Milwaukee has a rising business that’s spurring redevelopment of historic buildings—fueled partly by an inflow of Chicago-area prospects.

An growing variety of weddings outdoors of church buildings and different homes of worship are bringing new life to a number of older buildings within the Milwaukee space.

That pattern is also including income streams for brand new lodges and different developments, together with craft breweries, museums and performing arts venues.

“It is positively on the upswing,” stated Angela Quigley, co-owner of, a web-based wedding info useful resource.

And this yr’s wedding season is especially busy as a result of it contains {couples} who delayed their marriages from 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, stated Greg Quigley, Angela’s partner and enterprise companion.

“It is sort of like two wedding seasons in a single,” he stated.

{Couples} have a rising variety of venues to contemplate.

Historic Milwaukee-area buildings which were transformed since 2020 into venues for weddings and different occasions embody:

• 1868 St. James, 833 W. Wisconsin Ave.

• River Valley Historic Venue, 422 N.15th St.

• The George and Madcap Lounge, 429 W. Nationwide Ave.

• The Mitch, 1104 W Historic Mitchell St.

• Dresden Fortress on Underwood, 3775 E. Underwood Ave., Cudahy.

• The Gage, 1139 S. 70th St., West Allis.

Further venues are coming

In the meantime, 4 extra Milwaukee wedding and occasion venue proposals have surfaced since July.

One would convert the primary flooring of a four-story workplace constructing, at 804 N. Milwaukee St.

The opposite three all contain redeveloping a lot older buildings.

The Mitch’s operators, Marta Bianchini and Claiborne Marshall, need to open one other venue, The Clybourn, on the japanese first-floor portion of a two-story constructing, at 2202-2210 W. Clybourn St.

Additionally, the City Ecology Middle hopes to transform its warehouse, at 1420 E. Park Place, into Riverland Occasion Corridor.

Lastly, Amber Bricco and Rachael Flood plan to create Denizen MKE at a now-vacant constructing, at 4227 W. Vliet St.

“Milwaukee actually does have a sturdy wedding business,” stated Bricco, who’s director of occasions and advertising and marketing at a Milwaukee-area nation membership.

The expansion of native venues is pushed partly by the web, she stated.

{Couples} share wedding plans via social media, Bricco stated, which might result in extra demand for fascinating locations to host the ceremony and reception.

“There’s an entire wedding market on Pinterest,” she stated.

Instagram and different social media have “elevated what a wedding is,” stated Kate Crowle, who operates St. James 1868.

Central location of the town issues

Additionally, Milwaukee is conveniently positioned within the central portion of the US for {couples} who attended school right here and now stay elsewhere — and have households who stay elsewhere, Bricco stated.

“I believe we’re an excellent center floor,” she stated.

Lastly, Milwaukee is drawing extra {couples} from the Chicago space who need an fascinating venue for a a lot decrease price, Bricco stated.

The Quigleys have estimated the common price of a Milwaukee wedding with 150 friends to be round $30,000 — in comparison with greater than $60,000 in Chicago, based on The Knot.

“Loads of Chicago {couples} are trying up right here,” Greg Quigley stated.

And {couples} are more and more getting married outdoors of church buildings and different locations of worship, the Quigleys and Crowle stated.

That is led to the event of venues which have sufficient house to supply a room for the ceremony and separate house for a reception.

St. James 1868 may be particularly well-suited for such twin roles — it is downtown’s redeveloped former St. James Episcopal Church.

St. James 1868 has two venues: the previous church sanctuary, now often known as The Abbey, with seating for as much as 300 individuals, and the previous parish corridor, now referred to as The Hyde, with seating for 150.

Additionally, The Hyde has an outside terrace that was a part of the constructing’s redevelopment. The Abbey’s house might be expanded to an outdoor courtyard.

St James 1868 is booked for 102 occasions this yr, Crowle stated.

The venue opened amid the pandemic in 2020, when it hosted simply 17 weddings — however that elevated to 47 weddings in 2021.

Former church buildings discover new life

Different former church buildings transformed to wedding venues embody Cudahy’s Dresden Fortress on Underwood, which saved the previous Holy Household Catholic Church from the wrecking ball. It opened in 2021.

Each St. James and Holy Household closed after long-term membership declines.

Certainly, about 29% of US adults are non secular “nones”—individuals who describe themselves as atheists, agnostics, or “nothing particularly” when requested about their non secular identification.

That is based on a survey launched in December by Pew Analysis Middle.

That compares to 16% in 2007, Pew stated.

In the meantime, new lodges and different hospitality companies have been designed to incorporate areas that may be booked for weddings and different occasions.

Downtown’s Kinn MKE Guesthouse, a 32-room boutique lodge that opened in March at 600 N. Broadway, encompasses a rooftop deck that additionally serves as an occasions venue.

Kinn proprietor Charles Bailey realized the potential for internet hosting occasions after opening an eight-room Kinn Guesthouse, at 2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., in Bay View, in 2017.

The downtown chin opened too late to promote it successfully for this yr’s wedding season, Bailey stated.

However the lodge has since booked round 30 occasions via November 2023, he stated.

“It is a good enterprise,” Bailey stated.

Different newer downtown hospitality companies which have separate occasions rooms embody Central Normal Craft Distillery, 320 E. Clybourn St., based on

Conventional venues make upgrades

Lastly, native museums and performing arts teams have made huge investments lately by including house to host weddings and different occasions.

These embody Discovery World. The museum in 2018 opened an addition, often known as The Pavilion at Discovery World, which might host as much as 700 individuals for a sit-down occasion.

That compares to a seated capability of 400 individuals within the museum’s Roger & Judy Smith Household Pilot Home.

With the added enterprise from the pavilion, Discovery World, at 500 N. Harbor Drive, has had an almost 30% improve in non-public occasions income, stated Bryan Wunar, president and chief government officer.

Additionally, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s Bradley Symphony Middle, which opened in October at 212 W. Wisconsin Ave., contains house for weddings and different occasions inside a glassy addition to the previous Warner Grand Theater.

The symphony heart has hosted a few weddings this summer season, with three extra deliberate by the tip of September, stated Erin Kogler, director of communications.

That comes as MSO and different Milwaukee performing arts organizations are working to return to income ranges that fell sharply throughout the pandemic.

“We’re hoping that grows sooner or later,” she stated.

City Ecology Middle is one other Milwaukee nonprofit that’s hoping to earn extra income from being a wedding host.

The group has been doing that for a number of years at its headquarters at 1500 E. Park Place, at Riverside Park, the place it may well accommodate as much as 175 individuals for sit-down occasions.

The middle is now planning to transform its close by warehouse into Riverland Occasion Corridor. It might host as much as 300 seated friends, and embody a catering kitchen in addition to a smaller assembly room.

Riverland could be subsequent to the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum.

“I believe lots of people really feel a connection to that pure house,” stated Rachel Nielsen, the middle’s director of finance and operations.

The out of doors house at Riverland Occasion Corridor, and different native venues, is an efficient factor to have at a time when individuals are nonetheless coping with the pandemic’s results, Angela Quigley stated.

“It is making individuals extra snug,” she stated.

Tom Daykin might be emailed at [email protected] and adopted on Instagram, Twitter and Fb.

Milwaukee wedding venues are redeveloping historic buildings


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