A wedding involved travel between Milwaukee and New Orleans, but not in the typical direction.
The Racing Sausages weren’t the only ones wearing athletic shoes at Mel Buchanan and Lance Dickman’s 2015 wedding. For the Memorial Day weekend reception, the bride swapped her Rebecca Minkoff shoes for faded Converse kicks, the perfect complement to her silk J.Crew A-line (with pockets!) on a day that celebrated the city as much as it did the fun-loving couple. This was their destination wedding, and the destination was not Vegas or the Gulf Coast or a Caribbean isle, but Milwaukee.
“We live in New Orleans, which is a place with a lot of destination weddings, but this was central to all our family,” says Buchanan, a design curator from Indiana, who worked at the Milwaukee Art Museum when she met her husband-to-be, an architect and a Wausau-area native.
“And it was affordable,” Buchanan continues. “You can have a really spectacular wedding doing cultural things in Milwaukee.”
For the secular couple, the big day was anchored by a sunset cruise on Milwaukee Boat Line’s Voyageur, a beautifully sloping, massive steel vessel that felt as reverent as a church. It was also a nod to a favorite summer tradition of cruising the Milwaukee River with good friends. They floated past the Third Ward, beneath the Hoan Bridge and past the industrial skyline, and took in the Milwaukee Art Museum from the breakwater.
“You gather everyone that means the most in the world to you, and you’re literally stuck together for three hours eating, drinking and dancing to great music,” Buchanan says. “The rest kind of got added on from there.”
The “rest” included starting the rainy day at the South Shore Pavilion with an indoor ceremony performed by Judge Derek Mosley, beer from Brenner Brewing Co., and the whimsical oompahs of the Tom Brusky Polka band (the rain only added to the background setting for Little Giant Photography).
The pavilion is where two Racing Sausages made their appearance, and the Milwaukee-themed fun played on: Guests noshed on fare by Ball ’N Biscuit, the Fast Foodie truck and Eat Cake!, and gathered for an impromptu after-party at the Swingin’ Door Exchange, Saloon and Eatery.
Perhaps the best part of a destination wedding is making a weekend of it, so the couple’s website highlighted favorite hot spots from their dating days. Like that first snowy December date spent scoping out gingerbread houses at the Milwaukee Public Market, or sneaking into the Grain Exchange, or wandering through Downtown Books and Red Elephant Chocolate. They also organized a pre-wedding day historical walking tour of Brady Street for guests.
“It might be a little different than picking an exotic location,” Buchanan says, “but for us, Milwaukee still feels like home.”