If you’re throwing a big party to celebrate your wedding, it’s inevitable you’ll drop some cash. What better way to make your venue fee have a “Return on Community” than to host it at a nonprofit venue that compliments a passion of yours.
From art, science and natural history museums, nature and historic preservation efforts, and even performance art venues, here’s a great list of places in Milwaukee to host your wedding that give back to our community. Did we miss your favorite? Feel free to mention it in the comments!
1. Schlitz Audubon
The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center was founded by people with a great love of nature and a strong land ethic. Situated on 185 unique acres of forests, wetlands, restored prairies, ravines, bluffs and Lake Michigan shoreline, they are able to host outdoor ceremonies and indoor receptions.
It’s the perfect venue for the nature loving couple and you can feel great about supporting the Audubon’s preservation and education efforts. Plus, you can include live raptors (birds of prey) in your wedding too! Photos by Beloved | By Robyn Vining
2. Villa Terrace Arts Museum
Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum was designed and built in the style of an Italian Renaissance villa in 1923. The museum features fine and decorative arts dating from the 15th through the 18th centuries and jaw-dropping and meticulously manicured garden spaces.
When hosting your wedding here, you not only get a space unlike any other in Wisconsin, you support preserving this gem for future generations. Photo by Autumn Silva Photography.
3. Milwaukee County War Memorial
The Milwaukee County War Memorial Center honors the legacy of Wisconsin’s men and women who patriotically served in the U.S. armed forces during both war and peacetime.
Having an expansive deck overlooking beautiful Lake Michigan, it’s perfect for outdoor ceremonies along with indoor reception spaces, and is the ultimate venue for couples who have served our country or have loved ones who have. Photos by Reminisce Photography.
4. Charles Allis Art Museum
The Charles Allis Art Museum was built in 1911 for Charles Allis (of West Allis name fame) with the sole purpose of bequeathing it and its extensive art and artifacts collection to the public – hence the nonprofit designation.
Years later, in 1998, an event space was constructed to further support the artist community as well as host awesome weddings. Don’t forget about their expansive terrace perfect for outdoor ceremonies! Photos by Little Giant Photography.
5. Milwaukee Public Museum
The Milwaukee Public Museum, the largest natural history museum in Wisconsin, is a crazy unique space that allows you access to dinosaurs, Streets of Old Milwaukee, European villages, even a faux Japanese gardenscape for photo options unlike any other. Photos by Front Room Photography.
6. Urban Ecology Center
The Urban Ecology Center has three “Environmental Community Centers” that work to expose and educate those living in urban areas to the beauty and joy of nature.
Their Riverside Park location is most popular for weddings; however, the Washington Park branch is located walking distance to The Shell at Washington Park — perfect for an outdoor ceremony! Finally, their Menomonee Valley location is best for intimate gatherings and is located just east of Miller Park. Photo by Little Giant Photography.
7. Discovery World
If you have a passion for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) then Discovery World, Milwaukee’s science and technology museum would be an awesome fit for your wedding!
Bonus, you get delicious food and amazing service when planning your wedding here as they have an exclusive partnership with Bartolotta Catering. Their views of both the lake and downtown can’t be beat and they even have an outdoor amphitheater with built in seating — perfect for an outdoor ceremony. Photos by Reminisce Photography.
8. Sharon Lynne Wilson Center
It’s a lesser known fact that nonprofit performing arts centers are generally not able to sustain themselves via ticket sales alone. In fact, the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center, located in Brookfield, must fundraise 60% of its operating budget.
So if you’re a performing arts buff, you can feel even better about your big day knowing your venue fee goes to a great cause. Photos by Emily Johnson Photography.
9. Milwaukee Art Museum
Yup, the iconic Milwaukee Art Museum is definitely a nonprofit. If you are a lover of art and want to showcase to your guests how chic Milwaukee is, than this is the spot to host your wedding. MAM is world renowned destination wedding venue that never goes out of style. Photos by Lisa Mathewson Photography.
10. Marcus Center for the Performing Arts
Another performing arts center, this time located in the heart of downtown Milwaukee, the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts (or The PAC if you’re old school Milwaukee) is a hidden gem wedding venue.
Not only does their venue look amazing in photos, there is an outdoor terrace with a backdrop of ivy, perfect for an outdoor ceremony. Add in Sazama’s Catering (owned by Saz’s) as their exclusive caterer and the food is sure to be a crowd pleaser too! Photos by Lottie Lillian Photography.
11. Milwaukee Community Sailing Center
The Milwaukee Community Sailing Center is located along Lake Michigan, just north of downtown. Its mission is to make enjoying Lake Michigan accessible to everyone, “regardless of age, physical ability or financial concerns.”
Love our beautiful Lake Michigan? This could be a venue to check out. Photos by Little Giant Photography.
12. Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA)
The mission of the Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA) is to celebrate the value, diversity and uniqueness of the visual arts and artists of Wisconsin. This venue, located in West Bend’s downtown area along the Milwaukee River, was built in 2013 with modern, crisp lines… an architect’s dream. Photos by MiaS Photo.
13. Redline Art Gallery
Redline is not only a unique art gallery, but it offers Milwaukee’s only 2 year artist-in-residence program.
14. Milwaukee County Historical Society
The Milwaukee County Historical Society building is an amazing facility located in the heart of downtown Milwaukee. Per their mission, by promoting a greater appreciation of Milwaukee’s heritage, they hope to develop a better understanding of the issues and challenges facing Milwaukee today.
As a former bank for Milwaukee’s beer barons of the past, there are so many unique spaces in this ornate venue. And how can you not love those “LOVE MKE” signs?!? Photos by Studio 29 Photography.
15. Chandelier Ballroom
The Chandelier Ballroom, built in 1928 in cozy Hartford, Wisconsin is owned and operated by the nonprofit Hartford Historic Preservation Foundation.
With a lengthy and impressive list of musical greats having played there (i.e. Chubby Checker, Louis Armstrong and Cheap Trick only skim the surface), this venue has a rich event history behind it often going back multiple generations of family weddings. Photos by Brian Slawson Photography.
16. Trimborn Farm
There’s a nonprofit barn venue?! There is when it’s run by the Milwaukee County Historical Society.
Trimborn Farm is the only Milwaukee County Park with a historic theme. The multifaceted property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also a State Historic Site and Milwaukee County Landmark. Photo by Boutique Photographer.
17. Schauer Arts Center
Schauer Arts Center is a performing and visual arts complex located in downtown Hartford, Wisconsin.
The Schauer Center’s mission is to provide a gathering place where people from all walks of life achieve a sense of belonging and benefit from enjoying and participating in the arts. Photos by Heather Cook Elliott.
18. Milwaukee County Parks
The Milwaukee County Parks, while not an “official” nonprofit, can be a great way to use your venue fees to give back to our award winning, yet budget tight, parks system.
From the popular South Shore Pavilion, to the Washington Park Band Shell, as well as Boerner Botanical Gardens and (hopefully) The Mitchell Park Domes, utilizing our parks for ceremonies and receptions can provide for memories to come as you visit years later. Photos of South Shore Pavilion by Reminisce Photography.