The state capital of Wisconsin sits on a narrow strip of land between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, with Lake Waubesa and Lake Kegonsa lying nearby to the south. Madison is home to many outdoor and natural areas, and the city has more parks and playgrounds per capita than the 100 largest U.S. cities. The city is also home to a handful of National Historic Landmarks, including several buildings designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Madison has a wide variety of attractions for all ages, including the Henry Vilas Zoo, two art museums, and a lively nightlife scene. Because of Madison’s seasonal climate, visitors can also partake in unique winter sport opportunities like snow-kiting and ice-boating in the city as well.
Madison has four distinct seasons, so hosting a reception in the city of lakes offers many opportunities for different themes and venues. With hundreds of venues and vendors to help you do it, planning your reception should be a breeze. Professional photographers are available to take advantage of the city’s manicured outdoor spaces for stunning photo sessions, while seasoned chefs can offer up fresh farm-to-table cuisine. Paired with its variety of shopping venues, restaurants, and recreational opportunities makes Madison an exciting destination to plan a reception event at any time of year.
- Interesting Fact
Madison was originally known as the “Land of Four Lakes” by the Ho-Chunk tribe in the 16th century.
Reception Service Options in Madison, Wisconsin
- Catering Services
Madison is home to the largest producer-only farmer’s market in the country, so the number of restaurants serving fresh, farm-to-table cuisine is on the rise. With James Beard Award-winning caterers specializing in local ingredients, your guests will have a tasty reception, whether with Wisconsin-famous cheese curds or German heritage offerings.
- Reception Entertainment
While the reception refreshments may be at the top of your guests’ minds, what is there to do after the plates have been cleared? Madison entertainers have got you covered, from magicians to costumed characters to local bands who know how to bring down the house. Many local entertainment companies also provide emcee and DJ services and can provide audio/visual equipment as well.
- Reception Equipment Rentals
Whether you’re inviting your guests to sit down to dinner, take in a seminar or participate in a team building exercise, you’re going to need somewhere for them to sit. Madison’s party rental vendors have the basics – like tables, chairs, linens, china and glassware – covered, and many can also provide décor, audio/visual equipment, dance floors and more for your reception event. For outdoor soirees, elegant tents and inflatable fun are also readily available.
Cakes are the centerpiece of any reception. Fortunately, Madison’s many bakeries are available to fulfill your needs, whether it’s a sheet cake for 40 guests or a wedding cake for 400. Several local vendors can also accommodate any necessary dietary restrictions, and one even specializes in paleo-friendly desserts.
Reception Planning Companies in Madison, Wisconsin
- Cherry Blossom Events
Established in 2010 by longtime friends Andrea VandeBerg and Sarah Sarbacker, Cherry Blossom Events specializes in the combined planning and execution of weddings, social events, corporate events and more. If you’re looking for more ideas and less hands-on management, the company also provides private consultations and design services. Whether it’s a themed retreat or an elegant reception, the woman-led team of planners can bring your vision to life.
- Wood Violet Events + Styling
Wood Violet Events + Styling has been creating immersive reception and event experiences in the Madison area for more than a decade. While many planning companies have service packages to choose from, Wood Violet opts for a completely custom approach, determining what needs to be done to create a stress-free and hands-off experience for you and your guests.
- Spotlight Events, Music, and More
Not only does the team at Spotlight Events offer an easy reception planning experience, they also provide talented, trained wedding entertainers to make your one-of-a-kind event extra special. The company works with (and provides references for) local vendors so you can be sure you’re getting quality service.
Pros and Cons of Hosting a Reception in Madison
- Scenic city
Surrounded by lakes, waterways and natural areas, Madison offers beautiful views, interesting architecture and many lovely outdoor venues.
- Food paradise
Award-winning chefs prepare fresh local ingredients and artisan breweries pump out all varieties of craft beer in Madison. Come hungry!
- Citywide events
From music to art to beer and fireworks, Madison hosts festivals for just about everything.
- Seasonal temperatures
Because of its upper Midwestern climate and geography, Madison experiences very humid summers and very cold winters, with about 43 inches of snow per year.
- Not very diverse
If small ethnic restaurants and shops are something you enjoy, you may not find many outside of a few around the University of Wisconsin.
- Parking zones
Parking meters and zones are strictly enforced in Madison, especially in the winter, and public transportation options are few.
Famous Reception Locations in Madison, WI
Check out one of these famous Madison attractions before or after your reception event!
- Cave of the Mounds
This cave was discovered in 1939 when quarry workers blasted into one of its large vaults. The cave, which to date has been surveyed to about 1,692 feet, is about 50 feet below the surface. Because the cave was a closed system for millions of years, the formations inside formed unhindered - creating beautiful columns in many diverse colors. The cave stays a balmy 50 or so degrees year round, making it a welcome summer (or winter) escape.
- Wisconsin Veterans Museum
An affiliate of the Smithsonian, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum explores the role military veterans from the state have played in worldwide affairs and conflicts. The museum's exhibits feature everything from national and world travel to the pets and service dogs that accompanied their owners. The museum also features audio stories and many personal experiences from the early days of statehood to the present.
- Blind Shot Social Club
If you like golf and cocktails with a laid-back atmosphere, Blind Shot Social Club is a great place to relax with all your reception guests. The establishment features the only public PuttView putting green in the state as well as 5 golf simulators and an extensive cocktail list. It also has a large, pet-friendly patio open - perfect for a pre-or-post reception brunch with friends.