Category Archives: Milwaukee wedding planning

wedding couple dancing at wedding venue

When to Book Your Milwaukee Wedding Venue

It’s one of the most common wedding planning questions: “when do I book my Milwaukee wedding venue?” Once you’ve figured out who the “one” is, choosing the venue is the logical next step—right after you sit down and have an honest conversation with your fiancé and ask key wedding planning questions.

When to Book Your Venue

Most wedding planning checklists say you should book your Milwaukee wedding venue 9-12 months before your wedding date. There are some wedding venues that are in high demand, however, and should be contacted as soon as possible (as soon as 2 years before!)

If you are uncertain about your exact wedding date, contact your favorite Milwaukee wedding venue and ask them for open dates during your favorite season or month. This is also a great strategy for couples whose preferred wedding date is already taken. You can also ask about wedding days around your favorite wedding date (like a Friday or Sunday). (If you don’t have a date in mind, use these tips for choosing the perfect wedding date.)

How to Find the Right Milwaukee Wedding Venue

It’s not hard to find a list of Milwaukee wedding venues, but it can be hard to narrow down the list to your favorite! To find the right wedding venue, follow these steps.

Decide on your favorite venue style.

Your wedding venue is the backdrop for every wedding detail, so it makes sense to choose a wedding style before searching for your wedding venue. Is your style modern? Do you love historic details? Are rustic touches your style? Have you always dreamed of an elegant wedding in a glamorous wedding hall?

Set a budget.

Setting a wedding budget is a key wedding planning step. It’s one of those key details you should discuss with your fiancé before you start wedding planning. You can use a wedding budget worksheet or do it on your own.

If you choose the latter, remember that most of your funds (typically 40-60%) should be designated for “big ticket” items that make a big impact on guests. Namely, these areas include your Milwaukee wedding venue, food, and entertainment.

Once you have a budget set (and have talked to anyone else willing to contribute), use the estimated amount to narrow down the list of wedding venues. Contact each Milwaukee wedding venue that fits your style and guest count and ask them for the total cost and if they have any other fees (i.e. overtime fees, equipment charges, etc.) (Remember, never assume that a wedding venue isn’t affordable. Some of the most beautiful Milwaukee wedding venues are actually very budget-friendly.)

Estimate your guest list count.

Don’t panic! You don’t have to sit down and come up with an exact guest list, but it is helpful to have a general guest count. (Plus these tips for crafting the perfect guest list.) Do you want a big wedding? Or a smaller, more intimate event? An estimated guest count is useful to make sure that you choose a wedding venue that is the perfect size for your big day.

Your guest count can also be set by setting a wedding budget. If your budget is tight, it may make sense to limit your guest count so you are not stretched thin.

Consider your wedding date (or season).

Think about when you want to get married. Do you have a favorite season? Is there a special date you want to use, like a family wedding date or the day you met? If you’re truly at a loss, use these tips for choosing the perfect wedding date.

Think about whether you really want a particular wedding vendor.

Have a favorite wedding caterer? Is there a wedding photographer or videographer you can’t wait to use? If so, look for a Milwaukee wedding venue with an open vendor policy (and add this question to your list of wedding venue questions). An open vendor policy allows you to bring in any wedding vendor. (If you don’t have a favorite vendor, ask the wedding venue staff for recommendations.)

Ask friends and families for recommendations.

Once you’ve set your criteria for a venue (i.e. budget, style, guest count, etc.), don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for recommendations for a Milwaukee wedding venue. This request does come with a risk however; be ready for friends or family that say you “absolutely have to” use their favorite venue. (Remember this is your decision!)

Look online for Milwaukee wedding venue reviews.

Booking a Milwaukee wedding venue is about more than just style. It’s also about the total experience—both on the wedding day and during planning. To find out what other couples’ experience has been, look online at wedding review sites. These sites, like The Knot, Wedding Wire, and even social media, give you insight into what other couples thought about the venue and their staff.

Consider logistics.

Your wedding day should be a wonderful experience for everyone, so don’t forget to consider the logistics of every wedding venue. Do they offer free parking? If so, how far do guests have to walk? Will you need to rent an extra van or bus to transport your wedding party and guests?

Questions to Ask Wedding Venues

When contacting a Milwaukee wedding venue, always ask these wedding venue questions:

  • Is my wedding date available? -OR- What dates are available around this date or in this month?
  • Does your wedding venue host more than one event at the same time?
  • Do you carry insurance?
  • Are there wedding planners on staff that can help me plan my wedding day?
  • What is the capacity of your wedding venue?
  • Are tables and chairs included in the cost?
  • What is the cost of the wedding venue? How many hours does the cost include? Are there overtime fees?
  • When is payment due?
  • Are staff included in the cost (i.e. bartenders, coat check, etc.)?
  • Is there a curfew we need to follow?
  • Are there any vendors we have to use? Can we bring in our favorite vendors?
  • Does the venue provide a bartender and alcohol? Or would we need to bring in alcohol?
  • Is there parking near the venue? If not, how much does local parking cost?
  • Are there local accommodations for my out-of-town guests?
  • What is the venue cancellation policy? What is the policy for rescheduling?
  • Is the venue accessible for guests with mobility issues?
  • When can I schedule a wedding venue tour?

heart cookies for wedding guests

25+ Ways to De-Stress If You’re Planning Your Milwaukee Wedding During COVID-19

Planning your Milwaukee wedding is an overwhelming task. Planning a wedding during COVID-19 is overwhelmingly stressful. There’s continually updating your wedding website, possibility of postponing, an evolving list of local health guidelines…and that’s just the start of the list of worries that come with a pandemic. Fortunately, there are things you and your fiancé can do to lessen the stress in Milwaukee, even during a pandemic.

De-stressing is an important part of planning a wedding in Milwaukee, though it’s different for every couple. Some couples ban smartphones during their special time, or any mention of their big day. Other couples combine wedding planning and de-stressing, making their outing a chance to choose a wine or favor for their big day. We think we’ve covered both options in our list of de-stressing ideas for couples planning a wedding in Milwaukee during COVID-19.

The right de-stressing idea is different for every couple, and depends on your comfort level during the pandemic. Don’t think you have to stop at just one! Instead, plan regular de-stressing days in between setting a wedding date, choosing the right Milwaukee wedding venue, organizing your wedding planning, and checking off items on your wedding planning checklist. As you plan, use these wedding planning during COVID-19 tips, tips for postponing your wedding (just in case!), and ideas for celebrating your original wedding date (if needed). If you do need to postpone your wedding, connect with your wedding venue staff and wedding planners for advice. In the meantime, dream of your wedding day when we can all be together again.

milwaukee wedding venue with dramatic uplighting

Small Wedding Ideas for Your “Micro” Milwaukee Wedding

Unfortunately, the pandemic has made the “minimony” and “micro-wedding” the newest wedding trends. Fortunately, there are small wedding ideas that make your special day feel larger-than-life.

Of course, if you want to hold your “minimony” or “microwedding,” the first step is to check local health regulations for specific guidelines. The other option is to reschedule your big day with these wedding postponement tips. When deciding, talk to your fiancé and venue to make a decision right for you. If you decide to host a small special day, take these small wedding ideas to heart.

Choose a venue that makes a big impression (and has a ton of space).

A wedding during the pandemic is a bit of an oxymoron. It revolves around choosing a big space for a smaller guest list. In addition to substantial square footage (and these spaces to look for during your wedding venue tour), the venue should make a big impression on guests. You can choose the right wedding venue by asking these wedding planning questions and touring potential venues. (Never choose a venue without scheduling a wedding venue tour, even if it’s virtual!)

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Communication is key when wedding planning during the pandemic because there is so much information to pass along. In addition to “normal” information (i.e. parking, schedule, etc.), you should pass on information about safety measures, if masks are required, and any other directions.

There are several ways to communicate, but the most important goal is to reach everyone. You can do this with a wedding website or social media site, as well as with mailed reminders. This wedding website guide can help you build the perfect site where guests can go for the latest updates.

Make guests feel special.

One of the biggest benefits of a micro-wedding is that you can focus on your guests (because there are less of them!) There are several ways to show guests you appreciate them. Personalized favors and cocktails (or ale or wine) add a meaningful touch. You can also add table games to bring guests together—even when they are trying to stay apart. Make sure you make these table games a group activity by having an emcee discuss the answers. You can also make this personalized entertainment more fun by setting up an online quiz about the couple, asking everyone to answer quiz questions on their mobile device, and having people’s answers show up on the screen!

Consider creative seating arrangements.

A micro-wedding is a family affair, and guests can feel like it with creative seating arrangements. This is your chance to set up unique setting arrangements that make a one-of-a-kind impression. Family seating or unique table layouts can make the day as extraordinary as the couple.

Lean on an experienced wedding planner for assistance.

Wedding planning during an uncertain time is full of uncertainties, so it makes sense to hire a wedding planner to make the experience as smooth as possible. You can hire an independent wedding planner or a wedding planning pro at your wedding venue. Both options are helpful, especially when choosing and hiring wedding vendors.

A wedding planner at the wedding venue comes with another advantage. Wedding planners that work at a venue are intimately familiar with the location and local wedding vendors. They can make recommendations about photographers, local hotels and accommodations, and décor because they know the building and the community.

Look into live streaming.

Inevitably, there are going to be some guests that are uncomfortable attending your wedding. For these guests, ask your wedding venue about local wedding vendors that can live stream and record the important moments of your big day. Guests can feel like they are part of the festivities, even when separated by a pandemic.

floral centerpiece with tall gold vase and lilies

Hiring the Best Milwaukee Wedding Vendors: Wedding Vendor List, Questions & Tips

They say it takes a village to raise a child. When it comes to weddings, it takes a full line-up of our city’s best wedding vendors to make a special day happen—and be a beautiful one-of-a-kind occasion. Of course, the right line-up of wedding vendors is different for every couple, which is why we put together a guide to help you choose the best vendors for your special day.

Milwaukee Wedding Vendor List

Just like every couple is different, the exact line-up of wedding vendors is different for every wedding. To complicate matters, some wedding venues require couples to use a vendor or provide a list of wedding vendors to choose from. Other Milwaukee wedding venues have an open vendor policy that allows couples to bring in vendors of their choice.

Because of the difference in wedding venue policies, couples should first determine if there are any vendors they really want for their big day. (Also ask your fiancé these wedding planning questions.) If you have a favorite wedding vendor, look for a Milwaukee venue that allows that couples to bring vendors in (this wedding venue checklist can help with choosing the right wedding venue). Once the wedding venue is chosen, couples should contact this list of wedding vendors:

  • Equipment Rental (for chairs, tables, tableware, etc. if venue or caterer does not provide)
  • Wedding Planner (if desired, or choose a wedding venue with on-staff wedding planner)
  • Officiant
  • Caterer
  • Bakery (if caterer does not make cake)
  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • Musicians (for ceremony)
  • Band or DJ
  • Florist
  • Décor
  • Wedding Invite Company
  • Transportation (not needed if ceremony and reception are at the same venue)

How to Choose the Best Wedding Vendors

  • Discuss your preferences for your special day with your fiancé, including any vendors you really want for your special day. (Use this list of wedding planning questions to help with your conversation.)
  • Organize your wedding planning. Use a wedding planning checklist (and these wedding planning printables) or wedding planning app to help you meet deadlines. Always contact wedding planners earlier rather than later; procrastinators miss out on the best Milwaukee wedding vendors.
  • Always research wedding vendors before hiring them. Ask friends and family (or a wedding venue planner) for recommendations for quality wedding vendors or research wedding vendors online to ensure you are contacting reputable wedding vendors. Be cautious about hiring wedding vendors without a business address or phone number, or that have a poor online rating.
  • Meet in-person or virtually with wedding vendors. Always review the vendors’ contract carefully before signing on the dotted line.

Questions to Ask a Wedding Vendor

The exact questions may differ, depending on the wedding vendor. In general, ask each wedding vendor these questions:

  • Are you available on our wedding day?
  • What is included in your services? (Some vendors offer package deals, and services and staffing often vary among vendors.)
  • How long have you been in business? Can you provide references or proof of experience?
  • Does the cost include set-up and take-down? (This question applies to equipment vendors.)
  • Do you carry insurance?
  • What event attire do staff wear to weddings? (This question applies if vendors are attending the wedding day.)
  • Do you provide a back-up plan in case of an emergency?
  • What is your rate? Are there any additional fees (i.e. overtime fees, travel costs, etc.) I need to pay? What is the final cost?
  • How much is the deposit? What is your payment policy? When is the deposit due? (Be cautious about hiring vendors that ask for full payment up front.)
  • What is your cancellation policy?
  • When can we meet? Can we meet virtually?
beautiful wedding day after couple organizes wedding planning

8 Tips for Couples Wedding Planning During COVID-19

Wedding planning is normally stressful. Wedding planning during COVID-19 is STRESSFUL. There are so many unknowns, and it’s easy to feel anxious and worried.

We realize that this time is incredibly stressful, so we’ve put together wedding planning tips for Milwaukee couples (and a list of COVID-19 frequently asked questions). We’re here to help you plan your wedding during these uncertain times—until the day when we can all gather together again.

Do what you can.

Many Milwaukee wedding venues and vendors have more time on their hands, making it an ideal time to contact them and confirm as many wedding details as possible. If you are cautious about meeting in-person, ask the venue or vendors about meeting virtually. If the meeting is virtual, make sure you come prepared and ready to talk about your preferences and budget.

Be organized.

There are quite a few deadlines and details to track during wedding planning, making an organized wedding strategy a “must.” In particular, a wedding planning checklist and wedding venue list is incredibly useful. For all other details, there are great wedding printables available for couples using a paper system and wedding apps that can make the process easier. If you don’t have time for organization or wedding planning, hire a wedding planner or choose a wedding venue with a wedding planner for less-stress wedding planning.

Stay flexible.

Unfortunately, the only thing certain during the COVID-19 pandemic is uncertainty. As you plan, realize that local rules and regulations are prone to change. Be flexible as you plan, and take breaks from it all when you feel anxious.

Keep guidelines for postponing a wedding close at hand.

If you dream of a big wedding day with a big guest count, realize that you may need to postpone your big day. Fortunately, your Milwaukee wedding venue should be able to accommodate your postponement and give you a new date. (Plus, you can always use these ideas for celebrating on your original wedding date.)

Keep everyone important updated.

As your wedding date draws near, remember that it’s not just you who is making plans. As your plans change, make it a point to keep your important wedding guests up-to-date.

Don’t forget to update your wedding website.

While it’s natural to call your parents and relatives as plans change, don’t forget about other guests that have penned in your wedding date. A wedding website is a great way to spread the word (especially if you use these wedding website tips) and let your guests know about postponements and updates (like wearing a mask to your big day or a change in entrance).

Take breaks from wedding planning.

When you feel stressed out, don’t hesitate to take a break. Have a quiet dinner at home. Watch a movie. Take a walk or go for a run. Open a bottle of wine or enjoy an ale from one of our famous Milwaukee breweries. Turn off your phone and relax. Sometimes, a short break is all you need to recharge your batteries and inspire your next wedding planning step.

Try to make the best of it.

The pandemic has changed the way everyone lives and celebrates. While you can’t change reality, try to make the best of the pandemic by incorporating small details into your wedding. Small touches like beautiful masks and signage mark the time of your wedding and blend seamlessly in with “normal” wedding details. When you do get incredibly stressed, think of your beautiful wedding day and all the fun you’ll have.

wedding pictures from beautiful wedding done by wedding vendors

Your Guide to Choosing the Best Milwaukee Wedding Ceremony and Reception Venue

Considering holding your wedding ceremony and reception at one venue? This guide can help you choose the right Milwaukee wedding ceremony and reception venue, and plan the day of your dreams in our wonderful city.

What are the perks of hosting a wedding ceremony and reception at the same venue?

The are some definite benefits to hosting a wedding ceremony and reception at the same venue:

Easier Planning. If you decide that a single venue is the answer for you, you’ll find that it’s easier to plan because you only have one venue to contact to coordinate many of the details.

Convenience. You won’t have to go very far from your ceremony to cocktail hour, eliminating the need to coordinate transportation for the wedding party.

Budget-friendly. With only one venue fee, a single venue is easier on the budget. Many items (décor and equipment) can also be used for the ceremony and reception, lowering many of the costs on the wedding budget worksheet.

What should I look for in a wedding ceremony and reception venue?

Fortunately, the list of criteria for couples looking to plan a ceremony and reception in the same venue isn’t that much different than those who choose two venues—though there are a couple of notable differences.

Space. This criterion is incredibly important for couples who want to host their wedding ceremony and reception at the same wedding venue. When touring and contacting wedding venues, you should always ask if there is enough space to seamlessly transition from the ceremony to the cocktail hour to the meal. The lack of space can result in some long—and awkward—wait times for guests and couples.

Style. The style of the wedding venue creates a powerful first impression for guests, and sets the foundation for every other wedding detail. When planning your wedding, discuss your preferred style for a Milwaukee wedding venue (plus these other wedding details). This simple question can help you narrow down your options and find the perfect backdrop for the wedding of your dreams.

Ideal ceremony setting. A beautiful ceremony setting is just as important as the amount of space in the wedding venue. The right wedding ceremony and reception venue has a setting perfect for saying, “I do”—even if you need to enhance it with décor (which can be used for the cocktail hour and the reception).

Availability. The right wedding ceremony and reception venue is available for your big day. (Ask your Milwaukee wedding venue about availability when you contact them, along with these wedding venue questions.) If you prefer privacy on your wedding day, look for a venue that hosts only one event at a time.

Parking and accessibility. Guest convenience should always be a top priority for couples as they choose a wedding venue. While it may not be at the top of the list, choosing a wedding venue with parking nearby and handicap accessibility ensures that everyone can attend easily and comfortably.

How much time should I plan for between the ceremony and reception?

Typically, couples should allocate 60-90 minutes between the ceremony and reception so they can have enough time for pictures and prepare for the reception. If you are planning a wedding ceremony and reception at the same venue, it may work to shorten the time span (especially if there is enough room in the venue for ceremony and reception seating, which minimizes set-up time). You should also ask your wedding photographer and videographer how much time it typically takes for photos.

From there, couples typically set this wedding day schedule (though you can customize your schedule to fit your needs and wishes):

  • Cocktail Hour
  • Dinner
  • Toasts
  • Cake Cutting
  • Wedding Dances (Wedding Party Announcement, First Dance, Mother-Son Dance, Father-Daughter Dance, Etc.)
  • Last Dance
  • Cake Cutting

What vendors do I need for my wedding ceremony and reception?

While the list of vendors is similar for couples that hold their wedding day at one and two venues, holding a wedding ceremony and reception at one venue does make it easier to seamlessly utilize their services. For example, couples can use much of the same lighting and décor for the ceremony and reception.

Some wedding ceremony and reception venues in Milwaukee require couples to use particular vendors, while other venues have an open vendor policy. An open vendor policy allows couples to choose vendors they want, like their favorite caterer or florist. (These tips can help you choose the right wedding vendors for your special day.) For couples overwhelmed by the amount of great wedding vendors in Milwaukee, the best wedding venues come with experienced event planners that recommend wedding vendors for their big day:

  • Officiant
  • Décor (i.e. florist, lighting, etc.)
  • Equipment Rental (Unless available from wedding venue)
  • Photographer/Videographer
  • Caterer
  • Baker
  • Entertainment (i.e. band, DJ, live entertainers)
elegant historic wedding venue

10 Ways to Choose a Date for Your Milwaukee Wedding

While it’s not always the easiest task, choosing a wedding date is an important—the most important!—parts of planning your Milwaukee wedding. Your Milwaukee wedding venue, caterer, and photographer are all going to ask when you want to get married. This guide can help you sift through all the factors that may play a part in choosing the right wedding date.

Milwaukee Venue Availability

If you have your heart set on a particular wedding venue, try asking the wedding venue for available wedding dates during a particular period. You can ask for open wedding dates during a season, month, or year.

Season

A seasonal wedding is a full-sensory experience, highlighting a couple’s favorite tastes, smells, and colors of the season. If you have a favorite season, choose a date in that season and get ready to coordinate all your favorites seasonal items into a wonderful wedding atmosphere.

Off-Peak Days & Times

Choosing an off-peak time or day is a perfect reason for couples who want an unexpected wedding date or have a tight wedding budget. (Read more tips about managing your wedding budget.) With this approach, you can choose dates in non-typical months (i.e. not June, September, October) or on weekdays that couples don’t normally choose.

Family Dates

Do you want to acknowledge a relationship that inspired your special union? One way is to ask if you can set your special day on their anniversary.  

Special Relationship Dates

Every relationship has special milestone dates: the day you met, your first date, the day you got engaged. Any of those dates—or another special day—is the perfect candidate for a wedding date. If you want to share the significance of the date, include it on your wedding website and on a story board at your wedding.

Career

If your career comes with an incredibly busy season, plan to say “I do” when you have a moment to breath (and meet with vendors, and confirm details, and…). Once you’ve narrowed down a season, ask your favorite wedding venue for an available wedding date during that time.

Wedding Vendor Availability

It’s not unusual to want a favorite wedding caterer, photographer, or another vendor included in a wedding—even before you know where to hold your Milwaukee wedding. In these cases, wedding planning starts by asking wedding vendors what dates are available. Some wedding venues require couples to use specific vendors, making it important to ask about their vendor policy when interviewing potential venues. (Don’t forget to ask these other Milwaukee wedding venue questions as well.)

Holidays

Do you love holiday trees? Or the wonder of the holidays? A holiday wedding is a great way to create the wonder of the season with your favorite holiday details. This approach also works for couples who love Halloween, Juneteenth, or any other wonderful holidays.

Family & Friend Availability

A wedding is a celebration, and it’s natural to want everyone to be involved, which is why you should ask friends and family you are particularly close to if they can attend. While it’s important to make sure that everyone is at your wedding, remember that this is your special day. Unfortunately, sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to find a date that works for everyone.

Length of Engagement

Planning a wedding does take quite a bit of effort and time. If you want a larger wedding, it might be helpful to give yourself more time (though it is possible in less time, especially if you use this guide for planning a wedding in 6 months or less). Once you have chosen a wedding date, it’s time to organize your wedding planning, choose a beautiful Milwaukee wedding venue, and enjoy the journey (with a few fun, de-stressing dates) to your special day!