The casual vibe of a summer Up North combined with the sophistication of Bay Harbor Village Hotel inspired a beachy elegance at Rich Lockwood and Tonya Wardena’s August wedding on the beach at Bay Harbor. The couple discovered the venue while enjoying Northern Michigan’s Biketember Fest. It was love at first sight when they pedaled into Bay Harbor, a harbor town nestled on Lake Michigan’s grass and sand beach shores. “As soon as we saw that beach-lake setting, we thought, This is where we want our wedding!” Tonya says.

Bay Harbor Village Hotel helped transform Rich and Tonya’s wedding into a weekend extravaganza. Family and friends traveled from as far as Sri Lanka and California for the Thursday pig roast rehearsal dinner on the beach, Friday cocktail party, and Saturday wedding. “The three days gave us a chance to talk to everyone,” agreed Rich and Tonya. “And people love Northern Michigan, so it was a vacation for them, too.”

Pre-ceremony wedding photos captured the day’s theme with shots of the wedding party strolling Bay Harbor’s shores, sailboats bobbing in the marina background. At the wedding, bridesmaids walked the sandy aisle barefoot, and the bride followed to the mellow chords of acoustic guitarist Sean Bielby strumming The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.” Rich and Tonya exchanged vows beneath a birch arbor at the water’s edge.

Beach-inspired accents and colors that mirrored Bay Harbor’s landscape were splashed throughout the tented, outdoor reception. Apple green napkins and seat cushions added vibrancy to navy blue tablecloths, which were topped with birchwood vases holding manzanita branches decorated by the bride with green sola flowers and spider mums. The tent’s center poles were hidden inside tree sculptures made of wood, and LED-lit branches adorned with hanging votives cast an elegant glow as the sun set.

Guests dined on spreads prepared by the Bay Harbor specialty food and catering shop Galley Gourmet (food and service the bride described as “phenomenal”) as cocktail hour rolled into dinner, and the reception kicked off with music from the Mac Daddy Band. After Rich and Tonya’s first dance to The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love,” Tonya changed into an apple green bridal ghagra, the traditional Sri Lankan wedding reception dress, and the wedding became even more beach casual as Rich upheld his motto, “No ties after sunset.”

This article is also available in the 2013 edition of MyNorth Wedding, For Couples Who Love Up North. Order your copy now!