Real Brides: Hillary’s Bright Winter Wedding

Hillary and Craig throw a bright, festive winter wedding in Ann Arbor, Michigan

An Arbor Winter wedding church

Date: 1/16/16

Location: First Presbyterian Church of Ann ArborAnn Arbor City Club, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Photographer: Laurie Wilson Photography

Caterer: Ann Arbor City Club

Officiant: Reverend Melissa Anne Rogers

Ann Arbor Church winter wedding

Initially, Hillary and Craig wanted a Christmastime wedding, but their chosen venues could not accommodate.  They just wanted to be married, so they chose a January wedding. Hillary loves the snow, and never could see herself having a summer wedding, so a January wedding was just right.

Florist: Red Poppy

Lighting: Ryan McFadden for dance lighting; Ann Arbor City Club for twinkle lights on ceiling

DJ/ Band: Ryan McFadden

Wedding planning: Hillary works as a meeting planner, so she did all of the planning herself.

Ann Arbor winter michigan wedding


How he proposed: He proposed on March 12 – I came home from work to a cleaned house (he even did the laundry!) and three bouquets of flowers. After a nice walk outside, he brought out sushi that he had ordered from our favorite spot. He then pulled out a Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s – my favorite dessert! He then sent me on a small scavenger hunt around the house, with the clues being Scrabble tiles I had to unscramble. We had designed the engagement ring together a few months back using my Great-Grandma’s diamonds and rose gold, but the final ring was kept a secret from me until he proposed. Craig even remembered that i mentioned lusting over a vintage velvet ring box (The Mrs. Box), which he bought and proposed to me with.”

Rose gold ring winter Ann Arbor City Club Wedding

Ann Arbor winter wedding bright floral bouquet

Their Wedding Rings: Our bands were a surprise to each of us – I had selected two favorites from a Chicago store for Craig to pick from (he picked my favorite!) – mine is yellow gold with bevel-set diamonds by Gabriel and Son’s. Craig’s is a Lashbrook ring in “cobalt chrome” metal – he selected which band he liked, and I added two stripes of rose gold on the outside, along with engraving the inside to say “Muffin” (which is what we call each other).”

Wedding Colors: Raspberry, Plums, Evergreens, Eucalyptus, Glittery Golds

Cake: No Cake!  Hillary and Craig decided on cherry pie from the Grand Traverse Pie Company

Linens: Ann Arbor City Club – white table cloths with burgundy napkins

Their Vows: Vows: We wrote our own, taking words/phrases from a list of around 20 suggested to us from our minister. We wanted our vows to use language that we use, and be a  blend of traditional and modern vows.”

Bright Winter wedding floral bouquet


Bridesmaids and Groomsmen: 1 maid of honor and 3 bridesmaids. 1 best man and 2 groomsmen 

Bridesmaids Dresses: Adrianna Pappel dresses in Raspberry

Groomsmen Suits: Dark grey Jos A. Bank suits; plaid ties from Tie Bar

First Dance Song: Adore You, by Miley Cyrus

Flowers/Centerpieces: Eucalyptus in gold vases on the guest tables, eucalyptus swag on the head table; mix of roses and greenery in the bridal bouquets.  


Ann Arbor winter church wedding

Jenny Yoo Real bride winter michigan wedding

Wedding Dress: Monarch, by Jenny Yoo, in cream.

Shoes: Kelly & Kate, from DSW

Jewelry: Snowflake-like designed necklace from Weddings 826 (Chicago), a splurge gift from Hillary’s Grandma. Bracelet from Art Effects (Chicago). Fake ‘diamond’ earrings (Nordstrom Rack). And a vintage diamond and sapphire ring from Hillary’s great-Grandmother, which she had to re-size just for the wedding.

Winter Wedding Church Ann Arbor


Wedding Ann Arbor City Club

Honeymoon details and location: “I got a really great deal for the Don Cesar Loews in St. Pete Beach, FL, so we went there after the wedding. We aren’t really beach people, so we never really considered Mexico/somewhere super hot (it was upper 50’s for our honeymoon). We plan on taking an extended trip in September, through the Canadian Rockies as our second honeymoon, since our Florida trip was very low-key and cheap!”

Ann Arbor bright winter wedding

Winter Wedding Ann Arbor City Club Escort Cards

My most memorable moment was seeing our friends/family laugh in surprise when we walked into “Turn Down for What”. My second most memorable moment was when Craig was 10000% in the zone dancing to “Hotline Bling”.

Ann Arbor City Club Wedding

Ann Arbor Winter Wedding Groomsmen

You and your husbands’ wedding advice: “Plan your wedding day to reflect you as a couple. You want your family and friends to walk away thinking “wow- that was totally THEM”. Also, think of your guests – they are there to support you, but don’t necessarily want to celebrate for 10 hours with you – be respectful of their time, and they will walk away from the wedding with many positive thoughts.”

Ann Arbor Michigan Winter Wedding

Winter wedding with Cherry pie instead of cake

Did you hand-make or DIY any wedding items? ” I glittered the votive candles from Red Poppy (for tables), I used Ferrero Rocher chocolates, and created escort card holders and printed the escort cards. I printed my ceremony programs at home, and my mom made my veil.”  

Ann Arbor Winter Wedding

Ann Arbor winter wedding colors

What was the biggest roadblock that you ran into while planning the wedding? “Nothing really…as a meeting planner I know all about contracts/budgets/planning, so this was very easy for me!”

Which part of the process gave you the most stress? “The guest list, as for a while we were inviting more than Craig and I had originally projected. It worked itself out in the end, so this was only stressful for a week or two.”

What did you do that you found helped out with stress the best? “Epsom salt baths at night :)”

Ann Arbor Winter Wedding bridal party

Ann Arbor winter wedding

Who/what gave you the most help in the planning process? “My job experience! I also thought a lot about how to make our guests happy – I was not a “I need to plan this wedding to make ME happy” type of bride, because then you get cranky guests who aren’t served dinner until 8:45pm. It also helped a lot to talk to my friends who were recently married about things they think are important, but really don’t matter (like giveaways to your guests). My mom and I also used a really helpful Google Doc to track all purchases for budgeting, along with guest RSVP’s. This was extremely helpful to be able to check in on things!”

Ann Arbor City Club Desserts

Ann Arbor Winter Michigan Wedding Groomsmen

How much influence did your family/ fiancé have in the planning process? “Everyone was great and loved my ideas, so I was really about to run with everything. Craig was great in reassuring me on things, reminding me that if a certain invite or flower gave me the most joy, to simply stop overthinking and go with my gut. My mom, sister, and a few of my bridesmaids all shared a Pinterest board on all things wedding related – this was a fun way to share ideas and comment on them.”

Ann Arbor Winter wedding dance floor

Ann Arbor Church wedding

What was your favorite part of the experience/ event? “Dancing with Craig and my friends, after most of the other guests had left. It reminded me what great friends we have!”

Is there anything that didn’t go as planned? “Nope!”

Winter Wedding real bride ann arbor

Winter Ann Arbor wedding mother son dance

What did you do to save money? “Selected a location where we couldn’t invite endless guests and was a “one stop shop” (food, linens, etc); had our wedding during the “off season”; bought our wedding invites when the site (Minted) was having a 20% off sale; bought my dress during a rare sale; my mom made my veil (saved around $200!); I bought cheap shoes (DSW) that were comfortable and cute; we didn’t give any giveaways for our guests; served pie instead of cake (but we love pie over cake – I don’t think we ever really considered cake).”

Ann Arbor winter church wedding

Ann Arbor City Club winter wedding

What was your biggest splurge? “Two of our top expenses were our flowers and our photographer, yet both of those were extremely important to me. My flowers were breathtaking and exactly as how I imagined them, and looking at my photographs makes so glad that we selected my super talented cousin to take them – I have had SO many people tell me how beautiful they are, and I cant agree more!”

A Winter wedding in Michigan

Winter Michigan Wedding

Winter Ann Arbor wedding invite

Ann Arbor church wedding program

If you could go back in time, what would you have changed? “Nothing!”

Ann Arbor City Club wedding January


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Lisa Written by:


  1. Meg
    April 25, 2016

    How pretty! I love the way they displayed the seating cards!

    • Lisa
      April 25, 2016

      Hi Meg! Yes they were smart – because you can eat them afterwards!

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