How These Ypsilanti Brides Created a Deeply Personal, Intentionally Michigan Wedding

Rachel and Lauren Myers even had seating cards printed on University of Michigan game ticket cardstock

Sarah Bricker Hunt

For local couples seeking inspiration on hosting a thoroughly Michigan wedding, look no further than the November 2023 nuptials of Ypsilanti brides Rachel and Lauren Myers. From a ceremony at Ann Arbor’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens to seating cards printed on University of Michigan game ticket cardstock to a reception at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse, the affair was as much a love letter to the Great Lakes State as it was a celebration of their own (super charming) love story.

In some ways, the couple’s origin story is typically modern — they both swiped right, and it all worked out. But adding a little Covid-era social protocol into the mix meant creative early dates and a little trauma bonding over the stressful, often sad circumstances the world was experiencing in 2021. That year, Lauren had received an early vaccine as an employee at the Veterans Administration in Ann Arbor, but Rachel had to wait, so things were complicated at first. “It forced us on a lot of outdoor dates, walking around the park. We’d meet up at Gallup Park and sit under the pavilion, eat some charcuterie. It was fun, actually.” Lauren recalls. 

Before long and despite the pandemic, the two became inseparable. “I knew pretty quickly,” Rachel says. “I was like, ‘Girl, I know.’ Within that year, she moved in. It was just right, and I felt so at ease with it from my end. I wasn’t trying to wait!” By November 2022, the women were planning a very Michigan (and mostly Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti) wedding.

When it comes to wedding planning, one could say it’s all about fitting a million little details into a single, picture-perfect puzzle. Every couple has a unique approach to fitting those pieces together — for some, it’s a chaotic romp to the finish line, filled with surprises and last-minute decision-making. Rachel and Lauren’s approach would likely fall on the other end of such chaos. There were spreadsheets involved, and most of the details were in place within a few months. “For us, it made sense to start with the reception venue, and once that was in place, we kind of built out from there,” Rachel remembers.

The couple worked with a wedding planner on some elements of the event, but the small details were uniquely them. Rachel, who is “passionate” about athletics and has built her career working for teams like the Detroit Pistons, Detroit Shock and Chicago Fire before returning to work for University of Michigan Athletics, connected with the school’s ticket sales director to source the same cardstock that game day tickets are printed on. Each guest's seating assignment was printed on the ticket, an understated, yet deeply personal nod to Rachel's love for athletics.

For Lauren, it felt important to honor her Jewish heritage. “I grew up Jewish, and I affiliate with the culture of Judaism, but not necessarily the religion,” she explains. “I had to figure out a happy medium of what felt good to incorporate in a Jewish wedding while limiting the religious portions to what felt good.” The brides decided to incorporate a chuppah into the ceremony. “We built it together — bought the wood, stained it, sanded it, and put it all together,” she says.

Along the way, the brides were intentional about selecting vendors who were part of the state and local economy, and often, part of the queer community. “Our photographer, Liv Lyszyk, for example, is from Grand Rapids and she shoots almost exclusively queer weddings and other queer photo shoots,” Rachel says. Catering duties went to Angel Food Catering in Belleville, and Love Plus One provided a “freaking awesome” DJ. 

Floral elements were everywhere at the fall-themed event, which featured bridesmaids' dresses in shades of autumn orange. We Adore Flowers put together the couple’s “unbelievable” arrangements. “Jenny at We Adore is pretty spectacular,” Lauren says. “She grows the flowers out of her house and runs a local flower club in the Ypsi area.” The florist offers community events like wreath-building and flower-drying classes.

Another integral wedding element was Lauren’s dress, which she sourced through an Ann Arbor non-profit, The Bride’s Project, which supports adults and kids impacted by cancer. The organization donates proceeds from the sale of donated dresses to the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor. “Everybody who works there is a volunteer,” Lauren explains. “It’s a pretty awesome organization, and also the best experience — my sisters came with me, and the staff was super helpful. It was a good feeling donating money toward a community like that.”  

The newly minted Myers acknowledge that wedding planning can be quite stressful. Maintaining a cooperative spirit and making sure they were both on the same page are two ways they approached the process. They also checked in with a couples therapist from queer-affirming Connally Counseling in Ann Arbor. “We recognized that most religious people would maybe go to a church, and neither of us are super religious, but it just felt like a good first step to take,” Rachel says. “We were able to talk about our goals and values and what we want out of this partnership together.”

When it comes to nailing down all the details, Lauren advises couples to be realistic with their timeline and to create a budget early (and then stick to it). “Don’t be afraid to break away from tradition,” she says. “We made this wedding very ‘us.’ It was authentically who we are, so don’t be afraid to get creative.” The couple did several DIY projects, sourced from places like Pinterest, with materials often found on Facebook Marketplace. 

Ultimately, Rachel encourages couples in the wedding planning stage to enjoy the process. “Really soak it in,” she says. “I felt like, at times, I was definitely anxious and stressed out about it all, but try to just enjoy it and realize this is an exciting time where maybe it’s OK to have it be all about you — even if you don’t like the limelight too much — soak in the love and the appreciation. Look around and realize these are the closest members of your life, here for you.”

Rachel, who says she isn’t much of a crier, found herself sobbing after the wedding was over, when she was finally alone with Lauren. “It was just so overwhelming how much love and support all of it was, especially for someone like me, who really only pretty recently came out. There was so much excitement of what the future is going to hold for us.” 

Photography: Liv Lyszyk Photography - | Ceremony: Matthei Botanical Gardens - | Reception Venue: Ypsilanti Freighthouse - | Flowers: We Adore Flowers -| Catering: Angel Food Catering - | Music: Love Plus One - | Lauren’s Gown: The Bride's Project - | Hair and Makeup: Opal & Peridot and Helen Kumah-Gbati @hkgbeaute