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mackinaw island elopement at the grand hotel . christy + matt {i do} . michigan destination wedding photographer kari dawson

Mackinaw Island elopement at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac provided by Kari Dawson Photography.



If I were to hit ‘play’ on a slideshow containing my life’s best moments and memories, you’d find Christy in many of them. We became friends in the fourth grade when I moved to a new house and attended a new school. I had Mrs. Williams who I remember teaching us Sto Lat. Little did I know then just how many times I would go on to sing that Polish song of celebration in my life. I married a Polish man and now have five (err, not so little) pollacks of my own.

I remember sleepovers but not fondly, however. I was usually the one who fell asleep first and had my hand put in a container of warm water to see if they could get to me pee. I once had a 2 liter of Mountain Dew poured on me. I never have been a fan of that flavor. Don’t feel sorry for me though because I was equally as bratty and managed to grow worse at other times in my life. And not just toward Christy although, God knows, I haven’t always been good to her. There were football games when I was on the track with the cheer team and later, football games when I was in the stands. Christy… always with her camcorder. I missed spring break and prom but I gained a husband, a family and kept a life long friend. Those memories are all tucked safely in my heart along with the choices we might regret but laugh about now. And a lot of those memories are contained on a VHS tape hidden where my children will never see it. One of my funniest memories involves a beer tent at a polish festival and an attempt to put her hair up in a ponytail.

I remember swimming in Christy’s pool. I remember years later being in the same backyard next to that very pool while my son slept on her chest. ‚ÄčI’m pretty sure that was one of Tyler’s favorite places as a baby. That senior year of high school I was pregnant with said son. Some people whispered in the hallway and others were bold enough to speak loudly to and about me directly to me. Christy stood solidly by my side. And if you spoke poorly about me or rudely to me that year, Christy got in front.

The highs and lows of our friendship and our lives have never really leveled out. Distance steps in from time to time. But we always pick right back up like no time has passed at all. We both carry some pretty deep battle wounds; some we inflicted on each other and others we just stuck by each other through. Some we could have leaned on each other a bit more for. I wouldn’t change or trade a single thing though.


Christy and Matt were engaged in the herb garden at the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island and later decided to say ‘I do’ in that very garden. It was proving to be tough logistically to get their parents up north so they opted to elope. I volunteered to head up so that I could capture everything for them. All the small stuff was in place and there was nothing left to stress about the day of the wedding. Todd and I hopped off the ferry and were surprised to see that Matt and Christy greeted us there. Together we all headed back to the Grand Hotel where Matt and Christy separated to get ready for their nuptials. Christy and I headed to the salon to have her hair and make-up done. And Matt was left to pace the hotel room and the halls because it only takes so long for a man to put on his suit.

Eventually, Matt was sent to the ground floor so that Christy could get into her dress. Before long, I stood in the wind with Matthew and the minister and my husband Todd, nearby watching for Christy to come around the corner of the porch. And when she did, Matt beamed! And then he got a little emotional. My favorite moment all day was watching Christy wipe the tears from Matthew’s face. These two laughed and smiled so brightly throughout their sweet ceremony as Christy’s dress flowed in the wind.

After they signed their marriage license we were lucky enough to have some time for portraits inside and outside of the Grand Hotel. We all shared plenty of laughter before the two were whisked away in their horse drawn carriage. Matt and Christy celebrated with their friends and family at an intimate Sunday afternoon reception. This girl that doesn’t really let loose.. she shared her first dance with her husband and threw caution to the wind as she closed her eyes and sang along. Even after witnessing the wedding and sharing a few intimate days together, it was that moment that is all sank in for me. Christy is HAPPY. She is really, really happy. Love you both, Chris + Matt!!

Additional photos of their intimate reception can be seen at the end of this post.

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