elegant historic wedding venue

7 “Wedding Reception Only” Ideas and Tips

These wedding reception only ideas are the perfect inspiration for any couple who wanted (or had to have!) an intimate ceremony together. Whether you eloped (just because) or had a small ceremony because of the pandemic, this guide for planning the perfect wedding reception only and reception only ideas and tips can put your celebration over-the-top.

Have two separate guest lists.

This is a practical wedding planning tip: have two separate guests list for invites. When setting guest lists, always invite the same guests to the ceremony and reception. For reception only guests, create a wedding website with details about the wedding reception (i.e. venue address, parking details, and this other important wedding website information).

You can schedule the ceremony and reception as far apart as you want. When you word the invitation wording for the wedding reception only invites, consider phrases like “Celebrate with us” or “We’re married! Come join us.”

Decide on your wedding reception attire.

There are quite a few “you don’t have to…” tips associated with planning a wedding reception only. One of those is “you don’t have to wear your wedding dress or tux” to your wedding reception only. Instead, couples can opt for comfortable formal attire, such as a dancing gown or comfortable suit at an elegant wedding venue.

Don’t feel like you have to connect the dots…and the décor.

When holding a wedding ceremony and reception separately, don’t feel like you have to create the same atmosphere at both events. Your wedding ceremony can be as small and intimate as you want, while your wedding reception can be a big dance party, formal dinner party, or large picnic. If you need guidance, hire a wedding planner at your venue to bring your vision to life.

Include a special ceremony moment in your wedding reception.

If you want your guests to feel like they are part of your wedding ceremony, add a special moment to your wedding reception schedule of events. You can recite your vows together, sign your wedding license in front of your guests, or include other wedding reception only ideas that make your guests feel like they were there when you said, “I do.”

Find a creative way to share your ceremony.

At the top of the list of wedding reception only ideas is finding a way to tell your story (including your wedding ceremony). You can do so with photos or videos, either in one key area or scattered around your venue. This is your chance to give guests a glimpse of your wedding ceremony, and gives you the opportunity to relive your wonderful wedding day.  

Have fun with your menu.

A wedding reception only lends itself to creativity. It can be a gathering with light dishes, a sweet night of desserts, or a reception with delicious food stations with your favorite dishes. There are so many possibilities! You can plan a menu that coordinates with the theme or select dishes that surprise and delight guests (including non-traditional desserts). If you need inspiration, don’t hesitate to ask a venue event planner for ideas. As long as you’re having fun with your menu, don’t be afraid to choose unique seating arrangements and mingling areas.

Entertain your guests with trivia, speeches, and fun.

A full line-up of wedding reception entertainment is a ‘must’ on the list of wedding reception only ideas. Guests love to play table trivia about the couple (or the shoe game!), tour a beautiful venue during a scavenger hunt, hear fun speeches, take goofy photos in a photo booth, play yard games, and dance the night away!

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

7 Wonderful Milwaukee Micro Wedding Ideas and Tips

A micro wedding in Milwaukee is a small, intimate affair with big possibilities. There are so many ways to celebrate with your closest friends and families—even if it’s not the large, traditional wedding you’ve always dreamed of.

A smaller wedding—a micro wedding—is also a good option for couples who want to elope or just want a more intimate wedding ceremony and reception. Typically, this refers to a wedding with 50 guests or less—though there is certainly some flexibility with the number! Just like any other aspect of weddings, a micro wedding can be as “micro” as a couple chooses.

Discuss key details of your Milwaukee micro wedding before you start planning.

The first step of planning a wedding is an important one. Before you go shopping for a dress or tux, or set a guest list, sit down with your fiancé and plan the key details of your wedding. This is your chance to talk about your preferred style, set a wedding budget, and answer other key wedding planning questions.

Trim your guest list with care.

For some couples, drafting a short list of guests is easy. Others need to trim the guest list to get to the right number. If you fall into the latter category, use these tips for trimming a guest list. Unfortunately, this process may be stressful, but it can be done by choosing an adults-only wedding (instead of a wedding with families and children), using the 70-15-15 rule, or one of these other methods for getting your guest list to manageable number.

Organize your wedding planning.

One of the best wedding hacks—for large and micro weddings—is to get organized. This can be done with a traditional binder for a wedding planning checklist (with a wedding budget checklist) and room for receipts and contracts. If you prefer a modern approach, any of these excellent wedding apps can help you manage deadlines and store important docs.

Choose a wedding venue that can host the ceremony and reception.

A micro wedding may come with a small guest list, but that doesn’t mean the wedding venue needs to be tiny. Instead, search for a Milwaukee wedding venue with space for the ceremony and reception. It’s more convenient for guests because you don’t have to worry about transportation, plus it’s a great way for guests to mingle. When searching for the right Milwaukee wedding venue for your micro wedding, look for a venue that answers these wedding venue questions and has adequate space for the ceremony and reception. If possible, try to find a venue where you and your guests won’t have to wait for a lengthy set up between the ceremony and reception.

Be creative with seating.

A micro wedding gives you some creative options for almost every aspect of your wedding, including your seating arrangement. A micro wedding is the perfect opportunity for family seating, which can be laid out in an “X” shape or a long family table. For a more traditional feel, couples can opt for sit-down seating laid out in a unique pattern—or opt for a mixture of family and sit-down seating for a modern seating arrangement.

Make entertainment a group activity.

One of the perks of a micro wedding is that it gives couples to plan group activities for their guests. Entertainment ideas like table trivia and dance floor games can be a fun experience when everyone’s playing it together. Even a big group photo can be entertaining (and a great photo to cherish!) Plus, couples can add smaller group activities like yard games, sampling stations, and photo booths for guests who want to mingle and relax with friends.

Choose wedding favors that make every guest feel special.

There are so many wedding favor ideas for Wisconsin weddings, such as wines from local wineries, ales from local breweries, blankets, mittens, candies, and candles. Even hand sanitizer can suit the times. A smaller guest list means that you can choose the right wedding favor that guest love and fits with the micro wedding atmosphere.

floral centerpiece with tall gold vase and lilies

7 “Must Have” Tips for Rescheduling Your Wedding

Postponing and rescheduling your wedding may not be anyone’s first choice, but it’s sometimes a necessary part of wedding planning. If you’re part of a couple that had to move your big day, use these tips for postponing and getting your wedding planning back on track.

Post updates for guests on your wedding website.

One of the most important parts of rescheduling a wedding is communication, both with those close to you and others farther down on the guest list. A wedding site (either a website or social media site) makes this task easier—if it’s kept up-to-date. When postponing a wedding, a wedding site is a logical place to give updates, though you should be cautious about posting too many updates.

Don’t feel like you have to go into too much detail about the reason behind the postponement; it’s up to you to decide how much information you want to give out. If you are unsure about your new wedding date, wait to post it until you have it finalized so there is no confusion. (This wedding website guide gives you a full list of everything you should include on your wedding site.)

Contact your family and wedding party directly.

While your wedding website might be the easiest place to update guests, make sure you take a more direct approach with your family and wedding party. For those close to you, contact them directly with wedding updates. This small step minimizes family drama and stems any hurt feelings.

Make sure you de-stress when you get overwhelmed.

Postponing a wedding is stressful—and so is when you can start planning because you have a final wedding date! During this stressful time, make sure you have a strong support system and an occasional chance to de-stress. A date with your fiancé, time away from your wedding checklist, or one of these other ideas for de-stressing during wedding planning can help you relax and come back to your wedding planning checklist ready to tackle the next step.

Send out new Save the Date cards.

In addition to posting online updates, don’t forget to send out notices of postponement and new Save the Date cards when you have a final date and everything is a go. Don’t hesitate to have fun with these cards, and be creative with the wording. Here are a few ideas:

  • “Our love story is not on hold, but our wedding date is. Can’t wait to celebrate with you!”
  • “We have made the extremely difficult decision to postpone our wedding, but we are looking forward to setting a new date soon.”
  • “Hope you can be part of our plan B! Join us for our new wedding date on month day, year.”
  • “There’s been a change in plans, but no change in our commitment to each other!”

Find more wording ideas and tips for communicating about a wedding postponement in this article from the Knot.

Be aware that rescheduling a wedding may bring up some uncomfortable situations.

Postponing and rescheduling a wedding is not a pleasant situation. Unfortunately, it can also bring up other uncomfortable situations. When rescheduling your wedding date, prepare yourself for two common scenarios. Unfortunately, guests that were able to come to your first wedding date may not be able to come to your new wedding date.

You may also have to trim your guest list for your new wedding date, either due to capacity restrictions or other circumstances. While it’s not pleasant, you can use these tips for trimming your guest list.  

Keep a list of wedding vendors so you can contact them promptly.

Organization is the key to smooth and less-stress wedding planning. In the case of postponing and rescheduling a wedding, it’s necessary. (You can also hire a wedding planner to help you through the process.)

If you’re working through it on your own, keep an accurate list of vendors’ contact information so you can easily contact them. It’s also essential to have a close relationship with your wedding venue so you can discuss future availability.

Be ready to tackle deadlines—and be flexible.

Every couple’s situation is different. If you decide to keep your wedding plans the same but on a different date, be ready to refocus your efforts and tackle your wedding planning checklist. The second option is to get married and plan a “wedding reception only” for a later date. (Use the tips for planning a wonderful “wedding reception only” if you choose the latter option.) Both options are wonderful ways to celebrate your love, and good solutions if you have for rescheduling a wedding.

elegant lighted globe centerpieces

Adults-Only Wedding? 6 Essential Wedding Planning Tips and Ideas

Milwaukee couples, we know that planning an adults-only wedding can be very simple—and very hard. There are so many pros and cons of a wedding sans kids, and so many questions from potential guests. On one hand, an adults-only wedding can be a great party with your friends and family without any worry about kids. Plus, an adults-only wedding is an easy way to trim your wedding guest list when you want to hold a smaller wedding or your budget is tight. An adults-only wedding also lends itself to more formal wedding themes and ideas. On the flip side, an adults-only wedding can be offensive to some—especially friends or family members who might be upset that they have to hire a babysitter.

There’s a lot to consider. When an adults-only wedding is right for you, it’s full speed ahead with wedding planning—and these tips for a wonderfully grown-up wedding ceremony and reception.  

Choose your invitation wording carefully.

One of the trickiest parts of planning an adults-only wedding is making it clear that only adults are invited. Couples should never use the terms “no kids,” which is considered a major faux pas, on their invitations. Instead, use some of these adults-only wedding invite phrases when you finalize invite wording.

Have an answer ready for questions about your adults-only wedding.

The decision to hold an adults-only wedding is going to come with questions from guests. You can answer these questions on your wedding website (use this guide for creating a complete wedding website) or social media site. When you get questions, be direct and clear about your wishes. It’s also a good idea to reach out to friends and family affected by your decision. While you may have some good conversations, don’t be offended if some guests choose not to attend the wedding.

Don’t make exceptions to your adults only rule.

When you decide to hold adults-only wedding, you have to stick to it. Don’t make exceptions for some guests and not others, which can stir up hard feelings. (It is normal to allow children in the wedding party to attend the wedding reception.) If you want to accommodate the parents on your guest list, you can provide a room with experienced babysitters near the wedding.

Always tour your wedding venue before signing on the bottom line.

This wedding planning tip is for any couple, but couples hosting an adults-only wedding should add a few more items to their wedding venue tour checklist. First of all, if you are hosting a special sampling bar, it’s important to look for a wonderful cocktail area. Secondly, if you are providing a room with childcare, make sure to look for an adequate space.

Consider adding an ale or wine sampling bar.

There are so many options for wedding entertainment, but a favorite for adults-only wedding is an ale or wine sampling bar. This adults-only wedding idea is also a great way to bring a local flavor to your wedding (check out these other ideas for adding a local flavor to your wedding), because you can offer drinks from local wineries or breweries. For a special twist, you can also offer a cocktail with a custom recipe.

Don’t be afraid to ask for wedding planning assistance.

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by wedding planning! If you need help navigating through planning a wedding sans kids, look for a local wedding planner or a wedding venue with experienced event planners that can help you pull it all together. It can be incredibly helpful a wedding planner who knows local wedding vendors that can make your vision of an adults-only wedding a reality.

bride and groom at wedding reception planned in short time

Milwaukee Couples: How to Plan an Amazing Wedding in 3 Months

There are so many reasons why Milwaukee couples need to plan a wedding in 3 months. They want to tie the knot before deployment. Local Health Department regulations have raised wedding venue capacity (ahem, couples wedding planning during COVID-19). They want to schedule a wedding reception only as soon as they can after a more intimate wedding ceremony. Some couples just want to get married and don’t want to wait.

However, the reason doesn’t matter now. You need to plan a wedding in 3 months (or less)! But don’t stress. These steps, lists, and tips are here to help you get started—and finished—planning the wedding of your dreams in Milwaukee.

Where to Start Planning Your Wedding

Sit down with your fiancé and answer key questions.

With a tight wedding planning timeline, this important first step needs to happen right away. Sit down with your fiancé and discuss some key questions:

  • Do we have a wedding date in mind?
  • What is our style (i.e. elegant, rustic, casual, etc.)?
  • What is our wedding budget? How are we going to pay for it?
  • Is there anyone who has expressed interest in helping out with our big day (financially or with their time)?
  • Do we want a big or small wedding?
  • Who do we want in our wedding party?
  • Do we want to hire a wedding planner? (Professional tip: some Milwaukee wedding venues have wedding planners on staff that are familiar with the site and local wedding vendors.)
  • Is there anything we really want at our wedding? (You’d be surprised at the answers that can come from asking this wedding planning question!)

Get organized.

It’s easy to just jump in and start making calls and sending emails—especially when you feel like you are on a time crunch! Before you get too far, take a step back and get organized. This simple step keeps you on track and ensures that you don’t miss a single step. You don’t want to realize that you didn’t get a key vendor at the last minute.

The good news is this step doesn’t have to take long at all. You can do so with a wedding binder with wedding planning checklists, budget checklists, and a folder for receipts or a helpful wedding planning app. A good wedding planning system helps you track deadlines and expenses.

Contact wedding venues and set a date.

These two wedding planning steps are listed together because they are interchangeable. Some couples set a date and contact wedding venues to see what sites are available on the date. Other couples contact wedding venues to see what dates are available.

If you need any help with these steps, use these tips for choosing the perfect wedding date and these wedding venue questions. The latter is a list of questions you should ask every wedding venue so you can determine which venue is right for you. Once you’ve narrowed down the list of potential wedding venues, schedule a tour so you can see every space. (This wedding venue tour checklist is very helpful for tours.)

The last step of the process is to sign the contract with the wedding venue and confirm your wedding venue. You now have one of the biggest wedding planning details finalized, and are well on your way to planning a wedding in 3 months.

Contact wedding caterers.

Some wedding venues have an in-house caterer, while others have you choose from a list of local caterers. Other wedding venues have an open vendor policy.

If your wedding venue is one of the last two, you should start contacting wedding caterers as soon as possible. This list of Milwaukee wedding caterers can help, as can this list of wedding caterer questions you need to ask as you contact them. Make sure you have a clear understanding of their pricing, cancellation policy, and deadlines.

Place dress and tux orders.

Since you’re in a time crunch, visit your wedding attire stores and rental companies as soon as you have your wedding venue confirmed. By this time, you should know if you need formal attire or are planning a semi-formal or casual event. This is also the time to confirm your wedding party so you can include them in your visits. Make sure you ask if your dress and tuxes can be in before your wedding date; avoid attire that is shipped in right before your wedding date just in case there are delays in shipping.

Start working down the list of vendors.

Now it’s time to start working down your wedding planning checklist and contacting vendors. You can ask your wedding venue staff for recommendations of local vendors or search online for local professionals. As you contact them, be careful about hiring vendors without a business address, experience, good reviews, or testimonials. Here is a list of vendors to contact:

  • Ceremony Musicians & Officiant
  • Entertainment (band or DJ)
  • Florist (for bouquets, centerpieces, boutonnieres, etc.)
  • Makeup & Styling Professionals
  • Photographer & Videographer
  • Bakery (if the caterer doesn’t provide the cake or wedding dessert)
  • Limo/Cars/Transportation

Start a wedding website and mail invites.

Once you’ve nailed down all the big details, it’s time to go public! You can create a wedding website and order invites as soon as you’ve confirmed the venue and set a schedule for the day. (Typically, this is done after you’ve confirmed the venue, caterer, and entertainment.) This guide to creating an excellent wedding website gives you a list of details to include on social media or on a website.

From there, it’s time to look into getting a marriage license and confirm details with all your vendors. You’ll also need to plan your rehearsal dinner and honeymoon. While the wedding planning process may seem long, keep your eye on the prize: a wonderful marriage and wedding day.

Wedding Planning Tips

  • Consider choosing a weekday or less popular day for your wedding (i.e. Thursday, Friday, Sunday, etc.) You have a better chance of finding an available wedding venue and wedding vendors on short notice.
  • If you divide up the items on your wedding planning checklist, give your friend or family members set deadlines to ensure that every item is completed.
  • Always let wedding venues know if you need the space for the wedding ceremony and reception. Look for venues with multiple spaces so guests don’t need to wait too long for take-down and set-up between the ceremony and reception.
  • If shipping is a concern, purchase wedding attire straight off the rack so you don’t have to wait. Contact seamstresses right away if alterations are needed.
  • Consider choosing a Milwaukee wedding venue with an event planner on staff. These planners know the venue intimately and are familiar with local vendors, making planning smooth and easy when you’re wedding planning in a hurry.
bride above a beautiful wedding reception

How to Plan an Amazing “Wedding Reception Only”

This guide is for couples who want a small wedding ceremony and are planning a “wedding reception only.” While the “only” part may make the planning sound easier, it’s still an overwhelming wedding planning task (but it doesn’t have to be!) We’ve broken down the task of planning a wedding reception only into a few easy steps, plus provided a few checklists and apps that keep you on track.

Where to Start Planning a Wedding Reception Only

It doesn’t matter why you decided to plan a wedding reception only or where your wedding ceremony was (though plan on answering a LOT of questions about it at the reception). The steps for planning a wedding reception only are the same, though they can get mixed around. (Except for the first step!)

Talk with your fiancé.

The first step of planning a wedding reception only is to have a conversation with your fiancé. Discuss with your fiancé key details, such as the location, wedding style, wedding budget, size of wedding reception, and other key wedding details. (Here is a complete list of questions to ask before planning your wedding reception.) This discussion is your chance to have an honest talk about your finances and anything else you or your fiancé really want at the wedding.

Choose your wedding date and venue.

The next steps are to set a wedding date and choose a wedding venue—and these steps are totally interchangeable! Some couples have their heart set on a wedding date and make a list of wedding venues that are available (plus fit their estimated guest count and budget) on their wedding date. Other couples contact their favorite wedding venues and ask what dates are open, then choose one of the available dates. The exact sequence is up to you; if you’re stuck, here is a complete guide for choosing the best wedding venue and selecting the right wedding date.

Set a schedule.

Do you want a wedding reception with a cocktail hour and dinner? Or a dance only? The answer to these questions can help you set a schedule for your wedding reception, which you can relay to your wedding vendors when you hire them. (Professional tip: always leave plenty of time for photos. Your wedding photographer can give you an exact estimate of the amount of time needed.) Typically, the wedding reception schedule is something like this: cocktail hour, meal, dance (with cutting of cake). (Click here for a more detailed breakdown of the wedding reception order of events.)

Hire the best vendors and entertainment.

The next step is to start hiring vendors and entertainment. Typically, this list includes a caterer, photographer, videographer (optional), entertainment (i.e. DJ, band, DIY), bakery (for cake), florist (if applicable), and reception décor vendor. Some couples might also need to hire staff (i.e. bartender, coat check, etc.) if staffing is not provided by the wedding venue. (Use this guide to hire the best wedding vendors for your big day.) If this checklist feels overwhelming, it’s okay to hire a wedding planner. Some wedding venues even have planners on staff, which is a big help because they are already familiar with the venue and local vendors.

Wedding Reception Only Tips

  • Organize, organize, organize! Make a binder with all your paperwork (i.e. contracts, receipts, wedding planning checklist, etc.) or establish an electronic storage system. You can also use a wedding planning app to stay on top of deadlines and details.
  • Be creative about telling your story, including your wedding ceremony, at the wedding reception. There are so many options, such as a video or photo board.
  • Plan on wording your wedding invites just a bit differently than a ceremony plus reception invitation. (Use these tips for wedding reception only invite wording.)
  • Set up a wedding website with helpful information for your guests, such as the cost of parking, directions to the venue, etc. (Here is a complete list of items you should include in your wedding website.)
  • Spice up your wedding entertainment with table trivia, lighting, photo booth, dance floor games, or one of these other fun wedding entertainment ideas for an enjoyable evening.

Wedding Planning Apps & Checklists

Wedding Planning Checklist

Best Wedding Planning Apps/Websites

Wedding Budget Worksheet

Wedding Budget Tips and Tricks

outdoor picture of newlyweds at Milwaukee wedding venue

Start Planning an Amazing Summer Wedding in Milwaukee

A summer wedding in Milwaukee is a beautiful occasion. Even when it’s hot, a summer Milwaukee wedding is an amazing chance to enjoy the outdoors and even bring the outdoors in. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to plan a summer wedding Milwaukee, especially with this step-by-step guide (and a few tips unique to the Brew City!)

How to Plan a Summer Wedding in Milwaukee

It’s important to remember that everyone’s path to a summer wedding in Milwaukee is different. Some of these steps can be switched around, but they all lead to a beautiful summer wedding in Milwaukee.

Choose a date.

Your wedding date is an important part of planning a summer wedding in Milwaukee, but it doesn’t have to be the first step. Couples can select a date and contact the venue and vendors to see if they are available, or contact venues and vendors to see what dates they are available. (If you choose the latter, select a month or season so you have a shorter list of dates.)

If you decide to choose your date first, you can select a summer date based on:

  • The day you met (or another special date)
  • A special day for your family (i.e. parent’s or grandparent’s anniversary, birthday)
  • Date that works with your professional calendar

If the date you choose is taken, remember that you can always choose a Friday, Sunday, or another weekday near your favorite date. (Make sure you send out ‘save the dates’ so your guests get the date on their calendar.)

Select the perfect Milwaukee wedding venue.

The wedding venue is one of the most significant parts of the wedding. It’s the backdrop for almost every part of the wedding (especially if you are searching for a ceremony and reception venue). A wedding venue also plays a huge role in guest comfort—hopefully providing convenient parking, a comfortable setting (in summer, that means cool), and plenty of space for mingling and celebrating.

To find the perfect venue for your summer wedding in Milwaukee, start by deciding your style (elegant, modern, etc.), setting a budget, and making a rough estimate of your guest count. These decisions can be made by talking with your fiancé (plus you can discuss these big wedding details). Then, make a list of wedding venues that fit your criteria and contact wedding venues with a list of venue questions. Once your list of venues is narrowed, set up a in-person tour to see each venue.

Hire a wedding planner.

The next step is contact wedding vendors. This can be done by the couple or by a wedding planner. Fortunately, Milwaukee is full of wonderful wedding planners and wedding venues with on-staff event planners. Both options are a good choice for couples who want help from a professional who can tie all the details together.

If you want to tackle the wedding planning yourself, use these tips for choosing the best wedding vendors in Milwaukee. Some wedding venues require couples to use wedding vendors, while others have an open vendor policy that allows couples to hire and bring in vendors of their choice.

Summer Wedding Tips

Make sure your guests have plenty of ways to cool down.

Guest comfort should be one of your top priorities when planning a summer wedding in Milwaukee. Put out plenty of cool water, fans, and other supplies to cool down guests. If you’re planning an indoor wedding reception, choose a venue with air conditioning and make sure the walk from the parking lot to the venue is short. (And make sure there is parking!)

Make sure you leave time in the schedule to get beautiful pictures.

Milwaukee is full of amazing spots for wedding pictures. Leave enough time in your wedding day schedule for getting some memorable shots, and look for a wedding venue with beautiful settings for photo ops.

Stay cool.

While you want to look glamorous, be careful not to overdress. Choose light and cool wedding attire so you don’t have a meltdown—and make sure you take time to take a break and cool off during the day.

Plan for a light menu, but don’t plan too light.

It’s normal to plan for a lighter meal with fresh seasonal tastes, but make sure you don’t leave guests hungry.

Pack for emergencies.

A summer wedding in Milwaukee can throw a few curve balls your way, so make sure you pack an emergency kit for those “what ifs.” Your kit should contain a stain remover, plenty of deodorant, small sewing kit, and few other much-needed wedding day emergency kit supplies.

couple cutting cake on wedding date

12 BIG Milwaukee Wedding Budget Tips for Trimming and Tracking

A wedding budget is an integral part of planning a Milwaukee wedding—but it doesn’t have to be a complicated part! These wedding budgets tips are just the ticket for any Milwaukee couple serious about setting, trimming, and tracking their wedding costs.

Setting a Wedding Budget

Talk with your fiancé.

The first step of setting a wedding budget—a chat with your fiancé!—may surprise you, but it’s one of the most important parts of wedding planning. Your discussion can focus on the wedding budget or be an opportunity to ask key wedding planning questions (including the budget). Either way, you need to discuss:

  • how much you have available for the wedding,
  • how you are planning to pay for it,
  • if there are any friends or family that have expressed an interest in helping financially,
  • your current finances (i.e. savings, credit card debt, student loans, etc.)

This is your chance to discuss your finances! Once you are on the same page about the total wedding budget, it’s time to choose a wedding budget checklist or wedding planning app that you can use to divvy up your budget into columns where the funds are needed. (More than 40% of your budget should be allocated for the venue, food, and other hospitality.)

Have key discussions with family members.

If any friends or family members have offered to help financially, talk to them about their gift before you start wedding planning. Your discussion should include the specific amount of the gift (not just “food” or “wedding favors”) so there are no misunderstandings later about the gift (and to keep your wedding budget on track).

Use a cost per guests as a guide.

Once you have set a total wedding budget (including friends and family gifts), determine the cost-per-guest. You can do this by adding together your estimated venue, caterer, and entertainment costs. (You can get an estimate of charges by contacting a potential wedding venue.) Once you have an estimated cost-per-guest, multiply that number by your estimated guest count. The estimated cost-per-guest helps you settle on a guest count that fits within your total hospitality budget (i.e. venue, entertainment, food). Remember, there are going to be other costs, such as your attire and wedding favors, so your total hospitality budget should be less than your total wedding budget.

Ways to Trim Your Wedding Budget

Choose a wedding venue that’s stunning.

This may sound like an odd way to keep wedding costs down. Simply, a stunning wedding venue can keep décor costs down because it doesn’t need extensive lighting and wedding décor. These wedding venues may be within budget, so don’t count a venue out until you’ve inquired about the price.

Trim your guest list.

This wedding budget tip seems obvious, but does come with a caveat. If you need to trim your wedding budget, consider trimming your guest list. (Use these tips for a less stressful guest list trim.) The caveat is that some wedding vendors offer discounts for larger guest counts. In these cases, it may make sense to add a few more guests to the list. (Use these tips for crafting the perfect guest list for your Milwaukee wedding.)

Hold your wedding on an “off day.”

Wedding venues and vendors often give discounts for non-weekend days and during months that aren’t popular with couples. Basically, it’s often less expensive to hold your wedding from Monday to Thursday, or in a month like January or August. You can get an estimate by contacting the venue with potential dates and few key wedding venue questions.

Consider a wedding venue with an open vendor policy.

Some wedding venues require couples to use certain catering and photography/videography services, while other venues allow couples to bring in vendors of their choice (an “open vendor policy“). The latter policy gives couples the chance to bring in favorite vendors and to choose a vendor that fits within their wedding budget.

Choose in-season flowers.

Bouquets and floral arrangement costs can add up quickly—especially if those flowers are considered off-season. For example, lilies are typically more expensive in early spring than during summer. Often, a simple change to in-season flowers can trim the price tag, while still creating an absolutely beautiful effect.

Select a less-expensive dinner service.

Another easy way to trim costs from a Milwaukee wedding is to change to a less-expensive dinner service. There are typically three kinds of dinner service: sit-down, buffet, and food stations. The sit-down option is usually the most expensive, and a change to a buffet or other food service can lessen wedding costs.

Be smart about wedding favors.

Wedding favors are a sweet gift from couples to guests, but the cost-per-item can quickly add up. If you need to trim the budget, consider a less expensive wedding favor or simply order less. The latter can be an easy way to cut costs and keep you from having to find a home for extra favors.

Tips for Tracking Your Wedding Budget

Set up a solid tracking system.

Just like wedding planning, a wedding budget is a marathon and not a sprint. It’s important to set up a system that not only sets the budget but tracks it before and after the wedding day. Couples who prefer paper can use a wedding budget worksheet and a folder or binder to keep receipts. Another option is to use an awesome wedding planning app that you can enter the budget and expenses in. Either way, it’s important to continually add expenses as you plan.

Ask for final quotes before your big day.

Wedding expenses add up very quickly. It can be easy to get an unpleasant surprise—a huge bill or additional fee—after your wedding day. Whenever possible, choose a wedding venue or vendor who can give you a final quote with all your costs before your wedding. This simple step makes it easy to cut expenses so you can stay within budget and still enjoy the Milwaukee wedding of your dreams.

couple at 1451 Renaissance Place after wedding planning during covid19

6 BIG Lessons Learned from Wedding Planning During COVID-19

Wedding planning during COVID-19 in 2020 was crazy. Stressful. Unforgettable. Honestly, there really isn’t a word in the English language to describe this year of wedding planning in Milwaukee.

While we can’t put words to this year, we can look back and review some of the lessons learned from wedding planning during a pandemic. Many of these wedding planning lessons are lasting, and are going to be around long after the pandemic is over and we can all be together again.

Lesson #1: Communicating with guests is really, REALLY important.

While solid communication channels have always been a big deal, we all learned they are REALLY important while wedding planning during COVID-19. Wedding websites, texts, and social media have all become vital parts of letting guests know about precautions, postponements, and other important details during the pandemic.

Takeaway: Don’t plan a wedding without setting up a wedding website or social media site where you can keep your guests updated and in-the-know about addresses, parking, and schedules. (Use this wedding website guide to make sure you create an awesome communication tool.)

Lesson #2: Be flexible.

This year has been a test of couples’ flexibility. The pandemic has been an evolving situation for wedding planners with ever-changing capacity limits and gathering guidelines. Couples have had to stay abreast of the situation and adapt plans for their big day—sometimes several times!

Takeaway: Couples need to flexible and able to adapt their celebration as situations change. You can do this by knowing there are always “bumps in the road” and preparing for any situations that may arise as you plan.

Lesson #3: Organization is key.

Organization is an essential part of wedding planning, which is why many couples opt to hire a wedding planner. In 2020, the need for organization during wedding planning was off the charts, as couples had to keep careful records so they could easily contact vendors and adjust their plans.

Takeaway: We can’t even stress how important organization is when wedding planning. Fortunately, these wedding planning apps and checklist are available for easier wedding planning, as are these tips for organized wedding planning.

Lesson #4: De-stressing while wedding planning is not just necessary. It’s vital.

Stressful isn’t a strong enough word for wedding planning during COVID-19. This year has been full of twists and turns that were incredibly stressful for couples planning their big day. It became vital for couples to relax and de-stress, even if the ways of wedding de-stressing during COVID-19 were different than in the past.

Takeaway: De-stressing is a necessary part of wedding planning, and a chance for couples to “get away”—even for a few minutes when trying to juggle all the details of wedding planning. When you need a break, select one of these ways to de-stress in Milwaukee or a safer alternative for de-stressing during the pandemic.

Lesson #5: A good team behind you is a valuable asset when planning a wedding.

2020 may have revolved around social distancing and staying apart, but this year has demonstrated the true value of having a good team on board for wedding planning. Couples have had to lean on their wedding planners, wedding venue staff, caterers, photographers, videographers, and entertainers as they rescheduled and adjusted their plans.

Takeaway: Don’t take the job of choosing the right wedding venue and hiring wedding vendors for your big day lightly. Use this guide for choosing the best wedding vendors. Always make sure you choose a wedding venue with a supportive staff who communicates promptly and is an excellent resource as you plan.

Lesson #6: Keep your eye on the prize.

This last lesson of wedding planning during COVID-19 has been a hard one, but a significant one. With so much uncertainty, couples have to had to mourn the loss of their 2020 wedding (if they chose to postpone) and look to a new—and possibly different—future wedding date.

Takeaway: It’s vital to remember that the prize is a wonderful wedding day and marriage. While situations may change and evolve, keep your eye on these goals.

winter wedding venue feature wall with beads and uplighting

7 Tips for Planning a Wonderful Winter Wedding in Milwaukee

A winter wedding in Milwaukee is an opportunity—a beautiful one! Our cold Milwaukee winters provide a wonderful opportunity for couples to plan a memorable event with a stunning seasonal décor and gorgeous once-a-year details. (Plus, this “off-season” is a great time to book beautiful Milwaukee venues and vendors!)

So where do you start planning an extraordinary winter wedding in Milwaukee? You can start with this list of tips that help you make the winter wedding of your dreams a reality.

Wedding Planning Tips

Think about your favorite parts of winter.

The first step of planning a beautiful winter wedding is to brainstorm with your fiancé. Think about what you love most about winter, such as a favorite holiday play, seasonal dish, or beautiful winter scene. If you want to tie it all together, select a winter wedding theme and make it your own.

Choose the perfect date for a winter wedding.

Generally, winter weddings span from December to February. Narrowing down your perfect wedding date depends on a number of options; you can use our guide for choosing the right date for your Milwaukee wedding. In addition to the typical factors, there are a number of other factors that play into choosing the right date for a winter wedding. If you want snow in your winter wedding photos, there is typically a better chance for snow in January or February. Another way to choose a winter wedding date is to select a date on or around your favorite winter holiday, such as Christmas, New Year’s, or Valentine’s Day.

Ask potential venues about parking.

Once you’ve chosen a wedding date or month, don’t forget to ask your Milwaukee wedding venue about parking. It’s particularly important during winter when guests don’t want to tromp a long way in the cold and snow. Besides parking, make sure you ask wedding venues these other wedding venue questions.

Consider your guests’ comfort.

It’s no secret that Wisconsin winters can be incredibly cold, which is why you should start looking for ways to warm your guests up as you plan. Fortunately, there are many ways to warm guests at a winter wedding, such as a cozy fire and warm drinks.

Don’t forget about your wedding party’s comfort.

Beautiful pictures in the snow or at a scenic Milwaukee landmark are one of the most wonderful perks of a winter wedding. When planning your wedding day, dress up your pictures—and keep your wedding party cozy—with soft blankets and shags for you and your wedding party.

Look for beautiful spots for wonderful winter pictures.

Milwaukee is full of beautiful spots for wedding pictures, plus there are always photo opportunities at your wedding venue. As you tour wedding venues, look for perfect locations for photo opportunities—both indoor and outdoor. You can also use lighting and décor to create breath-taking scenes perfect for a picture.

Be festive with winter wedding favors.

There are so many wonderful ideas for winter wedding favors. Mittens and blankets are an amazing way for couples to keep their guests warm. Couples can also say, “cheers!” with wines, ales, and warm drink packets (cider, cocoa, coffee, etc.) If you are planning a holiday wedding, it’s wonderful to give guests ornaments and holiday treats. A candle with a seasonal scent makes guests feel like every day is a winter wedding, as will any of these winter wedding favor ideas.

Winter Wedding Theme Ideas

  1. Winter Wonderland
  2. Holiday Wedding
  3. Nutcracker
  4. Cozy Cabin
  5. Traditional Holiday
  6. New Year’s Ball
  7. White Winter
  8. Modern Winter Wedding
  9. Silver and Gold
  10. Romantic Winter Night
  11. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
  12. Holiday Feast