College sweethearts Lauren Astry and Mark Sorensen dated for nearly seven years before getting engaged, so Mark made sure to make the moment extra special. Says Lauren, "Mark proposed to me on August 9th, 2014—which is both my parents' and grandparents' wedding anniversary!"
The couple has a soft spot in their hearts for Northern Michigan, and wanted to give their guests a feel for the natural beauty, rustic vibe, and relaxed atmosphere. The bride fell in love with Crouse Chapel, and was lucky enough to snag one of the few wedding dates they make available to the public each year. The selected the nearby Inn at Bay Harbor provided as the elegant setting for their 150-person reception, which featured breathtaking views of Lake Michigan. On September 26, 2016, Lauren, who handles public relations at Carolina Herrera, walked down the aisle in a custom gown by the designer, then danced the night away (with her new husband!) surrounded by family, friends, and some gorgeous city-meets-lakefront décor by Tableau Events. Take a peek at the photos by Ashbury Fair—and brace yourself for some serious #dressgoals!
The elegant watercolor-inspired invitations were created by A Marcus Group. "We work with them a lot for invitations to Carolina Herrera events, and I adore their work," Lauren says. The invite palette even matched the cottage where the bride got ready—as well as her chic and timeless white Manolos!
Inspired by a gown from the Spring 2015 runway, Lauren worked with the Carolina Herrera team to create a silk faille gown with a boat neck, A-line skirt, and gathered deep-V in the back . "Mrs. Herrera believes details are the most important thing," says the bride. "She put a small pocket inside the gown where I could tuck the penny my mom had carried on her wedding day to symbolize prosperity in marriage, as well as my monogram."
Instead of getting dressed with her bridesmaids, Lauren waited until the very last minute to put on her gown. "The only people who saw me in my dress before I walked down the aisle were my parents and my brother," she says. Talk about an element of surprise!
The couple let the church's inherent beauty speak for itself, leaving the aisle unlined and letting guests focus on the stained glass windows behind the altar. Lauren's father walked her down the aisle, then her brother officiated the couple's vows.
Lauren's timeless gown, sleek updo, and bouquet of David Austin roses were the right fit for the couple's simple venue—and a perfect match for Mark's blue three-piece suit.
"Mrs. Herrera also says every bride should have a touch of drama," Lauren explains. "So the front of my gown was very classic, but the gathered back and reversed belt were unexpected."
Instead of picking a gown for her 'maids, Lauren asked her ladies to choose their own dresses in shades of blue and gray. "The all wore something totally different, but the story was still cohesive," she describes.
Lauren and Mark love to travel and were long-distance for a few years, so their planner recommended incorporating map details throughout the reception. It all started with the seating chart, with guests' table assignments written on a vintage map.
Inside the reception, tables were draped in soft gray linens, then topped with garlands of greenery, pink roses in bud vases, and white taper candles.
Each place setting featured a pewter charger, a sprig of eucalyptus, and a place card tied with silk ribbon. Tables were named after places that are special to the couple, from where they met (East Lansing, MI) to where they've vacationed (Maui), to where their families are from.
Mark and Lauren first danced to "Whatever It Is" by Zac Brown Band before inviting guests onto the dance floor. "Our DJ played everything from top 40 to country to oldies," Lauren says. For the late-night party, the bride changed out of her gown into an extra-special design: Her mother's wedding gown, which had been hand-made by her paternal grandmother. "I had it shortened to tea-length so it would be perfect for dancing," she says of the lace-and-chiffon design.
For dessert, the couple cut into a Lady Baltimore cake (white cake with a fruit-and-nut filling), then invited everyone to visit a dessert table filled with chocolate chip cookies made by Lauren's grandmother, peanut butter balls made by Mark's mom, cupcakes, and Oreos—the bride's favorite!
When the reception ended, those guests still standing headed to nearby Vintage Chophouse and Wine Bar for the after-party. "A wedding guest ordered 20 pizzas for everyone!" Lauren says.
As for planning, Lauren and Mark stress the importance of budgeting. "It's so important to confirm and plan your budget in the beginning," says the bride. "We were lucky enough to have both of our families contributing, but we knew that if we went over, we would be handling the costs." Lauren also emphasizes how crucial it is to keep things in perspective. "You'll have some hard conversations with your families (and each other), whether about money, details, or the guest list. It's important to remember that it's your day, but don't forget that it's just one day and that the day will pass. When it's all said and done, you still want to have great relationships with everyone involved!"
Ceremony Venue: Crouse Memorial Chapel at Bay View Association
Reception Venue: Sagamores at the Inn at Bay Harbor
Wedding Planner: Tableau Events
Invitations and Save-the-Dates: A Marcus Group
Escort Cards, Ceremony Cards, and Menu Cards: Tableau Events
Flowers: Bloom Floral Design
Caterer: The Inn at Bay Harbor
Cake: Wuollets Bakery
Ceremony and Reception Music: Tom Heath and the A+ Three
Transportation: Mackinaw Trolley
Photography: Ashbury Fair