This is going to be somewhat long, but here finally is a recap of my wedding from this past summer. Hopefully I can remember to include all of the little details and things that made the day special and unique to us. Because in the end, it’s the little details that really make it our wedding. All of the pictures included are courtesy of our photographer Jenna and her assistant. (© Jenna Rose Photography)
Michelle and I were married on Saturday, August 28th in Holland, Michigan. Why Holland and not Grand Rapids? Well, we love our city and we really have no attachment whatsoever to Holland, we just happened to find a great deal on a perfect place for a reception in Holland and just went with it. We had originally wanted a beach wedding/tent reception but we scrapped that idea because it turned out to be way more difficult than we wanted and then we ended up in Holland. It was kind of random, but it all turned out okay. Because we had the wedding and reception in Holland we really wanted to be sure to get some photos at some of our favorite spots in Grand Rapids. So, we started our day early and took all of our photos around the city before heading to Holland.
It was a pretty hot day with no clouds in the sky, so there was lots of squinting and maybe some sweating.
Groomsmen from left: my older brother Clint, and then my good friends Craig, Sky, and Matt. Matt also lives in GR, but the rest of the guys had to make it into town from as far away as Colorado and Tennessee. They all made it at least a day in advance, and it was just really really great to spend the amount of time with them that I was able to in the week leading up to the wedding. Having all of my favorite people in one place was a blessing and happiness that I hadn’t prepared myself for in all of the hustle and bustle of preparing for the wedding, but it was SO GOOD.
We didn’t try to avoid every cliche and we weren’t trying to do certain things just for the sake of non-conformity, but one thing we did do was ask a lot of “why” questions while we were planning our wedding. Why this? Why that? And if the answer to the why question had little meaning to us or little utility outside of tradition, then we tried to avoid it.
For example, do I have to wear a tux or a suit? Why? I’m not the biggest fan of tuxedos and I have never liked the way I look in a suit. Something about being really tall with super long orangutan arms, I don’t know. So I decided to value my comfort over the risk of looking too casual.
Bridesmaids clockwise from bottom-left: Michelle’s older sister Julie, friends Elise and Christy, and Michelle’s younger sister Sandy.
Leading up to engagement and later with a wedding band, we wanted to be really careful and purposeful about finding the right rings. Because, you know, blood diamonds and everything. But seriously it’s an incredibly important issue. Diamonds pass through so many hands before making it to market that there is literally no way to know where they originated. And yet if you ask any jewelry dealer if their diamonds are conflict free they will assure you that without a doubt their diamonds are conflict free. But they are liars. There is just no way to know for sure.
We wanted to completely remove ourselves from the demand side of the diamond equation and recycle instead, so we searched high and low before finding the perfect ring at an antique store in Toledo, Ohio. It’s an incredible and delicate old ring, we’re both really happy with it. I think it was less than $300 but yet it’s more unique than any ring we saw in any jewerly shop and we value it just as much. Michelle’s wedding band is from Turtle Love Co., an online “artisan, indie, eco” jewerly shop. You can’t see exactly from the picture but my ring has Michelle’s fingerprint on the outside of the ring. It was made by Brent and Jessica Williams of the unique and amazing Etsy store Fabuluster. We seriously can’t recommend those two sources enough.
After pictures, we rolled on down to Holland for the late afternoon ceremony. The ceremony was held in a beautiful, windowed room at Holland Theological Seminary. My friend Matt who had been pastoring the Jr. High students to which I had been volunteering my time the last 2 years, officiated our ceremony. That last sentence was pretty awful, but I’m just going to keep moving along.
My cousin Matt from Montreal took care of all of the music for the ceremony and did a great job. I was so glad he could make it down to Michigan and be a part of our weekend.
We wanted the ceremony to be quick and very simple. So we stripped it down to only its essential parts without making it seem irreverently short. No ring-bearers. No unity candles or first communions. No special music or special readings. Just, uh, the good stuff I guess.
This is one of my favorite pictures. I think it shows how simple, yet how beautiful it was in the room. The funny thing is, Holland Theological Seminary is on the campus of Hope College and it was their “Welcome Weekend” for the new school year. Bad planning, I know! So out on that lawn (that you thankfully cannot see) were tons of students, parents, activities, and most annoyingly a huge utility truck of some sort parked right out there on the lawn. We were kind of pissed about that, but what can you do? It was almost as if we were in some corny movie scene when we were waved at by the Hope mascot who was riding a golf cart down the road as we made our grand exit. It was hilarious.
Next, obv was the reception at the Holland Area Arts Council. This was the place we were so excited about that I mentioned earlier. We spent a lot of time and energy on the planning and set up and everything else needed to get this place looking like this, but it was totally worth it, and it was such a cool space to have a party. The side room in the back had all of the food, desserts and coffee while appetizers were in the front lobby.
Michelle spent many hours hand-crafting all of the centerpieces. I thought they were fun and unique. Apparently the green-fuzzy-ball look is all the rage. On each plate was our wedding favor that were prepared by Michelle’s mom and sister. It was a small decorative bag of vegan mexican wedding cookies with the recipe attached as a bonus.
Planning the food we would serve was the part of the planning that got me the most excited. Our alcohol was provided by Martha’s Vineyard of Grand Rapids. All of our food was catered by our friends at Brick Road Pizza in Grand Rapids. I cannot even tell you how excited we were to be able to eat our favorite vegan foods from our favorite restaurant on our wedding day.
We had an assembler guy putting together ciabatta flat bread sandwiches using a choice of 3 fillings. Tempeh reuben, barbecue shredded jackfruit, and buffalo tofu. Michelle is partial to their barbecue pulled “pork” (jackfruit). I love their buffalo tofu and tempeh reuben. There was also a walnut beet salad, a pesto potato salad and the appetizers were a fruit spread and garlic bread with bruschetta.
A lot of people were skeptical and nervous to try new things, but most gave it a shot and we are still getting some pretty rave reviews.
Our wedding cake was a cupcake tower of (special order) vegan cupcakes from Second Floor Bakery in Holland. Carrot cake, chocolate, and vanilla.
My mom also made some vegan peanut butter balls aka ‘buckeyes’ and oreo balls that went with the organic, fair trade coffee from Higher Grounds Trading Company of Traverse City.
The aftermath of the cupcake battle. I think I got the worst of it. But only because I held back like the gentleman I am.
Our first dance was to the song “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová.
In a room off the front lobby there was a photo booth set up for guests to use props and goof around. It was such a great idea and provided lots of laughs.
Overall, there was a ton of stuff that went wrong, including a couple pretty huge issues to overcome on the day of the wedding. But in the end it all came it together in it’s own quirky way.
I was really happy that almost my entire group of now-freshman students made it to the ceremony and a few stuck around for the reception too. In the end, Michelle and I were both really happy to share our wedding day with so many of our friends and family. We really had a great time and I’m pretty sure they all did too.
Ultimately we wanted to be frugal, but mostly we simply wanted things to be simple, and to represent who are, our love for each other, and what we care about, love, and value. In my mind, I think we accomplished that goal.