A Colorful, Nature-Inspired Wedding Under a Tent on a Rainy Fall Day

A Colorful, Nature-Inspired Wedding Under a Tent on a Rainy Fall Day

This couple incorporated décor elements inspired by their Northern Michigan lake house, including birch trees, moss, mushrooms, and stones.

Kristen and Brandon met on a blind date arranged by mutual friends in 2017 when they both lived in Chicago. After the couple’s friends tried to get them to meet organically at group events—only to have one of them cancel each time—they encouraged Brandon to make a move. “I have his first text screenshotted and we still laugh because he completely forgot to say who it was and just asked me out with no introduction,” Kristen says.

In 2019, for her 30th birthday, Brandon surprised Kristen with a trip to Iceland. The couple rented a quaint cabin in the mountains where Brandon got ready for a proposal. He lit candles around the cabin and the couple slow danced to their favorite song when Brandon got down on one knee to pop the question—and the couple rang in the New Year two days later as an engaged couple.

Kristen and Brandon wanted to get married in Northern Michigan, where the bride’s family has a home on Torch Lake; she has invited Brandon’s family to spend time there every summer, so the area had sentimental value to the couple. They invited 135 guests to watch them exchange vows at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Petoskey, Mich., followed by a tented reception at EK Preserve in Boyne Falls. The couple worked with Ann Travis and her team at Ann Travis Events to pull together a nature-inspired wedding with a color palette of earthy creams, pale pink, light peach, mossy green, and hints of navy.

Related: 40 of Our Favorite Ideas for Your Fall Wedding

A River Runs Through It

Brandon spent the morning fishing for trout in the river on-site at EK Preserve with his groomsmen and ushers before getting ready for the wedding.

The Handsome Couple

Kristen wore the very first wedding dress she ever tried on—an A-line corseted Graziana Valentini gown with floral embellishments that was altered to create a sweetheart neckline. After checking out a variety of styles and narrowing her prospects down to two options, she decided that she wanted her wedding dress to feel like something she would normally choose in real life. “I’m sure I would have been happy either way, but I felt like ‘me’ in that dress and was so comfortable all night long,” Kristen says.

She accessorized the garment with a simple gold herringbone necklace and matching bracelet from Bony Levy. She also wore grandmother’s thin gold ring on her right hand as a way to include her in the big she; she was unable to attend.

A Colorful Clutch of Blooms

The bride held a natural, hand-tied bouquet of seasonal spray roses, garden roses, ranunculus, white berries, greenery, and fall foliage. The arrangement, made by BLOOM Floral Design, was tied with a blush silk ribbon holding the bride’s great-grandmother’s blue stone brooch. “This brooch has been passed from bride to bride in our family, so it was so special to be able to include it in my bouquet,” Kristen says. “My favorite detail however, was the strands of pearls we trimmed from my mom’s wedding veil and intertwined into the silk ribbon so that they fell down over the front of the arrangement and hung over my hands as I walked down the aisle.”

Beautiful Boutonnières

In addition to the groom’s navy tuxedo with black lapels and a black bow tie, he also wore gold cuff links with his initials on them; Kristen gave them to him on the morning of his wedding. The finishing touch? A boutonnière that spoke to the bride’s bouquet.

Cinnamon and Navy

Kristen picked out a cinnamon rose shade from Jenny Yoo and asked her bridesmaids to choose a floor-length dress in their favorite style. “Our wedding was September 4, which can be warm and still feel like summer or cool and feel like the start of fall,” she says. “I wanted a color that wouldn’t feel too summery if it was cool—or too wintery if it was a hot Labor Day weekend.”

Kristen also asked her eight best friends from college who were not in the bridal party to dress in shades of blue to be her “something blue.” The groomsmen wore navy suits and ties to coordinate with Brandon—they also matched the pair’s three nephews and two nieces, who dressed in dark blue for their roles as ring bearers and flower girls.

Woodsy Programs

The couple’s invitation suite included neutral colors with a birch bark background. “It was a nod to the wooded feel and natural elements that we incorporated throughout the weekend,” Kristen says. “The birch tree, in particular, was a highlight.” Other woodland motifs, such as subtle illustrations of mushrooms, appeared on the menus, drink signs, place cards, and ceremony cards, pictured here.

Going to the Chapel

The couple’s ceremony took place in a stone chapel atop a hill overlooking the town with stained glass windows. “Our favorite part was the arched wood ceiling that was designed to look like the hull of a ship,” Kristen says. They kept the décor simple with flower arrangements on the floor near the altar and cascading down the steps.

When Kristen walked down the aisle with her dad, Maurice, it was the first time Brandon saw her on the big day. “Kristen got her wish—the waterworks started as soon as I saw her,” he says. “My best man Tom patted me on my back and it quickly turned into the best moment of my life.”

The couple’s religious ceremony was officiated by long-time family friend Monsignor Kenneth Velo, along with Reverend Kay Houck, the local reverend at the church. Monsignor Velo married Kristen’s parents and many of her family members, so the couple was happy to have him officiate their wedding, as well.

Cocktail Hour in the Mist

The couple’s cocktail hour took place on the venue’s front lawn, where bistro tables and a bar were set up underneath the trees.

On the Lawn

While roaming the property, guests enjoyed passed appetizers including mini beef wellington, sweet and sour meatballs, and fresh fruit kabobs. Kristen’s signature cocktail was a cucumber melon martini with mint, and Brandon’s signature cocktail was a bourbon paper plane.

Soft Jazz

The pair hired a jazz quartette—they stayed dry under a covered patio—to play the classics.

The Rainy Photoshoot

After taking group photos underneath the reception’s tent, Kristen and Brandon walked around the property with their photographer, Clary, and videographer, Emily. Realizing they would get wet eventually, the couple put down their umbrellas and slow danced in the rain. “Even with two photographers and two videographers, it felt like we were completely alone,” Kristen says. “We were soaked by the end and I had to throw my hair in a ponytail for the rest of the night but it was absolutely worth it for the rainy moments they captured.”

A Magnificent Tent

Kristen and Brandon’s wedding reception took place underneath a sailcloth tent. “The EK Preserve was the very first venue we saw and we absolutely fell in love as soon as we drove down the windy driveway,” Kristen says, “It had all the features we were hoping to find in a venue—a sprawling outdoor space, lots of nature, and a casual chic vibe that we hadn’t found anywhere else.”

Foliage-Filled Entrance

BLOOM Floral Design decorated the entrance to the tent with florals in copper-and-orange tones paired with Spanish moss and greenery. “The overall floral design was absolutely stunning and unlike anything we’d seen before,” the bride says.

Related: Here’s What Every Type of Wedding Tent Looks Like

Find Your Seat

The couple’s stationer created dye-cut fish for the couple’s custom escort wall that featured the same mushroom botanical sketches that were seen on the menus and place cards. “There were subtle nods to nature in all of the details and it was exactly what we dreamed of,” Kristen says.

Flowers on the Bar

A stately stained wood bar was topped with an asymmetrical arrangement and a mix of candles; crawling branches and additional florals anchored the station.

In the Round

Round tables were topped with terra-cotta patterned linens and circled with bentwood chairs. “The centerpieces included soft, subtle autumn tones and transitional foliage to capture the essence of the season,” the bride says.

Wood Tones

Long, dark wooden tables added structure to the tent; they were lined with neutral runners and a series of arrangements in compotes.

Under the Birch Trees

The couple made three 20-foot-tall faux birch trees to wrap around the tent’s center poles. “We spent weeks building these and covering them in real birch bark from fallen trees on our property on Torch Lake,” Kristen says. “We foraged live moss and mushrooms to add and even etched a heart with our initials on the main trunk.” Chandeliers made from real branches framed the birch poles, casting shadows on the tent ceiling all evening.

Textural Place Settings

Place settings featured scalloped plates with a green leaf design, rattan chargers, and matte black flatware. “Set atop each plate was a Petoskey stone that had been handpicked by our families from our lake home beach and polished by my dad,” Kristen says. “It was a little piece of Northern Michigan for our guests to take home with them.”

A Locally Sourced Meal

The couple sourced the majority of the food, beer, and liquor from Michigan vendors, breweries, distilleries, and wineries. They served fresh Michigan whitefish and filet mignon with roasted seasonal vegetables tossed with penne noodles and a parmesan pesto cream for dinner.

For dessert, they skipped a traditional wedding cake and served bite-sized cupcakes, cookies, rice crispy treats, cherry pies, cinnamon sugar donuts, and lemon bars. They also had a s’mores station by the river and served pizza and burgers as a late-night snack.

Their First Dance

Kristen and Brandon shared their first dance to James Arthur’s “Falling Like The Stars.” “We’d listen to it and smile at certain lines because it’d make us think of our own relationship and it had the overall vibe we wanted for our first dance,” Kristen says. After, the bride danced with her dad to a duet version of Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable.” “When I was a little girl, we would spin around our family room dancing to it,” she says.

Brandon shared a special dance with his mom to a live rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie.” “Whenever I hear it, I send her a text to let her know it’s on and that I’m thinking of her,” the groom says. The couple worked with the band’s manager to customize the song and create a transition to get everyone on the dance floor at the end. “It was fun to hear the band’s take on the song while having that special moment with my mom,” Brandon says.

Related: Your Ultimate Wedding-Planning Timeline and Checklist

Oh, What a Night

The couple spent the rest of the evening on the dance floor with their guests. “You almost felt like you were at a private concert rather than a wedding,” Kristen says. “We had a 12-piece band that could literally play anything you threw at them.” When Gold Coast All Stars played “Love Shack,” a tradition for the Bride’s family, they had everyone singing at the top of their lungs. “The dance floor was packed from the very beginning and never emptied until we had to literally force people on the buses to leave,” the bride says.

To couples who are currently planning a wedding, Kirsten and Brandon recommend taking a moment to step away with your spouse during the reception. “Brandon came and grabbed me off the dance floor so that the two of us could step outside by ourselves and take it all in,” Kristen says. “We sat out by the bonfire and watched as all of our loved ones and closest friends danced the night away, laughing and singing their hearts out under the tent. It was so special.”


Photography, Clary Pfeiffer Photography
Ceremony Venue,
Emmanuel Episcopal Church 
Reception Venue,
EK Preserve
Wedding Planning and Event Design,
Ann Travis Events
Wedding Coordination,
Andrea Mikolon, Boyne Mountain
Out of the Blue
Floral Design,
BLOOM Floral Design
Invitations and Paper Products,
Jade Social
Monsignor Kenneth Velo, Reverend Kay Houck 
Bride’s Dress,
Bride’s Jewelry,
Bony Levy 
Bride’s Shoes,
Franco Sarto 
Bride’s Hair and Makeup,
The Spa at Inn at Bay Harbor
Bridesmaids’ Attire,
Jenny Yoo
The Suit Shop
Engagement Ring,
Best Friends Diamonds and Gems
Gold Coast All Stars
Guest Book,
Modern Album Designs
Boyne Mountain
Simply Sweet by Jessica

Read the original article on Martha Stewart.