Employee Spotlight – Marsha Braun, Tour Guide

Marsha Braun | Michael Murphy IV Photography  Marsha Braun started her career at Castle Farms in 2006, though tours of the Castle had not yet officially begun. Construction workers were still on site, patching mortar and finishing up jobs. There was no Gift Shop (it wouldn’t be built until the following year). Lots of people who stopped by at the Castle were just curious, and wanted to take a look around. Marsha, a retired school teacher / high school guidance counselor, worked in the King’s Gallery selling postcards off a card table. She greeted people visiting the Castle, handing out bottles of water, selling the postcards, and answering questions. All those questions piqued her desire to learn more about the Castle. Soon Marsha was spending hours at the Charlevoix Historical Society, researching the Castle’s history, making copies of newspaper articles, plus pictures and photos referencing the time periods of each of the four different owners.

Marsha on tourAs visitors increased, Marsha became more involved with both the Castle and the Historical Society. Steeped in the Castle’s history, she assisted in helping develop a tour route and map which guests could use to guide themselves around the Castle. When the Castle’s then-Gift Shop/Tour Director approached Marsha with the idea of working with Circle Michigan to develop charter coach bus tours, Marsha was on board. Drawing on the premise of Mackinaw being the #1 tour destination in Michigan, they marketed tours as an ‘easy add-on’ for groups coming into Michigan. The result: the popular ‘Castles, Cruises & More’ package for tour operators, offering a full day Charlevoix package, including a tour of the Castle, a boat cruise on Lake Charlevoix, and a step-on city tour of the famed Earl Young Mushroom Houses. As charter coach bus tour operators began to take advantage of the offer, Castle Farms gained in popularity. Marsha was delighted to see tour numbers and traffic steadily increase.

Chatting with guests“The Castle continues to evolve,” Marsha says. “It’s pretty remarkable to be able to remember the way it was, and to witness the level of success it’s reached today.” A winter snowbird, she has the luxury of returning each spring to find something new and different at the Castle. “I’m constantly amazed when I come back after the winter months and see the Castle with fresh eyes. It’s simply stunning.”

From her years spent as the Castle’s first and only tour guide, Marsha offers guests something she likes to call ‘Edu-tainment’. This former teacher loves sharing the beautiful property and its history, and she’s not above throwing in Marsha and Steve Brauna few jokes along the way to make things entertaining. She wants people to come and have a good time at the Castle. “The best thing about being at the Castle is having fun with the guests,” she says. “It’s amazing to see their reaction when they walk into the King’s Great Hall for the first time, and take in the magnitude, the size and scope of the property.” Marsha has seen tremendous change in the Castle since she started in 2006. “There are now seven tour guides, and I think that’s a positive.” The biggest change? “Definitely the grounds,” she says. “The maturity of the gardens and the south lawn, with the addition of the King’s Grand Courtyard Garden, is breathtaking. Linda Mueller truly has captured the essence of a French Chateau.”

And Marsha should know. During the off-season, this educated and well-seasoned traveler loves spending time with her husband on jaunts around the world. One of their favorite places to visit? Castles!

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Linda’s Favorite View

Love gardens? So does Linda Mueller, the Castle’s current owner. Linda loves gardens so much that when she decided to tackle a new garden project in 2009, she made a special trip to Europe just to do the research.

“I like being thorough,” Linda said. “After I King's Grand Courtyardgot the castle, I started studying gardens. I started way back with the Egyptians, then the Mesopotamians, and read my way up. There are a lot of great books on garden history. I made up a notebook and put my notes in it, so I could remember. When I travel, I scout out any public gardens along the way. Every so often, a garden feature will jump out at me, and I will have just the right spot to incorporate it into the Castle property.”

chateau de ChambordThat’s exactly what happened in the fall of 2009 when Linda and her daughter Kathy visited France. Linda had been studying the French gardens of Louis XIV for years. She’d been to his castle of Chambord a number of years before, so she was excited to tour it again with Kathy. “Pictures don’t explain it at all,” Linda said. “There’s nothing like being there and seeing it for real.”

Linda found herself fascinated by one King's Grand Courtyard under constructionparticular section of the Chambord gardens. The area, fashioned by Louis XIV and André Lenôtre, his landscape designer, featured a horseshoe shaped sidewalk with a row of trees on either side, and a sidewalk straight up the middle. “I can do that,” Linda remembers thinking. “I’ve already got the sidewalk up the middle, and I have the space.” After making a few pencil sketches to remind herself of what she hoped to accomplish, Linda returned home to Michigan, where her landscape crew quickly got to work.

King's Grand Courtyard under constructionGround broke on the King’s Grand Courtyard Garden in late autumn 2009. Linda’s team managed to put in the berm and rock retaining wall before winter arrived. Linda didn’t have many plans to go on. “But neither did King Louie and André,” she points out. “I have a feeling that they just walked around and said, ‘Let’s do this, and this, and this,’ and then they did it. They (the Chambord castle archives) have a few small drawings, just sketched quickly. There was no Master Plan, no vision for any particular area. They (the gardens of Chambord) simply evolved.”

If it was good enough for King Louis XIV, it Trees in King's Grand Courtyardwas good enough for her, Linda reasoned. In spring of 2010, work restarted on the new garden. Roses were planted at the top of the fence. Unlike with most of the other Castle roses (which are nearly thornless), Linda purposely planted roses with thorns so as to deter kids from climbing the steep retaining wall and falling from the top. A sidewalk was poured, with trees lining it to replicate Chambord’s horseshoe-shape design. Two varieties were used, in case one died from disease. Amalanchor are native Michigan plants. “Northern Michigan winters can be hard on plants,” said Linda. “I try and find plants that are very hardy. I put two of them (amalanchor) down at the ends, and they came through winter just fine. The tall ones (trees) are European hornbeam. They have very small leaves and very tight branches. They’re the ones that the French cut into rectangular shape. I’m never going to do like they do, with the flat row across the top. I’m going to let the garden be more natural, a little more 21st century. Using native plants when you can means a lot less trouble, because they’re suited to the environment.”

Covered Fountain in King's Grand CourtyardFor the past few years, Linda has been concentrating on using focal points in the various Castle gardens. The French often use fountains as focal points for formal settings. Linda’s crew had already poured the garden’s sidewalk when her husband Richard suggested building a fountain as the garden’s focal point. “Richard is the inspiration behind the fountains,” said Linda. “Originally, he wanted a big tall fountain.” But Linda didn’t want to rip up the sidewalk that had already been poured. “I was willing to do anything to work with what I had, which is the way I was brought up. I was going to put a little fountain in there, with a flower bed around it, but Richard said my fountain wasn’t big enough, and that I needed to do it right. So, little’s good, but bigger is better.” Eventually the two compromised. The sidewalk was torn up, and Richard got his big fountain, with a 30 foot high jet of water going up the middle. Meanwhile, Linda talked him into a big flat fountain base. “In France, it would be a reflecting pool at ground level,” she said. “For safety, it would be higher and better, plus you could sit on the ledge.

The King’s Grand Courtyard Garden wasFour Stone Maidens completed in 2011. Four dazzling stone maidens portraying the four seasons grace the courtyard, greeting Castle guests as they make a grand promenade through the splendid parterre which features a multi-terraced vista. “The French love vistas,” Linda muses. “I’ve always loved to sit at the top of the hill and look out, even before there was nothing. I’d walk up the berm and sit on the top. Sometimes I’d have a chair. Sometimes I wouldn’t. The panorama is so sweeping and lovely.”

Linda's favorite viewNow the King’s Grand Courtyard Garden is finished, Linda often can be found sitting on the bench at the top of the hill, taking in the view. She calls it her ‘all-time favorite spot’ at the Castle, and she’s very pleased with the stunning French garden. “After 9/11, France wasn’t very popular with the U.S.A. First they were our friends, and then they weren’t. But people are always people, and they want the same thing. They want to live their lives, love their children, and have their families.” And whatever nationality people claim, they also want time to relax. “Formal gardens typically are very peaceful, stable, and orderly,” said Linda. “ A lot of people don’t have that in their lives: stability, order and peace. It’s nice just to get a breather, to get a little beauty and peace in your soul.” Linda’s King’s Grand Courtyard Garden gives people a place to do just that. Consider this your personal invitation from Linda herself to visit the Castle gardens today and refresh your soul.

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Shuffleboard, Anyone?

Henry VIII © Philip Mould Ltd.Chess might be the game of kings, but shuffleboard ranks a close second. The game, which originated in the pubs of England over five hundred years ago, was a big favorite of King Henry VIII (1491-1547). Played on a lengthy court, players use long cues to shove weighed discs across the court to score points.

But what does shuffleboard have to do with the Castle or the West Garden Room (‘the West’)? When Linda Mueller began her restoration of the Castle in 2001, rebuilding the West was not even a blip on the royal radar. The West was one of two wings originally built to house Albert Loeb’s prize-winning cattle (Loeb Farms, 1918-1927). Three years after Mr. Loeb’s death (October 1924), his family made the decision to close the farm. By the time John VanHaver (2nd owner, 1962-1969) purchased the Castle, the West roof had collapsed and the walls were crumbling. Third owner Art Reibel (1969-1999) removed all but 40’ of the West in order to give concert goers a better view of the concert stage he’d built.

VanHaver eraConcert era

Following Linda’s purchase in 2001, a 10-year building plan was drafted. They thought they’d get around to rebuilding the West eventually. “Richard thought we would have 1/3 weddings, 1/3 tours, and 1/3 corporate events,” Linda said. Rebuilding the wings with the roofs (including the West) would come later. But things moved a little faster than expected. The 10-year plan shrunk to five years, which ultimately turned out to be great news for Linda. “I’m really glad that we did it that way,” she says, “because construction costs went up so much after 2005.”

West Garden Room ReconstructionWest Garden Room Reconstruction

With the decision made to rebuild the wings, Linda and her construction crew got to work. By June of 2004, the West was up, an open air pavilion complete with shuffleboard courts. The courts, made of cement, had painted scoring on each end. Wooden inserts were made and put into place to keep the flooring level when the shuffleboard courts weren’t being used. Shuffleboard rules were printed and handed out to visitors, along with the cues and weighted discs. Castle Farms was advertised as an Activity Center, a place where people could have fun with their families. Guests played ‘Old English’ lawn games such as bocce ball, badminton and croquet, plus played shuffleboard under the covered West pavilion.

Shuffleboard CourtsShuffleboard courts during festivalCroquetActivity Center

“But then,” Linda said, “we realized that weddings were really going to be the big dog.” Wooden floors were crafted that were able to be placed over the existing cement shuffleboard courts so wedding parties could dance the night away. It worked for a while, but eventually Linda and Richard decided it would be nice to have another finished room. The West was enclosed to include fashionable French doors on both sides. Today, the West is known as an elegant reception area, and the shuffleboard courts are only a distant memory.

West Garden Room todayWest Garden entrance

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A Real Wedding Feature: A True Fairy Tale

Paxton PhotographyStacie and Jason were married on a beautiful June evening in the Castle’s Queen’s Courtyard, with reception in the Queen’s Tavern. The couple, who make their home in central Michigan, are both Michiganders with a passion for their beautiful state. “Holding our wedding at Castle Farms was the perfect excuse to travel north and enjoy a vacation in picturesque Charlevoix,” says Stacie.

Paxton PhotographyWhat made their wedding so unique and lovely were the little details they planned into their big day. The details started with their wedding invitation, which had a beautiful watercolor landscape that evoked a sense of fairy-tales just from first glance. Then, before the wedding even began, they planned the most unique First Look we’ve ever seen, using the Charlevoix drawbridge as their backdrop. As the bridge went up, Jason stationed himself on one side, while Stacie prepared herself on the other. As the bridge came down to settle into its resting position, Stacie and Jason saw each other for the first time on their wedding day.
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Guests arriving at the Castle for the fairy tale evening were met with beautiful décor and details. “While choosing our colors and a theme for the wedding, we remained in tune with the Castle’s majestic and grand details. We made sure to keep our decor simple in an effort to keep the Castle at the center of it all,” says Stacie. “Castle Farms is certainly fit for a King and Queen, so our colors of dark navy, silver, black, and white, were an elegant touch and did not take away from the classiness of the venue.”
Paxton PhotographyPaxton Photography

During the ceremony, Jason shared an intimate moment with guests by playing piano and singing to his new bride. Following the song, Stacie and Jason’s daughter was wheeled up front in a carriage wagon built by Jason to take part in a family unity ceremony. During this ceremony, Grandpa Jack played the ukulele and sang Somewhere over the Rainbow for his granddaughter. It was truly magical!

Paxton Photography
Paxton Photography
Paxton Photography

 

Simple touches were added throughout the wedding to highlight the fairytale theme, including the “Once Upon A Time” wedding invitations and the flower girl’s custom Cinderella carriage. Guests then moved into cocktail hour and a reception catered by BJ’s Restaurant, Rentals and Catering. Stacie and Jason carried the Cinderella theme into their reception. “How can you have a wedding at a Castle and not feel like a fairy tale bride?” asks Stacie. They worked with Cre8tive Cupcake of Charlevoix to create a whimsical cake when the words “And they lived happily ever after” written in icing.

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“We are so blessed to have the wedding of our dreams come true,” says Stacie. “With the help of Sarah Hagen and the Castle Farms team members, the entire process was easy and enjoyable. We were able to simply put all worry aside and have a great time. Parents, siblings, wedding party, and guests all agree – it was truly a fairy tale wedding.”

Congratulations to this true life Cinderella and her prince!

Vendor applause:
Photography: Paxton Photography
Catering and Bartending: BJ’s Restaurant, Rentals and Catering
Cake Design: Cre8tive Cupcake

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Winter Weddings

Considering a winter wedding? So are lots of bridal couples, and with good reason. Celebrating your wedding during the wintry holiday months offers distinct advantages.

Center of Attention PhotographyMichael Murphy IV PhotographyDarrell Christie Photography
Winter’s beautiful natural lighting and seasonal décor will transform any bridal budget into savings. Let it snow! A dusting of snow can transform your wedding photographs into a winter wonderland.

430 StudiosJen Kniivilla PhotographyLizzie PhotoMichael Murphy IV Photography

Plus, any décor or color palette will be a dramatic setting against a backdrop of winter white.

Darrell Christie PhotographyDarrell Christie PhotographyDarrell Christie PhotographyE.C. Campbell Photography

Substantial savings can be found by using holiday-themed décor when planning your reception. Take advantage of seasonal favorites such as evergreen boughs and pinecones, plus discounted twinkle lights on post-Christmas special, to save money.

Jen Kniivilla PhotographyMichael Murphy IV PhotographyLizzie PhotoJen Kniivilla Photography

The sun sets early, making for a longer evening in which to celebrate. Cold winter nights beg for the warmth of candlelight, a budget-friendly idea which can be used to transform your reception room into a glittering wonderland that will be remembered long after the snow melts.

McCoy Made PhotographyJen Kniivilla PhotographyJen Kniivilla PhotographyJen Kniivilla Photography
People love to celebrate. It’s a guarantee your winter wedding invitation will stand out as a special invite, unlike those from the crowded summer wedding season. Booking a winter wedding also offers the advantage of seasonal discounts. Vendors such as florists, cake decorators, caterers and the like usually offer substantial savings to winter bridal couples. Plus, it’s more likely that you’ll be able to land your top choice of vendors, who are usually booked well in advance for summer weddings.
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One last thought about having a winter wedding… you won’t have to worry about rain!

If you’re dreaming of a winter wedding, contact us today!

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A Patriotic Happily-Ever-After, Castle Style!

Crystal and IsaiahWhen Crystal Holmes and Isaiah Hope of Kincheloe, Michigan entered the Castle’s Heroes Wedding Giveaway last fall, they figured they had little chance of winning their dream wedding. “We first started looking for wedding venues nine years ago,” Crystal said. “That’s when we fell in love with Castle Farms.” “A Salute to our Soldiers” Heroes Military Wedding Giveaway, sponsored by Castle Farms and local vendors, was open to couples all across northern Michigan and the U.P. with one (or both) active military or veterans of the United States Armed Forces. Crystal didn’t enter them in the Heroes Wedding Giveaway until the very last day. Five finalists were announced on Nov. 6th, and voting took place Nov. 7 – 11 through the Castle’s Facebook page. Crystal and Isaiah were announced as the winners on November 11th, Veteran’s Day.

“Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable,” Crystal said after learning that she and Isaiah had won. “People started voting for us. People we didn’t even know. It didn’t really sink in that we were the winners until we got the phone call.” Crystal and Isaiah were overwhelmed by the community support. “The people of Kincheloe and all over Chippewa County were voting for us, and we’re so grateful to everyone. Castle Farms is our dream wedding spot.”

The couple, who met in high school, has been together ten years. They wanted to get married right away, but every time they began planning the wedding, something came up. Isaiah, who was on active duty in the Army from 2002-2008, through the National Guard, was sent to Iraq for a nineteen month deployment. After his return, the couple again began looking at wedding venues, but quit after learning that Isaiah was once again being deployed, this time to assist during Hurricane Katrina. As the years passed, two children, full-time jobs and Crystal’s college career kept the couple busy with other things rather than planning that long overdue wedding.

Now they’ve won the Heroes Dream Military Wedding Giveaway, the couple has no plans of letting anything get in the way. Crystal and Isaiah are on active duty countdown for their July 2015 wedding at Castle Farms.

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Employee Spotlight – Johanna Alexander, Wedding Planner and Venue Coordinator

Johanna Alexander | photo: Center of Attention PhotographyJohanna knew from an early age that she was meant to be a wedding planner. She loved organizing, and planning parties and events. Pair that with weddings, and Johanna knew it would be a perfect fit. Prior to graduation from Central Michigan University, Johanna served a six-month internship at Castle Farms. She promptly fell in love with the Castle, and knew it was where she was meant to be. Years later, Johanna now spends her days planning events, assisting bridal couples, and serving as the Castle’s Wedding Planner, a service offered exclusively to Castle couples. She prides herself on being highly organized, and enjoys being in charge of weddings.

 

Johanna is a Certified Wedding Planner through the Association of Bridal Consultants. “Planning a wedding can be very stressful. I take care of all the details, which is great for the bride and groom. They can relax, and I do all the work.”

As a Wedding Planner, Johanna’s responsibilities include Infinity Photographyworking with the bridal couple from the very beginning to the end of the wedding process. She researches vendors, assists in the selection process, offers décor suggestions, attends vendor meetings (with or on behalf of the bride and groom), and reviews vendor contracts. It’s Johanna’s job to serve as a professional intermediary. If a bride has ten DJs in mind, Johanna can easily whittle down the list to the top three, and present the bridal couple with estimated bids, significantly cutting down on the time they would have spent doing the research themselves. While Johanna can make referrals and recommendations, bridal couples ultimately are the ones who make the final choice. Come wedding day, Johanna is busy attending to the set-up, plus decorating the ceremony and reception areas. And it’s Johanna who is there to assist the bride and groom, soothing anxious nerves before, during and after they become man and wife.

Johanna and bride
One of Johanna’s most rewarding moments in her career occurred when she planned and coordinated a Castle wedding within a two month timeframe. The couple booked the event, and Johanna quickly got to work. “Eight weeks isn’t a lot of time to plan a wedding, so I was excited for the challenge.” Exactly two months later, with Johanna looking on, the bride walked down the aisle of the Knight’s Courtyard to marry her groom. The reception that followed in the West Garden Room was an elegant affair, resulting in happy guests and a very grateful bridal couple.

 

During her years of wedding planning, Johanna’s found that trends change as time goes on. “The look of weddings is changing. Simple elegance is becoming very popular.” She’s also happy in her role as the Castle’s Wedding Planner. “I like being able to coordinate on-site weddings. I’m familiar with the layouts of each room, and can easily convey what will and won’t work to the bridal couple. If they have a certain color scheme in mind, which wouldn’t necessarily fit with the lighting and room theme, I help guide them in the right direction.”

Photo Shoot | Center of Attention PhotographyPhoto Shoot | Center of Attention Photography
Johanna is a pro when it comes to wedding planning, which means she’ll use any means at her disposal in order to achieve the perfect look for the perfect day. For one styled shoot showcasing a winter wedding, Johanna brought in her capable assistant: her beloved 3 ½ yr. old French bulldog Sophie. “She actually behaved better than I expected,” said Johanna. “Normally she’s pretty sassy, probably because she’s spoiled rotten. But Sophie loved being in the photo shoot. She was happy.”Johanna and Sophie

 

Make that ‘happy times two”. Sophie spends her days happily lapping up doggie treats and dealing with her newfound fame from the occasional photo shoot. Meanwhile, Johanna’s happy living out her dream job at Castle Farms, making other people’s dreams come true.

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Historic Cake Toppers

Richard and Linda's Cake TopperCastle Farms owner Linda Mueller started her wedding cake topper collection after reading a magazine article about brides using vintage cake toppers. Linda still had her own cake topper from her wedding to husband Richard in 1969. Linda dusted off the family heirloom, found an empty display cabinet in the Main Office Foyer, and thus a new Castle collection was born.

The tradition of wedding cakes can be traced back to ancient Cake Topper - Victorian formalRoman times, but it wasn’t until the Victorian era (1837-1901) that cake toppers gain popularity. This piece, from the 1880s, features a couple made of spun sugar. In keeping with Victorian times (known for its high moral values), the couple stand apart, rather than in a formal embrace.

During the Victorian era, a pair of clasped hands signifiedCake Topper - Clasped hands friendship, courtship, love and marriage. The image of clasped hands proved so popular, it became common for use on wedding cakes. This topper with wax hands dates back to the early 1900’s.

 

Cake toppers were often sold in bakeries, along with the wedding Cake Topper - 100 year old frostingcake. This Victorian cake topper features frosting more than one hundred years old. Victorian bridal cakes also sometimes featured orange blossoms and sprigs of myrtle, which were handed off to wedding guests as party favors. Queen Victoria’s wedding cake weighed over 300 lbs. The bridal figures stood nearly one foot tall.

Renowned artist Rose O’Neill gained international fame with herCake Topper - Kewpie dolls Kewpie dolls circa 1912. These rare toppers are made of bisque porcelain (1920-1950). Crepe paper was often used for the clothing, as well as scraps of tulle, lace, and other items.

 

Use of wedding cake toppers in the United States gained inCake Topper - Sears & Roebuck catalog popularity after World War I. One of the most significant reasons can be traced back to Sears, then the largest mail order catalog company in the world. Albert Loeb, 1st owner of the Castle, was President of Sears when the catalog began featuring cake toppers for sale. This topper was sold in the Sears catalog for $1.47.

During WWII (1941-1945), toppers often featured soldiers inCake Topper - Bridal Party uniform, hand-in-hand with their brides. Once the war ended, jubilant bridal parties paraded across wedding cakes such as in this example from 1950.

 

A recent addition to the collection is the kissing bridal couple. ItCake Topper - Chris and Karrie Mueller was specially made for Chris Muller (Linda and Richard’s son) and his wife Karrie when they married in 2011. Linda’s historic Bridal Cake Topper Collection started with her own cake topper and now takes up an entire wall of showcases in the Castle’s Main Office Foyer. The collection can be seen by visitors when taking a tour.

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The Real Story of the Not So Real Castle Wedding

The Not So Real Castle Wedding | Paxton PhotographyJodi and Todd Thompson, who will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in August, were the stars of the show at The Not So Real Castle Wedding on May 9th. The Thompsons renewed their vows before family and friends, plus Castle guests, at the event. Jodi and Todd were thrilled at being selected for the Not So Real Castle Wedding. “We felt as if it really was real, and we were Prince & Princess Thompson.

Queen's Courtyard | Paxton PhotographyThe Not So Real Castle Wedding | Paxton PhotographySpecial moments during the ceremony? Todd’s father, who had married the couple 25 years earlier, was again present to witness and assist with their vows. Jodi and Todd’s daughters, Carly and Rachel, were there too, and stood up with their parents. Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed cocktail hour, then dinner and dancing in the Knight’s Castle.

Abraham's Carriage Service | Paxton Photography
Monarch Garden and Floral Design | Paxton Photography
Rev. Glad Remaly | Paxton Photography

 

The Not So Real Castle Wedding was planned as a way to showcase Northern Michigan wedding vendors and Castle Farms to bridal couples seeking inspiration for their own wedding day. Couples attending were able to experience firsthand how professionals handled each aspect of a wedding. A host of vendors participated in the event. The vow renewal ceremony was held at Castle Farms in the Queen’s Courtyard, with the Rev. Glad Remaly officiating as clergy, assisted by Todd’s father.

Taylor Rental of Petoskey | Paxton Photography
The Knight's Castle | Paxton Photography
Monarch Garden and Floral Design | Paxton Photography

 

Johanna Alexander, Castle Farms Wedding Planner, planned and coordinated the event, which began at 5 pm as the bride arrived to the courtyard in a Cinderella coach carriage courtesy of Abraham’s Carriage Service. Flower arrangements were done by Monarch Garden and Floral Design; The A+ Event Entertainment Trio provided the ceremony and reception music; and Paxton Photography was on hand to capture the special moments on film.

Grey Gables Inn Restaurant & Catering | Paxton PhotographySimply Sweet by Jessica | Paxton PhotographyJohanna Alexander, Wedding Planner | Paxton PhotographyPaxton Photography

The Knight’s Castle was decorated with linens and table service courtesy of Taylor Rental of Petoskey, plus décor from both Monarch Garden and Floral Design, and Simply Sweet by Jessica, who also provided the wedding cake, cupcakes and desserts. Dinner was prepared and served by Grey Gables Inn Restaurant & Catering. Transportation for guests to/from Charlevoix hotels was courtesy of Midnight Madness.

The Not So Real Castle Wedding The Not So Real Castle Wedding | Paxton Photographywas a stunning success. Guests left with a better knowledge of how wedding vendors operate, and everyone had a great time, especially Jodi and Todd. “Thank you for choosing us for this event, and dream come true,” the couple wrote. “You gave us such a gift for our 25th Wedding Anniversary, one we will cherish forever.”

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Grow Yourself Some Magic

Fairy Garden Make & Take class“Do you believe in fairies?” Peter Pan asked all who might be dreaming of the Neverland. “Do you believe in fairies? Yes, we do! We believe so wholeheartedly in these whimsical creatures that the Castle is offering free specialty workshops just for fairy garden making. What’s a fairy garden? It’s a wee garden for the wee folk, and takes up only a wee bit of space on your patio, front porch, or even inside on your desk. You don’t know how to garden? The fairies don’t care. They told us long ago that there’s no right or wrong way to make a fairy garden. All they want is a little place to live. Fairy gardens make year-round gardening fun. Create a special holiday theme and swap out the décor with the changing seasons. Best of all, fairy garden magic involves the whole family. Children love hands-on projects, and watching the gardens bloom. Lighten your hearts and brighten your homes with a bit of greenery and magic grown in your very own fairy garden.

Enjoy free admission to a Castle Fairy Fairy Garden basketGarden Make & Take class. Held one evening each month throughout the summer, these hands-on classes will help you learn how to create, cultivate and maintain your own miniature fairy garden. All that’s required is a spark of imagination, plus a container. What type? Baskets, buckets, flower pots, small wagons, fish bowls (no fish, please!) and hollowed-out logs all work great. Castle Farms will provide the potting soil free of charge. The Castle also has containers, accessories, decorations and plants available for purchase.

Fairy Garden Make & Take Classes offered on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 pm, June 16, July 14 and August 11. Register here.

P.S. Tinker Bell thanks you!

Fairy Garden planterFairy Garden gnomesFairy Garden mushroom houseFairy Garden basket

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