Sibling duo Liz Ware and her brother, Mark—vice president of sales and marketing and CEO, respectively, of Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island— know how to celebrate a successful year! Their plan? Gather friends and local business owners to toast to the end of another wonderful Mackinac summer with a beautiful dinner held at Mission Point followed by a sunset sail. The Wares and the people who made it all happen, share the details that made the night so Mackinac special.

Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island with colorful florals.

“The peonies and other summer flowers came from our cutting gardens. We displayed several varieties of peonies, but the two most talked about were Coral Charm and the ever-so-sweet Sarah Bernhardt. Accompanying the peonies were the intoxicating garden roses—Kate and Miranda—and the Free Spirit rose.” –Amy Hendrickson, Amy Kate Designs

It was a sunny summer evening that brought eight friends together for an intimate dinner party and serene sunset cruise around Mackinac Island. The island’s storybook setting offers quaint, quiet delights and the easier tempo of a more idyllic time—it’s a place where you can slow down, take a deep breath of fresh Northern Michigan air and listen to the reassuring clip-clop of horses’ hooves on a sun-dappled, tree-lined lane.

Liz Ware and her brother, Mark hosted six of their friends and local business owners for an evening celebrating friendship and another successful summer season. Liz has a deep love and appreciation for the island and the hospitality industry and wanted to share a unique and unforgettable experience with her friends and vendors.

“I don’t often get the time to just sit, relax and enjoy great company,” Liz says. “And I never tire of pulling into the island’s harbor. It’s instant nostalgia and happiness.”

Table set up for dinner at Mission Point Resort.

“The foundation of the design was assorted fruit from one of my favorite Traverse City sources, Woods and Waters. We featured dragon fruit, Meyer lemons, limes, kumquats, mandarin oranges and local blueberries.” –Amy Hendrickson, Amy Kate Designs

At the start of the evening, a vibrant table awaited the Wares’ guests for a leisurely dinner al fresco at Mission Point, a picturesque 18-acre resort on Mackinac Island’s Lake Huron shoreline. The vision and event design, curated by Amy Hendrickson of Amy Kate Designs and Melissa Conradie of Conradie Event Design, was focused on summer, with its bright colors, blue water and plentiful sunshine.

View Amy Kate Designs and Conradie Event Design tips for hosting your own summer soirée at the bottom of this article.

Christina Findley, who runs Small Point Bed & Breakfast on the island with her husband, Brian, was elated when Mark and Liz invited them to dinner—a welcome respite from the all-consuming work of running a B&B.

“On Mackinac Island, where beauty is commonplace, the gardens and great lawn of Mission Point stand out,” Christina says. “We were prepared for something really special, but we were blown away when we rounded the corner. The table stood underneath an amazing bower of flowers [22 varieties and three types of foliage] that were as beautiful as they were fragrant. From the eclectic furniture to the luxurious linens, gleaming gold flatware and china, vintage glassware and personalized place cards and menus, nothing was generic or conventional.”

Chef preparing food at Mission Point Resort

Kelly Newell of Serradella, an East Jordan company specializing in upscale rentals and event decor, provided the “eclectic furniture” for the evening—but it was actually earlier that day that she spotted the perfect vintage table for the event while riding around the island.

“Outside a house that was being renovated, I noticed some discarded furniture. When l returned later to inquire about it, the project foreman not only gifted me with it (‘We’ve been trying to get rid of that stuff for a year!’), he loaned me his bike and wagon to transport it,” Kelly says.

After an “interesting” ride back to Mission Point—she was a bit of a spectacle biking down the main drag—Kelly gave the table a quick once-over with the “emergency” woodworking tools she brought, and voila—a vintage hors d’oeuvres display was born. “Rescue, repurpose and reuse” is Kelly’s mantra.

Guests were greeted with signature cocktails, crafted by Amber Jaeger McKenney of Tonic & Lime boutique bartending, and hors d’oeuvres on the Mission Point patio (think smoked salmon, pommes frites, baby radishes and tuna tartare with sesame ginger yuzu).

Chef preparing food at Mission Point Resort

James Morse, chef instructor at Great Lakes Culinary Institute and former executive chef at Boathouse Restaurant, catered the intimate three-course meal. The two plated courses were a hit among the friends—beet carpaccio salad (aged chèvre, basil-marinated cherries, mâche, honey-roasted hazelnuts and passion fruit curd) followed by beef tenderloin, dauphinoise potatoes and locally sourced vegetables topped with a black truffle demi-glace.

Chef James’ inspiration for the beet carpaccio came from his desire to improve the classic beet and goat cheese salad, while also playing on the traditional carpaccio with thinly sliced beets instead of beef or fish.

“This version incorporates some of the same elements, but in a unique way,” he says. “Passion fruit curd substitutes for a vinaigrette in the salad preparation. With a drizzle of good olive oil and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt, the flavors blend on the plate to ‘dress’ the greens, vegetables, fruit, nuts and cheese. Passion fruit curd, or any citrus curd, also makes a great filling for cakes and tarts—or a simple dessert on its own, garnished with fresh seasonal berries or cookies.” (See Chef James’ passion fruit curd recipe below.)

Group of people sitting at table together at Mission Point Resort with wine.

Following dinner, the Wares and their guests took a horse-drawn carriage to the marina, where they boarded the 402—a vintage 65-foot yacht built by Huckins Yachts in 1970 and owned by the Ware family. Surrounded by the beautifully kept 402’s mahogany trim and teak and holly floors—under the hushed glow of a ravishing sunset on the Straits—the cruisers exalted in the calming summer breeze and gently lapping waters, enjoyed a gourmet dessert and toasted the bridge with flutes of champagne.

“With a successful event like this, what starts as collaboration ends up as new friendships. The family grows,” Melissa Conradie says. “When we network and support each other, the possibilities really are endless.”

People sitting on a yacht leaving Mackinac Island.

5 Tablescape Tips from Conradie Event Design & Amy Kate Designs

Melissa Conradie, of Conradie Event Design, and Amy Hendrickson, of Amy Kate Designs, share how to create your own seasonal tablescape:

  • When building a tablescape, consider every table component to be important. Once you’ve chosen the botanicals, first consider the textiles, china and glassware being used. A crowded table is as unpleasant as a barren table, and both can appear either overstated or incomplete.
  • Think of what is in season locally, or what is enjoyed at that time of year. For instance, the inspiration for this dinner was to embrace the vibrant color palette of citrus tones, accented by the deep blue in the blueberries. There is nothing more delicious than enjoying citrus fruits on a summer day.
  • For longevity, get to know your flower farm/florist. Choose flowers that work within the elements, and always process your flowers and hydrate them well before building your arrangements. Color blending is key to an aesthetically pleasing floral design. Working with a trio of bridging colors is best.
  • Be mindful of the elements. If you are dining al fresco, it’s important to make sure your tablescape decor is weighted in case of wind, such as shades protecting the flame of your candles and vessels that will not blow over.
  • Think outside of the box! Incorporate little details to personalize the experience and reflect the thought behind the event. Adding a lemon slice to a water glass or a menu card into a napkin are economical additions that elevate the design to a whole new level.

How to Make Mission Point’s Signature Cocktail: The Lavender Bee

Amber Jaeger McKenney, of Tonic & Lime, shares one of her favorite summer cocktails.

  • 2 ounces gin (try Mammoth, Iron Fish or High Five Spirits)
  • 1-ounce lavender honey syrup (recipe below)
  • 1-ounce lemon juice
  • Club soda to taste

Shake gin, lavender honey syrup and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Pour into a glass with fresh ice. Top with club soda and a lavender sprig garnish. This recipe can be batched by combining the gin, lavender honey syrup and lemon juice in a pitcher, serving it over ice and topping with soda.

How to Make Lavender Honey Syrup

  • 1/4 cup lavender flowers
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup water

Bring all ingredients to a boil and let simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for an hour. Strain out lavender flowers and use the liquid to make your cocktails. (Syrup recipe can be scaled up or down to suit your party size.)

How to Make Passion Fruit Curd

Yield: 1 quart

  • 1 cup passion fruit purée*
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound butter

*I used Andros or Boiron fruit purée, available online. Any citrus juice also makes a great curd. If you use citrus, be sure to zest the fruit, too, for maximum flavor, and strain the zest out after you incorporate the butter.

1. Put the first four ingredients in a stainless steel mixing bowl, and whisk to combine.
2. Cook gently over a double boiler, stirring often until thickened, at about 160°.
3. Remove from heat, and whisk in butter until fully emulsified.

Event Resources List

Conradie Event Design | Event Planning & Design
Amy Kate Designs | Floral Design & Tabletop Decor
Mission Point Resort | Venue
Boathouse Restaurant | Cuisine
Tonic & Lime | Boutique Bartending
Holly Thomas Designs | Menus & Place Cards
Serradella | Vintage Rentals & Decor
Gigi & Laclede | Vintage Glassware, Plates & Gold Flatware
Josh Hartman Photography
Nicole Geri Photography
Tabor J Photo & Film | Videographer & Aerial Drone
BBJ Linens | Velvet Linen Napkins

Find this article and more in the May 2021 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine; or subscribe and get Traverse Magazine delivered to your door each month.