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

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