Wisconsin Bride's Best of 2014 Winners

Ninth annual readers' choice awards.

From coast to coast, everyone knows that Wisconsin throws a great party. So when it comes to planning the celebration of a lifetime in the Badger State, we’ve got you covered. Our Wisconsin Bride readers have a wealth of wisdom to share. On the pages that follow, you’ll find a little bit of extra guidance for planning your special day. From dazzling destinations to planners with panache, meet the top-rated Wisconsin wedding professionals whose business it is to make the day of your dreams a reality.

BEST PHOTOGRAPHY
The finalists are: BP Photo, Ideal Impressions Photography, Photographs by Jenna Leigh
The winner is: Photographs by Jenna Leigh
Johnson Creek | 218.260.5959 | photosbyjennaleigh.com
“Jenna’s pictures captured our day perfectly, but it was the little things that made her so special: her innate professionalism, yet a bubbly personality that coaxed our family and friends in and out of pictures (not an easy feat!), her guidance throughout the day about so many little details we hadn’t thought of prior, her seeing us empty-handed during speeches and grabbing us drinks. She was just on it!” — Mariah Schuknecht, Brooklyn, N.Y., married May 25, 2013

Wisconsin Bride Best of 2014 winners

BEST REHEARSAL DINNER VENUE
The finalists are: Brady’s Brewhouse, Madison Club, Porta Bella Restaurant
The winner is: Brady’s Brewhouse
New Richmond | 715.246.9960 | bradysbrewhouse.com
“The food at Brady’s Brewhouse is great, but what really stood out at our rehearsal dinner was the dessert bar. They had four or five mini-desserts, so we could try all the different kinds. Everyone at our rehearsal dinner raved about the desserts. The environment at Brady’s is fun, the staff is friendly (we had our own bartender who took great care of us), and the food is delicious.” — Julie Fretz, Somerset, married Oct. 19, 2013

BEST FAVORS
The finalists are: Antics Flipbooks, Do Me a Favor, Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier
The winner is: Antics Flipbooks
Madison | 608.770.7999 | anticsflipbooks.com
“Their product is unique; it’s so fun that, instead of a still photograph, their cameras can capture several seconds of action. While still pictures capture memories, these flipbooks capture the energy of the evening, and you can replay them over and over and smile and relive the memory. The favors they produce are true keepsakes.” — Melissa Hill, Madison, married Feb. 16, 2014

BEST CAKE
The finalists are: Carl’s Cakes, Craig’s Cake Shop, “I Do” Cakes by Betty
The winner is: Craig’s Cake Shop
Verona | 608.848.6331 | craigscakeshop.com
“At our tasting, the staff was very informative and let us try many flavors of cake, fillings and frostings. They made us feel important, were very helpful with ideas and encouraged out-of-the-box thinking. To ensure that we got the right colors on our cake, they took swatches from us and made the colors exactly fit ours. They even let us change one of our cake flavors at the last minute with no fuss or extra cost. Oh, and everything was delicious.” — Lisa Breunig, Madison, married Jan. 4, 2014

Wisconsin Bride Best of 2014 winners

BEST DANCE INSTRUCTION
The finalists are: Arthur Murray Dance Studio, Darrell Dieringer – Art of Dance, Fred Astaire Dance Studio
The winner is: Fred Astaire Dance Studio
Multiple locations | fredastaire.com
“The staff at Fred Astaire choreographed an upbeat, fun-loving routine to ‘Lovin’ You is Fun.’ All of our guests were amazed by our dance and still talk about it. The studio was very inviting and made dancing exciting. We had so much fun with the dance lessons and even became closer as a couple while taking them.” — Marcella Eveler, Sun Prairie, married Sept. 13, 2013

BEST TRANSPORTATION
The finalists are:
Badger Bus, Gallant Knight Limousine Service, Presidential Limousine Service
The winner is:
Gallant Knight Limousine Service
Madison | 608.242.7000 | gallantknightusa.com
“When we walked out of the church, the limo was waiting in front—a crisp, clean car that sparkled in the sun. The driver was dressed to the nines and had a smile that told me he was ready to have some fun. The bridal party was thrilled with the personal and professional service that they were given.” — Cheryl B. Huie, mother of bride Kirstin Kanoff, Sun Prairie, married July 21, 2013

BEST FLORIST
The finalists are: daffodil*parker, Garden Laurels by Sager, Studio Fleurette
The winner is: daffodil*parker
Madison | 608.663.2100| daffodilparker.com
“Choosing daffodil*parker for our wedding florist was a very easy decision—we were impressed from the beginning. During our initial meeting, they listened to our ideas, likes and dislikes; and after a short conversation they seemed to instantly understand our vision. They had so many wonderful ideas but didn’t pressure us to do anything we didn’t love. They thought of every detail, and it was executed exactly as we had planned. The flowers on our wedding day were absolutely stunning; each bouquet and arrangement was beautifully put together, helping create the perfect atmosphere for our big day.” — Leeann Katzfey, Madison, married Sept. 28, 2013

BEST WEDDING-NIGHT HOTEL
The finalists are:
HotelRED, Iron Horse Hotel, Mansion Hill Inn
The winner is: 
Mansion Hill Inn
Madison | 608.255.0172 | mansionhillinn.com
“My husband and I knew that we wanted to spend our wedding night at a venue that was rich in character, history and luxury. The Mansion Hill Inn embodied all of these qualities. We stayed in an elegant room with a wraparound balcony on the second floor. After a day of mingling with our guests and being on our feet, it was so nice to stay in such a luxurious, private, spa-like room where we could unwind and happily reflect on the details of our wedding day.” — Erin Ellison, Madison, married Sept. 21, 2013

Wisconsin Bride Best of 2014 winners

BEST CEREMONY VENUE
The finalists are: The Enchanted Barn, Lake Windsor Golf Club, Mystical Rose Gardens
The winner is: Mystical Rose Gardens
Baldwin | 715.821.0097 | mysticalrosegardens.com
“My husband and I chose Mystical Rose Gardens because it’s exactly how it sounds: mystical. We wanted an outdoor wedding to fit our rustic theme. When we first toured Mystical Rose Gardens, we fell in love with it. The scenery took our breath away, with all of the flowers and trees surrounding the area. We also loved the convenience of having the ceremony and reception at the same venue. Owner Lori Anderson’s main focus is to make sure that each wedding day is special and stress-free, which was exactly what we experienced.” — Cassy Nelson, Woodbury, Minn., married Aug. 3, 2013

BEST INDOOR RECEPTION SITE
The finalists are: Lake Windsor Golf Club, Monona Terrace, Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum
The winner is: Lake Windsor Golf Club
Windsor | 608.846.4711 | lakewindsor.com
“The moment I walked into Lake Windsor Golf Club, I knew it was the place I wanted celebrate my wedding. I chose Lake Windsor for the environment and the amenities it offered for my guests, such as a hotel shuttle. The consultants were wonderful and handled all the small details of setup so I didn’t have to worry, and I’m truly thankful for that. I absolutely loved every moment of my reception.” — Michelle Billmann, Grafton, married Sept. 21, 2013

BEST JEWELER
The finalists are: Goodman’s Jewelers, Kesslers DiamondsTQ Diamonds
The winner is: Kesslers Diamonds
Multiple locations | kesslersdiamonds.com
“Kesslers carries unique, one-of-a-kind collections that you can’t find elsewhere—they truly care about their business. Their warranty and guarantee is unmatched, and they stand behind that. We get so many compliments on my ring because it is so much more shiny and sparkly than most I see. It’s also very unique, which is what I love. They’ve got price points for every budget and so many styles and settings to choose from too.” — Jessica Schloss, Edgerton, married April 13, 2013

BEST HONEYMOON IN WISCONSIN
The finalists are: The American Club, Heidel House Resort & Spa, Sundara Inn & Spa
The winner is: Heidel House Resort & Spa
Green Lake | 920.294.3344| heidelhouse.com
“We had a lot of close family and friends come from far and wide for our wedding, and we wanted somewhere people could stay and make a long weekend out of it to enjoy some time with their families. We loved the Heidel House because it was the perfect mix of class (with amazing food!) and a low-key vibe, with a beautiful natural outdoor space. It was really just the perfect destination wedding for us without having to fly halfway around the world!” — Christy Tyler, Chicago, married May 23, 2009

Wisconsin Bride Best of 2014 winners

BEST OUTDOOR RECEPTION SITE
The finalists are: Blue Horse Farm, The Enchanted Barn, Olbrich Botanical Gardens
The winner is: The Enchanted Barn
Hillsdale | 715.254.1557 | theenchantedbarn.com
“Like most brides, I wanted my wedding to be unique so I could use my own special touches to customize it to our taste. The Enchanted Barn staff was so accommodating and helpful throughout the whole planning process and the wedding day. They truly helped my wedding vision come to life and, shockingly, weren’t scared off when we pulled up with a huge trailer filled with decorations! Our guests still talk about our amazing venue.” — Mallory Kiesow, Eden Prairie, Minn., married July 14, 2013

BEST BRIDAL GOWNS
The finalists are: Brandi’s Bridal Galleria Etc., Marah’s Elegant Bridal, Vera’s House of Bridals
The winner is: Vera’s House of Bridals
Madison | 608.833.6006  | verasbridals.com
“From the moment you set foot into Vera’s, everyone is very friendly and helpful. It’s not just the professionalism, service, friendly attitudes and dress selection that make Vera’s the best, though. [Owner] Vera Stillmank herself takes pride in what she has created. She spends time at the store and makes the rounds with the brides. She offers ideas and makes sure everyone is happy. That store is her pride and joy, and it shows.” — Katrina Ford, Madison, married Oct. 26, 2013

Wisconsin Bride Best of 2014 winners

BEST ATTENDANT DRESSES
The finalists are: Brandi’s Bridal Galleria Etc., Miss Ruby Boutique, Vera’s House of Bridals
The winner is: Brandi’s Bridal Galleria Etc.
New Glarus | 608.527.4436 | brandisbridal.com
“The staff at Brandi’s is knowledgeable, attentive and very easy to work with. Their new facility is fantastic, bright and spacious. Brandi’s has a ton of dress options in a wide range of colors and styles, and there was plenty of room for me to bring a few of my bridesmaids to the appointment so that they could try on dresses. I would recommend Brandi’s Bridal to anyone.” — Molly Lawrence, Wisconsin Rapids, married Dec. 31, 2013

BEST MOTHER-OF-THE-BRIDE APPAREL
The finalists are: Brandi’s Bridal Galleria Etc., Specially Hers, Vera’s House of Bridals
The winner is: Specially Hers
Baraboo | 608.356.3033  | speciallyhers.com
“I went to Specially Hers with my mom because she had a hard time finding options for mother-of-the-bride attire at any of the other stores. At Specially Hers, she found variety in colors and styles, and she looked and felt great on my wedding day. Specially Hers has amazing variety, not just with dresses, but also for accessories; I bought my shoes and veil there as well. Most importantly, the staff was very friendly and helpful.” — Michelle McCrumb, Madison, married June 22, 2013

BEST CALLIGRAPHY
The finalists are: Blooming Quill, Emily Balsley Illustration, InkyDinkyDo Calligraphy
The winner is: Blooming Quill
Milwaukee | 262.268.0525 | bloomingquill.com
“I used Blooming Quill for my place cards. [Calligrapher] Debi Zeinert managed to turn such a simple thing into a work of art! The place cards were beautiful and flawless; I was thrilled with her stunning work. Debi was wonderful to work with, extremely responsive and worked with my schedule.” — Christine Elizabeth Townsend, Clive, Iowa, married June 28, 2013

Wisconsin Bride Best of 2014 winners

BEST INVITATIONS 
The finalists are:
Paper Piper, Sugar Pear Design, Sugar River Stationers
The winner is: Sugar Pear Design
Verona | 608.288.8976 | sugarpeardesign.com
“From our first meeting, I was incredibly impressed by [owner] Kathy Marcelle’s professionalism and attention to detail. Despite my vague description of my husband and I as a ‘modern-traditional couple with an eccentric and bold style,’ she was able to capture my vision for my wedding by combining the bold colors I had chosen with clean, modern lines and a classic font that we used in the invitations, table numbers and wedding program. All of our guests commented on how beautiful the invitations were and how well they fit in with the rest of the wedding décor.” — Rebecca Soares, Madison, married June 29, 2013

BEST DJ
The finalists are: Celebrations Entertainment, Juke Box Bandstand, Showtime Entertainment
The winner is: Juke Box Bandstand
Madison | 608.249.2900 | jukeboxbandstand.com
“Making the choice to work with Juke Box Bandstand was easy. Not only were they familiar with our reception location, they also had a very user-friendly website that allowed us to truly customize our DJ experience. Everything from coordinating the order of the wedding party entrances to a no-play list to choosing our DJ was easy and worry-free. Our guests really enjoyed themselves and had a great time on the dance floor.” — Kelly McDaniel, Chicago, married July 6, 2013

BEST PHOTO BOOTH
The finalists are: Beyond the Booth, Showtime Entertainment, The Traveling Photo Booth
The winner is: Showtime Entertainment
River falls | 715.821.1100 | showtimeentertainmentllc.com
“It was fun watching our guests line up and capture the memories of our night. I received so many comments from my guests that they loved the photo booth and will always enjoy the memories that they got to take home with them. Our wedding would not have been complete without Showtime Entertainment—they created a one-of-a-kind experience for both the wedding party and our guests.” — Naomi Bouska, Chaska, Minn.,  married Oct. 13, 2012

BEST CEREMONY MUSIC
The finalists are:
LFQ String Quartet, North Coast Brass Quintet, Quartessence String Quartet
The winner is: LFQ String Quartet
Madison | 608.249.2900 | jukeboxbandstand.com
“LFQ set the tone beautifully for the warm, joyful ambiance we hoped to create for our late-afternoon wedding. Perfectly tuned, they serenaded our arriving guests with selections of our choosing, ranging from Vivaldi to Led Zeppelin, followed by sprightly renditions of Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” and Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” to begin and end the ceremony. Their cheerful sound resonated throughout the rest of our magical wedding evening.” — Summer Strand, Madison, married Nov. 2, 2013

BEST BAND
The finalists are: Big Mouth and the Power Tool Horns, Jestin Jay Trio, The North Coast Orchestra
The winner is: The North Coast Orchestra
Milwaukee | 414.690.8654 | northcoastorchestra.com
“We’ve continually heard from our guests that our wedding dance was one of the best celebrations they’ve been to. Our dance floor was alive the entire night because the highly talented North Coast Orchestra played a wide array of songs that truly got the party started. Prior to our wedding, they were very attentive to all our needs, including our desired song choices—so attentive that they learned our first dance song especially for us. Their sophisticated and energetic approach will have you wishing your day didn’t have to end.” — Stacy Hochmuth, Colgate, married Jan. 4, 2014

BEST CATERER
The finalists are: Brady’s Brewhouse, Gooseberries Catering, River Valley Catering
The winner is: River Valley Catering
River Falls | 651.600.6240 | rivervalleycatering.com
“My husband and I chose River Valley Catering because of the great food. We had light appetizers right after our ceremony, a family-style salad and buffet. I am still getting compliments today on how good the food was at our wedding.” — Heather Melstrom, Ellsworth, married June 7, 2013

Wisconsin Bride Best of 2014 winnersBEST WEDDING PLANNER
The finalists are: Canvas Weddings, Cherry Blossom Events, Weddings by Nancy
The winner is: Cherry Blossom Events
Madison | 608.497.0133 | cherrybevents.com
“On the day of the wedding, I didn’t have to worry about anything because I knew Cherry Blossom Events would take care of everything. Event designer Andrea VandeBerg and her team were at our venue bright and early working with our vendors and making sure the venue looked perfect. I can’t express how wonderful Cherry Blossom was during the planning process and on the day of the wedding. Andrea truly made our vision a reality, and we couldn’t thank them enough.” — Ali Chrisler, Lansing, Mich., married Aug. 3, 2013

BEST HAIR & MAKEUP
The finalists are: Be Inspired Salon, Rejuvenation Spa, The Ultimate Spa Salon
The winner is: The Ultimate Spa Salon
Monona | 608.222.4174 | ultimatespa.com
“On the day of our wedding, the Ultimate was extremely accommodating; they even let us set up a bloody Mary and brunch bar. My stylist was amazing; she really worked with me to make sure my hair was exactly how I wanted it. I have extremely curly hair, which is frizz-prone and difficult to work with, and it held up wonderfully even in late-July humidity. Overall, I felt beautiful; they made me look exactly the way I envisioned.” — Michelle Adamson, Bakersfield, Calif., married July 20, 2013

BEST SPA FOR BRIDAL PARTY

The finalists are: ANiU Salon & Spa, Sundara Inn & Spa, The Ultimate Spa Salon
The winner is: Sundara Inn & Spa
Wisconsin Dells | 608.253.9200 | sundaraspa.com
“My sister graciously booked my bachelorette party at Sundara Spa. They have a relaxing environment. I went all out by experiencing their private yoga class, followed by a body wrap. After that, we sat by the pool, enjoying mimosas and lunch. Afternoon came and I received my first stone massage, which was undeniably the best massage I’ve had. I ended the day with wine, while receiving a gel manicure and pedicure. I felt so pampered that I booked again for the day before our wedding.” — Kati Whitledge, Madison, married Sept. 28, 2013

BEST FORMALWEAR
The finalists are: DuBois Formalwear, Men’s Wearhouse, Nedrebo’s Formal Wear
The winner is: Nedrebo’s Formal Wear
Multiple locations | nedrebos.com
“Nedrebo’s staff was very helpful and patient while my husband and I explored all of our options for different colors and styles of tuxedos. They worked well with each member of our large wedding party and had all of the items ready to pick up in perfect condition before our wedding.” — Jessica Schloss, Edgerton, married April 13, 2013

BEST HOTEL FOR GUESTS
The finalists are: Courtyard Marriott Madison East, Hilton Madison Monona Terrace, The Madison Concourse Hotel
The winner is: Courtyard Marriott Madison East
Madison | 608.661.8100 | marriott.com
“We chose the Courtyard Marriott Madison East because of its close proximity to our East Side venues, their large modern lobby and bar area, updated amenities and excellent value. This hotel was special because they offered to extend their bar hours for our guests to enjoy late-night cocktails and watch the end of the Badger football game after our reception. Of course we took them up on the offer, and everyone had a blast.” — Katie Herbrand, Madison, married Sept. 14, 2013

BEST ATTENDANT GIFTS 
The finalists are:
Jaxie, Things Remembered, Vera’s House of Bridals
The winner is: Jaxie
Milwaukee | 414.699.9000 | shopjaxie.com
“When I saw the details that designer Jackie Barutha puts into her accessories and how unique each item is, I knew I had to have a piece made by her. First I decided on a belt, but then I wanted her to make every accessory for my special day, because nothing I saw in department stores stood out to me. I had her make a belt, a headpiece and a purse that matched my gown. She really knows what the bride wants and how to get the bride’s vision across in her accessories.” — Tzvia Cuperman, Oxford, Ohio, married June 14, 2014

BEST TRAVEL AGENCY
The finalists are: All About Honeymoons, Kim Gorres with Travel Now, Middleton Travel
The winner is: Kim Gorres with Travel Now
New Richmond | 715.246.6922 | travelnowinc.net
“As we started planning our honeymoon, we talked with Kim about our ideas in hopes that she would be able to help us find the perfect location. Kim was able to give us several ideas—she made it seem like she was planning this trip as if it were her own, to make sure that we would be comfortable and enjoy every minute of it. We narrowed it down to a Greek cruise. Kim walked us through our entire itinerary, giving us a list of things that we should bring on the trip and what to expect for our first cruise and trip abroad. It was an amazing trip, one that we will never forget.” — Sarah Huss, Maple Grove, Minn., married Oct. 4, 2013

Wisconsin Bride Best of 2014 winnersBEST OFFICIANT
The finalists are: Ceremonies by Design, Happily Ever After Wedding Officiants, Let’s Get Married! Wedding Officiants
The winner is: Happily Ever After Wedding Officiants
Madison | 608.831.0993 | happilyeverafterweddings.info
“[Officiants] Connie and James Engmann were an absolute pleasure to work with throughout our entire wedding planning process. During our first meeting, they said something that rang true for us: ‘You’re already married; this ceremony is just a way to make it official.’ We would recommend Connie and James in a heartbeat to anyone. They were an essential piece to our wedding, and we couldn’t have done it without them.” — Allison Christensen, Greenwood Village, Colo., married Oct. 19, 2013

BEST VIDEOGRAPHER
The finalists are: Dandylion Pictures, Ideal Impressions, One Fine Day Productions
The winner is: Dandylion Pictures
Minnesota and Wisconsin | 715.222.6631 | dandylionpictures.com
“Our wedding film is the most touching thing I have ever watched. Viewing it, I can tell that Dandylion not only invested time in creating it, but love. Their work spoke; it said, ‘We care about you, your wedding and your love story.’ I now have a beautiful piece of art that captures my wedding day and every emotion that was present. Each time I watch it, I relive one of the best days of my life.” — Taylor Coffin, Hudson, married Aug. 10, 2013

BEST RENTAL AND DÉCORWisconsin Bride Best of 2014 winners
The finalists are: A La Crate Vintage Rentals, Cover it Up, Event Essentials
The winner is: A La Crate Vintage Rentals
Monona | 608.669.2541 | alacratevintage.com
“I found A La Crate Vintage online and fell in love with their aesthetic, which nailed the ‘vintage/eclectic/sustainable/local/rustic’ vibe I was going for. Their website was easy to navigate, with a clean design that showcased their beautiful collection. In person, the experience only gets better. Every interaction with [owners] Sarah and Jeff Mullins was warm, relaxed, professional and efficient.” — Moira Wilkinson, Montclair, N.J., married Sept. 28, 2013

BEST ACCESSORIES
The finalists are:
Jaxie, Marah’s Elegant Bridal, Vera’s House of Bridals
The winner is: Marah’s Elegant Bridal
Mount Horeb | 608.437.6107 | marahselegantbridal.com
“I choose Marah’s for my bridal accessories because they offer MEG jewelry. I came to a trunk show that featured Meg Lammers’s work, and I was able to try on my dress and work with Meg to pick out the best accessories to match my look. Marah’s was excellent to work with and I would recommend them to anyone.” — Amanda Joy, Dubuque, Iowa, married May 17, 2014

BEST WEDDING REGISTRY 
The finalists are:
 Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s, Target
The winner is: Bed Bath & Beyond
Various Locations | bedbathandbeyond.com
“Bed Bath & Beyond was a fantastic place to register. After our wedding, I received a phone call from one of the staff members thanking us for registering and offering a special 10 percent off anything in the store (even items that weren’t on our registry). I couldn’t make the scheduled time and was allowed to come in during regular shopping hours at my convenience to get the discount. Bed Bath & Beyond offers fantastic customer service from beginning to end.” — Jessica Korsmo, Madison, married Oct. 19, 2013

TOP OF THE TIARA
The finalists are:
BP Photo, Lake Windsor Golf Club, Photographs by Jenna Leigh
The winner is: 
Lake Windsor Golf Club
Windsor | 608.846.4711 | lakewindsor.com

Wisconsin Bride Best of 2014 winners

The secret to Lake Windsor Golf Club’s success as a premier wedding venue isn’t much of a secret after all. It’s a fairly simple philosophy, says general manager Jennifer Anderson. “We get to know each bride and groom so we can take care of every detail in a way that honors them as a couple.”
     From the moment a couple walks in the door until the lights dim for their first dance as husband and wife, every detail is handled with professional elegance. “The staff at Lake Windsor is definitely the best of the best,” says bride Amanda Minnig, who said “I do” in a January wedding that featured a stunning winter backdrop through Lake Windsor’s signature floor-to-ceiling windows.
     “Our event coordinator made sure that everything ran flawlessly on the day of our event,” Minnig says. “We truly couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
     It’s that all-encompassing service that drew bride Kelly McDaniel to Lake Windsor for her July wedding. “The space had everything we needed: a beautiful outdoor area complete with a gorgeous gazebo for the ceremony, a spacious patio for our guests to enjoy the summer evening and an indoor reception space with plenty of room to party!”
     Brides and grooms often strive to create a unique experience for their guests, an idea the staff at Lake Windsor is fully invested in. “We want to express who these people are as a couple instead of executing a cookie-cutter wedding,” Anderson says. “We try to take a hobby, a passion, a family tradition or a meaningful recipe and fully convey its importance to the guests.”
     While each wedding is unique, it’s the big picture that guests remember the most, Anderson says. “What guests take away is the quality of the food, beverages, music and all-around ambiance,” she says—all areas where Lake Windsor Golf Club, again and again, remains unsurpassed.