I had a hard time picking a venue.  As you can imagine based on my previous post regarding my inability to stick with a first dance song, I bounced from one idea to another to another, and another, and another…and you get the general idea.

We had requirements for the place. 

  • I didn’t want a hotel ballroom.  And before I offend a large portion of my audience, let me explain.  I’ve been to beautiful weddings in hotel ballrooms, but a main sticking point to me was having a really unique venue.  So I was looking for anything that didn’t quite fit the mold.  And after searching for something that was more “out-there” and getting frustrated because of pricing, location, lack of packages, I started to really wish I had looked into doing the whole all-inclusive hotel thing.  It all turned out in the end, as you will find out, but a lesson I learned in this whole “scouring every corner of Milwaukee for the perfect location” is that a.) no location is perfect and b.) you never really know until you go visit (maybe they intentionally left out the green carpeting in the pictures on their website, no?)
  • We needed a place that could hold the ceremony and reception.  This is actually much more difficult than one realizes.  We were dangerously close, after looking everywhere and feeling overwhelmed and givey-uppey about the whole thing, to booking a venue that would have required my guests to either sit at their tables during the ceremony (which…meh…I wasn’t thrilled about, but whatev) or walk down a snowy sidewalk to get to another bar for cocktail hour.  And did I mention the cocktail hour bar would have been a separate price?  And that it was on a second floor that was not handicap accessible.  While our families are definitely not wussies, I didn’t think it was fair to ask them to bring their snowboots for the occasion.  So it wasn’t happening.

Those were my requirements.  I don’t think they were too much to ask.  But let me list for you all the places that grabbed me, inspired me to start planning in my head, and then flopped.  In order, they were:

1.) The Harold Washington Library in downtown Chicago.  I loved this place well before I got engaged and imagined how dreamy it would be to get married under a big glass ceiling.  The price was the largest downfall.  That, and parking in downtown Chicago.  Yikes.

2.) Moved on to the Chicago Botanical Gardens, but nobody told me that only rich people get married here.  How was I supposed to know?

3.) In stalking all things Chicago Botanical Garden related, I came across a web thread that stated the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois was a better priced version that was just as beautiful.  And I’m going to tell you a little secret.  I was absolutely head over heels for this place.  The price was right (and probably better than what we’re spending now when you add everything up) and the facility was incredible.  I’m talking floor to ceiling windows overlooking a lake, surrounded by beautiful trees.  Mmmmmm.  We visited and Tony seemed “eh” about it the entire time, which broke my little heart, but what can you do?  I don’t think he was onboard the Chicago Wedding train from the get go (it must be his Milwaukeean nature.  Will the rivalry never end?).

4.) We started looking at everything under the sun in Milwaukee.  Someone mentioned the Milwaukee Performing Arts Center so we looked into it.  I kid you not, we even looked into the little barn behind the quilt museum in Cedarburg (not weatherproof, mind you) and seriously contemplated a rustic, country-fied wedding.  Kinda glad we came to our senses on that one – not because it wouldn’t be perfectly beautiful for another couple, but my red shoes would be giving me the “what the f” look if I had booked it.

“I’m disappointed in you, Katie.  You’re going to bust my gorgeous heel all in the name of a hoe-down?”

5.) So we finally found it.  After looking at a few more places  (I literally could be a directory for every possible wedding venue in the city of Milwaukee, I kid you not), the whole loft feel appealed to me so we looked into a trendy little Champagne bar in the Third Ward (long way from flowers and trees, I know…).  And it turned out perfect.  This. Place. Is. Awesome.  The walls all have cream city brick that Milwaukee is known for and has a huge circle bar with lounge seating and champagne buckets.  The reception hall is wood floors and tall windows that overlook the street below.  It’s a historic building which makes for a unique charm (and a scary elevator ride), but it just felt right.  I can see myself getting married here, which I suppose is the most important part, right?

So we’re settled and booked and feeling good about the decision and all is well in the wedding world tonight.  Ask me how I feel when I have to pay the rest of the bill, though.  On second thought, you better not.