Posts Tagged ‘door county wedding photography’

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!

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!

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!

Weddings: tiffany and carlos, potawatomi park door county

Potowatomi_State_Park_Door_County_Outdoor_Wedding1 Potowatomi_State_Park_Door_County_Outdoor_Wedding2Tiffany and Carlos planned a wedding close to their own hearts: it included elements that blended their two cultures: she from Door County, he from Spain.  The bride wore jewelry from her grandmother, and a mantilla veil, the flowers were purchased at the farmers market that morning and bouqueted by her family.  The pre-dinner hors d’oeuvres featured a pairing of Spanish wines with local cheeses, cherries and smoked fish.  With the ceremony on the fishing docks of Potowotomi State Park, the couple’s  friends and families were afforded a gorgeous view of the bay complete with sailboats and seagulls passing through. Guests lined the aisle, turning around to get a glimpse of the bride.

The ceremony was incredibly emotional, with the most intimate of families and vows written in each other’s languages.  As the ceremony came to a close, Tiffany and Carlos each tossed a smooth, white stone into the water – the intertwining circles symbolizing their worlds merging together.  After a little wine, and a few photos, the couple boarded a boat and crossed the bay to their reception at The Lodge at Leathem Smith.  The day was a beautiful reflection of the couple – sweet, relaxed and gentle. Congratulations, Tiffany and Carlos!

Weddings: elise and kristian, peninsula park door county

Door_County_Peninsula_Park_Outdoor_Wedding1 Door_County_Peninsula_Park_Outdoor_Wedding2

 

Intimate weddings are our absolute favorite.  We have more time with the bride and groom as they prepare for the day, the details are more personal, and the guests are there for no other purpose than to witness the special commitment between two people.  Elise and Kristian planned their wedding in Fish Creek, Wisconsin at Peninsula State Park for a Wednesday afternoon in August.  Having the ceremony later in the day gave us gorgeous light that came directly across the bay as they said their vows and slid down into sunset as they celebrated with their families.

I cannot say enough about how much I loved this wedding. Elise and Krisitan each chose one attendant, and had a small guest list of 27 people, which gave the day a very cozy, festive feeling.  The flowers were grown by Elise and her mother and bouqueted that morning, her brother made the lovely cake, and Kristian’s brother played acoustic guitar throughout the ceremony.  The entire day spoke about who the bride and groom were as a couple: there were no obligations in terms of guests, no compromises in style, and no pretending to be anyone other than themselves.  We enjoyed every minute and are so happy to have been a part of such a genuine day.  Congratulations, Elise and Kristian!