Just as every couple is unique, so is every wedding. Some weddings include pets walking rings down the aisle, untraditional decor or themes, while others bring in cultural traditions that might be new to attendees.

However, most weddings have one thing in common: loved ones coming together to celebrate and be a part of a couple’s special day.

Experience Grand Rapids has been interviewing couples who got married in the Grand Rapids area to share their insights and inspiration for their weddings. In this blog, one recently married couple shares about their special day.

Although the couple is from Chicago, the Ramakrishnans opted to host their wedding in Grand Rapids.

Although the couple is from Chicago, the Ramakrishnans opted to host their wedding in Grand Rapids.

Photo Credit: Gretchen Mathos of MCA Photo & Video


About the Couple

Lily and Kalyan Ramakrishnan, from Chicago, married in Grand Rapids in April 2017.

The Ramakrishnans had three main goals for their wedding: simple, fun for their friends and family, and to be a true representation of them as a couple.

Thanks to the diverse selection of wedding venues, vendors, and amenities Grand Rapids has to offer, they found it easy to meet their wedding goals.

The Ramakrishnans wanted a simple yet fun wedding that represented them as a couple.

The Ramakrishnans wanted a simple yet fun wedding that represented them as a couple.

Photo Credit: Gretchen Mathos of MCA Photo & Video


Location, Location, Location

While the couple was planning their spring wedding, location was one of the most important decisions. Many attendees would be flying in for the event from Kalyan’s native country of India and around the United States.

As Lily and Kalyan decided between Chicago or Lily’s hometown of Grand Rapids for the location, cost was definitely a consideration. They found that venue and catering costs were significantly more affordable in Grand Rapids.

The couple had some initial concerns that their international guests would find traveling to Grand Rapids difficult, but with a little research, they learned that flights to Grand Rapids were well-priced and easy to find.

When they also factored in the many affordable downtown lodging options, the location choice became much easier. “Growing up in Grand Rapids and seeing the way it's developed, along with the affordability, cemented our decision to host our wedding there,” Lily says.

Guests flew in to the Gerald R. Ford International Airport from India and from a dozen states within the US. For the couple’s Chicago friends, Grand Rapids was only a three-hour drive.

The Ramakrishnans chose the Grand Rapids Art Museum for their wedding and reception location.
Overhead view of wedding at GRAM

The Ramakrishnans chose the Grand Rapids Art Museum for their wedding and reception location.

Photo Credit: Gretchen Mathos of MCA Photo & Video


Choosing a Venue and Vendors

Lily and Kalyan chose to get married at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) because of its beautiful yet simplistic style. They also loved the location and the staff that they worked with there.

Designing their wedding was fun for the couple with all the choices inside the GRAM, ranging from the main space of the museum to Cook Auditorium, and of course the outdoor waterfall park.

Many of their guests had dietary restrictions, and the couple was delighted with the magnificent meal served by Kangaroo Kitchen and Catering that included many menu options for guests.

Ginko Studios Floral Design created bright bouquets and centerpieces for the event that added the perfect amount of color and coordinated beautifully with the bridesmaids’ floral dresses.

Lily grew up on the West Side and holds a spot in her heart for Blandford Nature Center. Prior to the wedding, the couple went there with MCA Media for pictures. MCA Media continued to do a fabulous job the rest of the evening as well.

We wanted to minimize additional travel, and the Amway Grand Plaza made it possible for guests to walk to and from our wedding events.

Guests Loved Grand Rapids

With so many out of town guests, Lily and Kalyan booked a block of rooms at the Amway Grand Plaza. “We wanted to minimize additional travel, and the Amway Grand made it possible for guests to walk to and from our wedding events,” she says.

After the wedding, attendees told the couple how much they enjoyed the restaurant and brewery scene in Grand Rapids, as well as how easy it was to navigate the city.

Most guests decided to come for the full weekend to experience a few popular spots in the city, such as Founders Brewing Company, Brewery Vivant, Madcap Coffee, and the Downtown Market Grand Rapids.

The day after the wedding, the married couple invited guests to join them at the Downtown Market for coffee and lunch. Kalyan said it was the perfect spot for family and friends to gather at their leisure, grab a coffee, and wish the couple well before heading home.

The Ramakrishnans took photos at Blandford Nature Center with their dog, Kobe.

The Ramakrishnans took photos at Blandford Nature Center with their dog, Kobe.

Photo Credit: Gretchen Mathos of MCA Photo & Video


Helpful Tips

Lily and Kalyan advise couples getting married in Grand Rapids to take advantage of the walkability of the city. Their guests all appreciated how easy it was to get to and from events without having to rent a car or pay for cabs. And with so many great options right downtown, guests could explore the city beyond the wedding events as well.

“More often than not, guests are already traveling to attend your wedding,” says Lily. “Keeping things easy and convenient for your guests can make the experience that much more memorable!”

For this Chicago couple, Grand Rapids provided big-city nightlife, dining, and travel options without big-city prices. Considering how much their guests from abroad enjoyed their stay as well, it’s easy to see why Lily and Kalyan recommend Grand Rapids as the perfect wedding location.

For more insight on Grand Rapids weddings, check out the Weddings page.

All photos taken by Gretchen Mathos of MCA Photo & Video.

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