Slideshow

Jessica & Michael: Labor of Love

Meet the couple behind the 2013 Diamond Awards-winning Real Wedding of the Year.

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  • Photo by Concept Photography
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When Jessica and Michael Devins began planning their wedding, they knew they wanted to create an experience for their guests. Two generators, 250 pinwheels, and one paper lantern-lit field later, the couple looks back on a celebration filled with thoughtful and personal touches that no one would soon forget—including the judges of Mpls.St.Paul Weddings’ Diamond Awards, who selected the Devins' wedding as Real Wedding of the Year.

The couple met through work in 2007 and quickly became close. But the timing wasn’t right, and after a few months, Jessica left the Midwest for an oceanside residence in San Diego. Two years later, they reconnected through social media, and a vow against long-distance dating was soon reneged: they took turns visiting each other until Jessica made the move back to the Twin Cities in August 2011. “We decided if we wanted to start a family, we wanted to be close to our family,” Jessica says. 

While the couple went ring shopping a handful of times, conversations about marriage had petered out completely by the time they headed off for a Disneyland vacation in April 2012. So Jessica was blindsided when Michael got down on his knee in front of Cinderella’s castle. The two spent the day being congratulated by fellow tourists, flaunting their newly engaged status with "Just Engaged" buttons given to them by a park character. 

With 14 months to plan the wedding, “it went from feeling far away to just feeling—wow,” Michael says. But the couple had a head start. Being in the photography and film business (the pair run Fotofilm Studios), they already had connections to wedding vendors, and it wasn’t difficult to find a direction they wanted to take for their own nuptials.

“We had a lot of fun, because our filter was all about what would the experience be for us, but also for everyone there that day,” Michael says. With this mindset, the couple worked to create a DIY, personalized wedding where everyone remained entertained and comfortable throughout the evening. Younger guests would be amused by a bean bag toss, handmade by Michael and his father, and a vintage couch placed behind the deejay stand offered their grandparents a quiet, comfy spot from which to watch the first dance.

One of their first decisions—pinning down a venue—was chosen with their guests in mind as well. Jessica and Michael wanted to keep the ceremony and reception on the same site. The answer was a barn and field in Afton, a venue so new, its owners hadn’t even settled on a name yet. Jessica herself suggested Rosenwood Farm, inspired by the name of the family who built it.

In addition to the venue’s name, handcrafted details included a dessert bar with nine varieties of sweets, baked by the bride and her close friends. Michael’s mother helped sew 400 feet of bunting to hang from the barn rafters, and Jessica collected glass Starbucks bottles and scrubbed off the labels, presenting each guest with a personal jar to fill and refill throughout the evening. The couple also ordered sunglasses embossed with their initials, should the outdoor ceremony become too bright.

As it turned out, the sunglasses were needed. But a couple of days before the wedding, the skies suggested umbrellas would have been a better favor. The week of the wedding, a bad storm touched down, and Rosenwood Farm lost power. Michael and his friends jumped into action, carrying out a solution so flawless that few attendees had any idea the entire ceremony was running on generators and power cords. They also experienced a power outage during their rehearsal dinner in Stillwater. Cooks used gas stoves to make the meal. “It was literally a candlelight dinner,” Michael says.

On June 22, 2013, Michael, Jessica, and their guests found themselves celebrating on a sunny day full of personal and engaging moments—including a momentary pause in the ceremony where guests were invited to get out their phones and snap pictures of the couple. “It made me feel like we were engaging with our guests,” Jessica says. “When you’re standing up there, you kind of forget anyone else is there. It’s just the two of us.”

The newlyweds remember the celebration and everyone who made it possible with a wall of photobooth pictures from the big day—and every time one of their friends greets them wearing a pair of sunglasses etched with M <3 J.
 

Date: June 22, 2013
Ceremony & Reception: Rosenwood Farm, Afton
Dress Designer: Brides of FrancePaloma Blanca
Alterations: Twin Cities Bridal Alterations—Sharon Pothen
Bridesmaid Dresses: Bill Levkoff
Groom's Attire: Indochino
Groomsmen Attire: Indochino
Rings: Tiffany & Co, Arthur’s Jewelers
Bridal Jewelry: Handmade by Jessica’s aunt
Bridal Party Jewelry: Handmade by Objects and Subjects—Jeri Mack
Photographer: Concept Photography
Videographer: Blue Eye Studios
Invitations: Self designed and printed
Caterer: Lisa’s Catering
Transportation: Corporate Car and Coach
Cake/Desserts: Cake from Buttercream, desserts handmade by Jessica and bridal party
Flowers: Studio Emme
Makeup: Swept Up
Hair: OnSite Beautiful—Charity Carlson
Music/Entertainment: Complete
Rentals: On Solid Ground Vintage RentalsUltimate Events
Escort Cards: Amy Sullivan

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