Blog | LGBTQ+ Grand Rapids Wedding Photographer | Liv Lyszyk Photography

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Liv Lyszyk is a queer and LGBTQ+ wedding photographer based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Focusing on capturing diverse and fierce love for the everyday couple.

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If you’re a queer couple getting married it can be overwhelming trying to find an LGBTQ+ inclusive venue. This pride month I’ll be featuring some wedding planning tips for LGBTQ+ engaged couples, particularly in Michigan! Picking a venue is usually the first task when wedding planning and can also be the most daunting. This list of Michigan LGBTQ wedding venues is a great place to start looking. If you’re a queer person who’s getting married you shouldn’t have to ask if a place is comfortable with your love, so I’ve compiled a list of my favorites!

Something Blueberry Farm | Bangor, Michigan | Barn Venue

Something Blueberry Farm Is a gorgeous classic barn wedding venue in South West Michigan! I was able to photograph a wedding here and was blown away by the attention to detail and amenities they offered couples. There were two gender neutral getting ready spaces which was really nice for photos when I arrived. One group can get ready in their converted garage area and the other is able to get ready inside the main house. This farm also boasts a large barn space to hold all of your guests, as well as a nice overflow space that is covered right outside the main barn. If you’re lucky you can also get some photos with the furry neighbors at the farm next door!

As a wedding photographer I also really appreciated all the cute vignettes scattered around the property to give a variety of settings for photos. It felt like a hidden gem in the country with all of the convenience of city venues.  All of the staff was incredibly welcoming of the LGBTQ couple that I worked with and felt completely comfortable the entire day! So if you’re looking for a Queer friendly barn space in Michigan, Something Blueberry Farm is a must see!

Camp Blodgett Wedding Michigan LGBTQ wedding venues Lake Michigan Beach Wedding

Camp Blodgett | West Olive, Michigan | Lakeside Camp Venue

Camp Blodgett is a gorgeous event space situated right on the beautiful Lake Michigan shore! It features a bright reception space with a stunning patio area for ceremonies and dancing. This is one of my favorite Michigan LGBTQ wedding venues because it is so customizable to your vision. There are tons of rooms right within the property which makes it perfect for blended families and large wedding parties. The couple I photographed here was excited to use all of the fun locations on site including a stunning beach!

This venue is able to transform into a casual space or is easily dressed up for a black tie event. It’s location near Holland, Grand Haven, and Muskegon allows for easy transportation which is a must. Couples are also allowed to bring in any vendor they choose which makes it great to choose LGBTQ+ affirming vendors and not feel worried about any awkward situations. Camp Blodgett is a perfect upscale lakeside Michigan LGBTQ wedding venue.

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Michigan LGBTQ wedding venues Traverse City Wedding Venue Leland Venue Old Art Building

Old Art Building | Leland, Michigan | Up North Wedding Venue

The Old Art Building located in Leland, Michigan is a unique and rustic space for weddings and events in Leelanau County. For LGBTQ couples wanting a full getaway experience the charm of the Leelanau peninsula and Leland in particular is a perfect spot. The building itself has been around for a while and it’s up north charm is a must see. The lovely gardens offer an outdoor space for ceremonies and a tented reception or cocktail hour. The inside of the building has a small kitchen area for catering as well as a beautiful stage and fireplace. My couple was able to make the bathrooms gender neutral for the evening which was a great feature as many of the guests were also from the LGBTQ+ community.

The venue is just a few steps away from historic fishtown and the entire town feels exceptionally welcoming and queer friendly. Since it’s a vacation town there is also lots of options for lodging for guests and the wedding party! I was really blown away with how little decor the space needed to still feel elegant and special. The affordable cost of the space also makes it a great option for couples in a budget.

Michigan LGBTQ wedding venues Traverse City Wedding Venue Leland Venue

Michigan LGBTQ wedding venues Inisfree Farm Pullman Michigan Liv Lyszyk Queer friendly Photographer

Inisfree Farm | Pullman, Michigan | Upscale Barn Venue

This newly created Michigan LGBTQ friendly wedding venue will take your breath away the second your step onto the property. The owners created this venue with weddings in mind. Every little part of the property serves a purpose and is great for LGBT couples looking for a barn venue that doesn’t feel as rustic. While they do have more gendered getting ready spaces, both rooms are big and bright for any type of wedding party. My couple booked the venue on short notice due to unforeseen circumstances and both brides had nothing but amazing things to say about the experience.

One of the best parts of this property is all of the variety of spaces throughout. The barn itself is stunning, the ceremony spot feels like a secret garden, and the small vineyard and pond offer unique photo opportunities. All of the staff was so kind and helpful throughout the entire day. There is no doubt in my mind that this will soon become one of the most popular venues in Southwest Michigan!

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AirBNB and VRBO | All of Michigan | Backyard Wedding Venue

While this suggestion isn’t a specific venue I suggest looking at Airbnb’s and VRBO’s as an option for a Michigan LGBTQ wedding venue. Backyard weddings offer complete freedom in the vision of the event and also let you have control over each vendor present. Many queer couples want a more private day and renting a residence can be a great solution. There are many great spots throughout the state of Michigan that are rentable for weddings. Make sure to check that your host allows events at their place before booking!

This couple chose a rental on a lake in West Michigan for their backyard wedding celebration. The couple and family were able to stay a few days before and after to make set up and tear down a breeze. Their vision was for a relaxed weekend celebration with all of their closest loved ones and weren’t disappointed with their choice of location. The day felt very intimate and special because of the seclusion.

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Looking for Michigan LGBTQ wedding venues can be tough but the locations listed above are sure to be a magical space for your nuptials. I’ve photographed queer couples all across the state and these are the standout venues that I keep wanting to go back to. All offer a unique setting for a variety of styles including barns, lakeshore, up north, and private spaces. No matter where you decide to tie the knot I would love to be a part of your day. If you’re interested in seeing more LGBTQ+ weddings check out the links below!

Jim and Cam | Michigan LGBTQ Wedding | Sutton Barn Wedding Photos

Jasmine and Cady // West Michigan // LGBT Engagement Photography

T and R | Mason, MI | LGBTQ Wedding Photographer

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A beautiful group of family and friends joined Allie and Brooke for their charming LGBTQ wedding in Carmel, IN. The lovebirds chose to hold their ceremony at Bash 828, a lovely space that was beautifully decorated with green and pink tones. On Bumble they connected over their similar tastes in music to which Allie initiated the conversation. While Brooke, an accountant, and  Allie, a 3rd grade teacher, are very different , they complement one another in the best of ways. They share a love of vegan food (some much so that they have a vegan Instagram account, as well as the same bands, tv shows, movies, etc. It would seem that their union has been destined with their Enneagram types (if you are familiar with them).   Allie says she is a type 9 and Brooke is a type 3, which is a strong and common pairing. 

Having the opportunity to photograph this loving LGBTQ wedding was an honor! Their first look outdoors surrounded by lush greenery captures their emotion upon seeing each other for the first time prior to the ceremony. You can feel the love radiating between them from their smiles and laughter. That is one of my favorite parts – sharing the love between two entwined people, embarking on a lifelong journey together. Everything looked absolute perfect from the floral wedding arch to the scrumptious vegan dessert table at this sweet Carmel wedding.

What a celebration, and what an awesome couple. Congratulations Allie and Brooke!

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I had the pleasure of capturing Anna and Andy’s elopement at the Kalamazoo Courthouse in Kalamazoo, MI. While the attendance was kept at a minimum, you could feel the love radiate through the room. Anna and Andy shared that they were both working at Tiffany’s Wine & Spirits when they met. Their friends were having going away parties, so they frequently found themselves in each other’s company. Over the 7 ½ years they have been together, Ana and Andy have found they are quite the pairing.

As creative introverts, Anna is a graphic designer/Marketing Manager and Andy is a writer, they both love to garden, work on the historic home they bought 4 years ago and enjoy good food. While they both love to eat, Andy loves to do the cooking, which works out as Anna loves to clean. Together, these two love birds  create a balance in their life together; when Andy worries about things going wrong, Anna is optimistic and figures it will work out. 

After the ceremony inside the courthouse, we took a stroll through the grounds of Kalamazoo Nature Center. It made for such a serene background. Their dog, Eddie, joined them at Crane Park for a few adorable shots.  I love it when dogs are a part of such an important day! It was such an opportunity to capture their elopement and I wish Anna and Andy many long years of happiness because, like wine, love gets better as time goes on.

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To see more from Liv Lyszyk Photography check out these posts!

Hollis and Kenny | Detroit, MI | Elopement Photographer

Emily and Niki | Backyard Elopement | Michigan LGBTQ Wedding Photography

Tracey and Nathan | Royal Park Hotel, Rochester MI | Michigan Elopement Photographer

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Hollis and Kenny had their elopement in the city of Detroit, Michigan with the officiant and myself in attendance. Since their reception is reserved for a later date, I had the honor of documenting this intimate occasion.

The two met through a dating app called Bumble and Hollis initiated the match through a message. She said “Ever since our first date we have been the best of friends and love each other so deeply.  We have fun every single day and enjoy all of our hilarious moments together. After we messaged for a while I asked him out to see the band Phoenix and we had the best time.  We stayed out till 2 AM talking and chatting.  It was meant to be.”

With nothing more than vows, serene white roses and their commitment to each other, they tied the knot. After the ceremony, the newly weds toured Detroit, stopping by the Z Lot and the Detroit Institute of Arts, capturing the love between them. The peaceful surrounding provided a kind of serenity that we all hoped for with an elopement. I know they are looking forward to the celebration continuing with the reception, surrounded by loving friends and family.

 

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View More Elopements:

Kara and Michael | Josh and Ashley | Emily and Niki

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Brian and Brionne’s Michigan outdoor wedding bloomed from an adorable beginning. Bri revealed when they first met Brian was working on a farm where she took her students on a field-trip. Her 4th and 5th grade students banded together to ask if Brian thought their teacher was cute. He of course remained professional when they pointed her out. She said ” the first time we actually held hands was when I was learning how to milk a goat.” Talk about meeting your udder half! After Bri left without exchanging numbers, Brian knew her co-worker and ended up surprising her with a text and a date invitation.

Instead of sitting at a dinner table and the anxiousness of a first date, Brian suggested picking up beer and making dinner at the farm.  She had a tour of the farm, met his dog Marley and had their first kiss, the start of their loving taking root. As they were separate for a bit when  Bri moved to Ann Arbor., Brian  wrote letters as her Spanish pen pal to help them both learn and practice the language. Bri found it a cute way to stay in touch, but who wouldn’t?!  

Their Michigan outdoor wedding was full of vivid greens, warm oranges and of course featured Harley and Maci (Bri’s dog).  Not only were they ring bearers, but also the faces of the custom drinks. Amidst the charming atmosphere, I can tell their love will continue growing for years to come. 

 

Associate Photographer | Emily MacDonald

Wedding Planner | Jeannene Lillie Events

Brionne’s Attire | David’s Bridal dress and shoes, handmade floral headband from Elvira Ubaldo Ace Ruiz

Brian’s Attire | Suit from Menguin, Accessories from Tie Bar and DAZI

Ceremony Officiant | Hilary Hunt

Make-up Artist | Lux Looks by Lulu

Florist | Bri and her Mom

Videography| Jacob Maxwell

Catering Company | Brian’s Mom

Bakery | Layla’s Cool Pops

DJ or Band | Ceremony singer: Sasha Battle

Jeweler | Earrings from BHLDN

Invitations or Other Stationery | Canva

 

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Check out more of Liv Lyszyk’s work here!

Lily and Jake | Grand Rapids Engagement Photographer

Jim and Cam | Michigan LGBTQ Wedding | Sutton Barn Wedding Photos

Chelsea and Ben | Lions and Rabbits | Grand Rapids Wedding Photographer

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Jim and Cam gathered together with their closest friends and family to celebrate their marriage. They chose the beautiful Sutton Barn in Whitmore Lake, Michigan as the setting, and it didn’t disappoint. Their gorgeous grounds provide lots of amazing photo opportunities including that stunning weeping willow you’ll see! This was a celebration in every sense of the word. They popped champagne, had some incredible vows, and of course boogied all night long! It’s always so much fun when the wedding party and family help us feel so welcomed, this was definitely one of those times!

One of my favorite parts was the reading of the closing statement from the Supreme Court’s marriage equality case. Many of the LGBTQ weddings I photograph include this passage and it always hits home for me. The fact that so many LGBTQ couples weren’t allowed this basic right is so baffling, but I’m so thankful for those who fought and continue to fight for it. Another special moment was during the speeches when Jim’s mom mentioned that she’s active in a group of moms who fight for equality. They have a large Facebook group that aims to educate and support moms and families as their children come out and navigate the world as an out queer person. Hearing her choke up saying how proud she is of them definitely was the cherry on top of the cake.

The whole wedding filled my heart with so much hope and joy and it’s days like that where I say an extra thank you to the universe for bringing such incredible couples into my life!

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Lauren and Max are some of the kindest hearted people I’ve ever met. We immediately clicked during out initial meeting and hearing them talk about each other showed me just how in love they really are. Lauren said “Max is the greatest gift that God has ever given me. He showed up at Biggby for our first day and immediately took my heart. Our first date was full of laughter and honesty and it was clear that there was something different about him. Our story basically took off like a whirlwind from there. Max is a planner…he lives for the future and dreams big. I am the logical one. He shows me the stars and I bring us back to Earth. He is the only person I have ever met who is weirder than me and I can honestly say that the majority of our conversations happen through laughter. We make each other sparkle brighter”.

This couple’s love for God and their community was very apparent. Planning a wedding during 2020 can be a lot to handle, and Lauren and Max were no stranger to the difficulties. We ended up going with plan C which turned out to be the perfect backyard elopement. Their wedding took place at Lauren’s parent’s house and it provided a lovely wooded area that took their cheerful vision to the next level. It was important to have their closest friends and family still included and they all rallied together to help make it happen! I’m so glad to also have had my associate photographer Emily with me, the amazing candids and double exposures are her speciality! Having us together as a team made sure that every moment was captured! Thank you Lauren and Max for allowing us to capture your special day.

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Dear Wedding Vendors,

I’m tired. Tired of the excuses for bigotry, tired of folks excusing hateful beliefs, tired of folks wondering if their love can be celebrated. There is a local photographer that for defamation purposes will remain nameless, who openly rejected a couple based on their same sex relationship. This couple was inquiring about a photographer for their wedding next year and was met with blatant homophobia and judgement. “I mean absolutely no disrespect, but if it is a same sex marriage, due to my religious beliefs, I refrain from shooting them…and if, in case I have assumed wrongly I am available on this date and am happy to send over my pricing”. Let’s break this down shall we?

Impact over intent.

This goes for anything, but your impact is more important than your intent. Even though the photographer quite literally did not see any problem with what was said, the impact is harmful. It is literally saying that you are refusing someone’s love because of who they are. We are in 2020 and quite frankly there has been plenty of time for folks to hop off the homophobia train. Even so, if something doesn’t agree with you there are much kinder ways of not working with someone. Say you’re booked. It’s that simple. Yes, businesses do have the right to refuse service based on the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission Supreme Court Ruling, but don’t be surprised when people call you out for being harmful.

Assume everything is public.

I’m guessing this photographer didn’t think anyone but the couple would read her words. However, if you wouldn’t say something in public, then don’t say it on the internet. Hiding your problematic words and actions behind closed doors isn’t an excuse for that behavior. You might have LGBTQ friends, or friends of color, or Muslim friends etc. So unless you are ok with saying something to them directly, don’t say it when you think no one is watching.

Don’t use religion as an excuse.

I’ll be honest, I have a lot of issues with religion, but I still recognize that it’s important to many people. While I can understand religion being a big part of how you see the world it doesn’t give you a pass for saying harmful things. Unfortunately religion, specifically Christianity, is often weaponized in the name of bigotry, and it causes a lot of issues. If you’re someone of faith that is absolutely fine and dandy but remember the core of it, love for one another.

Silence speaks volumes.

Cancel and call out culture can definitely have its downfalls and while staying silent and ignoring your own problematic behavior can seem appealing it’s not the best way to grow. I can give the benefit of doubt to someone who’s been confronted with their own actions and takes that as an opportunity to learn and reflect. When a call out happens and you silence those trying to help and educate you then you’ve shown no intention of learning and growing. That’s the issue. Not that someone made a mistake (as horrible as it was), but that they’ve blocked comments, messages, and people trying to make them aware of the problem. The journey of being inclusive is one of unlearning, which takes time and effort. Saying you’ve grown or learned means nothing without action.

People shouldn’t need to ask if their love is ok.

I’ve had countless couples reach out and thank me for asking for pronouns, showing diversity in my portfolio, and being open about my own journey as a queer person. They tell me they didn’t want to have to ask their vendors if being a same sex couple was ok. It absolutely breaks my heart that while planning what should be one of their best days that they’d have to even think about that. If you truly want to be inclusive, show that. Let your business leave no doubt in people’s minds where you stand.

To those reading this with their own wedding businesses I encourage you to really dig deep in your own beliefs and practices. While your intent may be good what really matters is how it impacts those coming to you for business. You shouldn’t just be inclusive when you feel you’re being watched, be inclusive in every interaction, always. Folks are really good at smelling out who’s being fake and who isn’t, believe me, they’ll know. Don’t let one aspect of your beliefs negate human rights, if your religion is telling you to be exclusionary to folks then maybe you shouldn’t be in an industry full of diversity and love. If you do make a mistake and have someone bring it to your attention, taking the time to listen and grow is far better than trying to push the problem away. If you want to take the steps to be more inclusive then start by showing diversity and love to all. There shouldn’t be anyone asking you if you’re comfortable with their love. Small things like asking for pronouns, removing gendered language from your forms, putting people of all kinds front and center, these all play into building a truly inclusive business. Not just because you want their money, because it’s just the right thing to do.

So where do you go from here? If you’re looking for practical steps in making your business better and more inclusive then I have just the thing for you. I’ve spent countless hours putting together a go at your own pace online workshop aimed at helping photographers take that next step towards inclusion. The Inclusivity Workshop includes posing tips, how to approach model calls, gender neutral language, and much more. I understand that a lot of these things just aren’t widely shared or known so I want to help that. I’ve talked to lots of actual members of the LGBTQ community to get their feedback on what they want their wedding vendors to know. This way you can take steps in furthering your education without relying on your clients to teach you. I also offer one on one sessions for people with specific questions or places in their business they want to grow in. Every couple deserves to be celebrated, let’s make sure that happens.

 

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These gorgeous ladies are expecting their first baby girl after a long period of trying. I’m always so honored to capture growing bellies and this wasn’t an exception. Danielle wanted a beachy feel to celebrate the summer and Holland State Park offered the perfect location. It was a beautiful day and these mamas were troopers lugging ourselves through the hot sand. They even were up to stopping at a cool building at the area airport on our way back! Needless to say I’m so excited to meet their sweet baby and get some newborn photos 😉

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To see more of Liv’s work or to book her as your own LGBTQ maternity photographer see the links below!

Emily and Niki | Backyard Elopement | Michigan LGBTQ Wedding Photography

Zoey and Jake | Grand Rapids, Michigan | Maternity Photographer

Gabby and Moe | Leland Art Center | Up North LGBTQ Wedding Photographer

 

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April 24th, 2020. A date etched into my memory and now what’s known as our “would be” wedding day. I’m writing this post thankfully not in tears (those were shed all last week), but with a glimmer of hope amongst the dumpster fire of the current times. A few key things made today pretty special and so I figured if nothing else, maybe we could help some other folks in the same boat.

1: Eat your wedding food!

We were planning on a fancy taco bar for our reception and thankfully the restaurant was still open for pickup today! We were able to support a small local business and have some fun food to feast on. Bonus, if you’re like me and craving drives in the car to see that the outside world still exists, the car ride to go pick up food was quite refreshing!

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2: Listen and dance (maybe badly) to your wedding songs!

We jammed to some of our favorite songs that would have been played at our wedding to make it feel a little more special. Perhaps you and your partner can enjoy a bit of an after dinner dance party to keep the mood light. No need to feel the pressure of a million eyes on you. Just let loose, forget you have two left feet, and just enjoy each other!  Plus….you won’t have to worry about your drunk friends splashing red wine on your fancy wedding attire.

3: Drink some champagne, or smoke some weed, or whatever takes the edge off!

One of my bridesmaids gifted us a bottle of fancy rose champagne at our bachelor/bachelorette weekend. We didn’t really have a good enough time to crack it open, but leading up to planning our would be day we liked the idea of the fancy stuff. It was super fun to cheers at dinner and just have a little toast. The effects of the champagne weren’t too bad either (refer to the two left feet mentioned previously!). Also, may I take a moment to thank whoever invented bubbly alcoholic drinks for all of the fun they’ve created?

Bell's Wedding Ale

4: Make sure to call your loved ones!

We had a slew of messages and calls and facetimes with some of our wedding party, family, and guests. It was so special to know that they were celebrating us from afar and still excited about the party that will eventually happen. It can feel really lonely being in isolation even without missing on a huge event. It made me so sad to think of all the people I would have hugged today. Instead, we got to feel showered in love from all over the country, which still feels pretty incredible!

5: Consider giving a small wedding gift to your partner!

I had already received my wedding gift (the most amazing little leopard gecko there ever was), but I had a small gift I planned to give him on our would be day. He always makes fun of me and gets annoyed when I steal ALL the blankets that enter our home. So I found a site that would print a letter on a super soft blanket. I decided to get an excerpt from my vows to him printed and gave it to him today! It was a super big hit and helped today feel significant.

6: Let your emotions out as you need to!

This goes without saying but emotions are complicated and overwhelming for everyone. Especially those that are having to change their big plans and wedding day. I felt a sting of jealousy seeing wedding photos being posted from elopements. I felt pitiful like something was robbed from us. I wanted to just not get married, not for lack of love, but for lack of motivation. It’s hard, really hard. All of it. For everyone. But don’t feel like you have to hide your emotions or not feel them, all of it is valid. Talking it out with your partner is really important as a way to support each other during this time.

All of this to say that there isn’t a right or wrong way to celebrate your would be wedding day. Just like every wedding is different, every couple is different, what feels good to you might not suit everyone else. Remember to focus on what really matters, your love. Weddings are fun parties and ways to celebrate but it won’t make or break your marriage. Part of a relationship is getting through hard stuff so you can savor the sweet even more. So from someone who works in the wedding industry, has been planning a wedding for over a year and a half, and had to postpone their wedding… it sucks, it’ll be ok, and your love is still worth celebrating. Don’t let this be anything but a story to tell when you’re old and wrinkly together.

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