Newly Engaged? Now What?!

Paxton Photography at Castle Farms

Photo: Paxton Photography

Along with food, gifts, and time with family, the holidays often result in another joyous moment: proposals! And after you’ve taken the time to enjoy the celebration and share the engagement news with family and friends, you probably start to wonder “what do I do now?”. The wedding team here at Castle Farms, including our certified professional wedding planner Johanna Alexander, is happy to share tips for the first steps to take in your wedding planning journey!

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Color of the Year – Pantone’s Marsala!

Pantone recently released their 2015 Color of the Year – “Marsala”! This rich reddish-brown hue is a versatile color, especially for weddings. Pair it with black and white to create sleek elegance, or combine it with pastels and greens for a rustic theme. Here’s some Marsala wedding inspiration from past Castle Farms weddings and past designs by Castle Farms Wedding Planner, Johanna Alexander!

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A Real Wedding Feature: Rustic Elegance – A Fall Castle Wedding

Kaitlyn and Daniel were married at Castle Farms this past November, and we were so captivated, we just had to share their charming wedding photos! The couple combined tree branches with delicate roses, transforming their Queen’s Tavern ceremony and West Garden Room reception into the perfect combination of rustic and elegant. During the reception, guests had the opportunity to write “Notes of Advice” to the newlyweds. Wedding guests received favors of customized candles chosen personally by Kaitlyn and Daniel. Their fall wedding day was blessed with sunny weather, allowing for stunning photos and great fun for their friends, family and loved ones!



Vendor Applause
Hairstylist: Last Tangle Salon and Tanning
Clergy: Reverend Jonathan David Mays
Photographer, Videographer and Entertainment: Mike Staff Productions
Catering: BJ’s Restaurant, Rentals and Catering
Cake Designer: Cake Connection TC

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Castle Venue Coordinator vs. Wedding Planner

Castle Farms CoordinatorsPlanning your wedding is an exciting, fun milestone in your life; however, it can also be a confusing task. Deciding you need help can lead to more confusion, since first you need to figure out exactly what type of help you’re looking for! Do you need a wedding planner or day-of coordinator? Do the services provided by your Venue Coordinator cover what you need? Curious as to what falls under each job description? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one!

Your Castle Farms wedding includes the assistance of a Venue Coordinator. Up until two months before your wedding date, any of the Castle’s Venue Coordinators will be happy to assist in helping answer any questions related to your wedding. Once you are assigned a personal Venue Coordinator, she will be your main contact. However, she does not plan your décor, vendors or timeline – those types of services are responsibilities fulfilled by a wedding planner. If questions do arise about those types of decisions, your Venue Coordinator can offer input from experience with past weddings. Two months prior to your wedding, the Castle will send you a Set-up Packet. By filling it out, you’ll let your Venue Coordinator know which vendors you have coming, which items belonging to the Castle that you would like to use, and exactly how you prefer the ceremony and reception area to be set. For your ceremony, she’ll be there to line up the wedding party, and coordinate the processional and recessional. She’ll also go over the specific details with you at the rehearsal held the day prior to the wedding. On your wedding day, your Venue Coordinator will make certain vendors have arrived, and will direct them to the proper location; however, she is not in charge of confirming your plans with vendors, or ensuring they meet your contract terms. She will then facilitate the cocktail hour and reception to help make everything run smoothly.

Looking for more help in planning your wedding? Need assistance in selecting vendors, choosing colors and décor, figuring out a timeline, or setting things up the day of the wedding? If you answered yes to any of the above, you should definitely think about hiring a Wedding Planner. What’s the biggest difference between a Wedding Planner and a Venue Coordinator? A Wedding Planner works for you, while a Venue Coordinator works on behalf of the venue. Wedding Planners often own and operate their own businesses, and their services and packages can vary. This works in your favor, for it gives you the option of selecting exactly the level of help you need, and the ability to hire the planner and package that works best for you. Overall, a Wedding Planner will offer in-depth assistance in selecting vendors and coordinating the services included in their contracts, plus help you select a theme and decorations for your wedding. On the day of your wedding, your Wedding Planner will be there to handle the set-up plus the decorating. She’ll also create timelines so everyone knows when and where they’re meant to be throughout the day. Castle Farms is fortunate to have a Wedding Planner on staff. Our very own Johanna Alexander is a Certified Wedding Planner through the Association of Bridal Consultants. When you hire Johanna, you receive the helpful assistance of a professional Wedding Planner who knows exactly what a Castle wedding involves, which makes the entire planning process and your wedding day itself run smoothly and stress-free.

We hope those brief explanations have proved helpful in highlighting the differences between a Wedding Planner and a Castle Venue Coordinator. Whatever you choose to do, we look forward to assisting at your Castle Farms wedding!

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Upcoming Winter Events!

Well, we’ve officially had our first snow here at Castle Farms, which means winter is upon us. But don’t let the cold season stop you from enjoying local winter events! We have quite a few exciting new events to announce for this upcoming winter season.

First up is our annual Santa at the Castle event on December 6th. Santa will be listening to children’s Christmas wishes from 11am to 3pm. Guests are welcome to take their own photos with Santa; for $2, a professional photo is available. In addition to the visit with Santa, the event features $1 wagon rides around the grounds, while games and activities, a photo booth, snacks, and hot cocoa will be provided. Kids can also enjoy the many trains that will be on display, including interactive and riding trains. One of the biggest draws besides the jolly old elf himself is the Polar Express train display. Guests can watch the model Polar Express train steaming through a Christmas village just like the one from the story! If you’re interested in a more exclusive visit with Santa for your child, we’re offering a V.I.P session from 10am to 11am. V.I.P attendees will enjoy story time with Santa, receive professional photo and gift, participate in a Christmas craft, and indulge in milk and cookies. The V.I.P session is limited to 20 children; tickets are $20 per child with one adult admission included per child. VIP tickets must be purchased in advance online at or by calling Brittany at 231.237.0884 ext 236. Regular event admission is $5 per person, children 2 and under free. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance online.

On New Year’s Eve, the Castle will be hosting its second annual Modern Day Masquerade Ball. Dress up in your finest party attire (masked, of course!) and come enjoy heavy appetizers, drinks, music and dancing. There’ll be a photo booth available to ring in the New Year. Adding to the merriment this year: fire spinning by Magik Mike! The Masquerade Ball starts at 9pm, and the unmasking will be celebrated after the clock rings at midnight. Tickets are $45 a person when purchased in advance online at or by calling Johanna at 231.237.0884 ext 225. Masks will be available for purchase at the door.

By January, the snow should be piling up. What better way to have fun in the snow than a Snowman Wonderland Storytime! From 1pm to 3pm on January 31st, children will enjoy winter activities and a story. Admission is $5 a person at the door.

Valentine’s Day marks the next event of the Castle’s winter season. We’re hosting our 3rd Singles Mingle match making event to celebrate Cupid’s Day. Locals aged 21 and up will participate in a speed dating event while enjoying music, appetizers and drinks. Singles Mingle will be Saturday, February 14th, from 7pm to 10pm. The price will be set soon; watch our Castle Farms event listings for more information.

Last up is our 2nd annual Toast to Literacy event – a wine, beer and food tasting event co-sponsored with the Charlevoix-Emmet County United Way foundation. The event, taking place on February 21st, benefits the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, a literacy initiative sponsored by the Char-Em United Way. The Imagination Library provides free books to children from birth to age five in Charlevoix and Emmet Counties. There will also be a silent and live auction at the event, along with live music, so come on out for a fun evening to support a great cause!

We hope the winter weather doesn’t keep you from coming out and visiting us here at Castle Farms for one of our many community events! Want to know more? You’ll find details for all our upcoming events listed on our Event Calendar at

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Plant a Wedding Memory

Are you in the midst of planning your Castle wedding, and looking for a fabulous way to remember your day once it’s come and gone? Have you already celebrated your wedding with us, and plan to revisit your ceremony and reception site to bring back wonderful memories? Wherever you are in your wedding journey, you’ll love this great new way to memorialize your Castle wedding.  New for 2015, Castle Farms will be featuring its very own apple and cherry tree orchard! As a Castle bride and groom, you’ll have the unique opportunity to be a part of the orchard by purchasing your very own tree, complete with memorial plaque engraved with your names and wedding date. It’s a great way to remember your wedding celebration here at Castle Farms, and you’ll be able to visit it for years to come!

Purchase price per individual tree is $300, and includes the tree, installation, maintenance, and the memorial plaque). For a purchasing form, click here. For more information, contact Anora via email at

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2014 Grand Bridal Expo – Wrapped Up!

We just wrapped up our 10th Annual Grand Bridal Expo, and it was the best one yet! Juried wedding vendors from across the state came out to share their knowledge and services with over 150 brides-to-be. Five lucky winners received featured prizes from the following vendors: E.C. Campbell Photography gave away an engagement session; Cre8tive Cupcake gave away 150 cupcakes; A Matter of Taste gave away ten bottles of champagne; Holiday Inn Express and Suites of Petoskey gave away a night’s stay in their Jacuzzi suite; Darrell Christie Photography gave away a package of reception photo booth services. On top of the featured prizes, many attendees went home with door prizes that ranged from cookbooks, to champagne flutes, to photo frames. We love how our vendors joined together to donate so many prizes for our future brides!






















The most anticipated of the giveaways? The Grand Giveaway – a wedding package valued at over $15,000! The prize included: a ceremony and reception venue at Castle Farms; wedding catering by BJ’s Restaurant; rehearsal dinner catering by Grey Gables Inn Restaurant; wedding photography by Paxton Photography; reception entertainment by A+ Event Entertainment; guest transportation by Midnight Madness; men’s apparel from Petoskey Bridal; wedding cake by Tas T Creations; bouquets and boutonnieres by BLOOM; ceremony officiate services by Pastor Jonathan David Mays; reception photobooth by Shutterbooth; ladies hairstyles by Last Tangle Salon and Tanning; hotel accommodations for the bride and groom at AmericInn Lodge and Suites. The lucky winners, drawn live in a finale to the fashion show, were Lauren Gall and Ryan Kukulka of Gaylord. A July 2015 Castle wedding is planned. Congratulations again, Lauren and Ryan!





The Grand Bridal Expo also featured a Celebration Lounge, in honor of the show’s 10th anniversary. Beer, wine, specialty coffee, popcorn, and the Pita Cruiser food truck of Charlevoix were available to brides, guests, and vendors. Lounge furniture donated by Taylor Rental of Petoskey made the lounge a great place to sit, relax, and go over all the wedding planning details. The lounge area also served as the location of the vendor social on Saturday evening. Our show vendors had a chance to chat with each other about the past season and discuss the season to come. All of us involved in the industry love working together, and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate then being with each other!




















All in all, the Grand Bridal Expo was a great success. We’re so happy to be able to host it year after year. Despite the work, it’s definitely one of our favorite events to plan. We can’t wait to see what next year has in store!

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Modern Royal Affair – A Styled Shoot

When most people think about getting married in a castle, they immediately think of a fairy tale. But how do you pull off the fairy tale look and theme without going overboard or coming off as being a cliché? How do you pull off a royal theme without seeming outdated? Our exclusive Castle Farms Wedding Planner, Johanna Alexander, put her mind and skills to work when putting together this fabulous styled shoot. To go with the Castle, Johanna chose a royal look that incorporates elements of the fairy tale theme. After all, princesses live in a castle and are royalty! Johanna likes to call this shoot “Modern Royal Affair”.

Northern Art Photography - Styled Wedding Shoot at Castle Farms

Thanks to the assistance of many excellent local vendors from the Charlevoix area, the photo shoot came to life. With the stone walls and brick courtyard as a backdrop, the royal blue accents stand out against the muted gold and ivory table. A royal-inspired theme wouldn’t be the same without a pair of large throne chairs! It’s hard to believe this shoot took place on a day filled with rain showers. The crew worked fast in-between patches of rain in order to catch a majority of the shots. The rain couldn’t deter them from their royal duties in fulfilling their plans!


Northern Art Photography - Styled Wedding Shoot at Castle FarmsNorthern Art Photography - Styled Wedding Shoot at Castle FarmsNorthern Art Photography - Styled Wedding Shoot at Castle Farms

Northern Art Photography - Styled Wedding Shoot at Castle FarmsNorthern Art Photography - Styled Wedding Shoot at Castle FarmsNorthern Art Photography - Styled Wedding Shoot at Castle Farms

Northern Art Photography - Styled Wedding Shoot at Castle FarmsNorthern Art Photography - Styled Wedding Shoot at Castle Farms

Northern Art Photography - Styled Wedding Shoot at Castle FarmsNorthern Art Photography - Styled Wedding Shoot at Castle Farms

Although receptions are not held in the Queen’s Courtyard, this look can be easily replicated in any of the Castle’s reception rooms.

Interested in hiring Johanna for your wedding? Contact her if you would like more information about our Wedding Planning services, have questions, or wish to set up an appointment for a free initial consultation. Johanna can be reached at 231-237-0884, ext. 225, or by email

Northern Art Photography - Styled Wedding Shoot at Castle FarmsVendors Applause:
Planning & Design: Castle Farms Wedding Planner, Johanna Alexander
Venue/location: Castle Farms
Photography: Northern Art Photography
Florist: Thyme Hill Designs
Invitations & Menus: Vivian Elle Invitations
Cake: Cre8tive Cupcake
Wedding Dress, Veil & Tux: Petoskey Bridal
Bride’s Jewelry: Castle Farms Gift Shop
Linen: Castle Farms
Hair: Last Tangle Salon


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Michigan Made

Today we wanted to highlight the talented people of our state by featuring some great items for sale in our Castle Farms Gift Shop that are made right here in Michigan!

1) Novels by Michigan Author Kathleen Irene Paterka: We not only have a Michigan author’s books stocked in the Castle Farms Gift Shop, but we also have the author working at Castle Farms! Kathleen Irene Paterka has been writing since middle school, when her parents gave her a typewriter for Christmas. First published in July 2012, she has since written five novels, four of which are included in the James Bay Series, and available for sale in the Castle’s Gift Shop. Her sixth book, For The Love of a Castle, was co-written with the Castle’s owner Linda Mueller. It details the rich history and restoration of Castle Farms.


2) Bullfrog Candle Company Wedding Candles: Bullfrog Candle Company was a Charlevoix-based candle production company with their very own candle making technique. Their well-known ‘glowing candles’, when lit, glow from top to bottom. Though the company has stopped production, the Castle’s Gift Shop still has a remaining stock of wedding-themed candles perfect for unity ceremonies or wedding gifts.




3) Sand Castles and Lighthouses: These sand castle sculptures were designed and created in Michigan, and brought to sale by Castles of Enchanted Sand. First designed for family amusement, they’ve become a great production and include several different styles that can even be personally engraved.



4) Michigan-Shaped Wooden Cutting Board: We’re so happy to feature these cutting boards in our Gift Shop! They are created in Northern Michigan by Michigan Mapleworks and Michigan Wooden Spoon, a family run business and farm.





5) Little Green Guys: These cute little green monsters were created by Michigan artist Brittany Martin. The green guys happened by accident, but once everyone fell in love with them, she did, too! In addition to the plush stuffed monsters, she’s created little green monster sculptures, paintings, pendants and more.





6) Baby Hats: What could be more adorable than these little baby hats with bows, feathers and flower adornments made by Baby Bows 2 Toes?! You might probably guess we have a few moms working at Castle Farms, which is why we always have an assortment of these little hats and headbands stocked in the Gift Shop.



7) Hollyhock Seeds and Lavender Satchels: These packets of hollyhock seeds and lavender come straight from Castle Farms’ gardens! Our Knight’s Courtyard is known for the dark purple holly hocks climbing the stone walls, and our East Garden is always fragrant from the lavender surrounding the walk-ways. Now guests can take home pieces of the gardens!


8) Wooden Signs: These decorative wooden signs feature cute sayings for any part of your home! While the original creator, Gerald Hoffman from Alanson, MI, recently passed, his daughter plans to continue the business as a way to stay close to him.




9) Petoskey Stone Jewelry, Ornaments, and Wine Glasses: Probably the most well-known sign of Northern Michigan is the Petoskey stone. It’s always neat to see what local artisans create using them! We work with Archy’s Rock Shop and Lakeshore Stones to showcase these beautiful necklaces, rings, wine glasses and Christmas ornaments fashioned with Petoskey stones.




Not all of our inventory is online, so be sure to stop in to see what else we have!

The Castle Farms Gift Shop is open from 9:30am to 4:00pm, 7 days a week  through mid-November, Monday through Saturday through the winter months. Call ahead to verify hours as we close early on some event days. 231-237-0884 ext. 240.

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A Real Wedding Feature: Our 2013 Grand Giveaway Winners!

With fall upon us, we’re gearing up for our 10th annual Grand Bridal Expo here at Castle Farms. What better way to get excited for the Expo than to take a look back at the lucky couple who won our 2013 Grand Giveaway! Each year at our Grand Bridal Expo, vendors team up to put together a Grand Giveaway wedding package worth over $15,000. One lucky winner is drawn as the finale to the Bridal Expo’s Fashion Show, and this past year’s winners were Denelle and Kalob. They hosted their wedding at Castle Farms on May 9th, 2014. From their intimate rehearsal dinner in the Queen’s Tavern, to their beautiful ceremony in our Queen’s Courtyard right through their reception celebration in our East Garden Room, Castle Farms and select Preferred Service Providers came together to give them the wedding of their dreams.





Vendor Applause:
Rehearsal Dinner: BJ’s Restaurant, Rentals and Catering
Hairstylist: Last Tangle Salon and Tanning
Ceremony Musician and DJ: A+ Event Entertainment
Officiant: Jonathan David Mays – Charlevoix Wedding Pastor
Photographer: Meg Paxton Photography
Videographer: Style and Motion
Florist: A Touch of Spring and Other Things, Petals Custom Floral Designs
Reception Catering and Bartending: Grey Gables Inn Restaurant and Catering
Cake Designer: TasT Creations
Transportation: Midnight Madness, Mackinaw Shuttle
Table Linens and Chair Sashes: Castle Farms

We were so happy to host Denelle and Kalob’s wedding, and look forward to meeting this year’s Grand Giveaway winner! Come join us for the 10th Annual Grand Bridal Expo on October 26th, starting at 10am with the Fashion Show finishing out the expo at 3pm.

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