He may play for the San Francisco 49ers, but Garrett Celek’s blood runs green and white—which is just one reason why he and his wife Sarah chose to be married in Northern Michigan. His coach at the time, (and U of M’s newest coach) Jim Harbaugh was a guest at the wedding and said a few words. Read the incredible wedding story told by the bride, Sarah.

We Meet

I grew up in Birch Run, Michigan, and Garrett grew up in Ohio. Garrett earned a full scholarship to Michigan State University to play football, and I grew up a Spartan and knew I always wanted to go to school there. The summer before my freshman year at State, 2007, I studied abroad in Italy. The university housed us at McDonnel Hall a few nights prior to our departure for a crash course in Italian.

Garrett spent that same summer in McDonnel Hall for training camp. My roommate knew one of Garrett’s teammates and we ran into her friend at lunch. He invited us to sit with him and a few teammates, Garrett being one of them. We all hung out later that afternoon and Garrett asked each one of us for our numbers so we could stay in touch. He tells me later he did this just to get my number but was afraid to ask … Anyway, I left for Italy, and we stayed in touch throughout the summer. In the fall, my freshman year, I was assigned to Case Hall and what do you know? Garrett’s dorm room is one floor above. We started dating immediately and have been together ever since. Last month was the 7th anniversary of our first date.

A few wedding shots… Courtesy of Kelly Sweet Photography:

The Proposal

After our first season with the 49ers, Garrett’s parents took us on a vacation to Key West, Florida. We landed late in the afternoon and once we got settled in our place it was almost sunset. Garrett suggested we make it down to the ocean in time to catch the sunset and check out Mallory Square. As we were about to leave, Garrett’s younger sister, Mackenzie, asked to come along and, of course, I said yes. Looking back I can see Garrett wasn’t too excited for her to tag along but at the time I didn’t think anything of it.

We made our way down to the water, Mackenzie and I leisurely taking it all in. Meanwhile, Garrett is frantically trying to find the perfect spot to watch the sunset, which is unlike him. I kept saying, “This is fine, we can see from here.” There are hundreds of people already gathered to watch at this point. Finally Garrett finds a spot where no one is sitting, probably because it was such a precarious perch over the water!, but we sat and got ready to watch. Then a woman behind us, in a completely unplanned and random gesture, asks, “You two are such a beautiful couple, could I take your picture for you?”

Garrett immediately says “Yes,” and adds that we should stand up for the picture, which is also totally unlike him. I was wearing a cute new dress so I’m definitely taking advantage of this opportunity—of course let’s take a standing-up picture! As I go to smile at the camera I realize Garrett is no longer at my side. He’s on one knee. Ring in hand. I drop down with him just out of shock. He says “Will you … pause … and I end up saying “Yes,” because at this point we’re already kissing, and then as he hugs me he finally says “marry me?” Everyone around us was clapping and Mackenzie was in full shock—he hadn’t told her anything.

An Up North Wedding

Growing up, Garrett spent his summers on Torch Lake and I spent mine on Sand Lake, outside of Tawas. Going Up North was a huge part of both of our lives, and it’s how we like to spend our off-seasons now. I have always wanted an outdoor wed- ding on the water and originally we were thinking of having it at his family’s house on Torch. We decided it was too unrealistic with our family size and started searching venues around the area.

We wanted to make this wedding a vacation for our entire family, and also make it an opportunity to show everyone how truly special Northern Michigan is. I saw a wedding at Crooked Creek Ranch on the Leelanau Peninsula while searching the web and I knew that was the place. It was absolutely perfect. It had the water, the barn, the animals, a truly spectacular setting that we both felt embodied the way Garrett and I grew up—something we’ve really come to cherish after spending time in crazy overcrowded Silicon Valley.

We suggested our guests stay on Torch Lake and rented out cabins near the Celeks’ house. Garrett’s parents hosted the rehearsal dinner on Thursday before the wedding at the house and opened it up to the entire guest list for a cocktail party afterward. It was a perfect evening for our families to meet and enjoy the lake. The following day, Friday, we had everyone out on the sand bar. Many guests brought boats and we all anchored out in the water. We hired a company that provided various water sports including wake surfing and had a blast! It was so nice to be able to share a weekend with family and friends at our favorite place on earth.

The Big Day

It was really important to us that we use local vendors. Crooked Creek provided the food, which was absolutely amazing. The owner, Pam, added a pig roast to her standard bbq menu to give the event a backyard-wedding feel. The pig was complete with a little football in the mouth, Pam’s idea, and it was a big hit—or at least a conversation piece!

Simply Sweet by Jessica made our cake and other desserts. She absolutely outdid herself with multiple elaborate dessert tables. This was the most important part of the planning process as far as Garrett was concerned. He was away for football during most of our vendor meetings, but he made sure he attended the cake tasting, and I totally let him take the reins. I think he nailed it.

My dad walked me down the aisle while two acoustic guitarists, longtime friends of my mom’s, John Krogman & Jon Van, played “Truly, Madly, Deeply” by Ray LaMontagne. I held it together until I saw Garrett. Then the tears flowed uncontrollably. I can definitely say it was the happiest day of my life, exactly as I had envisioned it, on the water, mid-July with all of my closest friends and family nearby, marrying the man of my dreams.

The Wedding Continued … 

Following the ceremony guests gathered at the boathouse for a cocktail hour while Van & Krogman played. The reception was back at the barn where we toasted, dined and had our first dances. Garrett’s coach (of the San Francisco 49ers), Jim Harbaugh, was in attendance with his wife, Sarah. He did a reading at the ceremony and also gave a beautiful speech at the rehearsal complete with a “Who could possibly have it better than Garrett and Sarah? NOBODY!” He also added a little Wolverine shout out (he played for the University of Michigan), which was quickly combated with yells of GO GREEN, GO WHITE! by our many Spartan guests in attendance.

Jedi Mindtrip, our band, was absolutely incredible. There were so many people up dancing, the wood floors in the barn were bowing. The end came upon us far sooner than any of us wanted. We chanted “one more song” on and on to the band, no one wanting the night to end.

The Crooked Creek Ranch is located on Lake Leelanau.

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Photo(s) by Kelly Sweet Photography