Northern Michigan Real Wedding


May 21, 2020
Words by Lauren Ertl
Photos courtesy of

For Alison and Eric a destination wedding in northern Michigan checked all the boxes: the outdoor location, coastal vibes and all within the budget. Plus, it was the place where Alison spent many summers visiting family while growing up. Needless to say, the couple couldn’t wait to take in the stunning location with the people they love!


In fact, before deciding on northern Michigan for their nuptials the couple actually toured several venues in their home state of California with no properties speaking to them. They then booked a last-minute flight to Michigan to check out their options there and fell in love with the Inn at Bay Harbor. While the venue was perfect (it had modern boho vibes like California), travel was a concern for many guests.

“In going into the destination wedding, we both had to come to terms that not everyone was going to be able to make it and we had to have no hard feelings over people who could not make it and needed to make the best decision for their families financials and scheduling,” Alison and Eric say.

Luckily, Eric‘s mom was able to host a large bridal shower for the couple a month before the wedding which acted as a great way for people who could not make it to feel included in the celebrations. This also meant that the couple could focus their efforts on planning.

“I don’t think we could’ve done it so seamlessly without our wedding planners help… My parents also being in the location helped as they took over some of the wine tastings and other things that we were not able to make,” Alison says. Having to let go of the reins and trust her team in Michigan was no easy task for the type A bride who had been mentally planning her wedding since age 15. However, with the demand of their jobs and the significant time difference helped Alison release her desire to play a hands-on role in planning.

Besides, the couple had their hands full enough trying to coordinate travel logistics with all of their guests, especially since many of them would be flying cross-country and since the venue was in a secluded area of northern Michigan. 

The week of the wedding arrived quickly, and when Alison and Eric arrived on the scene, they knew all of their time, money and energy paid off. “The minute our plane touched down in Michigan, it felt like our wedding. As a bride, I think you feel that weddings go by so quickly, but I never felt like that because I was able to have multiple days and moments with all the people I love celebrating us as a couple,” the bride says.

Now being veterans of the destination wedding experience, Alison and Eric wanted to share their top five suggestions and pieces of advice for couples looking to say “I do” away from home:

1)    Be confident in your decision. It is your decision as a couple, and that’s all that matters.

2)    Get a locally established planner that you can build and establish trust with.

3)    Think smart about transportation and make it as easy as possible for your guests.

4)    Provide fun things to do in the area on your website and in welcome bags! Think about incorporating a welcome party that is true to the local town spirit to show guests the non-touristy part of town. Treat the weekend like a curated vacation for your guests!

5)    Create a weekend of events! Why have one day to celebrate when you have all your favorite people in your favorite place? Enjoy an extended wedding weekend of celebrating you and your partner’s love for one another and everyone in your lives that has supported you.

Vendors: Photography: The Weber Photographers (main day) & Michael Murphy Photography (vow exchange day); Wedding Planner: Sheila Dodson-Wright & Karly Balogh with Tableau Events; Friday Ceremony: Holy Childhood of Jesus Catholic Church; Friday Reception: Summer Nights Boat; Saturday Vow Exchange & Reception: Inn at Bay Harbor; Florist: Merci Beaucoup Floral; Stationery & Signage: Prim & Pixie; Cupcake Display & Welcome Cookies: Simply Sweet By JessicaHair & Makeup: Ashley Boilard with Polished on Main & Vogue SalonGown Designer: Romona Keveza; Bridal Shop: En Blanc; Friday church dress: Kay UngerGroom’s Clothing Designer: The Trunk Club LA, The Tie Bar & Stance Socks; Bridesmaids Clothing Designer: Halston Heritage & Groomsmen’s Clothing Designers: Generation Tux & Banana Republic; Videography: Killer Creations; Band: Huckleberry Groove; Rehearsal Dinner: Chandler’s Restaurant; Welcome Party: The Backlot; Transportation: Bay to Bay Shuttle; Saturday Officiant: Dean Tahtinen with Amazing Day Weddings

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