Exploring Venues in Northern Michigan

Lawn weddings at Jolly Pumpkin on Old Mission Peninsula

Exploring Venues

After “Yes, I’ll marry you,” is spoken, a list of to do’s begins to pile up in your head. One of the first is choosing a site to hold your ceremony, and often, hold your reception afterwards. You are on your way to exploring venues. 

From vineyards to barns, beaches to forests, art galleries to VFW halls, the area I live in is abundant with beautiful venues and wedding sites. Being an Officiant in Northern Michigan means I’m always surrounded by great beauty. 

A First Time Site

Every year I get to go to another location I’ve never been to before. Like last year I led a wedding at Flower Basket Farm in Omena. What a fun site! This year I went deep into a woods that was part of a new vineyard in Leelanau Peninsula. My couple had set up the first wedding site within that woods that if I hadn’t had a Subaru, I’m not sure I would have made it up hills and through the ruts in the road. 

It was great fun! But it did have some challenges not every set of family or friends may appreciate.

I will say this couple in particular had a fairly young group of people at their wedding. The elders among us (me included) loved this couple enough to travel far up the Leelanau Peninsula and down country roads, in and out.

What to Keep in Mind When Exploring Venues

But it doesn’t hurt to keep a few things in mind if you’re a  newly engaged couple out exploring venues. If you look with open eyes, you’ll set things up in advance so it’s a fun and wonderful experience for young and old alike.

  • Consider the ease with which people can get from their car to the ceremony site.
    • If the site is hilly, encourage people to come casual. Make it fun to “ditch the heels”.
    • For sandy areas, make being barefoot the requested dress, or encourage flip flops, wedges and flats.
    • Without a hard surface to walk on, suggest women not come able to aerate the soil by poking holes in the ground with their high heels. 
  • How out of the way is the venue?
    • Make sure everyone has detailed directions and when possible, a link to Google Maps. 
    • Signs to your wedding site can be fun, creative and helpful. Appoint someone trustworthy to put them out the night before and take them up the night of the wedding or early the next day. Check the local sign restriction ordinances
  • What will the heat and wind factor be like at the time of your wedding?
    • Early weddings may be cooler. Warm guests in advance it may be chilly, even mid-summer in northern states 
    • Mid-day weddings can get hot. If you have a program consider printing it on hand fan. If not, make jugs of ice water available. (try to stay away from bottled water).
    • Wind can affect interference with the microphone. The closer your site is to the water or the higher up, wind can create a problem.
  • The season you choose your site affects how many people will be there when your wedding is in real time. 
    • If you visit your site in the winter, ask locals how many people are at your site during the season you’re getting married in
    • On the beach consider wave-runners, boats and swimmers who may be in the area and not aware of your wedding. Consider putting signs out that a wedding is in progress and quiet is appreciated.

The Benefit of Having A Coordinator

These are a few of the situations I’ve noticed the most during the 28 years I’ve been traveling across northern Michigan. I’m sure there’s more. One thing that might be really helpful is to have a wedding coordinator from the area help advise you about these types of issues. Don’t hesitate to ask the venue coordinator for advice.

Any area that you choose can be made into an adventure. Preparing your guests in advance by making it fun, and being clear as possible will set this up for you to have the best time at your wedding. 

If you’re in the Traverse City area, here’s a little guide I put together that lists some local venues and beaches to hold your wedding at.Sites and Venues

Your Happily Ever After

Enjoy yourself, your day, your love. Make sure you take your guests needs and abilities into considerations as much as you choose your wedding site for how it makes you feel. When you go exploring wedding venues, you’re looking for the backdrop to your happily ever after. 

Above all else, make sure your wedding site feels right to you. 

I wish you well today and especially on the day you’ll be starting on your way to forever together.  

Rev. Crystal

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