Sunflowers, Lavender, and Lemon Cake

Like so many exciting events, weddings have a way of seeming very far off until, all of a sudden, they are right on top of you. We were working towards the wedding for more than a year: planning, ordering things, sending invitations, figuring out the food and the cake, making the dress, but all of that seemed relatively leisurely, while the wedding was a sort of theoretical goal that would never actually arrive.

And then of course, out of nowhere, there was a week to go, and it was time to think about packing. We got married in Northern Michigan, on my parents’ property between Charlevoix and Petoskey.

Brandon and I drove up from Louisville five days before the wedding, and the wedding excitement started the moment we arrived, and didn’t stop until it was over. The first thing we got to see when my dad got home from work was this beautiful handmade arbor, which was still in his workshop, waiting to be moved to the ceremony location.

All photos by Stacie Lech/Lara Van Horn unless otherwise noted.

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The top bars have beautiful floral cutouts as well as the leaves up the sides. We can’t wait until we have our own house, so that we can find somewhere to set it up and grow flowers on it!

There was something to be done every moment for the next few days, including finishing the beading on my dress, which I managed on Thursday (the wedding was Saturday). Luckily, the property was chock-full of aunts, uncles, parents, siblings, and friends to help make everything happen.

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The lavender everywhere was grown by my Aunt Sandi. She brought nearly sixty bundles of it for us to use, and so we used it wherever we could! Can you think of a better scent memory to have of your wedding? I absolutely loved her idea of decorating the card cage with it!

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The tables were set with mis-matched china that we’ve been collecting at estate sales and thrift stores for the past year.

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My Aunt Robin used to be a florist, and we rather took advantage of her–she rose to the challenge beautifully, using flowers from grown by my mom and Aunt Sandi, and other flowers and greenery from around the property to make centerpieces, my bouquet, and decorate the arbor. Uncles Mark and Enn were put in charge of making the log slices.
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Cedar, lavender, and zinnias down the head table so that taller bouquets didn’t get in the way.
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The favors were little jars of tea from Bingley’s Teas. Julia doesn’t make this blend anymore (Sweet Romance–black tea with marzipan and roses), but she was willing to put together three pounds of it for us because I was so sad when I found out they were discontinuing it!
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My mom carved the stamp for us to use on the favor tags. We also used it on the programs.
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Melissa helping to set up the cocktail table–we had three signature cocktails, one picked by us (Lavender Earl Grey Lemonade), one by our friends Brian and Amy (Mint Julep), and one by Melissa and Sam (Seelbach). The teacups from all our mismatched china were used as cocktail glasses! All of the cocktails were delicious–ours went perfectly with the decor (and our love of tea), and the others were great representations of our home in Louisville! Photo by me.

I was mostly involved with decorating, and running back and forth making sure things were running smoothly for everyone, but in the meantime:

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It was a lemon cake with vanilla buttercream frosting. Each tier was filled with a different buttercream flavor: raspberry at the top, lavender in the middle, and strawberry in the bottom. I’m pretty sure I could eat it every day. My only regret is that I was too busy with all the excitement to eat more than one piece!
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My friend and former boss, Bradford Lewis, did the catering, and he prepared most of the Sicilian-inspired menu in my parent’s own kitchen with the help of my siblings and several aunts and uncles, as well as a few of his own helpers.
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The ceremony was behind my parents pond. We walked down this lavender-scattered aisle to get to the dais.
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Instead of rice, the guests got packets of wildflower seed to throw.
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We opened up one of the fields for camping to make the trip a bit easier for people who were traveling.

I spend the morning of the wedding running around until my friends had to drag me off to get ready (I’m not good at stopping when there are still things to be done).

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My friend Melissa making sure the important things get done.

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The shoes are from American Duchess–I can’t wait to work them into my 1920s interpretation now that the wedding is over!
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Robin showing me the bouquet.

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My coworker Hannah jumped in on my hair.
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My sister, Petra, getting the hang of the button hook while my mom watches.

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Melissa and Hannah sat me down and made me stop trying to do things myself.

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In the mean time, the boys were up at the house on the top of the hill (my Uncle Mark lives at the bottom, my grandparents lived at the top, and we’re in the middle).

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Sam jumped in on cocktails when I realized I had given myself waaaaay too much to do. And a good thing too, since he probably did way better than I would have done.
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I think my mom’s favorite thing about Brandon is how much he loves all of the fun socks she carries at Somebody’s Gallery.
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My sister put in a valiant effort to help my dad with his bowtie, but in the end we sent him up to the experts.
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Our dear friend (and officiant) Brian, Brandon’s dad, and Brandon. They insist that they don’t know what they were looking at.

Since Brandon and I had no wedding parties, and walked down the aisle together, we met up beforehand in a tent out of sight of the ceremony.

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My parents and my sister waking me to the tent.

The whole wedding day was such a blend of private moments and public moments. I’ve been backstage for plenty of shows, but there’s nothing quite like this one.

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Here she comes to save the day! In all the excitement, Melissa was the only one who noticed I’d left my bouquet behind!

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We are currently waiting behind some trees for everyone to arrive and get settled, and for Brian to cue the music change.
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Brian heading off to get things rolling.
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The music was performed by family friends Gretchen VanLoozen on the harp and Linda Hammond on flute. They played while the guests were arriving, and for the processional (Give Me Your Hand), and the recessional (Haste to the Wedding).
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Any minute now.

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The ceremony was quick, but absolutely perfect. Brian couldn’t have done a better job with what he said, and with organizing everything so it flowed nicely.

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Sadly, you can’t see Peppa (my parent’s dog) in the pictures when we’re walking up the aisle. She saw us coming and promptly stood up and walked down the aisle in front of us, then sat down like she’d been trained to do it.

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Everyone else headed over to the reception tent to get things started while we took photographs.

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There were grasshoppers everywhere! Including inside the lace on the godets of my dress! We were very careful in removing them, since accidentally squashing them sounded like bad luck.

After that, we got to join everyone else for cocktail hour!

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I think this is the Lavender Earl Grey Lemonade (lemonade made with a lavender earl grey tea made in Louisville, and spiked with vodka). Photo by Meredith Stein.
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Us with my grandma’s sister. My grandmother died in January, and it was very important to Aunt Barbara, and to me, that she was able to be there representing her.

Getting to the reception was so much fun. Every time I turned around, there was another one of my favorite people!

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The finished cake! It turned out as gorgeous as it was delicious.
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The whole new family! Once again, Peppa the Wonder Dog just wandered up and posed perfectly at exactly the right moment. Except that she seems to think that she’s Brandon’s dad’s dog now.

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Brian called everyone to attention at the start of toasting time.

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So many happy people that I love!

And after toasts, of course it’s time for food!

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Everything was so delicious! Instead of putting things in chaffing dishes, the caterers were bringing out fresh platters all dinner so that everything was perfect no matter when you were grabbing it.

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I would like to go back here please.

One of my favorite parts of the evening: some family friends brought a broom for us to jump over!

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Brandon got some serious air.
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I was so afraid I wouldn’t make it, but here we are, safe and sound!
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My friend Amy helping to hike up my dress for dancing!
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Peppa guarding the tent.
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Our first dance was to “Rags to Riches”

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From there, it was an evening of dancing!

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And there was cake, of course!

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And more dancing:

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We even snuck off with the photographer when the light got really beautiful.

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All in all, I wouldn’t change a thing. Almost every aspect of the wedding was done by someone close to us. We are so lucky to be loved by such giving and talented people. I couldn’t have been happier to spend the day surrounded by the people I love having a good time.

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