Universität Wien

Our taxes were a nightmare this year. Matt’s dad helped us navigate the paperwork, and to thank him, I went hunting for a thank-you present from the university’s gift shop today. (Shhh, Nancy, don’t tell him!) The only problem was that I had no idea where to find the university’s gift shop. (Go ahead, try and Google it.)

So this afternoon, I set off on an adventure through campus. Along the way, I couldn’t help but compare Universität Wien to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Founded in 1365, Wien is the institution that gave us Sigmund Freud, Erwin Schrödinger, Karl Popper, Erik Erikson, and a bazillion other heavy-weight intellectuals. A place with that kind of history must have a campus that puts our favorite American university to shame, too, right? To find out, I made a match up: Wien versus UW-Madison.Read More »


Tastefully Texas

One of the earliest ideas we had for our wedding was to incorporate Sandy’s Wisconsin roots into the drink offerings (think Old Fashioneds and craft beers) and Matt’s Texas ties into the food. And we’re well on our way to doing just that!

Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace is a quirky Madison chain that offers what Matt thinks are the best Austin-style tacos in town. The museum’s preferred vendor list isn’t exactly extensive, but when we saw TTTP was on it, it was a natural pick. Yesterday we had our tasting. The first question the catering manager asked was if we wanted complimentary margaritas, and we have the (proud?) distinction of being the first couple to take her up on the offer. (To be fair, TTTP doesn’t do a lot of wedding tastings. Apparently many couples who use them just skip an afternoon of free food, which totally baffles me.)

We had the whole back room to ourselves, and folks just kept bringing us plates. We now have a fridge full of salsas, queso dip, chips and tamales; we won’t have to grocery shop again until the wedding!


Sweet day of planning

We’ve been in hibernation mode for a bit here, as Wisconsin is experiencing an especially brutal cold snap. But today we bundled up and headed out to make some wedding progress.

After quite a bit of discussion and deliberation, we’ve decided to do a mini “stay-moon” right after the wedding. We’ll spend the weekend at the Edgewater Hotel, a historic resort in downtown Madison that has recently reopened after a massive renovation. It’s located right on Lake Mendota, with some of the nicest waterfront views in town. With a spa and a steakhouse, it’ll fit both of our interests quite well!

We opted for a “premium lakefront” room, which will look like this in the fall:

Photo: Edgewater Hotel

After our Edgewater tour, we headed to the far west side of Madison for a cupcake tasting at Cupcakes-A-Go-Go. It’s one of the best cupcakeries in Madison (yes, this tiny city is home to several). A friend of ours had these instead of a traditional cake at his wedding, and everyone absolutely loved them. Couple that with a recent endorsement by one of Sandy’s colleagues, and we were feeling pretty optimistic.

matt cakesThe tasting didn’t disappoint.
(Have you EVER seen Matt look this gleeful??)

A-Go-Go specializes in wacky flavors, like Chocolate Whisky Bacon, White Russian, Bourbon Pecan Pie and more. (Seeing a theme yet?) We haven’t come to a decision yet about which flavors we’ll choose, but odds are definitely looking good for Irish Trifecta and Red Velvet. Sandy hasn’t given up hope entirely for getting some bacon in there, but marriage is all about compromise, right?

The Dress Hunt

My mom, Rita, and I officially began The Hunt today — and we also may have finished it!

I was pretty wary about too much salesperson intervention during my wedding dress search, and I was unsure about what it meant to set up an appointment at a bridal salon. We opted instead to take our chances and walk into Vera’s House of Bridals here in Madison — just in time for the Saturday morning rush to be in full force, with several brides accompanied by extensive entourages. It became immediately clear why one should set an appointment for this kind of thing; you can’t simply walk around and look at all of the dress options at a place like this. Vera’s inventory includes more than 500 dresses, and only a handful of them are on display in the lobby areas.

But today was our lucky day. We signed in and waited only a few minutes for an available consultant. Cassie took us upstairs to start looking through the “finale” rack options as she staked out a dressing room. On the very first rack was a very particular dress. I pointed it out, and once Cassie was able to sneak us into the “Paris” room, it was the very first dress I tried on.

The attraction was instant, but I wasn’t sure if I was really just excited about the experience of putting on a wedding dress. Three hours, more than 20 dresses, a bottle of water and a couple of visits from Vera herself later, it was clear that the first dress was the dress. As those other dresses came and went, the first dress never left the room.

Mom and I were both in love with it, but the purchase timing didn’t feel quite right. So we put the darling on hold, and I’ll see how I feel in a few days. (I already kind of miss it.)

The Venue: Part 5

It’s (almost) official: we’re holding our ceremony
and reception at the Madison Children’s Museum.

What changed? On Friday, we attended an “adult swim” event at the museum. Basically, it’s a no-kid evening for adults to explore the exhibits and do goofy activities. We went to an adult swim about a couple of years ago, which was when the seed was originally planted that the museum might be a great place to throw a big party.

Seeing the museum again in an adults-only context really helped reassure us this is the right choice for us. We went back to the rooftop and walked through some ceremony scenarios, and for Sandy, it finally clicked. She and her dad can privately walk along the sunflower garden before emerging in front of the full crowd. We can put the men on the side of the waterfall with the rougher rocks, and the girls can stand more easily on the smoother steps. There’s space in front of the waterfall for a couple of rows of chairs for the guests who really need them, and we think a short ceremony should be no problem for everyone else to stand through.

We can also put a bar and appetizer station up there so people can transition seamlessly from the ceremony to a cocktail hour, unless it’s chilly, in which case we’ll all just move inside right away.

The museum has so many weird elements that actually have a lot of meaning for us and our families, such as sunflowers, metal-art sculptures and live chickens. And we really like the idea of holding our wedding in a place that is all about education and sustainability. You can take a closer look at the museum by clicking here.

Anyway — we have a venue!

The Venue: Part 4

Today we went back to the Madison Children’s Museum for a formal tour with the rental director and had a chance to ask our biggest questions about the place.

We're a bit confused about how exactly the ceremonies work. "Do we stand on that rock?"How does the ceremony space on the rooftop garden work? We don’t actually stand on this rock, do we?

Answer: Yes, you really do stand on that rock.

Sandy isn’t sure the rooftop setting will work for a ceremony. It’s a darling space for cocktails and wandering around during the reception, but, well, she’s not feeling the rock of vows or its alternative: the giant metal chicken arch at the other end of the garden.

One of many jungle gyms for guests to walk/crawl through.

With the indoor option, we could have an aisle and an alter-ish thing situated between two faux mud huts, which Sandy kind of digs, and under a bone bridge, which Matt really doesn’t.

So, where does this leave us in terms of picking a venue that’s fun but also realistically functional for both the ceremony and reception?

Answer: We have no idea.

The Venue: Part 3

We went on a field trip today to Sandy’s hometown of Beloit. We visited the Ironworks Hotel, a newly renovated hotel along the downtown riverfront.

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Things we liked:
Fantastic decor with wood, brick, leather and “industrial” elements
Recently renovated, so hotel feels very modern
Easy access to riverfront and a new patio that will be built next summer
Only a 54-room hotel, so we could pretty much take over the space
An upscale feel that would be out-of-budget for similar settings in Madison
Comfortable, attractive rooms for guests
Within walking distance of downtown Beloit restaurants and bars

Things we didn’t:
Ceremony space only accommodates 50 people
Out-of-town guests would need to rent cars
Location isn’t meaningful for both of us

Matt was insistent that he would be onboard if Sandy wanted to get married in Beloit, and we’re both glad we took the time to visit and think about it. The Ironworks is a gem of a venue, and it’s a positive sign of the revitalization happening in the downtown area. But Sandy decided fairly quickly after our visit today that while Beloit is her hometown, Madison is our home. And that’s where our wedding will be.