Located in Wisconsin’s Four Lakes region, Madison is one of the most uniquely situated cities in the country, with its picturesque downtown perched on a narrow strip of land between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona. Lake Waubesa and Lake Kegonsa sit just to the south of the city, connected by a series of scenic waterways.
Madison is an outdoor-lover’s paradise, with hiking, biking, fishing and other abundant recreational activities. History enthusiasts can stroll through neighborhoods featuring homes by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright and visit some of the area’s National Historic Landmarks.
Madison is also an emerging foodie destination, with authentic ethnic cuisines and gourmet dining alongside hearty Midwestern favorites and Wisconsin specialties like cheese curds and booyah stew. The city also has a trendy nightlife scene thanks to the University of Wisconsin, and there are a growing number of microbreweries.
Madison is beautiful year-round with four seasons, making choosing seasonal décor for your wedding reception venue simple. There are vendors throughout the city specializing in making your wedding reception an unforgettable experience, from luxurious decorations, centerpieces and props to stunning cakes, entertainment and more.
Wedding Reception Options in Madison
With its many picturesque lakes, waterways and historic buildings, Madison provides a plethora of wedding reception venues to choose from. Service providers specializing in wedding needs and activities are ready to help you bring your vision to life wherever you choose to say I Do.
With fertile soil and a lengthy growing season, Madison is a leader in the fresh farm-to-table dining movement, with many restaurants committed to sourcing their ingredients locally. The city’s caterers are available to serve up local and regional favorites, including innovative gourmet creations, fresh sandwiches and salads, or Wisconsin beer brats and cheese curds. Some companies offer a range of tasty vegan, dairy-free or gluten-free fare, including desserts.
- Mobile Beverage Service
Many options are available for Madison wedding reception venues, with outdoor spaces being in high demand during the pleasant spring and autumn months. If you’re looking to host happy hour for your guests or kick back later with an open bar, Madison beverage services are available to bring a mobile bar cart, complete with talented bartending staff, to add top-notch service to your reception.
- Reception Entertainment
The vows have been said and the cake has been served – now what? Join your guests in kicking up your heels for the rest of the evening with one of the city’s professional live bands or DJs. Madison entertainment companies are available to supply top of the line audiovisual equipment, lighting displays and dance floor set-ups, along with talented DJs, emcees and live bands and vocalists. Have younger guests to entertain? You can also book the services of magicians, costumed character actors and more.
Wedding Reception Companies in Madison
Whether you’re an experienced DIY’er or have no idea where to begin the planning process, professional and experienced planners can take care of the smallest details while creating a Madison wedding reception venue that is unique to you and your partner.
- Bliss Coordinating
You and your partner have worked hard to plan the wedding you’ve always dreamed of, from hours of venue searching to multiple cake tastings and what feels like hours of invitation and reception favor assembling. The team at Bliss Coordinating will gather all the plans and design decisions you’ve made and organize them, allowing you to sit back and enjoy your wedding day knowing all the details are being taken care of by a professional coordinator. There are no pre-set packages at Bliss Coordinating; the founder and principal coordinator sits down with each couple to develop a plan that best suits your needs and budget.
- Elevate Events
Established by two sisters who have been working together as a team since they were children, Elevate Events is focused on telling a couple’s story through purposeful ceremony and reception design. Planners at Elevate will work with you to determine your needs, design a concept that fits your story and come up with a process that ensures a smooth, stress-free event. Services include full-service planning and design, creation of a design concept, day-of coordination and other a la carte services you make need down the line.
- Piece of Cake Consulting
Piece of Cake Consulting has been offering full-service wedding and event planning to the Madison area for more than a decade and has been named a WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Award winner five years in a row. Owner Betsy Pearson has extensive knowledge of the area and an impressive network of preferred vendors, ensuring you’ll receive quality service for your ceremony and reception. Piece of Cake offers a variety of packages to choose from, from full-service to design consultation, contract reviews and day-of coordination services.
Pros and Cons of Wedding Receptions in Madison
Madison is a beautiful city with many attractive wedding reception venue locations, but there are certain factors you should consider before making a final decision.
- Surrounded by natural beauty
The city and especially the downtown area is surrounded by lakes, waterways and manicured natural areas. These special spots are great as photo locations also.
- Festivals and events
From music and art to beer and fireworks, Madison has an annual festival for just about any occasion.
- Great for food lovers
Choices of caterers are in abundance. James Beard Award-nominated chefs are committed to sourcing local ingredients and produce and more craft breweries are emerging each year.
- Lacking in diversity
If authentic ethnic restaurants or retail shops are something you enjoy, you may not find many outside of a few around the University of Wisconsin.
- Seasonal temperatures can vary
Plan your wedding venue around the season. Madison experiences hot, humid summers and very cold winters with about 43 inches of snow per year, making outdoor events potentially uncomfortable.
- Parking enforcement is specific
Parking in winter is disrupted during the long, snowy winters and parking meters and zones are strictly enforced, making parking options a must for your chosen venue.
Famous Locations in Madison
One of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous buildings, Taliesin was built in 1911 and served as Wright’s home, studio, garden sanctuary and inspiration. Part of the home was destroyed by arson in a 1914 tragedy and was rebuilt twice more under Wright’s direction. Visitors can tour the original structure and grounds, built of local Wisconsin limestone and river sand, and learn about Wright’s embrace of what he called “organic architecture,” which served as the basis for his designs.
- Olbrich Botanical Gardens
Situated on Madison’s waterfront, Olbrich gardens are home to thousands of plants representing plant families from all around the world. The Bolz Conservatory, a stunning glass pyramid opened in 1991, houses 475 species of tropical and sub-tropical plants, including orchids, bromeliads and carnivorous plants, preserving many of which are now endangered in the wild. The garden is also known for its beautiful collection of roses and is home to a sala – a traditional, ornate Thai shade structure – one of only four located outside of Asia.
- Pendarvis State Historic Site
Located in Mineral Spring, the Pendarvis State Historic Site was home to one of America’s largest enclaves of Cornish immigrants, who came to the area in the 1840s for the lead mining opportunities similar to those in their native Cornwall, England. A pair of business partners began buying and working to preserve the unique cluster of buildings in the early 20th century. The preserved and in some cases recreated buildings serve as a living history experience for early immigrants to Wisconsin and once house both a restaurant and a pub.