COVID-conscious wedding planning in Detroit

groom beside bride holding bouquet flowers

Hey, ladies! It’s been quite some time since I’ve popped up to update this site, but it continues to attract readers in search of wedding inspiration, so I figured that we were due for some fresh content.

I was inspired earlier this week, when I spoke to a colleague who is in the throes of planning her January wedding. Wedding planning is HARD stuff to begin with, but I can’t recall a time when engaged couples in our area faced such a drastic level of uncertainty.

Major props to all of you who are managing the ever-fluctuating landscape of weddings in a COVID-conscious environment. This probably wasn’t the planning process that you’d been dreaming of or hoping for, but what’s most important is that HERE YOU ARE … engaged, excited and having found the perfect partner with whom you can weather life’s storms from here on out.

Let’s get to it. Highlighting some cool, new options that have become available in the Detroit area:

Bea’s Detroit “Tiny Wedding Program”

Image courtesy of Bea’s Detroit

In the heart of Detroit’s Eastern Market, Bea’s is a fresh, new space that houses a cafe, shop, available co-working and co-creating areas, and an outdoor rooftop. Launched just before COVID hit, the Bea behind Bea’s quickly pivoted, introducing the Tiny Wedding Program, aimed at events around 50 people (but able to accommodate up to 100).

Find out more about Bea’s weddings here.

The Whiskey Factory’s Minimonies

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Image courtesy of the Whiskey Factory

A micro ceremony is, naturally, a “minimony.” And the Whiskey Factory just outside of downtown Detroit is delivering big time for small events. Head over to Instagram and check out their Stories for a peek inside these tiny-scale events, that come complete with Detroit City Distillery cocktails, of course.

Find out more about The Whiskey Factory here.

J’Adore Detroit’s Quaran-tiny Wedding

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Image courtesy of J’Adore Detroit

Through the end of this year, J’Adore’s glam loft space in Eastern Market is offering a thoughtfully dubbed “Quaran-tiny Wedding” package that allows up to eight guests, with charcuterie and drink packages available. Visit their Instagram account for the latest details!

Find out more about J’Adore Detroit here.

The Congregation’s Private Events

Image courtesy of The Congregation

It’s not unusual to be married in a church … but it is unusual to be married in a church-turned-cafe-and-bar, so we’re awarding a bonus point to The Congregation, one of the newest venues in Detroit. With a cozy indoor space and an inviting outdoor patio and grassy area, there’s plenty of options for crafting your unique wedding and reception. Full venue buyouts are available.

Find out more about The Congregation here.

Has inspiration struck yet?

If not, consider checking out PeerSpace, a site that I’m newly familiar with, which provides access to private spaces in the same way that you can rent a home or room via AirBnB. New locations are frequently added and in addition to more traditional venues, you can find gorgeous old homes and cool outdoor areas, too.

If you have additional suggestions, please leave a comment below!

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Detroit Institute of Arts Wedding Inspiration

Planning a unique wedding amid the stately surroundings of the Detroit Institute of Arts may seem like a daunting task. How can you possibly improve upon the grandeur of one of nation’s best museums? From the glamorous Great Hall, to the mesmerizing Rivera Court and cozy Kresge Court, the DIA is chock-full of spaces to fit your vibe, if you’re willing to drop a few bucks. (Get a glimpse of rental fee and required caterer details here.)

Whether you’re aiming for a bright and airy or dark and moody fete, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite snaps from Detroit photography blogs (find direct links to each site within the image caption) to provide some inspiration.

And, if the below photos aren’t enough, you can find even more to look at at these links to amazing DIA weddings:

See our round-up of the best Detroit wedding venues – including the DIA – here.

 

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Source: Jessica-Johnston.com (now Jess & Nate Studios)

Source: Brides.com

Detroit Institute of Arts Wedding Reception, DIA Wedding Pictures

Source: KellieSaunders.com Photography

Brilliant Detroit + Michigan Wedding Welcome Bag Ideas

There’s nothing sweeter than a welcome gift courtesy of the bride and groom upon check-in to your hotel.

After scouring the interwebs, we’ve come up with a few Detroit and Michigan-themed favorites to share for your inspiration…

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Source: Martha Stewart Weddings

Michigan Wedding  Michigan themed goodie bags for wedding guests staying from out of town!! PRECIOUS.

Source: Pinterest

My mom put together these "Made in Michigan Midnight Snack" welcome bags for our out of town wedding guests.  Woo Hoo Michigan Wedding!

Source: Pinterest

CUSTOM MICHIGAN WEDDING WELCOME GIFT BAGS. Marigold & Grey creates artisan gifts for all occasions. Order online or inquire about custom gift design. www.marigoldgrey.com Image: Red October Photography

Source: Marigold Grey

Hospitality bag with Michigan products designed for a wedding in Ann Arbor, Michigan, home to the University of Michigan. From Lisa's Gift Wrappers.

Source: Pinterest

A QLine Inspired Detroit Wedding

QLine Detroit Wedding

Public transit is still a pretty new thing here in Detroit, despite the long and storied history of the merry-go-round People Mover. The QLine, which made its debut last year, now allows folks to purchase rides and day passes, and easily (albeit not exactly quickly) travel from the riverfront up to New Center.

Its path along Woodward Avenue means that the 6.6-mile loop includes stops near many of the city’s bustling areas and hot spots. Perfect, I’ve been thinking, for a Detroit-based weekend wedding.

A busy location with plenty to see and do? Check.
Several good options for venues and lodging? Check.
Easy transportation to get guests around? Check.

Side note: I’m imagining sweet guest check-in bags now, complete with $3 day passes for the QLine set and ready to be activated. Adorable, right?

So, you’re serious about considering public-transit-friendly festivities? Read on to mix and match your ideal Dream Day map.

Wedding Venues Close to QLine

  • Garden Theater: Located just between the Mack and Canfield stations, the Garden Theater is an easy two-to-three block walk either way. It’s brick walls and urban edge make it a modern space for receptions.
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    Garden Theater // Source
  • Max Fischer “Cube”: Just off the Mack station, the “Cube” at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra can seat up to 500 guests and be transformed into, well, whatever you’d like, with it’s blank canvas.
    The Cube at the DSO // Source
  • Detroit Institute of Arts: A block from the Warren station, the DIA offers some stunning spaces, from Kresge Court to the Great Hall. If you’re looking to make a statement, this remains one of the best places in the city to do so.

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    Detroit Institute of Arts // Source

  • Colony Club: One block off the Montcalm station, Colony Club is an old world, glamorous venue conveniently located among some of the city’s liveliest sport attractions. The venue itself, with multiple spaces, can host groups up to 400.

Hotels Close to QLine

  • The Siren Hotel: A new boutique hotel in Detroit, The Siren is an intimate hotel with minimalistic rooms but Instagram-worthy appeal, just two blocks from the Grand Circus station. Offering reasonable rates and a quaint – but especially charming – bar, Candy Bar, it’s also a great location for proximity to dining and drinks.

  • Aloft Detroit: Centrally located and just a hop from the Grand Circus station, the Aloft is a straightforward chain hotel with a grand atrium lobby in the historic David Whitney building. A great spot for large groups, with nearby food options and a lobby bar.

  • The Inn at 97 Winder: Just recently, I stumbled on this gorgeous little Midtown inn. Just a short walk from the Sproat / Adelaide station, this old mansion is now host to 10 newly redone guest rooms, decorated in a tasteful and eclectic fashion.

  • Inn on Ferry Street: Just off the Ferry Street station, this inn is made up of six historic buildings that total 40 guest rooms in all. It’s a quick walk to plenty of great sights, and very close to the DIA and craft beer mecca, Hop Cat.

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    Inn on Ferry Street // Source

Restaurants Close to QLine

  • The Whitney: Across the street from the Canfield station, The Whitney is a grand testament to what Detroit’s history once held. The fine dining restaurant is housed in an original mansion of a lumber baron, and makes a perfectly romantic spot for a rehearsal dinner (or a wedding itself!)

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    The Whitney // Source

  • Townhouse: A beautiful and modern setting, Townhouse Detroit gives all the vibes and can close off portions of its space to accommodate private events up to seating for 110.

  • Rusted Crow: A much more casual (or, rowdy) crowd will feel at home at Rusted Crow, which is very close to the Grand Circus station. It’s a great place for large groups, with good food and spirits distilled on site.

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    Rusted Crow // Source

  • London Chop House: Two blocks from the Congress Street station, this old school steakhouse is dimly lit and upscale. A quiet scene but great food and excellent service, for a smaller gathering.

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    London Chop House

Now that we’ve covered four venues, accommodations and dining options, there’s still so much to consider.

Where to recommend for late-night bites? (Shake Shack, HopCat.)
Where to take the kids to burn off energy during the day? (Campus Martius Beach, Riverwalk fountains.)
Where to grab the best morning coffee? (Ashe, Great Lakes Coffee Co.)

For those folks who don’t live in Detroit or aren’t from Michigan, a weekend escape to the Motor City … that doesn’t actually involve a car … might just be an excursion like no other.

Driving Distance from Detroit: Canadian Vineyard Weddings

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Photo copyright: Dudek Photography // Ontario, Canada Wedding Photographer

When I think of “semi-destination” weddings planned by Detroit couples, my mind quickly jumps to Traverse City, with its lush lakeside vineyard settings, only four hours north.

But what if I told you there are several more gorgeous, vineyard settings much closer to home? The only hitch is that they involve a passport. I’m talking Canada, folks.

A few weeks ago, while weekending in Grand Bend, Ontario, where my husband’s family has a cottage, we made our first trek up the road to Dark Horse Estate Winery. I’d seen signage for the vineyard and winery, but my expectations were woefully low.

As soon as we neared the property,  I realized that I’d been much to quick to judge. A large building loomed, surrounded by row upon row of grapes. The setting, just far enough (a few miles) from Lake Huron to welcome its breeze, was gorgeous at first glance. It only got better as we parked and stepped inside. A vaulted ceiling tasting room anchored the main level, with soaring windows that overlook the vineyard and a large patio with a fireplace that I imagine is as cozy as it gets when cooler fall temperatures arrive.

We chatted with the winery staff, marveling at the beautiful building, tasting the wines, and not surprisingly learning that the venue was fully booked with weddings for the summer. With a capacity to seat up to 300 (and also offering smaller rooms for more intimate parties), it’s an obvious choice for Ontario couples looking for a property outside the larger cities of London, Toronto or Windsor.

For Michigan couples, it’s an escape that’s (for once!) totally new. Not Traverse City, not Ludington, not Garland Resort. From Detroit, it’s an approximately two-hour drive, which includes a border crossing at the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron. Wedding guests wanting to make a weekend of their travels can book a room or rental in the cheeky beach town of Grand Bend, just up the road, or about 20 minutes away in the equally charming village of Bayfield.

The Dark Horse Winery, meanwhile, serves as the main stage for your event. It’s interior is a mix of dark tones and big, airy spaces, accented with modern furnishings (think Restoration Hardware style) and well thought finishes.

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Photo copyright: Love Knots Photography // Ontario, Canada Wedding Photographer

Between the stunning outdoor setting and the equally impressive architecture and design, the space seems perfectly suited for a modern wedding and is definitely worth checking out if you’re exploring new, out-of-town ideas for your big day.

Does two hours seem too far? Explore the Lake Erie North Shore wine trail, which is much closer to home (about an hour or so drive from Detroit, after crossing at the Detroit / Windsor tunnel border). Viewpoint Winery offers sweeping lake views from their venue, perched atop a bluff. Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery is also on the water, with more rustic vibes. Cooper’s Hawk offers a new restaurant and banquet areas as well as lots of green space.

So. All of this to say, if your guests carry passports (or can nab an enhanced driver’s license with enough notice),  your within-a-drive-from-Detroit wedding venue options just became much more varied … especially for those of us with a soft spot for good vino.

MORE INFORMATION:

Dark Horse Estate Winery

Wine Country Ontario (for more wineries and links)

Grand Bend Lodging:

Oakwood Resort, Grand Bend, Ontario

Home and vacation rentals in Grand Bend, Ontario

Bayfield Lodging:

Little Inn of Bayfield, Bayfield, Ontario

The Ashwood Inn, Bayfield, Ontario

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Photo copyright: Ikonica Photography // Toronto, Ontario Wedding Photography

Planning A Detroit Bachelorette Party

*Updated July 2018*

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I might be bias, but Detroit is where it’s at right now. This blog targets brides that are living in or getting married in the Metro Detroit area, but I’d be amiss if I didn’t point out that one of the very best bachelorette ideas right now is a staycation.

Don’t you agree? For the bride or bridesmaids that live outside of the city and Uber in from time to time, this is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the best way possible.

I’ve been to what feels like a billion bachelorette parties, from the freaking Chateau Marmont in Hollywood to the (former) Library Pub in Novi (you know exactly the spot that I’m talking about, don’t you?). So when it came time to rally my own troop for a night, er, day out, I just wanted to stick around town and soak up the energy.

Where to go when you’re bacheloretting in Detroit? Let me share a few of my own ideas…

WHERE TO STAY

  • CASINOS: I’m not a huge casino fan, but the rooms are far more fun than any existing Detroit hotel and there’s also plenty of drinks to be had at any time of day on the gaming floor. Hungry? Just head to a restaurant downstairs. Bonus: You don’t even need to request an Uber to hit the nearest bar. Consider MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity or Greektown (Jack) casinos.
  • HOTELS: Go with the Foundation Hotel. Their bar, a part of the Apparatus Room restaurant, is gorgeous and cozy and ideal for socializing. Capital Park is a short walk away, with more restaurants and bars to choose from. Otherwise, check out Aloft Detroit, or the newer Siren Hotel on Broadway, which is within walking of distance of some nice spots (including Wright & Co. for small plates and craft cocktails or the Candy Bar inside of Siren Hotel for a super intimate but chic setting).
  • AIRBNB: For larger groups, go big and rent a lofty space downtown where everyone can stay and the party can begin. Make sure that you can get in ahead of time to decorate the space – ahem – appropriately.

WHERE TO START

  • IMMERSE SPA: Ommmm. My girls and I began at MGM’s Immerse Spa and it was nothing short of heavenly. We had all booked appointments around the same time and arrived early to nab spots by the indoor pool for loads of lounging before ordering lunch. The setting is gorgeous; and who doesn’t love a good rub-down?
  • BLOW OUTS: Head over to Detroit’s Blo Blow Dry Bar on Washington Blvd for a fresh blow out and to have your and your girl’s make up done. Pop into the nearby Ten Nail Salon for manis / pedis, if you’ve got time.
  • BRUNCH: If you’re not hitting the spa, start the day with a solid brunch. If your crew is rowdy, head to Eastern Market’s Vivio’s (request a long table upstairs) for the city’s best Bloody Marys or Bobcat Bonnie’s in Corktown. For a fancier atmosphere, try Townhouse on Woodward (great ambiance) or Selden Standard in Midtown.

WHERE TO DRINK

  • TASTINGS: Go big or go home, right? Get your party started by ordering up a round of flights for all the ladies. We like Detroit City Distillery in Eastern Market for a relaxed vibe (as well as nearby Eastern Market Brewing Company, which serves up brews only), as well as Two James Distillery in Corktown. The Royce in Grand Circus Park and is a lovely wine bar with an inexpensive corking fee that’s perfect for sharing a few bottles among a group. A short drive away, Brix Wine Bar on the east side of town, serves up vinos and charcuterie boards.
  • CRAFT COCKTAILS: Lady of the House in Corktown is my current favorite, with a small but sweet bar and amazing food. Eatori Market in Capitol Park offers a nice bar with good drinks in a great walkable area; and the nearby Bad Luck Bar – with it’s discreet alley entrance – is a great hideout with pricey but delicious cocktails. Sugar House in Corktown is a staple and it’s perfect for a small group of gals.

WHERE TO DINE

  • Nab a table at Parc in Campus Martius for bustling city views; book a reservation at Prime + Proper for the city’s glitziest dinner; or check out Lumen in Beacon Park, which offers open air, casual dining and a great patio with fire pit. For a more informal affair, try El Barzon near Mexican Village, a great hole-in-the-wall that offers both Mexican and Italian fare (this was where I opted to celebrate!) or Bakersfield in Midtown for tacos and tequila.
  • Swing into For the Love of Sugar (open late!) for fresh macarons or cake slices that include vegan options, equally delectable and Instaworthy.

WHAT TO DO

  • SHOP: No, really. Check out Shinola (Midtown) for leather goods, watches and bikes, City Bird (Midtown) for paper and home goods, Bird Bee (Capitol Park) or Kit and Ace (downtown) for clothing, and many other hidden gems in Eastern Market, along Woodward Corridor and in Midtown.
  • PEDDLE  BAR: I’m cringing a bit to say it, but peddle bike bars seem to be a bachelorette favorite. Handle Bar Detroit and Detroit Rolling Pub are two established options.
  • FOWLING: Have you tried it? A big ol’ group of girls might be a bit of a mess, in the funnest way possible, here. You’ll throw footballs at large wooden bowling pins in this indoor game, created by a local. The Fowling Warehouse gaming venue / bar is located in Hamtramck.
  • LOCAL SHOWS: Check out what’s happening at The Fox, The Fillmore, or any of the other smaller venues (Saint Andrews Hall or even Hopcat…)
  • OUTDOORS: In the summer, head over to Belle Isle for picnics, wading in the river and plenty of local events; consider renting kayaks for a tour of the river, too.

What have I left out? Let me know in the comments …

New + Noteworthy in “The D”

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Holiday pop-up shops at Cadillac Square in downtown Detroit

The holidays are upon us … hooray! And with the snow and colder temperatures have also come several hot, new openings downtown (see what I did there?) 😉

  • If you haven’t spent an afternoon or evening at the holiday markets downtown, do yourself a favor and get there soon. Beside adorable pop-up shops, there’s a rug-laden and cozy-couch-strewn tent called Cadillac Lodge that serves up spiked hot beverages, as well as the ice rink for skating and the giant Campus Martius tree for gazing at. No matter your age, there’s plenty to see and do if you’re feeling the holiday spirit. In other words, if you haven’t gotten those engagement photos taken yet … THIS IS YOUR CHANCE! All the feels.
  • A luxe new steakhouse – Prime and Proper – has opened in Capitol Park. I’ve been told that reservations are hard to come by at this point, but see if you can’t pop in for a drink and bite at the bar to soak up the vibe. Black, cream and gold Art Deco accents feel fresh, the service is superb, and the menu is mighty tempting. If you’re planning a girl’s night out or, say, a fancy bachelorette party, this is the place to begin.
  • Also in Capitol Park, new spots Eatori (lovely little bar, open til midnight) and brick-oven pizza joint La Lanterna (brought to you by the owners of Foxtown Grille), both cozy spots to grab a casual meal or end your evening with a glass of wine.
  • Did you know that last year, a bridal shop dubbed Beautiful Bridal with Keasha Rigsby opened up on Jefferson Ave., just a few blocks east of the Renaissance Center? I’ve driven past it several times, but never thoroughly explored. I’m excited to see that it’s not only a bridal boutique, but a venue for events like bridal showers, and – gasp – weddings! Housed in the Bagley Masion, it’s a gorgeous estate that we’re dying to check out.
  • In the Fisher Building, a restored retail space is now a stunning setting for The Peacock Room‘s second location. Find unique jewelry, hundreds of dresses and major vintage vibes at this shop. Perfect when you’re in need of a bridal shower or rehearsal dinner dress, as well as little bridesmaid thank-you gifts.
  • In a gifting pinch for the fella? Head over to Filson on Canfield (right near Shinola) and browse their outdoorsy men’s goods. You’ll pay more for the high quality, but we don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Choose from lined flannels, waxed puff vests and wool caps. Be sure to slink by the small women’s section before you leave.

 

Bagley Mansion, Detroit, Bridal Boutique

The Bagley Mansion, home of a new Detroit bridal boutique and event venue

Traveling Hawaii: Maui Edition

Maui Honeymoon Vacation Planning

Around our first anniversary, we did something that’s not too common in our marriage – booked a very typical American vacation. I had traveled to Hawaii for work a while back, and stayed on the remote side of Maui the entire time. It was stunning and beautiful and one of the many places that I swore I’d visit with my one-day husband.

Our trip, which fell a couple of weeks before our actual anniversary, but also over my husband’s March birthday, made for an ideal celebration. And let’s be serious, who doesn’t want an infusion of sunshine as we wait out the achy chill of Michigan winters?

Planning on this trip was a bit ad hoc. We were gearing up for busy spring seasons at work, and our goal was to chill, so I admittedly slacked a bit on forming our itinerary … that said, I got lucky because it couldn’t have turned out better.

Thank goodness to our friends (more than one!) who recommended that we pick up the Maui: Revealed guidebook.  I can’t overstate how helpful it turned out during our stay, guiding us to the off-the-beaten path waterfalls and best roadside food stops. {Side note: I downloaded the ebook on Kindle, so it was easy to toss into my bag and carry everywhere. Until now, I haven’t been sold on digital guidebooks … but now I can attest, it works!}

Our Itinerary:

  • Day 1 – 3 // Wailea, Andaz Resort
  • Day 3 – 5 // Hana, Hana Kai Maui
  • Day 5 – 7 // Lahaina, Hyatt Regency Maui

Wailea

If you’re looking for the luxe side of Maui, this is it. Beautiful beaches and a walking path that meanders in front of all the gorgeous resorts makes it especially perfect for aimless strolls (and impromptu bar crawls, it turns out).

We checked into the Andaz Maui, based on great feedback from two sets of good friends – one of which who had honeymooned there. With its chic tiered pools and location at the edge of the mega properties strip, this resort offered the best of both worlds. It was relaxing and not over run by beach combers, tucked behind a craggy coastline that just about hides the property from folks who may not be too familiar with the area. But it’s also new and youthful, with minimally styled rooms and an excellent sushi restaurant overlooking the water.

If you’re not enjoying the pools, there’s a small beach (and plenty more within walking distance) where whale watching outrigger tours and kayaks depart.

We spent our days lounging by the pool – for the love, please order yourself the loaded pork waffle fries – and walking the beach, popping into other resorts along the way for drinks and apps whenever we felt like it. It. Was. Bliss.

Our favorite stop outside of our resort was, believe it or not, the lobby bar at the Grand Wailea called Botero Lounge, which was happily abuzz with live music and a great charcuterie board.

Hana

After a few days of luxury in Wailea, I was eager to head out and explore Hana. We picked up a rental car right from the Andaz and headed directly to a grocery store to stock up on wine and dinner foods, as well as snacks, anticipating not many restaurants on the opposite side of the island. Once we loaded a soft-sided cooler with groceries and ice, we began our trek toward Hana.

This is where our guidebook proved invaluable. While every bend along the Highway to Hana is striking, the book outlined the “must-see” stops that any tourist would have otherwise driven right past. We crawled along a slippery rock creek quite some distance before we came upon a stunning waterfall – completely to ourselves – near mile marker 13. Of course, we made several other stops before we pulled into the small, beachfront Hana Kai Maui Hotel and found ourselves mesmerized by the black stone beach.

We stayed in Unit 2, which was a small studio style guest room with a kitchen and queen bed and the most beautiful oceanfront balcony view I’ve maybe ever seen. {The sound of the waves rolling over the smooth stone beach was magic, y’all. I mean, sound machines have nothing on this!}

Breakfast was fresh banana bread picked up along the drive to Hana, lazily enjoyed on the balcony, and lunch was apples, cheese and wine while we laid on Red Sand Beach for our first full day. We end-capped it with a couples massage and hot tub soak at the nearby (and only) luxury resort Travaasa, followed by cocktails at the bar, before we went back to our room and cooked crab cakes and fresh asparagus for dinner. Side note: Can I please replay this day in my head over and over and over?

Our second day in Hana would’ve been hard to compare, but I’d booked a surprise birthday activity for Trevor – power hang gliding – which, again, came highly recommended by friends who had done it before us. We arrived at the tiny Hana airport, where Hang Gliding Maui is based out of a small hanger. The tandem gliding experience probably seemed a bit intimidating at first glance, but after Trevor landed from his 45-minute tour, he was on a true high. Armed with a ton of photos from the excursion, we scrolled through them approximately one million times over the next hour – oohing and ahhing as I listened to him relive the experience of seeing  Maui from an entirely new perspective.

That afternoon, we ventured to the Pipiwei Trail, part of the national park system, south of Hana. Just about two miles, the trail is a popular one, which winds upward – and through a magnificent bamboo forest – before ending near a 400′ waterfall.  If you have the time, put this on your must-do list. Note that the Seven Sacred Pools trail is also right near the trailhead and is an especially popular stop, although the pools were closed for swimming when we were there, unfortunately.

After our hike on our third day in Hana, we were headed over to the opposite side of the island – to Lahaina – and so we opted to take the less-traveled southern road out of Hana. If you do the same, be ready for lots of long bumpy dirt roads and hairpin turns. Also, wildlife. Like the bull that was standing in the middle of the road when I was behind the wheel. And if you can, pre-plan and hit the open-and-rolling-hill middle of the route just around sunset. It was shockingly beautiful, enough so that we pulled over alongside a handful of cars just to watch the glowing sun settle beneath the hills, washing the southern part of Maui in golden hues before it dipped out of sight.

Lahaina and Ka’anapali Beach

I hadn’t really planned on tacking on another “stop” during our stay, but my husband wanted to stretch the trip out a bit, and let’s be serious, I wasn’t complaining. So, we opted to head toward the more populated part of Maui – Lahaina. I had realized when booking our stay at Andaz – part of the Hyatt brand – that by booking Hyatt properties through Costco you received a member discount (woot!), so I ended up booking the Hyatt Regency Maui since it seemed like a solid, easy choice and a different atmosphere than our previous properties.

Unlike what we tend to gravitate to, the Hyatt Regency is a BIG family style resort that has its own network of pools, restaurants, bars and a fantastic stretch of pristine sand beach. We had great ocean views from our room on the top floor and the hotel even left us a complimentary bottle of bubbly and chocolate-covered strawberries in honor of our anniversary, which was an extremely appreciated touch.

Our only gripe was that this was the type of resort where you’re required to wake up early and stake claim to decent lounge chairs if you want to hang by the pool. Which we did … don’t get me wrong … after I nudged and prodded husband to go do it. {He’s the best.} And gripes aside, we ended up sitting quite close – literally – to a sweet Australian couple who unexpectedly, but delightfully, imparted their words of marital wisdom to us over the course of the morning. {See? My only complaint really ended up working in my favor.}

We toured downtown Lahaina and its cute shops and restaurants and also found time to drive through the clouds to the top of Maui’s volcano, which one half of our traveling duo loved and one half {me} sort of thought was not that impressive …

And then, it was time to head back home. Tanned and buzzing with that sort of zest for life that you really only get when you’re simultaneously not working and in one of the world’s most beautiful settings, we left Maui. Not without committing to return, of course.

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Walking the Ka’Anapali Beach near the Hyatt Regency Resort

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Cartwheels and rainbows! Wailea at it’s best.

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Red Sand Beach in Hana

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Powered hang gliding outside of Hana

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Desolate waterfall stop along the Highway to Hana

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A natural soaking pool along the Highway to Hana

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Best. View. Ever. at Hana Kai Maui.

 

Packing for your Honeymoon

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bgd_hpicks

The packing list is long when it comes to travel itineraries that extend beyond one week. And with the added pressure of “honeymooning,” sometimes it’s easy to overlook to the most obvious must-packs.

Above, I’ve highlighted three of the things I found incredibly valuable on our trip, as well as one item I wish I would’ve brought along.

Versatile Cover Up | $148
An easy-to-pull-on cover up that goes from breakfast to beach to cocktails and looks appropriate at all three is essential to truly relaxing and minimizing runs back to your guestroom. The lace trim neckline and cold shoulder detail of this Holy Caftan option are the perfect mix of sweet and sultry.

Jet Bags for Traveling with Wine | $14.99 for 3
One of my favorite memories from our time in Bora Bora was uncorking my favorite bottle of wine by our private pool during a drizzly afternoon. I’m so glad that we had the foresight to bring along a couple of our favorite bottles in our checked luggage.

Kindle Paperwhite | $99
From guidebooks for your honeymoon locale to magazines on the plane and novels for down-time reading, I love how easy it is to tote around the Kindle Paperwhite, rather than a bulky stack of books. It’s simple to download books using WiFi and if you have a local library membership, you can even borrow e-books for free using an app like Overdrive.

Beats Pill Portable Speaker | $170
One of the face-palm moments that we had during our trip was not packing one of our portable speakers. I love my Beats Pill speaker (although, we admittedly rely on Google Home most of the time these days) and it would have been ideal for playing music on the balcony of our guestrooms or as we set up shop on the beach.

These picks barely scratch the surface, of course. There’s a multitude of regular old travel needs (sunscreen! phone charger!) that you’ll want to remember, as well as all of the honeymoon gifts that friends and family have probably gotten for you. Narrowing everything down and smartly packaging it within your luggage can be a task, so pre-plan and pack ahead of time if you’ll be heading to the airport shortly after your wedding!

Free Printable: Kids Coloring Page for Your Wedding Reception

Cover Photo COLORING PAGE

Other than our nieces and nephews, we invited adults only to our wedding ceremony and reception, but even with only a handful of little ones in attendance, I wish I would have thought to offer a little to-do like this sweet custom coloring page at the reception.

{I should point out that we loaded up our ring bearers – our three- and four-year-old nephews – with customized Pottery Barn Kids backpacks filled with goodies to keep them occupied, which was helpful!}

Had we anticipated more children to be joining the festivities, I just love the idea of tying a ribbon around a handful of crayons – or including a mason jar full of colored pencils at each table – and placing these customized coloring pages at the seat of each child. It’s a simple and inexpensive way to add a little touch of fun.

This wedding cake themed coloring page is now up on the Etsy Shop for $4.99 and is on sale through September 4th for 30 percent off, as is the whole darn store! But we’re offering the non-customizable version in PDF format for blog readers for FREE 🙂

{If you’re interested in the customizable version, head over to Etsy to download a Microsoft Word document, where you can customize it with the bride and groom’s names and wedding date for your big day. Easy-peasy!}

What other creative solutions have you found for keeping kids busy at wedding receptions? WEDDING CAKE COLORING PAGE