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Door Country Offers Local Charm and All-Natural Beauty for a Quintessential Wisconsin Wedding
Whether on a beach, by a bay or in a park, Door County offers endless options for a wedding to remember for couples, their families and friends.
In Door County, Wisconsin's Beautiful Lakes, Rivers and Woodlands meet the charm of limestone cliffs, lighthouses and rows of quaint shops and restaurants. Local delicacies like homemade cheese curds, fish hot from the fryer and cherries in every imaginable form, from cordials to hand pies, are an enticement to taste. “A Door County wedding is not an eight-hour affair. It’s a weekend where family and friends are all on vacation together,” says Carrie Baldwin of Door County Event Planners. Plan your wedding in this enchanting place, and you and your guests will have another reason to return year after year.
Not everyone is a tourist in Door County— many, like Lauren and Matt Curtin, have grown up here. The Curtins, high school sweethearts who grew up in Sturgeon Bay, knew their June 2019 wedding was an opportunity to celebrate their spectacular home.
They quickly chose The Kress Pavilion in Egg Harbor as their venue, knowing guests would love the breathtaking views of the Lake Michigan shoreline. “We had amazing views of the water on one side and the cherry orchards on the other,” says Lauren Curtin. “The natural beauty of the county is what we love.”
The wedding party took Door County Trolley from the first-look photos at Whitefish Dunes State Park to the Kress. Art of Exposure Photography, based in Sturgeon Bay, captured the joyful spirit of the day. “Try to go local as much as you can,” advises Curtin. “Local vendors will bend over backwards to make your day run smoothly.”
Guests enjoyed relaxed food stations arranged by Alexander’s of Door County, mouthwatering cherry pies from Schartner’s Farm Market and signature cocktails made with Door County cherries. “The sunset provided natural fireworks,” Curtin remembers with a smile, and guests danced under the stars late into the night.
Time to Explore
“Get outside,” advises Amy Starr, banquets and events manager at Gordon Lodge in Baileys Harbor. “One of the highlights of getting married in Door County is that friends and family don’t need to be entertained by the bride and groom for the duration of their stay. Guests will want to ‘explore the Door’ on their own.”
Jess Reinke, general manager at Kress Pavilion, says customized maps with a couple’s favorite places are one of her favorite touches to welcome baskets, invitations or even as a guestbook. For nature lovers, Reinke suggests Toft Point. “Located just outside of Baileys Harbor, it’s a wonderful 2-mile hike along a beautiful limestone peninsula with rugged coastline.”
The Curtins sent their guests on a cheese curd crawl up and down the county. “It’s such a fun way to see each town,” says Curtin. “We do one with our family every Christmas.” They also urge guests to bike the sunset trail at Peninsula State Park, visit One Barrel Brewing Co., Wild Tomato Pizza or just relax with a book at Egg Harbor Beach. “Check out the Peg Egan Performing Arts Center, which hosts free outdoor concerts on Sundays, June through August,” adds Reinke.
“Many frequenters to Door County have been visiting with their families in a ritual that goes back for generations,” Starr says. That was the case for Chicago couple John and Megan Pawlak Bodett. They opted to host their August 2019 wedding in Door County because of so many happy childhood memories. “His family has a cabin there, and my grandparents had a condo there, so we grew up going all of our lives. It seemed like a feasible destination wedding and a great way to share the place we love so much. Plus, we had the whole weekend away with family and friends,” says Megan Pawlak Bodett.
A few nights before the wedding, their closest family members and the bridal party arrived, and the couple hosted a relaxed picnic dinner at Peninsula State Park in a gazebo overlooking the water. Then they strolled over to Wilson’s Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor for cones and sundaes, and finished the night with a bonfire. More family arrived Friday, and the group took a bike ride through the park before the rehearsal dinner at Kress Pavilion. The couple loved how the weekend slowly unfolded, starting with their inner circle and building up to the joyous gathering on their wedding day at Woodwalk Gallery, nestled in a field of sunflowers alongside a forest and vintage barn. “A lot of people made a long weekend out of it,” Pawlak Bodett says.
The couple chose Helene Ingsten-Anderson of Flora Flower Shop to enhance the natural beauty of the property with wild, romantic flowers, including locally grown dahlias, zinnias and cosmos. “We have sophisticated brides coming to Door County from all over the world,” says Ingsten- Anderson. “I love to Facetime or meet in person to get a feel for their sensibilities.” Ingsten-Anderson’s arrangements have a European feel inspired by her native Sweden and work beautifully with vintage settings such as Woodwalk Gallery.
The ceremony included communion and a prayer from both the bride’s and groom’s parents. During the cocktail hour, guests strolled among the flowers or relaxed with lawn games. As a nod to Pawlak Bodett’s family tradition of canning, jars of cherry jam and fruit preserves served as place cards.
Chandra Johnson of Door County Event Planners helped ensure the day was perfectly paced and executed. “We were just slowly moving throughout the property all day. It was seamless,” says Pawlak Bodett.
“Door County is a serene escape from every day,” says Alliey Kline-Weichelt, owner of Alliey & Co., formerly Sash & Bow. “You can forget your phone and let the beauty of the outdoors capture you. It is a place to connect with others, taking a stroll through town or on a nature trail.”
Kline-Weichelt planned an outdoor wedding at Peninsula State Park for a couple who had vacationed in Door County for years. Many of the guests were first-time visitors to the area. Most of all, the couple wanted to showcase the quiet beauty of Lake Michigan. The weekend began with a rehearsal dinner on the lake. A food truck provided a relaxed meal and an ice cream truck provided a nostalgic element of summertime surprise. The scenic location brought its own romance. “On the wedding night, guests finished dinner with the sunset reflecting on the bluff. During the dancing, I noticed guests gazing at the stars in the sky,” says Kline-Weichelt. “In their everyday life, they’re in a city full of lights and crazy schedules and expectations. Here in Door County, they could just be, and take in the simple beauty of life.”
Till We Meet Again
The morning after the wedding, Kline-Weichelt helped organized a drive-in farewell. Guests drove into the circular driveway of the groom’s cottage, where the hosts said their goodbyes, expressed their gratitude and handed out boxed breakfasts for guests to enjoy on the road home. “There is something so magically Americana about Door County,” says Starr. “My personal belief is that anyone who isn’t in love with Door County simply hasn’t been here.”
These local venues highlight Door County's natural beauty.
Gordon Lodge’s 130- acre property boasts 3 miles of shoreline, a stunning waterfront ceremony site and complimentary bicycles, kayaks and fishing poles for guests to enjoy on the property.
Kress Pavilion offers a wraparound porch that overlooks Lake Michigan and surrounding cherry orchards.
Woodwalk Gallery’s scenic grounds and restored barn also serve as a fine art gallery.
Garden Gables’ 5-acre grounds near Sister Bay offer flexibility for personal touches.
Horseshoe Bay Golf Club’s scenic bluff location offers expansive views of Green Bay with in-house catering.
About Thyme Farm includes a historic barn with a modern cocktail bar as well as a granary with an outdoor deck.
Landmark Resort offers 40 acres of wooded grounds and lodging overlooking Green Bay, with in-house catering.
MUST-SEE DOOR COUNTY STOPS
Whether this is your first trip or your 50th, don't miss these local favorites.
>>Peninsula State Park
>>Whitefish Dunes State Park
>>Three Springs Nature Preserve
>>Steak frites at Chives Restaurant
>>Swedish pancakes and a selfie with goats on the roof at Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant
>>Door Artisan Cheese Co. for charcuterie and award-winning local cheeses
>>Add your name to the wall at Anderson Dock
>>Enjoy the sunset from Gordon Lodge's Top Deck
>>Take in a movie at Skyway Drive-In Theatre
>>Visit the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse