Not even a weekend of rain couldn’t dampen Lauren and Mike’s spirits on their wedding day. Despite originally planning on an outdoor ceremony, the couple rolled with the punches and moved their wedding indoors to their cozy cottage instead, exchanging vows in a beautiful candlelit ceremony in front of a stone hearth. While the inclement weather may have forced them inside for their ceremony, it didn’t stop them from braving the elements with their photographer Heather Jowett to capture some stunning outdoor portraits, rain and all!

Fall Wedding portrait on the beach

Lauren, 31 & Mike, 30

Leland, MI

Wedding Date: October 6, 2013

Number of Guests: 10 (not including bride and groom)

Wedding Cost: $17,000

Wedding Ceremony Location: Living room of a 100 year old cottage on Lake Leelanau; we had planned to hold the ceremony outside on the lake shore, but a weekend of rain forced us indoors.

Wedding Reception Location: same + rest of house and outside

bride and groom portrait

bride and groom by the lake

bride and groom on the dock

bride and groom in apple orchard

bride and groom walking though farm fields

black and white wedding portrait in a field

bride and groom wrapped in a blanket

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

It was very important to us to be present on our wedding day and we did not want to be preoccupied with the typical concerns of hosting a wedding. Our hope was to be fully engaged in the spirit of what the event actually means and represents.

Northern Michigan elopement

bride getting ready

purple suede wedding shoes

vintage wedding jewelry

mother of the bride zipping up the bride's dress

bride getting ready

bride getting ready

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

It was sometimes difficult to explain to close friends and family why they weren’t invited. In spite of going small, we still faced many of the pressures involved in conventionally sized weddings (choosing a venue, selecting a menu, finding a florist, etc.)

apple orchard wedding portrait

apple orchard portrait

bride and groom in apple orchard

bride and groom under umbrella

rainy day wedding portrait at the beach

bride and groom on the dock

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

Not particularly – there was a clear divide at our immediate families. Beyond that core list, it would have become very difficult.

bride and groom portrait in farmer's field

bride in farmer's field

field wedding portrait

wedding portrait

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

Somewhat, but I think it was easier to understand when the line was drawn at our immediate families. Had the list included some extended family and some friends, it would have been much more difficult to explain. Ultimately, the desire expressed by our friends and extended family to participate in our ceremony reinforced our feeling of how loving our friends and family are, and in the end, it was bittersweet to not be able to celebrate with them all.

floral decoration on staircase

wedding altar in front of fireplace

blanket covered ceremony chair

candlelit fireplace wedding altar

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

The beautiful readings selected by each member of our family, and wonderful Buddhist vows Lauren’s sister helped us write. The setting was also very warm, intimate and inviting.

groom waiting at the altar

bride walking down the aisle

cottage wedding ceremony

candlelit wedding ceremony

cottage wedding ceremony

bride and groom exchanging rings

bride and groom first kiss

What were the highlights of the reception?

Cooking together is such a fulfilling way to interact and we had a wonderful time cooking a large brunch with both families at the cottage while the musicians played and everyone danced.

wreath on back of wedding chair

cottage wedding dinner table

guests at cottage wedding reception

wedding speeches

bride and groom at wedding reception

bride and groom toasts

bride and groom embracing

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

Being able to fully devote our attention to each other and to our families, and to concentrate on why we were there.

group wedding dance

wedding guests dancing holding hands

wedding guests doing circle dance

homemade wedding cakes

heart shaped wedding cookies

homemade wedding cake

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

Don’t necessarily assume that it will be proportionally easier to plan, and just like a larger wedding, costs can add up quickly if you let them.

bride and groom feeding each other cake


Photographer: Heather Jowett who spent the weekend at the cottage with us

Flowers: Marla Courtney Wood – a skilled local florist

Music: Brian Nolf and Ann Marie provided beautiful acoustic music

Rentals: Kelly Newel from Saradella Vintage provided the classic place settings and chairs

Reception and Ceremony Venue: The Wheeler Cottage

Wedding Dress: Saja

Rehearsal Dinner Venue: The Cooks’ House in Traverse City, MI