Eckhout Wedding

A Rustic Traverse City Wedding


March 18, 2023
Words by Jessie Allen
Photos courtesy of Melian Photography

Stephanie and Zach’s love story began in Downtown Detroit, Michigan, where they both worked at General Motors on lateral teams. Their first trip together as a couple was to Traverse City, Michigan, where Stephanie spent summers growing up, and they fell in love with the rustic, outdoorsy vibe of the city. Despite the distance, they decided to have a destination wedding in Grawn, 15 minutes south of downtown Traverse City.

“We knew it would be risky being four hours from most of our friends and family,” Stephanie says. “But, everyone loved the city, traveling around taking in the scenery, and having many things to do.”

The couple found their venue, Cherry Barc Farm, through a recommendation from one of Stephanie’s bridesmaids. The venue provided everything they needed, from DJ services to floral arrangements, and had a chapel-like ceremony space connected to the reception area with windows that rolled up and down to create an indoor/outdoor vibe. The venue’s lake also provided a stunning backdrop for wedding photos, and the tree farm area was particularly special to Stephanie because her late grandfather owned a tree farm.

“From the moment we walked in, we knew it was the exact setting that we were seeking to get married at,” the couple says.

For decor and special elements, the couple incorporated DIY projects that added personal touches to the wedding. Stephanie’s father helped with many of these projects, including wood slices for the cake that came from her grandfather’s tree farm, Traverse City whiskey bottles with lights, and a card box he made from scratch. They also had a neon sign made by a small business in Houston, Texas.

The ceremony itself was short and sweet, with personal vows exchanged before the main ceremony.

“Our unity ceremony consisted of putting handwritten notes we will open on our one-year wedding anniversary and a bottle of Traverse City Whiskey Co’s cherry whiskey into a box Stephanie’s father made with a lock latch,” the couple says.

The officiant spoke about the couple’s shared love for different places – Zach for the city (he lived in Chicago for a while), and Stephanie for nature (she lived in Colorado for a short time).

Planning a wedding from afar can be challenging, but the couple found that taking their time, staying organized, and using tools helped make the process easier. They only visited their venue twice before the wedding, but communication with the venue staff was seamless, and they received photos of anything they needed to see.

Stephanie and Zach’s advice for couples preparing for their wedding day is to take their time making decisions and to make choices that feel right for them and their partner, rather than for other people’s expectations.

“You only get to have this special moment once, enjoy it for you guys coming together as a couple,” Stephanie says. “Don’t let outside influence or pressure influence what you want to do.”

Vendors: Photographer: Melian Photography; Ceremony/Reception Site: Bluebridge Events Centre; Florist: Stephanie with Bluebridge Events Centre; Stationery: The Knot; Cake: Top Tier Cakery; Hair & Makeup: The Hair & Beauty Lounge; Gown Designer: Louvre Couture & The Wedding Shoppe; Reception Dress: Lulus; Men’s Attire: Calvin Klein; Bridesmaids Dresses: Azazie; Videography: Voice Wedding Cinema; Jewelry: Tiffany & Co., Pat Scot Jewelers & Shinola; Bride’s Reception Hat: House of Hawk and Holly 

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