A month before her destination wedding at The Homestead, a four-season amenity-packed resort tucked in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the television program Good Morning America revealed that the national park had won the show’s online vote for the Most Beautiful Place in America.

“After the announcement, all of our guests were really excited to visit,” says the bride, a registered dietician from Columbus, Ohio.

While the timing of the Sleeping Bear award was a happy coincidence, the area’s beauty was no secret to the couple, given that Chris was raised in Traverse City, just a half hour away. With their September date, Jessica and Chris were dreaming of an outdoor ceremony graced with fall foliage and mild temperatures—a pleasant contrast from Scottsdale, Arizona, where they lived at the time.

The weather did not disappoint. The day dawned sunny and warmed to a pleasant 65 degrees. And the Most Beautiful Place in America? Naturally, the location was magnificent, as the guests discovered after chairlifts whisked them up the mountain to The Homestead’s outdoor chapel and its drop-away view of Lake Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Bay with the Manitou Islands floating on the azure-blue horizon.

After the ceremony the couple shared a quiet moment together on the beach, captured by their photographer. Guests, meanwhile, took the lovely trip down the mountain by chairlift to find cocktails waiting on the patio at The Homestead’s Mountain Flowers Lodge—set beside a small pond landscaped with gentle waterfalls.

At the indoor reception, distinctly Northern Michigan details tied the event to its spectacular backdrop. A cherry sauce for the pan-roasted chicken and cherry pie for dessert were nods to the Leelanau Peninsula’s famous cherries, a mushroom risotto played off the morels that Northern Michiganders forage in the spring, and the subtly intricate beauty of hops buds—locally grown—lent a natural elegance to the centerpieces. From start to finish it was a wedding worthy of its widely beloved setting.

The guests, says Jessica, left gushing that it was the best wedding ever.

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