A $22K Wedding at the Public Museum’s ‘Streets of Old Milwaukee’

Milwaukee Public Museum Wedding

This couple paid $22K for their Milwaukee Public Museum wedding. All photos by Ellagraph Studios

This couple’s only “must-have” for their wedding was the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum. Once they had that booked, everything else fell into place for this $22,000 wedding.

We were excited to see the couple used two Married In Milwaukee Family Members: The Hilton Milwaukee City Center Hotel and the Iron Horse Hotel for pre-wedding drinks. Read on to learn about this amazing Milwaukee Public Museum wedding, their vendors and their budgeting process.

Quick Facts – Milwaukee Public Museum Wedding:

Milwaukee Public Museum Wedding Cost Breakdown

The flowers were DIY’ed by the bride and cost $175, while the doughnut cake cost $415. Photos by Ellagraph Studios

Wedding Essentials ($3,105):

  • Invitations/Stationery: $165 (DIY)
  • Doughnut Cake: $415
  • Photographer: $2,350
  • Flowers: $175 (The bride’s/maid of honor’s bouquet made by bride out of vintage brooches and artificial flowers)
Milwaukee Public Museum Wedding Ceremony

The ceremony took place in the Puelicher Butterfly Wing; The couple DIY’ed their signs and invites for $165. Photos by Ellagraph Studios

Reception and Ceremony Costs ($15,825)

  • Ceremony Fee: $275
  • Venue Rental Fee: $2,050
  • Food/Drinks: $12,750 (food stations and open bar)
  • DJ: $750
  • Officiant: $0 (friend)
MPM Streets of Old Milwaukee Wedding

The reception took place in the Streets of Old Milwaukee exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum. Photos by Ellagraph Studios

Attire, Jewelry and Beauty ($2,445):

  • Dress: $1,870
  • Bride’s Shoes: $30
  • Groom’s Attire: $325
  • Rings: $220
  • Hair and Make-up: $0 (friend)
Milwaukee Public Museum Wedding

The bride’s dress cost $1,870 while the groom’s attire was $325. Photos by Ellagraph Studios

Other Costs ($830):

  • Wedding Party Gifts: $510 (spa/lunch, vintage belt buckles and leather belts, matching anklets for mom & bride, custom tie patch for father of bride)
  • Other Decor: $150
  • Hotel Suite $170

Honeymoon ($11,856 – Not included in total)

  • Honeymoon in Hawaii: $11,856
Milwaukee Public Muesum Wedding Photos

A few of the fun photos around the Milwaukee Public Museum by Ellagraph Studios

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:

The Venue:
The Milwaukee Public Museum, Streets of Old Milwaukee in particular, has been my favorite place in Milwaukee ever since I moved here 14 years ago. When I found out you could rent the space for an event there was nothing that was going to stop me from getting married there.

That was pretty much the only “must have” when we were planning the wedding. Everything else fell in place to work with that venue.

The Streets are full of wonderful artifacts so we didn’t feel we needed a lot of décor and that saved us some cost. We decided that flowers wouldn’t really match the environment so we were able to save money there as well and use antique wooden spools to hold “rustic” waxed battery candles. They fit into the atmosphere perfectly.

The Photographer:
I had seen some photos from a couple of weddings Kat (Ellagraph Studios) had done and was blown away. I think I just saw them posted on Facebook by some friends/acquaintances. I don’t think we even looked at anyone else’s portfolio because once we saw her wedding work we knew she would be the perfect one to capture the special moments and not just a lot of posed images.

Her documentary style is what drew us in. When we met with the museum they had a list of photographers that had worked in that space previously. She was on the list, so it was a no-brainer.

The Food:
Zilli Hospitality Group is the caterer for the museum and all of its events, so we didn’t have to shop around for the food or the drinks and that was AMAZING!

It made things so much easier to have it all rolled into one package, and one price. We knew we wanted the dinner to be pretty casual and didn’t want the meal to be the focus of the night – we needed time to dance! We chose stations situated throughout the Streets of Old Milwaukee so our guests could mill around and take in all of the amazing sights as they got their food.

We didn’t do a formal sit-down meal. Everyone was free to eat and drink when they felt like it. We’re still getting compliments on the food. It was outstanding!

Personal preferences saved us money:
We didn’t consciously omit anything from our budget, but we also realized that a lot of “traditional” wedding expenses just weren’t things that were important to us.

We didn’t want a large wedding party so there wasn’t need for a rehearsal dinner or a lot of expense in attendant gifts.

The Officiant:
We preferred to have our dear friend officiate for us, so she got ordained just for our ceremony. That was another choice that saved us money, but was ultimately what we wanted.

The Bouquets:
I made my bouquet, and my maid of honor’s, out of antique brooches and artificial flowers. There was some cost with the brooches, but we can keep them forever.

The DJ:
Our friends used Paul, our DJ, for their wedding and it was the best dance floor we had ever experienced, so we got connected to him through them.

He typically does not work as a wedding dj, but was willing to do us a favor. I think we saved a little money with that preference too. That was another element our guests are still talking about – everyone loved the music. He played mostly 80s alternative and 90s hip hop. It was very important to us to have the dance floor full all night long, and Paul pulled it off.

The Invites and Signage:
We also saved a bit with the invites and wedding signage because Ryan and I are both graphic designers so we were able to design those pieces ourselves.

The Rings:
My engagement ring is a vintage design so it did not have a matching band. I had always wanted a very thick silver band, so I decided to get that for my wedding band and wear my engagement ring on my right hand.

It was much less expensive than any band I looked at in the jewelry store the engagement ring came from. Ryan wanted something dark and very simple and that was not available at the higher-end jewelry stores either, so we found it on Amazon and again, it was much less.

The Hair and Make-up:
It helps to have a friend that can give you a bouffant and the perfect cat eye!

Everything about the day was absolutely perfect and everything we had hoped for. Everyone said there would be one thing that would go wrong or not turn out quite like we hoped, but that didn’t happen.

Our only complaint was that it was over way too soon. The vendors did an amazing job helping us make our day exactly what we wanted it to be.

– The Bride and Groom

A BIG thanks to the bride and groom for sharing their awesome Milwaukee Public Museum wedding and to Ellagraph Studios for the photos! If you’re currently working on your wedding budget, make sure to read through our previous articles featuring real Milwaukee wedding cost breakdowns.

Milwaukee Skyline Wedding Photos

The happy couple with Milwaukee’s skyline in the background. Photos by Ellagraph Studios



  1. Brides DAD says:


  2. Shirley-brides aunt says:

    GREAT Wedding! I had LOTS of fun!