Amaron & Shannon’s Dreamy Backyard Wedding

Mike Staff Productions

One sunny September weekend, 225 friends and family members gathered to celebrate the marriage of Amaron Lara Curtis and Shannon Michael Gerken at the home of the mother of the bride Katherine and her husband Damian in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Guests traveled from Michigan, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas and California. The weekend included a nautical-themed rehearsal dinner with barbecue favorites, intimate ceremony and savory brunch reception that all took place over the three days.

Love is in the air

The magic between Amaron and Shannon was undeniable. The two had been living in Arlington, Virginia for nearly a decade before they both found their way into each other’s lives; Shannon took Amaron on their very first date to the Carlyle restaurant, an Arlington, VA favorite, followed by an impromptu movie date to keep the night going!

Building a life together

In Arlington, Amaron and Shannon dedicated themselves to growing their careers and relationship together. Amaron, an event manager for the Leading Authorities Speakers Bureau in Washington, D.C., and Shannon, a former Marine One crew chief, certainly found work to motivate them. They are the proud parents of two adorable dogs: Oliver, a King Charles Spaniel, and Butler, an Old English Bulldog.

A romantic engagement day

Five years later, Shannon proposed to Amaron on a hike at Great Falls State Park in Virginia. The very same day of their engagement, Shannon organized a dinner at the same table where they had their first date, accompanied by balloons, champagne and flowers and followed by a party with a group of close friends at an Irish pub nearby. 

Creative design in a garden setting

It’s not every day that you plan a wedding with a bride like Amaron who also has a background in planning and catering high-end weddings. Needless to say, it was a real treat for her catering sales coordinator at Katherine’s Catering to collaborate with her on a vision for the menu and setup in Katherine and Damian’s backyard garden setting. 

The dinner tent was arranged on a manicured croquet lawn, flanked by hundreds of lavender plants, mature trees and gardens brimming with fresh herbs and flowers. Hanging mason jars and twinkling lights lit up the silhouettes of trees beyond the yard. 


Blue and White Wedding Color Scheme at Wedding

Mike Staff Productions

The color scheme for Amaron and Shannon’s wedding perfectly complemented the garden setting. Tables were dressed in slate blue linens with blue and white patterned accent linens provided by Event Source and exquisite white rose centerpieces provided by Maureen’s Floral Design. The bar was certainly one of the most creative elements of the design vision, featuring bottles and glassware displayed on geometric-style shelving. A skylight illuminated the tent as soon as evening fell and the sun plunged into the horizon. 

white rose centerpieces provided by Maureen’s Floral Design

Mike Staff Productions

white rose centerpieces provided by Maureen’s Floral Design

Mike Staff Productions

Stellar local partners

We were fortunate to work alongside talented vendors to help bring Amaron and Shannon’s wedding to life, including Ellis Parking Valet, Delux Tents & Events, Meghan Stall Designs, Rockstar Rental and JoAnn Slater of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Ypsilanti. We also appreciate the stellar photographer Pam of Mike Staff Productions, who captured memories for the couple to look back on for years to come.

Chalkboard Welcome Sign at Wedding Ceremony

Mike Staff Productions

A heartwarming ceremony

As guests arrived, they were directed to the left side of the house, where they were greeted with champagne and a display of infused water. The talented guitarist and groom’s nephew, Timothy, provided music as guests found their seats in the ceremony tent. To witness Amaron and Shannon exchange vows was a touching moment for everyone fortunate enough to share it alongside them.

Cocktails, small bites and a fun crepe station

After the ceremony, guests made their way to the main tent, where conversations and camaraderie ensued. They were also treated to wine, cocktails, elegant finger pastries, a charcuterie platter AND an exquisite cheese platter featuring brie, Cotswold, English cheddar, Danish blue, Swiss, fresh fruit garnish fig jam, dried fruit, nuts, honeycomb, baguette slices and assorted crackers. 

Charcuterie platter and an exquisite cheese platter at wedding reception

Mike Staff Productions

Chef Cooks Crepes at Wedding Crepe Station

Mike Staff Productions

The Sweet Crepe Station was an especially big hit with guests. One of Katherine’s expert chefs filled the pastries with a variety of deliciousness, including Nutella, banana slices, cinnamon apple compote, fresh strawberries, whipped cream and powdered sugar. 

Cute Custom Napkin and Wedding Timeline

Mike Staff Productions

Around 6 p.m., guests were seated for dinner. The first course was a Michigan salad featuring mixed farmer greens, dried cherries, gorgonzola, candied walnuts, celery, Granny Smith apples and raspberry vinaigrette.

Everyone enjoyed the delicious salad while listening to a set of moving speeches. Amaron’s grandfather, Jim Hilboldt, shared a story about joining the Marines at the age of 17 and toasted the eight Marines in attendance. It was an emotional moment for all. There was also a special toast to the lost loved ones who could not be there, including Amaron’s grandmother, Martha Hilboldt, and stepmother Barbara McMurray, who sadly passed away in the months before the wedding.

Bride and Groom Cheers and Wedding Reception

Mike Staff Productions

An evening to remember

Guests thoroughly enjoyed the dinner, which featured:

  • Glazed Sea Bass: rainbow Swiss chard, buttered spinach, zucchini, carrot, yellow squash and champagne citrus beurre blanc
  • Chicken Amaron: artichokes, capers, tomato concassé, parsley and white wine butter sauce
  • Boneless Italian-Style Braised Short Ribs: tomato, garlic, onion and bay leaf 

With the following sides:

  • Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
  • Layered Eggplant Polenta Bake: Tomatoes, cream, rosemary and white cheddar 
  • Fire-Roasted Vegetable Platter: Baby carrots, asparagus, portabello mushrooms, fennel, sweet potatoes, green beans, broccolini and fresh herb vinaigrette
  • Wild Rice Pilaf: Chicken broth and vegetable brunoise

A fun thing to note about the wedding menu: Chicken Amaron has been on the Katherine’s menu since 1986, the year Amaron was born. Thirty-five years later, it’s still one of our most popular chicken preparations.

Fire-Roasted Vegetable Platter Wedding Display

Mike Staff Productions

Plated Meal Chicken Amaron and Boneless Italian-Style Braised Short Ribs at Wedding

Mike Staff Productions

After dinner came the first dances! It was quite the swoon-worthy scene to watch Amaron and Shannon swirl around the dancefloor to “You Send Me” by Sam Cook. Father and daughter’s embassy waltz from “My Fair Lady” brought more than a few smiles to people’s faces.

Bride and Groom Cut the Cake at Wedding Reception

Mike Staff Productions

One of the favorite moments of the night is when all the nieces and nephews created a human pyramid—an adorable way to kick off a night full of hearty dancing. 

The day ended sweetly, with elegant finger pastries, a cigar bar and late-night snacks, including:

  • Cheeseburger Sliders: cheddar, mixed greens, plum tomatoes, pickles, condiments on brioche rolls
  • Black Bean Sliders: tomato, field greens and ancho chili sauce on brioche rolls 
  • Five Cheese Macaroni: cavatappi, Parmesan, cheddar, mozzarella, provolone and Vermont white cheddar
Sweets and Dessert Station at Wedding

Mike Staff Productions

Happy ending for a happy couple

It truly was a glorious and emotional day filled with toasts, dancing, great food and gorgeous weather. Amaron and Shannon departed to an epic sparkler send-off, driving away in a 1973 Land Rover along the path leading to “nowhere.” This was not goodbye, however; the two returned in casual clothes and comfy shoes, ready for more dancing! (Not to mention a fabulous brunch in the morning.)

Bride and Groom Sparkler Farewell Walk

Mike Staff Productions

Are you recently engaged? Reach out to us at 734-930-4270 or fill out our contact form so we can start planning your dream wedding together.