When Austin Robbins and Alana Rose of Rochester Hills had to cancel their wedding venue at the last minute earlier this summer — they’d booked an indoor space that with COVID-19 restrictions meant they couldn’t have everyone they’d invited attend — a family friend mentioned that Youngblood Vineyard in northern Macomb County might be a good replacement.
“We decided if we could find a place we could do it outside, we could have the amount of people we wanted,” Robbins says.
Owners Jessica and Dave Youngblood were just starting to launch the winery’s wedding services in earnest at the time. The winery opened in 2020, and Jessica says people have been asking all along if they could use the vineyard for weddings.
“We just started getting so many requests for weddings and other private events,” she says. “People would come here for bridal showers, birthday parties, we’ve done team building for schools, veterinarian’s offices and real estate companies.
“It seems every time we get an event, we get a referral from somebody that came to that event for another event.”
Youngblood did host two weddings last fall. But this year, the winery has gone all in, purchasing a 40-foot-by-80-foot tent that seats more than 200, a 500-square-foot black and white tile dance floor, strings and strings of vintage Edison-style LED lights, tables, chairs and what Jessica describes as “a luxury mobile restroom suite … three different bathrooms — they’re beautiful.”
As it turned out, the venue and amenities were perfect for the Robbins-Rose wedding.
“It was great,” Robbins says. “It had everything we were looking for.”
That would include Jessica, who made it all come together for the couple in less than a month.
“Being able to pull it off with three weeks of planning was pretty miraculous,” she says. “They said how much they appreciated us — and that we saved their entire wedding. Hearing them say that was amazing. It was amazing to be part of that and be part of somebody’s memories.”
The wedding ceremony was held in the vineyard, with the reception for 109 attendees under the tent.
“We just had catered food, we had our own bar and bartender, we had a dance floor and a DJ come in,” Robbins says. “They also have this goat pen with all of the goats in it, and a lot of the guests really enjoyed going over and playing with the goats during the wedding.”
It’s in the Planning: Everything But Weather
While goats aren’t necessarily listed as part of the wedding amenities, the Youngbloods have tried to think of everything.
“We live on-site, we own the property, we own the business,” Jessica says. “I think there’s an advantage to having the owner walk through your event and make any changes. I don’t charge for my time as basically an on-site day-of coordinator. I’m here to make sure the weddings go really well.
“The bride and groom want it to go great, but nobody wants it to go better than we do because this is our family business.”
In addition to weddings for up to 200 guests, the winery is also offering a “micro-wedding” package for 25 people or fewer.
“We put together a brochure for micro-size weddings,” Jessica says. “It’s pretty much all-inclusive, with commemorative glasses, wine, different kinds of seating, the wedding in the vineyard.”
Every wedding includes a reception with Youngblood wine. There’s a bridal suite that can be rented in the farmhouse for members of the wedding party to get ready in. Jessica even obtained a license to officiate weddings when one of the couples said they didn’t have anyone to do it.
“I’m officiating two this summer,” she notes.
The only thing the Youngbloods can’t control is the weather. Their contingency plan is that everything, including the ceremony, can be moved under the tent in the event of rain, with restrooms and parking nearby.
And Jessica says she’s loving this aspect of the business. There are 15 weddings on their schedule this year, so far.
“I think it’s an important addition to vineyards — especially small farms,” she explains. “It allows our small family business to be profitable and provide a real wine-country experience for people who don’t want to drive four to five hours away.
“We are really offering people, I think, a huge value by having something that’s local and a similar experience but without the travel and without the hotel.”