I recently had the opportunity to hold two major events in a couple of small towns. Some might refer to the area of these small towns as ‘off the map’, or even say they’d forgotten they were part of the United States altogether. If you’re not from Michigan…this is totally understandable.
The first town was Manistique, which has a population of less than 3,000. The second was Escanaba, which is home to just over 12,000. The events that I’m referring to here happened to be my wedding ceremony and reception, and they were both held in the wonderfully beautiful and exceptionally remote Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Since my now husband and I no longer live in Michigan, we did most of the planning for our wedding—except for a short turn & burn trip to officially book a few places—from the other side of the country in Washington state. Not only that, but we also planned the wedding in less than 3 months…while we were arranging a cross-country move at the same time. Ohhhh, the life of the army.
While this was a stressful time no matter which way you cut it, there are a few things I noticed while working with our vendors that helped to take off quite a bit of the stress.
Since I’m originally from a small town, you’d think I would have remembered what it was like doing business in such an area. But since I’ve been away from my hometown and out in the city for a while now, there are a few things that I’d completely forgotten.
Now I’m not here to diss on big cities or mega businesses because don’t get me wrong, they definitely have their perks! I mean in a city you can have pizza delivered at like 4 a.m. in the morning, and with companies such as Amazon you can order things like a ‘rolling trolley travel bag with a built-in seat’, and have it delivered the next day at a very reasonable price (Christmas shopping can be so much fun).
But being back in a small town and working with local businesses I noticed what a different experience it can be. To give credit where credit is due, I’ve listed out 5 things I experienced while doing business with local vendors in a small town.
- I knew the owner’s names, and they knew mine
I was on a first name basis with the flower shop, hair stylist, nail tech, makeup artist, photographer, cake lady, and the husband and wife that owned the building where we held our reception. Heck, I even learned their kids and dog’s names! With each of these people I was also given their personal contact info, not a secretary’s number, not an extension to dial, just flat out their name and number and the reassurance I could contact them about any little detail.
- Everyone seemed to be a lot more easy going
People aren’t kidding when they say the city moves fast, and they certainly aren’t kidding when they say in the country things are a bit more laid back. There’re such things as getting to know each other, carrying on conversations before diving into doing business together, and letting you know the fishing’s good that week, so they’ll be back in the office on Thursday. It’s a work hard but still enjoy life mentality, and it’s a beautiful thing.
- Every job was taken with tremendous pride
The wedding venue, flowers, cake, bridal parties (and my own) hair, makeup and nails, reception hall, and wedding photographs turned out absolutely stunning. The personalized touch and attention to detail that each person put into making our day special was above and beyond. I never once felt like just another number. From the moment I met each of the vendors, I felt completely at ease putting my trust in their hands.
- There was a mutual trust
Speaking of trust, they trust YOU! Payments, returning flower buckets a few days late, keeping an open tab with local businesses…all these things exist. It kind of makes you feel like they were more concerned about you being happy with the service rather than seeing you as a giant dollar sign $$$…It also kind of makes you want to tip them more…weird.
- I was surprised, in the best kind of way
Being that my husband and I were planning our wedding from afar we had to arrange most things from a distance and have a heck of a lot of faith that it was all going to turn out A-Okay. It didn’t. It turned out SO MUCH BETTER than we could have ever imagined. Every single business and individual we worked with for our wedding surprised us—from focusing on the largest to smallest details to going the extra mile for us ‘just because we didn’t expect them too’. It was an amazing experience and a great reminder on why local businesses totally rock.
I know small towns aren’t for everybody, and that’s alright because then they wouldn’t be small towns after all. But what I was reminded of these past few months is that there are quite a few different ways to do things in the world, and quite a few ways people can surprise you.
My husband and I both agree we’d do our wedding 100 times over the exact same way. It was customized to our style, special to us, and for the most part stress-free (since it was a wedding… there had to be at least a bit of stress).
Thanks to the help of everyone involved it was definitely a day we’ll never forget. And as for the local businesses, they get an A+, 5 stars, and a title under The Good Stuff.
Special thanks to these vendors for making our wedding day fantastic:
-Marie Kelsey Photography LLC, Photography pictured in this post, Marquette MI
-Stolz Residence, (Wedding Ceremony Location), Manistique MI
-Studio 906, Hair, Makeup & Nails, Manistique MI
-Flower Cottage, flowers, Manistique MI
-The House of Ludington, Reception Venue, Escanaba MI
-Elmer’s County Market Bakery, Cake and Cupcakes, Escanaba MI