For the Love of the Lake: Wedding Venues in Lake Geneva

Discover an idyllic Wisconsin wedding destination at Lake Geneva.
From: Fall/Winter 2015 edition
After their Abbey Resort ceremony, Erin and Alex Elliott took a Lake Geneva Cruise Line steam yacht across the lake to their Riviera Ballroom reception.

Lake Geneva has long been a go-to destination for a great Wisconsin getaway—and weddings are no exception. From large, lavish affairs to more intimate celebrations, weddings of all sizes find their perfect fit. Whether you prefer a sunny summertime wedding, gorgeous fall colors or sparkling snowflakes, Lake Geneva has everything you’ll need to make your wedding dreams a reality.

Of course, this reality comes with a beautiful backdrop: Geneva Lake. “It’s the beauty of the area, the memories that people have made and the connection they feel to the lake that brings so many couples here,” says Sara Schmitz, marketing director for the Abbey Resort in Fontana. “They want their guests to experience and appreciate the area as much as they do.”

Venues, Views & Variety

With luxury resorts, vintage cruise boats, rustic farmsteads and elegant ballrooms, Lake Geneva offers a wealth of venue options for couples.

After their outdoor ceremony at the Abbey Resort in October 2014, Alex and Erin Elliott took a steam yacht across the lake to the Riviera Ballroom in Lake Geneva, where their reception boasted panoramic lake views.

“Both [venues] were so beautiful. I fell in love with the Riviera Ballroom the moment I saw it: the setting on the lake, the historical nature and feel of the building, and the location right in the heart of town,” says Erin.

In fact, the Riviera is a favorite of many couples and wedding professionals, including event designers Sarah Sarbacker and Andrea VandeBerg, co-owners of Madison’s Cherry Blossom Events. “It really embodies the lake feel for your wedding and for your guests,” says Sarbacker. “It’s a perfect spot because it’s walking distance for guests to enjoy the historic downtown area or take a stroll along the beach.”

With its picture-perfect gazebos, harbor views and manicured grounds, the Abbey is another popular venue. “It’s an iconic Geneva Lake resort,” says Schmitz, and it’s the only full-service resort on the shores of Geneva Lake.

Geneva National Resort is another beloved wedding venue, boasting two wedding locations: the Geneva National Golf Club, with its sweeping golf course views, and Geneva Ridge, which offers several ballrooms and both indoor and outdoor ceremony spots.

Views of the lake are grand, but you can choose to get on the water, too. Whether for a post-ceremony excursion, a rehearsal dinner or the reception itself, your guests will love the novelty of boarding a boat. Lake Geneva Cruise Line is one of the region’s most popular services.

abbey-resort

The iconic Abbey Resort is the only full-service resort on the shores of Geneva Lake.


Setting the Vibe

To make the most of your Lake Geneva-area nuptials, make the lake a part of your event by incorporating it into your décor and activities.

“It could be choosing a sailcloth tent for your backyard wedding or having guests cruise the lake for your cocktail hour or reception,” says VandeBerg. “Get playful with it. One of our favorite lakeside weddings had a Dixieland band, complete with boater hats, play for the cocktail hour, and it set such a festive mood.”

To capitalize on all the area offers, be sure to visit the many local shops and attractions. “The more you can thoughtfully design your wedding to that lake country feel, the more your guests will really feel like it’s a destination wedding,” adds Sarbacker.

For instance, bring in local foods as favors or late-night snacks. Or create a scavenger hunt for guests to try new things from a variety of downtown shops. Host a beach party on Friday night to welcome guests or offer a sunset cruise for the wedding party.

“Tying all the elements of your wedding into the overall look and activities will make it cohesive and a reflection of the area,” says VandeBerg.

When it comes to booking wedding vendors, you don’t need to look too far. Lake Geneva-area vendors not only know the territory, they are also hospitality pros who are willing to make recommendations. “We found that the Lake Geneva area specializes in customer service,” says Erin. “From the beginning, we noticed that every vendor we worked with gave us their full attention and made us feel that our day was the most important thing on their calendar.”

Good Times for All

Located 45 minutes from Milwaukee and 90 minutes from Madison and Chicago, Lake Geneva is a true wedding destination—but without the hassle or expense of long-distance travel. While many couples choose the region because of a special connection built on fond memories, many others flock to the lake based on reputation alone.

“There are many activities and restaurants to keep your guests occupied and having a good time,” says Emily McMahon, who had her August 2014 reception at Geneva National Golf Club. “Plus, when you drive into Lake Geneva, you instantly feel relaxed.”

With so many activities available in the region, it’s easy for your guests to have a good time in their downtime. Consider ziplining with Lake Geneva Canopy Tours or Aerial Adventures. Another memorable way to commemorate the event is with a hot-air balloon ride with Lake Geneva Balloon Co.

Brides, grooms and guests looking to de-stress would do well to enjoy a relaxing massage at WELL Spa and Salon at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa or the Calladora Spa at Lake Lawn Resort. Golf is another popular activity here. And if you’re coming during the chillier months, go skiing at the Mountain Top at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa or enjoy ice-skating at any number of places around the lake.

“It’s a place that your guests will want to go to,” says Erin. “We found that a very high percentage of our guests had never been to the Lake Geneva area. After the wedding, many people mentioned that they planned to go back again because there was so much to see and do.” *

Venues with a View

The Abbey Resort
The only resort directly on Geneva Lake, the Abbey Resort offers a variety of idyllic waterfront and garden locations, as well as intimate indoor settings for your wedding day. 262.275.1494

The Baker House
Featuring enviable views of Geneva Lake, English-style gardens and richly appointed décor, the Baker House is the only lakefront garden and mansion open to the public for private parties. 262.248.4700

Geneva National Resort

Incorporate the splendor of Geneva Lake’s countryside into your big day at one of Geneva National’s two sites: Geneva National Golf Club, 262.245.7046 Geneva Ridge, 262.249.3850

Grand Geneva Resort & Spa
From ballrooms and a rustic chalet to an open-air pavilion and gorgeous manicured lawns, Grand Geneva offers multiple indoor and outdoor venues for your dream wedding. 800.558.3417

Lake Geneva Cruise Line
Surround yourself with a 360-degree view of Lake Geneva while you exchange vows (or party at the reception) on one of Lake Geneva Cruise Line’s boats. The fleet includes steamboats, vintage yachts and more. 262.248.6206

Lake Geneva Riviera Ballroom
Transport your guests back in time in the historic swing-era Riviera Ballroom, complemented by a panoramic view of Geneva Lake. 262.248.3673

Lake Lawn Resort
For more than 130 years, Lake Lawn Resort has delighted visitors with its 250 acres of woods and two miles of Delavan Lake shoreline. These same natural delights set the stage for your big day, whether it’s a simple ceremony or a posh weekend wedding. 262.728.7950