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  • Welcome to the Fresh Coast Weddings blog!

    Fresh Coast Weddings is dedicated to guiding & inspiring brides as they begin to plan their destination wedding along Michigan's beautiful West coast! On the website you can learn about the beach towns, explore lake shore venues & find the perfect vendors! Here on the blog, you'll find inspiration from real weddings, planning tips and info on our fabulous venues & vendors.

featured :: beikmann associates floral design

Amanda+Garrett’s wedding in July featured gorgeous floral arrangements by Beikmann Associates Floral Design. They created an elegant clutch bouquet for the bride of white casa blanca lilies, gardenia’s, roses and stephanotis. To accent the bridesmaids Kelly green dresses they used  all white clutch bouquets of hydrangea, roses and green hypericum berries.

St Joseph wedding lake michigan

St Joseph wedding lake michigan

For the reception they had a lot of fun with the centerpieces, mixing in different heights to make it more visually interesting. They did tall centerpieces of silver branches, hanging gems, hanging votive candles, and green dendrobium orchids, that gave a dramatic look but were still open and airy. The low arrangements featured blue hydrangea, white lisianthus, and green berries accented with mirrors and votives. A third look for the tables were tall full arrangements of Bells of Ireland, Blue delphinium, white lilies, green button mums, and green hypericum berry. Full arrangements help fill the room with lush softness, color and light. The centerpiece starts above the eye level so guests can easily converse.Besides the flowers, another thing I love about this wedding is that while these two Notre Dame alum chose to hold the reception in South Bend, the couple opted to take advantage of the beautiful lake shore, and host their ceremony in St. Joseph. This gave them the chance to take photos on Lake Michigan and enjoy all of the wedding-day scenery the area has to offer, just a short drive from their South Bend reception, while also getting to take advantage of Notre Dame’s beautiful campus for photos as well!

All photos by Jennifer Mayo of Jennifer Mayo Studios!

real michigan wedding :: romantic elegance in st. joseph

There is so much I love about this beautiful St. Joseph, Michigan wedding. From the gorgeous navy linens and crisp white florals, to the adorable dessert table display! This gorgeous Lake Michigan wedding took place in St. Joseph, with the reception held at the beautiful Veranda at the Whitcomb, overlooking Lake Michigan. The bride & groom live in Chicago and planned their destination wedding in Michigan (the brides home state) from afar, with the help of Stella Event Design. Check out the gorgeous photos below from Jami Jujawa and Melissa Brentlinger of Jennifer Mayo Studios!

veranda at the whitcomb lake michigan weddingveranda at the whitcomb lake michigan weddingStella Event Design worked with the bride to help create an amazing wedding day design that encompassed the couples personality. Soft overhead lantern lighting gave the room a romantic glow, while crisp white florals from Crystal Springs were set off against the navy shantung linens. As a nod to the brides passion for photography, picture frames were incorporated throughout the event, being showcased on the guest tables, as a backdrop for the dessert table, and in the escort card display!
veranda at the whitcomb lake michigan wedding

If you’re looking for a great way to create an exciting end to your lake shore wedding, consider a choreographed send off! Sparklers are a great choice, but you can also opt for the traditional, using rose petals or bird seed, or change it up by using colorful ribbon wands, or ringing bells!
veranda at the whitcomb lake michigan wedding

Venue | The Veranda at the Whitcomb

Wedding Planning & Design | Stella Event Design

Floral | Crystal Springs Florist

Photography | Jennifer Mayo Studios

Catering | CK Catering

Video | All Star Productions

Wine & Spirits | Beverage Specialists

featured :: the veranda at the whitcomb

When it comes to wedding venues on Lake Michigan, The Veranda at the Whitcomb is pretty unique. It’s an open air veranda, so you get all of the ambiance of an outdoor wedding, with all of the shelter of an indoor one! They  feature views of Lake Michigan and the St. Joseph light house, and across the street you can see the St. Joseph river. The Veranda is conveniently located within walking distance of several downtown hotels in St. Joseph, including the Boulevard Inn and Silver Beach Hotel, making it a great choice for brides planning destination weddings in Southwest Michigan! Your guests can drive into town, park at their hotels, and never have to set foot in their cars again—your reception, downtown shopping, restaurants, hotels and the beach are all within comfortable walking distance!

The Veranda at the Whicomb offers some wonderful amenities such as in-house catering provided by CK Catering, a garden area that can be used for cocktail hours or small ceremonies and outdoor lounge furniture to customize your event! So if you’ve considered an outdoor event but are looking for a little more personality than what a big white tent may offer, definitely make a trip to The Veranda at the Whitcomb to see why so many brides love it!

Venue: The Veranda at the Whitcomb

Photographer: Ben Pancoast Photography

Wedding Planner: Stella Event Design

Videography: All Star Productions

real michigan wedding :: a countryside wedding

Carrie & Mitch tied the knot in September in the beautiful countryside of Southwest Michigan. I’m not sure what I love most about this wedding—the simplicity, the pops of color,  mis-matched bridesmaids dresses, the vintage details or that dress! I love that all of the decorations and cute little DIY touches were created by Carrie and her mom & sister. Way to go girls!

Real Wedding Carrie and MitchAnother fun detail—Carrie designed her own wedding ring while on vacation—it’s one of a kind. The ceremony and reception took place at a beautiful private residence in Dowagiac, Michigan and all of the lovely photos above were captured by Brittney at 430Studios.

featured :: shadowland on silver beach

If you’re looking for a gorgeous Southwest Michigan wedding venue,  close to Lake Michigan, take a look at Shadowland on Silver Beach, also known to many as Shadowland ballroom! The ballroom has beautiful wood floors, gorgeous floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Compass Fountain across the street, and is just feet from Silver Beach, Shadowland Pavilion, the pier and beautiful Lake Michigan views. It’s walking distance to downtown hotels, making it extremely convenient for destination brides & their guests.

Shadowland can accommodate 50-300 guests and offers in-house catering and beverage options, built-in projectors & screens, as well as other specialty rental items such as a photo booth and cotton candy machine. Shadowland offers a beautiful, neutral decor that lends itself to any color palette you may choose for your wedding!

Check out some photos below, from Jessica+Marc’s 2011 wedding at Shadowland:

Shadowland Ballroom

Jessica+Marc’s Fresh Coast Wedding Vendors:

Venue: Shadowland on Silver Beach

Photography: Jennifer Mayo Photography

Event Coordination: Stella Event Design

Flowers: Crystal Springs Florist

your perfect wedding stationery

When it comes to wedding invitations, the choices are truly limitless. How do you find the perfect wedding stationery? Do you order some that you’ve seen online, do you attempt to design your own? Why not have Spicy Kumquat Designs create custom invitations for you! Having a professional designer design your wedding stationery will save you time and help you avoid stress as a busy bride, and will allow you to effortlessly reflect your vision and style for your special day.

Here are just a few things that you will want to consider when thinking about your wedding stationery items:

Your wedding size and style. Will your wedding be large or small, formal, semi-formal or casual? All of these can have an impact on how your invitations will look.

Your personal style and preferences. Are there any special themes that you would like to include on your invitations, such as a flower, color, monogram or an emblem that is special to you? Are you a traditional or modern bride?

Quantity. When thinking about quantity, you will want to consider how many guests you are going to invite. One invitation per single guest, couple or family is the rule; however, children over 18 years of age who still live with their parents should receive an invitation of their own. You will also want to order some extra invitations for people you may have to add at the last minute as well as extras to have as keepsakes. If you are going to have a calligrapher address your envelopes, calligraphers recommend ordering 10% to 15% extra envelopes in case of mistakes. It is best to order these all together because ordering them later on can become expensive.

Additional stationery items. Are there any other items that you would like to have complement your invitations, such as save-the-date cards, thank you cards, wedding programs, reception table numbers, menus or place cards? Again, it is best to order these together with your invitations because ordering them later on can incur extra fees and become expensive. Some venues/caterers will provide reception table numbers and menus at no extra cost to you; however, these may be generic and won’t necessarily match your theme.

Timing. Save-the-dates are sent a minimum of four to six months prior to your wedding, but if you are holding a destination wedding, it may be best to send them twelve months or more in advance of your special day.

Wedding invitations should be sent out six to eight weeks before the date of your wedding. Therefore you will need to meet with your stationer five to six months before your wedding date in order to have everything completed and back to you in time to be sent out.

If you’ve booked your venue and date, book your stationer. Avoid rush charges and stress by starting the process early!

Posted by Heidi | Spicy Kumquat Designs

real wedding | diy details at millcreek barns

Destination weddings aren’t just for escaping cold weather to a tropical locale.  Mitsu and Jason invited their guests on a not-so-distant autumn adventure, just around the lake to stunning Watervliet, Michigan.  What better a venue for an intimate, casual celebration than Mill Creek Barns, tucked away in classic Michigan orchard country!

DIY wedding at millcreek barns

Their colorful array of clever, custom Etsy finds fit perfectly the festive spirit of their event.   No stranger to Etsy, Mitsu knits and crochets gorgeous scarves and cowls, available at her shop, Brown Sparrow’s Nest.  They also developed a stunning website to shop for marked-down handmade items, Etsy on Sale.  The site is an incredible tool, especially for brides and grooms looking to add a personal, natural touch to their weddings, for the right at millcreek barns

Crafty as they are, the couple, along with their family and friends worked together to deck every detail out in yellows and purples.  Their adorable escort cards are pinned clipped to custom-crafted framed wire with ribbon-decorated clothespins. Another stunning DIY touch are the streamers guests waved as Mitsu and Jason said I do and kissed.  Even Jason’s mom’s delicious apple butter favors were decorated with colorful mix of patterned fabrics.  An awesome compliment to the fresh and delicious fare provided by Maison Cuisine,  the groom himself even baked up a few of his award winning pies.

Posed by Amy | Amy Straka Photography

a warm wedding treat on a cold day


If you’re in the Midwest, you’re probably watching the snow come down and dreaming about warmer days to come! I love hot cocoa and today as I was dreaming of a steamy cup to go with this chilly weather I immediately started thinking about all of the fun ways I would garnish it for a party, and how you you could do the same for your winter or fall wedding in Michigan! Start with some delicious gourmet hot chocolate, and then provide as many delicious garnishes as you please! And perhaps some adorable mugs as well?

Tasty Topping Options:

  • Peppermint sticks
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Homemade marshmallows
  • Ginger snap cookies
  • Chocolate chips (or mint chocolate chips, even better!)
  • Marshmallow fluff
  • Rock candy swizzle sticks
  • Homemade biscotti
  • Chocolate dipped spoons
  • Whipped Cream
  • Nutmeg, cinnamon and other spices to dust on top
  • Candy crumbles: toffee crunch, peppermints, candy bars
  • For the adults: Peppermint schnapps, Kahlua or Baileys

I think a fabulous assortment of cookies would be the perfect accompaniment to this table, and you could even create some “take home” mugs for guests to enjoy later. For delicious take-home favors, include a keepsake mug, hot cocoa mix and a chocolate spoon, beautifully wrapped and ready to go! Your guests can enjoy hot cocoa at your reception, or opt to take a mug to go!

Stay warm out there and Happy Planning!

posted by Jessica | Stella Event Design

inspiration | romantic lake michigan

Brittney Massey of 430 Studios shared this Lake Michigan engagement-inspired engagement session with us! The bride and groom took their engagement pictures in Saugatuck, and reenacted their proposal in the exact spot where it took place. Not only that, but it’s the same spot where the couple will tie the knot later this year when they say ‘I do’ at their Lake Michigan wedding! So sentimental and so sweet.

lake michigan wedding

I love to hear stories of couples who come in from Chicago, Indy or Detroit, and really embrace the lake shore as “their special spot.” Not only do they tie the knot here in Southwest Michigan, but they start the ball rolling by popping the question on the lake shore as well! How special to have a place that holds so many great memories—the spot where you got engaged and tied the knot, can be your special vacation spot for 5, 10, 15, 20 years to come!

Find your “special spot” by exploring West Michigan beach towns on the website, and finding that prefect Lake Michigan venue!

Photographer | 430 Studios
Location | Saugatuck, Michigan

real wedding | southwest michigan

Lake view weddings are some of my favorites! Talk about the picture perfect spot for a Michigan wedding—you just can’t beat a wedding on Lake Michigan when it comes to amazing photo opportunities!

This gorgeous wedding in St. Joseph, Michigan was hosted on private property overlooking Lake Michigan, and it offers some serious eye candy. Can you really beat beautiful Lake Michigan as the backdrop for your head table?! If you’re thinking a tented wedding on Lake Michigan may be the right fit for you, read some quick tips for tented weddings, below!

A Few Things to consider when planning a tented wedding in Southwest Michigan:

1) Be sure to ask rental homes if they permit weddings—not all do

2) Consider parking arrangements and the cost of shuttle transportation if needed

3) If you’re having a hard time finding a traditional venue, hosting a tented wedding may be a great solution!

4) You’re literally building your venue, so secure a reputable rental company that specializes in events and consider a professional wedding planner to ensure you’ve remembered all of the logistics!

Fresh Coast Vendors
Photographer | Jennifer Mayo Studios
Wedding Planning | Stella Event Design

real wedding | an anthropologie-inspired wedding

Max+Eunji tied the knot at a beautiful English-style estate in Southwest Michigan. Check out the gorgeous eye candy from wedding photography Belle Rempert!  This couple traveled in from Chicago to host their wedding along the lake shore—the couple was so fun, the property was amazing, the details were beautiful and they included so many unique, personl touches. The afternoon ceremony took place in the gardens, and the aisle was lined with blue mason jars filled with baby’s breath and lavender and draped with colorful fabric bunting from etsy. Cocktail hour was hosted in another area of the garden, before moving into the reception tent for dinner and dancing.

One of my favorite touches was the desserts. Friends and family brought (literally) hundreds of desserts to share, from hazelnut and pistachio mini macaroons to red velvet cupcakes, carrot cake, cheesecake pops and cookies. It was an amazing spread and so delicious! Guests were given small Chinese takeout boxes so they could leave with leftover sweets!

Photographer | Belle Rempert Photography
Wedding Planner | Stella Event Design

Flowers | Crystal Springs Florist

real wedding | southwest michigan vineyard charm

Amanda+Jake tied the knot in Southwest Michigan on September 18th. The day was captured by Southwest Michigan wedding photographer Ben Pancoast. Their day began with photos on the beach, before they returned to the vineyard for a lovely ceremony. The bride arrived in a horse-drawn carriage with her father, and a bagpiper serenaded them as they made their way down the aisle as man and wife. Everything about the reception was absolutely beautiful, from the lovely linens and outdoor cocktail hour, to the gorgeous flowers designed by the brides mother.

There were so many adorable details throughout this wedding day.  Hand-painted signs guiding guests to the ceremony location, cocktail hour and reception, tiny ceramic birds displayed on the cake table, nestled into centerpieces, and a vintage birdcage adorned with florals.  A fun surprise at the reception? The brides convertible dress zipped off at the train to reveal a sassy cocktail dress to dance the night away in!

Wedding Planner: Stella Event Design

Photography: Ben Pancoast Photography

real lake michigan wedding | on the beach

I absolutely love this wedding…you can’t go wrong with a wedding on the beach, and many people wouldn’t think it, but October can be a fabulous month for a Lake Michigan wedding! Photographer Brittney Massey of 430 Studios gives us a recap of this intimate lake shore affair in her own words:

This was definitely the most intimate wedding I had ever been to. Patrick and Jenni had their family and just their closest friends come along for the ceremony that was right on the beach in St. Joseph. The guests formed the path, and away she went down the aisle.

Seeing as it was October, Patrick was wearing a burnt orange sweater to coincide with the fall colors. Little did he know it was going to be in the high 70’s (Who would have thought?) This  beach is absolutely beautiful and you honestly cannot take a bad picture there. I was grateful for the fact that Jenni and Patrick let me be a part of their romantic and special day.

Posted By: Brittney Massey,  430 Studios
Southwest Michigan wedding photography

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