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40 serious and silly ways to go full Milwaukee on your big day.

General Prep

Bella Notte at Past Basket. Photo courtesy of Past Basket

Register at Past Basket

Creating a registry is one of the 100 seemingly overwhelming tasks you will accomplish when putting together the biggest party of your life. But it’s generally a fun endeavor with a little guidance. Enter the Past Basket (383 W. Brown Deer Rd.), which has been helping couples do just this for 15 years. Pro tip: The Bella Notte linens are modern, cozy, and anything but boring.

Have Afternoon Tea with Your Support System at the Pfister

Maybe it’s your girlfriends, your sister or your mom. Whoever you bring with you, an afternoon sipping tea is a wonderful way to brainstorm or, perhaps, calm your nerves. thepfisterhotel.com

Relax with a Mother-Daughter Day

After you have that cuppa tea, transport to your happy place via a massage at Invivo Wellness (2060 N. Humboldt Ave.) or Neroli Salon & Spa (327 E. St. Paul Ave.). Then prep those piggies with an indulgent manicure and pedicure at Nail Bar Milwaukee (2580 N. Downer Ave.).

Photo by June & Jae, courtesy of Mint & Lovely

Get Crafty

The ladies of Mint & Lovely aren’t just stationery designers. They also host workshops for the crafting-inclined to hone their skills in many ways (flowers, calligraphy and more) that can add a little sparkle to your tablescape. Also on many workshop agendas: cocktails. mintandlovely.com


Paper Needs

Instead of a Guest Book, Have Guests Sign a Milwaukee Map

Not just any map. We’re talking about a color-block map of the city, your ‘burb, or your ‘hood designed by local painter/illustrator James Steeno. Pick up a large one with extra room around the edges and have your guests sign away. Post-party, frame it, hang it and gaze at the the names of those who love you. jamessteeno.com

Make Your Invites Pop

Coqui Paperie & Gifts (17700 W. Capitol Dr., Brookfield) will help you design your invitations and, for that extra-special touch, also deploy their calligraphy experts. After you’ve spent time designing the perfect invite, why put it in a basic white envelope? Coqui claims to be one of the first locally to offer white-ink envelope printing so your emerald green invite won’t get lost in the mail.

Photo courtesy of Coqui Paperie & Gifts

Try out Hand-Lettering

Whitney Anderson works as a designer and has also mastered the art of hand-lettering, a method of lettering that is similar to calligraphy, but allows for large-scale letters in a wider variety of styles. She uses her talents under her company, Whit & Co, to create signs, and branding, in addition to wedding invites, save-the-dates, welcome signs, menus and more. witand.co

Uber-waukee: Juneau and Kilbourn Levels of Civic Pride

Invite the Bronz Fonz
How, you might ask? Leave the envelope at his feet. At some point, it will magically disappear. By the way, don’t include any personal information on the invite.


Attire

Give Your Wedding Guests Party Milwaukee Tees as Gifts

“I [beer mug in shape of heart] MKE” or other slogans on cotton provide just the right dose of hometown swag, especially to ex-pats back for your nuptials.

Illustration by Kevin Lawler

Wear an Uptie

This upstart local outfit makes preppy ties and bow ties out of your favorite shirts. It’s a sweet way to honor grandpa, or recycle a first-date ensemble. upties.co

Pick Up a Veil from Mary Robbins

It’s not just your dress that local tailor Mary Robbins will make right (2673 N. 70th St.). For you traditionalists, she’ll also concoct you a lovely veil that can be, gasp, actually affordable.

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Go Hyper Local with Your Dress Choice

Since 2009, Amanda Jennings has turned her love of sewing into a tidy little business, where she churns out gorgeous, made-to-measure wedding gowns. She’s not afraid to try daring colors (gold!) or bold patterns like a blue watercolor print, but she can also design your dream dress, even if that that dream is no more complex than big, white and beautiful. minkmaids.com

Uber-waukee: Juneau and Kilbourn Levels of Civic Pride

Ride off with your honey on a Harley
Add “potato-potato” to the wedding feast. You can ride into the sunset after the nuptials on a rented Hog from the House of Harley-Davidson. (Note: You’ll need a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license.)


Food & Drink

Photo by Adam Ryan Morris

Serve a Bada-Boom Thin-Crust MKE Pizza

Forget salmon and filet mignon. Keep the wedding noshes casual with amoeba-shaped pies from Maria’s Pizza (5025 W. Forest Home Ave.), served laid-back style, on casual plateware and red-and-white checkered tablecloths with jam jar glasses of red wine such as lambrusco, which might be making a comeback, we’ve heard.

Photo by Aliza Rae Photography

Make It Multi-Cultural

Have your reception (or ceremony) on the upper level of the Milwaukee Public Market (400 N. Water St.). Choose your menu from local vendors like Thai-namite and Aladdin and host cocktail hour on St. Paul Avenue. milwaukeepublicmarket.org

Mix the Milwaukee-est Cocktails for a Liquid Reminder of Home

Bust out the cocktail shakers and serve your guests a tried-and-true Wisconsin brandy old fashioned, sweet, made with Korbel and topped off with orange slices and maraschino cherries. Also sure to keep their speech slurred is a gin and bitter lemon tonic made with Great Lakes Distillery’s award-winning small-batch gin and locally made Top Note Tonic (whose dried cinchona bark lends sharpness). Finally, add some liquid nostalgia with a Tom and Jerry, an eggnog- like concoction (with supposed Wisconsin ties) made with brandy and rum and served hot.

Photo by Molly Jo Collection

Patronize the Cake Boss

In 2015, Alexis West left behind a retail job that didn’t yield much satisfaction to one that overwhelmingly does, in the aptly named, Grafton-based dessert business Yield Bakehouse. West – whose “training” consists of observing and absorbing her mom’s and grandmother’s skills and watching YouTube baking videos – says her recent clients are opting for traditional (“pretty, elegant”) cakes or dessert bars of smaller-size creations. West – who did indeed make her own dessert (mini cupcakes) for her big day – shared some intel from the wedding dessert trenches:

Comfort is Trending: Brides are loving nostalgic desserts, like chocolate chip cookies and fruit pies.

“Naked” Makes a Simple Statement: This tiered cake – devoid of the outer application of frosting – lends itself to rustic, casual nuptials. These cakes look “especially pretty with gold leafing and cake toppers,” says West.

Hand-Painting Puts the Emphasis on Color: Especially a watercolor effect. “I absolutely adore it!” she says of the airy, translucent, variegated look. yieldbakehouse.com

Uber-waukee: Juneau and Kilbourn Levels of Civic Pride

Ask Ueck to do the honors
What could be more Brewtown than Bob Uecker, aka Mr. Baseball, officiating your wedding? We don’t know if he’s an ordained minister (or if he’s over done this), but he could probably perform the ceremony as captain of the fishing boats he takes out on Lake Michigan on Brewers off-days.

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Uber-waukee: Juneau and Kilbourn Levels of Civic Pride

Become star-crossed lovers
Er, star-aligned lovers. Propose to your sweetie atop Reservoir Park in Riverwest, the highest point in the city. Definitely wait for dark, otherwise you’re just standing in a park.

Photo by Artemio Photo.

Use Our Critic’s Picks for Your Rehearsal Dinner

Just like the wedding itself, the rehearsal dinner can be casual or polished. Four Ann-Christensen-approved places to hold this important event:

  • Braise’s second-floor event space is rustic but elegant, a fitting companion for the farm-to-table cuisine. Menu options are varied – appetizers and desserts, individually plated dishes or a meal served family-style – and utilize local, seasonal ingredients. Seated dinners can serve up to 40 at tables or up to 90 for cocktails on the rooftop deck. (1101 S. Second St., 414-212-8843)
  • Put a meatless spin on the dinner with a falafel-and-salad spectacular catered by Bay View’s Hello Falafel, whose falafel sandwich platters, salads and sides (roasted Moroccan carrots, watermelon salad, lentil soup) target not only the vegetarian/vegan crowd; the bold flavors score with carnivores, too. (2301 S. Howell Ave.; 414-509-5924 or info@hellofalafelmke.com)
  • The warm, diverse cultures of Oaxaca are the inspiration for Jalapeño Loco, which can serve dishes like mole verde and pork- and plantain-stuffed poblanos buffet-style in its banquet room. The private space accommodates 30-80 people and has its own bar. (5067 S. Howell Ave., 414-483-8300)
  • Kegel’s Inn can handle parties up to 100 people in its gorgeously Teutonic muraled-and-wood-beamed dining room. Pick a Wisconsin fish fry theme or a German affair featuring Sauerbraten and Wiener Schnitzel (5901 W. National Ave., 414-257-9999).

Host a Beer Theme Wedding

Unless you work at a brewery, this may sound outlandish, so hear us out. You can tastefully represent your home turf’s beloved pastime/booming industry in ways that are, dare we say, elegant.

Right beer bottle photos by Adam Ryan Morris; remaining photos by Getty Images

Uber-waukee: Juneau and Kilbourn Levels of Civic Pride

String your friends along
As seen in The Sting, Schlitz beer adds a folksy Midwestern tang to any card game, wedding or holiday party. The cans’ pull tabs are also ideal for stringing a number of them behind a wedding car or limo.


Photos

A wise city magazine editor once said that the photos in a magazine should be a reflection of the city at that point in time. Let your wedding photos do the same, and let these picture-perfect Milwaukee settings help you out.

Pritzlaff Building. Photo by Nikki Winter Photography

Photo by Valo Photography

Federal Courthouse. Photo by Front Room Photography

Milwaukee Art Museum. Photo by Laurelyn Savannah Photography

Uber-waukee: Juneau and Kilbourn Levels of Civic Pride

Honeymoon in Beertown
How about a Third Ward getaway? Stay at the Kimpton Journeyman, and have cocktails on the roof. Rent a canoe from the nearby Milwaukee Kayak Co. and paddle down the river and out into the harbor. Now you’re launched!


Music

Illustration by Kevin Kawler

Roll Out the Barrel
The Mike Schneider Band isn’t just a living jukebox of polka tunes, it’s also one of the area’s tightest bands. For Catholic couples, Schneider offers a polka Mass, but no one has yet sprung for that option. mikeschneiderband.com

Hire an Organ Piper Organist
Lacking in pipes? Hire Dean Rosko, the talented organist for the Brewers, Church of the Gesu and, last but not least, Organ Piper Pizza, to play your reception. facebook.com/dean.rosko

Play Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun” or Bodeans’ “Good Things” at Reception
Because we love our music locally grown and made to cut a rug. “Blister” unleashes the kinetic energy. “Good Things” provides slow-it-down soul.

Book an Alter Ego
When they’re not touring, local power pop favorites Midnight Reruns will play a wedding here and there under the aegis of their alter ego classic rock band, Hamdog Millionaire$. Freebird! midnight-reruns.com 

‘How to Throw the Milwaukee-est Wedding Ever’ appears in Milwaukee Weddings.

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