Destination weddings say ‘yes’ in Detroit


Lila McDowell of Farmington Hills has her photo taken outside Michigan Central Station on Saturday, July 11, 2015, at Roosevelt Park in Detroit.

DETROIT – For Jackie Wing and Mark Prindiville, their wedding scheduled for October 1, 2016 will be about their love for each other – and the history of Detroit.

The engaged couples met four years ago at Central Michigan University in a history class. The chapters on falling in love took place during extracurricular activities, including a visit to a Detroit Tigers game at Comerica Park, where Prindiville, 25, from Downriver, showed at Lansing wing, 24 years, some monuments of Motor City.

On their wedding day, the couple will take an oath to be husband and wife at an automotive heritage site – the Ford Piquette Avenue factory where Henry Ford first manufactured the Model T.

“We are history nerds. We wanted a unique place, ”said Wing, a third-grade teacher at Morenci.

“It’s the old cars, the creaking floors. The paint on the ceiling is peeling off because that’s where cars were made 100 years ago, ”Wing said. “Henry Ford’s office is on the second floor and there are vintage cars around because it’s a museum.”

“And the Detroit skyline is all around us,” Wing said, “and it’s beautiful.”

Forget the suburban country club or Caribbean beach civil ceremonies. After Destination Wedding, insert the word Detroit.

More and more couples are looking to get married in Detroit’s historic churches or host their receptions in places as unique as the Belle Isle Casino or a turn-of-the-century car factory. They also want to use the city’s landscape – from the most glorious to the gritty – as a backdrop for some out of the ordinary photo poses.

Beyond the banquet hall

At the Detroit Yacht Club in Belle Isle, restaurant manager Nikki Charbonneau said the venue was “struggling” to find an open Saturday in 2016.

“They want this Detroit theme. They want cool neighborhoods in Detroit, ”Charbonneau said. “Every bride says we’re going for a Detroit theme. They’re not looking for those cookie-cutter banquet halls. They want unique areas with great views of the city.

“We’re on the comeback and everyone wants to be a part of it,” said Charbonneau.

In downtown Detroit, the Colony Club hosts weddings year-round, and the Gem Theater does twice as many as three years ago, said Nicole Lakatos, director of sales and marketing for both venues. .

“It’s definitely a trend. I’ve been doing this for a very long time. It used to be more of a sale to get people to come downtown and have a wedding, ”Lakatos said. “And now it’s a destination.”

“We have people who are no longer local. They live in Brooklyn or Fort Myers or Chicago. Or one of them grew up here, ”Lakatos said. “It’s an opportunity … and then they showcase Detroit and give everyone a positive experience to talk about.”

On their wedding day on May 16, 2014, Jason Umpleby and Martina Ross were photographed in southwest Detroit against graffiti on a former fire station near Martina's alma mater, church and l Holy Redeemer school.

“Detroit is a very popular brand,” said Jeanette Pierce, who founded the Detroit launch and tour group formerly known as D: hive and now known as Detroit Experience Factory. About 50,000 people took part in his tours, including Richard Peresky, who became Pierce’s husband.

They invited the whole city – via Facebook – to their wedding ceremony in 2011 at Campus Martius. The couple distributed 800 cupcakes from the On the Rise bakery, sponsored by Capuchin priests to help ex-addicts master a trade. Pierce and Peresky hosted an invitation-only reception in the atrium of the Compuware Building. Food stations represented Greek, Mexican, Polish and soul cuisines, as well as an oriental market-themed station for vegetarians. The groomsmen wore cufflinks with the Tigers’ Old English D and their ties featured Detroit map designs.

“Maybe more people are attached to Detroit than before,” said Pierce, “and they want to show it to their family and friends who think they’re crazy to love it.”

Detroit roots celebrated

He figures that one of the first auto factories that spawned the Motor City moniker is now a unique wedding venue in a museum.

The Ford Piquette Avenue factory, built in 1904 in the Milwaukee Junction neighborhood just east of Detroit’s New Center neighborhood, is where Ford Motor built the T models before moving to Highland Park. In 1911, Ford sold it to Studebaker, who produced cars there until 1933.

“A large percentage of our couples grew up here and now live out of state,” said Nancy Darga, CEO of Piquette. “They want to go home. They don’t want a banquet hall. They want something rare that evokes Detroit roots.

“We are the perfect site for this. You can’t tap into the Detroit root more than the Piquette and Ford factory, ”Darga said. “He’s 111 years old. It is still in its original condition. You really get the spark that started Detroit – cars and music are the heart and soul of Detroit.

“It’s rustic. It’s a factory. Photographers love our building. There are the original brick walls. There is a nice patina, ”said Darga.

One of Piquette’s most popular features is the Model T. La Piquette also hosted a wedding where a couple used a vintage car to drive down the aisle. A couple used the space to present a circus theme. A groom who owns a golf course brought golf course turf to mark the bridal aisle.

La Piquette hosts dozens of weddings per year. But the place creates challenges. The building does not have air conditioning or central heating, although units can be hired for events. Caterers bring food to the site.

Katrina Adams and Johnny Bouyer II tied the knot on August 23, 2014 at the International Banquet Center in Greektown.

For Wing-Prindiville’s wedding next October, the couple plan to hold the ceremony on the second floor of La Piquette, surrounded by vintage cars and near Henry Ford’s former office. On the third floor, they will place tables around classic cars.

“Because it’s a museum, I really don’t need to decorate,” said Jackie Wing. And they get the story within their budget. Wing said it would cost them around $ 4,000 to rent the facility for around 100 guests – and with catering, DJ and other items, the couple say they think the reception tab will be of about $ 10,000.

“When we went to check out the place, it was unexpected to see. It was an unfamiliar part of Detroit to me, ”said Prindiville, who has a master’s degree in history and is earning a second master’s degree from Wayne State University to become an archivist. “But it was instantly a place we could see each other. I’m a huge fan of Michigan and Detroit history – and oh yeah, that’s where the Model T was built!

When he described the place to a few relatives, they were worried, and one of them “grew up fearful of Detroit a little bit,” Prindiville said. But he showed her the Piquette and now “she’s trying to organize functions there for her work.”

Pretty as picture

For her wedding in the spring of 2014, Martina Ross Umpleby, General Motors chief auditor, wanted to present the neighborhood in which she grew up, southwest Detroit. Her husband, Jason Umpleby, an account manager for a digital software company, grew up in Ann Arbor.

Unlike the ornate majesty of the iconic Catholic Church of the Holy Redeemer, her childhood parish where they married, she wanted her wedding photos to reflect the neighborhood vibe. The couple asked photographer Mark Wright to pose them in front of a closed fire station marked by graffiti artists.

“Growing up a lot of my friends were graffiti artists and I feel like the style is definitely southwest (Detroit),” she said. “I wanted my new family to understand how and where I grew up. I am very proud of my corner of town and wanted to share this with the highlights of downtown.

The graffiti photo, she said, represents “one of the things I think the Southwest (Detroit) does best.”

Ahead of their wedding ceremony and July 11 reception at the 1920s-designed Colony Club, a former women’s club in downtown Detroit, Lila Weinstein and Evan McDowell visited a century-old landmark in the city to take photos. But instead of being well-preserved and functional, this Detroit landmark is a crumbling global symbol of Detroit’s decadence.

The couple, both 22, posed for photos outside Michigan Central Station. She is a trained dancer who grew up in Farmington Hills. He grew up in Hudsonville in western Michigan. They just moved to Dayton, Ohio, where she will dance with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company II, and he will work as a second lieutenant at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, having recently graduated from the US Air Force Academy. .

“It was just a cool contrast. It’s a very tall building even though it’s a mess, ”Weinstein said. “We just took the photos on the field just in front. It was awesome. It has a golden appearance with the field. And it gave us a sort of rustic feel.

Their photographer, Holly Green, calls it “the Detroit sensation”.

“The younger generation are less worried about the bad vibes Detroit has had in the past. They are a little more free to bypass Detroit, ”Green said. “It’s a cool and trendy thing.”

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