Oh my goodness, have we got a beautiful start to your week! As soon as Nikki and DJ’s wedding hit our inbox, we knew it was one to share with you guys. It’s truly stunning, and so inspirational, so long as stylish and modern slash bohemian vintage outdoor wedding is where you’re headed! Set in Lake Bluff Inn & Suites, the Californian based couple infused the West Coast into their Michigan setting (they live in Cali but grew up in Michigan), whilst also allowing influence to flow from their Italian and Mexican heritage, resulting in an uber chic, minimalist, outdoor wedding full of lots of love and the hippest vibes.
We really wanted to bring California’s style to the Mid West. I love natural tones, greenery, and wanted pops of gold to tie it all together. Most importantly, we wanted to insert a piece of who we are into each and every detail of the day. It took a ton of work, but we are so proud to have done it and to have shared that with everyone we love.
One of the absolute highlights of the wedding is the giant handmade wooden triangle that Nikki’s father made for them to marry under. It is SO impressive and authentic and really encapsulates the theme of the wedding. The geometric vibe then follows on to the reception where the couple used minimalist table décor pieces to create a stylish, modern and understated setting. So much DIY, so much creativity and so much vision from the handmade farm tables (again, thanks to Nikki’s dad!) to the festival style signage made by Nikki herself.
Sometimes less is more….they used whites and greens as their inspiration, infused with natural tones and gold flashes along with a massive dose of their personalities to create their chic, arty, boho wedding. It is so important that a wedding reflects the couple – after all, the whole day is all about you….so make it about you!
It’s official, we are in love with everything about this wedding, captured superbly by photographer Tana Helene. Here’s bride Nikki to tell you all about her beautiful day….
Mountain Hike and Hot Springs Proposal
On my 29th birthday DJ took me to Orr Hot Springs Resort – a beautiful, tranquil resort nestled in the hills of Northern California. DJ was adamant we take a hike through the rain to explore the grounds (hoping to find the perfect spot to propose!). Minutes into the hike, a tree collapsed just yards ahead blocking our path – it was terrifying! That’s when DJ realised there are no perfect moments, and knelt down on one knee. The rest of the weekend was spent soaking in the natural hot springs in the middle of the mountains, with our big, new secret all to ourselves. It was the best!
Simple Wedding Gown with Plunge Back and Handmade Headpiece
I wore a A La Robe gown with a headpiece by Mignonne Handmade. I always imagined myself in some sort of lace, bohemian dress. When I went to my first fitting, a gown from Daughters of Simone had not arrived for me to try on, and I was crushed. My girlfriends immediately starting pulling gowns for me to try on, and my friend Angela, turned to me with the A La Robe dress in hand and said, ‘I know this isn’t you, but you need to try this on’. I’m a big believer of everything happening for a reason, and I felt like a true goddess wearing this dress on my hot summer wedding day. I was meant to wear it – and plan to do so every year on our anniversary!
I wasn’t a bride that needed to drop a ton of cash on shoes, so I just bought a pair online. I knew I would only wear them once. My investments went towards accessories – like my crown! I loved it soooo much. And I wore vintage emerald earrings from Colombia which were a gift from my Father-in-Law
My bridesmaids and bridesman wore the most amazing robes from The Robe Lives – they absolutely LOVED wearing these! One of my best friends and her husband are full time travellers and started a passion project that they’ve poured their heart into called The Robe Lives. Each robe is made in Tanzania from African Kitenge textiles, and every garment sold qualifies one young woman to get given a menstrual cup.
Weekend Wedding with Family and Friends in Michigan
Lake Bluff Inn & Suites, South Haven, Michigan. I grew up in Michigan, and it’s where all of my family live. DJ and I live in San Francisco, and he is a native to the city. Since we chose to bring all of our friends and family from San Francisco to Michigan, our number one requirement was to find a venue that could sleep everyone at the same location, and hold both ceremony and reception onsite. One of our favourite things is renting big houses with friends for the weekend, and we wanted to incorporate one, big adult sleepover to make it an easy and fun weekend event for all!
Married by Best Friend with Personalised Vows
One of the best decisions we made was choosing to have a best friend marry us. Someone who knew us as individuals, a couple, and has seen the entirety of our relationship. Matt truly poured his heart into it and there weren’t many dry eyes in the house! It also was extra special to have his wife standing by my side. The 4 of us are extremely close.
On a trip to Bali earlier in the year, we dedicated a day to writing our own vows. It was important for us to step away from the hustle and bustle of everyday city life, and remember the story of ‘us’. Sharing our words in front of everyone we know was incredibly magical and so much fun!
Ceremony with DIY Triangle Arch and Hip Music
We received more compliments on our ceremony than anything at the wedding, and I think that is because we ditched normalcy, truly poured our hearts into it, and chose details that represented who we are. Our backdrop was Lake Michigan, along with the ceremony triangle my father made – it was so special.
We wanted music that was cool and songs we both actually like, versus a sappy love song or ‘Here Comes the Bride’. We’ve been lucky enough to travel and dance to different music around the world. We both love tribal house, which provides elements of ethnic or indigenous musical percussions (typically conga drums or bird sounds). I spent loads of time finding just the right music for the type of vibe we wanted to put out – hip, different, happiness, and love.
The triangle was built by my father and DJ just a few days before the wedding. It was insanely special that this handmade piece be our starting point as husband and wife. There are loads of things the triangle symbolises, such as ancient wisdom, an energetic gateway, and the sacred feminine and masculine energies. For DJ and I, it was all about resilience. We have fought for our love and have built a life of our own – not following the crowd and only doing what’s right for us.
Our photographer was Tana Helene. Tana is the most genuine person, and she worked incredibly hard to capture the vibe of our day. She’s artsy, fun and really knows her stuff.
Cigar & Whiskey Bar, Vintage Furniture and Battery Candles
Surprisingly, I love a good cigar and I know several of our guests love whiskey. We wanted a cool hang area that was separate from the bar & dance floor – and it was SUCH a hit! My dad made this beautiful long wood bar on wheels that he rolled next to the dancefloor, and it was all too fun lighting cigars, pouring our own shots & toasting over & over again. We used battery candles to line the stage for dancing – don’t underestimate the power of these, they were so effective! And all of the furniture rental came from a company called Emerald Crane.
Hand Crafted Farm Tables and DIY Signage
Our large bridal party and their spouses sat at one long farm table, handcrafted by my father. It was Insanely beautiful & so fun to have 28 people at one table!
I made the ‘Til Death Do We Party’ wooden sign a few days before the wedding – I wanted something funky that showed our sense of humor – and our love for a ripping good party!
Whites and Greens, Thistles and Eucalyptus
Eastern Floral provided all of our flowers. I love greenery and loosely made the bouquets. I didn’t want large distracting centrepieces, so instead, we had silver eucalyptus sprigs and blue thistle coming out of bottles. My bouquet was INSANELY gorgeous – and heavy! I chose the “King” Protea as the main flower in my bouquet and it was so different and stunning. I only wanted whites and greens – no roses. My florist really understood my vision, and I truly felt spoiled on what she created for me .
Festival Style High Peak Pole Tent, Minimal Décor and Gold Table Features
With such a large, plain, open-grassed area, we had free reign to dress the venue which was exciting, but a large amount of work and pretty daunting at times since we had to hire everything in. The large high peak pole tent was such a great piece and we loved how it set the ‘festival’ type vibe.
All the table florals were sprigs of eucalyptus and mixtures of greenery, both laid on the table or inserted into old antique bottles I collected. This looked amazing next to the clear acrylic signage. The pops of gold came from glass terrariums with gold trim, gold candle sticks that held tall white candles, and gorgeous amber goblets at each place setting – these really brought the fire! Most importantly, I didn’t want to go overboard with the flowers.
Having the dance floor under the sky was a big win and something I wanted so desperately! The weather changes by the hour, especially in coastal towns and I really didn’t know if we’d be able to pull it off and escape the rain – but we were given the best weather and sunset!
Wedding Cookies made by Family Run Cookie Shop!
My mother owns a successful gourmet cookie company that people go absolutely nuts for! Monica’s Gourmet Cookies made 1500 cookies with all of their different flavours, as well as a special Italian Wedding Cookies. We provided ‘to go’ boxes and guests were lined up!
Italian and Mexican Inspired Food
DJ and I are both second generation – I’m Italian and he is Mexican. Heritage played a massive parts in both of our upbringings – and so did the food! We had two stations; one Italian Pasta Bar and one Taco Bar. The meatballs and the sausages served came from my family’s recipes. it was really special.
We chose the song ‘California’ by the Lagoons. Seeing that we had the wedding in Michigan, we really wanted to incorporate California into the day because it’s where we live and ultimately where our love story began.
What stands out to me the most was the energy during dinner. There really was a different kind of magic in the air (really though – at one point, Monarch butterflies were flying around inside the tent!). We had old Jazz songs playing, and at one point everybody was yelling and singing along to ‘That’s Amore’ by Dean Martin. It was SO fun. You could really reach out and feel the love that was beaming from my parents too. I’ve never seen them so happy! My dad’s speech brought down the house!
It was very important for us to enjoy this part of the day; sit, mingle, drink and eat with everyone….
Try to insert a piece of who you are into as many parts of the day you can! Create your own day of magic that represents who you both are and the love you have, because people will recognise it and remember how it feel made them feel.
I also heard from so many couples that they never got eat and enjoy dinner because they had to go around and say hello to people. I was adamant with my planner about extending dinner to longer than the norm because we wanted to enjoy this part of the day – and I am SO grateful that we did. And better yet – everyone felt this way!
The Line Up
Photographer: Tana Helene
Venue: Lake Bluff Inn & Suites
Planner: All Buttoned Up Events
Bride’s Dress: A La Robe
Bride’s Headpiece: Mignonne Handmade
Hair: Cheeky Strut
Make Up: Erick Gerson
Groom’s Suit: Hugo Boss
Bridesmaid Dresses: Shona Joy
Bridesmaid Robes: The Robe Lives
Vintage Furniture: Emerald Crane
Florist: Eastern Floral
Silent Disco: Sound Off Experience
Band: The Cheap Dates
Cookies: Monica’s Gourmet Cookies
Caterers: Millennium Restaurant