[real wedding] Christyn and Ismael’s Detroit wedding

Christyn and Ismael planned their Detroit wedding with almost 200 guests in just five weeks! How in the world did they do that? Read on to find out about their June 2012 wedding at two beautiful Catholic churches in the city. Enjoy the images by Tessa Bird Photography!

Christyn said that getting married in Detroit was a no-brainer: “We couldn’t imagine getting married anywhere else.  We met here, we live here, we go to church here, we work here, we play here. This is home. Ismael and I met next door to St. Anne’s over 13 years ago.   It was as if we were coming full circle.”

Christyn_Ismael churchescombined

Christyn_Ismael laughing

Christyn_Ismael hair

Venues: Ceremony at St. Leo’s Catholic Church  / Reception at St. Anne’s Catholic Church Hall
Rehearsal Dinner: Polish Village Café
Catering: Canapé Cart   http://www.canapecart.com/
Cake: Supreme Bakery, 5401 Proctor St, Detroit, MI 48210
Flowers: Eastern Market (centerpieces) and friend of family (bouquet/corsage)
Favors:  Made by Ismael
Music: Ceremony – Coleman Ward (Detroit School of Performing Arts) & Suzanne Camino / DJ – Dexter Dubois
Photographer: Tessa Bird Photography
Makeup: Rita Leigl of Green Room Spa
Hair: Ezelli Salon http://ezellisalon.mobi/
Event Planner: Melinda Anderson of Swoon Rental and MeMe Designs
Invitations: Artist Loralei Byatt
Linens: Lyndsey’s Linen

Christyn_Ismael church inside

Christyn_Ismael flowergirls

How did you incorporate Detroit into your wedding?

We probably were a bit more limited or should we say, flexible, since we planned the wedding in 5 weeks! Not a shotgun wedding…just making sure our VIPs were in the country to attend. Looking back, that seems unbelievable, but it turned out perfectly….at least in our eyes.  We had just under 200 people and were so glad to have them share in our Detroit wedding.

With the short notice we didn’t get to prepare for our out of town guests as much as we would have liked but we had a few opportunities to show off the city. We were able to secure rooms at a hotel on the riverwalk, which gave guests a great place to walk and view the city. We had our rehearsal dinner at Polish Village Café, I hear the wedding after party was at Green Dot Stables just a couple blocks from the hall… although we didn’t make it! And our Green Acres home was open the day after for our out of town guests.

Christyn_Ismael hugging guest

Christyn_Ismael embrace

Christyn_Ismael walking

What socially or environmentally conscious choices did you make during the wedding planning process?

The hall we used was completely bare bones, so we found a caterer that could really work with us to brainstorm. This gave us the benefit of taking home food.  I’m not so sure the take out containers were eco-friendly, but the food did not go to waste! We had out of town guests over to our house the day after, so that was helpful.

Ismael created favors from recycled pop and beer caps.  He punched out sayings with the date imposed over the invitation background, making a magnet that was placed at each place setting.

We’ve always admired our friend and artist Loralei Byatt’s photography. She was generous to work with us to design our invitation with an image of a bright purple flower, Spiderwort (!), from her garden.

What was your favorite moment of the wedding?

Standing on the altar with Ismael by my side and all our friends and family there with us. We could not stop smiling.

The music. We both love music and dancing, so everything from Brenda Fassie as we entered, Sade as our first dance, the father-daughter waltz, or the last song – Fedde Le Grand’s Put Your Hands Up For Detroit…..I love this city!!  They all made the day memorable!

Hearing our guests say: “It was like an old fashioned wedding!” “…The best wedding food we’ve ever had!” and “You both never stopped smiling!” Perfect!

Christyn_Ismael combined cake bouquet magnets

Christyn_Ismael outside church

Christyn_Ismael sitting

What words of advice do you have for those planning their own Detroit weddings?

Look for nontraditional spaces: There is a wide range of options for weddings in Detroit – something to suit every budget. While there are plenty of beautiful hotels and conference halls, there are also many museums, church halls, public buildings, parks, galleries, and random spaces that could host your wedding.

Don’t break the bank: There are options. Short notice gives you great negotiating ability.  We bought all our own liquor and drinks. We skipped a large wedding party and had opted for flowers bought the morning of the wedding at Eastern Market.

Get off of Pinterest. Kidding! A little. It stressed me out.

Wedding photography by Tracy & Riva

Ready for some more awesome Detroit wedding photography??

I met Tracy Grosshans & Riva Sayegh-McCullen when I was meeting a lot of wedding photographers in the area a year before my own wedding. Riva Sayegh resides in the beautiful Green Acres neighborhood of Detroit. Tracy and Riva are fun women to get to know … And I loved discovering last year via Facebook that they photographed one of my family friend’s wedding! Scroll down to check out some of Tracy & Riva’s lovely photographs of recent Detroit weddings and see more here!





What inspired you to get into wedding photography?

Wedding photography combines so many elements that we both love. Working with people, especially experiencing this awesome day with them, is an amazing experience! But photographically, it is an exciting challenge that combines portraiture, photojournalism, still-life/ details and action all in a very deadline oriented and short timeframe kind of day. We work really well together, bouncing ideas off the other person all day, and balancing all of the elements together. It’s a fast-paced and thrilling day!

Describe your photography style or approach.

We really love to capture the day as it happens, and not get in the way of what is happening. We are photojournalistic, but we are also in control of the action. When we take the couple’s portraits, we want to really reflect their personalities. We take stylish and timeless photos that we hope really capture the memories that they want from that day.




Tell us about how it came to be that you live in Detroit. What do you love about Detroit?

While Tracy has an amazingly restored 19th century farmhouse in Ypsilanti, I live right here in the city. My husband and I bought our house in Greenacres-Woodward nearly 6 years ago. We really wanted to invest in the city and contribute to its growth and energy. We believe in Detroit. We love Greenacres because of its beautiful historic architecture, huge trees and lush foliage (hence the name of the neighborhood!), diversity of people, and very involved community. The people here are awesome, and we have many friends in the neighborhood, young and old, black and white, everything in between, that not only care about the city and the neighborhood. We all are actively involved in promoting the success of the city in so many ways.

What are your three favorite Detroit wedding venues to photograph? 

Many of our favorites are on Belle Isle- the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and Gardens, Belle Isle Casino, and The Detroit Yacht Club. The Rattlesnake Club is a favorite of ours, the Colony Club is lovely, as are the dozens of historic and architecturally beautiful churches in Detroit.






What are your three favorite Detroit spots for engagement (or anniversary) photos?

Of course Belle Isle, Dequindre Cut, Eastern Market, and my new favorite Palmer Park! Close to home, it has lush woods and a historic log cabin, amazing fountain, a pond and lighthouse. You can see deer there if you are very quiet!

Any predictions for Detroit wedding trends in 2013?

There is definitely a DIY spirit in our Detroit couples. I think whatever the style of the wedding, it’s always so much more exciting when the couple and their friends and family have an active role in the aesthetics and planning of the details. It’s obvious when the details don’t look like they came straight out of a magazine- that they really reflect the couple’s personalities and tastes!



If you could give one piece of advice to Detroit brides & grooms who are trying to choose a wedding photographer, what would it be?

Photographers are really the only vendor you choose for your wedding that you spend nearly the entire day with. You not only want a team of talented photographers that can capture your wedding in a timeless and beautiful way, but you want to have a great experience! Meet with your photographers in person, talk to them and see if they are a good fit- aesthetically, personally, and professionally. We always walk away from our weddings feeling like we made new friends, and we think our couples feel that way as well!


[real wedding] SiRui and Jesse’s Gem Theatre wedding

I am excited to share SiRui and Jesse’s Gem Theatre wedding from September 2012. I met SiRui a few years ago through a mutual friend and remember when she asked about the best spots in Detroit for engagement photos. It’s a good thing when folks living outside the city ask questions out of a genuine desire for answers and local knowledge. Check out the lovely images by Special Moments below.

…And how much do you love SiRui’s red gown??

SiRui_Jesse RenCen

SiRui_Jesse invitation

SiRui_Jesse dress with detroit

SiRui_Jesse bride and mom

Tell me about your love for Detroit.

We really enjoy the times we’ve spent in Detroit. It’s a fun and friendly city with a tragic beauty about it.  It’s rich in history and potential.  Jesse and I picked the Gem Theatre in Detroit because we wanted somewhere memorable for our wedding, not just some generic banquet hall.


SiRui_Jesse Fisher Building2

Venue: The Gem Theatre
Photographer: Special Moments 
Gown: Designed by Moonlight Bridal, purchased at B-Ella Bridal
Jewelry: Reaver Diamond Company
Flowers: Bill Hamilton Designs (LGBT-owned)
Cake: Mid East Bakery 
Music/Video: Mike Staff Productions 
Makeup & Hair: Imagine Three
Wedding coordinator: Luna Soiree 
Officiant: Lindsey Anderson (Detroit)
Guest accomodations: Marriott in Renaissance Center


SiRui_Jesse namecards


How did you incorporate Detroit into your wedding? What socially or environmentally conscious choices did you make during the wedding planning process?

Our theme for the guest welcome bags in the hotel was “Favorite things from Michigan.” We included Better Made potato chips, tortilla chips from the Ann Arbor Tortilla Factory, Faygo, chocolate-covered cherries from Cherry Republic and caramel corn from Kilwins. Even the welcome card was from the printer Gwen Frostic.
We are big supporters of marriage equality.  Our guests name cards were done in different colors and arranged like a rainbow.  Many of our friend identify themselves as “bears” we had custom-made bear cake toppers.

SiRui_Jesse firstdance

What was your favorite moment of the wedding?

My favorite moment of the wedding was walking down the aisle. My Dad was incredibly supportive. It really meant a lot to me! Also when we were introduced as newlyweds at the reception.


What words of advice do you have for those planning their own Detroit weddings?

Definitely go visit the places that you may be interested in for your wedding. While you’re there find somewhere that’s not wedding related to explore. It keeps you sane by creating a date like moment with you and your future spouse. Also there are lots of amazing things happening in Detroit that if you don’t live in the city you get a chance to be a part of.


R&R: Jewelry by Sparklegarden …reused and reinvented

Are you a jewelry lover? If so, this post is for you!

Mavis Farr-Smentkowski is a Detroit resident whose jewelry and metalsmithing studio is located in Southwest Detroit. If you are a bride or groom looking for some locally-made, environmentally friendly jewelry for your wedding day or for bridesmaid/groomsmen gifts, check out her company, Sparklegarden, on Etsy! One of my favorite things I learned about Sparklegarden is that Mavis can create custom cufflinks or guitar picks for you!

Check out these adorable bridal earrings….

Smitten pearl sterling moonstone bridal earrings

How did you get into metalsmithing and jewelry?

After a lifelong fascination with both tools and jewelry, I officially got into metalsmithing  in 2006. I’m trained as a painter, but my attention span shifted when my daughter was born. I found it more fulfilling to express myself with a medium I could literally and figuratively pick up and put down many times while completing. My goal is to provide high quality affordable future heirlooms with a streak of sass and a lot of heart. The majority of my work is custom, with the customer choosing the stones, and the personalized stamping. What I love about making jewelry and gifts for people is that I get to give folks a means to express themselves in a lasting way.

I understand you use recycled silver and other metals. Can you tell me more about that process? Where do you find your metal sources and how did you decide to go this route?

Up to 10 percent of the world’s energy consumption comes from the mining of precious metal, with most mining currently happening in open pit mines. Pit mines are often created by blasting beautiful natural areas and using chemicals like cyanide to extract the metals. Without getting too political, I’d like to point out that there is an alternative which is using, reusing, and reinventing our current supply.

When creating my jewelry, I upcycle vintage tea tins and other elements to give them a new life. I purchase my sterling, fine silver, gold and copper from a certified “green” wholesaler. When I can, I locally source copper and bronze to use again.


Sparklegarden_twoThe guitar pick above makes me wish I hadn’t passed up that $20 guitar at the Lafayette Park neighborhood yard sale a few years ago…

How did you come to live in Detroit? Why Detroit for your studio space?

I grew up near Detroit, and my family has deep roots here. After a long stint (20 years) in the Lake Superior bioregion, my husband and I decided on an urban pioneering adventure. We packed up our daughter and our hound dog last summer and headed back to the Motor City. Detroit is the perfect place for creative people who don’t mind rolling up their sleeves and making things happen.

How would you describe the style of the bride or groom who might shop at Sparklegarden for customizable jewelry?

My typical wedding client is someone who wants a unique personalized gift at a great value. A lot of my customers choose my work because of my quick turnaround time, and use of recycled precious metals. The styles range anywhere from classic pearls and gold to boho eco chic to punk rock Audrey Hepburn.

bridesmaid gifts

customizable silver necklace

Is there any advice you would like to share with newly engaged brides or grooms in Detroit on finding the right accessories and wedding party gifts?

My best advice is to take your time. Breathe deep. And shop local.


Six word stories, wedding style

Have you noticed the growing fascination with six word stories? 

I first discovered six word memoirs on Colored Girl Confidential. The current theme semester at the University of Michigan is “Understanding Race” and a few weeks ago the University launched its campus portion of Michele Norris’ “The Race Card Project.” University of Michigan students, faculty and alumni are sending in six word stories about race, ethnicity and identity.

Where does this idea of six word stories come from?

Ernest Hemingway reportedly wrote the original six word short story: “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” He wrote the story to win a bet that he could write a story in six words that could make people cry.

A few weeks ago, I tweeted my own six word memoir to CG Confidential:


I recently thought to myself, wouldn’t it be cool if people developed six word stories about their weddings, before their weddings even took place? Maybe it could be a way to express your vision or theme for your wedding. You could post it on your wedding website. You could ask your wedding guests to suggest six word short stories about you and your partner through your wedding website and then use those stories at the reception in place of table numbers. Or – this may have been done already – what about a wedding twitter feed with six word stories?

Our wedding six word story would have been something like:




Steph_Sean bubble tea
Photo credit: Orris Photography

What would be your wedding six word story?

[real wedding] Ashley & Raimi’s wedding at the Wright Museum!

Have you ever seen a photograph that captured happiness so simply, so clearly?

If you look at even just one of the photos below taken by photojournalist Marcus Parham, you will realize that Ashley Whitfield and Prof. Raimi Gbadamosi had a blast at their December 2012 wedding at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History! Ashley and Raimi met when they were involved in social justice issues in London. She’s a youth worker and curator; he’s an artist.

Ashley and I met during college at the University of Michigan. Doesn’t she look radiant? I love that Riana, one of the bridesmaids and another college friend, was a flower maiden! :-)

Ashley_Raimi ceiling

Tell me about your love for Detroit.

I have an affinity for Detroit for many reasons. It has helped to raise my community – some of my most dear family and friends. Detroit is a center for radical histories and contemporary social justice struggles. And I love the culture that seeps through it all from gator shoes to Dilla!

Ashley_Raimi groom pic

Ashley_Raimi candle_favors

Ashley_Raimi couple

Ashley_Raimi bridesmaids_Riana

The details

Venue: Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History 
Photographer: Marcus Parham, photojournalist
Gown: Runaway Bride budget friendly sample dress store
Catering: Jackson’s Five Star Catering
Cake: Holiday Market, plus a dessert table with peach cobbler and cheesecake
Flowers: Goodness Gracious Flowers
Favors: Art pieces created by the groom!
DJ: DJ Sicari
Ring: Sculpted by Mark Woods

Make-up: Shalonda A
Hair: Meatta B
Officiant: Hon. William G. Lipscomb, Jr (Ashley’s uncle)

Ashley_Raimi ceremony

Ashley_Raimi couple1

How did you incorporate Detroit into your wedding?

I was fortunate to have my wedding at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History a national but also local gem. The Wright Museum is an essential part of Detroit’s landscape. Also, I requested a set of some of my all time favorite music: Detroit Ghetto Techno (DJ Snowflake & DJ Assault). Finally, our lovely guests were some of my favorite Detroiters.

What socially or environmentally conscious choices did you make during the wedding planning process?

I was determined to stick to a modest budget. We donated flowers to a nursing home after the wedding. I felt uncomfortable with the history of certain “traditional” wedding elements such as the wedding veil, so I did not wear a veil, toss a bouquet or have my groom find a garter belt! All accessories (except my shoes) were family heirlooms: my mother’s headpiece and great-grandmother’s earrings. Finally, I asked my friends to select their own dresses.

Ashley_Raimi bride laughing

Ashley_Raimi bride and bridesmaids

What was your favorite moment of the wedding?

My four favorite moments were: (1) Dancing with lifelong friends to some of my all time favorite music: Detroit Ghetto Techno! (2) Seeing one of my best buddies, Riana Anderson, walking down the aisle as the flower maiden (she always teased about wanting to be a flower girl). (3) Our first dance to Wayne Shorter’s Bachianas Brasileiras No.5 from the album Alegria. (4) Being ‘sprayed’ with money, a fun Nigerian custom.

Ashley_Raimi cake

Ashley_Raimi first dance

Ashley_Raimi dancing

Ashley_Raimi embrace

What words of advice do you have for those planning their own Detroit weddings? 

Relax and enjoy the process. Allow space for the incidental. Many of my most memorable details emerged organically!

How to cleverly plan a Detroit wedding (Interview with Lynn Jovick)

Lynn Jovick is the Designer and Owner of Clever Bumblebee Creations. She is also on the board of directors for the Scarab Club, which was Mahima and Shane’s wedding venue in Detroit! I was thrilled to connect with Lynn through Mahima and Shane.

Lynn has a wealth of knowledge and experience planning weddings in Detroit, and we sat down to chat about weddings in Detroit! I love hearing people express how they became passionate about their “work.” It was amazing to see Lynn’s face light up when talking about the details of wedding design as we excitedly shared our love for all things wedding-related over coffee! I am also grateful for her ideas and advice for LoveintheD.

Check out the interview and photos (all taken by Lynn, except the first one, which was taken by a wedding guest)!

Scarab Club outside ceremony

What inspired you to get into the wedding/event business and how long have you been doing it?
I’ve been fully involved in the wedding planning and production industry for the past seven years. Being an interior designer in the years prior, clients would always ask me for my opinion on event and party design. Then I decided to take a floral design class and I was hooked! I loved working with the color and texture of flowers and it all came very naturally to me. My customer service background only complemented that talent if you can say that. And I love, love, love to see the outcome and final project unveiling, if you will. It’s like a work of art to me.

What is your favorite thing about wedding planning?
My favorite part of the wedding planning process is first, the consultation – brainstorming with the client about their special event, and coming up with a plan. And second, seeing it all come together and the look on the brides face when she sees her bouquet!

Cleverbumblebee photogrid

What is your biggest lesson learned about wedding planning?

I am not sure if this is a lesson, but something I feel strongly about. A budget is a budget, and any budget can be achieved honestly. You don’t have to oversell to a client to make their dream a reality, although a little convincing and a lot of experience with ideas is always a plus.

What do you love most about weddings in Detroit?
Having a wedding in Detroit proper opens so many doors to options: unique places, historic landmarks, diamonds in the rough, beautiful seasonal scenery, which yields wonderful memories, and amazing photography. One piece of advice: Don’t skimp on the photography!

Clever Bumblebee gourds

Any predictions for Detroit wedding trends in 2013?
More and more couples are becoming aware of the uniqueness and value of having a wedding in the city proper. I see that “trend,” if you will, becoming more apparent. Most couples getting married today are excited about bringing a historical twist to their event, be it an old family church, a favorite place to hang out, or something unique about the city to show their guests. Detroit has so much to offer in that sense. We have it all in the palm of our hand. For many couples, having a wedding in one of Detroit’s historic areas brings community and family back together to embrace the values of knowing your history and your families’ humble beginnings.

If you could give one piece of advice to Detroit brides & grooms who are just starting out in the wedding planning process, what would it be?
My advice to all my couples is to remember that your wedding is about you and sharing your interests and lives with your family and friends! This ties in to another “trend” in wedding planning: Most of my couples are in the position of paying for their own wedding. There are very few parental “handouts” anymore. Not that they shouldn’t have an influence on your day, but there are ways to incorporate both the old and the new. In fact, I encourage it! So this is your chance to throw the biggest party of your lives to date. I encourage you to share your families’ interests in subtle ways, and make you day uniquely yours. Your wedding day is a day that will be talked about for years to come.

Thank you, Lynn!

Readers: Any aspiring wedding planners out there? What do you love most about planning and design?