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!

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.

 

Image result for dia detroit wedding

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

Source: Brides.com

Detroit Institute of Arts Wedding Reception, DIA Wedding Pictures

Source: KellieSaunders.com Photography

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.

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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

CherryBlossom-1

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

Unique Metro Detroit Wedding Venues

Updated: December 2017

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I’m fairly certain that we had been engaged for approximately ninety minutes when we started talking about wedding venues. We had snagged some of those bright-colored noodles before boating out to the private beach and we draped ourselves over them in the Bermudian water, laughing, drinking what was left of the wine and beginning to shape – in our minds – what our wedding day would look like.

So many of our friends have been married in the Metro Detroit area, meaning we had loads of gorgeous events to reflect on. Within the past year, we’d attended stunning receptions at the DAC, Roostertail and even the Belle Isle Casino. The trick was finding something that hadn’t been overdone in our circle already; we made that our first priority.

And so, the hunt began. Here, some of the spaces we scoured:

Belle Isle Casino Wedding Venue

Belle Isle Casino
A stately option that’s just a quick stroll to the legendary Belle Isle fountain, this venue is one of the few that everyone will raise their eyebrows in nostalgia on. It’s a vast space with an upper level for overflow or prep. Because of its age and lack of modernity, it’s most comfortably used in spring or fall, versus the hottest summer months. {More information: www.belleisleconservancy.org}

Castle Hall
In the gorgeous Grand Army of the Republic building, you’ll find an upper floor space that boasts room for up to 130. We love it’s proximity to the Westin Book-Cadillac hotel, as well as all those windows (and white walls – yay!) that emphasize natural daylight. If you’re contemplating a Sunday brunch wedding, or shower, this spot shouldn’t be overlooked. {More info: www.CastleHallDetroit.com/about}
*Added 2017

Cliff Bells Detroit Wedding Venue

Cliff Bell’s
A velvety-booth jazz bar, this intimate venue is lush and dark and authentic in the best way. A stage is perched near the back of the venue, where onlookers can sit back and listen to the sounds or stand up for a dance or two. An extra-long bar will ensure that all 150 seated guests can grab a drink at any time. {More information: www.cliffbells.com}

Colony Club Detroit Weddings

Colony Club
I’ve yet to attend an event at the Colony Club, but have heard only amazing things about the traditional, glamorous space. With its perfect location, only a block or two from Comerica Park, and it’s romantic interior, it’s perfect for parties of all sizes. It’s also managed by the same folks that handle the Gem Theater. {More information: www.GemColonyEvents.com}

DAC - Detroit Athletic Club - Wedding Venue

Detroit Athletic Club
A gorgeous, member-only venue for the most formal fetes. Catering is done in-house and the second-floor ballrooms offer intricately detailed decor. Conveniently located off of Madison in downtown Detroit, it’s an easy drive (with valet or attached garage for parking), with nearby hotels. {More information: www.thedac.com}

DIA Detroit Institute of Arts Wedding Venue

Detroit Institute of Arts
Sigh… Could it get any better than hosting your reception among the art-lined walls of the DIA? The space is the perfect blend of luxury, culture and sophistication, with plenty of different rooms for various sizes of parties. Choose from the awe-inducing Great Hall, the window-and-brick Kreske Court or the renowned muraled Rivera Court. Note that religious ceremonies are off limits here. {More infomation: www.dia.org}

DSO Detroit Symphony Orchestra Wedding Venue

Detroit Symphony Orchestra
For music lovers, or anyone looking for a dramatic and different venue, the DSO delivers. Located on Woodard in Midtown, it’s an easy location to navigate to (via the Lodge or the I-75 Mack exit). Ceremonies can take place in the spatial atrium and receptions can take nearly any form with the 500-person blank canvas that’s the “Music Box.” {More information: www.dso.org}

Detroit Zoo Wedding Venue

Detroit Zoo
Well, why not? The Butterfly House is small and lovely and ideal for a family-only ceremony, and you can hold up to 200 in the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery for dinner and dancing afterwards. On a nice day, you can use the fountain outdoors as well. And if you’re really cool, you can hang with the polar bears in the Arctic Circle with up to 49 of your friends. {More information: www.detroitzoo.org}

The Eastern
While I haven’t been to a wedding at The Eastern, I have been to events in this blank canvas space that’s conveniently located within Eastern Market. A rectangular, brick room, The Eastern can be dressed up or kept casual … it’s entirely up to you. In warmer weather, you can connect a tent to the building for valet and cocktails, in cooler temperatures, it’s a warm and intimate feeling space for smaller weddings – think rust red ceiling beams with twinkle lights strung all around. {More informamtion: www.TheEasternDetroit.com}
*Added 2017

Eastern Market Wedding Venue

Eastern Market
When it came to our wedding, I immediately thought of Eastern Market. I’m a fool for Shed Three. All those high beams and windows; it’s magnificent. And it’s plunked in the center of it all, with easy parking and LOADS of space. My fear is that we’d spend an extravagant amount “filling up” the airy venue to make it feel cozy. But if you’ve got a massive family or an endless checking account, by all means, do it! And then please send me photos pronto. Shed Five is smaller and also available for rentals. Note that you’ll need to plan a Friday evening or Sunday wedding… the Saturday market doesn’t allow for any other events on that day. {More information: www.easternmarket.com}

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Garden Theater 
In Midtown, the Garden Theater is tucked into an unassuming (but pleasing looking) building on Woodward. Enter through it’s main doors and you’ll find a long foyer, with entry into the primary space straight ahead. It’s exposed brick walls and blank slate design make it ideal for showy lighting and decor. A built-in bar is located at the back of the theater and – not surprisingly – the main stage serves as the perfect spot for vows or a head table. {More information: www.thegardentheater.com}
*Added 2018

Jam Handy
One of the lesser-known venues in Detroit, Jam Handy is an old advertisement filming studio on East Grand Boulevard with an odd and curious exterior and a cavernous, industrial interior. I love the idea of beautifully set, long tables and a small band in this space. You may want to consider bringing in portable bathrooms and will definitely want to arrange valet parking, which the building owner can assist with. {More information: www.thejamhandy.com}

Masonic Temple Detroit Wedding

Masonic Temple
Here’s another one that I’m not too familiar with. I’ve been inside the Masonic, but not for a wedding. It’s a ginormous (that’s a very technical term) space, so it could fit your entire graduating class and their spouses. Ceremony in the theater? Dinner and dancing in the gorgeous hall above? I’d say yes. {More information: www.themasonic.com}

Outdoor Adventure Center Detroit Wedding Venue

Outdoor Adventure Center
This venue is as fresh as fresh can be. Opened up in late July 2015, it’s an outdoorsy depot right along the riverfront in downtown Detroit. Step inside and you’ll find a waterfall, a small airplane and a really cool loft space upstairs for events. There’s also an archery room that can accommodate smaller parties. If you’re craving something kid-friendly and fun, this might be your answer. (PS: The event staff is great!) {More information: www.michigan.gov/oac}

Piquette Plant Detroit Weddings

Piquette Plant
Ford’s former plant might house Model Ts now, but it also makes for an industrial chic wedding venue. Think worn brick walls and strung-up light strings. A little bit off the beaten track, but one of the favored “unexpected” venues in the city. {More information: www.fordpiquetteavenueplant.org}

Planterra Wedding Venue Metro Detroit

Planterra
We fell in love with this out-of-the-box option as soon as we checked out their website. It’s outside of town, but it’s wonderfully unique and nearly tropical for a West Bloomfield address. One of its primary perks in a lovely ceremony space and reception venue – all in one pretty package – which fits up to 175 guests. {More information: www.planterraevents.com}

Roostertail Detroit Wedding Venue

The Roostertail
I’m bias. Two of my favorite weddings of all time have been hosted at the Roostertail. Both were over the top and a BLAST. One used just the upper floor; the other used both the upper and lower levels. This venue does an excellent job of transforming itself when night rolls around; and there’s no doubt that folks will congregate on the outdoor patios just to be near the water views. {More information: www.roostertail.com}

Waterview Loft Wedding VenueWaterview Loft
I’m a sucker for this space as we’ve worked with the venue to host private events for work in the past. The folks are great and the view is spectacular. There’s even a lower-level room that’s just the right size for a ceremony and the upper level is full of windows and looks incredibly chic and modern when lit up. When combined, the upper and lower levels can hold up to 400. {More information: www.waterviewloft.com}

What’s missing from this list? Leave a comment if you have a suggested add!