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Wisconsin Bride Best of 2012 Winners

Wisconsin Bride Best of 2012 winners

From florists with flair to destinations that dazzle, meet the Wisconsin wedding professionals who make it their business to make your special day a dream come true.

Best Outdoor Reception Site The Enchanted BarnBEST OUTDOOR RECEPTION SITE
The finalists are: The Enchanted Barn, Milford Hills Hunt Club, Olbrich Botanical Gardens
The winner is: The Enchanted Barn
Hillsdale | 715.254.1557 |
“The work that the staff at the Enchanted Barn has done on their property is amazing. We wanted something uniquely different, something that was unfussy, low-key and easy—something where we could stare at the stars, light sparklers and have a bonfire. The Enchanted Barn provided everything we could have ever imagined for our wedding.” – Kelly Rae Vo, South St. Paul, Minn., married September 2, 2011

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 |
“The staff at Vera’s understands the mental state of a bride-to-be and coached me through not only how I wanted to look on my wedding day, but most importantly, what I needed in order to feel at ease in my dress. I loved my dress and I felt comfortable and confident on my wedding day. I appreciated all of the extra time and effort Vera’s staff put in to ensure I had a wonderful bridal experience.” – Aimee Blinder-Ullrich, Neenah, married June 18, 2011

Best Photographer Emily SteffenBEST PHOTOGRAPHY
The finalists are:
Emily Steffen Photography, Ideal Impressions Photography, Primavera Studios
The winner is: Emily Steffen Photography
Statewide | 715.220.9443 |
just brought a sense of calmness to our wedding day. We had some minor
hiccups in the morning, but she remained calm and focused. She knew how
important her pictures were to us and she didn’t let any distractions
get in the way. Emily was truly the best decision we made. Now we have
an amazing gallery wall full of her timeless, simple pictures to
remember our special engagement and wedding day. Every bride needs to
have someone like her on their side.” – Shauna Brick, Shakopee, Minn., married August 26, 2011

The finalists are:
Chalmers Jewelers, The Diamond Center, Kesslers Diamonds
The winner is: Kesslers Diamonds
Multiple locations |
you buy a ring or any other piece of jewelry from Kesslers, it’s under
warranty for life ... and not only your life, but it follows the piece
of jewelry to your daughter and her daughter, etc. This means that if I
look at my ring one day and realize I lost one of the tiny diamonds in
my wedding band or even my engagement ring center stone, it will be
replaced at no charge to me! I can have it sized or cleaned and polished
as much as I need at no cost. That warranty makes Kesslers stand out
from the rest.” – Jenni Sambolin, Germantown, married September 17, 2011

Best Florist daffodil*parkerBEST FLORIST
The finalists are:
daffodil*parker, Fleurishes, Studio Fleurette
The winner is: daffodil*parker
Madison | 608.663.2100 |
“I went in to meet with Ariel at daffodil*parker, and I knew the colors and the general [vibe] I wanted for our bouquets and centerpieces, but I couldn’t tell her an exact look.  She came up with exactly what I was looking for, and all of our guests commented on how beautiful the flowers were. Ariel came to the church to set up, and was so kind and thoughtful that she even stayed to put the boutonnières on the guys.” – Kim Penza, New Berlin, married July 9, 2011

The finalists are:
Bartolotta Catering, Gooseberries Fresh Food Market Courtyard Catering, Rockman’s Catering
The winner is: Gooseberries Fresh Food Market Courtyard Catering
Burlington | 262.763.5955 |
the first meeting with Chef Michael, we knew we had selected the right
caterer. He provided options to personalize both our meal choices and
display options to fit our rustic-style reception. Not only did the food
taste fresh, but the presentation was absolutely incredible. We
received many compliments on both the variety and quality of the food.
Overall, it was a pleasure working with everyone at Courtyard Catering,
and we will continue to recommend their services!” – Brenna Johnson, Waterford, married September 24, 2010

Best DJ Juke Box BandstandBEST DJ
The finalists are:
Celebrations Entertainment, Juke Box Bandstand, Midwest Sound DJ Entertainment
The winner is: Juke Box Bandstand
Madison | 608.249.2900 |
“Juke Box Bandstand totally understood the kind of ceremony and reception I wanted. I didn’t want the DJ overly involved in the reception, but I did need an MC to keep things moving along and to announce dinner, cake cutting, etc. The DJs were on time, professional, kind and fun, and they did and said everything exactly as I wanted them to, with very little effort or instruction. It was the day of my dreams, and a good part of that was due to Juke Box Bandstand.” – Mindy Lewison, Brooklyn, married September 2, 2011

The finalists are:
ANiU Salon & Spa, Rejuvenation Spa, The Ultimate Spa Salon
The winner is: The Ultimate Spa Salon
Monona | 608.222.4174 |
went through a makeup and hair trial with Carissa at the Ultimate, and
she quickly understood what I wanted and was able to complete my vision.
Every one of my bridesmaids and my mother were more than satisfied. The
fact that the same person would do the hair and makeup, and that
everyone could be finished at the same time was crucial for us to have a
relaxed morning.” – Chessie Totaro, Watertown, Mass., married September 17, 2011

Best Spa for Bridal Party Rejuventation SpaBEST SPA FOR BRIDAL PARTY
The finalists are:
Rejuvenation Spa, Sundara Inn & Spa, The Ultimate Spa Salon
The winner is: Rejuvenation Spa
Madison | 608.831.7546 |
“A friend recommended Rejuvenation Spa, and the stylists there did a phenomenal job on my updo and on my bridesmaids’ hair. My headpiece was a vintage birdcage [veil], and the stylist elegantly worked it into my look. I would highly recommend them—they’re awesome.” – Brianne Nordman, Edgerton, married November 12, 2011

The finalists are:
Beyond the Booth, Focus Photobooths, The Traveling Photo Booth
The winner is: The Traveling Photo Booth
Madison and Milwaukee | 608.370.2831 or 414.881.1372 |
“Working with the Traveling Photo Booth for the wedding was very easy. The staff was always easy to get in touch with, answered every question that I had and worked hand-in-hand with our venue so I didn’t have to deal with any logistics. The attendants at the booth were friendly and efficient. The album that they made was wonderful, and my husband and I had a great souvenir to look at on the plane to our honeymoon.” – Jennifer Phan, Milwaukee, married October 15, 2011

Best Hotel for Guests Madison Concourse Hotel BEST HOTEL FOR GUESTS
The finalists are:
Courtyard for Marriott Madison East, Hilton Madison Monona Terrace, The Madison Concourse Hotel & Governor’s Club
The winner is: The Madison Concourse Hotel & Governor’s Club
Madison | 800.356.8293 |
“We chose the Concourse because it’s a beautiful hotel located in the perfect place for our wedding. The staff is so put-together—they know just what to do. Our coordinator from the hotel did everything I asked for and more, making sure every detail was attended to perfectly. Working with them was an easy, stress-free experience.” – Ashley Wolfgram, Sun Prairie, married August 27, 2011

The finalists are:
Chris’s Confections, Craig’s Cake Shop, “I Do” Cakes by Betty
The winner is: Craig’s Cake Shop
Verona | 608.848.6331 |
went to about four different tastings, but nothing compared to the
taste of Craig’s, or the experience of meeting him. His carrot cake was
definitely one of the reasons we went with him. We liked how many
options we had for flavors—he has what seems like a hundred different
flavor options to choose from. Craig was wonderful at the tasting,
joking with us and reassuring us that he would make the best cake
possible. He was very sincere in his dedication to his clients. And
everyone at the wedding raved about the cake!” – Leah Dabel, Sun Prairie, married October 8, 2011

Best Calligraphy The Blooming QuillBEST CALLIGRAPHY
The finalists are:
The Blooming Quill, InkyDinkyDo Calligraphy, Linda P. Hancock Calligraphy & Design
The winner is: The Blooming Quill
Milwaukee | 262.268.0525 |
“I ended up choosing the Blooming Quill because of [owner] Debi Zeinert’s well-known and high-quality calligraphy. Upon receipt of the invites, my guests were extremely impressed with the perfection and beauty of the calligraphy. I absolutely love the invites and know that people will be talking about their beauty and the calligraphy accents for years to come.” – Emily Smith, Verona, married May 12, 2012

The finalists are:
The American Club, Heidel House Resort, Sundara Inn & Spa
The winner is: Sundara Inn & Spa
Wisconsin Dells | 608.253.9200 |
few days my husband and I spent at Sundara were exactly what we needed
after the wedding. Aside from the fabulous service and spa treatments we
received, the details are what stand out. From flavored water and fresh
granola available while we lounged, super-soft robes and slippers to
wear throughout our stay, and chilled champagne and dinner awaiting us
in our room after our massage, the staff at Sundara made sure we did not
have anything to worry about except relaxing.” – Katie Bogucki, Oak Park, Ill., married October 8, 2011

Best Rental and Decor Event EssentialsBEST RENTAL AND DECOR
The finalists are:
A La Crate Vintage Rentals, Cover it Up, Event Essentials
The winner is: Event Essentials
Windsor | 800.220.4991 |
“I did some research on decor rentals because I wanted to have some sort of candle feature at the reception. The Event Essentials website had a picture with some gorgeous candelabras and an arrangement of flowers. These candelabras were beautiful, and I wanted them, but I was sure they were going to be out of our price range. After checking them out, I realized that they were much more cost-effective than I had imagined and fell [well within] our budget. They were the perfect addition to our wedding reception. They provided a soft romantic glow and looked so expensive and elegant.” – Debbie Baker, Lake Mills, married May 14, 2011

The finalists are:
Brandi’s Bridal Galleria, Etc., Specially Hers, Vera’s House of Bridals
The winner is: Specially Hers
Baraboo | 608.356.3033 |
“My mom, mother-in-law and my husband’s grandma all got their dresses from Specially Hers because of their huge selection, reasonable prices and helpful service. The shop let my mom take home three dresses at a time to show my dad and sisters. She made several trips back and forth because she had found so many dresses she liked. On the day of my wedding, the mother of the bride, mother of the groom, and grandmother of the groom all looked gorgeous in their dresses and received a lot of compliments!” – Maria Keiser, Cottage Grove, married January 21, 2012

Best Ceremony Venue Olbrich Botanical GardensBEST CEREMONY VENUE
The finalists are:
The Enchanted Barn, Lake Windsor Golf Club, Olbrich Botanical Gardens
The winner is: Olbrich Botanical Gardens
Madison | 608.246.4550 |
“My husband and I knew we wanted to have our wedding ceremony outside, and Olbrich is gorgeous. The gardens are the perfect backdrop for pictures. I just love all of the natural beauty that Olbrich offers, and on top of that, everyone I worked with was wonderful. I took a tour and fell in love. It was a great experience and a beautiful day.” – Kristin Balliette, Fitchburg, married May 21, 2011

The finalists are:
Beads Into Beauty, Jaxie, Things Remembered
The winner is: Things Remembered
Multiple locations | 866.902.4438 |
“The staff at Things Remembered are so friendly—even if they didn’t know the answers to our questions, they found out for us. We had so many things engraved, from mugs to photo albums to lighters, that they gave us a wedding logo free of charge that we had engraved on our glasses. Everything turned out beautifully.” – Amber Phillips, Albany, to be married August 25, 2012

Best Dance Instruction Fred Astaire Dance StudiosBEST DANCE INSTRUCTION
The finalists are:
Arthur Murray Dance Studio, Dance on Air, Fred Astaire Dance Studios
The winner is: Fred Astaire Dance Studios
Multiple locations |
“For us, Fred Astaire Dance Studio was a lot more fun than we had anticipated. Our lessons turned out to be more of a stress-reliever than anything. Everyone who works there is very friendly, and they’re all willing to help you do the best that you can. Our end result was an amazing dance that all our guests were surprised with, and it’s something that we’ll remember for a very long time!” – Angie Overholt, Verona, married October 8, 2011

The finalists are: Badger Coaches, Gallant Knight Limousine, Luxus Limousine
The winner is: Gallant Knight Limousine
Madison | 608.242.7000 |
staff at Gallant Knight was great to work with. We booked almost a year
out and had no troubles along the way. The day of the wedding, they
showed up at the church on time and had the limo stocked with ice and
glasses for us. They were more than happy to take us to the Capitol for
pictures and then to our reception.” – Sarah Peck, Madison, married January 6, 2012

Best Band The North Coast OrchestraBEST BAND
The finalists are:
Juke Box Bandstand, The North Coast Orchestra, Spicy Tie Band
The winner is: The North Coast Orchestra
Milwaukee | 262.790.0060 |
“I wanted a band that could play anything from Frank Sinatra to Beyoncé, and this band has that ability. Matt, the bandleader, was great [to work with] from the very first time I contacted him. They were extremely accommodating for my special requests, and aside from those, Matt told me that they would play a few songs at the beginning of the night to see how people responded and base their playlist off of that for the rest of the night. They were very perceptive, because the dance floor was packed for the whole night.” – Kelsey Grimmer, Milwaukee, married October 15, 2011

The finalists are:
Intermezzo String Quartet, LFQ String Quartet, Quartessence String Quartet
The winner is: LFQ String Quartet
Madison | 608.249.2900 |
“Chris and I got married outside at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, and we knew we wanted a string quartet. We fell in love with LFQ String Quartet’s music, and luckily they were available. They had a great list of music that we could choose from, and they would even learn a song if we requested. We absolutely loved LFQ String Quartet and we received numerous compliments about them. I wouldn’t have done it any other way for our wedding!” – Jodie Ciampi, Gilberts, Ill., married October 22, 2011

Best Formalwear Nedrebo's Formal WearBEST FORMALWEAR
The finalists are:
DuBois Formalwear, Men’s Wearhouse, Nedrebo’s Formal Wear
The winner is: Nedrebo’s Formal Wear
Multiple locations | 800.234.2727 |
“We chose Nedrebo’s because my husband’s groomsmen and ushers were from all over the Midwest (and one in Georgia!). We wanted it to be easy for them to get measured for their suits, and we knew Nedrebo’s could get their measurements to the store of our choice in Madison. We wanted something fitted and modern, and the representative who helped us understood our vision. We had no issues with compiling the measurements, no one was missing any part of their suit, and alterations were done quickly and flawlessly.” – Colleen Webster, Naperville, Ill., married June 4, 2011

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 |
had the best quality, selection and price of all the bridal shops I had
previously shopped at. I absolutely loved my dress, and the price
couldn’t have been better. I would go there again and I would recommend
them to any bride.” – Nicole Anderson, Monticello, married September 10, 2011

The finalists are:
Burkhalter Travel, Fox World Travel, Middleton Travel
The winner is: Burkhalter Travel
Various locations | 608.833.5200 |
“I would recommend Burkhalter Travel to any couple planning a destination wedding. We simply gave Brenda, our agent, a selection of dates and a budget per person that included airfare and destinations we were interested in. She took care of everything, including making the insurance claim when a couple of guests could not go at the last moment. We had a group of 20 people traveling from all over the world to attend the wedding. Brenda made our trip planning stress-free!” – Nicole Bilzing, Fitchburg, married February 27, 2012

The finalists are:
Hilton Madison Monona Terrace, The Madison Concourse Hotel & Governor’s Club, The Pfister Hotel
The winner is: The Pfister Hotel
Milwaukee | 414.273.8222 |
“I chose the Pfister because I wanted my out-of-town guests to experience its elegance and historic beauty, with all the modern amenities the hotel provides. My husband’s family is from California, and arriving at the Pfister to start the weekend in Milwaukee was a perfect way to show off the downtown charm. It was such a pleasure working with the staff, who made the whole experience unforgettable.” – Stephanie Siehr, San Francisco, married June 17, 2011

Best Wedding Planner Cherry Blossom EventsBEST WEDDING PLANNER
The finalists are:
Beyond Elegant Events, Cherry Blossom Events, Lizie Anne Weddings + Proposals
The winner is: Cherry Blossom Events
Madison | 608.497.0133 |
“We went with Cherry Blossom Events because [owners] Andrea VandeBerg and Sarah Sarbacker are young, fun, down-to-earth and full of great ideas. We probably wouldn’t have considered the venue we chose for our reception without their help. I’ll never forget walking into our reception, which they set up during the ceremony, and knowing that the setup wasn’t a burden on my mom, sisters or friends. The best part was that they worked within our budget to create maximum impact. We got so many compliments on the venue, the decor, the food ... hiring them was the best money we spent.” – Wendy Sulzer, Middleton, married October 29, 2011

The finalists are:
Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s, Target
The winner is: Bed Bath & Beyond
Multiple locations | 800.462.3966 |
“We chose Bed Bath & Beyond for our bridal registry because they had a huge selection of items we would use as we started our life together. No matter what item we were looking for, we could find it at Bed Bath & Beyond; it’s truly a one-stop shop. They have a no-hassle return policy on gifts, and their bridal registry department is very knowledgeable and friendly.” – Amy Wyttenbach, Bloomingdale, Ill., married April 16, 2011

Best Favors Gail Ambrosius ChocolatierBEST FAVORS
The finalists are:
Antics Flipbooks, Do Me a Favor, Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier
The winner is: Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier
Madison | 608.249.3500 |
“Gail Ambrosius chocolates are simply the most delicious chocolates in Madison. The chocolates we chose were the Goodman Community Center Hearts—the profits go to the Goodman Community Center. My fiancé and I feel it is important to give back to our community, and what better way to do that than with chocolate?” – Heidi Banfi, Chicago, married June 30, 2012

The finalists are:
The Paper Deli, Sugar Pear Design, Sugar River Stationers
The winner is: Sugar Pear Design
Verona | 608.288.8976 |
“We were thoroughly impressed by Kathy Marcelle’s willingness to devote time to fully understanding us and what we envisioned for our wedding. After the initial consultation, we really felt that she would personalize her designs and work with us to customize pieces that not only fit us, but also our budget. She asked us questions beyond just those about our wedding, trying to really understand us as a couple. When we received our invitations and other pieces, we could tell that they were high quality and made with care.” – Stacey Novogoratz, Madison, married August 20, 2011

Best Accessories Marah's Elegant BridalBEST ACCESSORIES
The finalists are:
Brandi’s Bridal Galleria, Etc., Jaxie, Marah’s Elegant Bridal
The winner is: Marah’s Elegant Bridal
Mount Horeb | 608.437.6107 |
“My first appointment with Marah was the kind that every bride should have. I felt like I was spending an afternoon with friends, even though I didn’t know any of them. I found a beautiful dress, perfect for my wedding in Italy, and I loved it ... my mom cried when I tried on the sample. I loved my dress-buying experience so much that I also decided to buy my jewelry there. Meg, Marah’s jewelry maker, custom-made earrings for me to match the headband that I fell in love with! Everyone should feel that awesome about their wedding-day choices.” – Sarah Jackson, Barneveld, married May 5, 2010

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 |
chose Happily Ever After because when I first came across their
website, I noticed that Jim and Connie Engmann welcome diversity. Both
my husband and I are from Taiwan and we were unsure as to ‘how’ to get
married here. But Jim made it really easy for us by letting us know what
to do and when to do what, with great patience. On our wedding day,
everything went perfectly because they made sure everything was in
place.” – Brandy Li, Madison, married September 18, 2011

Best Indoor Reception Site Monona TerraceBEST INDOOR RECEPTION SITE
The finalists are:
Lake Windsor Golf Club, Monona Terrace, Overture Center for the Arts
The winner is:
Monona Terrace
Madison | 608.261.4000 |
“I firmly believe that Monona Terrace was the only venue in Madison that would have worked for us. We had a large group (approximately 275 guests) and wanted to have an outdoor wedding ceremony and reception at the same venue. We were able to stay within our budget, thanks to creative planning, and achieved a very elegant, classy and fun affair. The entire staff at Monona Terrace was friendly, courteous and professional—they’re in a league of their own!” – Ashley Clamage Hogan, Madison, married July 3, 2011

The finalists are:
Aerodef Productions, Frogman Productions, One Fine Day Productions
The winner is:
One Fine Day Productions
Madison and Milwaukee | 608.850.2793 |
had an amazing experience working with Amy Johnson and One Fine Day
Productions. We couldn’t wait to see the finished video and when we did,
it more than exceeded our expectations. Amy is artistic and creative,
and she brought our wedding to life by capturing the best parts of our
day and putting it all together with great music. It’s not only a video
but a story of our day we can relive whenever we want. I imagine ours
will be viewed on every anniversary.” – Carissa Waite, Madison, married May 21, 2011


The finalists are: Cherry Blossom Events, Ideal Impressions Photography, Lake Windsor Golf Club
The winner is: Lake Windsor Golf Club
Windsor | 608.846.4711 |

Best Wedding Vendor Lake Windsor Golf Club

Every bride and groom strives for elegant ambiance and flawless food to wow their wedding guests. At Lake Windsor Golf Club, those dreams become a reality, thanks to event professionals who go the extra mile to coordinate each couple’s fairy-tale wedding.
     “We kind of came out of nowhere,” says Jennifer Larson, Lake Windsor’s general manager, referring to the club’s recent popularity following a remodel in 2006. “I’ve spent so much time and effort to personalize the wedding day for each couple we work with, I can’t help but be very proud of the reputation we’ve built.”
     That reputation intrigued Waunakee native Kayla Flint, who had never been to a wedding at Lake Windsor but decided to check it out upon her engagement. “Jennifer’s vision is really what sold us,” Flint says, citing Larson’s attention to detail and the facility’s upscale ambiance for making her July wedding a smashing success. “We were able to give Jennifer our preliminary thoughts, and she brought our ideas to life in that gorgeous space.”
     The banquet rooms, with their floor-to-ceiling windows and serene views of nature’s vibrant colors, often inspire love at first sight for a bride-to-be. “The setting speaks for itself,” Larson says. “People are not buying a product, they’re buying the experience. We create relationships with people and are so flattered to hear that we’ve made their day special.”
     The most common feedback Larson receives comes in the form of compliments on the attentive planning and, of course, the food. Chef Joe Karll is renowned for creating Midwestern food with flair, customizing menus for each couple without compromising quality.
     Flint rhapsodizes about her reception entrées, chicken Wellington and steak. “Chef Karll customized the menu to our requests, and he even suggested wine pairings, helping us choose a champagne that perfectly suited our menu and the season,” she says.
     The custom service wasn’t lost on bride Shaya Guilbault, whose December wedding featured coordinated Christmas trees. “Jennifer and her staff made the entire event flawless, and our dinner entrées were amazing,” she says. “Our guests just raved about the food.”
     Because the staff take time to get to know each couple, the personal touches pay off as each bride and groom realize their vision.
     “The staff at Lake Windsor definitely didn’t skimp on the details,” says bride Abbey Shaw, whose New Year’s Eve wedding went off without a hitch, thanks to the staff’s expert coordination.
     But it was the setting that initially sold her on Lake Windsor. “The venue is so striking,” Shaw says. “It doesn’t matter the season, Lake Windsor always looks elegant.” Her guests were duly impressed, both by the ambiance and the appetizers. “Jennifer suggested a ‘bride’s picks’ and a ‘groom’s picks’ table for our appetizer reception, and everyone—especially my husband—absolutely loved it.”
     Fine food, diligent coordination, enchanting atmosphere: Lake Windsor is the whole package for brides and grooms seeking a stunning yet stress-free wedding.
     “So many times on our wedding day Jennifer asked me, ‘Is everything perfect?’ Not just good, but perfect?’ ” Flint says. “And I could honestly say, ‘Yes, it’s perfect.’ ”

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