To help narrow the list a bit, we talked with three area photography pros who shared sage advice on what spots just might say “you.”
If you’re traditional…
“South Shore Park has nice beachy scenes,” Kimberley B. Anderson of KB Image Photography says of this renowned Bay View location. The panoramic views of the city skyline, marina and Lake Michigan itself are unbeatable. “It’s very ‘Milwaukee’ without being overdone.”
You could also have your photo session on the RiverWalk Downtown. Hit up a few spots via water taxi or just mosey on foot—you have plenty of space to cover: It’s two miles long. If you want a variety of shots, Anderson recommends Kilbourn Reservoir Park in Riverwest. You’ll have excellent city views, plus many other environmental backdrops for your photographer’s artistic pleasure. More traditional spots unique to the city? The staircase at Lake Park Bistro, the docks at Milwaukee Yacht Club and the gardens, statues and galleries at Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum.
If your ceremony and reception are in the suburbs, consider Waukesha’s Frame Park which covers a pretty stretch of the Fox River, or the romantic Mill Pond Park gazebo in Menomonee Falls. And if you’ll be farther south, why not stop at the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners?
If you’re country-chic…
Lately, cutting-edge couples have requested photo sessions in fields and in front of barns, says Sarah Immel of Sarah Immel Photography. Luckily, you won’t have to go too far to find some. Historic Trimborn Farm in Greendale has a number of rustic outbuildings of various styles, including a red barn. Minooka Park in Waukesha features a grassy hill perfect for one of those romantic slow-mo running scenes, plus well-maintained wooded trails. Stenz also recommends Hubbard Park in Shorewood, which runs along the Milwaukee River—the rustic lodge is a showstopper.
Take advantage of a local apple orchard’s nearly year-round beauty, or if you can’t make it out of the city before your reception, perhaps you can visit the small-scale crabapple plantings outside the Milwaukee Art Museum. Near Cedarburg? Have a quick snuggle under the covered bridge, Anderson suggests. It’s in the aptly named Covered Bridge Park just off Covered Bridge Road. Can’t miss it.
If you’re modern…
Here’s a no-brainer for duos whose style is decidedly mod: Head to the Milwaukee Art Museum and nearby O’Donnell Park (it’s across the footbridge). But be prepared, warns Andy Stenz of Andy Stenz Photography, “They can be crowded on Saturdays, with many bridal parties there.”
The domes at the Mitchell Park Conservatory have a mid-century modern vibe, and it’s softened by the lush flora inside (or a more desolate look if you choose the Desert Dome), perfect for a couple with differing tastes. You may also feel right at home outside the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts downtown, where the two of you can take your pick of twisted sculptures, the minimalist fountain, a symmetrically planted grove of chestnut trees and even the building itself, which is bathed in waves of multicolored light at night.
If you’re outdoorsy…
“Milwaukee has so many great lake parks,” says Stenz. He suggests visiting beautiful Doctors Park in Fox Point and South Milwaukee’s Grant Park, home of scenic Seven Bridges Trail. He also enjoys shooting at sprawling Greenfield Park, located on Milwaukee’s westernmost border.
It’s no surprise that Immel and Anderson also appreciate Lake Michigan parks, especially those along Lincoln Memorial Drive. Veterans Park boasts a lagoon, trails and plenty of green space, while nearby Back Bay Park is fairly well wooded. Head a bit farther north to Lake Park, and you reach one of Anderson’s favorite spots: the North Point Lighthouse. Southward, “there are secluded areas along the beach in Cudahy, where there are cool stone piers,” Immel says. “It’s a little trek to get down there, but it’s always worth it.”
And you have some time, Anderson suggests you take a hike up the tower at Lapham Peak State Park just outside Delafield, where the 360-degree views are breathtaking. Bonus: The climb lets you burn off a little post-wedding steam.
If you’re industrial…
With Milwaukee’s abundance of old factories and warehouses, it shouldn’t be hard to achieve the look you’re after. Pose in an alley, in front of endless rows of windows, a blank wall or an old garage door for a textural backdrop. For a newer industrial look, check out the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, Milwaukee Public Market or RiverWalk Park just across the street.
“We head into the Third or Fifth Wards often,” explains Stenz. “They have such a variety of buildings and styles that you can use, from some grassy areas next to warehouses and old train bridges.” Menomonee and Miller Valleys, as well as Schlitz Park, have similar landscapes. Farther north, Grafton has another notable industrial gem: Lime Kiln Park, where Anderson sometimes takes clients. The brick and wood towers, plus the nearby truss bridge, offer plenty of photo ops.
If you’re fun-loving…
Nod to the business that made Milwaukee famous by having your just-married photos taken at one of our area’s breweries which, Immel assures, work well no matter the season. Take the theme further by reserving the Pedal Tavern in the Third Ward or Walker’s Point for a crazy version of a pub crawl, or visit one of the city’s most storied bars, Wolski’s, to shoot some pool and knock one back with the friendly bartender.
Want to remind people of your love for sports despite your showy attire? Stop at TGI Friday’s Front Row at Miller Park to show the Brewers some love, whether or not they’re playing. You could also bowl a few frames at Holler House, the nation’s oldest certified bowling alley (with two lanes in the basement). In winter, lace up some skates (and maybe strap on knee and elbow pads) and do a couple of laps at the Red Arrow Park ice rink. Brides, worried you’ll tear your gown? Consider this locale for a Trash the Dress photo session instead!
If you’re sentimental…
Ask yourselves what Milwaukee-area sites are already meaningful to you. “I love capturing couples where they went on their first day, got engaged or maybe just visit daily on a walk,” Stenz says. “When people are in a location that’s meaningful to them they light up a bit more.”
So here’s your homework: Visit the spots that sound most interesting, and wander around. Even take some photos of your own. Later, share your thoughts with your photographer, and see how you can work out the logistics together. He or she may have some top-secret locations in mind, too.
Whatever you choose, you need to remember a few things. People could be milling around at public sites, making it tough to keep the photos focused on you. Also be aware that some spots may be open seasonally and that you may need to get permission or even pay for time at others. If you’re prepared for all of this in advance, you’re much less likely to encounter a bad surprise on your wedding day, and you’ll have a blast sightseeing. Like Stenz says, it will show in your pictures.