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.
So many of my summer 2020 couples made the hard decision to make changes to their original wedding plans so they could still tie the knot on their original date. Keri and Darin were no different and their intimate Divine Child wedding turned out to be just the loveliest day!
Maybe you remember Keri and Darin’s beautiful fall engagement session, with appearances by their adorable dog Callie — she makes an appearance in their wedding photos too, don’t worry! If you’re thinking of including your dog in your wedding photos, do it! I wish Nora was in ours – biggest regret for me of our wedding day for sure.
Keri and Darin met at Central Michigan University and were together almost eight years before their wedding day! They were originally planning a large 300+ person wedding, so what you’ll see below is very different from what we thought we’d be doing! These two are some of the most genuinely kind people you’ll ever meet. Keri and I had some long phone calls to discuss how best to proceed with the wedding and I never was upset to hear from her. She and Darin handled all of the changes with a lot of grace. They told me that they knew what was important to them about their wedding and planned around that. I think it turned out exactly perfect because it really centered around Keri and Darin in a very relaxed environment.
Keri is a teacher at Divine Child and it was important for them when re-planning their wedding to keep the day as an intimate Divine Child wedding. Surrounded by their wedding party and closest family, they said “I do!” on their original wedding date, followed by a backyard reception at Keri’s parents’ home. It was all beautifully put together and full of so much love! It was a hot day, but I had so much fun with these two and their people. It was one of those days where you feel like family. We took portraits at Nankin Mills which is one of my favorite spots in the Dearborn area for photos!
Though Keri and Darin opted against a first look, they decided they still wanted a special moment to themselves before they saw each other down the aisle. They opted for a first touch around a door where they exchanged letters. If you’re not into the whole first look thing, this is a great way to still have a special moment together before the ceremony! I love when couples exchange letters (whether in person or separately) and think it’s a beautiful private moment for you both. Sometimes you can say things in writing that just won’t come out otherwise.
ceremony: Church of the Divine Child | florals: Boland Florist | cake: Cakes by Stephanie | gown: Bombshell Bridal | alterations: Eva’s Bridal Salon | bridesmaids: Azazie | Rings: Orin Jewelers & Diamonds & Jewelry Unlimited | groom suit: Jos A Bank
I just love a summer Detroit backyard wedding. One of my favorite parts of 2020 was the pivoting to backyard wedding celebrations. Leina and Tom planned a simple backyard wedding to begin with; no change of plans needed when the pandemic continued to impact our lives.
It was a hot day for a Detroit backyard wedding. And I truly mean hot – very sweaty, very humid, and just a typical midwestern Michigan July day, just before Independence Day. But this didn’t make the celebration any less special, just that everyone changed out of their suits and ties and pants after all the photos were done.
Leina has an infectious personality. She is sweet and has a big laugh as you can see in the photos. I loved her simple boho dress – it just suited her. A first look with Tom and then her son Eli was the perfect way to kick off this Detroit backyard wedding!
The ceremony space was decorated with an arch with florals by the insanely talented (and super sweet but now Nashville bound) Kinship Flower Farm. Tom and Leina said their vows amongst their closest family and friends, about 30 or so people. After the ceremony and signing of the marriage license, they participated in a Polish tradition in which the husband and wife are presented with two shot glasses, one has vodka and one has water. Whoever gets the vodka is apparently the boss of the marriage. Maybe you can figure out who won by the images.
The best part of summer backyard weddings is their simplicity. The kids played badminton and danced in sprinklers. The guests greeted Tom’s mother’s chickens. Everyone ate and chatted leisurely. There were a few toasts and most people were dressed comfortably. I feel like it was absolutely perfect and I hope for more Detroit backyard weddings in the future!
Before COVID-19 shook all of our lives, Suzanne and Kyle were married in an intimate living room elopement. Right in their living room, their immediate families gathered as they declared that they would spend their lives together in marriage.
When Suzanne originally called me about photographing her wedding, she mentioned that the reason they chose an intimate living room elopement was that her grandparents were married in their living room as well. Kyle and her wanted something simple, but memorable, and both didn’t want to be the center of attention on a big wedding day.
Before the ceremony, we took a moment for a first look, again right in the living room. The pair wanted a private moment to breathe before the ceremony. It was, of course, an emotional one.
After the ceremony, we headed to the Fisher Building for family photos and portraits of the couple. I love the Fisher Building and its architecture. It’s one of the few places in Detroit where you can photograph inside without a fee.
We also were able to make a quick stop at the Cass Ave viaduct for some perfect golden hour photos with Suz and Kyle. I love love love winter sunsets. Don’t think a winter wedding can’t be beautiful. It absolutely IS. A wedding is beautiful in every single season. We also just happened to get the most beautiful February day!
After sharing some time together, Suzanne and Kyle greeted guests and family at The Hungarian Rhapsody restaurant for a dinner reception. The only traditional thing they did was cut the cake (and it was delicious by the way…Suz made sure I wrapped some up to take home).
When it comes to your wedding, you do you. For Suzanne and Kyle, this meant forgoing a big wedding to spend the day as they’d like it. This doesn’t mean the wedding is less special or meaningful. This is exactly what they envisioned and wanted for their day. Read more on how to make intimate weddings special on my blog.
I have a soft spot in my heart for intimate weddings. There is something about a couple choosing to forgo the huge party and just have their closest family surround them on their wedding day. Bill and Lauren’s Detroit Foundation Hotel wedding this past spring was one of the best wedding days I’ve ever been a part of. Don’t get me wrong, I love a traditional wedding, but there is something so special and almost sacred about a small wedding. I was the fifteenth person there, and what an honor it was to photograph this day for them.
Bill and Lauren are just so sweet. They are naturals in front of the camera (remember their Gallup Park engagement session last fall? super good), and they really balance each other. I can tell you a lot about how they interact with each other because I have spent now over 5 hours just photographing them. When you don’t have a wedding party, you get to traverse the city and get a TON of portraits of the two of you. Though it was a warmer May day, we had beautiful weather…you can’t hate when it’s sunshiny on your wedding day. We started with a first look at the Detroit Foundation Hotel in front of those stunning red doors, and made our way to some of the best city spots, ending in a portrait session inside the hotel to cool off. I loved being able to use both inside and outside for portraits!
The pair were married in a ceremony officiated by Lauren’s brother in a private room where they also held their dinner. I loved the personal touches of this ceremony: they had advice from their families and personal vows. I LOVE personal vows. I advocate for them because I think it’s the best way to enter a marriage, by making promises unique to your love and your relationship. It really puts the whole event into perspective.
What I love about Bill and Lauren is that they are just a balanced pair. Lauren is so bubbly, so kind and genuine. And so dang beautiful, amirite? Like lorddddddddd. And Bill is the guy who came prepared with water for their portrait session, and put his vows in a ziplock bag in his suit so they wouldn’t be ruined. I think they bring out the best in each other, truthfully. They are world travelers and their favors came with stories from all over the world. I can’t imagine what other types of adventures are in store for them.
florals: willa rose floral | venue: detroit foundation hotel / apparatus room
Every wedding I am a part of is special. But this one felt really special. Corey and Ryan were married at The Whitney in downtown Detroit on a cloudy July day, surrounded by about 20 of their closest family and friends. I think it was the intimacy of this ceremony and meal that made it so special to be a part of. These two are so genuine and kind, never making me feel like “hired help.”
In June, Corey and Ryan met me in Ann Arbor, where they live, for their engagement session. We had a magnificent time shooting, swapping stories, and having a great time exploring their favorite spots. After this, I was looking forward to their wedding!
If you’ve never been inside The Whitney, you really should go, even if it’s just for drinks at the Ghost Bar. The place is said to be somewhat haunted, but really it is a charming spot for a meal and a beautiful spot to be married. We were able to make use of the gardens for portraits as well. Let me be real — The Whitney is a dark and moody photographer’s dreams. I always tell clients that the locations they choose do impact the feel of their images (there’s just no way around it), but these two got the best of both worlds when they picked the DIA for portraits.
The ceremony took place on the grand staircase. Corey’s sister, Lisa, officiated. As everyone gathered, overlooking the landing from the balcony, there wasn’t a dry eye. I think of all the couples I shot this year, Corey and Ryan soaked up those first minutes of being married unlike anyone else, hugs and tears and all. Take a moment after you walk out together to recognize, hey, we DID IT! It’s the best, y’all.
After things were official, we walked down to the DIA for some portraits, and stopped along the way. Their “reception” was simple: a first dance, a cake cutting, and a meal shared together. It was really simple but you could tell that everyone there was just excited as the newlyweds.
Thanks to Corey and Ryan for trusting me with their wedding day! I loved every minute of working with you two.