wedding in ludington

Does anyone have any advice/help/experience in planning a wedding in Ludington, MI? It is about half way between Grand Rapids and Traverse City, small town of around 20,000. Any advice you could pass on as to different vendors, ideas. etc would be great! Thanks!!

Re: wedding in ludington

  • ljs5ljs5 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Does anyone have any advice/help/experience in planning a wedding in Ludington, MI? It is about half way between Grand Rapids and Traverse City, small town of around 20,000. Any advice you could pass on as to different vendors, ideas. etc would be great! Thanks!!
  • edited December 2011
    I am from Grand Rapids, however I spend summers up there, and have family there too.  What do you have planned already?  What made you choose Ludington?
  • edited December 2011
    I got married in Ludington a month ago... here is my reviews of my vendors that I posted on the general site. I hope this helps you!

    Knottie Screen Name: Imperatigirl
    Wedding Month / Year: September 2010

    Ceremony Venue: Beach in Ludington Michigan

    Reception Venue: Cartier Mansion (www.cartiermansion.com)
    If I could do it again I would NOT have had my wedding here

    If you’re looking for a nice bed and breakfast, look no further. This place is comfortable and clean and has amazing food. The proprietor’s son, Drew, is a fantastic chef and the historic mansion is a lovely place to stay.

    If you’re a pending bride, about to trust your special day to someone, read on:

    I cannot even BEGIN to express how much additional stress having our wedding here caused me. I thought it would be stressful to plan an out-of-state wedding and having someone to do some organizing seemed like it would alleviate some of that stress. Not the case.

    We visited the Cartier Mansion in January of 2010 to tour the facility and speak with the owners, Sue Ann and Gary Schnitker. I had done some research on the wedding industry in general and knew the importance of having a detailed and very specific contract. The fees that were due up front to secure our date included renting the mansion and garden for the day, renting a tent to be set up in the parking lot for the reception and also paying a wedding fee. Upon paying for these things our date was secured and if we canceled up until 2 weeks prior to the date we would lose $1000 of the total.

    We also discussed prices for things that would be totaled once we had a final guest count. We established a price per guest for dinner, prices per drink, prices for the renting of tables, chairs and linens. I expressed an interest in arranging my own baker for my cake (I wanted cupcakes) but was dissuaded from doing so by Sue Ann when she guaranteed a specific price through a bakery she had a relationship with. This too, was put in writing in our original contract. Centerpiece flowers were included in the wedding fee, and we agreed that I would pay an extra fee for a few more hydrangea stems to make my own bouquets. I also expressed concern about rain or cold temperatures. Would our guests be comfortable under a tent? I was told that the tents come with removable sides (and was never told there was an additional charge for this or that they had to be ordered separately).

    After hammering out a very detailed and specific contract with them 8 months prior to the wedding we were confident that the remainder of our budget would be going toward food and alcohol.

    We made one more trip to Ludington to obtain our marriage license 3 weeks prior to our September wedding. We met with Sue Ann again and discussed the final guest count, and some details of our beach ceremony. There was no mention of any extra charges during this face-to-face meeting. Sue Ann told us she would email me the final invoice. We were expecting the only changes to be the price for food based on our final guest count. Alcohol prices would be determined at the end of the reception. To our surprise the updated invoice that was sent a few days later included a $200 increase on the tent, a $75 charge to plug our ipods into their PA system, and the price of our cupcakes had nearly doubled. When I responded in an email questioning some of these charges I received a curt email back from Sue Ann that ended with her saying she ‘no longer wished to be responsible’ for obtaining the flowers for my bouquets as planned. This not only sent me scrambling to find a florist with only a little over 2 weeks till the wedding but also significantly shook my confidence in the professionalism of the Mansion. We felt on the hook to pay these additional and inflated charges (due 2 weeks prior to the event) fearing if we didn’t our wedding would be further compromised.

    We selected a location for the ceremony on the beach along Lake Michigan (a few miles from the Cartier Mansion). It meant a lot to us to have our ceremony on the beach because that is where the two of us first met 14 years prior. Due to the high winds the day before we had to rehearse our ceremony inside the mansion. On morning of our wedding day it was also a bit windy and cool, but because it was so important to us to have our ceremony on the beach we all agreed to make the call on the weather closer to the actual time of the ceremony (4pm). In the 4 hours leading up to our wedding we couldn’t find or get hold of anyone working at or for the Cartier Mansion. My fiancé and I tried the main number and also Gary and Sue Ann’s cell phones and could not reach anyone. The weather was reasonable and we wanted to have our ceremony on the beach as planned. After failed attempts to reach Sue Ann and Gary, I finally reached their son Drew, who made sure I’d have chairs on the beach in place for my ceremony as originally planned. Amidst all of this chaos I had to clean up my room and make my own bed before the photographer arrived because, after leaving a message to have our room cleaned before the his 3pm arrival, no one responded.

    I didn’t know what to expect when I finally arrived with my father at the ceremony site. I had no idea if everyone would simply be standing around, or if the need for chairs had been successfully communicated. Luckily we have a tight group of friends and my fiancé had managed to let everyone know to come to the beach. I later found out that some people had called the mansion and were told that our wedding would not be on the beach. The general lack of communication was flagrant.

    In the end it was a blessing in disguise that the weather was cool, and Sue Ann had been unable to rent sides for the tent at the last minute. We were lucky to be able to have our reception in the lovely carriage house, a building behind the mansion that, I believe was built the same time as the Mansion. It has a beautiful interior, nice windows and a floor made for dancing but is not an option in warmer weather due to a lack of air conditioning. The tent we paid $400 to rent was nothing but a fabric roof on poles, pitched above an uneven cement driveway, not much of a place to dance or have a fun reception. Having the reception in the carriage house was also nice because otherwise we would have been spending all that money to rent the mansion only to have the majority of our reception in its parking lot. 

    More questionable practices ensued when Sue Ann and Gary acted as bartenders during our reception and had the nerve to set out a tip jar for our guests knowing full well that they would be charging us an 18% gratuity on the alcohol sales at the end of the evening.

    The icing on the cake (pardon the pun) was Sue Ann literally screaming at us in front my husband’s family the next day when we quietly asked to be refunded the extra fees for the tent, cupcakes and sound system. Gary also added that we were never charged for the beach chairs when having chairs at the beach was spelled out in our rental agreement and we had been charged to rent 67 chairs that were, apparently, only for the reception. I was told that I am the ‘most difficult, nit-pickiest bride she’s ever dealt with in 30 weddings’. I find that hard to believe when I was only expecting the good business practice of honoring a contract. The mere fact that someone working in the hospitality industry would scream in my face in front of my family left me reeling. In the end, Sue Ann wrote us a check for the amount in dispute, and then berated us further for being in her house past 'check out', even though we had to wait for her to show up to even discuss our final bill.

    The sad thing is that after being paid over $10,000.00 by us (rehearsal dinner, wedding and rental of all 6 rooms for 2 nights) an argument over a few hundred dollars left us with a horrible impression of the Cartier Mansion. We make trips to Ludington every year, and would probably have made an anniversary stay at the Cartier mansion a part of our itinerary had we been treated differently.

    Attire (Dress/Tux Shop): Nordstrom.com!

    After my first trip to David's Bridal, I wasn't into the whole idea of going dress shoppping, so I ordered several dresses on Nordstrom.com! I found the PERFECT dress for only $178 and returned the rest to my local Nordstroms. It was nice being able to privately try on gowns in front of my parents without any high pressure sales people. Also, don't give your email to David's Bridal or you will be stalked with several emails a day until the day of your wedding!!

    Florist: Bela Floral, Ludington Michigan (www.belafloral.com)
    Rick at Bela Floral sold me flowers to make my own bouquets and was very nice and helpful. He even let me borrow the large container they were in to make sure they stayed fresh. I recommend him highly!  Great prices too! He even gave me an extra hydrangea stem for free!

    Photographer: Darrell Adkins, Remus Michigan (www.darrelladkins.com)
    Darrell did an amazing job with our wedding photos. I was crying during the entire ceremony and he somehow managed to capture great photos of me despite my tears and the winds of a blustery day on the beach. His portraits on the beach were breathtaking. He was unobtrusive throughout the ceremony and reception (no one even realized he was there) yet managed to capture so many special moments that I will treasure for a lifetime. I made a lot of things for my wedding (boutonnieres, programs, favors, centerpieces, etc) and he captured every single detail perfectly. Using Darrell was a little expensive, and I might not be able to afford getting an album from him (although I am saving up!), but I still am so pleased with my decision to use him!

    Officiant: Tom F Hamel, Pentwater, Michigan (www.mywestmichiganwedding.com)
    I loved Tom Hamel! He was so nice and accommodating. We had a beach ceremony and it was a little hard to hear him. He didn't think we'd need a microphone because we only had 60 guests, but we definitely did. He rented us a lovely beach trellis that made the photos even better! I highly recommend him!

    Baker/Cake Creator: Happy Endings, Muskegon Michigan (www.happyendingsbakery.com)

    Autumn at Happy Endings did an amazing job on our wedding cupcakes and top cake. They were delicious and she was able to incorporate my design (I had a bird-themed wedding). I was really impressed with her work!

    DJ/Band: I used an ipod and I HIGHLY recommend it! I spent some time deciding the order of the songs (more dancy stuff at the end) and also had it plugged in to ensure battery power. I timed out the music based on time allotted for my reception and it worked perfectly! My guests said it was the best wedding music they're ever danced to and no cheesy DJ songs were played!

    Ceremony Music:
    I used an Ipod for this as well.

    Hair: Generations Hair Salon in Scottsvile Michigan (231-757-0350)
    Thank you to Kim Ingle and Generations in Scotsville for making my hair beautiful for my wedding! I was only in town for a couple days to obtain my marriage license prior to my wedding (we live in Chicago) and the first (and only) hair test I had scheduled at another salon was an absolute disaster. I wanted a messy braided up-do that would hold up on a beach ceremony (windy) and throughout the rest of the day/evening. Kim not only got me in at the last minute (literally saw me within 30 minutes of my call) for a test, but executed the same style beautifully on my wedding day. She also bent over backwards to accommodate me. She had an important out-of-town family event on the day of my wedding, but made a special trip just to do my hair for me, and also had her father run to her house and cut me some lovely hydrangea stems (for free!) from her backyard just in case we needed any extra flowers for our reception. Who does that!? I'm so impressed with Kim and cannot wait to send her a thank you card with some photos of our special day. My hair looked fantastic andand even held up to the winds on the beach that day! Amazing!
  • edited December 2011
    I have to disagree with PP on the Cartier Mansion.  There are two sides to every story and I don't believe all of the facts are being shared.

    You have to expect to pay more when you want fondont covered cupcakes with individual birds on them in place of regular butter cream frosted ones.

    $75 for the use of their PA system is cheap... imagine what a DJ would have been.  I look at this like a cake cutting fee.  If you want to hold your event at a venue with a fee lke that... you pay it.

    As for the room cleaning, the house keeper is probably in her 60s and this is a family run place (it's not a Holiday Inn where the house keepers are knocking on your door at 7am).  If she wanted her room cleaned before the photog came, she should have asked and I'm sure it would have been done.

    Also, I didn't rent a tent but looked into it and knew the sides were extra if you wanted them.  $400 is VERY reasonable for a tent in that area... I was looking at a much higher price.

    I don't think you should rule out the Mansion if that is the kind of wedding you are looking for.  Just be reasonable and remember that it is a family run place and also Sue Ann and Gary's home.  My only suggestion - keep it intimate!
  • edited December 2011
    Forgot to mention, I had Sue Brown as my photographer and loved her!  While is more expensive than say Demarz out of Manistee, you DEFINITELY get what you pay for in pictures.  My Trash the Dress is her featured gallery right now.  She works with her husband, Steve and they make an awesome pair!
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