A Rustic, Floral Wedding at a Private Home in Ludington, Michigan

If you asked Sarah Yost (33 and a graphic designer) and Luis Chen (35 and a community outreach manager) how they would describe their wedding style, t

If you asked Sarah Yost (33 and a graphic designer) and Luis Chen (35 and a community outreach manager) how they would describe their wedding style, they would say it was colorful, optimistic, organic, romantic and clean-cut bohemian. To say the day had personality would be an understatement, with every detail from the custom-designed stationery to the spiritual elements of the ceremony and the acro-yoga “first dance” telling the story of the couple’s relationship. Sarah’s family home on Hamlin Lake in Ludington, Michigan, hosted the intimate celebration, with the calm water, acres of lush forest and perfectly blue sky contributing a stunning backdrop for the day. “We knew we wanted to be married outside, and this felt perfect,” Sarah says. “It’s also the place Luis proposed several years earlier.” The day started with a ceremony overlooking the lake, where the couple incorporated traditions like guided meditation, which spoke to their spirituality, an important aspect of their relationship. “Our yoga and meditation practices play a huge role in our relationship,” Sarah says. “Coming from different parts of the world, raised in different cultures, speaking different languages, working in unrelated fields, you could say that our spiritual life is the one thing Luis and I have in common.” The decor reflected the happiness of the occasion, with the couple looking to a spectrum of bright colors and bunches of fresh wildflowers to infuse the serene setting with energy and life. Putting her finely tuned design skills to work, Sarah created all the stationery, including the invitation suite, signage, programs, thank-you notes and even their wedding website using collaged flowers from the Biodiversity Heritage Library as inspiration. The floral theme was carried over into the rest of the decor, which allowed Sarah and Luis to incorporate as many bright colors into the day as possible without overwhelming the senses; strings of floating flowers, flower bomb favors, floral linens and vintage floral post cards used as a guest book are only some of the many elements that brought their design vision to life. After a mouthwatering vegetarian meal, lovingly made by Kulture Catering, the couple and their guests danced under the stars to the Living the Dream band. “During their break we had a Latin playlist with salsa and fun stuff, so the Panamanians could show us how it’s done,” Sarah says. And for guests with two left feet, there were bonfires, s’mores and a selection of board games. A tip from Sarah and Luis: “It really is one of the most special days of your life. Be true to yourself and don’t get burdened by traditions or others' expectations if they don’t resonate with you.”

Bright Eucalyptus and Wildflower Bouquet
Before exchanging vows in a waterfront ceremony surrounded by their close family members and friends, Sarah and Luis held a short private ceremony called guru puja. “It is significant in the meditation tradition Luis and I practice,” Sarah says. “ 'Puja' means ‘that which is born out of fullness’ and is a way of expressing gratitude for all you’ve been blessed with. It brought such a depth of emotion and sacredness to the day.”
Floral Escort Cards in Birch Logs
Dinner and cocktail hour took place in a quaint clearing in the woods adjacent to Sarah’s family home. The week before the wedding, Sarah’s father, brothers and Luis worked hard to clear and level the ground to make it ready for the event, in addition to doing some preventive mosquito spraying the day before. “I thought it turned out so magical, especially as the sun went down and all the lanterns and twinkle lights lit up,” Sarah says.
After exchanging vows in a ceremony overlooking the lake in Ludington, Michigan, the couple and their guets enjoyed cocktail hour and dinner on the lawn. Sarah and Luis highlighted local beers and wines during cocktail hour and served a full-blown vegetarian feast for dinner, complete with black bean and goat cheese tacos, whipped sweet potatoes with sriracha and a primavera quinoa salad. “Lots of people came up to tell us how much they loved the food,” Sarah says, “though one person did say he was headed straight to McDonald’s on his way home.”
Reflecting the setting, the centerpieces had a whimsical, woodland appeal. Vintage books spray-painted gold or wrapped in floral paper served as the base of the arrangements and were topped with bud vases and tea cups filled with brightly hued wildflowers, citronella candles displayed in vintage glass cups and birch accents.
Backyard Ceremony Processional
Sarah and Luis gathered their families and friends at the water’s edge for a 5 p.m. ceremony. Incorporating spiritual elements into the ceremony was key for the couple and a close friend led their guests in a guided mediation after Sarah and Luis exchanged vows. “It was so nice to be quiet for those few moments and experience all the love around us,” Sarah says. “It was also beautiful to be able to share that part of our lives with our families and friends who hadn’t meditated before.”
Wanting to incorporate as many colors into the day as possible without overwhelming the senses, Sarah and Luis used a floral theme in each element of the decor. From strands of floating flowers hung over the reception tables to playful printed straws, floral linens and vintage floral postcards, they infused the day with energy and life.
As a graphic designer, it was a given that Sarah would design the wedding’s stationery. Looking to the Biodiversity Heritage Library for inspiration, she created an invitation suite, wedding website, programs, signage and thank-you notes featuring collages of bright, vintage blooms. “I loved how it lent such a cohesive look to everything,” Sarah says. A second set of invitations in Spanish was made for Luis’s family members in Panama, each including a keepsake postcard with a Hafiz poem, which had been translated by Luis’s father, a poet at heart. “We knew many of our loved ones there would not be able to make the trip to Michigan, so we wanted to send them something special,” Sarah says.
To complement the elegant, romantic feel of her Watters wedding dress, Sarah wore her hair down in loose romantic curls and a bold lipstick. “I feel best with my hair down and bright lipstick on, so I kept to my comfort zone there,” Sarah says. “I wear eyeglasses in everyday life, so by putting in my contacts, I already felt a bit fancy.” A lace-edged veil was the finishing touch and one that Sarah was most excited about. “It creates an experience when you put it on that transcends aesthetics. It’s so ethereal, delicate and full of symbolism,” she says. “I didn’t take it off all night—even when we changed into our bathing suits at the end of the reception and jumped in the lake.”
Colorful Woven Fan Wedding Favors
Mismatched Nude Lace Bridesmaid Dresses
Backyard Ceremony Recessional
Instead of a traditional first dance, Luis and Sarah performed a choreographed acro-yoga routine, which they had learned through YouTube videos in the months before the wedding. “Practicing was a chance to escape all the planning for a few minutes a day and get together to have fun, be creative and connect with each other,” Sarah says. “Neither of us are natural performers and we ended up pulling the headstand from the routine at the last minute because we were too nervous.”