Wed Wisconsin-style with a Brewery or Distillery Reception

A father-daughter dance at the Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery in Milwaukee.
Embrace Wisconsin’s heritage of fine libations by hosting your reception at a brewery or distillery.
Written by
Claire Swinarski


Fall/Winter 2019

Wisconsin is known for football, foliage and some fantastic drinks. Consider celebrating this aspect of our state culture by hosting your wedding reception at a venue famous for crafting beer or spirits.

If you and your groom met at a bar, enjoyed cocktails on your first date or simply love trying new drinks, holding your wedding reception at a brewery or distillery can be a great way to add a personal spin to your celebration. Guests will love the individuality that comes with an unusual space and will have fun trying out the different drinks.

Why are breweries and distilleries becoming such popular wedding venues? For one, each is unique. If you’re looking for a venue that has an unforgettable feel, these craftmade spaces deliver. Many are quite beautiful, featuring a combination of ornate woodwork and modern metals. And what wedding planning task could be more fun than going to a brewery and sampling beer?

If you’re worried this kind of venue will feel too informal, don’t. Many of the venues have an historic aesthetic that lends itself to a romantic affair, and the views from some locales may take your breath away. Spaces can generally be dressed up or dressed down, too, allowing you to embrace your particular wedding style while enjoying a venue that feels out-of-the-box.

If you’re looking to host a reception that pushes the wedding-venue envelope, consider broadening your horizons and checking out one of the many breweries or distilleries Wisconsin has to offer.

Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery
If you’re looking for a venue that feels like you’ve traveled back in time, Best Place could be your best choice. Located right across the street from the Brewhouse Inn & Suites, Best Place has multiple halls that can seat anywhere from 40 to 300 guests. The Great Hall and Speakeasy is one of the most spectacular areas; the original stained-glass windows from 1880, the wood flooring from 1881 repurposed from the old brew house, and the detailed woodwork set this venue apart. Best Place at the Historic Pabst offers guests a chance to celebrate in a historic Wisconsin venue while enjoying some of Pabst’s finest brews.

Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery
Photo by Reminisce Studio by Miranda & Adam

Capital Brewery
Looking for an outdoor venue near Madison? Capital Brewery, a 20-minute car ride away, has both indoor and outdoor spaces, but the outdoor Bier Garten stands out as the perfect location for a Wisconsin wedding reception. It’s also perfect if you need a large space, accommodating up to 1,200. Capital Brewery provides everything from the seating and table linens to the tent and the stage, making it an easy choice for brides who want their reception to feel more like a party than a formal affair. Middleton offers a free trolley tour of the town, and Capital Brewery is on the route, keeping things carefree and safe for your out-of-town guests.

Capital Brewery
Courtesy of Capital Brewery

Great Lakes Distillery
If you’re more of a spirits person, consider Great Lakes Distillery for your celebration. The outdoor patio, for more intimate weddings, can hold up to 65 guests, with seating for around 30. The indoor space features their hand-crafted, award-winning distilled spirits and a small selection of local craft beers. If you need a larger space, the distillery can rent out the split-level venue for up to 250 people. The entire space feels cozy and close-knit, allowing your friends and family to enjoy the best of the distillery and the scenic Walker’s Point neighborhood as they celebrate your new chapter.

Great Lakes Distillery
Courtesy of Great Lakes Distillery

Old Sugar Distillery
Old Sugar Distillery prides itself on blending traditional and modern. The distillery is located in an old building with beautifully aged wood and brick, but the venue embraces a “new” element as well, with bright stainless steel featured throughout. The products also reflect the old-meets-new vibe, blending time-tested methods with new technology. The Rickhouse space can seat around 100 guests, with room for 150 to mingle, and offers floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing the room to be flooded with natural light for stunning wedding-day photos.

Old Sugar Distillery
Courtesy of Old Sugar Distillery

Badger State Brewing Co.
Green Bay
No matter your wedding style, Badger State Brewing can serve as a beautiful backdrop for your big day. The hand-stained barrel rounds and hand-laid barrel staves keep décor down to earth, and can be a focal point or accent, dressed up or embraced as is. The large, open space can be styled to fit any couple’s vision—it’s essentially a blank slate just waiting for a designer’s elegant details. If you’re thinking of a midday outdoor affair, the Badger Gardens Plaza is framed with archways and a charming English garden. The company also offers tents to rent, so you don’t need to be concerned about our unpredictable weather. Badger State Brewing also loves to customize each couple’s beer experience, allowing them to sample offerings and designate “his,” “hers,” and “ours” beers, giving your guests a chance to try different types of craft brews and get a taste of the culture of central Wisconsin. The venue can accommodate 350 seated guests to about 800 standing.

Badger State Brewing Co.
Photo by Laurelyn Savannah Photography

Badger State Brewing Co.
Photo by Erin Jean Photography

Things to Remember

  • Temperature. Some venues have very specific climate control because of the beer or spirits. Make sure to inquire about the temperature, particularly if you’re hosting a summer wedding.
  • Candles. Dreaming of flickering candles everywhere? Venues where alcohol is produced often have strict rules about open flames and only allow battery-operated candles for safety reasons.
  • Vibe. Breweries and distilleries can often have an old-fashioned look about them. If you’re hoping for a more modern feel, ask to see photos from previous weddings to see how others have transformed the space.
  • Options. Some breweries and distilleries may only be able to serve the alcohol they create on-site. If you have your heart set on a particular beer or wine, ask ahead of time if they can accommodate your request.
  • Transportation. The alcohol is often flowing at wedding receptions, but at a brewery or distillery, you’ll want to make extra-sure your guests aren’t letting the celebration get out of hand. Plan for a transportation option for your guests in case they imbibe a little too generously.