Bride and groom Molly and Jonathan are both active people. Crystal Mountain was the perfect venue that showcased their passions (Molly is a lifelong skier and Jon is an avid golfer), while providing a mini vacation for their guests. The story of their wedding day was originally published in MyNorth Wedding 2015: A Magazine for Couples Who Love Northern Michigan.

Molly Russell was working as a beverage cart girl at a golf course in St. Johns, Michigan, when Jonathan Pauli, a handsome student at Oakland University, bought her a pack of M&M’s. Here’s the happy ending to that sweet story: they were married six years later.

But first, of course, there was a wedding. Molly, a lifelong skier, and Jon, an avid golfer, wanted to be married at a venue that showcased their passions. Crystal Mountain fit that description—the resort’s two golf courses, were open—and although there wasn’t snow in May thankfully, the chairlifts were available to transport the bridal party and their guests to the top of the mountain for the ceremony.

Find Molly and Jonathan’s Crystal Mountain Wedding Here

The event planners at Crystal Mountain made it easy for Molly to plan most of the wedding while she was still in dental school in Milwaukee. Jon, too, was a big help. With his career in finance, he proved apt at handling the spreadsheets and making calls. “While my mom and I were at a Packers game one day, Jon and his mom were tasting cakes,” Molly says with a laugh.

All photography: Holli Vanderveen, 
Holli Ann Studios

As the wedding weekend began, 160 guests from the Midwest and beyond arrived at Crystal Mountain for what turned out to be their own mini-vacations, given the resort’s many amenities. “I loved the idea of making a weekend out of the wedding and giving our guests a little vacation,” says Molly.

In lieu of a traditional rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding, Molly, Jonathan, and their guests relaxed with pizza and beer. A blue and cloudless sky graced the day as guests hopped aboard chairlifts that whisked them up to the ceremony at the top of the ski hill. There, Molly and Jon exchanged vows overlooking Betsie River Valley.

Butlers stationed at the base of the mountain stood ready to serve wine, water or lemonade after the ceremony—a detail that was as necessary as it was elegant, as it was one of the hottest days of summer.

Dining was under a tent set up on the lovely lodge lawn. Molly’s favorite color, yellow, dotted the decor in paper lanterns hanging from the tent ceiling and flower arrangements that included yellow roses and craspedia—a variety of sunny-colored button-sized daisy. Guests had their choice of steak or fish for dinner. For dessert, there was a pink champagne–flavored cake with mother-approved buttercream frosting (Molly’s mom is a frosting aficionado).

The partying started as the DJ struck up the first tune and didn’t end until the after-reception party in the Vista Lounge with its view of the mountain—a perfectly romantic spot for Mr. and Mrs. Pauli to start their happily ever after.

Photography: Holli Vanderveen, 
Holli Ann Studios,
Venue: Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville, 231.378.2000,

Photo(s) by Holli Vanderveen, 
Holli Ann Studios