Generations of Detroit Weddings

Today’s LoveintheD blog post is by Julie Tobi, a Metro Detroit wedding planner who planned her own Detroit wedding in 2010! A few months after the wedding, her family discovered her grandparents’ Detroit wedding album from 1949. Read on for the story…

Drawn to Detroit

When planning our 2010 wedding, my husband and I considered Detroit right away. We were both drawn to Detroit – its history and its future, and our family history in Detroit. At some point, most people in our families had lived in Detroit in one decade or another, and many others had worked in Detroit. My husband and my dad attended high school in the same building, though decades apart the school had different names.

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Logistically, Detroit was fairly central with us living in a nearby city, me being from Metro Detroit, and my husband being from Detroit. But it was not logistics that convinced us. We believed in Detroit and wanted to show our family and friends a good time in a city that many spent little time in because they thought there was “nothing” in Detroit. A city that we had great hope in..

We decided on the Rattlesnake Club and it was amazing. We were married on an absolutely perfect fall day (75 degrees and sunny in October!) right on the edge of the Detroit River. Our hope of showing our guests a glimpse of a Detroit they hadn’t experienced became reality. During cocktail hour I saw one of our guests smiling and looking around her. Then she said, “This feels like Chicago.” “No,” I thought, “It feels like Detroit.”

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A piece of family history

Three months before our wedding, my grandma died. Before she passed, she told my aunt to tell me she was sorry she wouldn’t be at my wedding. She was always thinking of her grandkids. I honored her on our wedding day by wearing her rhinestones in my hair (earrings I turned into hairpins), wrapping her pearl necklace twice around my wrist during the reception, and putting one of her handkerchiefs in the bodice of my dress. She was with me.

A couple months after our wedding, my family was going through my grandma’s belongings and came across her 1949 wedding album to my grandfather, who died before I was born. They wed in Detroit. Looking at the album, I was transported to a time that looked magical and simple in a beautiful. Some of the pictures seemed serious and formal; some showed what I interpreted as deep love; others showed dancing. What I loved most was that they seemed so rich. I felt like I was holding a piece of family history and Detroit history that should be in a museum.

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My favorite picture is from the reception, or maybe even the after party, with everyone gathered at a bar. You see people talking, my grandparents kissing, my great-grandma at the bar wearing a hat and a huge corsage. Then — a real gem, the last picture in the album, my grandparents in their get-away car with a sign on it that reads “Just Married Watch Detroit Grow.” I tried to imagine the hope they had in their youth for the city they lived in. The history of my grandparents’ wedding in Detroit and finding that picture months after our wedding made our Detroit wedding even more perfect.

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Moving forward

Now I help other couples with their big day as a wedding planner and coordinator. I started J. Eliza Events because of how much I loved planning my own wedding and because I wanted to help couples plan a wedding focused on the reason for the event – to join two people together and revel in the emotion of it all. I like to say that weddings aren’t about chair covers and perfect make-up – they’re about committing yourself to another person and the emotion and beauty that comes with it. I love being a part of that.

In wedding planning, I encourage couples to only do what feels right to them. It is easy to get caught up in “musts” and “shoulds” and feeling like you need to spend a fortune, and throw the bouquet, and eat cake, and have it all. (Of course if you want to do those things, have a blast doing them!) One of my favorite weddings skipped most of the “traditions” and they served key lime pie instead of cake…it was truly one of the most spectacular weddings I’ve been a part of. You could feel the love and happiness the entire night and when it was over, no one wanted to leave. And I can guarantee no one missed the bouquet toss.

Now that I help so many other couples with their weddings, I often think of my own wedding day. One of my favorite moments from that day wasn’t even part of the wedding festivities. The morning of our wedding my husband and I walked out the back door of the hotel and looked at the Detroit River. It was a cool fall morning and the sun was shining. We just stood next to each other and looked at the river in silence. We knew the day was going to be busy, full of emotion, and at the end of it we would be married. That silent, calm anticipation, standing next to my now-husband, is one I’ll never forget. What we were about to do was big, and we were ready.

Wedding registry options…at the new West Elm!

Last Wednesday, my husband and I got to go to a preview “soft launch” of the new West Elm store in Birmingham, MI. Okay, okay. Yes, this blog is Detroit-centered. But Sean really loves West Elm. And this blog post includes Detroit and socially-conscious items that we learned about at the preview. Read onward…

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If you are trying to figure out where you want to have your wedding registries, add West Elm to your list to check out. Whether you and your soon-to-be-spouse are looking for glassware, bedding, locally crafted goods, curtains… you’ve got a lot of quality items to choose from.

The store has a “West Elm Local” section with goods that are, well, local! Right now Detroit-based Jodi Lynn’s Emporium of Doodles has some great artwork available at the store.

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We also discovered that West Elm has a partnership with FEED, “a social business dedicated to ending world hunger through the sale of products that have a measurable donation attached to them.” So far FEED has provided almost 84 million meals. Purchasing the mug pictured below leads to FEED providing four meals.

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From bedding made from materials produced at the country’s oldest woolen mill to entirely handcrafted rugs, you get the sense from wandering around the store that items are selected for quality and with care. Also, there is an in-store stylist that can help you figure out your interior decor plan. You can bring in your floor plans and get to work!

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If you’re interested in setting up a wedding registry, visit the store at 215 W. Maple Rd in Birmingham or click here.

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[real wedding] Michael and Barbara’s Wedding at Fort Street Presbyterian Church

LoveintheD co-blogger Shannon made this great blog post possible!

We love real wedding posts as much as our readers – and we know you’ll enjoy reading about Michael and Barbara’s 2010 wedding at Fort Street Presbyterian Church. If you were married in Detroit, please send us an e-mail and you could be featured on LoveintheD!

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Why did you decide to get married in Detroit?

Michael and I had our first date in Detroit – we went to a Tigers game and Hockeytown Café. So we wanted to incorporate Detroit into our wedding. We both enjoy spending time there. Detroit has so much history and I’m passionate about its future.

Tell us about Fort Street Presbyterian Church.

It’s one of the oldest churches in Detroit. The interior is beautiful with dark walnut and stained glass windows. We worked with their wedding coordinator, which made the whole process easier. There’s a parking lot across the street so our guests didn’t have to worry about parking. The only downside was that there was no air conditioning.

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Can you describe your wedding?

We didn’t decorate very much in the church – it’s so beautiful that we didn’t want to distract from the existing décor. The music was performed by the church organist. One of my favorite memories is that my niece – she was three at the time – was our flower girl and she got confused about when to walk down the aisle. We all got out of sync with the music, but it was cute and funny. Another problem we had was that some of the roads were blocked on the morning of our wedding. A film was being shot in the area, but thankfully, everything was clear by the time our guests arrived.

The Details:

Venue: Fort Street Presbyterian Church

Florist: Gerald’s Florist, Madison Heights

Dress: Maria’s Bridal

Bridesmaid Dresses: David’s Bridal

Rehearsal Dinner: Angelina Bistro, Detroit 

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How did you and Michael meet?

Michael is actually the brother of one of my longtime friends. He’s a little bit older, so I had never met him until after I graduated college. When we saw each other, there were sparks!

Do you have any advice for others who are planning their Detroit wedding?

Have fun and take advantage of all the cool places to take photos. And, if you’re planning a summer wedding, be sure you have air conditioning!

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Readers: What other historic Detroit churches would you recommend as wedding venues?

Detroit farm flowers for your Detroit wedding

My sincerest apologies for the long break between posts! As some of you know, I recently won the primary election to serve as state representative for House District 6. It’s been a busy year. Anyway, on to the blog post!

This summer Sarah of Fresh Cut Detroit and I connected. I was excited to learn about her flower farm! Have you been trying to find locally grown flowers? Want to support a Detroit vendor as you plan your Detroit wedding? Read on!

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Tell me about Fresh Cut Detroit! When did it start, and what’s the story of you got started as a flower farmer here in Detroit?

Fresh Cut is a flower farm in Woodbridge, Detroit. This is our first season on this land, with this business, though I have been growing flowers, fruits, and veggies for around 9 years. After 3 years in Detroit managing a farm site for local nonprofits, I decided I was ready to start my own farm. I’d been honing in on the idea of a flower farm for a while. There’s a strong network of very local veggie growers, but not much of a specialty in cut flowers yet. Nationally, the trend of local flowers has followed closely behind local food, so it seemed like a good bet that that same desire for small-scale, locally grown flowers was heading to Detroit! Also, it’s easier to hold $20 in your hand with flowers than it is with veggies (it weighs less, too!) so it makes it a good option for a family business on a small plot of land.

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What kinds of flowers do you grow in your garden at the edge of Woodbridge? How do you decide what to grow?

I grow a big mix – around 100 varieties. I have established many perennials, which will provide blooms for years to come, though they’re not ready for much commercial harvest yet: dicentra, astilbe, baptisia australis, centaurea, alstroemeria, foxgloves… For the next couple years, I will be relying more on annuals like dahlias, snapdragons, thai basil, scabiosa, ageratum, flowering kale, long-stemmed marigolds and zinnias; and wildflowers from around the city, like asters, chicory, sweet peas, queen ann’s lace, brassicas, and yarrow.

I use many factors to decide what to grow: what’s well suited for this climate, what trends I see in wedding media, what is affordable to purchase and establish, compared with what the market price and demand for that stem, and spreading the blooms out from the earliest spring to the latest fall, as well as what can be dried or otherwise stored for winter events. I’m growing (and drying)  in preparation for winter things like dusty miller, strawflower, statice, and gomphrena. I’ve also been lucky enough to inherit some beautiful plants from the previous owners of our house: a mature apple and cherry tree, roses, and peonies!

Can you tell me about how Fresh Cut Detroit is environmentally and/or socially conscious?

My whole body of experience in agriculture is in organic settings that based their decisions on a balance between organic standards and research, long-term health of land, workers, and customers, and productivity balanced with fertility. This is the only way I know how to grow, and I’m doing my best to enact those same types of decisions on the farm. Socially, living in Detroit these last 4 years has raised my consciousness immensely. I don’t have any rule book to follow, but I try to do my best to be fair, respectful, and supportive of my neighbors in all my decisions.

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Are there certain flowers that you find the most fitting for a summer wedding next year that you grow in your garden?

There are so many wonderful things blooming in June and July that there’s no way to go wrong. There are lots of pinks and oranges available, as well as a wide variety of berries in various stages of their lives. This is a great time to add unripe raspberries into bouquets, as well as baby grape bunches on beautiful strong vines. Right now my zinnias are just beginning and I’m so in love with the dark, dramatic patterns on the unopened buds. They are wonderful for detail work like bud vases, boutonnieres, and crowns.

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How would a bride or groom get started in working with Fresh Cut Detroit on some flower arrangements for an upcoming wedding? 

For special event flowers from Fresh Cut Detroit, the best thing to do is email me [freshcutdetroit@gmail.com] with your date and any aesthetic interests. I’ll send on my basic price list, then if it looks good to you we’ll get together and talk through what you want, what you like, and what is seasonal. I’ll prepare a detailed quote, then to reserve you’ll provide a deposit, usually around $200. Most of my weddings are under $1000, and I’m really happy to be able to provide beautiful special event flowers for prices that are accessible for many. I also provide a range of options, from buckets of blooms for you to arrange, to just accessories for the wedding party, to full design and delivery.

Anything else you would like to share?

I’m actually surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed wedding work. I thought that brides and grooms would be really difficult and demanding to work with, but the customers that find their way to me are interesting, lovely people who want to direct much of their wedding dollars into the local economy. They’ve been flexible and adventurous! My favorite part is drawing peoples’ attention to the specific smells of their wedding flowers – be it lilacs, privet, peonies, roses, honeysuckle… and that’s just springtime! Since scent is such a strong tie to memory, I love the idea that every year when that flower blooms, these people will be reminded of the joy and commitment of that day.

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Thank you Sarah for sending over these beautiful images and sharing your experiences with LoveintheD!

Readers: What kinds of flowers do you see in Detroit that you would love for your own wedding?

 

[real wedding] Philip and Clare’s Wedding at the Detroit Athletic Club

Real wedding posts are the big favorite at LoveintheD, and we’re excited to share details about Philip and Clare Baker’s 2009 wedding at the Detroit Athletic Club. Read on for LoveintheD co-blogger Shannon’s interview with Clare Baker, the bride!

If you were married in Detroit, please send us an e-mail and you could be featured on LoveintheD!

Why did you decide to get married in Detroit?
I grew up in this area and I feel a special attachment to Detroit. My dad has been a member of the Detroit Athletic Club since I was a child. We went there all the time for different activities and events. The DAC was a great value for us, because we were able to have our ceremony and reception in the same place. They took care of all the catering and table arrangements for us, and our guests stayed at the DAC hotel.

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Tell us about the DAC as a wedding venue.
We loved the atmosphere of the DAC; it’s very classy. We had our wedding on the second floor and used all three rooms. We had our ceremony in one room, cake cutting and hors d’oeuvres in the second room, and dancing and dinner in the third. Plus, their wedding coordinator made planning so much easier.

How did you and Philip meet?
Philip is from the United Kingdom and we met while I was studying abroad. We had a long distance relationship for many years, and in 2009 he moved to the United States on a wedding visa. We had three months to plan our entire wedding!

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Are there any other unique details you can share?
My sister-in-law’s father passed away from cancer, so instead of purchasing gifts or trinkets for each guest, we made a charitable donation to the American Cancer Society.

Do you have any advice for others who are planning their Detroit wedding?
Explore the many different venues Detroit has to offer and find out what fits your personality. And, use your personal contacts to keep your costs down. We had friends and acquaintances that helped us with music and photography.

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The Details:
Venue: The Detroit Athletic Club
Photographer: Ryan Koehler
Dress: The Wedding Shoppe
Catering: The Detroit Athletic Club

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Readers: Have you considered making a contribution to a cause in lieu of wedding favors?

Vintage wedding dress turns into samurai inspired gown!

Last spring I met Bridget Sullivan while shopping at the Peacock Room in Detroit and exploring the idea of doing a vintage wedding photo shoot for LoveintheD. Turns out Bridget is a fashion designer who loves using vintage apparel to create new looks!

She is a contestant in the Detroit Institute of Arts “Beyond the Armor” design contest and created an amazing dress using a vintage wedding dress. I interviewed Bridget recently. Check it out!

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How did you get into fashion design?
I’ve been making things for my entire life, but it was’t until I found the Fiber Arts department at the College for Creative Studies that I decided to focus on fashion design.  After graduation, I moved to New York City where I interned at Diane von Furstenburg and worked in an eco-friendly fashion showroom called FoundFuture.  Grammy-Award winning musician Esperanza Spalding began performing in my designs around the same time, and has since worn my garments around the world on tour.  I’m now back in Michigan, where I work as a fabric desiger at Lear Corporation and work on my personal fashion line, Bridget Sullivan Designs.

What do you love about using vintage wedding apparel?
I have used many types of vintage clothing for my designs, but wedding dresses are my favorite.  Not only do the yards and yards of white material make them the perfect blank canvas, but I love the romantic idea of working with a dress that someone has gotten married in.  It seems like such a waste for these beautiful garments to be worn only once.  I love giving a new purpose to traditional, romantic dresses.

Tell me about the dress you created for the DIA samurai exhibition design competition and how you found the vintage wedding dress you used!
My “Crane Dress” is inspired by “Reeds and Cranes,” a silk painted folding screen painted by Suzuki Kiitsu.  He was trained by a powerful Samurai artist named Sakai Hoitsu, who adopted him and elevated him to the elite Samurai class. Samurai culture is full of rich symbolism, and the crane is a powerful image that can mean many things.  The Samurai warrior learned about facing death bravely by watching cranes, who appear calm and fearless when attached by an enemy. Cranes are a symbol of longevity and soaring spirit.  They are also considered good luck in marriage because they mate for life.

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I designed the Crane Dress specifically for a talented dancer named Destiny.  I was inspired by the Samurai practice of balancing”bun” (arts) and “bu” (war).  This reminded me of the beautiful blend of strength and grace in ballet, as well as the delicate power of the crane.

I bought the vintage wedding dress I used to create my competition design at the Grosse Pointe Neighborhood Club Thrift store.  It was only a sheer shell of a dress with no lining.  I kept it in my studio for over a year before using it to create my ”Crane Dress.”

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Can you tell me more about the competition?
I am one of 10 fashion designers competing in the “Beyond the Armor” fashion challenge sponsored by the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Garment Guild.  We were given a private tour of the fascinating “Beyond the Armor” Samurai exhibit at the DIA, and challenged to design garments inspired by what we learned and saw.

You can vote for your favorite design by clicking here (vote for Bridget Sullivan, #8!) now through May 12th.  The winner will be revealed on May 17 at a fashion show finale at DIA.  The show starts at noon and is free with general admission. RSVP by calling 313-833-4005.

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What/who/where in Detroit inspires you in your fashion designs?
Detroit is a wonderful city to be an artist. My education at CCS taught me how to be an professional working artist, and opportunities such as this competition have allowed me to showcase my designs in unique and special ways.  There is a strong community of creative people, and I’m happy to have met many more through this competition.

As a fashion designer, it is important to have a network of people to help my designs come to life.  I consider myself lucky to be friends with very talented photographers, models, makeup artists and business owners who have supported me and my designs.  For the Crane Dress photo shoot, local photographer Lindee Robinson took photos of model and dancer Destiny Mankowski at the DIA.  Hair and makeup was done by Natalie Briles, and jewelry was provided by the Peacock Room boutique.  Thank you all!

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Unique weddings at the Science Center in Detroit

Did you grow up going to the Science Center in Detroit? Or are you engaged to a self-described science geek? If so, consider the Michigan Science Center as a wedding venue!

LoveintheD blogger Shannon interviewed Melissa Wilson, the events manager at the Michigan Science Center. Check out the interview below!

Tell us about the Michigan Science Center.
The Science Center is a unique museum in the midtown cultural center. We have hundreds of touchable, hands-on educational and entertaining exhibits that bring out the kid in all of us. Of the five theaters in the center, my two favorite are the Toyota Engineering Theater where 150 people at once can ride through a kayak obstacle course, and the DTE Energy Sparks Theater, our classic show about electricity that can make your hair stand on end (if you’re lucky!). We also have two huge dome theaters, our planetarium, which seats over 100 and the IMAX® theater, which seats over 200.  We have truly unique aspects that can only be experienced at the Science Center.

Have you hosted weddings before? How many? Can you share any details about them?
The Michigan Science Center has hosted several wedding receptions over the past year. One couple decided to just use the main floor of the museum, which included a huge sit down space for 230 of their guests. They used the Health & Wellness Gallery for the cocktail reception and then later as the unmarked dance floor. The reception was held in the Lunar Gallery and decor was specifically designed to connect with the ambiance in the room.

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Many people probably wouldn’t think to host their wedding in a science center. Why is it such a great venue?
The site visits I conduct are for couples thinking outside of the traditional reception venues. The Science Center is full of quirky spaces and spacious floors filled with fantastic hand-on activities. There are a variety of ways you can use our building to create the FUN in your special day. You could have a sit-down dinner in our Lunar and Space Gallery for up to 300 guests or a strolling dinner for 400. Dessert can be set up on our lower level among our Sounds, Waves and Vibrations exhibits centrally located near the Chrysler Science Stage, a dance floor, big enough to hold a band AND your dancers!

What kind of space do you offer for weddings? Is there room despite all the exhibits? 

Currently, we have a great open space called the Science Hall on our fourth floor that is about 9,000 square feet, or the size of a ballroom. It’s the perfect space to design as your own, using lighting, draping and table linens and can hold over 600 guests. The best part is that you get the Science Center along with that huge space, including a dance floor and separate cocktail reception area.

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What kind of people get married at the Science Center? Is it just science geeks?  

The stories I’ve heard from the couples that either call us or book site visits vary. Most are looking for a really unique venue with an incredible backdrop to their special event. Some either met at the Science Center, came on a field trip when they were young, or really are science geeks. I’ve met engineers marrying physicists, nurses marrying chemists and even a couple who met in their teens during a robotics competition!

What steps should someone take if they’re interested in holding a wedding at the Science Center?

Step One: Contact me at melissa.wilson@mi-sci.org or 313.577.8400, or simply visit the Science Center one day! Walk around, feel the atmosphere, envision your family and friends roaming around just like you are. Step Two: Schedule a site visit. I can help you see past our normal day-to-day activities and envision your special day in this great venue.

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Anything else?  

Some bonuses to the Science Center: You may choose your own caterer or use our preferred caterers. We have a great flow to the building, allowing your guests to experience it in stages. We have three great theaters where you can run your personal slide show or video for your guests’ enjoyment. We can open our planetarium during your event for casual viewing of the night sky with our projectionist pointing out constellations and showing your guests beautiful nebulae and solar systems. We have a central, built-in dance floor with plenty of space for a band or DJ AND all of  your guests!

Readers: What is the most unique wedding venue you have experienced?

Weddings at the MOCAD

By: Shannon Mackie

Today’s post comes from fellow blogger Shannon Mackie! Check out her blog, One Inch of Grace.

Once a couple is engaged, generally the first big question is: “Where should we get married?” The venue decision is a big one because it impacts the budget and sets the setting (literally) for all of the other important decisions that come with wedding planning.

Shannon recently interviewed the staff of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, located on Woodward Avenue in Detroit. Did you know that they host weddings? If you didn’t before, now you know! Check out what they had to say:

For those who might not know, tell us about MOCAD.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) is a non-collecting institution based on the Kunsthalle model popular in Europe. This allows us to work with art and artists from the last 30 years without being constrained to an aging collection. With this flexibility we can address and engage many current ideas and issues in almost real time.

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Why is MOCAD a good wedding venue for those who love Detroit and want to support the city?

MOCAD has an interest in the holistic and long-term success of our community and works hard to engage at all levels. The ideas presented by the museum in our exhibitions and programs help to leverage shifts in thought that in turn act as catalysts for the actions needed to bring change to the city.

What options does MOCAD offer for weddings?

Depending on availability, the museum can offer 5,500 to 22,000 square feet of total space. The typical rental space (open almost the entire year) can hold about 140 people seated with room for a dance floor and food service.

How many weddings has MOCAD hosted? Are there any ceremonies that were particularly unique/memorable?

MOCAD has hosted many weddings. In 2013, we did around 10 weddings. A unique/memorable wedding that we had took place this past October at the Mike Kelley Mobile Homestead. The couple had their ceremony performed in front of the garage of the mobile homestead. It was officiated by artist Carey Loren from Destroy All Monsters and who was a good friend of Mike Kelley. The ceremony was open to the public and had a great turn out. The reception was held in the café of the Museum.

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What makes MOCAD a unique venue for weddings?

MOCAD is a unique venue for weddings because we offer an alternative to the traditional wedding venues. Our walls allow for a blank slate for decorations and simplicity.

Can MOCAD accommodate/recommend local and sustainable vendors?

MOCAD has a list of preferred vendors for catering and rentals. These preferred vendors must be used unless there is a special exception that the preferred vendor cannot meet, such as dietary needs or specialty menus. Cakes can come from where the wedding party desires.

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What steps can someone take if they’re interested in holding a wedding at MOCAD?

If someone is interested in having their wedding at MOCAD it is best to contact the Facility Rental Coordinator by either calling MOCAD or emailing rentals@mocadetroit.org. Our website, MOCADetroit.org has a rental inquiry form that people are able to fill out and submit to us as well. We can give them all of the rental information they are seeking, as well as schedule a walk-through of the Museum.

Detroit wedding party photos with the Joneses

I am excited to share wedding photos from the May 2013 wedding of Chris and Melissa Jones! Chris and Sean went to high school together and I remember Sean telling me how happy Chris sounded when he first started dating Melissa. We met Melissa at our wedding in 2011 and their relationship has continued to grow. We are thrilled for this beautiful couple.

Take a look at the fun and creative wedding party photos at various Detroit hotspots and murals. Images were captured by 11-4 Productions. Enjoy!

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Chris and SeanChris (the groom) and my husband Sean

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Jones_0514The bride’s nephew danced up a storm at the wedding reception!

Readers: What is your favorite Detroit spot at which to take wedding party photos? 

Assembling Your Attendants: How to Choose the Right Wedding Party for Your Big Day

Today’s LoveintheD post is a guest post from wedding blogger Jessica Socheski!

Picking the right people to be in your wedding party can result in a lot of drama and confusion. Many brides and grooms have questions about how to walk through the process and whom they should choose. Here are some important tips for finding the perfect family and friends to stand beside you at the altar.

How Many Should You Have?
One of the most frequently pondered questions when it comes to wedding parties is how to choose the right number. Fortunately, there is no magic combination to select. That choice is up to the couple alone. But there are some basic guidelines to help.

Balancing attendants can be done with a ratio of between 35 and 50 guests for every 1 bridesmaid. However, brides and grooms are free to pick a large or small wedding party, regardless of the guest list.

Another common concern is whether or not an even number of bridesmaids and groomsmen must be attained. While it can look nice to have at least similar numbers on each side of the altar, the best rule to follow is to have only those family and friends who you want by your side. This might mean a slightly lopsided look, but that is much better than asking an acquaintance to stand up with you just because he or she is the right height and an extra body.

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Bridemen and Groomsmaids?
Many couples simply want their attendants to be the people they are closest to, the people who will stand in support of their marriage for many years to come. And sometimes, this means having attendants of both genders.

Mixed gender bridal parties and groom’s ladies with the groomsmen have become a growing trend as couples challenge the tradition of gals on one side and guys on the other. Despite families who raise their eyebrows or chuckle at these mixed wedding parties, the idea has really caught on because it allows a groom’s sister to stand up with him or a bride’s best guy friend to support her.

Of course, taking this unconventional route will involve some important decisions. For instance, are both the bride and groom comfortable with her best guy friend going to the bachelorette party and helping her get ready on the morning of the wedding? There is also a question of costume. Should your groom’s lady find a dress that matches the other groomsmen’s suites, or should she wear a pant suit herself? There is really no right or wrong answer. All these decisions are ultimately up to the couple and their attendants.

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Furry Attendants
While we’re on the subject of alternative attendants, what about the four-legged kind? Many couples decide to include their canine or feline best friend as a part of the ceremony or during some other point of the big day. Some couples choose to incorporate their cats or dogs as a part of their wedding. The bride and groom can take a picture with their cat companion, and their dog can wear a bowtie while walking down the isle.

Many weddings also invite equine friends. A bride can take beautiful dress pictures on her horse or the couple can ride in a getaway carriage to the reception.

But before you tie the rings to Fido’s collar, make sure that your special pet is well trained and won’t be flustered by the excitement of the ceremony and many guests.

Saying Thanks
When it is all said and done, you and your fiancé will hopefully have assembled the perfect group of family and close friends that will be there throughout the engagement and through the rest of your lives together. Now comes the fun part of picking out the perfect gifts to show your appreciation for all their love and support.

Cool groomsmen gifts and bridal party presents don’t have to cost arm and a leg. However, they should be thoughtful tokens that take into account that your best gals and guys have purchased outfits and shoes for the day as well hosted a bridal shower, bachelor and bachelorette parties and perhaps even traveled from out of town for the occasion.