Traverse City Wedding at West Bay Beach, A Holiday Inn Resort

West Bay Beach, A Holiday Inn Resort was the perfect place for Kristi and Derek Luke to tie the knot. It provided accommodations for the wedding party, a sandy beach and Lake Michigan background for the ceremony plus lots of space for dancing. The story of their wedding day was originally published in MyNorth Wedding 2015: A Magazine for Couples Who Love Northern Michigan.

Kristi Torretti and Derek Luke both grew up in Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. They lived a mere 2.5 miles away from each other, but it wasn’t until she was a senior in college and he was a freshman that they finally met at a party. After dating on and off for 11 years, they decided to get married at West Bay Beach, A Holiday Inn Resort. “We love Traverse City,” says Kristi. “It has a great culture, and there are so many things to do.”

West Bay Beach promised the all-inclusive destination wedding the couple had dreamed of. The guests and bridal party could all stay at the hotel together, the ceremony would be on the sandy, Lake Michigan waterfront just steps from the hotel, and the ballroom is just a couple steps from the beach and past the pool. Making it sweeter yet, the resort just completed a 7 million dollar renovation including restaurants, banquet spaces and hotel rooms. To top it all off, when the reception ended, the devoted revelers could keep dancing in View, the resort’s onsite nightclub.

Find Kristi and Derek’s West Bay Beach, A Holiday Inn Resort Wedding Here

As for theme, Kristi and Derek knew they wanted to give their beach wedding a sense of the nautical, without going overboard—as Kristi says, a “not a not nautical theme.” That sentiment played out in a lively mix of navy blue and orange—as in the groom’s orange pants and the flower girls’ striped navy and white dresses.

All photography: Colleen Warren, [email protected]

The couple’s Traverse City–based friend, Richard Harrison, served as their de facto wedding planner and was an immense help to Kristi and Derek as they planned their wedding from Lake Orion, Michigan. Richard, who had lived in the Hamptons, brought an East Coast–resort touch to the wedding. He did everything from arranging the flowers to deciding on the decorations.

Kristi bought three wedding dresses before she was finally happy with her decision—a full gown with spaghetti straps, vintage buttons, a big bow in the back and, her favorite part, pockets. The gown is fun, elegant and totally Kristi.

The morning of the wedding, the couple watched the bold sun rise over the bay from their water-view room. As the morning progressed, sailboats and paddle boarders drifted by their window. Later in the day, about 115 guests watched as Kristi and Derek took their vows at the water’s edge in an intimate ceremony officiated by Kristi’s uncle Tommy, a pastor. The couple’s daughter was one of the flower girls. “There was not a dry eye there that day,” says Kristi. “[My uncle] knows Derek and me well and described who we are as a couple in just a few words.”

Guests sipped cocktails waterside before they were led into the ballroom. West Bay Beach, A Holiday Inn Resort catered the elegant dinner. Guests had their choice of grilled sirloin topped with forest mushrooms and red wine au jus or lemon caper chicken with basil white wine sauce. The raspberry and almond salad was made with locally grown bib lettuce.

The one thing Kristi was very specific about was the cake—she wanted it from her favorite bakery in Iron Mountain, Andrea’s Sweet Design. Kristi’s mom made the six and a half hour trek down from Iron Mountain to Traverse City with the cherry-filled chocolate forest cake safely stowed. Thankfully, the cake made it safely—there was no back-up plan.

Kristi and Derek’s first dance was to Kip Moore’s quietly romantic song “Hey Pretty Girl.” They spent the rest of the evening dancing and mingling with their guests. The time was elegant and intimate and perfect. And yes, there were still revelers ready to head to View for more partying when the reception wound down. Oh what a night!

Photography: Colleen Warren, 
[email protected]
Venue: West Bay Beach Resort, A Holiday Inn
 Resort, Traverse City, 231.947.3700, tcwestbay.com