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My fiance and I are approaching our wedding (really soon!), so we’re right in the thick of the last minute details. Every time I talk to a vendor – which is turning out to be several times a day now – and mention that we’re having a “Made in Michigan” wedding for the first time, he or she will say something to the effect of, “How cool and different!”

And every time, I think, “Different? Really? I kind of think we’re a part of the mainstream.”

In fact, Michigan’s growing enthusiasm for Michigan is one of my favorite things about this state. Sure, there are states who really love themselves, but their motivation is typically based in cultural history or general arrogance (I’m looking at you, Texas). Here in Michigan, our mutual sense of self-worth comes from the fact that we, right here and today, are all on the same team. After the tough times this state has been through, everyone who really doesn’t want to be here, or didn’t care enough to be a part of making it better, have all left. We may have been the only state to lose population in the last census, but we don’t see that as an indicator that there is anything wrong with us; we see it as thinning out the herd.

And I’m not the only one who feels that way. The reason I feel like Mike and my Michigan-themed wedding is no big deal is because everywhere I look I see people celebrating Michigan. Here are just a few of my favorites:

The Awesome Mitten

Organizations like the Awesome Mitten aren’t just fun. They help us define what it is that makes Michigan so great and show us how to rally around those thing. And they’re tons of fun.

This website and social media campaign is a daily tribute to all that is amazing about our state. Alex Beaton’s team of writers fan out throughout Michigan and highlight a new awesome place every day. It’s a wonderful and constant reminder that we’re a state with depth, texture, eccentricity and, most importantly, a great deal of affection for our our wealth of talent and ingenuity.

Oh, and remember the fight about whether or not Wisconsin was a mitten or not? Yup, that was them. They are so much fun.

Pure Michigan

What started out as a marketing campaign has grown to so much more. Though the commercials and print ads that go out to the world are nice and all, the pride and enthusiasm it has garnered here has been as heartwarming as it has been fun. The national campaign may make people want to come vacation here (and why wouldn’t they?), but the social media campaign has become a statewide head cheerleader of sorts. Budget crisis or no, when the Pure Michigan campaign was temporarily gutted last year, the backlash from proud Michiganders was swift and sure. In the end, the campaign was actually expanded. We win!

MadeinMichiganMovement.com, Mi-Made.comMichigan-Made.com, ByMichiganProducts.com and MadeinMichigan.com

Enough said? Yes, we like buying local.

Michigan Brewers’ Guild

How much do we love our Michigan beer? These North Peak Brewing Company beer bottles from Traverse City are going to be used as bud vases at our wedding. So, a lot.

Now, I realize this is an organization dedicated specifically to beer, but we take our beer pretty seriously here in Michigan. We’re fifth in the nation for craft beer, and 50 percent of all the craft beer consumed in Michigan is from Michigan. We have good taste. The Michigan Brewers’ Guild has more than 9,000 Facebook followers and the #MIbeer hashtag on Twitter is used multiple times a day. With all our focus on retooling our economy and growing new industries, the craft beer industry is one we can all point at today and be proud of. We’re good at that. We’re not limited to cars.

I could go on and on. There are dozens of incredible community and economic development organizations who are, literally, professional Michigan enthusiasts, like the MEDC, CEDAM, Prima Civitas, the Michigan Main Street Center, SPARK, etc., etc., etc. The presence of these organizations and the important work they do leads us to one very important conclusion: We are ravenous Michigan enthusiasts for a good reason. There are big things happening here, and we’ve got a state full of cheerleaders who help make us a part of making them happen.

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