Groom Jared Vaal had only a few requests for their wedding: No overwhelming amounts of pink. An open bar. And it had to be Up North. A destination wedding at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa checked all the boxes and then some. 

For Amy Vaal, the last requirement was especially easy. She had grown up coming to Crystal Lake with her family, and her fiancé, Jared, had also fallen in love with the lazy days on the lake and the Northern Michigan lifestyle.

But planning a wedding from a distance isn’t always a snap. Especially when, as Amy admits, you might be a teensy bit type A. “I love weddings,” she says. “And I’m very detail oriented.”

Featured in MyNorth Wedding, a magazine for couples who love Up North 

Photo by Northern Art Photography

Photo by Northern Art Photography

The perfect solution? A destination wedding at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa. The Indiana couple, who met at a New Year’s Eve party in college, had originally pondered a New Year’s Eve wedding, but scrapped the idea (too cold!) in favor of an outdoor summer fête.

The bride never wanted an outdoor wedding—she worried it’d be too hot, too cold, or rainy. But the setting at the 55th hole took her breath away. “Why travel Up North to have a wedding in a ballroom? You can do that anywhere. I liked that the site was surrounded by trees.”

Photo by Northern Art Photography

As Liz Klondik, special events manager at Grand Traverse Resort explains it: “The 55th hole isn’t really on a course per se. Since we have 3 courses, we technically have 54 holes of golf. The 55th is just a cute play on words since it’s not such a thing in golf.”

Liz was Amy’s point person on the wedding, working her carefully through reassuring options and contingency plans. Amy talks about as if she has wings and a halo. “Liz did a phenomenal job,” says Amy. “It’s just provided as part of their services. It was so easy!” The resort handled the site, event management and design, cake, bartender, caterer, timing. Having those logistics in hand meant that Amy could focus on the fun stuff—the details.

Photo by Northern Art Photography

Guests arrived to a casual welcome reception on Friday complete with comfort foods like barbecued ribs and cherry pie.

For the ceremony, Amy wanted things a little more elegant. “I love the trendy things on Pinterest, but I wanted something timeless, so everything we did was pretty neutral—champagne and white colors, classic flowers. I didn’t want to look back and think, ‘why did I choose that?’” They opted for a short ceremony set in the trees with traditional vows, and then a gorgeous white tent for the fun.

Photo by Northern Art Photography

Guests were treated to gifts of tiny honey pots of whiskey barrel honey from Iron Fish Distillery. They sipped local wines from Chateau Chantal, Chateau Grand Traverse and Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery (the couple loves their Naked Chardonnay).

During the party, friends danced or relaxed at an outdoor cigar bar. For dessert, they noshed on a choice of white cake with raspberry filling or chocolate with Nutella creme. (“Liz saved pieces of it for me to eat later, I loved it so much!” the bride gushes.)

“All in all, the resort had everything I was looking for,” Amy says.

The couple loved that they didn’t have to leave the property and just used locations all across the resort, from their welcome reception at the Pavilion, to first-look photos at Aerie Restaurant and Lounge, to their farewell brunch (also at the Pavilion)—even a golf outing for the groom and friends.

“Every small detail—down to the type of chilled water we served at the reception—Liz took to heart,” Amy says. Which meant that Amy and Jared could focus on joining theirs.

Photo by Northern Art Photography

Wedding Vendors

Venue | Grand Traverse Resort & Spa
PhotographyNorthern Art Photography
Flowers | Field of Flowers North
Favors | Iron Fish Distillery
Music | Two Bays DJs
Harpist | Sylvia Norris
Hair & MakeupMakeup by Kori, Kori Martz & K. Noelle Artistry, Kirstyn Taylor

Photo(s) by Northern Art Photography