SAUGATUCK, MI — Like most married couples, Morgan and Luke Mackley look back fondly on their wedding day.
But unlike most, one of the guests they were most grateful for attending the celebration wasn’t even invited.
The newlyweds from Ann Arbor were posing for post-ceremony pictures on the grounds of the The Felt Estate in Allegan County when they were approached by a friendly white-tailed deer.
First the deer checked out the couple from behind a fence. Then it climbed over the fence and began pulling individual roses from the bride’s bouquet. After a few minutes and some shocked laughter, Morgan Mackley gave up the flowers.
Laurenda Bennett, 35, of Laurenda Marie Photography, captured the “surreal” moment. She called it the cherry on top of a “fairy tale-like wedding.”
“It was crazy to see a wild animal that close and personal and have it not get scared and dart off,” Bennett said. “Instinctually, I started clicking away … I had a rush of excitement but still that natural bit of fear.”
The Mackleys, both 24 years old, were married Sunday, Sept. 1, on the grounds of The Felt Estate, 6597 138th Avenue in Laketown Township, near the Saugatuck Dunes State Park. They met at Grand Valley State University.
Before that day, the Spring Arbor and Armada natives said they had heard reports of a friendly deer in the area but never expected to encounter it on their wedding day. Other wedding guests noticed the deer roaming earlier in the day.
“We planned to do our golden-hour photos out in the field behind the mansion at the venue,” Morgan Mackley said. “As we walked that way we saw it. It was extremely friendly.”
When the deer began taking a liking to the bride’s bouquet, she said she tried to pull it away. But the deer “got a little sassy.” Knowing she had 11 bridesmaids with similar bouquets back at the tent, she let it go.