Willowbrook Mill sits near the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula in Northport, a fairytale wedding venue for happily-ever-after.

A Fairytale Wedding at Willowbrook Mill …

Emily Best & Bill Cavaliere // August 3, 2019

Emily resettled from Michigan to New York for work, where she met and fell in love with her fiancé, Bill, and his family. When it came time to plan their wedding, Emily saw an opportunity to show them Northern Michigan—and especially Leelanau County where she’d spent many childhood summers.

What better way than on their wedding weekend? So, Emily started inquiring around about how to plan a wedding from afar, and a friend from college referred her to Melissa Conradie, of Conradie Event Design. Emily and Melissa hit it off immediately and together, they began the process of building on Emily’s vision. Melissa’s first move was urging Emily and Bill to book Willowbrook Mill in Northport, sight unseen, for their 80-guest wedding.

After all, one of the key things the couple had asked for when they hired Melissa was that the event be, “Heartfelt and meaningful and make guests feel a connection to the personalized nature of the event.” Melissa was confident in her team’s ability to create the elegant atmosphere Emily dreamed of in the charming, intimate venue, nestled as it is in the picture-perfect Lake Michigan harbor town of Northport.

Even as the guests began arriving, the beginning of a Happily Ever After denouement to the event was unfolding. Cue the rehearsal dinner at the nearby romantic, Old World- style Aurora Vineyards; move on to the ceremony on a bluebird morning the next day at the historic white-clapboard Trinity Church—located close enough to Willowbrook Mill for those guests who chose to, to stroll to the reception.

And then, the reception itself. Built in the 19th century, Willowbrook Mill is a rustic-elegant gem set on the edge of a creek in the heart of Northport. Inside, the contrasts of the exposed-beam ceiling with lovely chandeliers and massive stone fireplaces with the dark polished-wood floor serves up an irresistibly romantic leather-and-lace ambience. Add to that, the adornments by the teams from Conradie Event Design and Amy Kate Designs and the site took guests’ breath away.

The event team had more than executed Emily’s vision of a comfortable, tasteful decor-theme based on shades of lavender and grey (a color she nicknamed griege).

White linen tablecloths were the backdrop for vintage smokey glassware, plum taper candles in gold candleholders and gold-rimmed china dishware. Mercury glass vases in the center of each table held lavish bouquets of peonies, lavender, succulents, decorative cabbage, garden roses, jasmine vines and clematis.

As Emily works for Diageo, the London-based international beverage company, the bar was especially important to her. The boutique bartending service, Tonic & Lime, provided first-class cocktails, including three cocktails specifically created by Emily for the occasion: His Bill-tini; Her Spicy Slinkydrink; Their Cavaliere Cocktail.

Recreate Emily and Bill’s specialty cocktails. Recipes below!

Abundance Catering provided the fabulous feast (prime rib with rosemary au jus, seared chicken with cherry ginger glaze, roasted portabella mushrooms and tilapia with sautéed green beans with fresh garlic and olive oil) and awesome cocktails at hand, Bill and Emily kicked off a night of dancing with “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS.

Read Next: 10 Breathtaking Northern Michigan Wedding Venues

By all accounts, it was an unforgettable event. “The week before I thought, ‘I hope I didn’t make everyone come all the way out here and then find out they didn’t like it,’” Emily says. “But everyone said it was the most beautiful place … they all loved Leelanau. They can’t wait to come back.”

Northern Michigan Wedding Resources

Venue // Willowbrook Mill
Photography // NeriPhoto
Event Planning and Design // Conradie Event Design
Floral Design and Tabletop Decor // Amy Kate Designs
Videographer // White Owl Wedding Films
Catering // Abundance Catering
Boutique Bartending // Tonic & Lime
Linens and Rentals // 307 Events & Tents
Paper Goods // Holly Thomas Design
Cake // Aunt B’s Cakes & Dessert
Dishware // Gigi & LaClede

Re-create Emily and Bill’s specialty cocktails from Tonic & Lime…

His: BILL-tini

2 ounces passionfruit juice
2 ounces apple juice
.5 ounce lime juice
.5 ounce simple syrup
Serve in a high ball glass, top with club soda, add edible flower garnish

Hers: Spicy Slinkydrink

Rim with Mango Sugar
2 ounces casamigos blanco
.75 ounce chili flake infused agave nectar
.5 ounce lime juice
2 leaves cilantro
1 dash orange bitters
1 egg white
Shake, strain, serve in a coupe glass and garnish with orange peel

Theirs: Cavaliere Cocktail “I love yuzu”

1.5 ounces kikori whiskey
.75 ounce yuzuri liqueur
.5 ounce lemon juice
.5 ounce simple syrup
1 barspoon cherry jam
2–3 dashes plum bitters
Shake, strain, serve in a rocks glass and garnish with lemon peel