There’s no place like Door County, and there’s no one like your sweetheart. So it’s not surprising that so many couples find their way up to the peninsula to tie the knot each year.
Whether you’re looking for a simple ceremony or something lavish yet elegant, Door County can provide the perfect backdrop for your perfect day. From Horseshoe Bay to Gordon Lodge to the Sturgeon Bay waterfront, there are plenty of great locations that can host your friends and family, and there are plenty of great local vendors who can supply your wedding with everything from favors to flowers.
The following pages showcase a handful of couples and the choices that transformed their normal wedding into a Door County wedding. Read on to discover how Door County can help you create a perfect union that will last – until Death’s Door do you part.
CeCe Benoist Deutschmann & Andrew Deutschmann
“Fish Creek is sacred territory to the Benoist clan,” CeCe said. “And for the ‘outsiders’ we bring with us on occasion, it is the ultimate relationship test. I brought Andy up the first summer after we started dating, in June 1997, at the wise old age of 17. This was my test – in Fish Creek, would he flounder or flourish? He took to the Creek, my big family and the Door County way of life like a fish to water and I knew, this was it. Thirteen years later we made it official.”
The couple’s August ceremony highlighted Door County’s natural beauty with a subdued color scheme, a whimsical atmosphere and a nautical flair.
“The vibe rocked – from my perspective – we wanted to let the people we love into our Fish Creek world and enjoy the ride,” CeCe said. “Mission accomplished. From planning to execution to reflection this wedding brought me nothing but pleasure.”
Ceremony Venue: Sunset Beach in Fish Creek.
Reception Venue: An outdoor tent at a private family home.
Table Settings: Tables were named after Door County islands, and distinguished by rocks with the islands’ names written on them.
Photographer: Tammy Lutze of Art of Exposure Photography.
Hair/Makeup: Kari Pudlo.
Wedding Planner: Carrie Baldwin Smith.
Band: The Charles Glen Band.
Food: Beef tenderloin with Whitefish a la Rockefeller – fresh Door County whitefish stuffed with wild mushrooms, spinach, herbs, cheese and lemon tarragon beurre blanc. Catered by Alexander’s.
Veil: Her mother’s veil.
Chelsea & Kyle Johnson
“I grew up going to Door County in the summer so it’s always been my happy place,” said Chelsea. “My husband fell in love with it, too, so it made sense for us to have our wedding there.”
Chelsea and Kyle got married on July 30, 2011, at Horseshoe Bay Golf Club in Egg Harbor, located just a mile away from Chelsea’s parents’ summer home. They planned their Door County wedding from Madison, Wisconsin, but Chelsea said the long-distance logistics didn’t hamper them.
“We went back and forth for some of the planning, but it wasn’t a hassle,” she said. “We were even able to Skype with some of our vendors.”
Chelsea and Kyle provided their guests with Door County welcome bags when they checked into their hotel rooms, full of maps, brochures, and Door County dried cherries.
“Since everybody was coming from out of town it was really a destination wedding,” said Chelsea. “A lot of our guests had never been there, but they said they wanted to come back. They asked if we could renew our vows every year.”
The day itself began beautifully, but storm clouds rolled in during the ceremony to provide some added drama. By the time dinner was done, Mother Nature had become compliant once again.
“While we were saying our vows there were apparently waterspouts popping out of the water,” said Chelsea, “but the pastor sped up the ceremony and we were able to get down the aisle. By the time we went out to dance again it was a cool summer evening.”
Venue: Horseshoe Bay Golf Club. “We had the ceremony outside, then went inside for cocktails and dinner, then went back outside for dancing,” said Chelsea.
Theme: “I wanted it to be very classic with some modern updates. I tried to carry that all the way through.”
Flowers: Purple and green bouquets provided by Flora of Door County. “I hadn’t met her until a few weeks before the wedding, but [the florist] really took our concept and executed it more beautifully than I could have imagined.”
Signature Cocktail: Mojito. “We both just like them and our colors were kind of green and purple-pink so it went with our scheme.”
Food: Chicken stuffed with prosciutto with a tomato sauce, among other options. “Some of the other venues needed outside catering, but we were able to get everything from Horseshoe Bay, which was nice.”
Guest Transportation: Door County Trolley provided pick-up and drop-off from each of the three hotels that the couple’s guests stayed.
Music: Big Mouth and the Power Tool Horns with a surprise performance by a portion of the UW–Madison marching band. “The reason we chose Big Mouth is my parents always loved them, and my sister got married in Door County and she had Big Mouth as well, so I knew right away when we decided on Door County that I wanted Big Mouth.”
Favors: Chose to have none, instead donating the money they would have used to buy favors to the American Cancer Society. “Both families have been affected by cancer, so we decided to take the money we would have spent on favors and donate it instead.”
Photographer: The McCartneys Photography.
Diane Allen & Mike Perski
Diane and Mike had the ultimate relaxed, romantic wedding, and planned it in just 24 hours. They walked along Third Avenue in Sturgeon Bay to pick up flowers, rent a carriage, hire a photographer and get a marriage license, then met with a few friends the next day for a ceremony by the water.
“We planned this whole thing in literally a day, and you couldn’t do that anywhere but Sturgeon Bay,” Mike said.
After the engagement, Mike and Diane considered flying to Hawaii for a destination wedding. After some consideration they decided to head a few hours north to their favorite place on earth, Door County.
“We were getting too old to do what other people wanted us to do,” Diane said. “[We asked] why don’t we do what we want to do? Where would we like to be? And we decided we’d just really like to get married in Door County.”
“We love Door County,” Mike said. “If we wanted to go someplace that’s relaxing or stress free, we couldn’t think of a better place.”
Food: Dinner at Trattoria Del Santo.
Photography: Kelly Avenson of Kelly Avenson Photography.
Rings: Diane wore her grandmother’s wedding band, Mike wore Diane’s father’s ring.
Flowers: Sturgeon Bay Florist.
Carriage: Door County Carriage Company.
Simonie & Andrew Woerfel
“I’m from Chicago and we were having everybody drive five hours to a place some people had never been before,” Simonie said. “We love it so much and Andy, being from Fish Creek, was so excited that I wanted to have the wedding there. We wanted everyone to see why we love it so much and see how gorgeous it is.”
The couple got married at Eagle Bluff Lighthouse in Peninsula State Park, near the sparkling blue water on a sunny day. They celebrated with food, friends and music at Gordon Lodge in Baileys Harbor, and incorporated unique Door County touches throughout – like substituting sheet cake for little pies from Sweetie Pies.
“We wanted to showcase the beauty of Door County and have everything outside and on the water.”
Ceremony Venue: Eagle Bluff Lighthouse.
Food: Raspberry chicken with Parmesan potatoes and fresh vegetables, catered by Gordon Lodge.
Photographers: Michael Segal Photography and Jason Mann Photography.
After Party: Swimming and grilled cheese at the Homestead Suites in Fish Creek.
Video: Chris Miller.
Kathryn Conway & Conor Hunt
Kathryn Conway and Conor Hunt drew inspiration from their Irish heritage when planning their September wedding. They embellished invitations with a unique crest, hired a bagpipe player, wished for luck on rocks before tossing them into the water, and literally tied a knot around their hands to symbolize the bonds of love.
Like traditional Irish wedding ceremonies, Kathryn and Conor’s was held by the water. And there’s no place like Door County to hold a beautiful, outdoor, waterside ceremony.
“If it was pouring rain, where would still be a beautiful place to have a wedding?” Kathryn asked. “Door County of course.”
Ceremony Venue: On the beach in Egg Harbor.
Reception Venue: Woodwalk Gallery.
Theme: Rustic barn wedding with an Irish flair; slight nautical theme.
Food: Steak, quail with Door County cherry reduction, salmon over rice, appetizers. Catered by Mission Grille.
Photographer: Emily Steffen Photography.
Music: The Allegro String Quartet from Sturgeon Bay played for the ceremony; Mar Caribe, a bluegrass band, played for cocktail hour; Bumpus played for dancing.
Tips for your Door County wedding:
Write a wedding guest travel guide: Chances are your guests will want to explore the county while you’re in wedding mode. Come up with a list of must-see places for your friends and family to visit, from “Site of The Couple’s First Kiss,” to “Home of The Best Dessert You’ll Ever Eat,” to “Mom’s Favorite Art Gallery.”
Go beyond cherries: There are lots of local foods to highlight. Try serving guests other classic Door County fare, like apples, whitefish or artisan cheese.
Embrace local history: You could weave Door County history through the whole celebration. By naming tables after famous shipwrecks, or displaying pieces from local artists, you could really make local culture a part of your wedding.
Have a weather plan: It’s not always sunny in Midwestern paradise. Have a plan in case it rains on your wedding day. Try making plans to move the party inside an art gallery, a museum or a private home in case of rain.
Figure out transportation: Whether it’s just having everyone carpool or actually lining up a transportation service, remember that your guests are going to need a way to get to and from your ceremony and reception. Directions for how to travel the county’s back roads may also be appropriate if you want to give your guests a leg up on the normal tourist traffic.