Love on Tap: Brewery Weddings
From across the nation to right here at home, breweries are trending, big time. Gone are the days when visions of breweries included mass-production lines slinging watery lager into six packs. These days, microbreweries have created a revolution in the beer world, and these venues are opening their doors to private events and wedding receptions. And no one knows breweries better than Wisconsinites.
Anyone who’s lived in Wisconsin for even a short while knows that brewers are an integral part of the cultural fabric, say Haley Mueller and Emilee Robenhorst, owners of Mint & Lovely, a boutique event design studio in Milwaukee. With more and more couples looking for unique wedding venues and personalized touches, Mueller and Robenhorst relish thinking outside the box. “We love coming up with unique ideas that give a nod to Milwaukee’s brewing history, but in an elegant and sophisticated way.”
Indeed, breweries can be perfect venues to host part or all of your wedding day. Many are located in historic buildings with exposed brick and wood, which give that sought-after industrial yet modern feel.
“We are definitely seeing breweries becoming more popular as a venue for wedding festivities,” note Sarah Sarbacker and Andrea VandeBerg, co-owners of Cherry Blossom Events in Verona. “With the rising trend of microbreweries across the state of Wisconsin, people are wanting to encompass that style and vibe into their wedding.”
When it comes to choosing a wedding venue, breweries often are top of the list for many of today’s couples.
Breweries are a perfect fit for couples seeking a place that is fun and different, says Allison Kline, owner of Green Bay event planning company sash&bow. “Also, breweries are often rustic looking, which is a huge trend right now, so you automatically have some décor built in.”
And due to the historical nature of many breweries, the venues themselves can have fascinating stories.
Case in point: Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery, the first of the great Milwaukee breweries, dating back to the mid-19th century. The brewery closed its doors in 1996; fast-forward to 2001 when Jim Haertel purchased the brewery, making it his mission to bring this landmark back to life. Now Best Place has become a staple in the Milwaukee wedding market. “Our place is so ornate and so historic, it is an amazing backdrop to an already special day,” says Haertel.
Newlyweds Debbie Boeldt and Benjamin Fell said “I do” at Best Place in July 2015. Boeldt is originally from Wisconsin, but the pair met in Fell’s native Colorado and now live in California. With so many friends and relatives traveling from across the country, they decided to meet in the middle, choosing Wisconsin as their wedding destination.
“We chose Best Place because we wanted a unique venue,” says Boeldt, noting that she and her fiancé fell in love with the brewery’s historic details, including wooden tables from the 1800s and stunning stained glass windows. “We had our ceremony in the courtyard and reception indoors, both right at the brewery, and couldn’t have been happier.”
Cheers for Beers
When choosing the venue for your special day, you’ll find that every brewery has its own unique personality. Whether it’s centuries old or the hottest new microbrewery in town, each place has something distinct to offer.
At Delafield Brewhouse, outdoor weddings are the norm during the summer months, and couples tie the knot next to live hops growing in the beer garden. “It offers a unique backdrop for weddings,” says banquet manager Tricia Knutson.
Even breweries that don’t normally host weddings can still play a part in your wedding festivities. Any number of events preceding the wedding (think showers and bachelorette and bachelor parties) can host your party or play a part in a brewery crawl.
Tour de Brew
A great way to break up your wedding day (and keep guests entertained while you and the bridal party are whisked away for photos) is to offer a brewery tour between the ceremony and reception.
“At Best Place, we offer our Beer History Tour, taking people all the way back to 1844 when the brewery was originally established,” says Haertel.
When Katherine Vowell married Adam Robinson in April 2015, they took their entire wedding party to Lakefront Brewery for a tour between their ceremony at Gesu church and reception at the Milwaukee War Memorial. “We knew that our wedding would be a long day,” says Vowell. “The ceremony was early in the day, and our reception wasn’t until the evening, so we were looking for ways to fill the break in between.
“Almost all of our wedding party was from out of town, and we wanted to share unique Milwaukee experiences with our close family and friends,” she continues. “This way, it wasn’t like they were just flying into town for a wedding, they were coming to Milwaukee for a vacation and an experience.” *
Did You Know?
The word “bridal” is derived from an Old English word meaning wedding feast. The original word was brydealo, a combination of bryd (bride), and ealo (ale), the celebratory drink.
Bride + ale = bridal: Proof that beer is a perfect accompaniment to any wedding celebration.
Eat, Drink and Be Married
The brewery theme can expand well beyond your venue and beverage selection. We asked our pros to weigh in on some of the ingenious ideas they’ve seen.
“We had a couple home-brew and bottle their own beer to give away as party favors. The labels said ‘Ale You Need Is Love.’ Super-creative!” —Kimberly Dorfner, event coordinator at Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery
“Red Elephant Chocolate can make a custom mold of whatever design you dream up—couples can easily create their own brewery-inspired image and have it molded into delicious chocolate favors.” —Haley Mueller and Emilee Robenhorst, owners of Mint & Lovely
“A pint glass or some other item from the brewery itself is always a great favor and personal touch. Or maybe your late-night food has been beer-battered in some way with the local ale.” —Andrea VandeBerg and Sarah Sarbacker, owners of Cherry Blossom Events
“One of our weddings had an Oktoberfest theme. We did German food, and the bride and groom dressed up in German garb; then they took their honeymoon in Germany at Oktoberfest.” —Kate Beauchamp, event coordinator at Titletown Brewing Co.
C’mon Get Hoppy: Top Taps for Tying the Knot