A Family Sailing Holiday (Sort of)

sailing with kids on a Catalina 30 sailboat

Our family traditions around Independence Day go back to my toddlerhood. We’ve gone up to Northport, Michigan almost every single year.

We originally planned to spend the whole week on the boat in Muskegon, but we ended up splitting the time—three nights on the boat and two in Northport to catch up with family and friends and to head to a birthday party for my cousin’s daughter.

My sister, Adriane, and her family were at the campground across the lake in Muskegon, so all nine of us went for a sail our first day, then we spent the next few days exploring Muskegon’s trails and beaches, watching the sun set over Lake Michigan, swimming in the marina pool and roasting marshmallows over the fire.

Our boat was originally from Northport, and we happened to meet the adult children of the original owner while we were at the park to see fireworks on July 4. It was so cool to their hear stories and to learn more about the sentimental history of the boat. The original owner is 91, and he still plays in the local Northport band (for my Gilmore Girls fans, Northport is the closest thing I’ve found to Stars Hallow, which I love).

Vacation is far from relaxing with two young kids (don’t let those hammock photos fool you), but this is exactly what I want their childhood to be—carefree days outside with their cousins getting messy (so, so messy), playing in the sand and running around without shoes.

hammock on a catalina 30 sailboat hammock on a catalina 30 sailboat
Zelda sits on a Catalina 30 sailboat
first birthday party with birthday cake
group family photo in Northport, Michigan

Garden Engagement Photos With Bulldogs at Southern Exposure Herb Farm

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I’ve been obsessed with Southern Exposure Herb Farm near Battle Creek ever since I photographed Courtney and Mike’s wedding there in 2015. Brittany and Mike loved all of the gorgeous gardens they have there, so when it didn’t work out for them to host their wedding there, they asked if it was okay to shoot their engagement photos there. The whole team at Southern Exposure is so giving—they were completely up for the idea (by the way, check out their themed dinners if you ever want to plan a date night or a night out with friends that will blow you away).

Brittany and Mike’s two bulldogs added so much personality to their session. If you’re thinking about brining your dog along for your engagement sessions, absolutely do it! Just be sure to bring a friend along to help out when it comes time to get a few photos of just the two of you together.

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Check back next Tuesday for a brand new blog post.

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A Family Getaway + A Wedding in Saugatuck

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I love it when my friends make my travel plans for me, because I always find myself experiencing things I would never have thought to look for myself. My friend, Jess (a travel agent and fellow photographer) convinced us to take Zel to Hawaii with her family when she was 13 months old and to plan a family trip to Costa Rica this December with two four-year-olds and two almost two-year-olds. She took me along to Austin this year and planned our trip to Puerto Rico last December.

This time, my friend Lisa asked if she could tag along with me to a wedding to see what it’s all about. When it worked out to have her come along to Saugatuck for Jess and Jon’s wedding, she booked a farmhouse for both of our families to stay in across the river in Douglas. We went to the wedding while our husband’s hung out with the kids in Saugatuck.

Lisa has a son who’s four months older than Zel and a daughter who is less than two weeks younger than Arden (her daughter was actually due on the day Arden was born and decided to wait a few extra weeks to make her appearance). The combination of other kids to play with, sleepovers in the farmhouse, bunk beds, fireflies and chickens out in the yard made Zel so so excited. The kids would get up and run outside with their pajamas still on to see the chickens and look for the barn cats in the yard. If you’re looking for a kid-friendly place to stay that’s relatively close to the beach and the cuteness that is Saugatuck, check this place out.

Kids playing near a chicken coop in the Saugatuck, Michigan area
Kids playing near a chicken coop in the Saugatuck, Michigan area
Toddler looks at a chicken coop in the Saugatuck, Michigan area
Kids playing near a chicken coop in the Saugatuck, Michigan area

Here’s Lisa with all the kids before breakfast. We were all still in our pajamas.

group photo near a chicken coop in the Saugatuck, Michigan area
chickens in a chicken coop
kids holding hands

After a morning in town scouting out pretty spots for photos, peeking at the marinas (of course) and enjoying some amazing food, Lisa and I headed off to Jess and Jon’s wedding at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts. Bah – I can’t wait to share the rest of these photos, but here’s a quick preview for now:

oval beach wedding photos in Saugatuck, Michgan

On Sunday, we drove north to Muskegon to see if the weather would cooperate and let us go sailing. My dad joined us after he had to cancel his Grand Canyon rafting trip at the last minute (literally the last minute—he was about to get on the raft when he decided not to go because of record setting temperatures in the 120s and higher).

We spent some time at the beach, and after some rain, cold, wind and a scraped knee, we were packing up the car to go home without sailing when the weather made a last minute shift that gave us a chance for a mini sail on Lake Muskegon.

family sailing on a Catalina 30 on the deck

We learned an important lesson this weekend about sailing with kids. Always, always have snacks available. Arden cried so much that I finally took her down below and read her a book (her favorite thing to do) while Jeff and my dad sailed the boat back to the marina.

We ended the weekend with a picnic overlooking Lake Michigan, where Arden ate everything in sight. Noted, my dear. We won’t leave the dock without snacks again 🙂

kids sailing on a Catalina 30 on the deck
the girls in a cart at Great Lakes marina

Captain Barnacles comes along on all of our family adventures.

the girls in a cart with "Captain Barnacles" at Great Lakes marina

A Barn Wedding Near Traverse City, Michigan

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Kelly and Murphy live in my old city (Chicago), and Kelly grew up in my current city (East Lansing), but Kelly’s parents moved up to Elk Lake recently, so they decided a destination wedding at the Garvey Barn in northern Michigan would be just the right fit for them.

There was so much creativity in this group—from the custom flag that Murphy designed (check it out above flying over the lake) to the house on the lake that Kelly’s sister, an architect, designed for her parents, to the wedding flowers that were custom designed by Murphy’s dad’s partner, Scott.

We got a bit of rain around ceremony time, but both Kelly and Murphy were so laid back about moving everything inside. Kelly was definitely a “bride-chilla,” and I loved her for it 🙂

Here’s a bit more from Kelly about how they planned their day:

“I grew up visiting my Grandma in Traverse City every summer, and more recently my parents moved onto Elk Lake, so the area has sentimental value to me. We were looking for a venue that could be semi-formal but still have a casual relaxed feel. Murphy designed and made all the signs and printed materials for the wedding (invites, save the dates, etc). His Dad’s partner Scott prepared all of the flowers for us, my friend Mary made all the vases for the centerpieces and my brother in law was our officiant! We were so excited to share this moment with our friends and family!”

Scroll all the way to the bottom for more details on Kelly and Murphy’s wedding vendors.

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traverse_city_wedding_barn_photos__0013.jpgTraverse City Wedding Venues: Traverse City Wedding Barn, also called the Garvey Barn, in Northern Michigan
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Getting ready cottage at the Traverse City Wedding Barn, also called the Garvey Barn, in Northern Michigan
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Traverse City Wedding barn
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Traverse City Wedding Barn, also called the Garvey Barn, in Northern MichiganTraverse City Wedding Venues: Indoor ceremony at the Traverse City Wedding Barn, also called the Garvey Barn, in Northern Michigan
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Indoor wedding ceremony at Traverse City Wedding Barn, also called the Garvey Barn, in Northern Michigan
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Indoor wedding ceremony at the Traverse City Wedding Barn, also called the Garvey Barn, in Northern Michigan
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Indoor wedding ceremony at the Traverse City Wedding Barn, also called the Garvey Barn, in Northern Michigan
Traverse City Wedding Venues: indoor wedding ceremony at the Traverse City Wedding Barn, also called the Garvey Barn, in Northern Michigan
Traverse City Wedding Venues: indoor wedding ceremony at the Traverse City Wedding Barn, also called the Garvey Barn, in Northern Michigan
Traverse City Wedding Venues: indoor wedding ceremony at the Traverse City Wedding Barn, also called the Garvey Barn, in Northern Michigan
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Wedding photos from the Traverse City wedding barn
Traverse City Wedding Venues: The lawn of the Traverse City Wedding Barn, also called the Garvey Barn, in Northern Michigan
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Bridal party photos at the Traverse City Wedding Barn, also called the Garvey Barn, in Northern Michigan
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Bridal party photos at the Traverse City Wedding Barn, also called the Garvey Barn, in Northern MichiganTraverse City Wedding Venues: wedding photos from the Garvey Wedding Barn, also called the Traverse City wedding barn Traverse City Wedding Venues: wedding photos from the Garvey Wedding Barn, also called the Traverse City wedding barn Traverse City Wedding Venues: wedding photos from the Garvey Wedding Barn, also called the Traverse City wedding barn Traverse City Wedding Venues: Traverse City Wedding Barn photos
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Garvey Barn wedding photos
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Wedding reception setup at the Traverse City Wedding Barn, also called the Garvey Barn, in Northern Michigan
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Wedding reception setup at the Traverse City Wedding Barn, also called the Garvey Barn, in Northern Michigan
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Wedding reception setup at the Traverse City Wedding Barn, also called the Garvey Barn, in Northern Michigan
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Wedding reception setup at the Traverse City Wedding Barn, also called the Garvey Barn, in Northern Michigan
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Wedding reception setup at the Traverse City Wedding Barn, also called the Garvey Barn, in Northern Michigan
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Wedding photos from the Traverse City Wedding Barn
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Traverse City wedding barn photos
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Traverse City wedding barn photos
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Traverse City wedding barn photos
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Traverse City wedding barn photos
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Traverse City wedding barn photos
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Traverse City wedding barn photos
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Traverse City wedding barn photos
Traverse City Wedding Venues: Traverse City wedding barn photos

Wedding Vendors:

Check back next Tuesday for a brand new blog post.

learn more about wedding and engagement photography

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