Michigan Lakefront + Journeyman Distillery Wedding Feature

Staying True to You as You Say “I Do”

Photography by Amanda Marie Studio

Almost immediately following the momentous occasion of one person asking for another’s hand in marriage, couples find themselves with many more questions to answer.  Indeed, any bride or groom will agree that the decision to host a wedding is also the decision to make many, many more.

Gillian & Ryan

As weddings are the sum of our choices, then, we want them to be the right ones. With so many things to consider, though, we must not forget that staying true to ourselves should always be one of them.

Photograph courtesy of HMR Designs

In the spirit of making choices that are true reflections of those behind the occasion, join us as we travel back to a breezy late August afternoon under a simply picturesque summer sky, and the wedding of Gillian and Ryan.



When it comes to your many wedding choices, choosing the ‘where’ is one of the first. And if chosen well, helps many of the next decisions to fall effortlessly in line behind.


The scene of many fond memories, including their engagement, Gillian and Ryan decided to host their wedding in Michiana–a destination, noted Wedding Coordinator Tess Davis (Events by Tess), that welcomed their guests out of the city for the weekend, without putting a burden on them to travel too far.

Opting for a beachfront ceremony brought in two elements that immediately enhanced the ambience: nostalgia and nature. See, when weddings happen in places that mean a great deal to the bride and groom, love seems to almost palpably fill the air.


In approaching the ceremony design, Designer John Hensel simply let nature run its course, creating a structure that looked native to the beach: “I made no attempt to contort nature,” says John, “letting everything to lilt naturally from the birch tree structure, and the breezes do their magic.”


Following the chuppah design, John practiced the best (and sometimes hardest) rule of design: restraint. Indeed, no aisle runner could have worked better than the sand below; no backdrop could better match the sunset and sky over the lake. 


The narrowness of the beach that day required that the chairs be very close to the waterline, creating what John described as “an intimacy to the vast space that was truly unmatched.”

Photograph courtesy of HMR Designs

Having the weather gods on their side, the father of the bride’s conclusion says it best: “it couldn’t have been any more perfect if it were a movie.”





Moving from singular waterfront perfection is indeed a tough act to follow. To maintain the easygoing elegance that was both so important to and so representative of Gillian and Ryan, it’s no surprise they chose a venue that shared the same inherently genial, uncomplicated loveliness as the beach.


Warren Hall, located inside the Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, Michigan is a former corset and buggy whip factory, and stands as something of a time capsule. It is perfectly unaltered and unequivocally raw, in the very best sense of the words.


Everything about the room–from the rich wood to the exposed brick and piping to the large windows lining each side of the space–offers a vibe so welcoming, and so comfortable, that as soon as you set foot in it, you seem to forget about the world outside, completely free to simply be where you are.


Tess noted that Gillian and Ryan, as with any thoughtful couple, deeply wanted their wedding to to exude their warm, easygoing energy. 


Choosing the Journeyman allowed for them to achieve exactly that: a wedding that was elegant yet casual, comfortable yet posh, and both charming and sophisticated.


Working together, Tess and John helped the couple express the cheerful hospitality and unstuffy elegance they hoped for through details and design.

The deft inclusion of crystal chandeliers and stranded lights provided a chic yet rustic canopy above farm tables paired with gold Chiavari chairs below. 


Wood tables were topped with wrought iron candle sticks, silver julep cups, soft, neutral flowers with pops of merlot, and textured lighting, all complementing rather than competing with the space.



Everything about the environment seemed to say, come in and be comfortable and happy with us.  “This,” noted John, “ultimately is what the bride and groom were about, and was the central thesis of how the wedding was designed.”













And what a happy, comfortable day it was. As we wish Gillian and Ryan a lifetime of happiness, we also thank them for the wonderful reminder that at the center of the whats and the hows and the whens and the wheres, there is, most importantly the who.


Special thanks to all of our vendor partners who made this beautiful day possible, especially:

Coordination: Events by Tess
Photography: Amanda Marie Studio
Ceremony Venue: Private Beach
Reception Venue: Journeyman Distillery
Videography: Illuminae
Catering: Catering by Michaels
Cake: Amy Beck Cake Design
Late night snack truck: Redamak’s
Gillian’s Dress: Ultimate Bride
Ryan’s Tux: Bonobos