Adventurers Ashley and Ameel knew they wanted an outdoor wedding, which is what led them to The Homestead in Glen Arbor. Featuring a summertime ski lift trip, endless panoramic Lake Michigan views and dinner prepared by chef John Piombo, dive into all the details of their gorgeous Northern Michigan wedding.

This article was first featured in the 2022 issue of MyNorth Wedding.

Ashley Gillies & Ameel Trabelsy | July 31, 2021

When their story began, Ashley (now a librarian) was a clerk at one of the courts that Ameel (an attorney) pleaded cases in. Their relationship began casually, going to lunch together when their schedules allowed. Those lunches often included discussions about life—and how neither ever wanted to be married. And then one day they found themselves agreeing that well, maybe they could be “married to someone like you.” Not long after, they spent a weekend at Ashley’s family’s cabin in Oscoda where Ameel built a fire, popped a bottle of champagne and then the question.

Ameel and Ashley are both avid campers, so given their shared love of the outdoors, they wanted an outdoor wedding. Their venue search ended when they arrived at The Homestead resort in Glen Arbor and discovered the outdoor chapel at Bay Mountain. Come winter, the chapel turns into the top of the resort’s ski hill, so it is accessed by a chairlift year-round. When Ashley and Ameel stepped from the lift and saw the sweeping view of Lake Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Bay with North and South Manitou islands on the horizon, they knew they’d found their place.

Working with The Homestead’s wedding planner Sandy Luthardt, they booked both Bay Mountain and the rustically elegant Mountain Flowers Lodge, located at the base of the mountain, for the summer of 2020. Then came the pandemic, and their wedding had to be rescheduled for the summer of 2021. Call that the first test of their relationship.

At long last their wedding weekend arrived and their 120 guests gathered in Glen Arbor for the occasion, some of them camping at campgrounds close to The Homestead, but most staying on the resort property. “Our guests told us that this was the most beautiful wed- ding destination they’d ever been to,” Ashley says.

Their wedding day dawned and everything seemed perfect, from the antique lace tablecloths that a friend of Ashley’s mother provided for the tables, to the birch log centerpiece-stands made by Ameel’s brother.

Beach at The Homestead in Glen Arbor

Photo by Rayan Anastor Photography

Wedding at The Homestead in Glen Arbor

Photo by Rayan Anastor Photography

Reception at The Homestead in Glen Arbor

Photo by Rayan Anastor Photography

Related Read: Getting married in Northern Michigan? View our Northern Michigan Weddings page to start planning your big day!

Everything seemed perfect … but the weather. Sandy was carefully monitoring the radar, and amid the splendor of a perfect July day, a rainstorm coming across Lake Michigan appeared to land bull’s-eye at The Homestead, just as the ceremony was to take place. First the pandemic, now the weather. Call it the second test of their relationship. Sandy told Ashley if they moved the ceremony up 45 minutes, it looked like they could avoid the rain. She agreed and, with Ameel’s help, started a phone tree to their guests. “It would have been so much easier for the staff to just tell us we needed to have the ceremony indoors at Mountain Flowers,” Ashley says. “But instead, they worked with us because they knew how much it meant to us to have it on Bay Mountain.”

The impending rain created a haze over the lake that only served to make the setting more romantic. The bridal party, including three flower girls, two ring bearers and Zoey, the couple’s black lab, performed like stars. By the time Ashley’s 15-year-old niece brought out her ukulele and sang “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” there wasn’t a dry eye on the mountain.

When the rain did come, the guests were tucked into Mountain Flowers Lodge enjoying cocktails. After it passed, the newlyweds snuck out to the beach to take photos against a stunning sunset amplified by storm clouds rolling out over the lake.

The dinner, prepared by The Homestead’s chef, John Piombo, and his staff was memorable, including mushroom-stuffed ravioli served in honor of Ashley, who is a vegetarian. Al Uryga of Lakeside DJs got the dance floor rocking, energy that climaxed when the couple called out all family members of all ages of their extended families to join them in dancing to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

Before we get to the happily-ever-after ending, let’s backtrack to the morning of the wedding—and the third test of the couple’s relationship. Ameel was brunching with his groomsmen when he got a text alerting him that his law office had burned down during the night. “It could have been incredibly distracting, but I was so happy to be marrying Ashley, I brushed it aside,” he says. “It showed me that if we could get through that, we can get through anything together.”

And we are happy to report that Ameel and Ashley are living happily ever after.

Bride and groom at The Homestead in Glen Arbor

Photo by Rayan Anastor Photography

The Homestead Wedding Resources

Venue | The Homestead
Photography | Rayan Anastor
Music | Lakeside DJs
Florist | Viviano Flower Shop
Antique Lace Tablecloths | Kate Kerlin, White Swan Linens, 248.651.4028
Hair & Makeup | Vickie’s Colour Loft

Bride and groom photos at The Homestead in Glen Arbor

Photo by Rayan Anastor Photography

Photo(s) by Rayan Anastor Photography