The East-Coast bride and Midwestern groom found a perfect destination for their fall wedding at Ciccone Vineyards.

Jenn Freitas and Nick Melcher are an unlikely match. She stands a mere 5-feet tall and is from the East Coast. Nick is a 6-foot-4-inch-tall Midwesterner and former college football player. They met at a dueling piano bar while both were vacationing in Myrtle Beach. She tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to move out of the way—and that was the start of a beautiful—if nontraditional—love story.

When it came time to plan their wedding, both Nick and Jenn knew they wanted a fall wedding — they’re avid football fans and autumn is their favorite season. Because Nick is from Oak Forest, Illinois, and Jenn is from Fall River, Massachusetts, they also wanted a destination wedding, somewhere between their two hometowns. In Traverse City they found the geography they were looking for, as well as a region that spoke to their hearts. “We love being outside, and we love good people, good beer, and good food,” says Jenn. “Traverse City felt like home.”

After browsing venues in the Traverse area, the couple headed out to the Leelanau Peninsula wine country—where they found Ciccone Vineyard & Winery. The lush rolling hills, shimmering view of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay and picturesque vineyards convinced them they’d found where they would wed.

Christina Trogan Photography

Nick and Jenn launched their wedding week by driving from their home in Chicago to Wisconsin, where they drove their car aboard the S.S. Badger car ferry for a leisurely 5-hour scenic boat ride across Lake Michigan to the Michigan City of Ludington, a couple hours’ drive south of Traverse City. Nick had always wanted to take the amenity-filled cruise, and it seemed an appropriate preamble to their Michigan wedding.

Once in Michigan, the couple whiled away the days before their wedding touring the dozens of wineries clustered around Ciccone Vineyard & Winery with family and friends. On their wedding day, 65 guests gathered in this breathtaking setting and listened to the words of Bob Marley, as read by the couple’s friend and officiant Ben Cassan. Jenn and Nick wrote their own vows, which included football references and many laughs.

As the newlyweds entered the reception in the renovated barn, they were introduced to a remix of “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” by Dropkick Murphys and The Blues Brothers’ “Sweet Home Chicago”—homages to their hometowns. With their kicked-back style, it’s no wonder that Jenn and Nick opted to treat their guests to an authentic down-home pig roast provided by Chef’s Pride Catering.

Once the band starting playing, Jenn and Nick didn’t leave the dance floor all evening. The reception ended when the (remaining!) guests and bridal party boarded a chartered bus for a wild (but safe!) ride while everyone did Michigan Apple Shots—Jenn and Nick’s version of the Washington Apple Shot that involves apple schnapps.

The happy newlyweds indulged their first morning as a married couple in quintessential laid-back style: Jenn ate a cheeseburger, and Nick watched football. Bliss.

Photography: Christina Trogan 
Photography, 231.360.4953,
Venue: Ciccone Vineyard & Winery, 231.271.5553,

Photo(s) by Christina Trogan Photography