as well.”

Sharing their love of Michigan with dear friends and family provided a sense of adventure and created memories to be treasured forever. 

“The people who matter and love you will be at your wedding, regardless of where you have your wedding,” Monica says.


Vendors: Photographer: Kellie Hetler Photography; Wedding Planner: Katherine Grace Designs; Ceremony/Reception Site: Aurora Cellars; Florist: Carriage House Floral Design; Hair & Makeup: Team Hair and Beauty; Gown Designer: Sophia Tolli; Shop: Mariolka’s Bridal Boutique; Men’s Attire: The Black Tux; Bridesmaids Dresses: Dessy; DJ: Northern Beat Entertainment; Videographer: Wedding TalesCatering: Bayside GatheringsRings: William Levine Jewelry

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