Cost Breakdown: A $25K Iron Horse Hotel Wedding

Iron Horse Hotel Wedding

This Iron Horse Hotel Wedding cost $25K.
Photo by Nikki Winter Photography

We love seeing the unique ways Milwaukee couples plan their weddings, and this Iron Horse Hotel wedding is no exception.

Instead of the traditional one day event, this couple spread their wedding over two days. The first night they had their wedding ceremony at the Iron Horse Hotel and the next night held their reception in their parents’ backyard.

MIM Family Used:

To top it off, they used four Married In Milwaukee Family Members – yes we love that! Check out this amazing team:

Comparing Wedding Costs

Remember that not all weddings are created equal and this wedding is no exception. Since they split their wedding into two days, their costs were much different than the traditional wedding, so keep that in mind with your comparisons.

Quick Facts – Iron Horse Hotel Wedding:

  • Ceremony Guests: 75
  • Reception Guests: 140
  • Ceremony: Iron Horse Hotel
  • Reception: Parents’ Backyard
  • Total Costs: $25,647
Iron Horse Hotel Wedding Flowers

For this $25K Iron Horse Hotel wedding, the couple spent $500 on flowers and $575 on invitations. Flowers by Bank of Memories & Flowers. Photos by Nikki Winter Photography

Wedding Essentials ($3,549):

  • Invitations/Stationery: $575 (save the dates, invitations, postage)
  • Wedding Cake: $362
  • Photographer – Ceremony: $2,112
  • Photographer – Reception: $0 (gift from a friend)
  • Flowers: $500 (included: 1 bridal bouquet, 2 bridesmaid bouquets, 8 boutonnières and 15 centerpieces)
  • Iron Horse Hotel Wedding

    The wedding ceremony took place inside the Iron Horse Hotel and the cocktail hour was in their outdoor space, The Yard. Photos by Nikki Winter Photography

Reception and Ceremony Costs ($16,501)

  • Ceremony: $3,715 (included: space, appetizers/desserts, open bar cocktail hour and valet parking for guests)
  • Reception: $0 (at parent’s home)
  • Catering – Reception: $4,511
  • Drinks – Reception: $2,000
  • Entertainment – Ceremony: $275 (guitar player)
  • Band – Reception: $1,200
  • Officiant: $300
  • Rentals – Reception: $4,500 (included: tents, chairs, linens, stage, dance floor, two bars, shuttle van, portable toilets)
  • Tented Milwaukee Wedding

    Several rentals were needed for their reception, held in their parents’ backyard. Rentals provided by Arena Americas. Photos by Meg Marie Photography

Attire, Jewelry and Beauty ($3,321):

  • Dress – Ceremony: $1,600
  • Dress – Reception: $600
  • Groom’s Attire – Ceremony: $0 (free tux with groomsman rentals)
  • Groom’s Attire – Reception: $275 (suit/shoes)
  • Bride’s Shoes $72 (two pairs)
  • Rings: $604
  • Hair and Make-up: $170 (for both days)
Iron Horse Hotel Wedding

The couples’ attire at their Iron Horse wedding. Top is the ceremony (photos by Nikki Winter Photography); Bottom is the reception (photos by Meg Marie Photography)

Other Costs ($2,276):

  • Rehearsal Dinner: $764 (Motor Bar & Restaurant at the Harley Davidson Museum)
  • Wedding Party Gifts: $272
  • Favors: $205 (custom frisbees)
  • Hotel Suite: $400 (Iron Horse Hotel)
  • Honeymoon: $0 (gift to the couple)
  • Other Costs: $635 (shuttle driver, bartenders, decorations, dress alterations, jewelry)
Harley Davidson Rehearsal Dinners

This couple spent $764 on their rehearsal dinner at Motor at the Harley Davidson Museum. Photos courtesy of the Harley Davidson Museum.

A Note from the Bride and Groom

We asked the bride and groom to tell us about their planning and budgeting process, and this is what they had to say:

We decided to spread our wedding out over two days because we wanted an intimate and close-knit affair without having to exclude our extended family and friends. We also wanted our wedding to feel sophisticated without being too formal. Mixing it up with a 2-day event definitely gave us this laid-back feeling.

The Venues
We had an evening ceremony at The Iron Horse Hotel on Friday night for about 75 of our very closest family and friends, followed by cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and dessert. Saturday night we had a big backyard bash for 140 guests with a buffet, cake, 2 bars, a bumper pool table, campfire, yard games and a live band (and don’t forget the ever-important late-night pizza).

The best benefit of a 2-day affair is allowing ourselves a break in between the vows and the party. It was so nice to be able to process everything that happened before moving on to a full-out celebration. I’ve stood up in a number of weddings and felt that end of the night exhaustion that comes with a very, very long day. I didn’t feel that at all! No early mornings, no rushing. I think our guests appreciated it, too. Those guests that attended both days were happy to continue the celebration.

The Cocktails and Food
The most important aspect while budgeting was the ambiance and the guest experience. For that reason, the majority of our budget went to the spaces we used, including rental items for the backyard, and the food and beverages. Although we essentially threw a cocktail party and a picnic, we were able to make it more elevated and special with the use of high quality vendors.

The Photographer
We also felt a quality photographer was worth the spend, especially after seeing some family and friends unhappy with their wedding photos. We are extremely happy with the results.

The Budgeting
To other brides who are budgeting I say – know what you want to spend and where the money is coming from. Then use your network; you never know who can do you a favor or who has a friend of a friend that can provide a great service. And do what you want, even if it’s different or people look at you funny when you try to explain it. You can throw two parties for the price of one if that’s what you want to do!

– Leah and Justin, The Bride and Groom

A BIG thanks to the bride and groom, Leah and Justin, for sharing their awesome Iron Horse Hotel wedding and to Nikki Winter Photography for the photos at the Iron Horse Hotel! If you’re currently working on your wedding budget, make sure to read through our previous articles featuring real Milwaukee wedding cost breakdowns.

Iron Horse Hotel Wedding

The happy couple with their wedding party.
Photo by Nikki Winter Photography


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