Alpine Elegance at an Otsego Resort Wedding

A couple commits to forever in a fun, yet elegant wedding at Otsego Resort in Northern Michigan, a place cherished by the bride since childhood.

Anna Aldrich & Michael Shaw // January 12, 2019

Michael Shaw laughs when he tells the story of meeting Anna Aldrich—the future Anna Shaw. He was sitting with a group of his buddies at a bar in Ypsilanti, near where he was finishing up at Eastern Michigan University. They were a rowdy bunch that included his fellow members of the EMU wrestling team. He spotted Anna across the room, did a double-take and told his friends, “I’m going to marry that girl.”

Michael crossed the room to introduce himself and offered to buy her a tequila shot, but she was the designated driver for her girlfriends and turned down the drink. He did, however, manage to get her number. A short time later, Michael was planning a party for his sister’s 21st birthday. He’d invited all his buddies, but when his sister asked what girls were coming, he realized he had forgotten to invite girls. He called on Anna, who rounded up her friends—and a tiara and sash for Mike’s sister. Yep, she was the one.

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A year and a half later, Michael was a state trooper and Anna was a nurse and they were ready for the forever commitment. Michael proposed to Anna in front of their families at Anna’s family’s Italian restaurant, Caruso’s in Angola, Indiana. She said, “Yes! Yes!” almost before he’d gotten down on one knee.

One of the many things this couple has in common is a love of snow sports—Anna is a boarder and Michael skis. With that in mind, they envisioned a winter wedding. Once they’d decided that much, they knew it would be at Otsego Resort in Gaylord. As Anna explains, the resort has been “near and dear to [her] heart [her] entire life.” She began skiing there when she was 3 years old and has since spent every Christmas there with her family.

Indeed, the resort seemed tailored to their 180-guest destination wedding. Most of the guests stayed on-site in one of the resort’s four lodges, while others stayed at hotels nearby. The best part was that the entire bridal party could stay together in the resort’s Hilltop Lodge, which is divided into two wings of four rooms each, connected by a common room and kitchen.

Many guests and members of the bridal party arrived a couple of days early to ski and hang out at the River Cabin—a bar with an outdoor fire pit at the base of the back slopes and next to the Sturgeon River. By the rehearsal dinner, memories were already being made. Anna’s family brought the food from Caruso’s for the casual dinner (handmade calzones, Italian meatballs, Caprese skewers and more), held in the Hilltop Lodge’s common room.

The following afternoon, the couple was married at St. Mary Cathedral in Gaylord by Father Bernie, the same priest who married Anna’s parents (and he also skis at Otsego Resort!). Michael’s first look at his bride in her gown was as she came down the aisle. “I melted, then I cried my eyes out,” he says, adding that his groomsmen, who included fellow wrestlers, state troopers and a couple of football players, will probably never let him live it down.

The reception was held in the resort’s Duck Blind Grille—a knotty pine-paneled room with an expansive view of the ski slopes—a winter wonderland that lit up when the sun went down and the slope lights went on. After what the couple describes as a “phenomenal dinner” of stuffed chicken breast and pecan-crusted walleye, prepared by the Duck Blind Grille staff, the newlyweds impressed their wedding guests with their choreographed dance (yes, they took lessons) to “Home” by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros.

After that, it was everyone on the dance floor for the rest of the evening, the couple says, crediting their DJ Adam Freeman for meeting with them prior to the wedding to make sure their playlist was personalized. “I remember looking at the clock at 8:30 and telling Michael, ‘I’m getting tired. I don’t know if I can make it,’” Anna says. “And the next thing I knew, it was midnight.”

But there was more … the next morning, the staff at the Duck Blind Grille prepared a fabulous brunch, complete with an omelet station. After the leisurely meal, it was time for goodbyes—mixed with gushes of gratitude for such a perfect occasion. “The best part about it is that we never felt pressed for time,” Michael says. “We got to spend so much time with the people we love. Otsego Resort made that happen. It’s like having your own city for the weekend.”

Northern Michigan Wedding Resources

Venue // Otsego Resort
Photographer // Samantha Nicole Photography
Videography // Lindsey Leigh Media
Dinner & Brunch // Otsego Resort
Cake & Rehearsal Dinner // Caruso’s Italian Restaurant
Gown // Laura Jacob’s Bridal
Handmade Tuxedo // Elevated Citizen
Music at Wedding and Cocktail Hour // Higher Plain
Flowers // Flowers by Evelyn, 989.732.6227
DJ // Adam Freeman
Guest Favors // Alpine Chocolat Haus

Find more Northern Michigan weddings, lots of ideas and vendors in the 2020 MyNorth Wedding!