When Maurice Beryozkin met Sarah Elm at Iowa State University, it took barely a glance for Sarah to know he was the real deal. In fact, within 24 hours, she was smitten. Through the highs and lows of a long-distance relationship, from that point on, Sarah and Maurice only had eyes for each other. On a historic pedestrian bridge overlooking the Minneapolis skyline, Maurice got down on one knee and asked Sarah the best question she had ever heard!

Photography by Benjamin Gruwell Photography http://benjamingruwellphotography.com

They had always wanted a smaller more intimate wedding so a semi-destination style wedding seemed their best option. Southwest Michigan was far enough where they felt they could keep their guest list at a more reasonable number but close enough where family and friends could afford to travel and stay. They fell in love with Stonegate Manor because of the beautiful setting, especially the Fairy Garden where they held their ceremony. The fact the reception area was both indoors and outdoors so their families could be comfortable and enjoy both was a real plus. And, according to Sarah, Prudy, the manager, was quick with communication which was so important planning from afar and in only a few months.

While they didn’t have a theme and weren’t really focused on a style, their choices just naturally fit into a bohemian vibe. Being very laid back, both just wanted a big party with all of their favorite people there…which is exactly what they got!

Sarah’s beautiful dress was from Zavana, an Australian brand. Known for their exquisite lace designs, intricate beading and beautiful details, Sarah’s dress did not disappoint. With 2 unique and distinct lace patterns it perfectly embraced both elegance and a more casual boho feel. And it fit perfectly…no bride could have been more beautiful!!!

Photography by Benjamin Gruwell Photography http://benjamingruwellphotography.com

As fans of small business, Etsy was an obvious go-to for the couple when picking out wedding things. With a closet full of bridesmaid dresses never quite appropriate for another occasion, Sarah wanted the wedding party’s attire to be something they could wear again and again. The bridesmaids were uniquely and beautifully dressed in chiffon rust/coral jumpsuits…a perfect blend of casual but elegant Boho flair. As Sarah said the jumpsuits “really helped them to break it down on the dance floor!” Coupled with the men’s navy-blue suits, it was an absolutely stunning color combination.

The Boho theme was also reflected in their choice of decoration for the wedding arch…a hand-made macramé “curtain”. Truly a one-of-a-kind touch and fit in so nicely with the more casual lace pattern featured in Sarah’s dress. Etsy again!

Photography by Benjamin Gruwell Photography http://benjamingruwellphotography.com

No description would be complete without including the unique flowers carried by the bridesmaids. Instead of traditional bouquets, they had “wedding wreaths”. Extremely sophisticated, the look was softened to one of casual elegance by the inclusion of velvety lamb’s ear but then ratcheted right back up there with creamy white roses. Brilliant and sensational!!

Photography by Benjamin Gruwell Photography http://benjamingruwellphotography.com

The best thing about their wedding? Maurice and Sarah enjoyed everything about it but they did one thing that was especially meaningful. They took about 20 minutes after the ceremony and before the reception to enjoy a glass of champagne, just the two of them, before joining the rest of their family and friends. It gave them time to reflect and soak in the fact that they were finally, really and truly, married.

When asked about working with vendors, they advise being very clear about your expectations from the beginning. Communication, communication, communication is imperative to avoid confusion as you get closer to your wedding day. Get all your questions asked and answered so you are feeling at ease when the day finally arrives. And Sarah recommends getting a wedding planner…”some of our best money spent!”

Simply the Best Day Ever!
By: Prudy Barrett Nelson

As the manager of Stonegate Manor, Prudy (aka The Stonegate Wedding Fairy Godmother), has helped guide many couples to some fantastic vendors and participated in some really fun weddings.