Molly Arnold and Josh Vargas have many memories together in Charlevoix. It’s where the couple met and where they fell in love. It was only fitting to be married there. The couple’s stunning Round Lake wedding at their close friends’ boathouse was both elegant and heartfelt.

This article was originally published in the 2016 issue of MyNorth Wedding.

All photography: Michael Murphy IV Photography

In 2006, Josh Vargas left his home in California when his work brought him to Charlevoix for the summer. By the end of the season, he’d become enchanted in two ways: he’d fallen in love with Molly Arnold, a wonderful young woman he’d met in town, and he’d fallen in love with the town itself. He flew back home, packed up his things, and drove 2,500 miles back to Michigan. Nine years later, Josh and Molly got married in the Northern Michigan town they both now call home.

I knew I loved him when he made that decision to move here for good,” Molly says. “That was a huge step very early on. We had only known each other for two or three months. When I saw him drive across the country to come back here and start a life with me, I knew it was going to be forever.”

Josh proposed at the same spot where he first met Molly. It had been his first night in Charlevoix, and he was sitting out back on a friend’s porch. “It was also the spot where he asked me on our first date,” Molly says. It just seemed fitting to propose on the porch, too.

For their June 20th wedding, Molly and Josh wanted to keep it simple, casual and relaxed. Their longtime friends John and Zita Winn offered their boathouse on Round Lake in Charlevoix for the ceremony and reception. “I have known John and Zita for over 15 years,” Molly says. “I worked for them taking care of their three kids, and we have grown to be like a family. When we got engaged, they were the first people we told, and we celebrated with them first. From there on we just kind of knew that would be an awesome spot to get married. They’re the most generous people.”

The couple was married on a barge that was trimmed in flowers and moored between two of the boathouse docks. The ceremony started at 7 p.m. and was immediately followed by the reception, which was catered by Pigs Eatin’ Ribs. The local Charlevoix restaurant and food truck vendor served savory hors d’oeuvres including a shaved beef tenderloin crostini, ahi tuna wonton, grilled chicken satay, caprese skewers, and miniature mushroom strudels. “Adam and Jill Kline of Pigs Eatin’ Ribs are personal friends of ours, and it is one of our favorite local restaurants,” Molly says. “We knew they would create something extra special for our celebration.” In addition, the couple had a dessert bar catered by Galley Gourmet of Bay Harbor featuring mini cheesecake, key lime pies and mini chocolate bombs.

After dinner, the evening was far from over. Ed McCarty of Ed’s DJ Service kept everyone dancing late into the night on the boathouse deck, and the celebration didn’t stop until 1 a.m. “It was such a party,” Molly says. “The boathouse is located right in downtown Charlevoix, so some of our guests were walking through the city, and they said the entire town could hear the music and see the lights.”

The boathouse glittered with thousands of lights—strings draped across the two boat bays, and candle-lit globes hung around the perimeter. Many of the Winns’ wooden vintage boats inside the boathouse were lined with lights along their railings to create a soft glow. “We didn’t want to take anything away from the uniqueness of the antiques in the boathouse, so we really tried to enhance them with the lighting,” Molly says. The wooden dance floor on the deck was also covered with lights creating a beautiful outdoor experience for the guests.

The rest of the decorations were simple. Molly used different sized vases filled with water and Michigan stones as centerpieces on each table. “Zita is quite a rock collector so we had all of these stones that she had handpicked from the surrounding area and Lake Michigan,” Molly says.

Keeping with the casual evening, Molly chose a classic, form-fitting ivory wedding dress with a trumpet skirt and a small train from BHLDN, Anthropologie’s wedding collection. Her grandmother’s pearls and leather strappy heels from Nine West completed the sleek look. “My favorite part was the back of the dress, which had a deep cowl,” Molly says. “I added another strand to my grandmother’s pearls that went all the way down to the top of it.”

Molly’s sister, and maid of honor, Annie Smith, made her bridal bouquet. Annie works at BLOOM Floral Design and put together a stunning arrangement of peonies, roses, scabiosa, draping greens and flowing ribbons. “The bouquet was absolutely spectacular,” Molly says. “It was so big I almost couldn’t hold it with one hand.”

Josh worked with Christopher Struble of Arlington Jewelers in Petoskey to create a beautiful and sentimental ring for Molly. When she was younger, Molly’s father passed away, and her mother kept his gold band. Josh and Chris took both of her parents’ bands and redesigned them into a piece for Molly. “It’s so meaningful to have my parents’ wedding bands,” Molly says. “We are a very close family, and it was hard not to have my dad there on my wedding day, but incorporating his wedding band along with my mom’s into my setting, really made it feel like a part of him was there. When my mom offered their rings to Josh and me, it really felt like a special blessing from both of them.”

Molly and Josh’s relaxed Charlevoix boathouse wedding was exactly what the couple wanted: a celebration. The beautiful setting on Round Lake, the dazzling lights, and the presence of their closest friends and family truly made it a special day for the lovely couple.

Find more inspiration in the MyNorth wedding directory.

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Photo(s) by Michael Murphy IV Photography