Amanda's Whitetail Wedding

Amanda Bell, Design Associate

The rumors are true - I’m now a married lady! 

After almost a year of planning our at-home wedding, James and I can finally spend weeknights and weekends watching Jeopardy with our dog, Lucy, doing laundry, and going to bed no later than 10pm (not a lot has changed…) 

The year leading up to our wedding was fun, exciting, challenging and FAST. I have no idea where the time went, but I’m so grateful to those who helped us pull it off!

As a bride it can be overwhelming to find the right vendors, decor, rentals, etc for your wedding day. I love researching this stuff - and would be remiss if I didn’t share a little bit about some of the amazing vendors we were lucky enough to get to work with over the past year.  


But first, a little bit about our wedding … 

When we got engaged almost a year ago, James had already picked our wedding date: A Michigan football bye week 10 months out. If you have any experience planning a wedding, you know venues book a year or more in advance. Luckily, we’d long ago made the decision to get married at my parent’s house in Ann Arbor.

My mom and dad built their home (a modern farmhouse on a pretty piece of land) over 20 years ago, and it’s been the backdrop of our lives since then. 

Everything big has happened there: birthdays, holidays, great moments and not great ones. Friendsgivings have been hosted. High school bonfires have been broken up by my dad. James proposed in the living room. There was no other option. 

Plus, how hard could it be to get the (already beautiful) place in shape?

The answer: Hard. But, I’ve always cared more about nostalgia and sentimentality than ease and lucky for me, my then fiancé felt the same way.

Our venue choice resulted in one of the busiest summers of our lives. I got carpal tunnel designing paper goods and writing emails, James worked on the lawn until 8pm most nights, Lucy felt orphaned. 

On the morning of our wedding I woke up at 5am and started setting tables in my pajamas and retainers. As the sun came up, more and more friends and family gathered to help me transform the space until it was unrecognizably beautiful - and so "us" it made my stomach hurt. 

Two months out from the big day, James and I both chalk it up as one of the most rewarding experiences of our lives. Our people lined up in droves to help and support us. Our fifteen-year-old nephew put his summer on hold to be at our beck and call (can you imagine!? At fifteen?? He had A LOT better things to do.)

LONG story short, it was a BLAST, and we could NEVER have done it alone. I could write a novel on how thankful we are, who helped us and how - but for now I'll leave you with some info on a few of the vendors we picked (and you can, too!) that made our wedding the best day ever. 

Photography: Samantha James Photography 

I designed invites for a shoot Sam worked on for Wedding Day Magazine a couple years ago and was familiar with her beautiful work. She shoots in both digital and film and, as a photography nerd, I was obsessed with this fact. 

We thought we knew what we were getting when we booked Sam, but got SO MUCH MORE. Of course she was all the things you want out of a photographer (talented, professional, punctual, creative) but she also brought her own brand of calm and care to her work that made it so much fun to work with her. 

Neither James nor I love having our picture taken, but Sam made us feel decently comfortable in front of the camera. She traveled for both our engagement pictures and the wedding itself. She hung out with us at my parent’s cottage after our engagement session; truly interested in getting to know more about us. 

When we got our wedding photos back I was shook (as the kids say). She brought out the best in every person, place, and thing she photographed on our wedding day, down to our miniature donkey. We could not recommend Sam more highly! 


Flowers: University Flower Shop, Luella Acres and Casey’s garden

We did a bunch of our flowers ourselves with the help of some freshly picked blooms from Luella acres, a TON of Rosemary from my sister’s garden, some eager aunts and Mary Baude

However, when it came to our bouquets (and EPIC pampas grass cloud), we were in the capable hands of Dani and her team at University Flower Shop. 

Dani is a friend and an all-around great person. Her work is just as awesome as she is. She has the innate ability to take inspiration and a “vibe” and turn them into a reality. 

Catering: Eat, LLC

Eat catered our wedding and to say people loved the food is an understatement. We had barely any leftovers (a shame in my opinion) and got enough food for far more people than we needed to. 

We wanted to keep things pretty casual for dinner. Eat set up two buffets and served low-key, yet delicious, outdoorsy food. They were easy to work with, supplied all of the dining rentals, and even left little plates of passed apps at our seats knowing we’d miss cocktail hour for pictures. 

Cake: Sweet Heather Anne

SHA provided our two wedding cakes, neither of which could have been any more beautiful. Again, if you’re looking for a vendor who can take a vibe or idea and run with it, look no further. I basically told them I wanted to incorporate pressed flowers, fruit, and moodiness (3 of my fav things) and they delivered 100%. 

Dessert Table: Sister Pie

Because our friends and family dabble in excessive overeating at special events, cake wasn’t enough. We had Sister Pie bring some pies and cookies and set up a little dessert table. Crazy delicious and great service all around. 

Month-of Coordination: Kendall Rose, The Revel Rose

Maybe the smartest thing we did was hire Kendall as our month-of coordinator. Because our wedding was at home, I knew we needed someone to be there to herd the many cats in my family. Kendall did the job with (what seemed like) total ease. I swear I'm not overstating this - I felt basically zero stress on my wedding day because I knew she had things covered.

Not only did she keep up organized, she truly added to the experience with her personality, wit, and honeymoon restaurant recommendations (Lagniappe in Marquette, MI). Having her at our wedding was a joy. She truly felt like just another bud there for the party (but was working her buns off the entire time). Kendall is smart, talented, gracious and fun. You’d be crazy to hire someone else.


Tabletop Decor AND SO MUCH MORE: Whitetail Farm 

Whitetail provided endless help on (and well before) our wedding day. From sourcing tabletop decor to assisting in event styling and floral arrangement, Mary went out of her way to make it the best party ever. She LITERALLY showed up the morning of the wedding, helped set up, went home to get ready and came back in time for a pre-ceremony cocktail. If you’re in need of assistance with anything from event design to coordination to rentals, Whitetail will go above and beyond.




All said and done ... 

We will not soon forget all those who helped make our dream wedding a reality. We are grossly humbled.

We wanted a big, relaxed, backyard party and that’s exactly what we got. THANK YOU to everyone who contributed, attended and ate/drank us out of house and home. 

Brides, I hope this will help you sift through the noise and pick the most relaxed, talented peeps to work with. That being said, the best advice I can give is to have as much fun as possible and to marry someone who makes it easy. 

If you have any additional questions about vendors, etc - please reach out! I am mourning the fact that my wedding is over and looking for someone else's major life event to focus on. 


Venue: Family Farmhouse ⁠
Photography: @samanthajamesphoto⁠
Design, styling, decor: @amandamckeydesigns | @whitetail_farm⁠
Disco Balls: @modernly_events⁠
Coordination: @therevelrose ⁠
Florals: @universityflowershop⁠ | @amandamckeydesigns⁠
Dress: @belovedbridal⁠
Menswear: @vanbovenclothing
Cake: @sweetheatheranne⁠

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