A $15K Wedding – From Riverwest to the Urban Ecology Center

Urban Ecology Center Wedding

This couple spent $15K on their Urban Ecology Center wedding. All photos by Twin Lens Weddings

This couple considers themselves nontraditional so it goes without saying they wanted a nontraditional wedding. The Urban Ecology Center on Milwaukee’s east side fit the bill perfectly. And the bikes helped too 🙂

For $15K they had some amazing vendors and 160 guests. Read on for the full cost breakdown of this completely awesome Urban Ecology Center wedding. And don’t miss the “note from the bride and groom” below where the couple gives some amazing details on how they pulled it off!

MIM Family Used

As always, we were excited to hear they used several of the Married In Milwaukee Family of wedding vendors, including:

Quick Facts – Urban Ecology Center Wedding:

The beautiful flowers from Feisty Flowers cost $500. Photos by Twin Lens Weddings

Wedding Essentials ($5,050):

  • Invitations: $820
  • Pies: $230
  • Photographer: $2,200
  • Flowers: $500 (includes: 20 table designs, 4 boutineers, 3 corsages, 1 bridal bouquet, 1 MOH bouquet, bike decoration (Bride and groom)
  • Planner: $1,300
Urban Ecology Center Outdoor Wedding Ceremony

The ceremony was held in the beautiful outdoor space at the Urban Ecology Center. Photos by Twin Lens Weddings

Reception and Ceremony Costs ($4,940):

  • Venue/Ceremony: $3,000
  • Food: $1,300
  • Drinks: $540 (2 half barrels, 1 case of champagne, 2 cases of wine)
  • Band: $0 (gift from friends)
  • Officiant: $100
  • Photo Booth: $0 (DIY bike setup)
Urban Ecology Center Milwaukee Wedding

The reception inside of the Urban Ecology Center’s Riverside Park location. Floral by Feisty Flowers / Photos by Twin Lens Weddings

Attire, Jewelry and Beauty ($2,746):

  • Dress: $900
  • Bride’s Shoes: $90
  • Rings: $1,360
  • Groom’s Attire: $256
  • Hair and Make-up: $140
Urban Ecology Center Bike Wedding

The bride’s dress cost $900 and the groom’s attire was $256. Floral by Feisty Flowers / Photos by Twin Lens Weddings

Other Costs ($1,536):

  • Rentals: $216 (included linens, tablecloths, champagne glasses)
  • Transportation: $300 (pedi-cabs)
  • Wedding Party Gifts: $200 (handmade necklaces for the moms, initialed tie clips for the dads, silk robe and earrings for MOH)
  • Favors: $50 (handmade seed-paper w/chocolates)
  • Hotel Suite: $120
  • Rehearsal Dinner: $350
  • Other: $300

Honeymoon ($2,750 – Not Included in Total):

  • Honeymoon: $2,750 (2-week road trip camping and staying at b&b’s)
Wedding Bike Ride to Urban Ecology Center

The couple had their first look outside their Riverwest home then rode to the Urban Ecology Center. Floral by Feisty Flowers / Photos by Twin Lens Weddings

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:

Our wedding was the very definition of nontraditional, but hey, so are we. This boy and girl met next door to each other, bonding over a love of biking, nature, and tacos – what better way to show off our love than by incorporating these elements into our wedding!

Love caught us by surprise, really. We were engaged about nine months after our first kiss, and married less than a year after that, the thought being, well, we could move in with one another and have a long two year engagement and plan for something complex… but as we thought about it, it wasn’t and isn’t us.

Since we planned on a date roughly eight months after getting engaged, much of our budget was a product of necessity.

The Important Stuff
We’re both crafty and inventive people, and we didn’t have too many preconceived notions about what a “perfect day” looks like. As a result, we were flexible in our options and satisfied with our decisions. Three things were, however, of utmost importance to us:

  1. We wanted to have our first look outside our houses and then depart with whoever would join us on a celebratory bike parade (we ended up having about 60 people biking with us!)
  2. Since both of us have decently large families, and many friends as well, we wanted a space which was large enough to accommodate 150 guests and still not break the bank. We also wanted to do as much with local businesses and partners as possible.
  3. We wanted tacos.

The Venue:
The largest expense was the venue – that being said, we looked at many different options. Upon learning that the Urban Ecology Center was able to provide us with a large indoor space, an outdoor space for the ceremony, and all the equipment (sound system, plates, utensils, cups), tables, chairs, and a small staff dedicated to our event for an incredibly reasonable price, there was really no other choice to be made.

It’s also on a beautiful landscape right on the parkway with a tower that overlooks the city. It’s the perfect place to feel connected to nature and the city.

The Food:
After that was food and catering. As stated, having tacos was one of our primary wishes, so we started to search for legit Mexican fare.

We shopped around at several traditional vendors, but nothing was hitting the mark so we broadened our search and found catering by El Rey. Granted, we’ve enjoyed their taqueria for several years, but this was our first time experiencing their catering.

Their prices were incredible! By saving some money on catering, we were able to find & hire Jeannie Davis of All Set! Event Planning and Staffing, who did an amazing job setting up, running the buffet, and take down. We had received many compliments.

The Drinks:
Since the Urban Ecology Center allows guests to bring their own beverages, we got two kegs from local Company Brewing and cases of wine to help keep the cost of the bar down. We had staff from All Set! serve the guests.

The Pies:
Neither of us are particularly cake people, but we like pies – we were able to get two dozen pies of various sorts at Baker’s Square for roughly a third of the price of a regular wedding cake – with the large varieties of flavors and the sheer amount, there was something for everyone to enjoy, and all were able to have a slice.

The Favors:
We made our party favors ourselves out of the memory that Jason didn’t have an engagement ring for Angie when he proposed, so she made herself one out of blooming goldenrod.

We came up with the idea of making seed paper, filled with goldenrod seeds, which guests could plant and think of us. This cost us $0 and was a lot of fun, but honestly was also a lot of work (we probably spent a good 12+ hours on making all the paper, and very few of it was taken by guests)

The Flowers:
Our friends were very excited to hear of our engagement, and many volunteered to help. Angela happens to work part-time for Jaclyn Millonzi of Feisty Flowers (a MIM partner!).

She discussed with us what we wanted, and in exchange for us providing her with materials, she provided us with boutineers, a bouquet, and table settings at a discounted rate.

The Invites:
Jason’s roommate also works as the Lead Printer at Bayview Printing Company (MIM Partner), and was able to provide the couple (and all couples who go to them!) beautifully hand-printed invitations for a fair price.

The Bikes:
Family members and friends from out of town, unable to bring their own bikes for the parade, were encouraged to go down the street from the couple’s houses to their bike shop of choice, Truly Spoken Bicycles, where they had worked out a rental agreement with shop owner Aytan Luck to use bicycles. Dreambikes on MLK also lent the wedding a tandem bicycle for their photo booth!

The Photography:
Besides the venue and dinner, having lasting photos was key and a larger item we budgeted for. Twin Lens Weddings (another MIM partner!) were recommended to us – their shots were fantastic!

They were also adventurous enough to ride in one of the pedi-cabs of Forward Pedi-Cab Co. that we rented for family/friends as well as the photographers so we could capture the bike ride in the moment. They both truly went above and beyond our expectations.Totally worth it!

The Dress:
Angela’s dress was more than we originally budgeted for but she fell in love with the one she did find which was both lovely and short enough she able to ride a bicycle!

Jason, resisting renting a tuxedo as hard as he could, ended up going to JC Penny and finding a perfect three-piece suit for $150, which he then took to get altered by a local seamstress in Riverwest.

The Officiant:
Lastly, after meeting with a reverend who wanted to make the wedding more his than ours (lesson learned), we desperately made a call about a month before the ceremony on the Riverwest Neighborhood Facebook page for a licensed officiant for our date.

A good man stepped up, and provided us with the joy, humor, seriousness, and love that every couple desires in hearing each other speak the words “I do” to one another. (He also joined in the bike parade, so sweet!)

All in all, our day, our preparations, and our decisions leading up to it were incredibly DIY and spontaneous – just like us. We couldn’t have been happier, and we grow happier every day 🙂

– Angela and Jason, The Bride and Groom

A BIG thanks to the bride and groom for sharing their awesome Urban Ecology Center Wedding wedding! Also thanks to Twin Lens Weddings for the photos and to Feisty Flowers for sending us this wedding!

If you’re currently working on your wedding budget, make sure to read through our previous articles featuring real Milwaukee wedding cost breakdowns.

Bike Ride Wedding to the Urban Ecology Center

The happy couple and some of their bike riding wedding guests. Photos by Twin Lens Weddings



  1. Alan Rankine says:

    Wonderful photo!