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An Elegant Wedding in Motor City

By Alexandra Macon | Photography by 

Julie Pepin Photography

D’Arcy Danaher, a Senior Account Manager at Turner Duckworth, and Chris Porter, a Vice President of Sales and Marketing at FCE Benefits, met at Denison University when Chris was a senior, and D’Arcy was a freshman. “My girlfriends and I ended up at a senior house party one night,” remembers D’Arcy. “During a game of beer pong, Chris introduced himself and asked if I’d step in as his partner. We won for three straight hours, but it wasn’t until we met again a few months later that we became official.”

The couple always kept in touch, but decided to separate when their paths led them to opposite coasts. After graduating, Chris moved back to his hometown of San Francisco, and when it came time for D’Arcy to pick a city she landed on New York. “I spent time interning in New York during college and knew it was the best place for me to begin my career,” says D’Arcy. “Fast forward two years later, Chris surprised me in New York, and we reconnected. After a year of long distance, I joined him out west, and the rest is history.”

The two were on vacation in December 2014 when Chris popped the question. “We were celebrating the holidays sailing around the French West Indies, and Chris gave me a gorgeous necklace on Christmas morning,” D’Arcy says. “His plan was to completely throw me off, and it worked.”

The following day, the boat was anchored off of Nevis when Chris suggested to D’Arcy that they go paddle boarding at sunset. “The water was very choppy, but somehow Chris convinced me to go,” recalls D’Arcy. “It was starting to get dark, and I wanted to head back to the boat, but Chris was set on having a drink on the island. As we made our way to shore, I spotted the flipper that Chris had lost swimming earlier that day. I ran off to go find its partner that had been left behind on the beach when Chris called me over to look at a seashell. Less than impressed, I kicked it over and said, ‘yeah, it’s pretty.’ A moment later, he picked up the shell and pulled out a ring (planted a half hour earlier by his sister). I was perfectly shocked and immediately said, ‘yes!’”

The couple settled on a wedding date of June 11, 2016 in D’Arcy’s hometown of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a historic, waterfront suburb of Detroit. “Chris and I recently bought a house and are putting down roots in San Francisco, so it was important to incorporate my hometown as well,” says D’Arcy. “Plus, Grosse Pointe is a hidden gem that I couldn’t wait to show off to all of our family and friends from California.”

“We wanted the wedding weekend vibe to be easy going and relaxed, while giving our out of town guests a true Grosse Pointe experience,” D’Arcy says. The day before the wedding, the boys took a boat ride on Lake St. Clair and up the Detroit River, while the girls gathered at the Grosse Pointe Little Club for lunch and swimming. That night, everyone made their way back to the Little Club for a welcome party hosted by Chris’s family. There were lawn games, music, and southern BBQ (Chris’s favorite). “Although some guests might consider their first fishflies encounter the most memorable part of the night,” laughs D’Arcy. “Fishflies are seasonal bugs that come from Lake St. Clair. They don’t usually hatch until later in the month, but I’ll consider it good luck!”

The ceremony took place at the Grosse Pointe Academy Chapel. “My family has been in Grosse Pointe for many generations, and all of the women have married at his charming chapel right off of the lake, so it was very sentimental to me,” explains D’Arcy.

The Catholic ceremony was performed by Father Rich, a longtime friend of D’Arcy’s family. “We wanted to be married by someone we knew personally,” says D’Arcy. “Father Rich also has a great energy and outlook on life. We very much look up to him.”

D’Arcy wore a blush Amy Kuschel dress that she found at the designer’s San Francisco showroom. “I tried on about 35 dresses and ended up going with the first one,” laughs D’Arcy. “I wanted it to be simple, form fitting, and to show off my back (a request from Chris). Amy was able to create a custom neckline for me, and it was a fun way to bring a piece of San Francisco into the wedding.” D’Arcy wore Valentino shoes and a diamond necklace that was gifted by Chris right before the wedding. “It was such a sweet and beautiful surprise,” remembers D’Arcy. A small turquoise pin from D’Arcy’s mom was her something blue, and her grandmother’s diamond bracelet served as her something old.

The newlyweds made their way from the chapel to the reception in a vintage Three Series Land Rover Defender. “Chris’s first car was a Land Rover Defender, and he still has it,” explains D’Arcy. “He was set on having one as our getaway car, but after searching Michigan high and low, it didn’t seem realistic. Then, a month before the wedding, a family friend mentioned that his neighbor had one in perfect condition. He was kind enough to lend us the car, and Chris had his perfect getaway.”

Keeping in the Defender spirit, groomsmen were gifted with custom Defender 90 cufflinks made by Porter Lyons, a New Orleans based accessories company (which also happens to be owned by Chris’s sister, Ashley Porter).

D’Arcy also worked with Porter Lyons on the bridesmaids’ gifts. Each bridesmaid chose between a geode necklace or pair of earrings, while also receiving a custom gold ID bracelet. “I wanted the gifts to be extremely personal,” D’Arcy expresses. She had the ID bracelets engraved with the coordinates of a special place between her and each bridesmaid, along with the number of years they’ve been in each other’s lives.

The reception took place at the Country Club of Detroit, a second home to D’Arcy during her childhood summers. “I couldn’t have done it without my wedding planners, Justyna Kopacz and Agata Craig of Take a Seat Events,” says D’Arcy. “They understood how important the venue was to me and did an amazing job building off of the club’s history and natural beauty, while maintaining a sense of simple romanticism in the décor elements to display our light hearted love for one another.”

After cocktail hour on the club’s terrace, guests moved inside to the great hall for dinner. Ivory English roses, blush peonies, and anemones sprinkled throughout rivers of eucalyptus embellished each table. Bridesmaids received crowns of ruscus at their seats, and countless candles added to the chic, romantic ambiance.

D’Arcy and Chris were hesitant to entertain the idea of a wedding cake topper, but did some research nonetheless. “They were all so cheesy,” admits D’Arcy, “but after hours of searching on Etsy, I stumbled across a wire tandem bike topper.” D’Arcy immediately contacted the designer, who agreed to create a custom topper in gold. “It ended up inspiring our wedding logo, which could be discovered throughout the reception on cocktail napkins, matchboxes, and signage,” D’Arcy says. “It was symbolic of our sense of adventure and how we would soon spend part of our honeymoon—biking through the French countryside!”

To get the party started, guests made their way back outside where the Chateau Band kept people grooving under bistro lights with hits from Van Morrison to Taylor Swift. A cigar and specialty liquor bar, stocked with some of Chris’s favorite whiskeys and scotches, was an option for those who needed a break from the dance floor. Affogatos, the couple’s favorite late night dessert, were served alongside cake and the club’s famous coconut macarons.

As the night came to an end, the last guests standing were told head to Porterchella, in the club’s grill room, where a DJ spun old school hits until the early hours of the morning. “Chris and I, along with many of our SF friends, have a tradition of going to Coachella every year, and we wanted to bring some of that desert vibe to Grosse Pointe,” explains D’Arcy. “We were talking about the idea over dinner one night, and a friend came up with the name, ‘Porterchella.’ The next thing I knew, I was online shopping for teepees, headdresses, and blow up flamingos. It took on a life of its own, but we wouldn’t have had it any other way!”