Driving Distance from Detroit: Canadian Vineyard Weddings

Dudek Photography-24

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.


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.


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


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

New + Noteworthy in “The D”

Image result for cadillac lodge tent detroit

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

New + Noteworthy in “The D”


Source: ChelseaBrownPhotography.com // Rusas Printing Building

SO. MUCH. is going on in Detroit right now. It’s hard to keep up! Let’s cover some of the most recent updates …

  • The QLine is up and running; hooray! If you’re a bride that’s considering Detroit, this transit system will significantly help your guests get around the city. Rehearsal dinner at The Whitney? Easy, hop on the line from the Aloft Hotel and take it up a few stops to Midtown. Grab drinks at Townhouse a short ride later. Then head toward the DIA for the Big Day … it’s the Woodward Wedding of my dreams!
  • The Foundation Hotel  in the old firehouse is open! Book a room today and scope out the new restaurant and roof-top event space … perfect for wedding ceremonies and small receptions, I believe?
  • One of the region’s wildest wedding cake bakers has opened up a brightly-colored brick-and-mortar shop in Cass Cooridor and let me say this: I cannot wait to try these sugar masterpieces. From soft and elegant to sleek and sculptural, these beauties are something else; you can check out the full wedding cake gallery here.
  • The reno of the old Packard Plant is underway and plans are to include a ground-floor event space that could be used for wedding receptions – hooray! The only catch? We’ll be waiting 18-24 months for the renovations to be complete.
  • The Detroit News provides guidance on how to help your wedding guests mingle and ensure that everyone has a good time.
  • Detroit Metro Times published its “Best of” list for retailers and service providers … check out the full list here and consider yourself recommended by the masses.
  • Love, love, love these wedding-inspired photos by Chelsea Brown Photography at the Rusas Printing Building in New Center. (Shown above.)

New + Noteworthy in “The D”

Otus Supply in Ferndale | Image courtesy of Eater Detroit

Happy 2017, ladies! I hope that the first few weeks of this year have brought you some post-holiday relaxation and recuperation. If you’ve been holed up with family and friends the past month, now is the perfect time to venture out and check out some of the city’s newest goings on.

Here, I’m rounding up a few highlights that remain top-of-mind to me:

  • For a bachelor / bachelorette party stop, we’re digging the vibe at Ferndale’s new Otus Supply at 345 E. Nine Mile Road {Open 4 p.m. – 2 a.m.}
  • I’ve dined at Campus Martius’ new Parc restaurant a few times since the holidays began. With the exception of a large-party snafu, the experiences have been good ones. The food is well done, the wine menu is plentiful and the atmosphere is tres chic. Brighten your next dreary Monday with happy hour here.
  • The much-hyped Bad Luck Bar is open and accessible via the alley behind Capitol Park’s “The Albert” building. Fancy {read: rare} cocktails start at $18 and seating is limited, but it’s worth checking out. Just call ahead for seating on a busy night.
  • Just next to Cobo, the under-construction Foundation Hotel – housed in the former Detroit Fire Department Headquarters – seems to be coming along nicely. It’s due to open in 2017 and feature 100 guestrooms… perfectly sized for weddings, me thinks.
  • A stroll through Shinola this week has me thinking I need to add to my current watch case; and if money were no object, I’d drop a cool $2,000 on the palest pink Canfield with Diamonds option, which would make the most beautiful wedding day gift, IMHO.
  • Anthropologie’s wedding site, BHLDN, is one of my go-to shops for formal wear, even long after our wedding. I just ordered this insane steal of a lace skirt for an upcoming event at the DIA … only $50 {originally $230}.
  • I drool over the luxe arrangements dreamt up by Maison Farola Detroit florists – found at @Maisonfarola on Instagram – and you should, too. Someday soon I’m going to treat myself to a bouquet.
  • After a week of working the North American International Auto Show floor for press days, it took every last energy to get dressed up, slip back into heels {the horror!} and make it to Charity Preview, but we did it. It was an awesome evening. If you live in the Motor City, consider visiting Public Days to check out the gorgeous vehicles while they’re here.

Detroit’s Maison Farola La vie en Rose “signature box”

November Link Love


Get caught up on the latest in love, life and happiness with a few of my favorite (mostly local) links this month …

  1. Irma and Jas Wedding Photo Gallery | Kristen Taylor and Co.
    A beautiful blend of a traditional Indian and conventional American marriage ceremony, with some gorgeous Michigan Train Station shots in the mix {side note: those invitations though!}
  2. Tantalizing Taste Buds | Neighborhood SEEN
    Have you heard of Annabell’s Catering Co.? Get the full scoop on this Troy establishment – and the gooey baked goods above – in this profile piece.
  3. The Most Important Piece of the Intentional Living Puzzle | Cait Flanders
    Relationships, duh. This thoughtful blog post serves as a useful reminder on we can best nurture and deepen our most important relationships.
  4. Cristina and Cody’s Up North Engagement Session | Marek D.
    A perfectly seasonal shoot at Lumberman’s Monument in Oscoda; and can we talk about that dress? If you’re considering a wedding or engagement in northern Michigan, take a peek.
  5. Michigan Made in the Kitchen | HOUR Detroit
    A bevy of beautiful home goods made locally, which just happen to be perfect for a Michigan bride’s shower, or some early Christmas shopping …
  6. Romantic Riverwalk Marriage Proposal | CBS Detroit
    Don’t you just love a good, hidden camera? This couple’s engagement on the Detroit Riverwalk was caught on tape, and is now live, along with an interview.