Behind every successful wedding is a cadre of professionals dedicated to ensuring your special day lives up to your dreams. And this is no small task.
Wisconsin Bride's Best Of 2020: The Winners
The Ultimate Guide to Wisconsin's Top Wedding Vendors.
Megan White and Sydney Stevens
The results are in! These vendors are the BEST OF THE BEST in the Wisconsin wedding community. Find your dream wedding vendor from this discerning list of creatives that are sure to transform dreams into a reality. Thank you to our sponsors: Celebrations Entertainment, Films Nouveau, Summit Hill Studios and Sound Originals.
Official Storyteller of our Virtual Awards: Sound Originals Photography & Films
And the winners are...
Best Dress Shop
Claim to fame: James and Vera Stillmank had a dream in 1964 to help brides find the perfect dress in which to say “I do.” Starting in Janesville as a place to get designer deals, the two built a Victorian mansion in Madison to house more gorgeous gowns. The carriage outside the mansion prepares you for the royal treatment you will receive inside. Today, the grandchildren help Vera keep the magic going.
Best Dress Shop: Vera's House of Bridals
Best Luxury Dress Shop
Claim to fame: No need to search in New York or Paris for your dream dress—owner Christina Alexander Wegner brings powerhouse fashion to Milwaukee’s Fifth Ward. Housing a variety of upscale designs, White Dress Bridal Boutique is the perfect place to channel your lavish side. With a motto to “never settle,” the dedicated team is at your service to ensure the luxe experience you deserve.
Best Bridesmaid Dresses
Claim to fame: If you're looking for a memorable experience with your squad, look no further! Located in Monroe, owner Julie and “momager” Joann strive to spoil you and your maids. Sip on some bubbly and savor some treats at your “champagne and sweets” appointment. With an assigned personal stylist and private shopping experience for your party, JBG goes above and beyond to make everyone feel special.
Best Custom Gowns
Claim to fame: Dress shopping is stressful, especially trying to find something that fits your personal style. Abby Lynn Janiszewski at Abby Lynn Bridal in Milwaukee eases that stress by creating custom gowns that will make all your wedding dress dreams come true! With impressive experience designing in New York, she believes in using the highest quality silk and accessories to hand-craft her brides’ gowns. Her passion for creating a unique bridal gown for every bride is truly unmatched.
Best Custom Gowns: Abby Lynn Bridal (Lexia Frank Photo)
Claim to fame: Pearls, rhinestones and lace, oh my! From minimalist to extravagant, Jaxie Bridal in Milwaukee has something for every bride. Owner Jackie Barutha creates custom accessories as unique as your relationship. With her experienced background in the industry, she can transform any traditional piece to match your style, whether it be handed down from your great-grandma or something borrowed from your mother-in-law.
Best Mother-of-the-Bride Apparel
Claim to fame: “Family-owned” is an understatement at Vera’s House of Bridals in Madison. Started in 1964 by Vera and husband James Stillmank, their children and grandchildren have kept the tradition going for years. With three generations of women working under the same roof, they value mother-daughter relationships. Housing a selection of more than 300 mother-of-the-bride dresses, you are guaranteed to find the perfect dress for any event!
Best Hair & Makeup
Claim to fame: With the mantra, “Be Bold. Be Beautiful. Be Inspired,” Kati Whitledge, owner of Be Inspired Salon in Madison, has been creating a community of loyal stylists since 2011. You’ll be matched with your “salon soulmate” after answering a few short questions about yourself and, of course, your vision for your big day. Be inspired as you leave feeling beautiful—inside and out!
Best Hair & Makeup: Be Inspired Salon (Larissa Marie Photography)
Best Spa Services
Claim to fame: Indulge in cocktails, wine and hors d’oeuvres while getting pampered at The Edgewater Spa in Madison. Their luxurious services include something for everyone in your bridal party. The bride-to-be and bridesmaids will be treated like royalty with one of the wedding day packages while the future husband and groomsmen will be greeted with a drink of choice while getting prepped for the big day.
Claim to fame: Men’s Wearhouse is a household name for a reason. Their abundant amount of wedding day formalwear is perfect for any groom. Knowledgeable staff will help your spouse-to-be every step of the way, whether they want to create a custom look or choose a classic. With Men’s Wearhouse on our side, you can guarantee your groom will be aisle-ready for the big day.
Claim to fame: Since 1979, Scott Chalmers has been determined to provide customers with the best jewelry experience. Scott and his wife, Ruth, opened Chalmers Jewelers and filled their Middleton and Madison locations with gemologists and goldsmiths to ensure excellence. In addition to being stocked with designer jewels, Chalmers also offers custom designs to make your vision come to life.
Best Rehearsal Dinner Venue
Claim to fame: Get your sea legs on one of Lake Geneva Cruise Line’s pristine vessels in Williams Bay. With eight boat options to choose from, there is something to match everyone's nautical needs. Celebrate your love with your closest friends and family while taking in the peaceful tranquility of the lake.
Best Rehearsal Dinner Venue: Lake Geneva Cruise Line
Best Urban Venue
Claim to fame: Situated on Lake Monona in Madison, Monona Terrace offers exceptional views at every level. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, it’s no surprise the one-of-a-kind architecture will make your wedding picture perfect. From the blooming botanicals on the rooftop terrace with views of the capital building to the glass-enclosed dining rooms overlooking the lake, this urban venue ensures a dazzling day.
Best Wisconsin Destination Venue
Claim to fame: Discover the ultimate cozy retreat at The Enchanted Barn in Hillsdale. Charming lodging enhances the rustic ambience featuring a farm house and two multi-level accommodations. Bridal party members can powder their noses in the Wedding Suite, while the groom and his pals can fix their ties in the Milk Parlour. Whether it’s for the night or the weekend, The Enchanted Barn has everything you need for a relaxing destination wedding.
Best Wisconsin Destination Venue: The Enchanted Barn
Best Barn Venue
Claim to fame: Located in Hillsdale, The Enchanted Barn can make your barn wedding dreams come true. For a more traditional barn ceremony, The Hayloft offers a warm inviting space for friends and family to gather under the 18th century wooden beams. Continue the party in the elegant glass barn and patio, featuring floor to ceiling windows with wood framing. The barn balances indoor and outdoor space creating the ideal wedding from day to night.
Best Winery Venue
Claim to fame: La dolce vita! Villa Bellezza in Pepin brings Tuscany a little closer to home. Get ready in The Apartment with your bridesmaids, then walk down the brick aisle surrounded by vines to say “I do” in The Vineyard Pavilion. After the ceremony find yourself in the reception hall with a private piazza or up in the balcony at the Great Hall. Don’t forget to satisfy your taste buds with the full catering kitchen’s authentic Italian cuisine.
Best Winery Venue: Villa Bellezza (Cory Johnson)
Best Hotel Venue
Claim to fame: With exceptional lakefront views, the Edgewater in Madison blends modern design into its historic roots. Have your wedding on the coast of Lake Mendota, in the Grand Plaza or one of two magnificent ballrooms. Their devoted wedding concierge team will ensure a stress-free day, so all you’ll have to worry about is saying “I do!”
Best Golf/Country Club Venue
Claim to fame: Sweeping views of polished fairways can be adored from any site at the Geneva National Resort in Lake Geneva. Among the greenery, you will find the Pavilion Lawn and Lakeview Terrace, featuring astonishing lake views with a perfectly manicured golf course to match. The Grand Ballroom, Legends Room and Lake Geneva Room are accessorized with floor to ceiling windows, so the sublime scenery can be enjoyed inside as well.
Best Historic Venue
Claim to fame: If historic Italian architecture and eye-catching art is your thing, then Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum is the ideal venue for you! Lloyd and Agnes Smith commissioned architect David Adler to bring their renaissance villa vision to life in 1923. Now part of Milwaukee County parkland, the elaborate two-story villa and picturesque renaissance garden not only celebrate the arts, but the love of newlyweds.
Best Historic Venue: Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum
Best Resort Venue
Claim to fame: Luxury is an understatement at The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake. Featuring a long list of amenities accompanied by gorgeous suites and guest rooms, this resort venue has something for everyone. Dine in one of the highly rated restaurants, tie the knot amidst lake views, and dance the night away with friends and family in one of many impeccable ballrooms at the wonderful Osthoff.
Claim to fame: Bradley Schnell started I do. when a couple asked if he could officiate their wedding. Eight years later, he continues creating custom ceremonies for couples of any faith, religion and orientation. Schnell strives to make his clients confident and comfortable with his process of an initial meeting, drafts, and follow-up meeting leading up to the rehearsal and ceremony. With special care and crafting, Schnell promises a ceremony as unique as your relationship.
Best Wedding Planner
Claim to fame: Best friends, designers and business owners, Andrea VandeBerg and Sarah Sarbacker started Cherry Blossom Events due to their mutual love for weddings. From modern to bohemian, they keep up with trends and create new ones. No matter what style wedding you are looking for, the duo’s passion for designing beauty goes above and beyond to make your special day truly unforgettable—as it should be.
Best Rental and Décor
Claim to fame: One-of-a-kind pieces from Relics Vintage Rentals in Milwaukee is sure to give your wedding that “wow” factor that no one will forget. No need to waste time hunting for items; Owner and founder Jan Oelke is determined to provide the perfect pieces to fit any wedding aesthetic. From stunning seating and tableware to vibrant vases and lighting, they’ve got you covered.
Best Rental and Décor: Relics Vintage Rentals
Claim to fame: Sally Vander Wyst, owner of Milwaukee Flower Co., provides only the freshest, trendiest flowers to enhance your wedding. Their team of flower-lovers promise to fulfill your vision as they tell your love story through florals. They blend traditional ideas with a modern twist to make every event special. From crowns to installations, Milwaukee Flower Co. is guaranteed to exceed your wildest botanical dreams!
Claim to fame: With the middle name Baker, it’s no surprise Cecelia Grade is known for her delicious wedding cakes. As owner of The Cake Lady in St. Francis, Grade prides herself in making everything from scratch and using only the best ingredients. Providing over 20 filling flavors and an abundant list of cake and frosting flavors, the options are limitless. No matter what you decide, your cake will taste as wonderful as it looks.
Best Wedding Desserts
Claim to fame: Cupcakes, cookies and cakes? Yes, please! Hailey Smith, owner of Hailey’s Sweets & Treats in Janesville, blends her love for baking and design to create sugary treats for newlyweds. Custom designs ranging from vintage to edgy atop cake bites, cupcakes, bars or cookies will impress all your guests. Her mission to provide the highest quality confections in every order will make your wedding day that much sweeter.
Best Wedding Desserts: Hailey's Sweets & Treats
Claim to fame: Founder and owner of Blue Plate Catering in Madison, Jodi Fowler has a passion for sustainability. Their farm-to-table food consists of locally sourced, fresh ingredients to yield the highest quality meals to clients. They will help you build a customizable menu and offer taste testings to ensure a superb spread. From backyard to black tie, Blue Plate will cater any type of wedding!
Claim to fame: Owner Debbie Pape started designing in 1998 for friends and family. Soon after, she started Paper Envy, spreading beautiful custom stationery far beyond studio locations in Elm Grove, Milwaukee and Chicago. It can be hard to decide on a font and color that will match your style, but Debbie is dedicated to creating the perfect pre-wedding sneak peek through your invitations.
Claim to fame: Allie Lofy, owner and designer at Pure Joy Ink in Elkhorn, will make your wedding signage and invitation process flow as smooth as her calligraphy. With a mission to create affordable, custom stationery and art, she spreads joy to happy couples through her impeccable work. She will also design on any smooth surface provided; you give it, she’ll write it!
Best Calligraphy: Pure Joy Ink (Kristina Lorraine Photography)
Claim to fame: For Twig & Olive Photography, it’s all about capturing moments. Courtney, Doug and Bobbi came together in Madison five years ago (with more than a decade of combined experience!) to give those special moments the longevity of a picture. Their vibe of mystery and moodiness effortlessly balance with the use of light to tell your love story. The team will travel anywhere to make sure your perfect moments are captured.
Claim to fame: Cindy and Dean Johnson are truly two peas in a pod. As owners of Sweet Pea Cinema in Milwaukee, the Johnsons want to make your wedding day reels as sweet as the actual day. Their inconspicuous filming nature will make you and your guests comfortable. They will create a stunning highlight and documentary film so you can relive your special day for years to come.
Best Videography: Sweet Pea Cinema
Best Photo Booth
Claim to fame: Photos are the number one keepsake for you and your guests. The Sound by Design team, ensures their photo booths have the best picture quality to match your high-quality party. Offering unlimited photos, an onsite attendant, props, backdrop of your choice, custom photo album and an online gallery, what are you waiting for? Snap away!
Claim to fame: With a long list of famous artists the Bluewater Kings Band has performed alongside ranging from Prince to Lady Gaga, to their countless five-star reviews, you can guarantee they know how to wow a crowd. Feel in control with their online organizational system where you can customize your wedding playlist an unlimited amount of times leading up to your big day. So, put on your boogie shoes and enjoy!
Best Band: Bluewater Kings Band
Claim to fame: After a long, but special day, cut loose on the dance floor to your favorite songs. Sound by Design team in Shorewood, has a system that will work for any couple. A DJ will be matched with you based on your music taste, then meet with you to ensure a perfect fit, and finally, customize your music with the online portal. Easy and stress-free!
Best Ceremony Music
Claim to fame: Let your guests be serenaded by the sweet sound of the Dream City Strings. Based in Milwaukee, the band has a versatile list of songs ranging from classical artists to newer ones. They have the expertise to entertain any crowd and go above and beyond to prepare for any potential setbacks. No matter what style of ceremony you are having, Dream City Strings’ harmonious sound will tug on everyone's heart strings.
Claim to fame: Make a statement arriving in one of Gallant Knight Limousine’s lavish vehicles. Located in Madison, owner Larry Epstein and his dedicated team promise to give you the luxe experience you and your entourage deserve. From styling stretch SUVs to elegant limos and buses, each is equipped with tinted windows, leather interior, built-in coolers, lighting of your choice and Wi-Fi. They are guaranteed to get the party started!
Best Wedding-Night Hotel
Claim to fame: Sitting on Lake Mendota in Madison, The Edgewater Hotel’s panoramic views and extravagant accommodations make for a flawless way to end your wedding day. Their rooms and suites feature countless amenities to aid your relaxation, including luxurious spa showers. The next morning, head over to The Statehouse, one of many on-site upscale dining options, for mimosas and brunch to help recover from the festivities of the night before!
Best New Vendor
Claim to fame: As you walk into Strike Bridal Bar in Milwaukee, you will feel warm and trendy vibes with exposed brick, velvet couches, and a magnificent vault full of accessories. Opened in 2019 by Abby Lynn Janiszewski, she strives to make your dress shopping experience fun—and empowering! Abby and her team greet every type of bride with positivity. With dresses for any style bride, they will help you find the perfect gown that will fit your unique personality.
Best New Vendor: Strike Bridal Bar (Half Acre House)
TOP OF THE TIARA — All-Around Best Wedding Vendor
Say “I Do” on acres of idyllic Wisconsin countryside at The Enchanted Barn in Hillside. Winning awards for Best Barn and Destination venue, you are sure to receive a five-star wedding that exceeds all expectations. Let this steadfast team take care of everything with the Enchanted Wedding Package. With a complete rental of each venue on site, dinner buffet serving up to 220 guests, decor and tableware, bar services, local Amish bakery desserts, and much more, this package will make your wedding day stress-free. With three ceremony sites to choose from, there is something for every couple. Each outdoor space is picture-perfect. Lookout Hill puts green rolling hills on full display while The Pasture houses lush trees and horses as the backdrop. The 18th century Hayloft Barn is decorated with wooden beams, lights and greenery, making it truly magical. After your special day, opt for a stay in the rustic Loft Master Suite with your new spouse. Even your friends and family can continue the party and stay on-site at the Grande Shanty or the Farmhouse. With The Enchanted Barn’s elegant country charm, it’s no surprise they take the cake as Top of the Tiara.
Top the Tiara: The Enchanted Barn
Best Event Design
Despite hectic times and some hiccups in the process of planning this styled shoot, Ashley Kuehnel, owner and lead planner of Midwestern Bride, persevered to make it happen, and in doing so, successfully created a lighthearted scene from a dream world. Backed by a determined crew of vendors (Chance Productions, Generations Photography and 1209 Creative), Kuehnal’s vision of a delicate, heavenly atmosphere came to life amidst luxurious blooms and thoughtful details. Billowing fabrics enveloped a romantic table set under boho lanterns and a garden of summery blooms—the idyllic place for an of-the-moment intimate soiree.
Photo credit:Generations Photography
The inspiration behind this playful yet powerful creation by Curtis and Cake came from a place of deep feeling. Monica O’Connell, the owner and creative behind Curtis and Cake, finds baking cakes a form of emotional expression, and made this masterpiece in honor of Breonna Taylor. She paired soft and bold elements to convey Taylor's place in life—as a girl becoming a woman. To emphasize this stage between carefree childhood and adult sophistication, she evoked a refined version of PB&J in hazelnut butter with strawberry basil jam, and covered it in fondant bedecked in sugar ranunculus and roses, berries and wafer paper. O’Connell says, “I was just thinking of something fun and magical, adventurous. She was still a baby, so something soft and feminine, and strong colors as well, a sense of humor and whimsy, as I imagine she had.”
Image Courtesy of Curtis and Cake
Best Invitation Suite
Modern met vintage in this invitation suite with Audubon botanical illustrations and contemporary elements. Hall Creative Co. owner and designer Ava Wachter drew inspiration from the couple’s main flower, an orchid, and their heritage. A unique oval shaped orchid card has the phrase “Muz I Zena” which means “husband and wife” in Croation, which is a call to the groom’s Croatian ancestry. The subdued, monochromatic color scheme lets the botanical illustrations take the spotlight and to top it all off, Wachter added a playful tassel on twine to tie the suite together.
Image Courtesy of Hall Creative Co
Tegan Hendricks, owner and photographer of The Paper Elephant, credits her style to genuine, romantic moments—like this one. The couple, Jennifer and Matt, found out they were pregnant during their wedding planning process, and did a gender reveal at their reception. Shortly after the reveal, in a flurry of emotions, Hendricks captured this tender moment. The dreamy, ethereal tones in the sky created a tranquil backdrop as Matt pulled Jennifer in for a kiss.
Image Credit: The Paper Elephant
A perfect fit for a summer wedding at the Villa Terrace, this vanilla genoise with fresh blueberries and lemon curd is a culinary work of art by Gracious Events. Decorated with delicate botanicals, this sweet treat was the final course of a rustic, European menu, and Gracious Events’ from-scratch approach thoroughly complemented the theme with the freshest seasonal ingredients.
Image Credit: Lottie Lillian
Sleek, elegant and timeless, this stunning gown by Love Lives Here is a testament to how less really is more. Amanda Jennings, owner and designer of Love Lives Here, specializes in effortless styles, luxe fabrics and shape flattering silhouettes to create intentional looks that are inclusive for all shapes and sizes. Oh, and pockets on a wedding gown—need we say more?
Image Courtesy of Aliza Baran
This wild, whimsical bouquet by daffodil*parker takes the tonal greenery trend to another level with structural botanicals and subtle hints of burgundy in fritillaria and begonia. The loose, organic shape paired with airy, nontraditional textures of plumosa, umbrella fern and pieris andromeda give it a modern and magical vibe. Kayla Falk, the daffodil*parker designer who created this arrangement, went above and beyond by including cuttings from her own houseplants, such as micans and xanadu philodendrons.
Photo credit: Joe Hang