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$$27willowbrook==3 $$29mill==5 STORY BY NICOLE WHITE


$$24kate & alex==24 KATE WILLIAMS & ALEX FLANAGAN AUGUST 12, 2017

They were fifth graders in the small town of Hartland, Michigan, when Alex passed Kate a note: Will you be my girlfriend? Circle yes or no. Kate circled yes. The gradeschool romance was short lived, but Alex and Kate remained friends through high school and college, though each pursued different relationships. Kate says the timing was never right, but Alex maintains that Kate was always the girl he was thinking about; the one he wanted to marry. Fifteen years after that fifth-grade note, Alex got another chance to ask Kate out, and this time the timing was perfect. Six months later Alex proposed on the foursquare court at their old grade school by writing “Will you marry me?” in sidewalk chalk. Alex maintains the seeds of their romance were sown in the fifth grade, Kate says they fell in love during their first getaway together to Leelanau County, where Alex’s parents now call home. Needless to say, when it came to planning the wedding, it was essential that their guests got to experience the “Up North” that had sparked such a remarkable love story. When Kate’s mom, an event planner for University of Michigan, told them about Willowbrook Mill in Northport—one of their favorite Leelanau County villages—the couple immediately went to check it out. The venue, a 140-year-old building suspended over the purling Northport Creek, had precisely the whimsy and charm they imagined. But their wedding date was still two years away, and the owners of Willowbrook Mill had bad news: It was on the market. Kate was crushed. Enter Mimi Heberlein and her family, who purchased the venue in early 2016. When she heard the news, Kate called immediately, securing her date as the new owners’ first reservation. As the couple was to find out, their dream venue now came with the knowledgeable and friendly assistance of owner Mimi Heberlein and her daughter, Samantha Heberlein. Kate and Alex exchanged vows in the wooden gazebo that overlooks the picturesque Northport Marina. Decorated with draped linens and hops swags and set with old church pews, the gazebo was a simple, romantic setting for the intimate ceremony in which the couple exchanged vows that they’d written themselves. After the ceremony, the newlyweds and their wedding guests made the leisurely walk through Northport’s storybook-sweet downtown and across the hops and tulleadorned bridge to Willowbrook Mill. The ballroom rafters were strung with hundreds of white fairy lights, and the tables were strewn with eucalyptus garlands and white roses, creating a rustic yet elegant setting that continued throughout the venue. The three stone fireplaces, the handcrafted apple and cherry branch chandeliers in the Porch Bar and the lovely Creekside Patio offered guests several perfect spaces to gather and chat with friends and family during the celebration. The reception’s Michigan-centric theme included craft Michigan beer and local wine. The owner of the Northport-based florist, Field of Flowers North, grew most of the arrangements in her yard, while Abundance Catering sourced everything locally for the pork loin dinner. The romance of Willowbrook Mill, the spectacular ceremony in the marina park, the quaint Northport Inn where some guests stayed, all combined to leave Alex and Kate’s friends and family awed at the beauty of this Lake Michigan village. It was truly an unparalleled setting for a new chapter in this love story.


The bride wore a gown with a lace sheath and illusion cutouts, while the bridesmaids’ dresses shimmered in shades of blue and green that were reminiscent of the colors of Lake Michigan. Bridesmaids: Adrienne Brady, Sara Buko, Stephanie Chandler, Meredith Ramm, Randi Allen, McKenzie Zauel, Jen Aycock, Heather Leitch, Christine Flanagan. Bouquets brimming with native stems and wildflowers include: seasonal dahlias, English roses, hops, seeded eucalyptus and lavender. The wonderfully wild tangle of the bridal bouquet highlighted soft blush and cream tones as well as mossy greens.

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The rustic charm of the historic building radiates romance. The cake, by Traverse City–based Top Tier Cakery, symbolizes the beauty of Lake Michigan. Bride and groom dance to "Ride," by Cary Brothers. Following the ceremony, the bride changed out her veil for a wreath—a favorite gift from her bachelorette party. The 77 VW Photo Booth Bus (based in Allegan, MI) was a huge hit among wedding guests making vintage bulbs (and iPhones) flash all night long.


Ceremony Site | Northport Marina Reception Site | Willowbrook Mill Photography | Steven Pham Photography & BDE Photography Video | Voice Wedding Cinema Flowers | Field of Flowers North Dinner | Abundance Catering Cake | Top Tier Cakery Rentals | Sweet Seats, Monstrey MacDonald Music | ElectroSystem Pro DJ Hair & Makeup | Dream Details, Mandy Novack

See more photos at

wedding 2018


Wedding Notebook Willowbrook Mill

Trinity United Church of Christ Serving Northport since 1863 Trinity UCC welcomes all people, whoever you are, wherever you are on life’s journey, to be married here. Contact Phil Garrison at or 218-269-4466.

Northport Inn

Start your story at Willowbrook Mill Willowbrook Mill is a destination wedding and special events venue located in Northern Michigan, on the magical Leelanau

The Northport Inn is a unique, luxury 9-room inn; the anchor building in downtown Northport. With a restaurant and fitness center on the premises. It's the place to stay in Northport. Contact reservations at northportinn. com or 231-386-1600.

Peninsula. Located in the quaint village of Northport, we bring you rustic charm in a peaceful and rural-yet-elegant environment. If a destination event in a storybook setting is what you're looking for, look no further than Willowbrook Mill. We offer the gleaming wood of the ballroom floor, stone surround windows and three fireplaces; a lovely foyer and a screened porch to host your special event your way. The casual elegance of Willowbrook Mill offers a storybook setting for weddings and other events to remember.

Abundance Catering Serving the catering needs of Leelanau County. From delicious barbeque to elegant faire, Abundance Catering helps you design a menu that suits your every need. Contact: George Twine at 231-432-0586. Abundancecatering.mi@gmail. com.

Guests enjoy the beautiful views of the creek from the ballroom windows, lower stone patio, the deck adjacent to our retail coffee and gelato shop - Creekside Cuppa, as well as from the walk bridge.

Tuckers of Northport Northern Michigan's premier casual bistro dining and bowling venue. Patio seating. Sports bar, craft beers, specialty cocktails, live music. Tucker's is the perfect place to host your wedding rehearsal dinner, birthday party, anniversary celebration, or any excuse to get together. Can't make it to Tucker's, we will come to you, Tucker's full service catering department will assist in making your special day one to remember. Contact: Prescilla Sherman, Manager at 231-386-1061

Weddings by Cheyenne • Wedding Photographer

Conradie Event Design • Event Planning & Design Melissa Conradie • 231-645-8910 •

A special thanks to the featured vendors: Willowbrook Mill, Gala Cloths, Field of Flowers North, Tonic and Lime, The Rental Company, One Oak Bride, Captain's Quarters, Dream Details, Holly Thomas Designs, and Aunt B’s Cakes & Desserts.

Dozen Roses & Blue Moon Cottages

201 Mill Street, PO BOX 719 Northport, MI 49670 231-534-2142 Special Events Manager Mimi and Samantha Heberlein David and Yvonne Nordstrand operate 3 vintage rentals in walking distance of the amenities in the village of Northport. Original architectural details remain throughout the cottages. Furnishings are period correct with a hint of country French to create reminiscent charm. Gardens, porches and private decks included for your relaxation. Contact: David and Yvonne Nordstrand at 231-386-5465.

Event Capacity 150 for cocktail functions 135 for seated events

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Willowbrook Mill 2018  

Kate Williams & Alex Flanagan wedding at Willowbrook Mill

Willowbrook Mill 2018  

Kate Williams & Alex Flanagan wedding at Willowbrook Mill

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