from Gourmet Cupcake Shoppe

You can change the world with every dollar you spend. It’s a principle that I’ve seen echoed in a lot of newspaper and magazine articles during the economic downturn as people start considering how every penny is spent. For me, one of the saddest parts of the recession has been watching small, family-run businesses disappear. I covered many a business closing while interning at The Bay City Times and it’s never a fun experience. That’s why, when I started planning our wedding more than a year ago, I decided to put the massive amount of money we were about to spend back into the hands of as many local business owners as possible.

I hinted towards my thoughts on supporting local businesses with our wedding in the post about things to do in Saginaw. It’s hugely important to me and, without getting preachy to the friends and family I know read this blog, I thought I’d share a list of our vendors just to illustrate how easy it is to avoid the big box stores (or the Wedding Industrial Complex, as many hip wedding bloggers call it).

So here’s a list of local vendors you can support for probably any non-wedding-related reason but who definitely made our big day the best it could have been.

  • My dress, my bridesmaids’ dresses and Dawn and Beth’s dresses were all purchased at Fantastic Finds, a wedding and special occasion boutique in Lansing, Mich. Our consultant was Donna and she was amazing!
  • Bryan’s tuxedo, his groomsmen’s tuxedo and Barry and Brian’s tuxedos were all rented from Edward’s Men’s Shop in Saginaw. Didn’t they look fly?
  • My mom Dawn’s jewelry and my veil came from Etsy, a website full of independent crafters selling their handmade and vintage wares in virtual shops. My veil was vintage from the ’40s and my mom’s jewelry was handmade. If you need it, there’s no way you won’t find it on Etsy and you’ll always be supporting a small business owner with your purchase.
  • Our cupcakes, which I know everyone DIED over, were from The Gourmet Cupcake Shoppe in Midland. I knew I wanted to do cupcakes and Carrie Fisher, the shop’s owner, is a client at my sister Breck’s salon. They got to talking, we got to tasting and y’all got to scarfing down those 300 delicious cupcakes. Bonus: Carrie uses all Michigan-made products in her cupcakes. She’s amazing!
  • All the ladies had their hair done the morning of the wedding by Breck, who works at Nathan’s Salon in Midland. She keeps my color looking good and she gave Bryan a fresh ‘do for the big day plus she does the hair of MANY people you saw at the wedding. Call her up for an appointment!
  • The flowers came from Gaertner’s Flowers in Saginaw. My mom Dawn works there and Jacque did all our centerpieces, bouquets, boutonnieres and other arrangements. Jacque (pronounced like Jackie) is a really great floral designer and she really had a lot of good ideas for a girl who had no idea what she wanted. Thanks, Jacque!
  • We bought all our attendant gifts at Herman Hiss & Co. in downtown Bay City. They have a huge selection of gifts and it’s really hard to choose. The bridesmaids’ red flip flops were from the store’s enormous Vera Bradley collection. The groomsmen received some awesome monogrammed flasks, to ensure a good time had by all.
  • Our photographer was Sean Cook, an amazing guy I worked with at The State News who has started his own photography business. He recently relocated to Chicago but still shoots in Michigan. I knew he was talented but he’s also new to the business and I totally want to see him succeed so hiring him was a no-brainer.
  • Our wedding invitations were designed by Chelsea McGorisk. I also worked with her at TSN and also knew her to be exceptionally talented. She offered to do the invites and pretty much any design work we needed and I replied “YES YES YES!” She happens to be dating Sean and they live together in Chicago but, again, it’s so much nicer to help out a fresh college grad  looking for portfolio work.
  • Our DJ was Ricky D at Rusch Entertainment. Wasn’t he fun? Rusch is a local entertainment company in the Saginaw Valley and they can provide you with some kind of entertainment no matter your price range.

I know you might look at this list and think, “OK, Whitney. Some of these things you probably HAD to get local.” And you’re partially right. But this global economy provides us with a plethora of options. Flowers, for example, could have come from Teleflora and been flown in on a FedEx plane. Not so eco-chic, right? My dress could have come from David’s Bridal but, for the record, their customer service sucks and the employees are snooty. I personally didn’t want to give them my money.

My point in writing this post is two-fold. First, I know a few people were wondering about the cupcakes and the dresses, etc. Now you know! But I also wanted to get on my soapbox for a minute (I’m not shy!) and tell everyone it is possible to avoid the big boxes when planning a wedding. Put your money where your pride is and buy local and independent!

(Steps down from soapbox)