The Venue, Part 2

So, when Matt takes the lead on venue visits, we end up having actual appointments with rental coordinators to take guided walk-throughs and learn all the details. When Sandy takes the lead, we go with the “let’s just show up and wander around” approach. And sure, this sometimes means that we get chased away by cranky security guards, but overall, both ways work!

Anyway. Yesterday we focused on outdoorsy locales, and Sandy fell in love with the idea of a wedding on the Wisconsin prairie, complete with Mason jars and tiny pumpkins. Today we visited three downtown Madison options — and now are both falling for a site that is nothing but fun and games.

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
The unbeatable view

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Things we liked:
Incredible view of the Capitol Square
Sandy used to live in an apartment right across the street, so the location is especially meaningful
Guests staying in downtown hotels can walk to the museum
Guests can wander the art museum until 8 p.m.
Plenty of space for the ceremony

Things we didn’t:
Very concerned about the cost of food and beverages through museum’s exclusive caterer
Ceremony site is noisy; can hear sirens, buses and crowd noise from State Street
Building overall feels somewhat cold and impersonal
Can’t have exclusive use of museum during rental period; public will be present until 8 p.m.
Ceremony site is not especially well kept; the flowers and grass don’t look good in the fall
Rooftop area, where guests will spend most of their time, is somewhat dirty

The Orpheum Theater 
A place of mystery 

Things we liked:
The lovely brochure the security guards handed us at the door
An iconic site in downtown Madison that is especially meaningful for Sandy
Elegant, dramatic setting

Things we didn’t:
Anticipating very expensive food and drink
Limited outdoor space overall and no balconies or rooftop access to really take in the view
Ongoing legal issues for management
The fact that we didn’t get to actually see this venue (because Sandy failed to make an appointment)

The Madison Children’s Museum
Save the play date

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Things we liked:
On-the-square location is meaningful for us and convenient for guests staying downtown
Ceremony can be held in a garden setting with lots of fall flowers and a small waterfall
The only venue so far to list an Austin-style taco restaurant as a preferred caterer
A casual, lighthearted environment overall
Amazing possibilities for photos of family and friends during the reception
Can rent the entire museum, giving guests a “private playground”
Close proximity to the state Capitol building for wedding photos
Easy access to Capitol Square and State Street for guests in search of after-hours entertainment
Can either rent the museum’s parking or just have guests use the parking ramp across the street
Supports a theme focused on puzzles, games and “social experiments”
Near the B&B in our old neighborhood where we would love to spend the wedding night

Things we didn’t:
Not a thing

Okay, maybe there’s one thing we didn’t:
Unclear how the rooftop ceremony site works

At this point, we’re really torn between Aldo Leopold and the Children’s Museum, though thankfully we both have a similar instinct about which way to go. We’re planning to visit the Children’s Museum again to take a more formal tour with the rental coordinator, which hopefully will address our concerns about whether the ceremony site is big enough and how the whole wedding process works. (The front-desk guy very kindly let us wander the museum for free, but he couldn’t personally show us around.)

There are two other venues on our list that may still be worth exploring, though we seriously doubt either will top our two favorites. And remember when we said that we were talking about barn sites, too? Well, we’ve learned the hard way that trendy brides plan way, way ahead. The FIVE barn locations in Dane County that we considered are all booked pretty solidly through fall 2015. The few remaining days are at the very end of October, which we feel is risky. Also, barn rental fees are actually more expensive than some of the in-town locations we’ve looked at, and it’s likely those costs will multiple after accounting for caterer mileage and guest transportation. So, for now, barns are more or less off the table. Thanks a lot, Pinterest.





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