Ann Arbor Photo Location Ideas

Our team has made a good number of trips to Ann Arbor for photo sessions and weddings over the years, and it’s finally time to share our favorite places to set up photos in and around the city. Let’s take a look at some of the best photography locations in Ann Arbor:

Matthaei Botanical Gardens

The gardens do require a paid photo pass, but it’s worth it to get more exclusive access to their variety of gardens. Add in that golden sunset glow, and you’re set.


Downtown Ann Arbor

If you’re going for an urban look, check out Liberty Street by the Michigan Theater. You can also pop into a downtown coffee shop or sip some wine if you’re going for a lifestyle/date night session. Just be sure to arrive early to leave yourself time to find parking.


UofM Campus Buildings

The University of Michigan has a mix of classic and modern architecture just a short walk from Liberty Street.

best_ann_arbor_photo_locations - UofM campus photography location ideas
best_ann_arbor_photo_locations - UofM campus photography location ideas
best_ann_arbor_photo_locations - UofM campus photography location ideas
best_ann_arbor_photo_locations - UofM campus photography location ideas
best_ann_arbor_photo_locations - UofM campus photography location ideas
best_ann_arbor_photo_locations - UofM campus photography location ideas
best_ann_arbor_photo_locations - UofM campus photography location ideas

The Law Quad

The Law Quad deserves a section of its own, because this location may be the single most popular destination in Ann Arbor (particularly for wedding photos). Its classic architecture has a romantic European feel, so if you have classic tastes, this may be the best photo location for you. Just be prepared to potentially wait your turn if you’re planning to to head there for wedding photos.

Ann Arbor photo location ideas - Law Quad wedding party photos
Ann Arbor photo location ideas - Law Quad wedding photos
Ann Arbor photo location ideas - Law Quad wedding photos
Ann Arbor photo location ideas - Law Quad wedding photos

The Go Blue Barn

The barn is on private property, so we made a point to seek permission, but for UofM fans, there’s a small space to stand at the edge of the road without disturbing the property (I ended up standing on the other side of the road—check out my Instagram Story Highlights to see a behind the scenes look at how we took this photo). Turn your angle to the side, and you have a whole new look.


Nichols Arboretum

Nichols Arboretum is huge, and you could easily spend a whole session or wedding day in just one small area.

best_ann_arbor_photo_locations- Nichols Arboretum wedding photos
best_ann_arbor_photo_locations- Nichols Arboretum family photos

Barton Pond

I wouldn’t necessarily do a full session at Barton Pond, but it’s a good add on at the end if you have time and want to add variety to balance out your downtown urban Ann Arbor photos.

best_ann_arbor_photo_locations- Barton Pond engagement photos
best_ann_arbor_photo_locations- Barton Pond engagement photos

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The Allie & Co. Overstock Frame Sale is Coming

Allie and Co. Frame Sale

My new frames will have a few updates (largely the change from glass to acrylic, which makes the frames lighter and easier to ship, so frames will no longer be limited to East Lansing clients). With these updates, I’ll be sorting through the extra frames that I have in stock and setting up an overstock sale with huge discounts.

This sale will be available to anyone who can pick frames up in East Lansing, regardless of whether you’ve ever worked with me as a photography client. A lot of these will be large frames that would be perfect for displaying family photos from weddings or sessions.

Each frame will be fully prepped with your photo(s) and ready to hang on the wall. Sign up below to be the first to hear about the sale when it goes live. Supplies will be limited and sold on a “first come, first served” basis.

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Framed espresso wood

10 Gorgeous Michigan Winter Wedding Venues

Have you daydreamed about a snowy Michigan winter wedding with dinner near a cozy fireplace, followed by a warm weather honeymoon? Or maybe you’ve thought about getting your wedding photos outside with a glistening snowy scene as you invite your friends into a warm, lush greenhouse that brings everyone cheerful thoughts during the colder months.

Whatever your inspiration, you’re going to need the perfect Michigan winter wedding venue to fit your winter wedding needs, so let’s talk about a mix of different winter venues across a few different categories:

  • Barn or Lodge Michigan Winter Wedding Venues
  • Greenhouse Michigan Winter Wedding Venues
  • Loft Michigan Winter Wedding Venues
  • Classic Michigan Winter Wedding Venues

Let’s jump in.

Michigan Barn and Lodge Michigan Winter Wedding Venues

Brick Walker Tavern and Rustic Barn in Brooklyn, Michigan

Vibe: Relaxed, Vintage, Eclectic

If you have vintage or eclectic tastes, and you want to plan together a unique and cozy winter wedding, check out Brick Walker Tavern in Brooklyn, Michigan. There are two buildings—the brick building is like an inn that has rooms for your closest friends and family and a big room upstairs for your ceremony (although I’ll note that the upstairs room isn’t accessible, so keep this in mind if you have guests who require accessibility). And after the ceremony, your guests will down a short path to the heated two-story barn for the reception.

Brick Walker Tavern and Rustic Barn winter wedding photos showing Michigan winter wedding venues
Brick Walker Tavern Wedding Photo Credits:

Fox Hills Classic in Plymouth, Michigan

Vibe: “Up North Cabin,” Cozy

Although Chelsea and Jason’s February wedding day was 70+ degrees, Fox Hills Classic kept the cozy winter lodge feel alive with its fireplace, wood and stone.

Fox Hills Classic winter wedding photos, Plymouth, Michigan, showing Michigan winter wedding venuesFox Hills Wedding Photo Credits:

Black Barn Vineyard in Rives Junction, Michigan

Vibe: Modern Barn

I had the honor of being a part of a summer wedding at Black Barn Vineyard in Rives Junction before the barn was completed, but now that it’s done, it’s a gorgeous setting for a winter wedding. I’d love to see a classic black and white wedding with gold accents to play up the black barn and white snow.

Michigan Greenhouse Michigan Winter Wedding Venues

Michigan State Horticulture Gardens in East Lansing, Michigan

Vibe: Bright, Fun, Relaxed Elegance, Blank Canvas

The MSU Horticulture Gardens in East Lansing have a heated wide open greenhouse that’s perfect for a late fall or winter wedding. Guests sit at their tables as you walk down the aisle, which is becoming more and more common as a way to simplify the wedding day and avoid a setup change.

Michigan State Horticulture Gardens winter wedding photos and color ideas, showing Michigan winter wedding venuesMSU Horticulture Gardens Wedding Photo Credits:

  • Photos by Allie & Co. Associate photographer, Rachael
Plantera Conservatory in West Bloomfield, Michigan

Vibe: Bright, Sophisticated, Lush

Plantera Conservatory is on my dream list. This greenhouse wedding venue in West Bloomfield is absolutely filled with gorgeous green spaces to brighten up any winter wedding.

These holiday wedding floral ideas from Emily at All Grand Events would bring in the perfect combination of winter reds and lighter blushes to blend in with the backdrop of Plantera.

Plantera Conservatory winter or holiday wedding color ideas

Michigan Loft Michigan Winter Wedding Venue

Ford Piquette Plant

Vibe: Bright, Open, Great for the History Buff

The Ford Piquette Plant has a rich history in Detroit—it’s lined with vintage Ford automobiles, it’s the birthplace of the Model T, and it’s now a US National Historic Landmark. Your ceremony and reception can be set up on different floors for an easy flow for guests, and the bright loft provides the perfect backdrop for indoor photos.

Ford Piquette Plant as a Michigan winter wedding venueFord Piquette Plant Wedding Photo Credits:

Classic Michigan Winter Wedding Venues

Detroit Masonic Temple in Detroit, Michigan

Vibe: Classic, Timeless, Grand, Dark

The Detroit Masonic Temple is a huge classic building with endless photo opportunities, regardless of the weather outside. Invite your friends and family to come in and forget about the cold as they take in the amazing details around every corner of the Masonic Temple.

Detroit Masonic Temple wedding photos showing Michigan winter wedding venuesDetroit Masonic Temple Wedding Photo Credits:

The Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Michigan

Vibe: Bright, Classic, Grand, Easy on Guests

The Inn at St. John’s has everything under one roof—a gorgeous chapel, a variety of reception rooms and a full hotel.

The Inn at St. John's atrium wedding photos showing Michigan winter wedding venuesThe Inn at St. John’s Wedding Photo Credits:

The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan

Vibe: Classic, Dark, Great for the History Buff

The massive Henry Ford Museum has a mix of classic indoor areas for photos, or you can pop outside for winter photos against the classic brick museum exterior.

The Henry Ford Museum Wedding photos showing Michigan winter wedding venuesThe Henry Ford Museum Wedding Photo Credits:

The MSU Alumni Chapel and Kellogg Center in East Lansing, Michigan

Vibe: Classic, Simple, Blank Canvas, Easy on Guests

The Kellogg Center itself is basically a blank slate—its rooms can be styled any way you want. But what makes the Kellogg Center special is its proximity to the rest of MSU, which has the charming Alumni Chapel, along with gorgeous backdrops for wedding photos (both inside and outside).

The Kellogg Center has the added bonus of being a full hotel, so your guests can simply take the elevator upstairs at the end of the night instead of traveling home in the snow.

Kellogg Center winter wedding photos on Michigan State's campus showing Michigan winter wedding venuesThe Kellogg Center Wedding Photo Credits:

A Six Week Family Trip to Nashville, Tallahassee, Orlando, Savannah, and Washington DC


I remember sitting inside in early March last year for the uhm-teenth day in a row and getting stir crazy from cold weather and no sunshine. I needed a daydream to lift me out of the cold weather dreariness, so I started looking up houses in Florida on Airbnb. Jeff and I had floated the “snow bird” idea before, but it had never worked out.

This time, I got my parents on board (my mom was set to retire from teaching, so she’d be free to hang out in Florida for a month), and we put money down on a five bedroom house in the Orlando area before we could talk ourselves out of it—we had officially made plans to spend a month in Florida with my parents, my brother, my Grandma and our family of four.

The plans were made so long ago that they felt like they’d never actually happen—during the time in between making plans and actually going, we bought a sailboat, did a ton of sailing and went to Costa Rica.

I was a little nervous about going, honestly, because even though I’d have my parents there to help out (my dad did go back to Michigan for a bit to work, but he was there for about half of the trip), I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about being with my girls every second of every day. I’m used to having a lot of focused time every week while they’re at daycare.

We set out late on February 7—the plan was to drive as far as Indianapolis while the girls were sleeping. Zel fell asleep soon after we hit the road, but we may have celebrated our road trip victory a little too early. Arden decided that she didn’t want to sleep, and she only wanted to shout, “Get out!” for hours as she tried to get out of her carseat.

Day two was much smoother thanks to a tired little midnight bedtimer, so we made it to the Nashville area without much trouble. We stopped there for the night to catch up with Jeff’s aunt Missy and her family (sorry Missy—why didn’t we all get a photo together?!), and then we set out for Tallahassee where my brother lives. After eight hours of car travel, our girls were so excited to get out of that car and see their Florida cousins. We all got ice cream, and the girls ran off their energy before heading to the hotel. We had a fun weekend exploring Florida State’s campus and giving the girls some much needed cousin time before heading out on the final four hour drive to the Orlando area.

The Florida house was everything we hoped it would be (except for no real desk for Jeff—he worked remotely the whole time we were there, and he had to do his best with countertops and tables). The back of the house opened right up to a private patio with a plunge pool, and the neighborhood pool had a lazy river and twisty water slide/splash area for the kids to play in. We went around that lazy river and down that water slide more times than I can count. I would hold Arden to go down the slide, and every time we got to the bottom, she’d shout, “Again!” At one point, she was so tired that she was practically sleeping on my shoulder down the slide, and still she managed to mutter, “Again.” If you’re looking for a place to stay near Disney World, we definitely enjoyed Windsor at Westside (as long as you’ll have a car).

The trip did have a few hiccups. I decided to take the girls to Disney World on my own one day (which was actually fairly hiccup free—the girls were really into it and stayed on their best behavior; they also thought the People Mover was a really crazy roller coaster after riding it, so their expectations were low enough to set up a pretty easy day). I was so exhausted when we all got home that I decided to head to bed early. That turned out to be a good thing—I ended up waking up around one in the morning to an ambulance ride and a few hours at the hospital with one of our house guests (All was fine, but we were definitely tired—and major props to my mom for staying so calm and taking fast action while there were multiple medical issues going on at the same time in our household. Mom, you’re amazing.).

I also finally convinced my parents to let me care for my brother so they could go out without worrying about his care—he has a Metachromatic Leukodystrophy and has a feeding tube that I’ve always been incredibly intimidated by. After convincing my parents to teach me the basics of his care before heading out, his pump ended up throwing an error. My parents (have I mentioned how amazing they are?) sprung into action and worked out a way to have a new pump delivered within hours. It was definitely an eye opening experience to see what they do for my brother every single day. It’s really incredible.

And then our third hiccup—we pulled the girls out of daycare to make the trip, and we found out a few weeks in that Arden lost her spot at daycare. That caused me so much stress, and I swear I lost three days of focus just trying to call around and figure out back up options, but it all worked out in the end, and the girls just started back at their school this week. It was awesome to hear everyone shout their names as they entered the room—I think they felt so at home with that big warm welcome.

And we did have some amazing days at Disney World. We went to a character breakfast the first Saturday that we were there, where Arden was hilarious terrified of all of the characters. I didn’t take my professional camera to Disney, but I took my video camera along and got some fun clips of Zel at the Bippity Boppity Boutique, where they transformed her into a princess. I’ll have to share that video when I get around to putting it all together. In the meantime, here are a few highlights. Scroll down to see a video from “a day in the life” in Florida.


We planned to head out to watch a rocket launch on Jeff’s birthday, but we all got a bit lazy about it on the day of, so Jeff and I walked down to the pool to watch it from afar. I know it doesn’t look like much here, but it was still really cool to see!


After we left Florida, we stopped in Savannah for a night and spent the morning exploring the city before heading on to the Washington DC area.

Jeff does own shirts other than his NASA shirts, but it’s pretty clear that these are his favorites (that and pineapple shorts). And so you don’t think he’s just an incredible nerd who wears NASA shirts every day, he does actually work on projects for NASA, so he’s an actually an incredible nerd who wears NASA shirts every day and works on projects for them.

We spent the work week in the DC area while Jeff worked out of his office there. I spent a few days trying to explore old favorite spots from the time when Jeff and I lived there, but it was cold, and the girls weren’t overjoyed by any of it, so I finally gave up and took them to a huge indoor playground for the last day.

After six nights sharing a single hotel room as a family, we were all so ready to be home (bedtime is tough when Arden knows we’re all still up), so we drove eight hours straight to get home on Friday. It was such a nice feeling to walk into our own house after being gone for so long. I never really noticed the smell of our house, but I absolutely noticed it when I walked it. It’s nice to be home.


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