Though many of my clients decided to move to a backyard wedding in 2020, Shelly and Michael planned on a weekday intimate Smiths Creek backyard wedding. On a beautiful August Wednesday, 20 or so of their closest family and friends gathered in Shelly and Michael’s backyard to witness their marriage. Though large weddings are fun, the simplicity of getting married in your backyard really can’t be beat.
After getting ready separately (Shelly’s look by the amazing Ashley MacPherson) these two had a first look (again, right in the backyard), and we used their property for portraits – no wedding party or anything, just the two of them. Usually I don’t get so lucky with so many different spots in one place. It all made for a very relaxed and fun time.
For this Smiths Creek backyard wedding, I was lucky enough to work with one of my favorite videographers, Katie from 97 Films. Shelly works alongside Katie which is how we all met! I was super honored when Shelly reached out to ask me to photograph her wedding day.
After taking some family photos, everyone gathered in the seats on their newly finished deck, and the pair shared personal vows overlooking their backyard pond. Their good friend presided over the ceremony, which I always find very special and personal. There wasn’t anything NOT personal about this day and I think it made it absolutely perfect.
After the ceremony (check out that rose petal recessional – super fun!), there was an informal cocktail hour, culminating in an Irish whisky toast with a special connection to their love story. This West Cork whisky, which was hard to obtain in the US from what I understand, was the whisky they drank after they got engaged in Ireland. Sharing it with their friends and family at their wedding seemed like a special way to start this new chapter of life for them.
A Smiths Creek backyard wedding maybe isn’t for everyone, but I really enjoyed being a part of such a laid back, chill day where the focus was on getting married rather than all the extra stuff that can come with weddings. That stuff is great and fine, but sometimes getting back to the basics feels good.
Lisa and John originally did not plan to have a summer Detroit backyard wedding, but the pandemic had other plans. Instead of postponing their celebration, they decided to make some changes to the guest list and venue so that they could have their wedding on their original wedding day.
Lisa and John met in a kickball league, believe it or not! I think that’s the most unique way to meet and have never had a couple meet that way. John proposed at Acadia National Park in Maine. They love spending time outdoors and at breweries….my kind of people. We did their engagement session on Belle Isle and in downtown Detroit; it was honestly a blast!
This summer Detroit backyard wedding was graciously hosted by John’s sister and brother-in-law in their beautiful backyard. And I think it turned out wonderfully!
The ceremony took place at Lisa’s childhood church, First Presbyterian Church of Northville, which is right in downtown Northville. The church is smaller and quite beautiful inside! The stained glass just is my favorite. I loved the moment when Lisa’s mom walked her down the aisle. Super emotional for both of them!
Originally Lisa and John were not planning a first look, but they made a last minute decision to have one, and I don’t think they regretted it! It was such a cute moment and let them relax a little before the ceremony.
Following the ceremony, the wedding party and I headed over to Maybury State Park for portraits. I love Maybury for sessions and was so excited we were able to use it for their wedding. We had gorgeous lighting – literally perfect for a summer wedding.
To cap off this Detroit backyard wedding, we took some nighttime portraits with the lights hung just outside the backyard. They are some of my favorite of the day and so MAGICAL. String lights just make a space, let me tell you!
Last year really threw us for a loop with rescheduling and pivoting around COVID. But Emilie and Nico were so determined to get married that they moved their wedding UP (it was originally planned for October and they switched it up to August). Changing the plan meant changing the venue and what we ended up with was a perfect boho backyard wedding that I’ll never forget!
You might remember Emilie and Nico from their Eastern Market engagement session (it’s so gorgeous so don’t forget to check it out). They are two of the absolute sweetest people and I’m so glad I got to work with them. Incredibly down to earth and just full of joy, these two are just wonderful to be around, not to mention I love their style. Please enjoy Nico’s emerald suit and Emilie’s BHLDN wedding dress with these incredible vintage shoes. The mismatched jewel toned bridesmaids dresses — to DIE FOR.
I know so much love went into this event, which was hosted at Nico’s aunt and uncle’s home. The maid of honor made the bouquets. Other handmade decorative elements found their way throughout the decor. You could tell it was a labor of love, some DIY, but make it chic boho backyard wedding.
Let’s be clear – sometimes when you hear backyard wedding you think picnic tables and bbq. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It can be a reflection of your style, just OUTSIDE! I felt this boho backyard wedding really did it up right, complete with a taco feast for dinner. Nothing felt plastic tablecloths and picnic tables because that wasn’t the vibe.
I’m just so thankful to my couples who pivoted their weddings so they could still get married, keeping me plenty busy in 2020!
Lauren and Seth love the outdoors so a sunset Stony Creek engagement session was perfect for them! The first time we scheduled their engagement session, the weather forecast was cloudy, but still fine for photos. However, after shooting for about thirty minutes, it started to RAIN! Out of nowhere, with 20 percent chance on the forecast! So we decided to postpone the session and try again in a week or so. Good thing because we got the most incredible sunset for their session!
Lauren and Seth are two of the most welcoming people I’ve met while in business. They asked me so many good questions about my work and myself, and I got to know their story too. After bonding over our shared love of food and beverages, we shared some food recommendations (they are newer to the area but still shared options I hadn’t heard of). They wanted to have some celebratory fun so we popped some champagne at their session. Highly recommend because those photos are always so fun to have and edit!
Our session ended at Yates Cider Mill for ice cream, as requested by these two. Ice cream is always a good way to end a summer session, especially a sunset Stony Creek engagement session.
A wedding day first look is an excellent way to start your wedding day together and cap off the excitement and anticipation of seeing each other all ready for the first time. Though many couples still opt for the traditional down the aisle first look, many more are opting to see each other before the ceremony in a private moment. This doesn’t have to be a two minute quick moment (though it can be if you want that!), but there are ways to make it a little more special and meaningful. After photographing so many first looks over the past years, I wanted to share some tips on how to make the most of your first look.
Though it’s completely your call, I find private first looks to be best to make the most of your first look. Usually one of the reasons a couple chooses a first look is to curb some anxiety of having that big moment in front of their friends and family at the ceremony. When parents or friends are looking on (sometimes not from a distance either), it can create a performative atmosphere instead of just having that private moment for yourselves. Your photographer and videographer should be shooting with longer lenses to give you the space and privacy you need as well.
Many couples choose to exchange gifts on wedding days, which is a super cute way to make the most of your first look! Sometimes it’s nice to exchange the gifts in person instead of sending them along to be opened during the getting ready part of the day. If you’d like to see your partner’s reaction to your gift, this is a great idea!
Gifts not your thing but love notes are? Make the most of your first look by writing letters to each other to read either out loud or privately during the first look. Sometimes couples choose to do this separately (similar to gift giving) to build anticipation, but it can be really nice to share that moment of reading these letters together. Plus, you can keep the letters and look back on them on each anniversary.
Share personal Vows
Some ceremonies do not allow for personal vows (many religious ceremonies do not allow deviation from their specific ceremony scripts) or perhaps you are not comfortable sharing personal vows in front of your guests. That’s okay! The first look is a great time to read those vows to each other. Marriage is between the two of you anyways so really no one else needs to hear the vows but you two! Usually vows are read aloud to your partner as you face each other. Have some tissues on hand!
Choose a Meaningful Location
It’s not always possible to choose a meaningful location for a first look due to timeline or transportation circumstances, but sometimes it’s possible to decide on a first look location that is meaningful to the two of you. Perhaps it’s where you met (nearby to your venue) or a spot you went on dates. Perhaps you’ll incorporate that location into your portrait session. Either way, it can be really special to appear in your wedding attire for the first time in front of your partner at a location you’ve frequented or is extra special to you both. If that’s not possible, don’t put pressure on yourself, first looks can happen just about anywhere!
First looks can be a great way to ease wedding day jitters and provide a private moment. You don’t NEED to make it any more special than that, but if you want ways to make the most out of your first look, one of the recommendations above are great!