Category Archives: wedding planning wi

unique spring wedding idea: patterned black and white table coverings with purple pastel chair bows

Milwaukee Wedding Planning: How to Create the Perfect Wedding Guest List

Compiling the perfect wedding guest list is a key part of wedding planning. This step-by-step guide can guide you through the process (and help you choose the perfect Milwaukee wedding venue!).

Step 1: Decide whether you would like to host a family event or adults-only wedding.

For some Milwaukee couples, this can be the first step or final step when the budget is tight or guest count is higher than the venue capacity (which should be a top question on your list of Milwaukee wedding venue interview questions).

The good news is that there is no disadvantage to hosting a wedding with kids or adult-only event. If planning a wedding for kids and parents, plan on adding children-friendly foods and entertainment options to your reception (such as coloring tables, bubbles, movie room, etc.) For an adult-only wedding, clearly categorize where you are drawing the line, such as “16 and over” or “18 and over.” (You can also use these tips for planning an adults-only wedding.)

Step 2: Make your own version of the 70-15-15 rule.

The 70-15-15 rule is different for every couple, but the premise is the same. Basically, this rule divides up the guest list into three separate lists. The largest portion (70% in this case) are guests of the couple, while the remaining 30% is divided between the bride’s and groom’s parents. For a complete breakdown, a 200-person guest list would be divided into 140 guests chosen by the couple, and 30 guests chosen by each of the parents.

This step should be accompanied by a conversation about the wedding guest list with any family members or friends contributing to the wedding (either with effort or financially). Be very clear about your numbers and rationale for your final guest number when you discuss the guest list with family members. It can eliminate a lot of drama and hurt feelings later!

Step 3: Compare your guest count to the venue capacity.

When crafting a guest list for your Milwaukee wedding, always make sure your final guest invite list is within the venue capacity. (You should ask about the venue capacity when first contacting a Milwaukee wedding venue.) The venue capacity is not an arbitrary number; instead, it is chosen to ensure the safety of guests.

When considering your Milwaukee wedding venue capacity, don’t feel like you have to cut the guest list down to the exact number. Typically, couples should plan on 80-90% of guests attending the wedding. This means that couples can plan on setting a list that is above the venue capacity, but should be careful not to sky rocket over that magic number (and remember that more guests equate to a higher budget as well).

Step 4: Divide up the guest list.

If you are worried about your guest list being too long, start divvying up the guest list. There are two ways to do this.

The first way is to separate guests into categories, such as “friends,” “family,” “co-workers,” etc. As you divide up the list, put guests at the top of the list that you’d really love to attend. The “maybes” can go on the bottom. This simple wedding planning step makes it a lot easier to trim down the guest list.

The second way is to divide the master guest list into circles of separation. The first list would be those closest to you, the second would be a step further from you…and the degrees of separation would continue. When trimming, cut the guests on the last lists (those not the closest to you). Once you’ve got the list trimmed to your final number, it’s time to move on to the next step and enjoy planning your Milwaukee wedding!

Your COVID-19 and 1451 Renaissance Place Event FAQ’s Answered

This blog was originally posted on March 31, and is now updated with the latest information as of May 22, 2020.

At 1451 Renaissance Place, we understand that these are stressful, uncertain times. However, we are certain that if we take care of each other, the day will come when everyone can safely celebrate together!

While we wait for that day, we wanted to answer some of your most pressing questions about how the threat of COVID-19 has affected events at 1451 Renaissance Place. Hopefully, these answers can alleviate some stress and reassure you for the future. (Please feel free to contact us with any other questions.)

Is 1451 Renaissance Place temporarily closed?

May 22 Update: Though we are still not able to host large events, we are available to answer your questions, schedule socially responsible in-person tours and hold and reserve future dates.

Yes. For the safety of our staff and guests, 1451 Renaissance Place is temporarily closed. At this time, we are contacting couples with upcoming events to assist them with setting a new date and coordinating details for their big day.

How can we reach 1451 Renaissance Place?

May 22 Update: The best way to reach us is by emailing us.  We will do our best to get back to you during the next business day, but please note our response time might be a bit delayed as we guide our couples and clients through the rescheduling process. Your celebration is just as important to us and we will respond within 48 hours!

If you require immediate assistance, please mark “urgent” in the subject line. If you prefer that we respond with a phone call, please provide your phone number and an Event Specialist will call you back. 

Can I reschedule my event date if it has been cancelled due to the Safer at Home restrictions?

May 22 Update: Absolutely!  We are currently rescheduling affected celebrations to alternate available dates within 12 months of the original date. 

Is there a fee for rescheduling?

May 22 Update: We are transferring 100% of deposits from affected dates to any available dates within 12 months of the original date.

When do you anticipate holding events again at 1451 Renaissance Place?

As soon as it is safe to do so! We know this is vague, but, like everyone else, we are also waiting until it is safe to do so. In the meantime, inquire about your dates and follow these CDC guidelines. Stay tuned for further updates on our Facebook page and website.

Will vendors let us transfer my deposit and date?

We cannot speak to arrangements with outside vendors. However, most local Milwaukee vendors have been working to accommodate clients, and get back to doing what they do best – giving every couple the service they deserve! 

Is 1451 Renaissance Place still taking new event reservations?

May 22 Update: Yes! Now is a great time to gather information, make plans, and nail down your dates! As an added bonus, if you reserve your date before we re-open, we will take $500 off your required deposit and reflect that same discount in your overall guaranteed minimum! Contact us for available dates and more information.

We understand that couples and businesses are taking this time to plan their events and confirm their venue. It is a great time to gather information (especially on our blog and website), make plans and nail down dates! We encourage any couples or organizations interested in 1451 Renaissance Place to contact us for available dates and information.

When is your next open house?

May 22 Update: We are hoping for a June 3, 2020 Open House. Please contact us to confirm and reserve your spot.

How do we get updates on 1451 Renaissance Place?

Please check our Facebook page and website for more information about future Open Houses and events.

What event planning can be done during my quarantine?

This is a great time to do some research (especially on our blog!), gather information and contact vendors.  Our experienced event planners are happy to help you in any way we can, including holding or reserving a date, scheduling tours (including live virtual tours!), contacting outside vendors and coordinating the details on your behalf. 

Do I still have enough time to plan my 2020 event?

Definitely!  And we can help!  Our advice to any couple is, “don’t put off your dreams!”

Stay healthy and thank you for your interest and support. We look forward to being in touch soon, and to a time when social distancing is a thing of the past.

wedding day at a reception hall with bride and groom dancing after wedding planning

10 Questions to Ask BEFORE Planning Your Milwaukee Wedding

Planning a Milwaukee wedding involves a lot of conversations, but the most important conversation is the first with your fiancé. This conversation is your chance to discuss what you want and don’t want on your big day, plus a few other details that get your new marriage started in synch.

What is our favorite wedding style?

This may be one of the most important questions wedding couples ask because it’s a crucial part of searching for a Milwaukee wedding venue. The wedding venue sets the foundation for all other wedding details, and creates a powerful first impression on guests.

Are you a couple who would prefer an elegant wedding with an upscale wedding atmosphere? A celebration in a wedding reception venue with historical details and a story? Or an outdoor wedding with natural elements? Fortunately, there are quite a few Milwaukee venues that fit almost every couple’s style.

Do we have a favorite wedding date? What season works best for our wedding?

For some couples, their wedding date is obvious. It’s the day they met, the date of their first date, or a special family date.

For others, the wedding date isn’t as clear. In these cases, couples don’t have to be as specific about their date. If you fall into this category, you and your fiancé should look at the season or month you would most prefer. Once you have decided on a month or months, ask the Milwaukee wedding venue what dates they have available during that period. In addition to the date, you should also ask potential Milwaukee venues these other wedding venue questions. Once you have the date set, you can select and contact other wedding vendors (if the Milwaukee wedding venue has an open vendor policy).

What is our wedding budget? How are we going to pay for it? Has anyone offered to help us with expenses?

A wedding budget is a vital part of planning a Milwaukee wedding, and your chance to get your marriage off on the right foot. When setting a budget, use a wedding app or wedding budget checklist to decide on a total amount and allocate funds to high-priority wedding details (i.e. Milwaukee wedding venue, food, etc.)

The next step is to break down the budget a step further. This is your chance to discuss your finances and get on the same page about how you are going to pay for the wedding. If any friends or family have offered to help with wedding expenses, discuss who they are and who is going to contact them to see if they are still willing to help. In addition to setting a wedding budget, this conversation eliminates any hard feelings later from surprise credit card balances or overspending.

Do we want a big wedding or smaller affair?

For some couples, your budget or family size dictates the guest list. For others, this topic warrants an in-depth conversation about how many people you want at your ceremony and wedding reception. Have you always pictured a smaller wedding or a huge let’s-invite-everyone affair? Is there room for compromise so you can have a wedding with a somewhere in-between guest list?

The size of the wedding is also a criteria on the wedding venue checklist. Milwaukee wedding venues typically come with a capacity for guest safety and comfort. Once you have decided on an estimated wedding size (it doesn’t have to be exact!), ask each Milwaukee wedding venue for the amount of guests they can accommodate.

Do we have time for wedding planning? Do we need some help?

While wedding planning may sound like an all-or-none proposition, the answer for many couples is somewhere in between. Some couples want to manage every detail, others want to put their vision into the hands of a local Milwaukee wedding planner, while others need help with some of the details so they don’t feel overwhelmed.

This is your chance to decide which category you fall into and who you want to plan your wedding (or help plan parts of your wedding). Wedding planners are either independent contractors or are associated with a venue. The perk of the latter is that they are familiar with the venue and local vendors.

If you decide that you need wedding planning services (either full- or part-time), ask the wedding venue if they offer it as part of their services. If you prefer an independent wedding planner, ask the Milwaukee wedding venue for recommendations.

Is there one thing we really want at our wedding?

Even if you and your fiancé have been together for a long time, their answer might surprise you! This is your chance to discuss what details are really important to you and what you really, really want on your big day—besides your fiancé, of course.

wisconsin wedding venue with beautiful love sign and local flavors

What to include? The Ultimate Wedding Website Checklist for Milwaukee Couples

We love to help Milwaukee couples plan the wedding of their dreams, and a wedding website is an important part of the wedding planning process. A wedding website is an excellent way to keep guests up-to-date on wedding details, give friends and family gift ideas for showers and the wedding, and provide additional wedding information for out-of-town guests. If done well, a wedding website gives guests tons of information that they can get at their convenience (and you won’t have to answer tons of questions!)

Best yet, this part of the planning process should be fun and complete! That’s why we put together these wedding website tips and a checklist for Milwaukee couples who want a stellar and helpful “wed-site.”

Wedding Website Do’s and Don’ts

Do make a wedding website as soon as possible (like right after you are engaged!)

Don’t include too many specific details in your story, which can be a security risk that can be used against you.

Do try to build a website that fits with the theme and look of your wedding.

Don’t forget to include a full schedule of wedding activities (both before, on the day of, and after)

Do share your wedding website address on your shower invitations, save-the-dates, and response cards, plus in individual emails.

Don’t share your wedding website on your formal wedding invitations or on social media, which can create hard feelings from friends who aren’t invited.

Do be careful about including details to wedding events that only certain guests are invited to.

Don’t include any photos that could embarrass you or your family or friends.

Do ask members of your wedding party before you add them to the wedding website (if you want to add them, this is up to you).

Don’t send out the wedding URL until you have it finalized.

Do add a frequently asked questions section, which can be very helpful for guests.

Don’t hesitate to ask your wedding venue staff questions and for recommendations for local vendors.

Do change the website to a “just in case you missed it!” site with photos and information from your wedding day after it is over.

Wedding Website Checklist

___ Your Names

___ Your Story

___ Wedding Date

___ Wedding Party (Planning tip: ask members of your wedding party if this is okay. You don’t have to add this information, this is optional.)

___ Wedding Ceremony Location and Time (Planning tip: include the exact address, which is incredibly helpful for out-of-town guests.)

___ Wedding Venue Information (Planning tip: add pictures, the exact address, and a link to the Milwaukee wedding venue website, which can be incredibly helpful.)

___ Wedding Cocktail Hour Time

___ Wedding Reception Time

___ Wedding Day Dress Code

___ Accessibility (Planning tip: Ask potential wedding venues about handicap accessibility, along with these other wedding venue questions.)

___ Wedding Day Details (i.e. your social media hashtag, if your wedding is unplugged, if you are having a cash bar, etc.)

___ Local Accommodation List or Information about Blocked Hotel Rooms (Planning tip: Trip Advisor also has a helpful list of Milwaukee wedding hotels that you can provide)

___ Local Activity List for Out-of-Town Guests

___ Travel Information (Local airport information, local taxis, public transportation websites, local ride service links, etc.)

___ Gift Registries

___ Photos (Informal and formal photos of the couple—-like engagement photos—plus photos of the ceremony site and venue)

___ Online RSVP

___ Parking Information (Planning tip: look for a wedding venue with convenient parking accommodations.)

___ Attendance Information (Especially important for adults-only wedding)

___ Wedding Email (Planning tip: create an email address specifically for wedding planning.)

wedding day at a reception hall with bride and groom dancing after wedding planning

When to Start Wedding Planning (and Where to Start)

“When do I start wedding planning?” is a wedding planning question that inevitably pops into your head—sometimes even before you’ve uttered yes! Even if you don’t ask the question, get ready for a barrage of questions from friends and family.

When to Start Wedding Planning

The best answer to the when question is when you’re ready—but with the disclaimer that if you wait too long you may not get your ideal date, wedding venue, or vendors. Planning your big day starts—surprisingly!—with a conversation with your fiancé.

Do we have a special date we want to get married on? Or a time of year?

The good news: you don’t need to have a set date before you start contacting venues and vendors. Some couples have a date in mind for months or years before they get married, while others set the date based on venue and vendor availability. If you’re in the latter camp (no date), you can use these tips for setting a wedding date or contact wedding venues and ask for open dates.

Either way, this is your time to discuss not only the date but how long you want to be engaged. There are some advantages to a long or short engagement. A long engagement gives you plenty of time for wedding planning, while a short engagement gets you down the aisle and into wedding bliss quickly (use these tips if you’re getting married in six months or less).  

Where should we get married?

Just as important as the date is the where of your wedding; this question can start as broad as choosing between a destination or hometown wedding. Once you’ve narrowed down the city, it’s time to start thinking about wedding venues in your desired location.

What is our wedding budget? How are we going to pay for our wedding?

A wedding budget gets your wedding planning kickstarted off on the right foot, giving you and your fiancé the chance to discuss your finances and financial means. This is also your chance to make sure you are allocating money for big-ticket items that make a big impact on guests (i.e. venue, food, entertainment); a wedding budget checklist can be a big help during your discussion.

Do we want a large or small wedding?

Your guest list count doesn’t need to be final, but an estimated guest count is big part of choosing the right wedding venue and setting a wedding budget. Because of the implications on budget, it’s okay to flip flop these questions and decide on how many funds you have first—and how much you want to spend on each guest.

Do we want to plan the wedding ourselves? Or do we need help?

There is no doubt that wedding planning is a big undertaking, so it’s a good idea to decide on how much of it you want to tackle yourselves. This is an opportunity to review your available time and support system, and decide if you need a full- or part-time wedding planner or can take the wedding planning checklist on yourselves. If you decide you want wedding planning help, it’s time to decide if you want to hire a wedding planner from your wedding venue or a professional with an independent business.

What is our style? What do we really want from our big day?

Your style as a couple gives you direction as you plan—and your discussion gives you the chance to get on the same page about it! In addition to the wedding style (i.e. elegant, traditional, rustic, casual, natural), this is your opportunity to voice any preferences you really want on your big day. Your fiance’s answer may surprise you!

First Wedding Planning Steps

Once you’ve discussed the important details, decide if you want to start wedding planning now or in the future. If you’ve decided on a long-term engagement, start booking the big details now (i.e. venue, caterer, entertainment). You can get to the rest of the checklist later!

Get organized.

The very first step is to get organized, with a binder or paper-free. Either way, take a few minutes to kickstart your wedding planning with the app, wedding checklist, deadlines, and tips that keep you organized as you plan your big day.

Set a date.

Your wedding date is a core detail that is going to be brought up with almost every vendor, so it makes sense to set a date as soon as possible. This can be done by using a special date (i.e. when you met, a signature family date, your first kiss, etc.) or contacting venues to see what dates are available.

Research and choose a wedding venue.

The process for choosing a wedding venue is worthy of a full multi-step venue guide, especially because the wedding venue is the foundation of all your other details. Once you’ve decided on a location, it’s time to search for wedding venues near you (or in your chosen location) and narrow down the options based on style and the venue’s answers to your wedding venue questions.

Start interviewing vendors.

Some wedding venues require that you use certain vendors, while others have an open vendor policy that allows you to choose your favorite caterer and vendors. If you need recommendations for vendors, don’t hesitate to ask the venue staff and start contacting them with vendor questions.

wedding reception with MR & MRS letters in front of a shiny background at a rainy wedding

10 BIG Wedding Planning Questions Answered

Wedding planning is an effort that comes with a million questions. What kind of dress are you going to buy? Who’s going to stand up in your wedding party? While we can’t help you with those details, we have put together a list of the most common wedding planning questions that we hear time and time again as we help couples plan their big day. These answers can get you started planning the day of your dreams—and enjoying the process!

What is the first step in wedding planning?

Congratulations on your engagement! The first step of wedding planning is surprising to many couples, because it doesn’t involve shopping or scheduling a wedding venue tour (those important steps come later).

The first step of wedding planning is a discussion with your fiancé. This is your time to voice any preferences you have for the big day, and to ask these important questions (i.e. location, finances, style, date, etc.)

Should we hire a wedding planner?

Contrary to popular opinion, there are three answers to this question: yes, no, and a little bit. The first answer (yes) is perfect for couples who don’t have time to plan. The second answer (no) is typical for couples who feel they have it covered—either alone or with friends or family. The third answer is perfect for couples who need part-time help with details, either with an independent planner or a convenient venue wedding planner.

How can I keep my wedding planning organized?

Every couple has a different system for wedding planning. Some couples use wedding apps, while others use a wedding binder filled with free wedding printables. No matter what the method, the key to organized wedding planning is to have a great wedding planning checklist, wedding budget spreadsheet, and the time to track your progress and expenses. (Other tips for efficient wedding planning can be found here.)

What questions should I ask wedding venues? How should I book a wedding venue?

The wedding venue is the crux of wedding planning—after all, that’s where most of your big day takes place! The wedding venue is the background of your big day, so choose the site carefully! Because the decision is so important, it’s important to interview each wedding venue to find out the availability, cost (including additional fees), venue capacity, and any other important details (such as parking!)

Because this contact is so important, it’s important to ask 20+ questions that get you the answers that help you decide whether to schedule a venue tour.

Never book a wedding venue without seeing it in-person. Unfortunately, online pictures don’t always tell the whole story. When touring, couples should ask to see every space, including the restrooms, changing areas, and parking spaces (which are incredibly important to guests!) From there, couples can use this step-by-step venue booking guide.

When should I book my wedding venue?

Because the wedding venue is so important, it should be one of the first reservations you make. A wedding venue should be chosen and confirmed AT LEAST 12-14 months before the big day. If time is tight, you may still be able to find an open date, especially if you consider a weekday or Friday night (these dates may be more affordable as well). If you would prefer to hold your ceremony and reception at the venue, ask if there is space for both.

When should I hire a wedding caterer?

Once your wedding venue is booked, it’s time to choose key wedding vendors, including the wedding caterer. Some wedding venues have an in-house caterer that they require couples use, while others have an open vendor policy. This policy allows couples to use any wedding caterer as long as they are licensed and carry insurance.

When should I send out invites? What information should I put on my wedding website?

Typically, a save-the-date wedding invite should be sent out six months before your big day, but the actual invitations don’t go out until a couple of months before. Any additional information about the wedding day can be published on a wedding website, such as local hotels and parking information. More wedding website tips can get you from start to publish.

How long is a wedding reception?

This is one of the common wedding planning questions. Most wedding receptions last 4-5 hours, and revolve around a few simple wedding reception planning steps.

bride and groom dancing at summer wedding reception in beautiful wedding venue

(Fun!) Ways to Enjoy Your Milwaukee Wedding Planning

Planning your wedding in Milwaukee can feel adventurous or overwhelming. These cool ways can make it feel more adventurous than overwhelming—and give you and your partner a chance to enjoy the site of your big day.

Plan a date night at one our fantastic Milwaukee breweries or wineries.

Milwaukee is known for its distinctive ales and unique breweries. If you’re a lover of an occasional brew (or fanatical about your ales), a night out at one of Milwaukee’s breweries can be a great way to choose ales for an interactive tasting station at your wedding reception. A night out at a brewery can also give you the clues you need to decide if it would be a good stop for a toast after your ceremony—or for the big wedding dinner toast.

If you have a palette more for a delectable wine produced at one of our Wisconsin vineyard, schedule a field trip with your fiancé—or your wedding party—to find a wine that was suitable for your big day. A local wine can be the perfect wedding favor (with customized labels) or addition to welcome baskets for out-of-town guests.

Enjoy your time visiting Milwaukee wedding venues and caterers.

Your wedding venue and menu are the highlights of your big day—so why shouldn’t you enjoy the selection process? Once you’ve narrowed down the options for your wedding venue, plan a fun night visiting venues (through a scheduled visit or at an open house) with your significant other. (If you don’t have a lot of time for lots of visits, choose a wedding venue with an on-site planner that can turn your vision into reality.) Caterer tastings can be just as fun—especially if you choose a venue that gives you the option to bring in your favorite.

Scout your favorite photo opp locations.

In Wisconsin, couples typically take two different approaches to photos. The first approach is to head to a favorite location for photos after the ceremony (and to a few local bars or eateries for a wedding party toast). The second approach is to choose a wedding venue for every part of your big day: ceremony, photos, cocktail hour, and the reception.

Whatever approach you take, one of the best wedding planning outings can involve scouting unique locations that make the best sites for unique wedding shots. There are so many options in Milwaukee and around: state parks on Lake Michigan, along the Milwaukee River, at a local museum (think the Milwaukee Public Museum, Harley Davidson Museum, Milwaukee Art Museum, etc.), the Milwaukee County Zoo, or at one of our cool historic sites. The possibilities are endless, and picturing your wedding day during a pre-wedding visit can be just as fun.

Make an adventure out of finding local tastes to include in your big day.

Local tastes can add a one-of-a-kind flavor to any wedding day—and the search for those tastes can be the perfect pre-wedding adventure! In addition to breweries and wineries, enjoy sampling and choosing your local favorites at local Farmer’s Markets, farms, restaurants, and diners. The search can be as fun as incorporating them into your menu, in interactive tables, as favors, or in welcome baskets for special guests who choose to be part of your big day.

Enjoy planning the perfect surprise.

If you love secrets, this wedding planning task—a wedding reception surprise—is the perfect addition to your wedding planning list. The possibilities for a wedding surprise are endless: a choreographed dance, a surprise visit by a favorite Wisconsin mascot, a pop-in from a local entertainer, or one of these fantastic wedding reception ideas.  

BIG Mistakes to Avoid When You Start Wedding Planning

milwaukee wedding venue with dramatic uplightingThe first step of starting to plan a wedding is to stop worrying! You don’t have to be an expert wedding planner to jump into planning your big day. You, do, however, need these wedding planning tips that keep you from making some very common planning mistakes.

Avoiding the “talk” with your fiance

The first step of wedding is to sit down and talk about what you both want (and don’t want) on your big day. (Their answers may surprise you!) No matter how tempting it is, don’t do anything until you’ve both sat down and discussed the major details of your big day. Talk together to narrow down the major details, but remember that they don’t have to be exact. Ask questions like, “what city do we want to get married in? What time of the year is right for our big day?”

From there, find out what each of you expect from your big day. Decide whether you want a big celebration or smaller, more intimate affair. Think about the style of your big day and what you both envision. Sort through harder questions, like the wedding budget, and who is responsible for each expense. Ask yourselves how much wedding planning you can take on, and what do-it-yourself projects you have time for (plus these other questions that start your wedding planning). Finally, ask yourselves, “what is one thing (or things) you’ve always wanted on your wedding day?”

Not setting a wedding budget

A wedding budget is the second step of wedding planning—and not a step that should be overlooked. This wedding budget checklist can help spur the discussion. As you discuss the wedding budget, make sure that you allocate more funds for more impactful items, like the wedding venue and menu.

Skipping the wedding venue tour

After setting a budget, the “how to start wedding planning” guide starts with setting a date and booking a wedding venue. While wedding venue websites and social media can be invaluable when looking for the right wedding venue, don’t get so caught up in the photos that you don’t see the venue in person. During the tour, ask important wedding venue questions and to see every space that you, your attendants, and guests are going to be in (including the restrooms). Sometimes those photos don’t do the venue justice; other times, the photos may be hiding unpleasant surprises that you don’t want to deal with on your big day. A full tour gives you the full picture of the venue and eliminates any buyer’s regret after you’ve signed the contract.

Ignoring the guest list question

Any bride or groom can tell you that one of the most common questions they get from vendors ask is about guest list question (“how many guests are you expecting?”). While you don’t have to know exactly how many guests you want joining you on your big day, you should have a general idea. This decision may not be entirely made by the bride and groom, so the first step of setting a guest list is usually a sit-down with anyone else financially or emotionally invested in your big day (plus using these tips for setting the perfect guest list.)

Thinking you don’t need to de-stress

It’s easy to jump into wedding planning headfirst without giving even a thought to de-stressing. Remember that wedding planning is a marathon—not a sprint—-and that an occasional de-stressing day can keep you from getting overwhelmed and staying sane throughout the process. (These ideas for de-stressing days come highly recommended.)

Viewing a wedding planner as an all-or-none proposition

The biggest (and most common) wedding planner misconception is that every decision, every detail is decided by the wedding planner. To be clear, sometimes hiring a wedding planner can mean handing over the keys (especially if that’s what is wanted!). However, there are wedding planners that can be hired on a part-time basis. If you only want a wedding planner for the wedding reception, it can be incredibly helpful (and practical) to hire an event planner at the wedding venue. In addition to knowing the ins and out of the venue, these event planners can be incredibly helpful in selecting the best local vendors for your big day.

Not getting organized

The long wedding planning checklist can feel overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be that way, especially if you can break your vision down into smaller to-do lists. Start gathering all the details you envision in your big day into a digital or paper folder (or binder). This step helps you stay on track with your vision as you plan, even if it’s not with the exact ideas in the folder. Treat your folder as a central hub for your wedding planning checklist, vendor contracts (and contact information), receipts, and any other documentation. (These other ideas for organizing your wedding planning can help too.)

Wedding Reception Ideas: How to Add Local Flavor to Your Big Day

wisconsin wedding venue with beautiful love sign and local flavors

We may be a little biased, but we love Wisconsin weddings. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of wedding reception ideas for couples who love getting married in Wisconsin as much as we do. These traditional and modern ideas are sure to add a bit of local flavor to a wedding day (without being cheesy).

Select a Wisconsin wedding venue

Planning your special day starts with the biggest decision: choosing the right Wisconsin wedding venue. Because our weather can be incredibly unpredictable (no matter the season), make sure the wedding venue is temperature-controlled and covered. Make a list of wedding venues in the right location and with the right amenities. For guest comfort, choose a wedding venue with parking nearby so guests don’t have to trudge through the cold, snow, rain, and wind.

Serve appetizers and dishes with a local flair

For an upscale flair and decidedly local flavor, select dishes with fresh ingredients from local lakes, farms, and fields. There are quite a few ideas, such as summer wedding dishes with fresh cherries, a cheese platter, or a fresh fish fry. The flavor doesn’t have to end with wedding cuisine. Select wedding drinks that your out-of-town guests want to take home.

Host a wine or ale tasting station

Wisconsin is known for its local wineries and breweries. Incorporate those tastes into your wedding by adding a wine or ale tasting station to your wedding entertainment line-up. (Plus, you can plan a fun outing with your partner so you can choose the right wines and ales together.) Before planning a tasting station, ask your venue staff if outside alcohol is allowed in the venue.

Serve a delectable Wisconsin dessert instead of cake

Wisconsinites love their desserts, and out-of-town guests love to enjoy sweet local dishes. The list of dessert ideas with a local flavor are endless: ice cream, Kringles, cream puffs, cherry desserts. (Ask your caterer for fun ways to display the desserts, such as with a dessert wall or interactive food station.) You’ll know this wedding reception idea was a hit when your out-of-town guests beg for the recipes (or a local retailer) at the reception.

Personalize your Old Fashioned recipe

Wisconsin is known for its cocktails, especially a good Old Fashioned. If you want to make a favorable impression, add an Old Fashioned to the menu and advertise it with appropriate décor and signage. For a fun twist, add other local cocktails to your wedding bar and give each one a unique name.

Mix up your wedding dance music

Wedding entertainment makes a big impression on guests, which is why couples should add dance music to their list of wedding reception ideas. To bring a local flavor to the event, hire a local, well-known band or add Wisconsin favorites to your dance play list.

Surprise guests with a local celebrity

This wedding reception idea is sure to get guests talking, but does require secrecy and advanced planning. For the ultimate surprise, hire a local celebrity to make a surprise appearance during the wedding reception. The celebrity can be a local, well-known chef, band, or mascot. To pull this wedding reception idea off without a hitch, keep the appearance is a secret and let the entertainment knows about the surprise so they can help make the moment a memorable one.

Choose wedding favors your guests can’t get anywhere else

The cherry on top of a fantastic Wisconsin wedding is the one-of-a-kind local favors that guests appreciate. These unique local favors can be found at local shops, on local vendors’ websites, and at local restaurants. (Ask your wedding venue staff for other fine favor ideas.)

Wedding Planning Guide: What is the first step in planning a wedding?

wedding day at a reception hall with bride and groom dancing after wedding planningYour significant other popped the question! Congrats! Once the glow of the proposal has worn off, it’s time to face the enormous task of wedding planning. While this wedding planning checklist from Real Simple can get you through the next few months (or years), we’ve given you a wedding planning guide that can get you started with the first step, talking to your partner, and can take you step-by-step from there.

Before you shop for wedding dresses or decide on flowers, sit down and talk to your future husband or wife (then follow the next steps in our wedding planning guide). A simple conversation now can give your wedding planning direction and guide you as select and finalize all the wedding day details.

Location

Where would you like to get married? Decide together whether your home town, current city, lake home, alma mater, or favorite vacation spot is your ideal place to get married. Once you’ve narrowed down the city, state, and country, start thinking about what you want and need in your wedding venue.

Next wedding planning step: Use this list of criteria to narrow down your choices for wedding venue; the next step is to contact potential wedding venues and ask them these important questions.

Date

You don’t have to select the exact wedding date, but it is helpful to narrow down your options to a month or season. If there is some flexibility on date but not on budget, ask the wedding venue for an evening weekday or Sunday morning (for brunch!); many venues give discounted rates for off-peak days.

Next wedding planning step: Use this guide to decide on a wedding date you both are excited about. Contact wedding venues and ask if the date is available. If there is some flexibility on date, ask the wedding venue for open dates during the desired season or month.

Guest List

You and your spouse-to-be don’t have to come up with an exact wedding list, but start talking about whether you want a big wedding or a smaller, more intimate affair. An idea of the guest count is also helpful when choosing the right wedding venue, which shouldn’t be too big or too small.

Next wedding planning step: Use these steps to set a wedding guest list. A final guest list can give you general numbers to give to the caterer and vendors for linen rental and centerpieces.

Budget

This is a very important part of the initial wedding planning conversation. Decide how much you want to spend on your wedding day, and where the funds are coming from.

Next wedding planning step: Contact any friends or family members that have expressed an interest in helping pay for the wedding day. Make sure you get a clear answer (not just “we can cover dinner”) to minimize any disagreements later.

Style

Every couple has their own style and vision for the wedding day. Do you want a formal, elegant wedding day? Or a day with a historic style? Is a rustic wedding more your style? As you discuss the big picture, be sure to ask if there is anything really important that either of you really want on their big day. Your spouse-to-be’s answer may surprise you.

Next wedding planning step: Take your desired style and run with it as you coordinate the details of your desire wedding atmosphere. Use the style to find wedding venues and attire, and to set a delicious wedding menu.

Time

Wedding planning can be a monumental task. Discuss the amount of time you both have to allocate to planning your special day. Be realistic; a good wedding planner can be a huge help when your time is small.

Next wedding planning step: If you need a wedding planner, get recommendations from friends or add it to your list of wedding venue criteria. Many venues have a wedding planner on staff who is intimately familiar with the site and local vendors. If DIY wedding planning is the choice, ask friends or family for their help; give them specific tasks and deadlines to eliminate any misunderstandings later.