A Rustic, Elegant Wedding at the Waldenwoods Center in Hartland, Michigan
A shared sense of competitiveness brought together Leonita (26 and a registered dietician) and Sokol (28 and an underwriter) during a group volleyball league in 2010. "In one heated game, he hit the ball so hard that it hit me right in the head," Leonita explains. "I literally got knocked to the floor. I was so embarrassed that I went straight to the bathroom only to find him waiting outside. He said he was waiting for me to see if I was alright because he felt terrible." Soon after the volleyball incident, the two began dating and later got engaged during a trip to Albania the following year. "We were in a row boat in the middle of the sea off the coast of Ksamil. He pulled a box out of his pocket, opened it an asked me to marry him right there." For their August wedding, the couple looked to the Waldenwoods Banquet and Conference Center in Hartland for both the ceremony and reception. "I fell in love with it the first time that I saw it," Leonita says. "It felt like home -- it was so peaceful with an earthy feel. It just made me happy that I was there." After exchanging vows in an outdoor ceremony by the lake, the couple headed inside for a rustic-themed wedding complete with ivory, green and purple tones. "I wanted everything to feel raw the natural," the bride says. "Plus, I wanted people to be able to move around -- to get up out of their seats and walk around the lake to take in the scenery." Thanks to help from wedding planner Karen Chan, the couple pulled off an elegant reception with plenty of romantic, fun touches. "The venue was spacious and lovely," the bride says. "But the dancing was the best! Sokol and I are both Albanian so our families love to dance. At one point the groomsmen put Sokol on their shoulders and I was lifted up on a chair. It was so much fun, I was just trying to make sure I didn't fall off!"