The Dearborn Michigan wedding of Kristen and Luke at the Henry Ford Museum has seriously been one of my favorite weddings to shoot to date. Not only are they one of the sweetest couples to work with along with their bridal party and family, they really trusted me and my team to take amazing photos of their day which lead to some great images! Which if you’ve ever been to The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village you know it’s going to be beautiful!
I let them do the talking below on how they went about planning their wedding and tips/tricks they have for other couples. But I will add this, as a wedding photographer it is so important for couples to be open and willing to hear us out. What I loved about Kristen and Luke as prior to their wedding, we did a site walkthrough. I don’t do them often, but they actually hadn’t been inside Greenfield Village for a while, and wanted to know my thoughts on lighting and where we could get the best photos since we had such a short window between the ceremony and reception. I felt like a little bit of a Greenfield Village tour guide, but I provided three options that I thought would make for great photos based on the timing of day. With a place as beautiful and historic is Greenfield Village it’s really hard to zero in on just a few spots, but we wanted to make the best use of our time, and ensure that we could get the images they wanted.
What made you choose The Henry Ford Museum to get married?
A lot of things! Luke and his family are from Pennsylvania, we met at Penn State, and my family has moved around a lot! For this reason, over half of our guests were traveling from out of town to attend the wedding. We thought this was a perfect time to showcase a huge part of Southeast Michigan history! Whether a guest was from California, Germany, or New Jersey, we knew they would enjoy their time at the museum. Also, the ceremony took place in the Pennsylvania Courtyard and one of the entranceways is an exact replica of Independence Hall (hello, Luke’s PA ties!). Additionally, we loved the idea of our guests having options. If someone needs a break from dancing, they can go just a few steps away from the action and see the Rosa Parks bus or the presidential limos. I mean, how cool is that?! And, let’s be honest, those marble archways and extravagant chandeliers are just way too beautiful to pass up.
Did you do a first look? (I know this answer but I like it when it comes from your perspective as to why you didn’t)
Luke – No, we did not do a first look. I was a little stubborn about this one. It seemed like no matter how much planning we did, or how many lead up celebrations there were (showers, parties, etc.) the wedding didn’t feel real. Even the day of, it kind of seemed like it wasn’t happening to me. We had been together for 7+ years at that point as well, which made it feel like there wasn’t much that would change between the two of us after the wedding. But I knew that it would all feel real when I saw her standing at the end of the aisle. That would be the first time I’d see her as my wife. The image of the doors opening at the ceremony and her standing under the arches in the courtyard will forever be burned into my memory and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
What did it feel like the first time you saw each other on your wedding day?
Kristen – It just felt right. I have always been very nervous while public speaking or even just being in front of a crowd, so I was worried I would struggle during the ceremony, but it could not have been more opposite. As soon as I looked Luke in the eyes, I instantly felt calm. I just couldn’t stop smiling! Standing in that beautiful courtyard, surrounded by those who matter most to us while we reaffirmed our love after 7.5 years together, felt comfortable. It seemed like we were right where we were meant to be. It didn’t hurt that he also looked very handsome 🙂
Luke – It felt oddly calm. I wouldn’t say I was nervous throughout the day. More anxious than anything else. I didn’t really know how I’d respond when I saw her, but calm wasn’t really what I expected. Even though 186 of our closest friends and family were watching us, it just kind of felt like it was only us there.
What was your most memorable moment that day?
This one is tough because the day really does go by in a blur. We realized when we were answering these separately that we both have the same answer to this one! Our most memorable moment was definitely the carriage ride into Greenfield Village. This was the first (and maybe only) moment of complete calm that day. It was just us and our best friends, some champagne, and a beautiful sunset. The feeling of “Well that just happened.” really hit us both for the first time while we were in that carriage, surrounded by the best bridal party in the world, and we had that time to just sit together and take it all in before diving into the whirlwind of the reception.
What was the biggest challenge in planning your wedding?
The hardest part was probably pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones. Whether it was cheesing for the camera during engagement photos, asking our friends to spend their hard-earned money on dresses, tuxes and traveling to wedding events, or sticking up for small things we wanted, being a bride and groom can put you a strange little bubble and neither one of us loves being the center of attention.
What was your best source for finding vendors that you wanted to work with?
Word of mouth. Most vendors we chose were through people we knew who had worked with the vendor in the past or through personal connections. Every single one of our vendors was incredibly easy to work with and fantastic at their craft! And it sounds silly, but one thing that was really important to us was that they are nice people. Although all of our vendors are exceptionally talented, we actually valued the connection we made with them and their personalities more than their years of experience in the industry or high-powered connections. We are so grateful for their guidance and expertise in helping to make our day so wonderful!
Any advice to newly engaged couples?
Kristen – Don’t assume that only one of you can be involved in the process! From the beginning, we knew this was going to be a team effort. We have been together a long time and know what works for us as a couple. I can be very indecisive, so I really trust and value Luke’s judgment. At times it felt like people put all of the pressure on me as the bride to make all of the decisions, but that’s just not how our dynamic works. If you want to work together, do it, and don’t let people tell you otherwise. It is not just the bride’s day – it is the couple’s day!
Luke – Try to distribute the workload. It never really felt like we were drowning in wedding planning Granted, we had a 20-month engagement, but there’s only so much you can do far out from your date. On the other hand, some things just have to wait until the last minute (like tracking RSVPs and making a seating chart). If you don’t procrastinate early, it will make the end much less stressful. Also, don’t be a passive groom and don’t listen if anyone gives you a hard time for being involved.
Both: Don’t sweat the small stuff! Throughout planning, we continuously reminded ourselves that there was no single detail of one day that could ruin our love for each other and the life we have ahead of us. Whether it’s rain, a ripped dress, or a vendor no-show, we knew we could get through it! We were given this incredible opportunity to celebrate our love with all of our favorite people and there was no small detail that could take that away!
Did you Honeymoon? If so, where?
We spent 12 days island hopping in Greece! We took a catamaran tour around Santorini, hiked to Oia, drank wine and watched the sunset, snorkeled in the Aegean Sea, ate about 100 pounds of feta cheese, and sunbathed on the beaches of Crete. It was truly incredible and the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation.
Planning: N/A (Huge shout out to Kristen’s mom for all her help!)
Invitations: Jen’s Invites
Hair & Makeup: Detroit Glam
Florist: Blumz By JRDesigns
Baker: Ellen’s Bakery & Cafe
DJ/Band: Bee Entertainment
Videography: Bryce Thomas Media
Photography: Mallory Tahy Photography
Wedding Dress: L’Amour Bridal