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Grand Rapids

Wedding Ultimate Destinations

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There are weddings, and then there are . It’s a given that everyone remembers their own walk down the aisle, but you can be sure that no one will ever forget being part of a magical destination wedding — or taking part in nuptials that express a couple’s most unique qualities.


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this is not your

typical wedding By J. Stapleton-Burch

If “traditional”

is not your style, we hope the following pages will inspire you to create your own “outside the box” wedding day experience. Such was the case for the marriage of Betsy and Randy Finch, who is Grand Rapids’ own Food Network celebrity and star of Ice Brigade. Working in the frigid climes of a freezer, Randy and his talented team create incredible ice sculptures that rival the finest artwork. According to Betsy, who shares details of their wedding on her blogsite (Elizabetsytravelandexcitement., neither she nor Randy had any inclination to marry when they first met. Isn’t it funny how love can preclude a change of heart? “Four months later he asked me to marry him,” Betsy recalled fondly. They still agreed that they didn’t want to make a big deal of their wedding and considered a no-fuss courthouse visit. “We wanted something fast, something easy,” she said. Then she got to thinking ... “What I really wanted was a Vegas wedding. It’s quick, it’s easy, and well,

The bride wore fur — and so did all the guests — at the ice lounge wedding of Betsy and Randy Finch.

Photography by Chelsea Sherburne (this page and opposite)

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Above: View from the King’s Grand Courtyard.

Photography courtesy of Castle Farms

Below: The Knight’s Courtyard is an outdoor setting reminiscent of a castle keep, complete with crenellations and flying buttresses.

Photography by Monica Z Photography

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it’s Las Vegas — that’s what they do.” When a friend informed Randy of the Las Vegas Ice Lounge, he eagerly jumped onboard. It had to be fate. Eschewing all of the typical wedding accoutrements, the couple used Facebook in lieu of engraved invitations. Betsy chose a colorful gemstone-laden evening dress instead of a traditional white wedding gown. The minister was — what else? — an Elvis

impersonator, and their venue was a chapel made of ice. Wedding attendants donned black fur coats with Betsy in a white one. “It was 15 degrees in the ice lounge, but it didn’t really feel like it,” Betsy noted, adding that their Elvis minister delivered a very tender, heartfelt ceremony that wasn’t the least bit cheesy. “Crying in a freezer is not a good thing; it freezes to your face,” she said with a laugh. Their nuptials were capped off with a zip-line flight over Fremont Street in old Las Vegas, with Betsy still in her bridal attire. Now THAT is an atypical wedding! Fortunately, you don’t have to travel that far afield to make your own personal wedding statement. There are plenty of opportunities to stage your own, very personalized wedding right here in Michigan.

Northern Michigan Venues


f you’ve always dreamed of a fairytale wedding, what better place to make your dreams come true than at a romantic French Renaissance-style castle? Sitting high upon a bluff overlooking Lake Charlevoix, Castle Farms and its beautiful gardens set the

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A majestic autumn wedding at Shanty Creek makes the most of the season’s colorful foliage, with beautiful Lake Bellaire in the distance. Brian Walters Photography

perfect stage for just such an event. Inspired by the castles of Normandy and completed in 1918, the once private residence and surrounding estate has a long and storied history. Many Michigan residents remember it for the rock-and-roll concerts staged there through the late ‘90s. However, since its rescue in 2001 by Linda Mueller and its subsequent painstaking restoration, Castle Farms has become one of the most popular wedding venues in the Midwest. Listed on both the state and national historic registries, it has twice been awarded “Best of Weddings” for the Upper Midwest by The Knot, which is nationally known for its awardwinning website, books and magazines.

“We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe “We like to say: Every wedding that happens at the castle is completely unique,” noted Castle Farms staff member and writer, Kathleen Paterka. “It’s an absolutely gorgeous venue, with majestic stonework walls and arches made from native fieldstone, soaring storied towers, witch-hat rooflines, romantic cobblestone courtyards and sweeping gardens — the complete French Renaissance feel — with numerous breathtaking locations for brides and grooms to have their photos taken.” It’s also surprisingly affordable because bridal couples are free to work within their established budget to bring in their own florists, photographers, caterers and alcohol (which must be served by a

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licensed bartender). They do offer a list of preferred area service providers. Items such as tables, chairs, linens and china are all provided by Castle Farms, with setup, teardown, cleanup and a full-service wedding coordinator included. “When you come in for a Castle Farms wedding, you just walk away with whatever you’ve brought in at the end of the day,” Paterka noted. “We want to make sure our brides and grooms are totally happy. It’s their day and we want them to feel like royalty.” Castle Farms boasts an indoor chapel in The King’s Great Hall, as well as three outdoor wedding sites set in stunning courtyards for marriage ceremonies. They include The Knights Courtyard, The King’s West Courtyard, and The Queen’s Courtyard with its ornamental artesian-well water fountain and graceful stone arches. There are five separate and unique locations for hosting receptions, from spaces like the East Garden to the intimate Queen’s Tavern. Bridal suites are available before each wedding so everyone in the party can get dressed onsite. Private gardens, an Enchanted Forrest, and the horse-drawn Lindarella and Prince Charming carriages help complete the fairytale fantasy. Visit Castle Farms’ extensive website and click on weddings for more information. (Castle Farms: 5052 M66 North, Charlevoix, Michigan 49720; (231) 237-0884;

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n Bellaire, Shanty Creek offers another great northern Michigan wedding venue. According to Wedding and Events Coordinator Jenna Foerster, one of the advantages of a Shanty Creek wedding is

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A chairlift provides a memorable getaway for the happy couple at the Homestead Resort in northern Michigan.

Photography by Kelly Sweet Photography

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Michigans Oldest Jeweler since 1850

An old timeworn barn presented the perfect blend of rusticity and elegance in this wedding.

Photography by Kelly Sweet Photography

that the property is a one-stop shop for couples and their guests. “Once your guests arrive, they have virtually everything they need right here, with great guest rooms, onsite restaurants, spa facilities, golf courses, skiing in winter, and even shuttle service into downtown Bellaire if they want to go shopping or visit another restaurant,” she said. “Our Bellaire Ballroom offers floorto-ceiling views of beautiful Lake Bellaire, with access to a patio and grassy terrace that lets guests enjoy the best of both worlds — indoors and out.” Enticing outdoor ceremony locations are offered for summer and autumn weddings that make the most of Mother Nature’s décor. “Fall weddings are always so beautiful with the leaves changing colors along the water,” Foerster continued. Couples can also get married on the terrace overlooking the lake or at the top of a ski hill, with a shuttle service provided that will usher guests up the back side to your locale. The more intrepid can opt for arrival in a ski chairlift. “The stress of planning a destination wedding can be a little daunting,” Foerster observed. “I’m here to ease that stress and

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Hopkins Studio

ue be

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Mother Nature provides the perfect backdrop for a beautiful mountaintop wedding at Crystal Mountain.

make sure that every bride’s dream wedding is realized here at Shanty Creek.” She handles everything that takes place on the property and maintains a list of preferred vendors that are well versed in the policies and inner workings of the facility. She works with the bridal party to coordinate every wedding detail, from flowers and photographer to menu and music. “I’m the go-to person on property, making sure we give the couple that special day that they’ve imagined and planned for,” she said. Curious couples can take advantage of property tours and menu tastings to help in their decision making process. Other events, such as a day-after brunch or rehearsal dinners can be hosted in one of the resort’s restaurants, with private banquet rooms and outdoor spaces available for catered affairs. “We know they won’t be disappointed once they get here,” Foerster concluded. (Shanty Creek: 5780 Shanty Creek Road, Bellaire, Michigan 49615; (231) 533-3081;


hotographer Kelly Sweet has captured many extraordinary wedding moments around the state and has noticed a trend toward vintage themes and rustic, outdoorsy locations such as barns and lodgetype facilities. She’s dubbed it rustic chic. “Some of the more unique weddings I’ve photographed recently have taken place in old barns,” she noted. One October wedding

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was planned for an outdoor ceremony with the reception inside a barn. “Then it rained,” Sweet continued. “But umbrellas were unfurled and the wedding ceremony moved inside. It turned out beautifully, with tons of candles everywhere, and the florist had used a lot of succulents, moss, and other outdoorsy touches on the tables.”

“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” – John Ruskin According to Sweet, unique outdoor locations are popular in northern Michigan and the Grand Rapids area. “I’ve been shooting weddings for ten years, and over the last few years have been getting a lot more unique venues. Up north at The Homestead Resort, I’ve photographed couples getting married on the mountaintop and they take a chairlift up to the top,” she noted. (Kelly Sweet Photography, (616) 8221754;


ountaintop weddings are also popular at Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville, Michigan, as well as glorious garden weddings. According to event coordinator, Chelsea Chapin, couples can shave a sizeable chunk off their budget

Say “I Do” at our beautiful venue overlooking Lake Michigan. Enjoy exquisite food prepared by the region’s most highly regarded chefs. Reserve a block of rooms for your guests in our newly remodeled hotel. Contact us today to start planning your happily ever after!

(269) 983-4518 521 Lake Boulevard, St. Joseph, MI

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We’ll help you create your picture-perfect wedding!

430 West 17th Holland, Mi 49423 616.396.7300

Excellent food and thoughtful service since 1989 | 2035 28th Street SE | 616.243.3313 Overlooking Indian Trails Golf Course

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if they take advantage of special pricing offered for weddings held before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. “With all of the amazing fall colors, that mountaintop deck is just beautiful for pictures that time of year,” she said. Because it is a skiing destination, mountaintop marriages are only available mid-May through the end of October. “If a bride wants to get married outside in the winter, we can stage it on certain slopes,” she said, adding that they have even had couples ski and snowboard to the ceremony in their wedding attire. “It’s a cool experience for the winter bride. Many have grown up skiing here at Crystal Mountain or vacationed here in the summer months. Some have met their fiancé here or gotten engaged at the mountain, so it’s the perfect venue for their wedding.”

“... From so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being evolved.” – Charles Darwin The family-owned resort is also a onestop destination that will take care of all of the bridal party’s needs. Besides the mountaintop deck, they have several other locations in which to stage an atypical wedding, such as the Michigan Legacy Art Park that is tucked back in the woods. “Our locations are close and convenient for guests, but we also have a complimentary resort shuttle to transport them,” Chapin noted. “We have everything right here that they need, from a welcome party, rehearsal dinner, the ceremony, the reception, brunch service the following day, two golf courses onsite for pre- or post-wedding golf outings — and no one has to set foot inside their car once they’re on the property.” Brides and their attendants also appreciate the pampering services of the Crystal Spa. Spa credits are included with every wedding booking. In summer months there are four reception locations, including a tented site at the base of the slopes. The Crystal Center offers an elegant experience and can accommodate up to 400 guests, but if you’re looking for that true “up north” experience, consider the Hudson Bay Room with its northern Michigan-themed décor, birch log

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Breathtaking vistas and glorious columns set a gracious scene for a wedding on the famous porch of Mackinac Island’s historic Grand Hotel.

furniture and lodge appeal. Guest accommodations are plentiful as well, and the owners are onsite daily to make sure everything runs smoothly. “Not only do you have a great staff working for you and an onsite wedding coordinator to walk you through the entire process, but you can make it a whole wedding weekend if your guests stay here,” Chapin suggested. “It’s the only time that everybody is together for your wedding. Why not make the most of it with a weekend surrounded by all the people that mean the most to you.” (Crystal Mountain: 12500 Crystal Mountain Drive, Thompsonville, Michigan 49683; 231378-2000;\weddings\ home will take you directly to their wedding section and accompanying photographs, or visit Pinterest’s Crystal Mountain page.)


tarry-eyed couples that long for a slower pace and the timeless elegance of days gone by will find what they’re

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looking for on Mackinac Island. Imagine stepping back into a more gracious era when your bridal party arrives at the magnificent Grand Hotel atop the hill in horse-drawn carriages, and exchanging vows on the west end of the famous white rocker-lined porch overlooking the Straits of Mackinac with the Mackinac Bridge beyond. Could there be anything more romantic? Opened in 1887 and listed as one of America’s Historic Hotels, the Grand Hotel is under its third-generation ownership by the Musser family and is open for business from May to October. In addition to the 660foot porch, which is the longest in the nation, weddings can also be staged in the hotel’s Tea Garden with its beautiful water fountain, surrounded by lavish gardens in bloom. “We also have indoor locations available in case of weather, but it’s very rare that we have to take advantage of that,” noted Marketing Director Julie Rogers. Inside the hotel there are five private

Newlyweds take a moment to soak in the splendor of their day in the famous white rockers that line the porch of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

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Love at its peak. Our breathtaking grounds and facilities present a wide selection of settings for your ideal wedding and reception. Treat yourself and your guests to exceptional lodging and dining options, countless amenities and services, and the award-winning Crystal Spa – making your special day one they’ll always remember.

Design a celebration that is as unique as you are, with the help of your own personal onsite wedding coordinator and full-service staff. Call Chelsea, our wedding expert, about special fall 2013 pricing or to schedule a tour at 231.378.2000 ext. 6605.

c rysta l m o u n ta i n .co m | | nortHErn micHi Gan Photograph by Unforgettable Images, Interlochen

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rooms available for weddings, and the bridal couple can go as upscale or as casual as they wish with their dining options. If you don’t want a sit-down five-course meal at the hotel, there are other, more casual restaurants available to the wedding party, including one just down the hill in town, and another that is nestled back in the woods. “The Woods Restaurant offers a unique, rustic location,” Rogers explained, adding that The Jockey Club on the golf course across from the hotel also offers casual dining options that are just right for rehearsal dinners and wedding luncheons. If so inclined, your guests can take advantage of the adjacent golf course with an outing the day before or after the wedding. “A horse-drawn carriage takes you between the front and back nines of the course,” Rogers pointed out. “And we have a fullservice Aveda salon onsite.”



“If ever there was a time for pulling out all the stops and realizing your dreams, it’s on your wedding day.” – Arlene Hamilton Stewart

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Fully equipped to handle every aspect of your wedding, the Grand Hotel does their own flowers from Margaret’s Garden, and their onsite bakery will make a cake as beautiful as it is delicious. Guests will enjoy indulging themselves at Sadie’s Ice Cream Shop — the newest addition to the hotel — made possible through a partnership with Michigan’s own Hudsonville ice cream. (The shop is named after the owner’s Scottish terrier, who won the Westminster dog show a year ago). “When you get married here, not only are you getting four-star service, a bakery and flowers, but we also provide an expert wedding coordinator to make sure everything is just the way the bride wants it,” Rogers continued. “We have everything onsite that you could possibly need, including the Grand Hotel Orchestra. We also have a harpist on staff.” The hotel is known for its Carleton Varney-designed rooms and suites named after first ladies. “Brides typically want to stay in the appointed named suites,” Rogers noted. However, every room in the hotel

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The marriage of Alexandra and Graydon Megan took place at the White River Light Station, a place of special significance to the happy couple. Cassie Celestin of White Dress Events helped to weave a nautical theme throughout the entire event.

Photography by Tricia Koning Photography

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Who needs a limousine when your entire wedding party can make a splash traveling in style in a lakeshore trolley, where a stop at the beach provides delicious photo opportunities?

Photography by Tricia Koning Photography

Memories made at the

has a unique look and feel to it since no two rooms are decorated alike. When working with the Grand Hotel’s wedding coordinator, they will take care of booking guest rooms as well as all the other associated details, such as discounted ferryboat crossings for you and your guests, as well as charter plane services out of Pellston. Room discounts are available when booking ten or more rooms. “The Masco Cottage is also a popular option for bridal parties and their families,” Rogers continued. “It is a four-bedroom cottage off the east end of the hotel that comfortably accommodates eight to ten people. It has its own kitchen, living room,

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dining room, and new this year: a private outdoor hot tub.” (Grand Hotel: Mackinac Island, 517-349-4600;\ weddings.) RECEPTIONS UP TO 300


ccording to Cassie Celestin, a wedding planner with the Grand Haven-based White Dress Events, not all “out of the box” weddings rely on an unusual location as much as they incorporate a special theme. Whatever is important to the bridal couple, Celestin will put her considerable resources to work to incorporate it into their wedding. For instance, nautical-themed weddings


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From understated to extravagant, and everything in between. Catering For: Weddings | Corporate | Special Occasions 616.940.0001

“Tis the gift to be simple ‘Tis the gift to be free ‘Tis the gift to come down Where we ought to be And when we find ourselves In the place just right It will be in the valley Of love and delight.” Shaker hymn

something old, something new something borrowed, something

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were popular this past summer. The White River Light Station on the shore of Lake Michigan set the scene for the September marriage of Graydon Megan and Alexandra Jeffery. With a view of the sparkling lake beyond, the lighthouse made a perfect backdrop for their amazing wedding pictures.

C i t y

“The historical lighthouse location on White Lake was important to this couple,” Celestin explained. “The bride is from Washington DC, but spent a lot of time at her family’s summer home on White Lake, where she met the groom back when they were 14 years old. They wanted to bring everyone back to the location where they first met and share that with the important people in their lives.” Lakeshore weddings especially lend themselves to a nautical theme, and the couple expressed that with invitations embossed with the image of a knot being tied. With the help of Celestin, they took the phrase “tying the knot” to a whole new level. Their

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Special Advertising Section Nature provides an authentic beauty and can be used to serve as an inspiration for your wedding day. We chose burlap sashes and burlap napkin rings along with chunks of wood and mahogany chiavari chairs to bring out natural browns. Soft hues of green,earthy browns, textures and details is how this distinct look was captured for our wedding couple.

out really beautifully when all was said and done.” (616-402-2733;


onnie Cook of Chair Cover Collection can also help set the scene to realize your dream wedding. Unique table and chair linens and tabletop décor play

an important role in conveying a mood or creating a specific atmosphere. Whatever it takes, she will find it for you. “For a recent wedding I used the theme “Love in Bloom” to create a tablescape that incorporated the tablecloth, burlap table runner, burlap napkin rings, vintage napkins and burlap chair sashes on Chiavari chairs for the reception area,” she said. “Tree-trunk slices served as charger plates, while several small succulent plants added to the main floral arrangement at the center of the table.” (616 –837-9706;

AT T H O U S A N D OA K S G O L F C LU B reception was held under a romantically lit white tent at White Lake Yacht Club, with liberal doses of maritime touches throughout. Dining tables were dressed with crisp blue and white linens, while the nautically striped linens on the cocktail tables were gathered and tied with rope. Miniature hurricane lamps reminiscent of the lighthouse itself and coils of knotted rope and buoys added to the atmosphere. Touches of sunshine yellow were used on the wedding cake and tabletop displays. Overhead, a banner-toting airplane buzzed the lakeshore, pronouncing the love of Alex and Gray. “Sometimes a bride calls and knows exactly what theme she wants, where everything is going to take place, and merely wants me to pull all the pieces together for her,” Celestin explained of her services. “But sometimes they call and say ‘I don’t really know what I’m doing here. I need help.’ Then I work with them to help focus on what’s important to them — and who they are as a couple — and take it from there.” Another wedding Celestin helped create last spring was for a couple that got married at the horticultural gardens on the Michigan State University Campus. “They had both gone to college there and had met there, and I believe other family members had attended Michigan State as well,” she explained. “The reception was inside the greenhouse and they were going for a vintage garden look and feel. We decorated with birdcages and birdbaths, beautiful vintage-style fabrics for the linens and chairs, with an eclectic collection of vintage china, crystal and silver for the table settings. The wedding turned

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Perfect for outdoor ceremonies, grand receptions, intimate rehearsal dinners and delightful bridal showers. We provide a combination of sophistication and service few can match and none can surpass. Call for a Bridal consultation with our Special Events Coordinator, Executive Chef and Pastry Chef.

(616) 447-7750

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rides can commemorate a special destination wedding with a unique piece of jewelry from Dear Prudence in EGR’s Gaslight Village. Their artist-made mapshaped necklaces and bracelets will forever capture the memories of your special day, with the destination city highlighted by your choice of gemstone. They make a distinctive gift for members of the bridal party. (701 Bagely Street; 419-4042; “A lot of brides opt for a traditional wedding ceremony but then put their personalities into the reception,” concluded photographer Kelly Sweet. “One bridal trend I’ve noticed lately is the bride choosing to wear colorful shoes under their traditional

Unique map-inspired bracelets from Dear Prudence will forever capture the memories of your special destination wedding. They make a perfect gift for your bridesmaids, with the cufflinks shown above just the thing to commeorate the event for your groomsmen.

Appointments preferred • • 616.460.6128

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white wedding gowns.” Sweet recently photographed a bride whose wedding took place in a historic mansion — and the bride wore pink. In the end, everyone’s wedding is unique and special to them.

Dreams Resorts and Spas offer couples, friends and families endless vacation fun in opulent surroundings. Indulge in all the benefits of Unlimited-Luxury®, beginning with limitless meals, snacks and premium beverages in gourmet restaurants and chic lounges, endless day and evening activities, and 24-hour room and concierge services. To that, add the allure of incredible spas and, most importantly, the expertise of a professional staff, ensuring that every detail of your wedding celebration and honeymoon vacation will be more perfect than you ever dreamed it could be. 3250 28th Street, S.E, Grand Rapids, MI 49512 (616) 942-5112

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Celebrate Your Event

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wedding bowls Visit our website to see the Lakeshore pattern, as well as our four other patterns.

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Experience is the difference! • Weddings • Corporate Catering • Social Events • Film Production Catering • BBQ Picnics Pam Fritz, event planner (616) 608-3003 or email:

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Wedded Bliss THE B.O.B.

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Photo: Jen Kroll Photography

grand weddings

At Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, you’ll ďŹ nd a combination of wedding services and amenities unmatched elsewhere. Bridal parties delight in our 22-room spa and salon, while groomsmen relax during a round of golf. With multiple indoor and outdoor venues, our wedding planners create a brand of seamless perfection, regardless of scale. From intimate unions to grand affairs, your guests will feel every bit as loved, cherished, and honored as you do. | 231-534-6203 Owned & Operated by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians

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Sign-up online to receive our free wedding kit.

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Viewtiful Weddings

Shhh… We’ve quietly created stylish new sites for weddings and receptions. They meld the majesty of Lake Michigan with the beauty of Leelanau. Choose one…flavors will swirl, wines will sparkle and your day, your perfect day, will be made. Come see. It’ll be love at first sight.

Glen Arbor, MI 49636 | | 231.334.5000 GRM_02.13_Wedding.indd 127

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A Spectacular Setting. A Perfect Day. Three incredible northern Michigan resorts and award-winning spas, each an achievement of grace and style.

Whether you are seeking the destination for your special day, for an unforgettable honeymoon, or for a setting to relax and have fun with girlfriends, BOYNE’s resorts are the perfect choice. And with three spectacular spas, our experienced staff can delight you from head to toe—feeling refreshed and beautiful for your wedding day. Boyne Highlands | Boyne Mountain The Inn at Bay Harbor – A Renaissance Golf Resort

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Wedding 2013 - GRM  

Ultimate Destinations