At a Grand Rapids wedding, the bride and groom made sure their families created a union right along with them.
By Lynne Konstantin
Photographs by Darren Breen
Nicole Browett-Dykstra and Nathaniel Dykstra were friends first.
Nicole, originally from Farmington Hills, came to Grand Rapids to pursue a master’s degree at Grand Valley. Than, as she calls him, was from Hudsonville, near Grand Rapids. They both worked for the same mental-health nonprofit and would go out often with friends from work.
“He’s very shy compared to me,” Nicole says. “I urged the date.”
Six months in, they began talking about their life together. And, on Christmas Eve 2015, Than proposed.
“He’s extremely patient and calm, the opposite of me,” Nicole says. “Although when I was with him at the wedding, I was calm. Our values are the same — trust, communication. And our dogs had already become best friends.”
When it came to choosing a venue for their Oct. 8 nuptials, there was no question. “We love Grand Rapids and wanted to get married downtown,” she says.
The Amway Grand Plaza, built in 1913, with various renovations, reflects the history and the modern energy of the city they love. They chose their date during ArtPrize, which gave guests something to do during their stay and showed off the city they love.
Most important, however, was family.
“The whole point of our wedding was to blend our families,” Nicole says. “I come from a blended family, and we wanted everyone to come together.”
Limiting guests to 125 ensured the bride and groom knew every person there. Instead of seating all of Nicole’s aunts at one table and Than’s at another, for example, the couple chose to mix up both families at every table.
Nicole also found another way to include everyone in the wedding. Rather than a guest book, she created a Wishing Tree, on which guests could hang tags with well wishes. She then asked each guest to hold a stone while a friend read the wishes aloud.
“We now have all the stones in a vase in our home,” Nicole says. “It’s a beautiful memory of all the people who came together for us.” NS
For more information about weddings at the Amway Grand, visit www.amwaygrand.com or call: 616-776-6400