Posts Tagged ‘door county wedding photographer’

10 Best Door County Venues for Small Weddings

Small weddings are our absolute favorite! The short guest list usually means the day is more intimate and shows couple’s personalities. Brides feel less inclined to follow traditions that don’t suit them, and couples get to better enjoy their wedding day free from major stressors!

Door County is a great spot for small weddings whether you’re planning an elopement, small wedding, or destination wedding. Since we photograph in Door County regularly, we thought we would compile a list of the best small wedding venues in the area so you can get an overview and details on each before jumping website to website!

Door County Wedding Photographers

1. Wineries

Even if you don’t know much about Door County, chances are you know that the peninsula is dotted with wineries from toe to tip. What you may not know is that these wineries often open their doors to small weddings.

Simon Creek Winery, Sturgeon Bay, WI

  • Outdoor weddings can be held in green space near the creek (see photos above).
  • Ceremony tents are allowed.

Stone’s Throw Winery, Baileys Harbor, WI

  • Outdoor weddings can accommodate up to 150 people in the green space, or smaller groups on the patio or in the sculpture garden.
  • Indoor weddings can accommodate up to 80 people in the Barrel Room or Tasting Room.

2. Garden Gables

Garden Gables, Sister Bay, WI describes themselves as Door County’s premier DIY wedding venue. It’s romantic, whimsical, and charming with an outdoor stone bar, concrete band stage, indoor barn area, and outdoor gazebo. Everything about this venue is unique and perfect for weddings with a boho theme or a rustic vibe.

  • Open June through September and can accommodate up to 200 guests outdoors or 100 guests indoors.
  • There is a cottage space with restrooms available for wedding preparations and two multi-stall indoor restrooms for guests.
  • Only four miles from downtown Sister Bay.

3. State Parks

Until we were invited to photograph our first state park wedding at Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek, I had no idea they even rented for weddings. But with all the water views and gorgeous wooded areas, it’s a great choice for your warm weather affair. Some parks even rent shelter areas to be used for simple receptions!

Peninsula State Park, Fish Creek, WI

  • Only small weddings are permitted. Two enclosed shelters are available for rent and can accommodate up to 50 people. Other than the shelter rental fee and vehicle stickers, there is no fee for holding your wedding at Peninsula State Park.
  • There are some locations where tents are permitted.
  • Wedding locations include Weborg Point (see photos above), Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, Welckers Point, Sven’s Bluff, Eagle Panorama, and Eagle Terrace.

Potawatomi State Park, Sturgeon Bay, WI

  • Some facilities are reservable including the picnic shelter on South Shoreline which seats 30 and the Amphitheater located in the center of the park near the campground which seats around 60.
  • A tent can be set up outside of the picnic shelter for outdoor ceremonies.
  • There are areas that are not reservable, but weddings can also be hosted there, (see photos above) just contact the park for details.

4. Gordon Lodge

Gordon Lodge, Baileys Harbor, WI may be Door County’s most popular wedding venue. Their unique grounds feature so many options from an intimate beach wedding, woodsy views, or indoor spaces, you can customize to your heart’s content. Onsite catering and lodging is a big plus for this venue as that is not easy to find in the area. The water views are unbeatable and the food is incredible!

  • Amenities include onsite catering and lodging, private beach, and equipment rentals (bicycles, kayaks, and paddle boards for exploring).
  • Gordon Lodge’s Event Center seats 250 without encroaching on dance floor, and the Boathouse is perfect for smaller weddings which can seat 50-60 based on wether you choose to do plated dinner or banquet style.
  • Ceremonies may also be held outdoors on the green space where Lake Michigan and North Bay meet.

5. Woodwalk Gallery

Art, wine, and beaches, that’s what Door County is known for! Woodwalk Gallery, Egg Harbor, WI is an active art gallery and a beautiful venue featuring a historic barn, landscaped trails, and multiple outdoor wedding locations. They are also known for their friendliness when working with couples to plan their wedding!

  • Although known mostly for small weddings, Woodwork can accommodate outdoor groups up to 250.
  • There are many outdoor options for ceremony including a garden lattice and vintage silo (see photos above), or you can hold your wedding inside the historic barn. A tent may be set up barn adjacent to make the transition indoors easy for your guests.
  • There is a getting ready space onside for wedding preparations and indoor bathrooms are available for guests.

6. Horseshoe Bay Farms

Although mostly know for its larger weddings, Horseshoe Bay Golf Club, Egg Harbor, WI is set up well for smaller affairs in their Beach Club venue. Centrally located, Horseshoe Bay Farms is only a short drive from Sturgeon Bay where many of the peninsula’s amenities and lodging are, or guests can plan to travel north after your wedding to explore more of what the county has to offer. Murphy Park is just across the way which is a beautiful stop for photos with a pet-friendly park and warm bathing beach.

  • At Horseshoe Bay the Members Clubhouse seats up to 200 indoors for dinner, the Private Dining Room seats 35, and Horseshoe Bay’s Tent Pad is an outdoor venue with seating for up to 140 guests.
  • The Beach Club is it’s own small venue along the shores of Green Bay with rooftop deck, patio, and indoor venue space with seating for up to 70 guests.
  • Horseshoe Bay is also known for their signature cocktails such as Door County Cherry Mojitos or Horseshoe Bay Old Fashioneds to add a personal touch!

7. Stavkirke Church

If you’re feeling adventurous, an island wedding might be for you! Stavkirke Church, Washington Island, WI is a small wood chapel surrounded by woods (see photos above). It was build by local craftsman to honor the Scandinavian roots of the island and based on a church in Borgund, Norway from 1150 AD. Washington Island does require a ferry from Gills Rock, so it’s not for the faint of heart, but your guests will appreciate the weekend getaway. No guests? Washington Island is the perfect spot for an elopement, just don’t forget to pack you swimsuit!

  • Great for elopements and small weddings of 30 or fewer guests.
  • Just around the corner from famous Schoolhouse Beach, perfect for photos.

8. Bjorklunden

Bjorklunden, Baileys Harbor, WI is a 440 acre estate on the quiet side of the peninsula. If you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the “bay side”, choosing a location along the “lake side” is a good option. Bjorklunden is actually a small music school (a branch of Lawrence University) but they do rent multiple spaces for private events and weddings.

  • The most popular option for weddings is Boynton Chapel which is a wood stav church built in 1939. It can accommodate up to 36 guests.
  • There are multiple onsite lodging options available (including a studio apartment space) as well as indoor spaces for food and events.

9. Landmark Resort

Although not exclusively for small weddings, Landmark Resort, Egg Harbor, WI is a Door County staple, voted “Best Wedding Venue” by Door County Magazine. In addition to their well known reception site and lodging options, The Landmark also has two outdoor ceremony locations including the Egg Harbor Terrace (see photos above) and Flagship Garden offering views of the bay.

  • Best known as a reception hall, the Landmark also offers outdoor ceremony venues and a smaller restaurant space (Carrington Grill) perfect for intimate weddings.
  • In the banquet space, The Landmark can hold up to 200 guests. The State Room seats 80, and there are smaller rooms to accommodate groups up to 40.
  • 284 condominium suites are available for rent for you and your guests so they can make a weekend of it. Book hospitality suites, distribute brunch vouchers, or even host a fish boil for your guests!
  • Outdoor ceremonies can hold 120-200 guests.

10. About Thyme Farm

About Thyme Farm, Baileys Harbor, WI is a gorgeous barn venue on the “quiet side” of the peninsula. It is surrounded by fields and lush green space. If you are thinking a barn wedding might be for you, but want a place that is already prepared to host, About Thyme is that venue. They are set up for DJ and band equipment, have a built-in bar, and chandeliers throughout the main of the barn with Italian bulbs lighting the back of the barn.

  • About Thyme boasts amble parking for up to 75 cars and the option to leave vehicles overnight if you are shuttling guests to lodging.
  • Wedding ceremonies can be held indoors or outdoors.
  • Indoor restrooms able to accommodate a full guest list.
  • Barn can seat up to 200 for dinner.

Honorable Mentions:

We didn’t want to make this post too overwhelming and there are so many great places to get married in Door County! If you didn’t find your hidden gem listed above, we suggest you check out Silver Poplar Studios, Birch Creek Music Center, Hillside Inn, Bridal Chapel of Door County, or Whistling Swan Restaurant. There are also many more restaurants that can host wedding receptions.

If you are considering an elopement, we suggest checking out a bed and breakfast (like the Chanticleer B&B cabin elopement pictured above) or a public park or beach area like Cave Point County Park.

We hope this guide has helped guide you through your planning process! We love Door County and it’s been such a pleasure to work with the people at these incredible venues to make beautiful, memorable wedding days. If you have questions about a venue or want to meet up and chat about your wedding photography vision, send us a message HERE.

Weddings: sara & mike, surprise vow renewal and landmark resort, door county

We’ve been photographing Sara and Mike’s family photos for the past few years, and normally when it’s time to set up a session, Sara will call or email and we will chat about locations and ideas. So when I got a call from Mike instead, I was a bit surprised. He told me he was planning a surprise vow renewal for Sara to celebrate their 20 years together. Years before, Sara mentioned how she would like to renew there vows at 20 years, but to keep it a surprise, Mike planned the renewal for 18 years of marriage, and 20 years together.

The renewal was held at the Landmark Resort in Egg Harbor. Family and friends gathered near in the garden overlooking Lake Michigan while a family friend played music on the piano. Covert texts were sent back and forth about timing, and Ben was stationed with his longest lens for the best view of the approaching couple. As they got to the top of the hill for their “casual walk” Mike told us Sara stopped and said, “I don’t think we can go down there; there’s a wedding happening.” But by the time they turned the corner, she knew it was for her. The ceremony was beautiful — a thoughtful meditation on commitment, love, and God. There were tears and lots of smiles. After the ceremony, we took a few photos with their boys, Sam and Ben, and everyone celebrated with dinner at the Landmark Resort restaurant. Congratulations, Sara and Mike, and cheers to 20 more!

Weddings: washington island lavender farm styled wedding, door county, wi

For years I have been dreaming of photographing a styled wedding in the fields of lavender on Washington Island. I pictured the wild, herb bouquet, glamorous gown, and french macaron tower. This August we were able to collaborate with some incredible vendors who made it a reality! People have asked us why we do styled shoots, and the answer is simple: everyone who is a part of your wedding is a creative. Whether they are making your cake, styling your wardrobe, or designing your florals, we are creative people whose job it is to make your vision a reality. Playing with new ideas and trying things that we have imagined helps keeps us fresh – it feeds our creative energies and makes us better at what we do.

This Washington Island styled wedding took place in the lavender fields of Historic Island Dairy with a stop at Stavkirke Church and champagne at sunset at the iconic Schoolhouse Beach. Never before has a styled shoot involved a ferry ride or an overnight stay, but we had an absolute blast!

We couldn’t do this without the talents of the amazing vendors who collaborated with us. Seriously, if you are looking for vendors for your Door County wedding, look no further. Thank you to everyone involved:

Venue: Island Lavender at Historic Island Dairy http://www.islandlavender.com http://www.historicislanddairy.com
Dress: Erika’s Bridal Couture http://www.erikasbridalcouture.com
Suit: DuBois Formalwear http://www.duboistuxedo.com
Florals: Blossoms Flower House http://www.blossomsflowerhouse.com
Hair & Make-Up: Rachel @ Invidia Salon
Rings: Alyssa & Anna Fine Jewelry http://www.alyssaanna.com
Cake: Monzu Bakery http://www.monzubakery.com
Models: Hope Copiskey and Oliver Wallschlaeger

And special thanks to Rachel from Invidia and our models, Hope and Oliver, for traveling across Death’s Door to the Island with us!

Weddings: meghan & matt, simon creek winery and the english inn, door county

Meghan and Matt tied the knot at Simon Creek Winery in Door County this September. The winery only does a handful of weddings which made the event all the more unique for their family and friends. After a beautiful outdoor ceremony in the vineyard, guests mingled on the lawn with full glasses and an array of appetizers while the couple and their attendants explored the grounds with us. We loved photographing in front of the old vine-covered barn, tall trees, and in the rows of grapevines. The entire scene was made all the more stunning by the warm, fall sunshine.

Meghan and Matt’s reception was held at The English Inn in Fish Creek, a special treat for family traveling in from out of town. The venue was strung with lights and decorated in gold sequins and peacock accents, just as Meghan had envisioned when she started planning their special day. The small bridal party and 50 person guest list made for an intimate-feeling wedding, as well as the couple’s choice to have a “sweetheart table” in place of a head table. Guests mingled and enjoyed the live music and heartfelt words from family. Congratulations, Meghan and Matt!

Engagements: brittany & tim, door county state park

For Brittany and Tim, Door County is their getaway place, so as we planned their engagement session, we knew we would be heading north. Potawatomi State Park is one of our favorite locations to photograph because of the diversity – woods, water, beach – it’s got it all. Their day was beautiful and warm with overcast skies and and tree-filtered light.

Brittany and Tim met through mutual friends nearly two years ago. On their first date they started the day with mini golf at Bay Beach, but a day date turned into lunch, and then into a movie until they had spent the entire day together. It was only a short time before they knew that each of them had met their match.

On a spring day, Tim woke up and knew he wanted to propose to Brittany that morning. He had planned to wait, but something about that day told him it was the right moment. He asked her to go for a walk at Green Bay Botanical Gardens and he tucked the ring into his jacket. Partway through their walk, she was cold and asked for his coat; as he helped her into it, he crossed his fingers that she wouldn’t tuck her hands into the pockets. At the top of the overlook, he wrapped his arms around her and snuck the box from his coat; moments later he asked and she said yes!

This couple is so sweet together. They know that life isn’t all celebration; they have seen the harder sides of things. But they face everything together, leaning on one other for strength and greeting each day with optimism and thankfulness for each other. Congratulations, Brittany and Tim!

Weddings: amy & steph, woodwalk gallery, door county

Woodwalk Gallery in Egg Harbor is one of our dream wedding venues. Firstly, it’s an active gallery with beautiful artwork, but then it’s also a historic barn surrounded by hilly fields, woods, and vintage ephemera. When I first sat down with Amy and her mother, and found out what friendly, down-to-earth people they were, I knew we wanted to be a part of their wedding day. After meeting Steph and getting to know them both, we couldn’t have picked a better couple to work with.

Amy and Steph’s day was full of personal touches, from a reserved chair at the ceremony for Amy’s late father, to an aisle lined with “pennies from heaven”, to Amy’s service dog dressed in a custom “work vest” for the event, every detail was attended to. One of the most striking features of the wedding was the seemingly endless flowers. Everywhere we turned there were vases, jars, and pails brimming with purple and white blooms.

Although rain was forecast at 80% throughout the day, the clouds stayed away for Amy and Steph’s first look and outdoor ceremony. As dinner began in the tent, the rain started to come down, and as speeches came to a close we could hear the thunder begin and the wind pick up. On our wedding day in the midst of family portraits, a sudden gust of wind brought down a large tree branch which fell between us and out photographers. A friend of mine said that she felt it was someone up in heaven greeting us and joining in the day. If that is true, Amy and Steph had lots of love sent down to them that day with the rain, wind, and thunderstorms that carried on throughout their barn reception. Cheers, Amy and Steph!

Why Your Groom Needs Portraits Too

Green-Bay-Mens-Photography-Groom-Wedding-Photographer-De-Pere-Appleton-Pulaski-Tundra-Lodge-Gather-On-Broadway-Barn-1 Green-Bay-Mens-Photography-Groom-Wedding-Photographer-De-Pere-Appleton-Pulaski-Tundra-Lodge-Gather-On-Broadway-Barn-2Post By Ben:

Sometimes in the whirlwind of wedding planning, it’s easy for grooms to get overlooked. There are so many customs that revolve around just the bride and her family, that a modern couple may need to look past tradition to create a wedding day that speaks to both of them. This is exactly the case when it comes to photography.

Bridal portraits have been a southern tradition for decades, but it’s rare to see portraits of a man on his wedding day. The reason for both sets of images is the same and equally important. While couples’ portraits are about the wedding day itself, individual portraits are a physical memory of how your spouse will always see you.  Your individuality is the thing that attracted your partner when you first met, and that doesn’t go away with marriage. Thirty, forty, fifty anniversaries from now, these images will be a reminder of the person you married and how you felt about them that day.

And guys, I get it, it can be hard to be in front of the camera. Although we can be less vocal about our insecurities, we have them. Instead of thinking of this as “another thing you need to do”, think about it as a pause before the ceremony – a little time to yourself away from the chaos of guests. When you have a moment to take a breath, you can open up to the joy and nervousness, and we get to capture real images of you.

For the men underestimating their ability to look great in front of the camera, I am ready to show you otherwise. For the brides missing these images of their husbands before the ceremony, I am ready to share them with you. When the day is done, and the memories feel like a quick flash, the photographs will be there – simple reflections of the person your spouse knows you to be.

Weddings: amanda & jake at leathem smith, sturgeon bay

Door-County-Lodge-at-Leathem-Smith-Wedding-Photographer-Waterfront-Photography-Sturgeon-Bay-Outdoors-1 Door-County-Lodge-at-Leathem-Smith-Wedding-Photographer-Waterfront-Photography-Sturgeon-Bay-Outdoors-2 Door-County-Lodge-at-Leathem-Smith-Wedding-Photographer-Waterfront-Photography-Sturgeon-Bay-Outdoors-3Nothing beats a June wedding, especially one held outdoors on the Door County waterfront. Amanda and Jake planned their wedding at The Lodge at Leathem Smith, bringing together family, friends, and their five children. Everything about the day felt relaxed and celebratory, and it was the sweetest moment as Amanda stepped out of a horse-drawn carriage and walked down the aisle with her son, Jack. There were tears all around, not the least of which were coming from the groom. Together Amanda and Jake are funny, playful, and close with their friends. Their kiddos are the center of their world, and it showed in their wedding day. Congratulations, Amanda and Jake!

Weddings: jen & ryan, door county elopement at chanticleer cabins, sturgeon bay

Door-County-Elopement-Wedding-Intimate-Cabin-Country-Woods-Winter-Wisconsin-Photography-1 Door-County-Elopement-Wedding-Intimate-Cabin-Country-Woods-Winter-Wisconsin-Photography-2If you subscribe to our blog or frequently read our wedding posts, you know that intimate weddings are my most favorite. I love photographing moments between two people that feel completely like their personalities – times when nobody is worried about the caterer’s arrival time or that aunt-so-and-so stays away from that neighbor you grew up with but haven’t talked to in years. Weddings are about two people choosing one another; they are the day that starts a marriage. I think the simplicity of that is incredibly beautiful all on its own.

When Jen contacted us to say that she and Ryan were planning a tiny Door County elopement with just the two of them, we couldn’t have been more excited to be a part of it. The couple is from Southern Wisconsin, and took a day to tour a handful of little venues around the peninsula before settling on a Chanticleer Guest House cabin in Sturgeon Bay. It was the perfect, cozy venue for two people to start their marriage, tucked in the woods and coated by a dusting of snow. The day itself was relaxed and meaningful, with just us and their officiant as witnesses, and some of the most personal vows we’ve ever heard.

Jen and Ryan have many adventures yet to come, and we feel lucky to have been a part of this big moment that will lead to so many more. Congratulations, Jen and Ryan!

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