Kelsey and Ryer’s Backyard Farm-to-Table Michigan Wedding

When it came to planning their wedding, Kelsey and Ryer chose quality over quantity, opting to have a small backyard wedding with just their immediately family in attendance. While the bride briefly worried she might regret not having a bigger wedding, the couple couldn’t have been happier with the stress-free planning, and the personal and memorable nature of their intimate nuptials.

Wanting to share their joy and the memories of the big day with their extended family and friends that couldn’t be there, the couple hired Jillian Bowes to capture every last moment in gorgeous detail.

Michigan at home wedding

Kelsey, 27 & Ryer, 36

Ada, Michigan (Grand Rapids)

Wedding Date: September 7, 2014

Number of Guests: 30

Wedding Cost: $7,500 (not including attire or rings)

Wedding Ceremony Location: Groom’s Mother’s Home

Wedding Reception Location: Groom’s Mother’s Home

bride portrait bride's dress detail bride adjusting dress groom holding bride's dress as the walk bride and groom holding hands bride and groom dancing bride and groom kissing

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

We’ve always been quality over quantity kind of people. Neither of us ever envisioned a large wedding; a small wedding made more sense for us as a couple, and people really seemed to understand that. We wanted to enjoy all of our guests and each other instead of running from table to table all night trying to make sure we didn’t miss someone.

wedding dress hanging up strappy wedding shoes bride getting dressed groom tying bow tie groom putting on jacket

What are some of the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?

My parents were unhappy with the decision at first and did their best to try to convince us otherwise. Understandably, they wanted their families to be a part of the day. I also struggled with leaving our extended families and friends out, but knew that we could not have the wedding we wanted with 150+ guests.

groom portrait bride portrait bride and groom with linked arms bride hugging groom from behind

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

We decided on immediate family only, so that made things pretty easy.

bride and groom hugging bride and groom touching noses bride and groom kissing

Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?

Luckily there were no issues; our friends and family were very supportive and understanding!

flower girl walking down aisle ring bearer walking down aisle ring bearer walking down aisle bride walking down aisle emotional groom at the altar

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

We didn’t plan on writing our own vows, but the morning of our wedding we felt like it would be a huge mistake not to. We wrote them together that day, and I am so glad we did. It made our ceremony extra special. I tried to kiss Ryer after he read his, and that really lightened things up!

backyard wedding ceremony backyard wedding ceremony bride and groom first kiss

What were the highlights of the reception?

Having the people we love the most enjoy an amazing farm-to-table meal, great wine, and each other was just the best! My dad and sister also gave some pretty incredible toasts…and the impromptu dance party was so, so fun!

hanging candle lanterns hanging rose backyard wedding reception set-up backyard wedding reception set-up wedding bar wedding menu wedding buffet bride with Mrs. sign on her chair father of bride giving speech bride and groom at wedding reception bride and groom kissing at reception little girl dancing at wedding bride and groom cutting cake groom feeding bride chocolate covered strawberry

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

The best thing is that it was exactly what we wanted; it was a celebration of our love and the people that love us. It was perfect!

at-home outdoor reception s'mores station outdoor at-home reception wedding guests with sparklers bride and groom with sparkler send-off

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

It was the best decision we made! At one point I thought I might regret not having a bigger wedding, but I couldn’t be happier we had a small one. The overall planning experience was enjoyable and not stressful at all. And the day itself was the same! It was so laid back and so full of love. Everyone had a wonderful time; it was very personal and memorable. I could go on and on…just go for it!

On a side note, I highly recommend investing in an amazing photographer, like Jillian, to capture the day. The money you spend is more than worth it! Many friends and family have told me it felt like they were there too, just from seeing the photos.

bride and groom kissing


Photographer: Jillian Bowes Photography

Caterer (Dinner & Desserts): Kangaroo Kitchen & Catering

Flowers: Spring Sweet

Dress: Carol Hannah via The Gown Shop Ann Arbor

Hair & Makeup: The Pearl Lyon – Ashley Amaya

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Brittany and Daniel’s Italian Castle Wedding in Milan

When you and your partner’s families live in different places, choosing where to have your wedding can be challenging. When your fiancé’s family lives in Italy, however, we think the decision is a no-brainer!

For Brittany and her Italian-born fiancé Daniel, it was important to get married in Milan where he grew up and his family still lives. Despite being forced to limit the guest list due to the distance of their destination wedding, the couple still managed to celebrate their nuptials with those closest to them, making it an incredibly special and magical day for everyone involved!

Special thanks to MouMou Photography for capturing Brittany and Daniel’s special day and sharing it us!

Milan destination wedding

Brittany, 28 & Daniel, 32

Milan, Italy

Wedding Date: June 20, 2014

Number of Guests: 50

Wedding Cost: $12,000

Wedding Ceremony Location: Comune Di Milano – Palazzo Reale

Wedding Reception Location: Castello di Corneliano Bertario

bride standing through sun roof of tiny italian car bride and groom taking selfie bride and groom sitting groom looking adoringly at bride smiling bride bride and groom portrait in italy bride and groom kissing in Italy

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

It was important for us to have our wedding be shared with our immediate family. We wanted it to be intimate so we could create more memories with our family and close friends. With the unique location and being so far from home, we wanted it to be low-key and it was truly romantic and magical!

bride getting ready bride having her make-up done wedding dress hanging on custom hanger bride getting dressed bride having her dress buttoned up bride getting dressed

What are some of the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?

It was less of a challenge planning an intimate wedding than planning a destination wedding where you don’t speak the language. Luckily, his parents helped with the majority of the planning!

bride putting on her necklace bride and mother having photo taken bride getting ready bride having her veil put on

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

It is always hard when some of your extended family or close friends are missing from an important day in your life, but with the location being so far away, we did not expect many to make the trek. We also got to have our celebration with those that mean so much to us, so that was really great.

bride and groom embracing bride and groom in Italy bride and groom looking up black and white wedding portrait bride and groom portrait against brick wall wedding portrait

Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?

We didn’t have any issues which was great. I think everyone understood why it was so special for us to get married where Daniel grew up and where his family lives.

outdoor Milan wedding ceremony bride walking down aisle with her father groom shaking father-in-law's hand

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

The ceremony was very unique and different, so it was not a typical American wedding as everyone might have expected, which made it fun. Our vows were my highlight; we wrote personal vows to each other which we read for the first time at the ceremony. It felt surreal to have our family and friends from both countries there in one place.

bride and groom at the altar bride reading her vows bride and groom holding hands during ceremony bride putting ring on groom's finger bride and groom processional bride and groom hugging guests milan-italy-destination-wedding-brittany-and-daniel-52 groom hugging father-in-law wedding guests chatting bride chatting with wedding guests

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

I feel that I got to spend an intimate time with each and every person that was there. We didn’t feel overwhelmed at all, and it felt relaxed.

Milan wedding reception Milan wedding venue milan-italy-destination-wedding-brittany-and-daniel-85 italian wedding cake milan-italy-destination-wedding-brittany-and-daniel-66 bride and groom cutting the cake bride and groom cutting the cake bride and groom taking a selfie laughing wedding guest groom dipping bride

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

Have the wedding that you and your fiancé want to have and talk with your parents about the type of wedding you are hoping for to ensure they are onboard. It is a day for you and your family, so it should be suited to what you want instead of worrying about everyone else. If you want an intimate settting go for it, you won’t have any regrests!

bride and groom dancing


Photography: MouMou Photography – they were amazing!

Food: Caterer was a part of the Castello – Top Parties

Bride’s Dress: Theia Couture

Groom’s Suit: Suit Supply

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The Modern Minimalist: Wedding Trend

Minimalism doesn’t have to be focused on a stark white look. The modern minimalist trend has an emphasis on clean lines, different textures and sculptural details. Touches of brass and wood add some interest and prevent the look from becoming too clinical. Don’t be afraid to use pops of color in your fuss-free floral arrangements with wild blooms and greenery.

When it comes to thinking of simplistic silhouettes for your wedding dress, there’s an array of minimalist styles out there. The focus should be on the construction of the dress, so look out for interesting pleats or cuts. A subtle open back like this is ideal for the theme.

Brass candlesticks with white candles bring the romance and mood lighting.

A set of calligraphed invitations are a classic touch for your wedding stationary.

Glass vases filled with yellow acacia will provide you with a subtle inclusion of color that doesn’t look overdone. As they are so easy to arrange, this is a great DIY project that will save on your budget for flowers. Likewise, recycle your glass bottles or head to a thrift store to pick some up and these too can be used as centerpieces.

A bouquet of white lilies is a lovely idea as the shape of the flowers really adds a sculptural element that would complement a draped dress.


An all-white wedding cake gets an update with a tiled pattern and glossy stand.

If you want to incorporate some wooden or rustic elements, then a hanging macrame decoration will set the scene. With a clean backdrop you might be in need of some nature.

A green centerpiece works well with a simple white tablescape.

If you prefer the style of only having white flowers, then give it a little twist by using different stem lengths and types of flower.

The days of the plastic bride and groom cake toppers are long behind us. There are so many ways to decorate a simple cake and change its entire look by simply adding a topper. This one fits in with the modern minimalist look with its elegant and uncomplicated design.

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It may be a little old fashioned and even a little cliché, but pale shades of pink will always have our hearts. Today’s pink, mellow rose, is a little darker and a little dustier than its popular blush pink cousin, but it has a regal lady-like quality to it that makes it just as pretty and perfect for your wedding day. Even if pink isn’t typically your thing, we think these 5 palettes will have you seeing the color in a whole new light!

We love this unconventional pairing of pink, dark mustard,and grey. It would make a wonderful and daring fall color palette, don’t you think?

Mellow rose color board

Another beautiful and non-traditional fall palette full of muted shades of pink and purple and just a hint of yellow.

Mellow rose color board

Perfect for spring or fall, this color scheme uses mellow rose as a neutral accent color to play off the brighter shades of orange and add an interesting contrast to the palette.

Mellow rose color board

Pale pink and mint have always been a great color combo, but here the dusty wash of the colors and the addition of deep orange to the pairing elevates this color scheme to a whole other level of sophistication in our eyes.

Mellow rose color board

Another classic color combo – pink, black, white, and gold –, this palette works just as beautifully with mellow rose as it would with blush pink.

Mellow rose color board

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10 Winter Wedding Favors

Winter wedding favors are a great way to continue the festive spirit and thank your guests with seasonally-appropriate and useful gifts. Edibles are always welcome around this time of the year with sweet drinks and warming brews. Keeping your guests warm throughout the day is another thoughtful way to show your appreciation, as well as decorative touches that they can take home for the holidays. We’ve picked out 10 favors for your winter wedding, many of which you can make yourself.

1. Homemade Eggnog

You know it’s time for the holidays when the grocery store shelves are lined with cartons of eggnog. Coffee shops start adding eggnog to their lattes, and finding an eggnog ice cream becomes your new mission in life. But can anything really beat the taste of homemade eggnog? Make a large batch for your guests (and yourself) then turn them into bottled favors.

2. Mittens 

If some of your winter wedding will be outdoors, keep your guests warm by gifting them with a pair of mittens. They’ll be very grateful and will also be useful for the rest of the season. Warm hearts, warm hands…

3. Pinecone Fire Starters

This is such a great way to use dry pine cones and turn them into something wonderful. Candles are always a lovely gift in the colder months and this one is especially festive.

4. Peppermint Lip Balm

Everyone wants a favor that they will actually use. A key ring photo of the happy couple, not so much. We can all use some soothing lip balm in winter, especially a seasonal minty one. These lip balms are quick and easy to make and your guests will love the homemade touch.

5. Festive Ornaments 

Individual boxes of ornaments make for a great festive favor. Start early and look for them in thrift stores, winter markets or make your own.

6. Homemade Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is a kitchen staple and a key ingredient for many holiday recipes. Give your guests a helping hand with these lovingly made favors. Bare in mind that the extract takes 4-6 weeks to infuse, so start ahead of time. You can also try different flavors such as peppermint too.

7. DIY Candy Cane Fudge 

Instead of handing out candy canes, be extra naughty by making candy cane fudge instead. This addictive recipe is a winter winner. Box a few of them up and give them out as favors or include them in a candy bar.

8. Candied Walnuts 

Delicious candied nuts in sparkly packaging is a winter wedding must-have. Another easy to make recipe, if you don’t eat them all while your making them.

9. Tree Saplings

Make a display with these tree saplings for your green fingered guests to grab. They can grown their own evergreen or pine and they make for a great winter decoration too.

10. S’mores Kit

A winter wedding really isn’t complete without s’mores. You can package these kits for your guests to enjoy when they get home or if you’re having a bonfire at your reception they can be used there.

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