What inspires us most about living and working in Northern Michigan?
What makes us advocates for hosting your life's celebrations here? What draws people who have lived and traveled all over the world to return again, and call this place home?
What is worth celebrating? Honoring? Holding onto?
How do you make the fleeting seasons of life and love something worth remembering at a time when the value of memory is at a premium. Where we expect to capture everything at its ripest, most verdant moment. Even ourselves. Especially ourselves. Where we are terrified of things ending, and memories fading, and life moving on as it always does.
These questions and more were at the heart of the styled shoot I created this spring with a team of fresh coast creatives who have chosen to call the shores of Lake Michigan home for one reason or another.
I met all of them so recently that I still don't know some of their last names, and I feel like I only know them, truly through the stories they like to tell. Stories I wanted to translate into a photogenic memory of why Northern Michigan is a draw for people's dreams. Stories I felt connected to as a small business owner in the wedding industry where the value of moments and memory is also at a premium.
And this is a wedding editorial, and the creative team here either makes a part of their living or the whole of it by being a part of people's wedding days.
Michael Kent is a Traverse City Native who is passionate about fine art portrait photography and has been involved in the wedding industry for 10 years in Northern Michigan. Josh Hartman is a traveling photographer who has lived out of his van most recently and just settled on the West Bay to make a fresh start in Michigan. He specializes in adventure and landscape photography, and together their lenses crafted an intimate portrayal of a wedding day in small vignettes we think are both timeless and yet so incredibly zeitgeist.
Our lovers are old friends who worked together and reconnected for this shoot. Sam is a traveler and writer who crafts practical guides and stories for her blog, Daisy Rae Travel. She recently moved to Traverse City and is an entrepreneurial tour guide with a passion for showing people the adventures to be had in Leelanau and Grand Traverse Counties. She has been coming to Northern Michigan for years with her family. Ben is an old friend and acquaintance of hers, a Renaissance man in every sense of the description and pursuing a career in front of the camera.
Sam hasn't worn makeup in three years. Citing living out of a backpack as a hindrance to maintaining anything other than a face wash & moisturizer beauty routine. We carried that into our shoot by opting to forego bridal hair and makeup and instead focusing on simple, natural rituals. A milk bath, a shower steam, and a morning facial from Allison Shaughnessy, a talented young stylist and Traverse City native. Allison just graduated from beauty school and was the recipient of numerous accolades and awards during her two years of training. She had the opportunity to work anywhere in the country, and she chose to return home and set her heart on opening her own studio some day surrounded by the Great Lakes.
Jen Sawyer is a veteran of the film and television industry who produces stories and media content from the freedom of her conversion van, which she drove from Tuscan to Traverse City this spring for a fresh perspective in Michigan. She's fiercely independent and adaptable, and was drawn to the creative community in Northern Michigan. She collaborated with local filmmaker Mark Eidan to capture the moving picture of this day.
Grace Elizabeth is starring in her second act as an entrepreneur and bridal shop owner who just opened her studio door on M22 (locally St. Joseph Street) in Downtown Suttons Bay. Grace Elizabeth Bridal is currently the only bridal shop in Leelanau County, and Grace has both the spirit and audacity to try to be a year round fixture in a county that hosts upwards of 200 weddings each year. One of her primary designers is Desiree Hartstock, and our bell sleeve embroidered dress was the epitome of a spring awakening. Open, free flowing, light, and not stuffy.
Sally and Dennis are two Chicagoans who retired to their beloved summer home in Cedar, and began to build out their land to be a retreat for themselves, their families, and an entourage of guests. They established Kapakahi Retreat to be a peaceful place for relaxation, creativity, and community right in the heart of Leelanau County. I drove past their farm one day and fell in love with their old windmill, their barns, and soon them. They currently host through the Airbnb platform, and love and welcome the creative guests they get to meet. They have two darling cottages, a platform tent, a ceramic studio, craft studio, outdoor bathroom, and meditation lodge on their farm. They welcomed us with open arms and hope their space can be appreciated for generations to come.
Lindsey Pritchard of Windflower Design Co. recently launched her freelance design career after working in the wedding floral industry for four years downstate. She returns to Leelanau Peninsula and her grandparent's cottage to pursue flower farming with Leelanau Specialty Cut Flowers, and is now building her design business and her brand with her own two hands. Her emphasis on locally sourced and seasonal florals, along with her exacting eye for design and curation has been one of the greatest pairings I have found for my business in the world of weddings.
Together, we created an ode to this moment in time, this spring awakening. The season of our second acts.
Spring seemed to last a week this year, as it's full glory was interrupted by late season snowstorms and an early, stormy humid summer. We had planned this shoot for months, and somehow as luck would have it, we captured this shoot in that precise week. Some things you can't plan for. When spring will arrive. When love will hit you like a fever you can't break. With cherry blossoms opening, ground that can finally host bare feet, farms being prepared for the months of work ahead, flowers turning up around every corner, and evenings just pleasant enough for brisk jumps in the bay.
This is our ode to those long awaited, and rightfully earned rituals of spring and summer. An ode to the land that is Leelanau Peninsula and all that it holds for us. An ode to the scenic byway of M22 that carries our bodies and our dreams, our stories, season after season.
An ode to young love that you can grow old in. Dressed down. Scaled back. Simplified. Human in the way that all weddings end up being when you strip away the expectations, the duplication, the repetition, the desire for perfection. Just two humans excited to start their lives together, who start their wedding day the way we hope everyone chooses to, doing things that you love. Being still. Being quiet. Being aware of the way that you are about to change, but at peace because no matter where you go, there you are together.
This is a wedding the way we like to do weddings.
The Creative Team:
Photography - Allen-Kent Photography and Josh Hartman Photography
Videography - Jen Sawyer Field Producer
Creative Direction, Design, Styling - The Revel Rose
Venue - Kapakahi Retreat
Floral Design - Windflower Design Co.
Wedding Dress - Desiree Hartstock
Bridal Shop - Grace Elizabeth Bridal
Beauty - Allison Shaughnessy
Groom’s Apparel -Personal Wardrobe
Groom’s Shoes - Personal Wardrobe