Starting off as lifelong friends, this couple not only ended up falling in love with each other but also with Northern Michigan. Here’s how their beautiful Traverse City nuptials came together with the help of some of our favorite Up North Wedding vendors. View the full story below or grab our January 2023 MyNorth Weddings issue for details on this wedding and more.

This article first appeared in Traverse Northern Michigan. Find this story and more when you explore our digital issue library. Want Traverse delivered to your door or inbox monthly? View our print subscription and digital subscription options.

Couple on their wedding day walking through green trees

Photo by Megan Hanon Photography

Danielle Parker & Alex Solis // May 28, 2022

Romances that begin as close friendships are generally very blessed. Such was the case with Danielle and Alex, who met as undergraduates at Ohio’s Bowling Green State  University. Alex is two years older and graduated first, heading off to start his professional career. Several years later, after Danielle had graduated, the two both ended up working at their alma mater, where Alex is now chief of staff to President Rodney Rogers and Danielle is a senior director of development.

With so many shared interests, values and experiences, a romance bloomed. In January of 2021, eight years after they’d met as undergrads, Alex proposed on a hike in a nearby Toledo MetroPark. Danielle was all in. The only decision left before they started their lives together was what kind of wedding they wanted.

Married couple on wedding day

Photo by Megan Hanon Photography

Decorated white table at a wedding

Photo by Megan Hanon Photography

When they started imagining their big day, Danielle recalls that Traverse City kept coming up. Alex, who is from the Detroit area, had vacationed across the state with his family throughout his childhood. But Danielle, who is from a small town in Ohio, had never been to Northern Michigan. When Alex found that out, he made plans for them to take their first trip away together to Traverse City. Smitten with the area, Danielle remembers thinking, “Where has this been all my life?” After that, the couple escaped to the Traverse area a couple times a year getting acquainted with the wineries, restaurants and scenic beauty.
With their busy careers, the two knew that if they were going to pull off a destination wedding, they’d need help, and began contacting Traverse area planners. One phone call with Meaghan Kenny of Fox & Fern Events had them sold. “We can’t speak highly enough of Meaghan and her team,” says Danielle. “We just felt really inspired by her vision for our special day. We were instantly comfortable with her and she has such great connections and relationships around Traverse City.

After interviewing them about what kind of wedding they wanted (outdoors and hopefully on Memorial Day Weekend), Meaghan set up tours of several venues on a weekend in early March. They liked the other venues, but when they drove up the hill to Bay View Weddings at Gallagher Farms, they were blown away by the beautiful grounds that include working cherry orchards and the horizon-filled view of Grand Traverse Bay. “I thought, if it looks like this with an inch of snow on the ground and no leaves on the trees, imagine what it will look like in May,” Alex remembers.

But it was Bay View Weddings owner Rose Gallagher who really tipped the scale. “Rose is incredible and has fostered such an unforgettable venue. She is just fantastic to get to know and to work with—she is like a rockstar of the wedding world,” Danielle says.

Little details at Traverse City wedding

Photo by Megan Hanon Photography

Champagne bar at wedding

Photo by Megan Hanon Photography

The plans came together harmoniously for the Saturday of Memorial Weekend 2022. Danielle and Alex booked The Guest-house at Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery (their favorite Up North winery) to stay in, while some of the 150 guests stayed in rented properties and hotels in Traverse City and others opted to camp. Before and after the wedding, guests toured wineries, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and some even headed to Mackinac Island and the Upper Peninsula.

The festivities kicked off with a Friday evening rehearsal dinner at outdoor tables set in Gallagher Farms’ cherry orchards under lights threaded through the trees. With a pasta buffet and plenty of local and West Coast wine catered by The Flying Noodle in Traverse City, the meal felt warm, rustic and Old World.


The ceremony the next day, under a blue sky, was officiated by President Rogers of Bowling Green State University. “It was really meaningful to have someone who is so important to us and could really speak to who we are,” says Danielle. The couple exchanged their own vows: “I was nervous about mine knowing Alex is such an incredible writer in his career. But it all turned out perfectly,” Danielle says. The Unity Ceremony was also very intimate; the couple combined colored glass, which they later took to a glass blowing studio where they created a symbolic glass bowl to cherish for years to come.

With the Bay View Weddings’ beautiful outdoor bar just steps from the ceremony site, happy hour commenced immediately. Boathouse Restaurant, which catered the entire event, kicked off the appetizers with an oyster bar (Alex’s big wish). The plated dinner was as memorable with duet servings of beef tenderloin with tomato jam and chicken with saffron pasta. And the cake? Alex nixed that in favor of pies (his favorite dessert) from Sister Pie in Detroit.

The newlyweds started off the dancing to Beyoncé’s rendition of “Moon River,” and from there 2Bays DJs got the floor hopping. A special bourbon and cigar bar added even more fun. Before the couple knew it, The Boathouse staff was bringing in the late-night eats—fried chicken and wagyu beef sliders as the pitch perfect event was winding to a close.

Alex sums it up by thanking three women. The first, of course, being Danielle: “I am the luckiest guy on the face of the Earth,” he says. The second and third? Rose Gallagher and Meaghan Kenny. “Your wedding is the most special day in your life and Rose and Meaghan really made the whole wedding experience for us,” Alex says. “They will always have a place in our hearts.”

Couple getting married

Photo by Megan Hanon Photography

Bay View Wedding at Gallagher Farms Wedding Resources


Bay View Weddings at Gallagher Farms
Bay View Weddings at Gallagher Farms Website 

Photographer & Videography
Megan Hannon Photography
Megan Hannon Photography Website 

Wedding Planner
Fox & Fern Events
Fox & Fern Events Website 

Reception: Boathouse Restaurant
Boathouse Restaurant Website 

Rehearsal Dinner: The Flying Noodle
The Flying Noodle Website

Sister Pie
Sister Pie Website 

Tonic & Lime Boutique Bartending
Tonic & Lime Boutique Bartending Website 

307 Events & Tents
307 Events & Tents Website 

Tent Draping with Élevé Events

Event Theory
Event Theory Website

Bittersweet & Co.
Bittersweet & Co. Website 

2Bays DJs
2Bays DJs Website 

Hair and Makeup
The Hair + Beauty Lounge
The Hair + Beauty Lounge Website 

Blue Lakes by the Bay
Blue Lakes by the Bay Website 


Table placement at wedding

Photo by Megan Hanon Photography

Couple dancing at their wedding

Photo by Megan Hanon Photography

Photo(s) by Megan Hanon Photography