Posts Tagged ‘small weddings’

10 Best Door County Venues for Small Weddings

Kasey & Ben Wedding Photography

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: sarah & curtis, chateau de pere first look & backyard wedding, de pere wisconsin

Sarah and Curtis planned their backyard wedding all the way from Fountain, Colorado, and still every detail was attended to. The couple got ready at Chateau De Pere, and their first look to place on the docks of the riverwalk. The day was warm and sunny, and they could not have looked any happier to see one another. Sarah’s hair was pulled back in a classic bun with tiny pearl details and an elbow length veil, which gave a midcentury modern look to her knee-length dress. The wedding ceremony was held in in the afternoon in her parents backyard with a view of the Fox River, and was officiated by Curtis’s brother. The entire day had personal touches like these, and it made for an intimate celebration that was all about family and togetherness.

As dinner was winding down, the sky outside the tent began to darken a bit. No sooner had the sides been put up along the tent, and we were in a full blown thunderstorm. Guests enjoyed their yummy dessert protected from the rain, but as strong winds threatened the tent, everyone quickly made their way indoors. Breathless and smiling, Sarah and Curtis were laughing as their family handed out towels to dry off their damp guests. It was the perfect day that ended in the most memorable night! Congratulations, Sarah and Curtis!

Three Reasons to Love Small Wedding Parties

Wedding_Green_Bay_Wisconsin_Small_Wedding_Party_Intimate_ReasonsMany of us can think back to what wedding parties were like when we were kids – 9 hot pink dresses with puffy sleeves and lace hats alongside 9 black tuxes with shiny matching cumberbunds – anyone? If your face is twisted in revulsion at the thought of this, then you are right there with most modern brides.  Beyond dismissing the fashion of it in favor of a simpler more tasteful style, I am also loving the trend of smaller bridal parties.  Your wedding is about you and your husband, and each choice you make should be a reflection of who you are and what you like. Time to toss out those “wedding obligations” (send them away with the puffy-sleeved dresses!)

In case you’re on the fence about how to choose your bridal party, or unsure where “really amazing best friends” turn into “kind of good friends” turn into “I probably should”, here’s a few reasons to keep it small.

1. Less is More

If you’re a person who loves the chaos of it all, you might enjoy the buzz of a 12 person wedding party around you at all times.  But for those who like simplicity, a smaller wedding party means less stress and less obligations.  The fewer bridesmaids and groomsmen you have, the fewer schedules you have to coordinate for wedding events and the less people you have to keep track of on your wedding day.  When it comes to picture time and bridesmaid 1 is refreshing her drink, bridesmaid 2 has wandered off in search of a bathroom, bridesmaid 3 is checking on her children, bridesmaid 4 thinks she left her purse in the dressing room… well you get the idea.  Smaller wedding parties will save you time, money, stress, and valuable bits of your sanity when “I-do” rolls around.

2. Your Wedding is Your Wedding

I cannot stress this enough: your wedding is about you and your future husband deciding to make a commitment.  It is not about a friend you were close with in high school who you rarely see nowadays and it is not about a cousin who asked you to stand up in her wedding three years ago.  Each choice you make as you plan your wedding is a reflection of who you are as a couple.  Wedding parties no longer need to follow the old Southern tradition of having your future sisters-in-law stand up (frankly, if you weren’t friends before the engagement, they can rest easy in the second row).  The same goes for having kiddos stand up in the wedding.  It is incredibly valuable to have your own children involved in your wedding, or little ones you are very close to, but all to often couples are tracing out their family tree to find children simply because they think they should.  Each time you decide on someone for your wedding party, ask yourself if it is really what you want.  The people who care most for you will honor your choices and be glad for you, and anyone who would cause drama over your decisions, well… be glad they aren’t in the wedding party.

3. The Best of the Best

The absolute best thing about small wedding parties, is that the people you choose are going to be the friends-forever-and-no-matter-what type.  And that means when your wedding day arrives and you are stressed and nervous, they will be there to calm you down and fix problems before they even happen (instead of that ex-roomate who is just admiring herself in the mirror, and worrying about how she looks in her dress).  Extra people doesn’t always mean extra help; the right people means extra help.  These special bridesmaids who made the cut will be the ones crying through the ceremony right alongside you and pulling bobbypins from their own hair to make sure that yours look perfect.  That’s who you want standing up with you.

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Worried about offending those who don’t stand up?  There are still many ways to honor people you care for who might not be the right fit for your bridal party.  You could ask them to be ushers or personal attendants, or to perform a reading during the ceremony. Are they family you aren’t sure you want in the party? Consider giving them a corsage or boutonniere to honor your relationship.  Many times they will be glad to skip the expense and enjoy the view from the crowd.

Choosing your wedding party is a decision you and your fiancé will need to make together, and going with a small party may not be the best fit for your personalities or wedding theme.  No matter what you plan or what route you go, think about what you want as a couple, and toss those “miss manners obligations” on the pile with lace parasols and permed hair.  Do your wedding your way and enjoy every minute!