Congratulations, Claire & Max on their intimate Michigan lodge wedding. Photography by Allen Kent Photography

So tell us, how did you meet the love of your life?

We met online in 2017. I had been on OkCupid for a few months and he had been on and off for years and neither one of us had been super successful. Our first date was at a local bar in Ann Arbor on a terrible rainy day. We met up at 7 on a Tuesday night, bought a total of three drinks between the two of us and stayed until close without even realizing how much time had passed (pretty sure the bar tender hated us!). We both knew we had found something special that night.

When did you know they were the one?

We had been living together since 2018, but in a tiny house that I had bought myself when I was single. Our relationship was going great, but we were in no rush to get married. When the pandemic hit we were both working from home and it started to look like that might be lasting for awhile so we started talking about moving somewhere bigger. When we were talking about moving it was a no brainer that we would buy the house together. It's not super romantic, but knowing we were making such a big commitment together with the house and both of us having no hesitation about it made it obvious we were ready to get married!

Tell us the story of the proposal!

Max loves dates, and pays special attention to anniversaries. We had been together to a local jeweler to pick out a ring (a custom designed ring modeled after his late grandmother's), but he wanted to keep the proposal a surprise. Based on when we had gone to the jeweler, and his random errand run during the week before, I had a feeling he would propose on our four-year anniversary of our first date. We had planned on a hike at a local park. The weather was terrible (icy and cold), but Max was insistent that we go. I kept looking for bulges in his pocket, but couldn't find any so I started to think maybe it wouldn't be the day. When we got to the park, it was empty because of the weather and we were able to go down to a dock that is always packed. He got down on one knee and pulled out a list of reasons why he loves me that he had written and then brought out the tiniest ring box. Of course I said yes!

How long was your engagement? What went into deciding your wedding's date and location?

We were engaged just over six months. We both love skiing, so we started looking at ski resorts up north Michigan (we live in southern Michigan and his family lives in Ohio so it was a perfect distance to be a vacation but not have to fly during COVID). We kept the wedding small for just closest friends and family, and Crystal Mountain had a perfect rooftop deck for a less than 40 person wedding that sealed the deal. We picked the date based on the only Fall 2021 date they had available!

How would you describe your personal style?  What was most important to you when you were planning your bridal look?

Very casual. I work with a bunch of men in an engineering office and jeans, a sweater and no makeup, are a typical look. I wanted to feel as comfortable as I dress day-to-day, but still have a beautiful dress.

 When did you know you had found your perfect dress?

I thought I would need to go try on a dress to feel comfortable making the decision, but the second I saw the Ari dress I fell in love with it. It felt like exactly what I wanted - simple, beautiful, and romantic. After obsessive researching of the brand, finding other Ari brides with similar body types to me online, and sleeping on it for a few days I decided to just go for it and risk it and I'm so glad I did!

Which dress did you choose, and did you request any custom aspects?

I chose the Ari with the nude lining and no customizations.

What went through your mind when the Wear Your Love box arrived at your doorstep and you tried on your dress for the first time?

I was so excited that I couldn't wait to try it on! I ignored the recommendations to make it an event because Max was gone for the afternoon (I didn't want him to see it), and I had a meeting in 30 minutes that I knew I couldn't focus on with the box staring at me. It went on super fast and fit perfectly. I almost didn't even have to look at it in the mirror because it felt so great on, but when I did I was so happy with my choice!

Did your wedding have a theme or style?

Simple and casual-feel but elegant style was what I was going for. I didn't want anything over the top, but I wanted everything to feel thought out and high quality.

How involved was your partner in the wedding planning? Did your families help? Did you hire a coordinator, planner, or event stylist?

I project manage for a living, so I did most of the planning myself with my fiance approving everything before we finalized it. Our venue didn't have a day-of coordinator, but they did provide someone to make sure the spaces were set up and available for vendors so I didn't have to coordinate everyone the day of. I gave most of the day-of jobs to family members that wouldn't need all morning to get ready and had my sister be the day of contact for the venue, which really helped me relax on the day.

Let's show your wedding venue some love! What is the name of your venue, and why did you choose it for your special day?

Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville, MI! They had a mountaintop deck for the ceremony that included rental of the chairlift to get guests and us to the top and a perfect reception space for our small (25 person) wedding.

Tell us about your wedding playlist! What song did you walk down the aisle to? Did you have a first dance song that was meaningful to you?

Since our wedding was small we didn't have a wedding party (everyone there would have been standing up!), and I was the only one walking down the very short aisle, we skipped the music for the ceremony. We also skipped all of the reception traditions, including the first dance, since they didn't fit with what we wanted for the day.

What was your favorite moment of the day?

We decided to ride the chairlift up to the top together instead of me behind him. It gave us a chance to spend some extra time alone together right before the ceremony to remember all the reasons why we're doing this and give each other reassurance that the day would go exactly as it should. As a bonus, the chairlift broke down for about 15 minutes before we got on it, so we got some hilarious stories from the unlucky guests who got stuck on the lift and had no idea what was going on.

Who was involved in your special day? We would love to shout out your photographer, favorite vendors, and anyone else who made your day magical. 

Allen Kent Photography (@allenkentphoto) did an absolutely amazing job. Not only were the pictures amazing, but the day of Michael made us feel so comfortable and all our guests loved him. He took a beautiful picture of my grandparents that my whole family has gone crazy over. Kristyn Taylor (@k.noelleartistry) did my hair, as well as my sister and both my mom and Max's mom. We all were super happy with how they turned out. The flowers were by Victoria's Floral Weddings (@victoriasfloralweddings). Our decorations were primarily flowers, and they dropped everything off on time and did exactly what I had envisioned without much direction from me.

Do you have any advice or helpful tips for others planning a wedding?

Do exactly what you want and skip all the stuff you don't. At the end of the weekend we felt like everything we did fit us, and our guests gave us so many compliments on how much fun they had. I would also suggest making a day of schedule (or having your coordinator do this if you have one) that has plenty of wiggle room so if one thing goes over you aren't stressed, and delegating day-of tasks to someone else outside the wedding party if possible.

What has been the best part so far about being married?

We found out we were pregnant a whole three days after the wedding, so life has been a whirlwind since getting married! Our relationship feels mostly the same, but we are so excited for what's to come in this next chapter.

Claire is wearing The Ari with nude lining, 7/8 sleeves, and a 12 in sweep train.

Rachel Ferreira