I get asked way too often what my favorite wedding venues are! It usually puts me on the spot and catches me off guard, because I don’t have one simple answer. West Michigan’s wedding industry is booming, and between the city in downtown Grand Rapids and the lakeshore in Holland, I have lots of favorites for different reasons. I’ll try to narrow it down to five for the sake of a blog post, and share a little bit of my expertise for any bride at the beginning of their search.
My number 1 criteria when I consider venues is that the venue itself is already beautiful, so that the bride has less details and decorating to consider. For example, a barn venue or large empty banquet hall might be a great space and $1500 less then the next venue, but if the other venue is located next to Lake Michigan, or has a gorgeous scenery or inside, then you might break even by the time you decorate the banquet hall or barn with florals and other DIY decor.
Here’s my top 6…
1) The Felt Mansion in Saugatuck – Technically this has a Holland address, but it’s located on the neighboring property of Saugatuck State Park and has all of the hiking trails that lead to Lake Michigan wrapped around it. To be fully transparent, yes I am biased, because yes I did get married here. Like I mentioned above, I was not a detail oriented bride and so to imagine decorating a large venue was a nightmare. But the Felt is absoloutely breathtaking itself. It is an old fashioned mansion, with a cute white chapel. You can almost feel the lakeshore that is seperated from the woods. If you’re torn between the urban look, woodsy, and beachey, it ties up all 3 aspects. There’s a variety of options of where you can have your ceremony, but most brides choose to have it in front of the cute white chapel. My favorite part is that it’s fun for guests too, as they can walk around the large property and inside the mansion during cocktail hour. It’s just COOL! Even cooler, you can rent out the inside of the mansion the night before if you want to spend the night there with your bridal party.
2) Baker Lofts in Holland – Whenever I have a wedding at Baker Lofts, I just know it’s going to be a good one. To me Baker Lofts is consistent. I know i’ll always have a beautiful ceremony, and a beautiful reception. The brick inside is beautiful, and the rooms are large enough that guests feel like they have space. During the day for the ceremonies there’s enough natural light for photographers to use, and I’ve even done all the portraits inside successfully on a rainy day! The staff is extremely professional, and the catering (gilmore catering) is every guest’s favorite. It’s located right next to downtown Holland, so you’re able to leave the venue for a quick couple hours and get a variety of photo backgrounds.
3) Camp BlodgettCamp Blodgett – is what dreams are made of if you are a Lake Michigan girl at heart! What is better then having all your family and friends gathered on the lakeshore? It has a cozy summer camp feeling, but still is extremely classy. Like the Felt, there’s lots of space for guests to walk around and explore. It’s one of the few venues that’s literally on the lake, so at golden hour during the reception you can easily sneak out for some sunset filled portraits with your photographer.
4) Boatwerks – Are you catching the theme? I just love the lake. I think if you’re from West Michigan, it makes everyone feel at home and is obviously stunning for photos! Boatwerks is also located right by downtown Holland, so if you don’t want all your photos with the lake in the background you can easily go up the street for some city shots, or down the road for some more woodsy shots. There’s a beautiful banquet hall that let’s in so much natural light, and a perfect cemented area outback that turns into a dance floor with stringed lights right on the water. It’s connected to a restaurant, but you’d never know as a guest and feels extremely private.
5) Harbourfront Grand Hall above Portobellos in Grand Haven – This is such a COOL venue that just sums up Grand Haven’s energy! It is right downtown on the main street, above a couple restaurant and breweries, which gives your guests the city to explore if you have lots of photos in between the ceremony and reception. The inside is warm dark tones and brick which makes for beautiful photos, and it has a high deck that overlooks the city that you can squeeze guests in for a ceremony. From the ceremony point you can see all of Grand Haven and the channel with the boats passing. It is definitely the happy medium if you want to be near the lake, but love an urban look too. I love the patio that guests can step out onto during the reception, if they need a break from the dance floor.6) Spring Lake Country ClubSpring Lake feels just a little bit north of the business of Holland and Grand Rapids, in it’s own tucked away corner of the small town. It’s quiet, and peaceful, and there’s a big willow tree by the boat docks that I make everyone take photos in front of. It’s extremely classy, and full of greenery with the golf course around it. It’s a hidden gem, in my opinion!