Photo credits: Jeffrey Lewis Bennett
Kendall & Blake came to us from New York City and it was truly a pleasure working with them. Kendall is fun, organized and had a true vision for her wedding weekend. These are three things we LOVE in a client. One thing that made their wedding unique for us was that it was a true destination wedding here at Planterra. There is so much going on in Detroit right now and it was great to be a part of Detroit destination wedding that showcased what our city has to offer. The bride and groom are from NYC and their guests came to us from all over the country. It was such a fantastic celebration and we were so happy to be a part of it. The vibe was all about family and friends celebrating together and Kendall thought of everything to ensure her guests had a wonderful weekend. I asked Kendall to share a bit with us about planning a wedding from across the country and how she came to her vision of truly beautiful wedding. So here goes…
Kendall, how did you and Blake come to the decision to get married in Detroit?
We both have very strong Midwestern roots. Blake was born and raised in Michigan – East Grand Rapids and later Midland; my family has been in Ohio for many years – having moved there from Philadelphia for my father’s work in the news business. We’ve both lived different places – Blake in Chicago and New York, me in Chicago, Montreal, San Francisco and New York – ultimately meeting in New York City, later in life. We have such blended worlds and roots really, yet so many of our elders are in the Midwest. We had no interest in an exotic destination wedding and an NYC wedding felt just too prohibitive. Eventually, we plan to move back to the Midwest and create a home on the water. So, we got excited about sharing OUR heartland with people from both coasts, the south, and abroad. Our focus from the beginning was crafting an experience, mixing worlds and being inclusive and reflective of lots of important people, stories and details over the decades of our lives.
So, where did your guests come from?
We had about 150 guests. They came from the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Connecticut, Nashville, Atlanta, North Carolina, Seattle and all over Midwest. We’ve both kept up with friends since childhood and are very close to our families. This really came through, as the gathering finalized.
Tell us about your wedding weekend. What was on the agenda?
From the beginning, we really connected with David, who got our vision for a representative weekend that showcased the region without making people scramble around (we provided transportation), provided options and was inclusive. He helped us develop great reconnaissance lists. We worked way ahead and checked out all kinds of cool options. In the end, we did things like having two hotel hubs: one in the classic Detroit vein and one in Birmingham – two hotel options for each hub, situated near each other, so that people would have additional opportunities to socialize outside our planned activities. In Detroit, we had the Westin Book Cadillac and also the Detroit Foundation Hotel. In Birmingham, it was the Holiday Inn Express and also The Townsend, where we stayed. Also, love that The Townsend is wonderfully dog friendly!
For anyone who came into town early, we arranged an unofficial outing to hear some jazz at Baker’s. This was a great opportunity for people to start to get to know each other, shake off their travels and get right into the flavor of the region. An easy cab or Lyft from the hotel hubs. There were about 20 of us. Cocktails, decadent comfort food, and head bobbing music. People coming and going over the course of a few hours. It was perfect.
Next, we included everyone in our Friday night social. Our wedding was already unique with very few conventions followed, and this played out on our Friday night plan too. The rehearsal was much earlier in the day, people had the afternoon to explore (we provided a diverse list of things to do), and then we all got together at D’Amato’s in Royal Oak and had an incredible rooftop cocktail party with hearty apps, lots of toasts and again – those worlds coming together. It was almost as large as our wedding reception. Our Sunday brunch was only partly about us – as we focused on a number of milestone birthdays and also Father’s Day. This was at Joe Muer in Bloomfield Hills.
It was clear you wanted your guests to have a special weekend. Can you share a bit about what you were thinking in planning the weekend events?
I got married at 50 and have been to LOTS of weddings, many of them solo over the years. In the spirit of inclusivity – it was really important to us that we didn’t presume this weekend to be the social event of people’s years. We focused on this as a celebration of our romance, among decades of family and friends, with a clear message that we would also be honoring those relationships throughout the weekend. We were careful about how often we communicated, how we managed messaging about RSVPs and to respect that fact that later in life – all our guests have other significant occasions – big birthdays, their own anniversaries, graduations and more. We worked far ahead, were very passionate about our own celebration brewing but respectful of other people’s commitments and contexts. As we got closer to the date, we communicated with the groups staying at the specific hotels, hoping to create excitement about who was staying where, sparking connections and encouraging additional socializing. At every turn, we limited bells, whistles, goodies, tchotchkes, and worked instead to create a warm, elegant, festive environments conducive to celebrating love, talking with each other, enjoying the meal and hearing great music. So, it was about textures, colors, flavors, sounds and not a lot of small distractions. This also really comes through in our incredible photographs taken by Jeffrey Lewis Bennett.
You are so organized! Any tips or insights to offer brides planning a wedding from a distance?
Yes! Work with well referred vendors. Ideally, who have worked together. If appropriate, introduce key vendors to each other. Find out how they like to work, as far as the administration, planning and collaboration. Or see if some of what you prefer will work for them. For example, if you are comfortable and prefer using things like Google Docs, perhaps your DJ does too! You won’t know until you ask. Put your names (Allen Rockwell) in all email titles so it’s easy for your vendors to sort email from you. Take great notes at the planning meetings. Keep action items or hit lists based on these meetings and keep circling back to them.
Not only was your wedding a perfect Detroit celebration with family and friends but the design for the wedding itself was gorgeous. Can you share a bit about how you pulled together your inspiration and how do you describe the design you were going for?
As mentioned above, we wanted romantic, textured and sensory WOW, without goodies and gimmicks. Playing to the strengths of Planterra was easy – because, of course, flowers would be a huge part of this! It was thrilling to discover the décor options available to us. I would recommend going in with a feel, a palette, a directional goal and then let the specific options speak to you. We loved having the opportunity to mix textures, within the urban garden environment that we see in Planterra: woods, metals, glasses, marble, concrete, greens, endless texture and contrasts. Planterra does a brilliant job with things like their seasonal menu tasting, the floral and rentals sample meeting and the overall planning flow. Trust in it.
What elements of the design and decor were the highlights for you?
My jawdropping bouquet, which apparently was especially magnificent because it was the first week that the peonies were local for the season, was fantastic! Flowers hanging from the greenery chandeliers above our dining tables and dance floor, marble chargers, blue water goblets and mercury glass details all made the design unique to us. Our decision to mix table types and sizes to reflect the diversity and mixing of worlds on our guest list was important as well. Planterra offers flexibility with the layout and so many rental options – it was perfect for us.
Our cake from Sweet Heather Anne, which was not only totally scrumptious but incorporated some cool details from my Vera Wang dress – ranunculus lace and smoky grey crystals – was also a highlight for me.
Anything you would change if you had to do it all over?
Absolutely not. We would celebrate every anniversary with you if we could.
Kendall, you also did one of our favorite things by including you dog in your wedding celebration. We love dogs here at Planterra Can you tell me a little about your pup?
Bruce T. Beauchamp is about 8 years old and is a ginger labradoodle, born in Oklahoma. Bruce is a Springsteen reference. Beauchamp is a random moving reference from Now Voyager to Camille Beauchamp (David knows) and the T of course is for teddy bear. He is our constant companion. I got him about a year before Blake and I met. He stole my heart and helped open it nice and wide – and then Blake came into my life. And the rest is history.
Thanks Kendall! We appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Please come see us whenever you pass through Detroit.