Josh and Mercedes had a hot, but beautifully sunny day for their Southwest Michigan wedding at the unique, eclectic Sundance and the Secret Garden in Benton Harbor. I first met this amazing couple for their engagement session that you can see here. I quickly fell in love with their kind hearts and fun, adventurous attitudes. While their wedding day got pushed back a year for reasons we all know by now, they finally got to have their perfect wedding day surrounded by so many of their family and friends.
I met up with Mercedes at the Airbnb where they were all getting ready the morning of the wedding. Mercedes was getting her hair and makeup done by the lovely Josh and Tiara. Watching hair and makeup artists at work is so fascinating to me. I could watch these two work all day. Mercedes looked like a model even before she slipped into her dress, but then when she did, it was magical. Meanwhile, Josh was downstairs getting ready with his friends, who were, uh, not quite as ready. You’ll have to scroll down to see what they were wearing for “getting ready” photos, haha.
Once everyone was ready, we headed to the venue for the first look. Driving up to the venue, I immediately fell in love with this quirky, unique place. The owners took an abandoned bank, a blacksmith shop, and farm equipment station and turned it into one very cool venue! It could not have fit Josh and Mercedes any better. The first look was turned into a sweet, yet funny moment when instead of tapping Josh on the shoulder, she grabbed his butt instead. Once they had their moment, we proceeded with some portraits of them before the family arrived for photos. The neat thing about Josh & Mercedes is how many friends they have that made the trip from around the country to be at their wedding day. And, let me tell you, their friends are amazing! Every single one that I interacted with that day was kind, fun and genuine.
The ceremony was held in the secret garden, which you would not know existed as you drive by this venue. It’s a beautiful, hidden surprise as you walk out the back of the venue into this magical space. The couple’s friend (and Mercedes’ cousin) officiated the wedding. Mixing fun stories about himself and Mercedes growing up with stories about when he first met Josh, he brought a light-hearted but sentimental feel to the ceremony.
Cocktail hour followed in the garden and back inside the venue, as guests enjoyed some signature drinks and music from the DJ. As the couple made their grand entrance to the reception, some very fun speeches were given in honor of the newlyweds. If you know Josh and Mercedes, ask them specifically about a very shocking quote from the bride’s dad. He definitely got the whole room laughing! Following speeches, guests were served a delicious meal and desserts. But, you could tell that most everyone just wanted to get to the dance floor. You’ll have to take a look down below to see just a snippet of the fun they had!
Josh & Mercedes, I wish you all the best in your adventure called marriage! It was a pleasure to photograph your day and a joy to know you both.
Incredible Vendor Team
Day of Coordinator: O’Honey Day of Coordinating
Catering: White Horse Farm Catering
MUA: Josh Thiel
Hair Artist: Tiaras & Veils
Floral: Marco Alexzondra Floral
Dress Boutique: Lovely Bride Philadelphia
Designer: Made with Love Bridal
Photography: Karen Shoufler Photography
Second Photographer: Grace Rios Photography
Officiant: Ryan Nadeau, friend of the couple
*Also, due to me being quite ill (nothing contagious, don’t worry) the day of their wedding, my second photographer stepped up in a way that was above and beyond the norm. So, a shoutout to Grace Rios for being so amazing that day!
To see more weddings like this Southwest Michigan wedding, click here.