Vacationers from all over the Midwest escape to Charlevoix’s Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix shores for 4th of July weekend, but this Dayton, Ohio, couple headed north with friends and family with a more intimate celebration in mind.
Aurélie and Chris grew up less than a mile away from each other in Farmington Hills, but didn’t meet until after college. Location was the most important choice when they began making their wedding plans. Historic Castle Farms was the first and only place they looked—after falling in love with the French chateau-style buildings and the gorgeous grounds, they just went for it, says Chris.
The outdoor ceremony began at 5 p.m. in the Knight’s Courtyard, with a reception under the original cathedral ceiling of the Knight’s Castle to follow. Both Aurélie and Chris wrote their own vows that day. Officiate John Rubadeau, Aurélie’s English professor from the University of Michigan, led the ceremony on the steps of the castle. Since Aurélie is a French citizen and several family and friends from back home attended the ceremony, a family friend also performed a simple ceremony in French. The joyous toasting, dancing and celebrating that followed left nothing lost to translation.
Aurélie’s brother Alex played her favorite Neil Diamond tune, “Cherry, Cherry,” as a transition into cocktail hour. The ring bearer and flower girl spontaneously plunked down on the courtyard lawn, entranced with the ceremony. “It helped that our officiant looks a little like Santa Claus,” says Chris. Castle Farms was built in 1918, by the president of Sears, Roebuck, and Company to showcase the newest farm equipment. Today the historic Charlevoix landmark is a premier Northern Michigan destination for weddings and other special events.
Chris and Aurélie loved the attention to detail Charlevoix’s mom-and-pop vendors paid to make their day so glorious. Aurélie had her hair done at Hair Qtrs. in Charlevoix. Backdoor Florist in East Jordan created the flower arrangements. Grey Gables Inn chefs Darren and Kelly Romano, both Culinary Institute of America graduates, catered an exquisite dinner. After a champagne toast and passed hors d’oeuvres, guests enjoyed a buffet of beef bourguignon and chardonnay chicken with wild rice.
A castle styled after the stone barns found in Normandy made an unbelievably romantic backdrop for photos. Grey Gables Inn pastry chef Kelly Romano has a special cake menu just for Castle Farms weddings that includes poppy seed cake with a light almond cream, and chocolate cake with a Grand Marnier–spiked Bavarian cream. Boyne City’s A+ Digital DJs kept guests dancing into the night, in a castle all aglow.
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