our wedding reception site

May 15, 2008 at 9:58 pm 3 comments

Boys and girls, it is wedding season, and I’ve got weddings on the brain. So today I am going to tell you all about how I picked the *perfect* site for our reception, and why I am a little nervous about said reception site.

There are lots of cool spots in Milwaukee, and I think we knew from the beginning that we wanted something historic… something unusual… something distinctly Milwaukee.

First, we headed to the Wisconsin Club, which is a private club, but my grandparents have connections, so we took a look. It’s beautiful and I have no doubt receptions there are also beautiful, but for some reason, it just wasn’t for us. I think it was the size. The ballroom at the Wisconsin Club is just so big, and we were worried that we wouldn’t have enough guests to fill it.

The Wisconsin Club ballroom. Very nice.

We also checked out the Eisner Museum, which is an amazing venue. Guests could walk around and check out the exhibits during the cocktail hour. And it would have been a distinctly Milwaukee location. We could have had a modern-y, loft-y feel wedding. Only, we thought this venue might be too small for the number of guests we wanted to invite. Still, it was super-cool.

These exhibits could be cleared and reception tables set up at the Eisner Museum.

The Lakefront Brewery would have been a good location, especially with Jason’s brewing hobby. It had a great terrace on the river, but didn’t really have the formal vibe that I was going for. Still, they have a Friday night fish fry and polka band. So even if the brewery is a little off the beaten path, it could make for a great rehearsal dinner locale if you don’t mind sharing it with a hundred of your fellow Wisconsinites.

The view from the porch of the Lakefront Brewery.

The Villa was amazing, and if it held more than 80 people or allowed dancing, I would have booked it then and there. But! If I had booked it, we wouldn’t have been able to invite our entire families, much less our friends. Also, I NEED DANCING.

The view from The Villa. Fantastic!

Another venue we peaked in on was the Women’s Club. It had a great downtown location and historic feel, but we would have had to move tables to dance, and I wanted to avoid that. Because I like to go to a wedding and have a “home base” where you can keep your purse and whatnot, or sit down and sip water between the Macarena and the Electric Slide.

The Ballroom in the Women’s Club.

The Hilton Downtown was another option, and they have 3 ballrooms AND a water park. The water park was especially appealing because we want the kids to have a GREAT time. And when you’re a kid, water slides = fun. Actually, as an adult, I still think water slides = fun. Unfortunately, the one ballroom that I really loved would likely be too small for a wedding of 200.

One of three ballrooms at the Downtown Hilton.

So, we moved on to the Vila Filomena. Not only was the Vila slightly difficult for this suburban girl to find, it was kind of a big let down. The pictures on the website looked promising! And being that the house has such a rich history, I was surprised to find what looked like a mini-airplane hanger attached to the back of it. It was not quite what I envisioned when I heard “historic mansion”.

The Vila Filomena. Not quite what I was expecting.

On the way back to my parents house, after a long and very tiring afternoon of searching-and-not-quite-finding, we decided to stop at Westmoor Country Club in Brookfield. Two of my aunts held wedding receptions there, and I have good memories of attending brunches there as a child. The main hall has 2 fireplaces, and a really warm feeling that I can only describe as “elegant hunting lodge”. You wouldn’t think a hunting lodge could be elegant, but it can be! I promise! It would have been really nice for a fall wedding, but I just really wanted the party to be downtown.

One of the dining rooms at Westmoor Country Club.

That night, I had a crazy idea. WHAT ABOUT A WEDDING IN A BARN?!? I like the outdoors! And there could be cows there! COWS! How awesome would pictures with cows be? It could be super-country-elegant! And when you think Wisconsin, you totally think cows, dairy state – perfect. So we drove out to Old World Wisconsin to check out their octagonal barn. The octagonal barn is quite charming, the setting serene, and we could have a carriage ride around the grounds. How fun! Except, we’d have to do our own decorating in the barn, and we would have to trim our guest list a little. And it’s a little out of the way. And do I really want to decorate the morning of my wedding? No. Not really. So while I still *heart* the barn idea, it’s just not going to work. (PS I still have this incredible desire to have a picture of me in a wedding dress with a cow.)

The Octagonal Barn at Old World Wisconsin.

And then, finally, we checked out The Grain Exchange Room. AND IT WAS EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED. Historic? check. (This room was used to trade grain in the late 1800s/early 1900s). Unusual? check. Distinctly Milwaukee? check. Large enough to fit all of our guests, but not so big that we barely fill the room. So we booked this perfect room, which didn’t have many openings, on the spot. (I think JT was a little nervous that he didn’t even get to see the venue… he’s surprisingly interested in planning this shindig).

The Grain Exchange Room circa 1910. From http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/whi/fullRecord.asp?id=2051.

Now, the reason I am a little nervous: Bartolotta catering group bought out the Grain Exchange Room and have remodeled the room. I have yet to see it. Which makes me hope that the historic-ness of the room has been left untouched, and wonder what colors they’ve chosen to do the remodel in. (It also makes me a little happy, because the old carpet was stretched a little, and I’m assuming the new carpet won’t be). I hope to get a chance to peek in at all of the changes that have been made when I visit Milwaukee in June… cross your fingers that it’s as beautiful as I imagine it to be!

How did you pick your perfect wedding venue?  Any reason to be nervous about your choice?


Entry filed under: Wedding.

wedding things cake toppers found!

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. GGG  |  May 16, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Hey Jennifer, don’t worry about the things you’ve already done. Just go with it! Be prepared to put a smile on your face or have a good laugh at the last minute things that will happen ( like the photographer that got his camera caught in Bonnies dress at Aunt Jaynes wedding and ruffled up the whole front of it–luckily someone had said take an iron along to Church–we put her on the floor and ironed it out and no one knew the difference!). NOTE: take an iron to Church!

  • 2. Navillusette  |  May 16, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    I love the idea of a wedding in a barn. It’s definitely unique.

  • 3. Uncle Brian  |  May 20, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Do you still have this incredible desire to have a picture of you in a wedding dress with a cow.
    I’ll have to talk to Jim and Jeff.
    Grandma Behnke’s neighbors still have cows. Hmmmmmmm……..


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