• Victoria McDonald

Midwestern Venues Edition of My Wishlist.

Every wedding photographer has a bucket list of venues they wish to document a wedding at. Most never want to admit to it... but I want to share the list and extend a special something to couples that want to get married there and need a photographer. These are not sponsoring me to say the things I will say - they are just a collection of cute places that tug at my artistic heart.


My home state, this one is the longest because I have been staring at these places for soooo long.

Whispering Woods - This venue has all the fairytale feels with a ceremony site in the woods among the tall trees. It is magical. I personally don't think the event space is all that special but with the right florist (cough cough Apple Creek) you can get insanely creative in bringing the outside magic inside. This place has 20 Acres of woods, 10 Acres of Ponds, and 5 acres of prairie to make your photos options endless. They have two onsite getting ready rooms as well as a Chalet for a romantic overnight stay. Bonus for me, I'm super close.

Providence Vineyard - I actually don't love barn weddings. Too many of them look the same, there is too much wood making it difficult for lighting well, and very few are temperature controlled making it usually very hot to work in. This one is different. I watched them build it (via the internet of course) they thought of the things that make them different - like the Tuscan doors and that giant chandelier, it is all white which is a DREAM for photos and keeps it classic looking for years to come. This places has its own magic and makes for epic wedding images. Even better, every vendor that I have heard work there - just loves the team that runs it.

Firehouse Chicago - Firehouse Chicago is just that - an old beautifully restored Firehouse on the Northside of Chicago. It is for smaller affairs but it will be a memorable one. It has all the little nuances of a firehouse - yes there is a pole - but it all was updated with amenities that will make a wedding event perfect. Rooms to get ready in, an Ivy clad garden on the side, the big fire door. You can see yourself in those places I am sure but now image you - dressed to the nines and ready to get married but sitting in a copper tub with a bottle of Champagne - YEAAAAH We need to make that happen.

The Crystal Gardens - If you have been on Navy Pier you have walked past this beauty. A white iron and glass conservatory with tropical plants that surround you and your guests transporting them to another place. As the sun goes down - you get golden hour light most likely at dinner and then dancing under the stars. If you plan right - there are also fireworks. There is room for a full band to make this magnificent space and so many opportunities to bring in people that will decorate it will all the class and elegance once can dream of.

The Palmhouse - Tucked in Evanston, Il this is a newer venue that got my attention with the colors and textures that are sprinkled throughout. So many spaces forget about color or are afraid of color and the owners too color by the horns to make this warehouse space unique and fun. They have two private suites for getting ready, a full commercial kitchen with catering partners that make foodie dreams come true, and two full bars where they will make all the cocktails you want.

Post433Chicago - This is Chicago's Old Post Office!!! It is an event space now. If you grew up in the western burbs, like me, you drove under it a million times while it was a vast empty space. Now it is a classic location for weddings of any size with rooftop gardens, a view of the Sears Tower (it will always be Sears), outdoor cocktail spaces, and TONS of little (or note so little) details that just make this unique. I watched a few coordinators as they got tours of the spaces share it on Instan and INSTANTLY fell for it.

WISCONSIN: So I live basically on the state line now and get to venture over pretty frequently and Wisconsin has some insanely cool event spaces. These are a few that pulled on my heart.

The Milwaukee Art Museum - This is one of those spaces that speaks to my architecture loving soul. The lines that are in the Quadracci Pavilion are breathtakingly beautiful and when your ceremony is there those lines run straight to you. It is nestled on the north side of a sprawling park along the shore of Lake Michigan so the photographs are always amazing.

The Tinsmith - In Madison, this space is also new to the scene. It is industrial and retro all at the same time without getting that rustic feeling. They have room for a ceremony, reception and cocktail hour in the greenhouse. This space draws me to it for the textures that industrial spaces just naturally have and the way they mixed in their details. Check it out.

Paine Arts Center + Gardens - This is a gem of a place. It is a mansion with vast gardens, Conservatory, carriage house and architecture are old world european and make you forget that you are in Milwaukee. It's a postcard classic location for the couple that wants that elegant affair with a little whimsy that the gardens give it.

Villa Bellezza Winery - In Pepin along the Mississippi River this winery bring all the feels of southern Italy to the Midwest. Stone piazzas, rolling hills filled with vines, arches and soft toned architecture, an indoor space that will put you in tuscany and an outdoor area with roman villa feels. It is like someone built a little italian village where you would expect Nonna to be turning a corner with homemade tiramisu. How could you not love it?

St James 1868 - This is an old european style church in Milwaukee that was renovated into two event spaces and it is spectacular. all white interior with dark wood accents, they kept the stained glass and big iron gates. They have getting ready suites that are impeccably designed for full bridal parties, an english courtyard surrounded by the brick, a terrace that feels like a rooftop, ivy walls and architecture that is old world.


Aria - This is in Minneapolis and used to be a theatre. What caught my attention with this location was the multiple story ceiling heights that were left behind. THey renovated the space to be old world industrial with pops are art here and there. So little surprised await you. The potential with this space is endless - I haven't seen two events the same.


Planterra Conservatory - Are you plant obsessed? How many have you brought home? If you have more than two - this is your venue. Gardens that are manicured and fun outside and botanical and romantic inside the big iron and glass structure. No matter the season - it has that plant factor to warm your soul.


Baker Street Station - Built in 1914 this is a train station turned event space. It has that feel that your about to start a new adventure. The details have been restored and the plaster, terrazzo floors, and stained glass windows make this a perfect place to start new chapters.

Bluffs at Conner Prairie - This is an amazing place. It has 5 different spaces for use but the one that is eye catching is the Prairie House which is tucked among the trees and rolling hills - its all white interior with big black trusses is cozy and modern. There is no limit on what can be done with the outdoor space - it is beautiful.

One World at Wooley Mill - I mean...it was a wool mill and now its iron is covered in nature and it's a magic little gem in Bloomington, Indiana. It is a photographic playground with industrial textures mixed with nature in a pretty brilliant way.


Lost River Cave. - ITS A CAVE... need I say more. They call it a fairy tale and I can see that but the ROMANCE. It's a wedding venue tucked into a cave over a river in the woods. (Insert jaw Drop here) This is what movies are made of.

Kentucky Castle - This is a legit castle with perfect English Gardens and sprawling lands and tall brick walls and ballrooms FIT FOR A QUEEN OR KING. This has actual fairy tale written all over it and all I can see is your kids opening your wedding album asking if you know Elsa (or whomever the princess is in 10 years).

The Apiary - This place not only has a unique atmosphere with touches of southern charm on industrial walls but the food is supposedly and experience. Not going to lie, the beauty of the space stops my scroll but then I read about the food and it gained on spot on this list.


Cheekwood Estate - With 55 Acres of green and a view to die for this space is also sprinkled with art. It has the atmosphere of East Nashville with pops of personality mixed in with tradition. There are surprises everywhere that make it a fun venue to photograph. I believe that no two albums from this venue would ever look the same.


Four Seasons St. Louis - It's the view for me. The rooftop that over looks the Mississippi River and the Arch. The Ballroom isn't a bad room aside from the red carpet (seriously? who decided that red carpets were a good idea anywhere?) It has full floor to ceiling windows, a staircase that is calling for a grand entrance from someone fabulous, and lighting that is modern without being distracting in photos.

The Lalumondiere Mill & Gardens - From my understanding, this is basically an Air B&B, that can host intimate celebrations and larger ones in the gardens. I would say that if you are looking for a destination but not one that requires airfare - this is your place. It is located Southwest of St Louis where we start to see those rocky formations so there are a few here, along with waters, an industrial old bridge, stone walls and lodging. Its classified as incredibly unique.


Rollins Mansion - This place screams Gatsby with a little bit of gothic in the details. I don't think there is a thing missing from this Mansion. It offers inside or outside ceremonies and ballrooms for dinner. a giant rooftop that could fit my house a handful of times that I imagine has a spectacular view as well. SIgh - Dreamy.


Thornecrown Chapel - This isn't really a venue as much as a ceremony location. It is an impressive location though. This particular location is not for anyone, it is in a heavy christian part of the country and they will turn away those who do not have a christian ceremony or meet their beliefs. Which, makes my heart hurt because this level of grandeur with nature should be open to all. This is purely an interest for the masterful architecture.

Other places I would love to go.

I tend to stick to the Midwest because I don't have to fly with my equipment and I like the drive. However, I do love to travel and would love to travel farther for the right couples. A few other places are more general, like New Orleans... I just want to experience one of those marches down the street to all the music for newly weds... it just seems like an experience that needs to be had. Also Malibu Rocky Oaks in California - I attended a wedding there 6 years ago and knew I needed to return to capture it ... it has to be the BEST place to get married in the US - a private estate on a mountain top in Malibu. Haiku Mill in Hawaii - just take a look at it and you will understand why - Chef's Kiss.

Internationally - Scotland is a dream of mine, the South of France, and Caruso on the Amalfi Coast - but really if anyone asked me to travel abroad to document their adventure I would go - I

have that bug for travel and haven't been able to satisfy it.


For couples planning weddings at any of these locations in 2022 or 2023 - I am offering 15% off of wedding packages + a 16x20 Wall print, know that there will be travel costs involved for some of these locations - discount does not apply to those as I don't have control of that cost. This promotion is good through December 31st, 2021.

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