I sat down with my recent bride Kelly to talk about how to plan a Mackinac Island destination wedding. We get into the nitty gritty of planning her out of state wedding in northern Michigan.
Kelly had been dreaming of a wedding on the island for years and when her Fiance Bobby agreed to it (even though he’d never traveled there before) they immediately began planning. They decided to host their event at Mission Point Resort over Labor Day weekend. Living eight hours away in Illinois, and not being able to visit the venues during the winter, they had to play some of the planning by ear.
We talk about:
– how they decided to get married on Mackinac Island
– how they choose Mission Point Resort
– their top wedding priorities
– the booking process
– guest list challenges
– their Mission Point Resort room block
– how they dealt with transporting decorations
– booking vendors
– their wedding day timeline
– why they did a first look
– their favorite memories
– what went wrong or didn’t turn out like they expected
– what seemed like a big deal but turned out not to be
– what they would have done differently
– tips and advice for other Mackinac Island wedding couples
For couples that would otherwise love to have a destination wedding, the logistics of how to plan one can seem overwhelming and even impossible.
There is so much information available about what is possible, but not a lot about the real behind the scenes work required to to make it happen. That mystery of the HOW, I believe, is a large part of the reason why a lot of couples pass on a destination wedding. If we could only peek behind the curtain to see how someone else did it, it wouldn’t be so scary!
Which brings me to this recording. Thanks to Kelly, today you’ll get to take that peek behind the curtain to hear the challenges they faced and the solutions and outcome. This recorded interview serves to help any couple considering planning a destination wedding, whether on Mackinac Island or elsewhere.
-located in Lake Huron on the eastern edge of the Straits of Mackinac (the area between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan that connects Lake Huron and Lake Michigan)
-the entire island is a registered National Historic Landmark
-there is a ban on motor vehicles (except emergency and construction)
-can only be accessed by boat, small aircraft or Ferry from Mackinaw City or St. Ignace
– Grandparents had always gone
– big family vacations were a happy memory
– Kelly said it would be her dream to have a wedding there and Bobby was onboard right from the beginning, even having never been there himself!
– they were initially going to do a small wedding near their home in Illinois, but Kelly’s parents encouraged them to have the wedding at their dream location
– a little more secluded and away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown area
– there’s a big lawn overlooking the water and a wedding gazebo
– the walkway and landscaping at the gazebo is beautiful and helped save money on flowers
– Venue: they wanted a good atmosphere for all our guests
– DJ: they love dancing and wanted everyone to have a great time
– Flowers were a lower priority
– skipped a bouquet toss to save on cost of an additional bouquet
– simplified table decor
– Cake: Bobby hates cake so they went small and had a donut and cider dessert
– booked in August (approximately 1 year in advance)
– no venue tours from October to May so they couldn’t go see the reception spaces
– there was another ceremony booked at the gazebo at their preferred time on the same day, so they had to accept an earlier ceremony time
– an earlier ceremony time worked out better because they didn’t feel rushed and had more time to get the photos they really wanted
– didn’t know what their rain plan reception venue would be at the time of booking
– limited by the venue space (70 people max) and budget
– they didn’t allow single guests to bring +1’s
– only first cousins were invited
– they wanted it to be intimate so they could interact with every guest
– all guests were traveling 6+ hours
– Mission Point Resort provided a room block with a two night minimum and a discount
– there was no minimum requirement the couple had to meet with their room block (some resorts require a minimum number of room nights booked), it was just available to them if desired
– rooms were blocked to a certain date
– Mission Point Resort provided the couple’s wedding night for free!
– transporting decor and event items was chaotic
– Kelly’s parents drove up to Michigan in a van packed with wedding items and decor
– the couple’s car was also full of decor
– at the ferry dock, Shepler’s put everything on a cart, transported it to the island and then over to the resort (there is a transport charge)
– some items were held at the front desk
– some items were shipped prior and able to be held for up to two months.
– the rest of the items had to be stored in the couple’s hotel room
– DJ, officiant and florist were island local
– cake artist drove cake over on her bike!
– Kelly did hair and makeup for herself and her mom
– bridesmaids did their own hair and makeup
– Kelly and her mom fully road tested various mascaras!
– how the day played out from getting ready to reception send off
– the rained out first look
– rain plan initiation by Mission Point Resort staff
– rearrangement of the photography timeline
– what happened when the rain stopped just before the ceremony
– the carriage ride downtown
– reception took place in the rain plan location which was gorgeous!
– they were against it at first and wanted to be more traditional
– they decided to do it to lessen anxiety about walking down the aisle
– it made more time for photos in the morning which gave them time to go on a carriage ride after the ceremony
– why I’m a huge proponent of first looks
– Kelly loved her emotional first look moment with her dad
– taking the carriage ride down Main Street after the ceremony
– they felt like royalty and loved kissing in the middle of town with everyone cheering for them
– stopping at the mint green house for photos on the porch
What went wrong or didn’t turn out like they expected?
– the rain scare which turned out okay
– announcements when there isn’t a wedding planner
– they lucked out with our reception venue change
What turned out better than they thought?
– wasn’t as nervous at the ceremony as anticipated
What they would have done differently?
– would have liked to have a videographer, but it wasn’t in the budget
– Kelly wishes she’d taken some of her own photos while dancing and having fun
Tips and advice for Mackinac Island destination wedding couples
– be prepared for drastic weather changes on the island
– plan to take a carriage ride for photos