Tasked with planning obstacles, this couple worked with Grand Traverse Resort & Spa in Traverse City and Conradie Event Design to bring their dream day to life. From the golf outing that kicked off the weekend to the farewell brunch, every detail of this Northern Michigan wedding was perfect. To view the wedding in print + additional wedding notes, get our January 2023 MyNorth Weddings issue.

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Couple posing for photo on wedding day

Photo by Slow Juke Photography

Claire Dijak & Shaughn Handley // July 17, 2021

Claire and Shaughn’s wedding is proof that, despite obstacles, love prevails. On October 26, 2019, Shaughn proposed to Claire on a vacation in Colorado. The couple, who live in Traverse City, immediately began planning a large wedding at a big indoor venue there for the next summer.

We all know what the Covid-19 lockdown did to the best-laid wedding plans. With a 2020 wedding scratched off, they booked for 2021 at the same venue. But just two months before the July date, they were told the venue would be restricted to 25 guests (Covid again). With invitations waiting to be sent out, they knew they’d have to scramble to locate an available reception venue.

Claire’s father, Tim, rolled up his sleeves and got on the phone. His calls included Grand Traverse Resort, a venue with several outdoor wedding spaces. But, of course, they were already booked. Tim didn’t give up, explaining the couple’s dilemma. The resort’s wedding coordinator at the time, Steve Baehr, graciously offered them the use of The Clubhouse and adjacent lawn at the 18th hole of the resort’s beautiful golf course, The Bear. While The Clubhouse is often used for events, it has never been the site of a wedding. Unbelievably, the resort also offered to cater and staff the wedding. Claire and Shaughn would, however, need to find their own tent, tables and chairs.

Enter the invincible Melissa Conradie of Conradie Event Design. “She helped us coordinate getting everything we needed,” Claire says. “She made it work; we wouldn’t have been able to do it without her.”

Table placements at wedding

Photo by Slow Juke Photography

With all finally in place, Shaughn and his friends kicked off the wedding weekend with a golf outing at Grand Traverse Resort before the rehearsal dinner.

The next afternoon, the ceremony took place at St. Francis Church in Traverse City. Afterward, the wedding party boarded the Traverse City Wine & Beer Tours white trolley and headed out to Old Mission Peninsula for photos. By 5 p.m., they were back at the resort to join their guests for cocktails and appetizers.

Booking the resort at the last minute meant that the couple hadn’t had time to try the food in advance. “We thought, ‘We’ll just get what we get,’” Claire recalls. The appetizers—which included delicious bites like tuna tartare on wonton chips and crostini topped with goat cheese and morel mushrooms—were the tipoff that the entire meal would be outstanding. Not only was the food impressive, but so were the well-staffed bar and knowledgeable bartender. Then came the plated dinner with entree choices of filet mignon, cherry chicken or vegetarian pasta, all of which, Claire says, was “yummy right down to the cheesy potatoes dauphine, salad and mixed veggies.”

Wedding cake

Photo by Slow Juke Photography

The couple kicked off the dancing to Gregory Alan Isakov’s “Suitcase Full of Sparks,” which set the stage for a romantic evening. Jordan Anderson with Mr. Music DJ & Event Services followed the dance with a playlist of upbeat, fun music. When guests needed to refuel, the resort staff supplied pizza. “We heard it came but we never even saw it,” Claire says, laughing. As the reception wound down, Claire and Shaughn retired to their suite in The Tower at Grand Traverse Resort—accommodations that came with a jaw-dropping view of Grand Traverse Bay. After soaking in that panorama the next morning, the newlyweds headed back to the tent for a farewell brunch, catered by the resort. “It was wonderful because we got more use out of the tent and one more chance to enjoy the way Melissa and [florist] Amy Kate decorated it,” says Claire.

The brunch was a lovely ending to the wedding that went on against all odds. “Melissa and the resort were amazing,” Claire says. “They really pulled out all the stops.”

Table decor at wedding

Photo by Slow Juke Photography

Wedding dining area

Photo by Slow Juke Photography

Wedding dining area

Photo by Slow Juke Photography

Grand Traverse Wedding Resources

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa
Grand Traverse Resort and Spa Website 

Slow Juke Photography Website

Mountain & Mitten Videography
Mountain & Mitten Videography 

Wedding Planning & Event Design
Conradie Event Design
Conradie Event Design Website

Wedding Cake
Aunt B’s Cakes & Dessert

Event Theory
Event Theory Website 

Sensational Events TC
Sensational Events Website

Amy Kate Designs
Amy Kate Designs Website

Mr. Music DJ
Mr. Music DJ Website

Holly Thomas Design
Holly Thomas Design Website 

Honey Paper Boutique
Honey Paper Boutique

Hair & Makeup
Pavlova Salon & Spa
Pavlova Salon & Spa

Traverse City Wine & Beer Tours
Traverse City Wine & Beer Tours Website

Photo(s) by Slow Juke Photography