A Music-Filled Wedding in a Michigan Forest
Adele and Seth
In the remote Michigan woods where Adele Stichel and Seth Houston were married, red pines tower above wild-blueberry bushes, and sandhill cranes soar overhead. As the bride entered the riverside ceremony, a Bach cantata, sung by two vocalists, wafted over the reeds. "It felt like a cathedral," recalls Seth, a conductor and composer who grew up in Craftsbury Common, Vermont.
For the couple, there is something sacred about this corner of the Upper Peninsula, near Lake Superior, where their families have homes and have vacationed for five generations. It's where they met—on a snowy Christmas Eve in 2007—and became friends, discussing everything from Brahms to gender theory to French philosophy. "We were huge nerds," laughs Adele, a law student raised in Baltimore. In 2011, they had their first kiss there.
Adele and Seth got engaged in May 2014, and later became bicoastal—he lives in Laguna Beach, California; she lives and studies in Charlottesville, Virginia. But it was a given that they'd wed on the Upper Peninsula, and they took time to plan a celebration that would do justice to the location. They met their florist and other vendors at the local farmers' market, choosing native ingredients like mushrooms and whitefish for their menu. Adele sourced vintage candlesticks and driftwood for centerpieces; Seth devised cocktails. More than two years later, 160 loved ones gathered in Michigan, staying in cabins near the chosen site. Friends guided hiking and fishing excursions, and on Friday night, a caller led a rousing barn dance with fiddle, mandolin, and piano.
On Saturday afternoon, the Reverend Jesse Jackson—Adele's former employer—officiated the 45-minute Episcopal ceremony. A bagpiper led the way to the reception, where everyone drank mescal old-fashioneds and ate melon salad and pork-belly skewers. After a dance party and a dip in the lake, Adele and Seth walked back through the forest, where lights hung from the trees, illuminating the empty reception site. "Being there with Adele in the middle of the night, candles all around us," remembers Seth, "it was a magical moment."
The stationery suite by Yeti and the Beast featured fern cutouts and hand-painted watercolors of local flora and fauna, such as thimbleberries and chanterelle mushrooms.
The Love Boat
Adele and her father arrived at the ceremony by boat, as the groom had, with both of his parents, moments before.
A Home Grown Bouquet
Adele chose the dresses for her bridesmaids. Her sister, Helen (shown, left of the bride), and Seth's sister, Serin (right of the bride), wore vintage frocks.
The bride's sister's Blue Heeler-Pomeranian mix, Colby, served as the ring bearer. ("He's like our family mascot," says Adele.)
The wedding ceremony featured music by Bach, Brahms, and R.H. Prichard, whose hymn, "Love divine, all loves excelling," was sung after the declaration of consent. "We love hymns," says Adele. "It's always connected us." (The couple met while singing Christmas carols.)
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., officiated the wedding ceremony. "He's a wonderful person," says Adele, who worked for the civil rights activist for two years as an assistant and researcher; "It was important for me that he be here."
Reception centerpieces included moss and driftwood, plus brass llamas and other figurines to represent the animals on the Houston family's farm.
A Work of Art
As a surprise gift, Adele's sister, Helen Stichel, made a bronze sculpture of the couple in a canoe. It was displayed at the reception below a poem, calligraphed by Kate Poulos; Seth's father crafted the frame. "We tried to have as many handmade things as we could," says Seth. "My father also built the bar and place card holders."
Event planning and catering, Sherry Addison
Flowers, Rock River Farm
Photography, Olivia Leigh Photographie
Stationery, Yeti and the Beast
Calligraphy, The Left Handed Calligrapher
Music, Melissa Arning (vocals); Sam Waring (oboe); Pierre Ogea (bagpipes); Rodney Miller, TJ Crow, and Jeffrey Spero at the Rhythm Raptors (contra-dance band); George Marshall (caller and technical advisor), wildasparagus.com; the Retreaters (rock band); Mark Angeli of Spin City DJs and Production (DJ)
Bride's gown, Mignonette Bridal
Hair and makeup, Nora for Nika Vaughan Bridal Artists
Groom's tails, Nicholas Joseph
Wedding rings and engagement-ring setting, Ethan Lord