An Elegant Barn Wedding at Shanahan’s Barn in Charlevoix, Michigan

Megan Clifford (24 and a nursing student) and Derek Sulpizio (24 and a safety specialist) met while playing sand volleyball during “welcome week” in their first week at Oakland University in Michigan. One of their many common interests was northern Michigan, where they both have beloved vacation memories, so it was an easy choice to get married there. “We chose Shanahan’s Barn because it is a beautiful rustic venue that's surrounded by a setting that exemplifies the beauty of northern Michigan,” Megan says. There were two minor mishaps. The caterer had to slam on her brakes to avoid hitting a deer, resulting in cosmetic damage to the cake topper (camouflaged with flowers), and Derek picked up his groomsmen tuxedos but forgot his own, so he wore his dad’s tux and his dad found a suit at the last minute. But the couple took it in stride. Their celebration was as fun-loving and laid-back as they are, personalized with their own "Megan + Derek" logo (used on invitations and pint-glass favors), Cherry Republic cherry candies served in the dessert bar, a locally grown family-style meal of chardonnay chicken and Parmesan-encrusted whitefish served with garlic mashed potatoes and fresh veggies, and Michigan-shaped table numbers. A meaningful element of their ceremony was a tribute to Megan’s late father—a Petoskey stone ceremony (prehistoric fossils and Michigan's official state stone)—in honor of Megan and her dad spending hours searching for these stones along the shore of Lake Michigan when she was a little girl. Petoskey stones were collected for all family members who could not be present, then Megan and Derek poured separate jars of water into one, symbolizing unity. The couple shared their first toast in custom champagne flutes, made of Petoskey stones, and Megan took some time to search for these special stones along the Lake Michigan shoreline. After dining, drinking and dancing the night away, the couple made a grand exit through a sparkler tunnel created by guests. “Make sure to enjoy every minute of your special day with the most important people in your life,” Megan says. “As cliche as it may sound, it truly goes by faster than a blink of an eye.” Derek echoed her sentiments. “Make sure to stop, soak it all in and recognize the blessings God has placed in your life," he says. "Having your closest family and friends provide their love and support while you make the biggest decision of your life is a very powerful thing.” —Chrissy Sorenson