Reception Sites 101: The Blank Canvas

November 5, 2014

If you’re the type of bride who insists on free reign from the catering to the decorating, then what you need is a venue that’s a blank canvas. You can basically divide these types of reception sites into two camps: indoor and outdoor. For the indoor variety, there are two locations in Milwaukee to consider. These historic warehouse spaces boast cream city brick and a gritty, urban feel that can be dressed up to suit any style of wedding.

The Pritzlaff is located in the Third Ward and features Victorian arched windows and beamed ceilings supported by carved wooden columns. It’s just one building, but inside you’ll find four spaces that can host anywhere from 150 to 1200 guests. Each space truly is capable of adapting to suit the occasion. When it comes to food and beverages, the Pritzlaff partners with a select group of caterers.

For blank canvas venues of a less-urban variety, turn to Washington Country Fair Park, or Milwaukee County and Waukesha Parks. At Washington County Fair Park, you’ll find banquet facilities for anywhere from 20 to 1000 guests. There’s also an outdoor space available for setting up your own tented wedding reception. Ever dream of having a horse-drawn carriage at your wedding? There’s an equestrian complex on site!

Similarly, the Milwaukee County Parks & City of Waukesha system boasts a multitude of scenic locations with views of Lake Michigan and numerous gardens with gazebos and gorgeous flowers, when in-season. Can you imagine a more beautiful backdrop? Some parks facilities are the Mitchell Park Conservatory (The Domes), the Boerner Botanical Gardens, and the Wehr Nature Center. These locations offer more traditional receptions complete with contracted caterers and on-site rental options. But many of the other smaller park pavilions are true blank slates where you can decorate as you wish and bring in any caterer you like — as long as you have a permit!

The beauty of all of these venues is that each gives you the opportunity to transform the space. Play off the cream city brick or use draping linens on the walls and ceiling. Accent either scene with dramatic lighting. Incorporate different sizes and shapes of tables, allowing you more creative license when it comes to tablescapes. Freedom also means you can play with the spacing of the room as a whole – large tables, small tables, round, rectangular. You can even make room for unique furniture groupings for when guests are eventually all danced out.

In short, here are some pros and cons when considering a wedding reception site that’s a blank canvas:

Cons: At any venue that’s a blank canvas, you will inevitably need to rent more items – everything from the silverware to the dance floor (literally!), although most offer experienced on-site coordinators that will make the process easy. For an outdoor event, you might even need to rent portable bathrooms. Also if you’re outside, consider backup plans for inclement weather. You might find it hard to make decisions since your options are often times unlimited.

Pros: It’s easy to create the look or theme you’ve envisioned. You have more options for catering. You can go for fashionable urban-chic vibe or explore the beauty of the great outdoors, each striking in its own right. Even though the end result is up to you and your decisions, there will be professionals to guide you along the way. Whether it’s an on-site coordinator, DJ, lighting expert, or photographer, these are creative professionals who are there to help you create the wedding you always dreamed of. Guests will never forget the one-of-a-kind details of your totally unique wedding – and neither will you!


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