This is another of my venue reviews, Pine Knob Mansion in Clarkston, MI. This is almost a no compromise venue. The building is located at the top of Pine Knob right next to the top of the ski hill and is an old residence for some obviously well to do family.
If we go through the building and grounds as we would see them during the day, we start with the bridal suite on the second floor. There are a couple rooms set aside for the bride and the gals. The first room is a former bar room that has a small alcove with some mirror that work well for hanging the dress and a bridesmaids review. The nicest room in the house is the room above the dance, overlooking the gazebo. It is a white room with huge windows on three sides, wonderful light and space for all sorts of photography. The guys sometimes have access to what I call the Pine Man Cave, a room on the second floor with pine paneling.
The gazebo is a wonderful place for ceremony. There is a curved path and a epic view to the east. The patio is a great place for the cocktail hour.
The best thing about Pine Knob Mansion for photographers is the grounds. Just off the patio are a variety of spots for nice shots.
If you go down the stone steps off the patio there are a couple stone walls and retaining walls. The gardens to the south have a pond, gazebo and great vista views to the east. There is a second set of stone steps to a lower level that serve on of the gold course tees. There is a really great textured wall perfect for group shots. If you go back to the main garden level and head west, towards the driveway, there is a great vista view to the west, perfect for sunsets. The building is lit well at night and there is a nice stone fountain at the front entrance.
The library is a wood paneled room where the cake typically is. The dining room is one of the prettiest in the Detroit area. It is not that large and is often pretty full. It makes it difficult for photographers to get out of the way of guests while shooting, but the room always looks great. The room below the Bride’s room is where the dancing ends up. This is a difficult room to make attractive images. The room is small for a dance floor, windows on three sides and a dark ceiling. A photographer must be good at off camera lighting to get good looking shots. Weather permitting dancing will often start on the patio. Again being outside, photographers are challenged to make good looking light and are best to use off camera lighting. The results with the Christmas tree lighting in the trees can made for beautiful dancing shots.
Overall Pine Knob Mansion is one of my favorite venues in Southeast Michigan. The staff is courteous, knowledgable and helpful, the food is always great. They run a great wedding.