How to Plan a Wedding in Milwaukee: The Ultimate Guide

The celebration starts now! Here’s where to get started.

How to Pick a Wedding Venue

By Jenna Kashou

CONGRATULATIONS! You’re engaged. Let the planning begin! Securing a venue is among the first things you’ll want to do.

Ann Birkinbine, private events coordinator at Turner Hall Ballroom, offers some fabulous advice that will help you make the right decision.

Before you start your search, figure out your budget and make a preliminary guest list so that you have a rough number of attendees.
What vibe are you going for? Whether it’s modern, vintage, traditional or rustic, knowing this will help guide your decision about a venue.
Gather pricing information before scheduling visits. This will help you narrow the field and will save you time in the long run.
Choose a season, but don’t get too set on a date. Often, the availability of a venue will dictate your date.
Will you be hosting your ceremony and reception in the same location? If so, you’ll probably want a venue that offers two distinct areas.
With regard to the meal, do you prefer plated, buffet or stations? Consider whether the venue layout will work for your preferred dinner style.
Will a large contingent of guests be coming from out of town? In that case, a venue in close proximity to hotels is ideal.
Does the venue host more than one event per day? It’s good to know that in advance.
Does the venue offer a coordinator for the day of the event? If not, plan on hiring someone; you’ll definitely need it.

8 Tips for Writing Your Own Wedding Vows

By Jaylyn Fahey

Photo by McNeil Photography

Newlyweds Ginny Robbins and Derek Olson – she’s originally from Massachusetts, and he comes from a clan of Harley-riding Wisconsinites – knew they wanted to personalize the vows for their intimate October wedding. Ginny says she was full of adrenaline while reading them aloud. “It was freezing out, but I was still sweating!” Rehearsing at home helped Derek overcome his nerves, but he says he “still choked up right at the end on ‘I love you,’ which was apparently the cutest thing.”

Here are their tips:

1. Write down some of your favorite stories about your significant other.

2. Think about other wedding ceremonies you have attended. Take notes on what you liked.

3. If you’re stuck, look for inspiration online.

4. Though this may be a romantic moment, humor has a place too.

5. Share your rough draft with your partner. You are in this together, so work with each other.

6. Rehearse. This will help with pacing and calm your nerves.

7. Do your best to speak from the heart

8. Don’t stress! Vows are not the most important part of the day. No matter how beautifully crafted they are, your vows aren’t going to make or break your marriage.

Fun Fact: Quaker Weddings in Wisconsin

By Taylor Pate

You don’t have to be a Quaker to have a “Quaker wedding.”

Wisconsin is one of only a handful of states that honors self-uniting marriages – those conducted without the presence of a third-party officiant. Rather than leaving their unification in the hands of a pastor, rabbi or some stranger, friends and family can bear witness to a couple’s union and even serve as witnesses. This gives the couple complete agency over the marriage ceremony, which some prefer.

Self-uniting marriages date back to the 1600s, when Quaker couples were sometimes shamed for “living in sin” because their marriages were unregistered by law.

Some state officials may ask for proof of membership within a denomination that doesn’t have an officiant. Stefan Dostanic of the Milwaukee County Clerk’s office promises that Cream City couples aren’t hassled, though. “It’s in the statutes, and if someone comes in and says that they want to do it, then we will honor it.”

12-Month Wedding Planning Checklist

By Lindsey Anderson

Use this wedding-planner-approved timeline to ensure that you and your sweetie are able to get hitched without a hitch.

12 Months

• Set your budget.
• Book a venue.
• Organize your guest list.

8 Months

• Hire a photographer/videographer.
• Choose a caterer.
• Find a wedding planner (if you want one).

6 Months

• Order your cake.
• Find a florist.
• Select a band or DJ.

4 Months

• Decide what your bridesmaids and groomsmen will wear.
• Buy wedding rings.
• Send out save-the-dates.

2 Months

• Order invitations and send them out.
• Organize transportation to and from the venue.
• Book a makeup artist and stylist.

1 Month

• Apply for a marriage license.
• Confirm details with your vendors.
• Schedule your final fittings.

1 Week

• Finalize the seating chart.
• Prepare gifts for the bridal party.
• Send a final head count to your caterer.

The Best Bridal Trends of 2019

By Lindsey Anderson

photo by Angelo Sgambati



1) Caped crusaders

You’ll feel like a superhero on your wedding day when you walk down the aisle in this caped number courtesy of Tadashi Shoji.



2) Minimalist to the Max

Savannah Miller proves that a simple white dress can steal the show.

photo by Marijke Aerden



3) In Bloom

Flowers aren’t just for bouquets anymore. They’re also sprouting on designer gowns, like this one by Viktor & Rolf.



4) Color Guard

Dresses in soft pastel shades, like this baby blue one by Leanne Marshall, have brought a welcome pop of color to the runways.

photo by Yudi Ela



5) Suit Yourself

Brides are eschewing long dresses for pants and jumpsuits. And why not, when they look as lovely as this Alexandra Grecco one-piece?

All photos courtesy of respective designers

How to Choose a Sparkling Wine

By Ann Christenson

Toast your union with the best bubbles in town, without breaking the bank.
Photo by Adam Ryan Morris

Fruity Finesse From Thief Wine:
Famille Moutard NV Blanc de Blancs Brut, France ($20)
This 100-percent Chardonnay made in the Champagne method features creamy lemon curd and Golden Delicious apple flavors.

Subtle Sweetness From Ray’s Wine & Spirits:
Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray Pétillant Demi-Sec, Loire Valley, France ($23)
Fruity, with mild acidity and a dry-sweet, crisp finish. Incredibly versatile in a meal, whether as an aperitif or digestif.

A Touch of Pink From Thief Wine:
Langlois NV Cremant de Loire, Loire Valley, France ($19)
A brut rosé of 100 percent Cabernet Franc is an exemplar for the varietal: dry, with graphite minerality and raspberry and violet flavors.

Best Buy From Ray’s Wine & Spirits:
Roederer Estate Brut, Anderson Valley, California ($22)
Made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this sparkling wine competes with most entry-level Champagnes at a lower price point.

NEED WINE HELP? Certified sommeliers Phil Bilodeau (of Thief Wine) and Nate Norfolk (of Ray’s Wine & Spirits) are ace resources.

How to Disaster-Proof Your Wedding

By Jenna Kashou

Hopefully, everything will go perfectly on your big day. But it’s always good to be prepared, just in case. Here are some pro tips, from Janelle Meyer-Brown, owner of événement planning.

Q: What is the most common wedding day blunder you see?

JMB: I would have to say the guests or wedding party (bride and groom included) drinking too much. Weather is another common disaster that is hard to control. Events also don’t run smoothly if you don’t use experienced vendors. I often see brides taking on too much, or allowing their family members to handle tasks that are best left to professionals.

Q: How can guests or wedding party members help support the bride when things go wrong?

JMB: It’s most helpful if everyone close to the bride and groom stays calm to not attract more attention or create drama. Keep the bride and groom enjoying the day on the dance floor and enlist someone to distract them from any problematic situation while you move on to plan B.

Q: What are your top tips for keeping things running smoothly?

JMB: Make a plan in advance as to who to go to for assistance in cutting off a family member or friend who’s on the edge of having too much to drink. Make sure your bartenders also know when to cut people off. Having a contingency plan for weather for outdoor events in Wisconsin is a must! And always hire good vendors. They will ensure you can actually enjoy your special day, even if disasters arise.

“Engaged” appears in Milwaukee Weddings 2019.

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