We chose to get married at City Hall with our immediate families and followed it up with a small party a week later.
While we were not interested in having a large traditional wedding, we did want to do something special to celebrate. Unfortunately this meant we wouldn’t be able to invite all of our loved ones to join us. While it was really tough to strip our guest list down to the minimum, it was important for us to throw a party that was “us” and that meant low key.
Since we wouldn’t be throwing a huge wedding in Chicago, we wanted to have a near by destination wedding somewhere in between where we each grew up. We were able to find a spot right on a small lake in Michigan with 3 cabins that would accommodate up to 30 people. This was perfect, it was ideal that everybody could stay at the same place so no one would have to drive late at night or while intoxicated. Since the party was our idea and our guests had to travel to get there, we wanted to take care of the accommodations. Renting the cabins for the weekend cost us almost the same as it would to rent a Chicago venue for a few hours. This made so much more sense to us.
We spent the long weekend cooking, eating, drinking, playing games, and hanging out by the fire. There was plenty of space for people to be together or sneak away for some privacy. It was just our speed, we love hanging out at cabins! Here is a glimpse of the weekend.
Our immediate families and a few friends arrived on Thursday evening. We rented 3 cabins on the same property, the large cabin closest to the lake was reserved for us and friends, the other two were for each of our families. We were lucky to have 3 kitchens and 3 refrigerators for the weekend, we cooked every single meal. Planning a long weekend’s worth of meals for 30 people was by far the most challenging aspect of the whole ordeal. We brought most of the food supplies up in coolers and bought some of it while we were up there. Our cars were loaded to the brim of supplies for the weekend, we spent a good portion of Thursday night stocking the refrigerators and getting stuff in order for the next couple of days. There was still plenty of time to sit around the fire and hang out into the night, it was a great time for our families to bond and let loose before the rest of the party arrived.
Friday afternoon was open for whatever anyone felt like doing. In the morning, I spent some time arranging some flowers to spruce up the cabins. I really enjoy selecting and arranging flowers. While professional wedding flowers are really beautiful (and totally worth it in many cases!), they can get very pricey. This was not an area we would budget much for this weekend. DIY flowers it was! I went to Trader Joe’s the day before and picked up a few types of eucalyptus and a variety of other flowers that would last for several day. I picked up a selection of clear glass vases from local thrift shops; I wasn’t concerned with uniformity, I looked for vases of varying heights that worked well together. For all the vases and flowers, it probably cost around $40.00 total! Not bad (good).
We spent some time during the afternoon preparing food for the day and got a head start on certain dishes for Saturday’s meals. We had a handful of really amazing cooks with us and we are forever grateful for all the help we had in pulling off 3 days of food cooked to perfection! We are seriously lucky to have such amazing people by our sides.
Cabin life on the lake is pretty amazing. The view alone is enough to make the day worthwhile. Add some delicious food and good company, you’re all set. Whether you sit in the Brady Bunch like nook to read a book or hit the beach for some sun. It’s hard not to enjoy such a relaxing place. There’s something particularly comfortable about the western coast of Michigan. We always have such a good time, it was perfect that we were able to celebrate with our closest friends and family there.
Check out the view! The opposing side of the lake is “pure” Michigan sand dunes.
We had a nice little private beach with 3 piers and 3 fire pits. While we had beautiful weather, it was still a bit cold to swim, although some went in the water anyway. It was perfect to take the kayaks out on the lake. This was a fun activity to have around, when at a lake cabin, you’ve got to take advantage of being in or on the water. These friends pictured below paddled all the way across the lake to explore the dunes! It’s like another planet over there.
The area we were in a is quite a “dune” town, you’ll see lots of dune buggies on the road and there are a few great rental places to catch a ride. Some of our family members went on a little excursion to feel the wind through their hair!
We had a campfire going from morning to night for the whole weekend. It was a perfect area for people to gather and enjoy the view together. During the day it was a nice spot to read and chill out, at night we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores.
Friday night was a party! A few more guests arrived during the day and the rest showed up by midnight. I imagine the last few to trickle in saw quite a scene, as our crew started celebrating early! Fun times.
Saturday was designated for the actual celebration. We weren’t doing a traditional ceremony, so we made the whole day be the “event.” Meals were planned to be elevated and extra delicious all day, the plan was to hang out, eat, drink, and be merry. It worked! Saturday Brunch was one of the more elaborate meals planned for the weekend.
What was on the menu? Smoked salmon, lox, trout, and veggie platter along with mini bagels and cream cheese. An assortment of fruits, home made gluten-free granola, and yogurt. Savory crepes stuffed with taleggio cheese and spinach, and 6 varieties of quiche! It was quite a spread, beautiful and delicious. To drink, there was coffee, tea, home made Bloody Mary mix as well as mimosas. I was an excellent way to start the day.
Saturday Afternoon was again, open for people to do whatever they please. It was the first day that the whole party was present, so it was a day full of fun and activity. Many people took the kayaks out on the lake and some dove off of the pier in the distance.
Our friends Alegra and Dev flew a kite out on the lake and had quite an epic battle with the wind. The kite had no trouble staying afloat as it was a super windy day. After a while the kite took a path of it’s own and got away from their kayak. They put tremendous effort in the chase as a small storm rolled in, ultimately it got away.
There was a lot of lawn gaming going on all weekend. We had bags/cornhole set up on the beach. There was a badminton net set up along side of the houses, and a moving game of bocce ball going on. With all of that, there was plenty to do or not to do.
By late afternoon/early evening, the sky opened up and dropped a storm on us. It was a little concerning with all of the grilling needed to pull off this dinner we had coming up. But, you can’t control the weather, so get on with it! It was a perfect time to really get going on dinner prep anyway. This was a gourmet buffet of a meal. A lot of effort went in to planning and preparing, here’s a snippet of some of the chaos! What an amazing kitchen to be able to work in. Lot’s of counter space and areas for multiple people to pitch in. Look at all of those helping hands! Just look at it!
So what was on the menu for dinner? Curried coconut cucumber salad, grape almond cilantro salad, fennel and grapefruit salad. Pierogis, quinoa, and cheesy potatoes. Grilled veggies, shrimp skewers, chicken skewers, and grilled salmon. To drink we had all the usual adult beverages as well as handmade margaritas! Everything was amazing, it was definitely one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
While some were busy with food prep, others played. There was a great little side porch with a pool table. This is also where we situated the “bar.”
After setting some stuff up for the evening toast and dinner, everyone dressed up and got ready to celebrate. Here’s Joe with some of his oldest and dearest friends.
My Uncle’s wife Than offered to do my hair. She did a great job! I wore the same dress for the evening as I did on my actual wedding day. The toast and celebration was not meant to be fancy, guests were welcome to wear whatever they felt comfortable in.
The storm blew over and the sun came out just in time for some photos! We headed out to the pier and snapped a few pictures with friends and family.
We all gathered on the deck for the toast. This was basically our “ceremony.” Joe and I said a few words and thanked everyone for being part of our celebratory weekend, it was all of these people who really made it special. Friends and family added additional sentiments; it was short and sweet, just as we imagined. Cheers!
Cocktail hour and happy people being caught on camera.
The lovely Irvin ladies, this family knows how to pose for a pic!
It was a good time to snap a rare picture of my dad Not working! This guy is always awesome in the kitchen, but my gosh he really cooked up a storm this weekend. He and Gerard manned the grill most of the time and both pitched in with so much more. Oh, and did I mention I have a new sister now?! There she is with Jane and I on the right! Below that is my brother having a good time ;)
Here’s a shot of us with our mothers. They both helped out a ton at the party and are always so supportive of us. So much gratitude for these two ladies, I wish everyone could be so lucky.
After the toast and cocktails, we pulled dinner together. Unfortunately we didn’t catch any pics of the actual dinner dishes! There was so much going on and too much delicious food to focus on. The rest of the night was history. Campfires and partying into the night! It was a fantastic weekend thanks to this special crew!