It was one of those rare, end of summer days tailor-made to be in Michigan or in love. Or, if you are supremely blessed, both.
The weather was sunny and warm enough, but you could feel fall setting in. In fact, it was the official last day of summer. The sky was as blue as it gets. It was so clear you could see far and wide from the top of The Park Shelton
, a historic condo building next the Detroit Institute of Arts in Midtown.
It was an ideal day to tie the knot, and friends and family of Bradford Frost and Dana Miles gathered from afar to see these two kids take the plunge. Yep, some things were just meant to be. And that day Detroit felt downright romantic, full of possibility and anticipation, ready for anything, and even blissful.
If Detroit is for lovers, as the Pure Detroit T-shirt
proclaims, then it explains why Brad and Dana are right at home here. Look up "cute couple" on Wikipedia and I bet there's a posting about these two. They are smart, funny and sweet. They finish each other's thoughts. They love travel, ideas and conversation. They've even got a fluffy, mini dog and a condo in Midtown they share.
Dana and Brad are relative newcomers to Detroit – they both moved here a couple years ago after college at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., when Brad took a job with United Way for Southeastern Michigan
. They fell in love with this city fast and hard. In fact, they love it so much they made Detroit their wedding destination.
"Destination weddings" are nuptials almost always held somewhere tropical, exotic and not a postindustrial Midwestern city. The key is pretty much everyone involved has to travel. It's a big trend in the wedding industry. Talk to people who live in St. Thomas or Jamaica, and they'll tell you they see people getting married on the beach so routinely it's just become part of the beachgoing experience.
Technically, Brad and Dana's wedding was not a destination wedding because they live here, but with 95 percent of their wedding guests from out of town, we won't argue the semantics.Meet the city
Brad and Dana knew a large percent of their guests would have to travel wherever they wed -- much of their family resides on the East Coast, but friends and relatives are scattered all over the country. They love to travel, so they also looked at destinations all over the globe. And then they considered Detroit.
"We were doing this destination thing and we kind of said, 'Let's just simplify it and bring people here,'" Brad says.
So, on their wedding day, of their 90 guests, all of them except for a handful were from out of town. They hailed from Connecticut, Virginia, Indiana, South Carolina, Florida, New York, Boston, Chicago and beyond.
Dana adds that many of their guests hadn’t seen their adopted hometown. And Detroit has taken such a hold on their hearts, this seemed like a perfect time to show it off and spend some QT with the fams.The agenda
"Originally we wanted to have a destination and go somewhere, so that we'd have more than just a couple hours one night to spend together," Dana says. "That's what we're trying to give them here."
OK, Brad and Dana love Detroit, but they aren't so rosy about it that they think a weekend in Detroit is anything like a weekend in Cozumel.
"Honestly, people come with very low expectations, and then we show them what a great life we have here, the places we love to go," Brad says. "When we show them our perspective on it, they walk away saying, 'Detroit's a great place.'"
"We rave about living here. We give such good impressions," Dana adds. "We kind of shattered the negative stereotype of Detroit."
Fine, Cozumel she ain't, but Brad and Dana did want to give the days before and after the wedding the feel of a big party. And they wanted their guests to feel like they'd had a vacation.
They chose a downtown hotel for their guests. The location and reasonable rates sold them. They also pointed guests toward some of the newer, fancier hotels downtown, like the MGM Grand, and boutique spots like the Inn on Ferry Street.
The downtown location in particular is extremely convenient for guests from out of town, Brad says. They need not stray off Woodward much, and getting from hotel to restaurants, casinos, the RiverWalk and bars would be easy and walkable.
"There's everything you want within two miles," Dana says.
They prepared goodie bags to welcome friends and family, and included maps from Inside Detroit
, as well as a list of their favorite watering holes and places to dine.
Then, they planned golf outings and some spa time (Dana and her ladies went to the Woodhouse Day Spa
on Woodward downtown). The week before, as family trickled in from the four corners, they planned to visit some unique Detroit institutions – things like dinner and drinks at the Detroit Yacht Club
on Belle Isle and featherbowling at the Cadieux Café
For the rehearsal dinner, they invited everyone from out of town to come, and 50 people descended on the Detroit Beer Co.
, followed by more imbibing at their other favorite haunt, Bookies Tavern
"We fully expect that there are people who are going to be talking a little smack about coming here. Like, 'Oh man, I can't believe I paid to go to Detroit.' But I think the whole purpose is to show people who've had that nagging question about why did we move here why we love it," Brad says.
Then came the big day on top of the Park Shelton. Brad says they are the first couple, at least in recent memory, to be married on top of the beautiful, historic 1920s building. After the sweet ceremony, guests took the elevator to the lobby for a quick cocktail while the roof was transformed into the space for the reception.
Few, however, could resist a chance to peek over the side of the building, study the ornate details in the architecture, look out over the DIA grounds below or gaze out at the city around them. Couples snapped dramatic photos with the city skyline in the backdrop and lingered to steal a kiss at the balcony's edge.
It'd go too far to say that Detroit upstaged the bride and groom that night, but let's just say the city made one fine looking bridesmaid.
Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey is editor of Model D. Reach her here
. She brings a hankie to weddings, but can't do the hustle to save her life.
All photos taken on the roof top of the Park Shelton during Bradford Frost and Dana Miles' wedding day.All photographs by Marvin Shaouni
Marvin Shaouni is the managing photographer for Metromode & Model D.