When the Wedding Planner Becomes the Groom

After planning hundreds of weddings in my career, it was a very interesting feeling to become the groom planning our own special day. Finally putting myself on the sofa, and being asked all the questions that I so easily ask our couples. What experience you would like to provide for yourself and your guests? What colors and vibes fits you both in your soon to be married life? Where you see yourself in 10 years, and when looking back on your special moment, what would you most like to remember? As a designer and vibe creator, it’s important to me to get to know our couples a bit more than favorite colors and how many tables. The experience should feel like the couple is throwing the celebration. The best weddings are those that feel like the couple.

As I sat on the sofa, I recalled all the special moments we have created for so many couples over the years. What elements did I enjoy that fit us as a couple and the experience we wanted to create for our guests… My answer, our answer, was LOVE. As we knew it would be pretty, it was most important to us that all our guests felt LOVE! Our journey has been nothing short of a life adventure to the altar. We felt it was time to celebrate with our closest friends and family. But where to start with so many options?

The Venue and Vibe

Since I have worked at most venues throughout the years, I narrowed it down to two locations. As we toured both venues, we were both drawn to the Shinola Hotel. As the service, look, and vibe was all top notch, we knew this was for us. The team at the Shinola really make you feel special, and the day went smoothly, like clockwork. We are so grateful. Highly recommend! The next big question: Band or DJ? Well why not both! A wonderful mix of live vocals and party vibes was the pick for us. NuClassica graced us with their energetic violins during the ceremony and cocktail hour. Ben Sharkey sang so romantically as guests arrived into the dining room. As dinner concluded, we moved to the birdie room to finish the night at Shinola, dancing with Nicholas from Elysium under the night sky.

The Colors

Now as a designer, designing your own look with so many options was a task. As I had planned hundreds of different weddings at fleurdetroit with style, location, vibe, and colors, a few elements we we're drawn to remained the same throughout the weddings—the main one being the color green. 

So, green! Our love for green was the perfect color. Green and texture would become the theme throughout the design. From our invitations that were delivered in matte black bubble mailers, to the hemp green linen paper, and marble waxed seal. 

Then came the dining space in moss green velvet linen table covers, to hemp green menus and styled tomatillos bringing such texture to the table. 

Layering and layering textures is a design concept I live by. So we mixed found vintage plates on walnut chargers, with a cotton fridge napkin, nestled and topped with a leather place card and tassel. The modern black matte flatware rounded out the look for an overall very chic table setting.  

The Guests

Then I thought to myself, let’s make the guests part of the design. We asked all our guests to wear their most chic black attire. Everyone turned out and really got into it. So fun! Thanks to Joshua Gold, Kurt and I both wore custom looks. We decided against having a bridal party—we just asked our best friends to enjoy the day with us! 

LOVE was most important to share with our guests, so we incorporated special touches from start to finish. Guests were greeted by handsome models opening doors, then into an airplane bar, where alcohol was served over large cubes with our monogram pressed into the ice. As guests collected on the second floor, they grabbed an escort card with their name. Upon opening, the card appeared to be blank. As they moved closer to the ceremony space, we had photos taken of couples as they passed by. Nicole, an extremely talented fashion artist proceeded to sketch them as guests were enjoying the evening. 

The Fun!

As guests walked the corridor to the Birdy Room for the ceremony, they enjoyed the sounds of NuClassica. After a heartfelt ceremony performed by our best friend, guests enjoyed cocktail hour with passed hors d’oeuvres. The energy was building to our next exciting move. Just before dinner, a vocal performance by a good friend filled the Birdy Room with joy. As we invited guests to the mirrored room, they pulled out that paper that appeared to be blank. When handed to the host, shining a black light onto the paper revealed the table number. 

Guests entered the dining room to three long tables that appeared to go on for miles. Ben Sharkey sang, giving vibes of a supper club cocktail lounge. The tables were filled with my favorite things: table lamps, foliage, florals, fruits and tons of candlelight—creating the most chic, sophisticated glamour. 

Through dinner, every guest was handed notes of love and appreciation. And as unique as we are, we gave a speech about all the love and great times we have built together. As dinner ended, it was time to move one last time: to DANCE! We danced to a mash up of our favorite tunes as guests couldn’t wait any longer to join us. The dancefloor was full all evening long! As the clock struck midnight, we departed for another adventure… because the evening wasn’t over yet. But that’s a tale for another day. 

It was the perfect day for us—love wins!

Darin & Kurt  

Grooms @designerdarin @kurtnpepperncharlie
Photography Mike Murphy @mmivphoto @Eli.l.photo
Videographer 97 Films @97films
Planning & Design fleurdetroit @fleurdetroit @fleurdetroitevents @designerdarin
Florals & Décor fleurdetroit @fleurdetroit @fleurdetroitevents @designerdarin
Venue Shinola Hotel @shinolahotel
Stationery & Design Elana Hopman @annabel.reese
Make Up Scott Beard @scott_toddsroom
Hair Tony Suarez @peoplessuarez
Talent NuClassica @Nuclassica
Talent and Lighting Elysium Experience @elysiumexp
Talent Ben Sharkey @Bensharkeysings
Talent 7stone Management @7stonedetroit
Illustrations Nicole Jarecz @Nicolejareczillustration
Rentals & Décor Event Source @Eventsourcerental
Transport Dream Limo @dreamlimousinesinc
Welcome Party Chef Mary Wilson @wandering_gourmet
Welcome Party Venue BasBlue Detroit @basblueus
Welcome Party Drinks Monarch Club @monarchclubdetroit
Afterparty Vibe SPKRBOX @spkrbox.detroit
Afterparty Vibe Mootz Pizzeria and Bar @mootzpizzeria