An Ethereal, Purple Wedding in Michigan

Sarah and Michael

Bradley James Photography

During her sophomore year of college, Sarah VanArendonk was study buddies with one of Michael McAuliffe's best friends, and Michael kept dropping by their study sessions—despite a complete lack of interest in the subject matter: chemistry. But there was chemistry between them, and Sarah and Michael started dating shortly thereafter.

Just over seven years later, on September 6, 2015, the med student and attorney made it official in Berrien Springs, Michigan. With 170 guests, the Ann Arbor-based pair tied the knot during an outdoor ceremony, followed by a seated dinner in the venue's restored barn. Purple (the bride's favorite color) and soft lavender and pale blush were chosen as a palette to complement the natural greenery at Hidden Vineyard Wedding Barn. Watercolor details and lush flowers helped make their day feel like the romantic, ethereal wonderland they were after.

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The Invitations

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Laura Hooper Calligraphy created a watercolor design for the stationery suite, which she also calligraphed. A gold-foiled crest with the couple's monogram and blush pink ribbon held the pieces together inside the lavender envelope lined with another painted pattern.

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The First Look

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"I was happy it was her and not my father in law," Michael says of their first look. "The first time I was tapped on the shoulder it was him messing with me! When I did finally turn around and see her she looked just stunning, and it suddenly hit me that I got to marry this girl, today, and be with her forever!"

Sarah felt similarly, adding that she "was relieved to see him and finally get to share in all the excitement and joy of the day together."

Later in the celebration, as the sun was setting, the couple went out in the vineyard for a few additional photos and some time to take it all in. "We had a few moments alone together as a newly-married couple," Michael explains. "It was beautiful and so special."

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The Fashion

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Sarah chose the second dress she tried on—a flowy Leanne Marshall number with a lace bodice and silk organza skirt found at The Gown Shop. She paired it with Kate Spade shoes, a Sara Gabriel veil worn during the ceremony, and The Left Bank jewelry.

Michael's ensemble was by Bonobos. "Sarah and I really fell in love with the idea of a navy suit, and when I came across the champagne tie I liked how it created a simple, clean look," he notes. "Little did I know how great it would complement Sarah's beautiful dress."

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Purple-Clad Bridesmaids

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Sarah's attendants donned a mix of flowy purple Jenny Yoo dresses paired with nude shoes.

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The Groomsmen

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The men in the wedding party wore textured Banana Republic jackets, The Tie Bar ties, and Bonobos pants.

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The Bridal Bouquet

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Sarah carried a bouquet of garden roses, sweet peas, snow berries, calcynia, mini pittosporum, and spray roses by Hey Gorgeous Events, who also planned and designed the event.

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The Boutonnieres

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The guys wore boutonnieres of roses, scabiosa pods, and seeded eucalyptus.

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The Rings

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Sarah always loved oval-shaped diamonds and vintage-style rings. Michael incorporated both when he designed the engagement ring at Reaver Diamond. On the wedding day, she paired her ring with a pavé band and he chose a classic yellow gold design, both from Lewis Jewelers.

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The Ceremony

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A catalpa tree on the property was dressed up with fresh blooms and greenery to anchor the ceremony. "It was breathtaking and truly beyond my wildest dreams," Sarah says of the installation.

Sarah's uncle officiated the service, which included excerpts from Wendell Berry's "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front" and a performance of the hymn "For the Beauty of the Earth" by the bride's cousin.

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The Recessional

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After becoming husband and wife, the newlyweds walked hand-in-hand up the petal-strewn aisle to the sounds of "Moth's Wings" by Passion Pit. "The highlight of the day was our ceremony," Sarah recalls. "It was one of the most important and emotional aspects for both of us, and from a design standpoint it was truly magical. Our vision was to create an outdoor chapel, using rows of white church pews interspersed with chairs. The gorgeous old tree in the background with its floral arch draping across the branch made it all breathtaking."

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Cocktail Hour Outside

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Guests enjoyed warm weather during cocktail hour on the deck of the barn and the surrounding lawn. Here, they sipped on the signature drink of blueberry Moscow mules, and noshed on apricot-glazed baked brie, prosciutto and melon, and bruschetta.

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The Escort Cards

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"We wanted a fun and unique way to display our escort cards," Sarah says. "Hanging them on ribbons on the barn doors that would later open to the reception seemed like the perfect spot!"

The die-cut cards, which were shield-shaped, boasted white calligraphy by Laura Hooper.

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The Reception

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The festivities continued inside the barn under bistro lighting strung between the beams. Guests dined on apple bourbon pork, salmon with dill sauce, and Mediterranean pasta, along with sides of herb-roasted potatoes and fresh asparagus.

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The Table Décor

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Menus and table numbers printed with the same watercolor flower motif from the invites were set out on the farm tables, dotted with arrangements of dahlias, cabbage roses, scabiosa pods, seeded eucalyptus, pittosporum, and garden roses. Soft pink napkins complemented the space's dark wood, and gold-rimmed plates added a metallic touch.

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The Wedding Cake

Bradley James Photography

Buttercream frosting enrobed the wedding cake—which was made of tiers of lemon damson plum and Mexican hot chocolate. Displayed on a wine barrel during the reception, fresh flowers and a custom topper by Laura Hooper Calligraphy incorporating the couple's monogram adorned the confection.

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A Father-Daughter Dance

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After dancing with her husband to Edith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose," Sarah took to the dance floor with her father as "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole played. Michael and his mother also shared a dance to Ella Fitzgerald's "It's Wonderful."

The grooving continued, with the couple and their loved ones rocking out to classics like "Twist and Shout" and "Love Shack." Sarah and Michael also partook in a tradition they share with their college friends, in which the Indian pop song "Tunak Tunak" by Daler Mehndi plays and everyone does a choreographed routine, with the bride and groom raised up on chairs in the middle. "Michael's wedding ring fell off during this time," Sarah recalls. "But don't worry, we found it!"

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Bradley James Photography

Photography, Bradley James Photography
Location, Hidden Vineyard Wedding Barn
Event planning and design, and flowers, Hey Gorgeous Events
Catering, Classic Catering and Events
Videography, Coastline Studios
Stationery and Calligraphy, Laura Hooper Calligraphy
Cake, Sweet Heather Anne
Music, The Sarah Sherrard Band
Rentals, Fancy Fray; La Tavola Fine Linen; Tablescapes Event Rentals
Bride's gown, Leanne Marshall
Bride's veil, Sara Gabriel
Hair and Makeup, Hanna Wagner
Bridesmaids' dresses, Jenny Yoo
Groom's suit, Bonobos
Bar, The Liquor Locker
Lounge Pillows, Parris Chic Boutique

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