Handmade Michigan Barn Wedding: Carissa + Ryan

Love ribbon wall

Happy Monday, lovelies! We’re starting off the week with Carissa + Ryan’s charming Michigan barn wedding, which was filled with an abundance of fun + meaningful handmade details! A total romantic at heart, Ryan proposed to Carissa with a thirty-two page fairytale poem, with the question “Will you marry me?” hidden inside. (Ladies, are you dying yet?!) Naturally, letters + book pages became a major design element of the entire wedding. Ryan rewrote every poem he’d ever given Carissa, and she turned those pages into paper flowers for her bouquet and his boutonnière. Such a lovely idea! And books were used as their table numbers, too. The pair spent most of their weekends and free time at thrift stores or bargain-hunting for burlap, jars + supplies to incorporate into their day. Their hard work definitely paid off because their wedding was such a sweet reflection of the two of them + the life they’re building together. Here’s a bit more from Carissa:

From the start, we wanted our wedding to be transparent. Being in love is about vulnerability, and we wanted to be as open as possible with those who had so meaningfully helped our love to grow. From our handwritten vows to the invitations, the song selection to the poetry and decor, we wanted to take a risk and put our passions on display in every element of our wedding. Nothing was included “just because” in our wedding – everything had its place. We handpicked each of our vendors and loved every one of them. They are such gifted, honest, and devoted people; without them, our day would not have been full of so much peace and joy.

Thanks so much to Glass Jar Photography for the beautiful photography and congrats to Carissa + Ryan!

dyed tea bags

bride getting ready

note exchange

note exchange

maroon pants groomsmen


Carissa handmade most of the bridal party’s accessories + the fun wildflower boutonnieres, too!

peach bow ties

mixed bridesmaids

bubble necklace

fabric bouquet


I’m really into tea and Ryan is a huge coffee enthusiast, so coffee beans and tea stains were included throughout the decor. I even dyed around 600 tea bags in a pot on my stove to get the ombre effect across one of the ceremony doors. Since words mean so much to us, we also chose a meaningful quote to paint inside the other ceremony door, along with four poetic pieces that had defined our love over the past three years.

dyed tea bag wall

dyed tea bag wall

outdoor ceremony

outdoor ceremony

outdoor ceremony

outdoor ceremony

Our Musicial Choices

Processional: Turning Page (instrumental) – Sleeping At Last

Recessional: Settler – Balmorhea

First Dance: Turning Page – Sleeping At Last

outdoor ceremony

love ribbon wall

wedding party

bride and groom

bride and groom

bride and groom

bride and groom

Our Favorite Memory From The Wedding

I made sure to acknowledge every moment and aspect of the day - the way it sounded to hear my maid of honor laugh when we were getting our hair done, and the tears my mom couldn't hold back right before she left me to be seated. I studied Ryan’s eyes as he fought back tears, the wrinkles around his mouth and across his forehead, and the way his lips formed the words to our vows. It was beautiful. Maybe some of the best advice we received was to get away from the crowd and really take in our wedding. We did this several times throughout the night, and those moments are forever burned in my mind. Probably our favorite escape was when we ran out to the field during the last moments of the sunset and we stood silent, listening to the muffled music coming from the barn, the laughter of our closest friends and family, and we were just us – completely us, together. We both agreed that we’d never felt more entirely ourselves, and so accepted and loved for it, than on our wedding day.

bride and groom

bride and groom

fabric boutonniere

bride and groom


The Milestone Barn is such a pretty venue!

white barn reception

oats favors


And how cute are their tree-slice escort cards?! Carissa made them herself by cutting up a tree branch, hand-writing the guest’s names and tying them with pretty blush + berry hued fabric strips.

wood slice seating card

wood slice seating card

bunting topped naked cake

barn reception

barn reception

barn reception

first dance


And be sure to take a peek at their adorable wedding video, also captured by Glass Jar Photography!

Our Advice To Those Planning Now

There is so much advice out there: Be yourself and be proud of it, don’t be hindered by traditions, have a clear direction, make sure you hire a great photographer (like Glass Jar Photography) and so on. The best advice we could give is to never let yourself forget that it’s about the many years of marriage to follow this big kickoff celebration, and that's what you should be most concerned with. When planning gets too stressful and too crazy (because it will), make the choice to refocus on each other and embrace the little things. This time of planning is your chance to invest in your love, and a time to form good habits for marriage. Nothing is worth more money or time than that.

photography, photo booth + videography: Glass Jar Photography // venue: The Milestone Barn Bannister, Michigan // day-of event coordination + florals: Kenley Event Design // wedding dress: Martina Liana // grooms suit: Topman // shirt: J. Crew // groom’s accessories: Tie from Etsy, boutineere + pocket square were handmade by bride of C.Leigh Creative // jewelry: Marida Jewelry // hair + make-up: The Basement Salon in Washington, MI // decor: C. Leigh Creative including: the cake topper, the ceremony backdrop, doors, the garland, escort cards, head table place cards, my bouquet (made of Ryan’s poetry written for me during our years of dating), boutineers, pocket square, etc. with some collaboration from Kenley Event Design (head table runner, parts of the centerpieces, props, etc.) // catering: Bon Appetit Catering // desserts: Stephanie Nagle of Whisk & Crumb // musicians: Kevin & Kelly Briski, friends of the bride & groom // dj: Maxwell Schuler // floral crown: Etsy // officiant: Beau McCarthy, Genesis Church // bartender: Max Kopplin

Explore: