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Cassandra and Heath
The biggest surprise, when Cassandra DeVos met Heath Thorndill during their junior year at Michigan State University, was that their paths hadn't crossed sooner. "We're from the same area [in Grand Rapids, Michigan], we graduated the same year, and our high schools are only 20 minutes away from each other," says Cassandra, an attorney. "The chances of our being at the same party at some point were very high."
And though they became fast friends once acquainted, their relationship didn't take a romantic turn until two years later, during a trip to visit friends in Chicago (where the couple now live), when they found themselves alone at dinner one night. "It was the first time we'd hung out one-on-one, and something clicked," says Heath, a construction manager, who realized he'd met his match in Cassandra. "She's gorgeous and tons of fun, and she laughs at the inappropriate things I say."
They discovered a mutual love of travel, and their six-year courtship included trips to Italy's Amalfi Coast and Kyoto, Japan, leading up to their 2014 engagement, which began when Heath proposed on a boat off the coast of Fiji.
Upon landing stateside, they launched into wedding planning right away: "The first thing we did was get started on the dress," says Cassandra, whose mother, Pamella DeVos, is president and designer of the fashion label Pamella Roland. "We flew to her showroom in New York and ordered lace from Paris." For the bride's "something blue," Pamella stitched a piece of pale-blue fabric embroidered with Cassandra's late grandmother's name onto the inside of her gown, and Cassandra also carried a ribbon made from her mother's wedding dress in her bouquet.
On September 19, 2015, the couple exchanged vows in front of 400 guests at the First (Park) Congregational Church in Grand Rapids, the same church where both Cassandra's parents and paternal grandparents had been married. The reception was held nearby at her parents' Mediterranean-style home, where event designer David Stark crafted a spectacular celebration that transported guests to three very different, very meaningful destinations: First, signature cocktails were sipped amid décor evoking Michigan in the fall, including apple branches and hanging lanterns.
For dinner, guests traveled to Italy in a tent bedecked with lemon, olive, juniper, and cypress trees, as well as other garden details in the style of the couple's favorite restaurant, Da Paolino, located on the island of Capri. The final experience was a show stopping dance space featuring a faux-cobblestone floor and an elaborate Greek-village set modeled after Santorini, the island where the newlyweds would be honeymooning later in the week. As guests danced into the wee hours of the morning, a simulated sun faded into the Santorini backdrop, signaling the end of their reception and the start of the couple's next adventure.
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Made-in-Michigan-themed welcome boxes included some of the couple's local favorites, like Grand Rapids Popcorn; apples from a nearby farm; "relax and recover" kits that included rosebud salve, mints, and tissues; and necessities like Voss water and a do-not-disturb sign for hotel doorknobs. And for a cute—and tasty—touch: cookies in the likenesses of their two pups, Jack and Bella, made by the pastry chefs at Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, where the couple hosted brunch the day after the wedding.
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"I was blown away when I saw her. She looked gorgeous, and all I could think about was marrying my beautiful best friend," Heath says of watching Cassandra walk down the aisle.
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"My nana died in 2014. I was really close with her, and before she passed, Heath asked her if he could marry me. For my something blue, my mom took one of my nana's nightgowns that was blue, and she had her name stitched into it—and then stitched into my dress," says Cassandra.
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Setting the Scene
Cassandra's desire for all-white flowers and lots of greenery informed the color palette.
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In keeping with the green-and-white color palette, the bride's mother suggested that the eight bridesmaids—who included Cassandra's sister, her cousin, and friends from high school, college, and law school—wear an emerald hue. "I'm not a huge color person, and I actually got a lot of mixed feedback about green bridesmaid dresses," says Cassandra. "By the time the wedding happened, everyone loved them. I almost changed my mind, but my mom said to stick with it. I should have known she'd be right." Cassandra and her bridesmaids all wore custom Pamella Roland gowns.
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The ceremony took place at the First (Park) Congregational Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan—Cassandra's family church. Staying true to the bride's love for green and white arrangements, event designer David Stark used florals that fit the bill: giant dahlias, Dutch hydrangea, California garden roses, Dutch snowberry, and cascading dendrobium from Hawaii, to name a few.
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In Loving Memory
"My Nana (my mother's mom) and I were extremely close. She lived with us for some time and before then lived only a mile down the street—she was a large part of my upbringing. In March 2014, two months before Heath proposed, she passed away. Heath had already bought my engagement ring so he was able to have a conversation with her before she died, asking for her permission to marry me. So she died knowing that I was going to live a happy live with Heath. She loved Heath—they had a very special relationship."
"My brother, Cole, walked this bible down the aisle after he sat my parents and paternal grandparents. It was my Nana's bible that we read to her every day from the time she was diagnosed with ALS until the day she passed," Cassandra notes. It was set right next to the bride's parents in the front row. Cassandra wanted to be able to look and see it there to know that her Nana was watching on the big day.
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The signature cocktail, created by the Grand Bevy, was finished with the couple's three-toned monogram stenciled in cinnamon, ground espresso beans, and edible gold. It tasted as good as it looked—thanks to the combination of vodka, Lillet, cucumber, basil, ginger honey, and lemon.
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Other Specialty Drinks
The Grand Bevy served a selection of artisan libations, including the "Mykonos" (vodka, ouzo, thyme-infused honey, lemon, and Prosecco) and the "Landshark" (bourbon, black Assam tea, peach-vanilla reduction, lemon, and mint), which was named after the couple's favorite college bar. There were themed bars as well, providing bountiful beverage options, like assorted edible cocktails, a microbrew station, and an adult-milkshake bar.
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Greenery for Days
Topiaries and cypress trees helped transport guests to an Italian atmosphere during dinner.
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Making a Mark
The band performed against a backdrop created from 152 potted ivy plants and featuring the couple's monogram.
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The five-tiered chocolate wedding cake's fondant-lattice detailing mirrored the dining tent's elegant garden theme.
"I surprised Heath with a Funfetti groom's cake," says Cassandra. He played rugby in college, so the outside of the cake was [designed to look like] a Michigan State rugby ball. He loved it!"
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Before jetting off on their two-week honeymoon in Greece, Cassandra and Heath brought their guests along to a Santorini-inspired space set up for an all-night dance party, complete with a custom cobblestone-esque dance floor. The village backdrop for the Greek isles-inspired dance space featured 1,200 backlit "windows."
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Dancing All Night
When the second confetti cannon went off around 2 a.m., Heath and Cassandra were still dancing. "I actually really wanted to have fireworks, but because of all of the surrounding woods and the home, it wasn't possible. So, David came up with the brilliant idea of confetti blasts! We ended up having two and they were a highlight of the night," says Cassandra, who changed into a second dress, also designed by her mother, for dancing.
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Ceremony location, First (Park) Congregational Church United Church of Christ
Event planning, design, and flowers, David Stark Design and Production
Catering and cake, Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
Cocktail service, The Grand Bevy
Photography, Aaron Delesie
Videography, Living Cinema
Photo booth, MVS Studio, Inc.
Officiant, Dr. Phil Johnson
Calligraphy, Deborah Delaney
Bride's gowns and veil and bridesmaids' dresses, Pamella Roland
Bride's jewelry, engagement ring, and wedding band, and groom's wedding ring, Leviev
Bride's hairpieces, Jennifer Behr
Bride's clutch, Judith Leiber
Bride's hair and makeup, Heather Condon
Groom's tuxedo, Isaia from A.K. Rikks
Groom's and groomsmen's shirts and ties, Eton
Groom's shoes, Tom Ford
Groom's and groomsmen's cuff links, Ralph Lauren
Groomsmen's tuxedos and shoes, Hugo Boss
Mother of the bride's and maid of honor's hair, Linzee Katzman of Ted Gibson
Mother of the bride's and maid of honor's makeup, Rick DiCecca
Bridesmaids' shoes, Jimmy Choo, jimmychoo.com
Bridesmaids' bracelets, Sydney Evan
Bridesmaids' earrings, Hoffman Jewelers
Lighting and audiovisual, Solomon Group
Valet, Ellis Parking
Confetti blast, SDFX International
Draping, Bruce Thompson Creative Services
Favors, Caravella Limoncello
Tenting, Regal Tent Productions Ltd.
Reception entertainment, The Bumbys