THE LUSH LIFE
A Grand Rapids reception full of personal touches inspired by Michigan—and the Mediterranean.
Luxe details and destinations dear to their hearts took center stage at this Grand Rapids couple’s elegant Mediterranean-meets-Michigan celebration.
The biggest surprise, when Cassandra DeVos met Heath Thorndill during their junior year at Michigan State University, was that their paths hadn’t crossed sooner. “We’re from the same area [in Grand Rapids, Michigan], we graduated the same year, and our high schools are only 20 minutes away from each other,” says Cassandra, an attorney. “The chances of our being at the same party at some point were very high.”
And though they became fast friends once acquainted, their relationship didn’t take a romantic turn until two years later, during a trip to visit friends in Chicago (where the couple now live), when they found themselves alone at dinner one night.“It was the first time we’d hung out one-on-one, and something clicked,” says Heath, a construction manager, who realized he’d met his match in Cassandra. “She’s gorgeous and tons of fun, and she laughs at the inappropriate things I say.”
They discovered a mutual love of travel, and their six-year courtship included trips to Italy’s Amalfi Coast and Kyoto, Japan, leading up to their 2014 engagement, which began when Heath proposed on a boat off the coast of Fiji.
Upon landing stateside, they launched into wedding planning right away: “The first thing we did was get started on the dress,” says Cassandra, whose mother, Pamella DeVos, is president and designer of the fashion label Pamella Roland. “We flew to her showroom in New York and ordered lace from Paris.” For the bride’s “something blue,” Pamella stitched a piece of paleblue fabric embroidered with Cassandra’s late grandmother’s name onto the inside of her gown, and Cassandra also carried a ribbon made from her mother’s wedding dress in her bouquet.
On September 19, 2015, the couple exchanged vows in front of 400 guests at the First (Park) Congregational Church in Grand Rapids, the same church where both Cassandra’s parents and paternal grandparents had been married. The reception was held nearby at her parents’ Mediterranean-style home, where event designer David Stark crafted a spectacular celebration that transported guests to three very different, very meaningful destinations: First, signature cocktails were sipped amid décor evoking Michigan in the fall, including apple branches and hanging lanterns. For dinner, guests traveled to Italy in a tent bedecked with lemon, olive, juniper, and cypress trees, as well as other garden details in the style of the couple’s favorite restaurant, Da Paolino, located on the island of Capri. The final experience was a showstopping dance space featuring a faux-cobblestone floor and an elaborate Greek-village set modeled after Santorini, the island where the newlyweds would be honeymooning later in the week. As guests danced into the wee hours of the morning, a simulated sun faded into the Santorini backdrop, signaling the end of their reception and the start of the couple’s next adventure.