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Where our wedding was, and how we chose the venue(s): 

Our wedding was at the Mother-of-the-Bride’s cabin located on Rice Lake in Upper Michigan.  The rustic beauty of the cabin and the lake made it an easy choice for our wedding venue.  The cabin also had a special significance for both of us, as Hicham spent the summer of 2014 helping build the cabin from the ground up and I was also helping out the day the foundation was laid.

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Our favorite part(s) of the wedding:

The first look – after a lot of anticipation and a bit of stress, it was such a relief to finally share  a quiet moment with each other and hold one other close.  The rest of the day went by as such a whirlwind. Looking back, walking together for our first look in the beautiful north woods of the Keweenaw definitely stands out.

Also, being reunited with our friends and family. One of the hardest parts of living abroad is being so far away from all these amazing people.  It was the first opportunity many friends had to meet each other, and for others it was the first time Hicham and I had seen them in years.  It was very special reuniting to celebrate our love with everyone.

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What was definitely worth it:

The flowers: After a lot of hunting, my Mom found a small farm (Rock River Farm) in the U.P. that sells fresh flowers at a really good rate. A few weeks before the wedding, we drove out and met with the owner, Shailah, who is absolutely amazing! She was really accommodating and the flowers were beautiful. For the big day, Shailah made my bouquet, the floral crown for my hair, the two arrangements on the archway, and we had over 400 fresh cut flowers all for a very affordable price.

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What was definitely not worth it:

Too many small details: A few weeks before the wedding, when I was home from abroad for the first time in months, I went a little detail-happy during a few shopping trips to the craft stores.  There were a lot of little decorations that didn’t end up being used or put up because we ran out of time to set them up! I spent a lot of time stressing about little details and in the end they didn’t matter much. If you’re doing a DIY wedding, I would recommend sticking to a few must-haves and ditching the rest of the little details!

Our Planning Guidelines:

We live abroad, so our biggest planning guideline was that we had to be able to plan it from afar.  We had a lot of help, particularly from my family, with contacting vendors and getting the cabin ready for the big day.  I was also lucky that a lot of my close girlfriends were already married, which means that I had a lot of advice and tips for DIY wedding planning (lucky me!).

My Dad gave us a great piece of advice that became our other main guideline: figure out what is worth doing yourself and what is worth delegating or hiring someone to do.  This mantra was super helpful when deciding when to find a vendor and what to tackle on our own.  Sometimes, it’s totally worth it to hire some help! 
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Greatest challenge planning the wedding:

Living abroad! Although a lot of things could be organized by email and online, there were some things that just had to wait until we were back in the Midwest.  We were lucky that we had 3 weeks off in the States before the wedding.  Those three weeks were spent helping finish the cabin (the frame was constructed in 2014, but the entire interior, exterior and landscaping was done from May-July 2015!) and finalizing all the other last minute things, including having my wedding band made.  That said, we did what we could and tried our best not to stress out about the things we couldn’t get to before the wedding.

Resources that helped us along the way:

As mentioned, we had a lot of help along the way, from my parents and from a number of our friends including Kim (our Officiant), Nicky (who made our amazing cake and cupcakes), the entire bridal party and family members (who helped with wedding set-up), and the whole work crew that helped finish the cabin on time. Pinterest was another key resource to gather ideas and inspiration for our own DIY wedding.

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Personal Vows:

I, (Hicham/Whitney), take you (Hicham/Whitney), to be my lawful wedded (husband/wife), my partner in life and my one true love.

I give to you in the presence of our loved ones as witness,

My promise to love you without reservation,

To trust and honor you through times of good health and bad, and times of joy and sorrow. 

I promise to comfort you in times of distress,

And to encourage you to achieve all of your goals.

I will grow with you in mind and spirit,

Always be open and honest with you,

And will love you, today, tomorrow and always.

No matter where in the world we are,

My home will always be wherever I am with you.

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Advice for other people planning their wedding:

Don’t stress the small stuff and remember that things have a way of coming together in the end!  The other most important thing is to have fun, because the day will fly by!  The day after the wedding, Hicham and I both said, “We want to do it all over again, it went by too fast!”

The wedding photos we’re most excited to see:

The first look photos!  Whitney is also pretty excited to see the photos of the keg stands (which she missed out on and only found out about later on in the night)!northern wedding in backyardcandids at wedding

We chose Maureen Cassidy Photography because:

We were referred to Maureen by Natural Intuition Photography, who had done our engagement photos (but was booked our wedding weekend). As soon as I looked at Maureen’s website, I knew that her style was a good fit for us!  Maureen and I emailed and chatted on Skype a few times in the months before the wedding and Maureen is so easy to work with.  She has such a great spirit and a natural calm about her that we didn’t even stress at all about the photography.  The day of the wedding Maureen (and her second shooter) were amazing – they worked so quickly and quietly that we sometimes forgot they were there!  Our guests loved them and so did we! 

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Wedding Vendors:

Ceremony and Reception Venue: Private residence on Rice Lake in Upper Michigan

Hair: Regis Salon

Make up: I did my own!

Wedding Dress: Maggie Sottero

Bridesmaids Dresses: Each bridesmaide chose her own dress.

Groom:  Custom-made in Lebanon

Catering:  Kanga’s Catering

Bar-tending: We did our own alcohol and had our friends Sherri and Tim help serve!

Rentals (tents, chairs, linens, etc.): UP Event Rentals

Officiant: Our lovely friend, Kim Hodges

Wedding planner: Us!

Flowers/Florist: Rock River Farm near Marquette, MI

Invitations:  Betty Lu Designs

Dessert: Another lovely friend, Nicky Gagnon Outinen

Wedding Bands: 

His – from a jeweler in Hicham’s home town of Tyre, Lebanon

Hers – custom-made by Thomas Dailing at Lee Ayers Jewelers of Stevens Point, WI

Photography: Maureen Cassidy Photography & Amie Heeter 2nd shooting

Maureen Cassidy is a Madison wedding photographer, Madison family photographer & Madison boudoir photographer who loves capturing connections, love and beauty in Wisconsin and around the world. If you would like to send her a message contact her {here}.