Door County Style Weddings a Guide to Wedding Vendors and Unique Venues Mon, 12 Mar 2018 20:43:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 5 Best Kept Secret Door County Vacation Getaways for Lovers! Mon, 12 Mar 2018 18:12:34 +0000 If you are looking for an intimate and secluded cottage to celebrate your Door County wedding honeymoon, consider one of these lesser known accommodations.

Whether you are seeking a classically rustic and unique escape, or a modern yet secluded cottage outfitted with a gourmand’s kitchen, each of the following one-of-a-kind spots offer something quite distinctive and unusual.

Lily Pad Cottage

Happy to say, one of the last surviving waterfront cottages on Sturgeon Bay’s West Side has been rescued from the wrecking ball. Alisa Landman purchased the tumbledown cottage at 324 N. Joliet in 2015 intending to renovate it but, as well-intentioned restorations often go,  she eventually had to start from the ground up. Beginning by reinforcing the foundation, she ended up creating a brand new structure on the original footprint.

The Lily Pad is a one-bedroom studio, perched right on the shoreline’s edge with an outdoor deck, an adjacent private dock. If you are seeking a secluded “honeymoon” getaway, this waterfront cottage is ideal, tucked out of sight and almost invisible from the street. Yet within walking distance, there is everything Sturgeon Bay has to offer; art galleries, restaurants, shopping and nightlife. This completely furnished cottage with vaulted ceilings and terrific view of the ship canal is the perfect spot for a couple to spend some meaningful, private time together.

Lily Pad kitchen is fully equipped and ready for the most discerning chef.

Otumba Park with a sand beach, playgrounds and lighted tennis courts is just a block away. The cottage is available the year ’round for those who have discovered the magic of winter in Door County. It has all of the modern appointments you’d expect to find in a high end facility including a fully appointed chef’s kitchen, a Bosch dishwasher, LG refrigerator and sink with Hansgrohe faucets. Everything you need to make a special meal is at your fingertips… but it’s hard to resist the restaurant choices available on the West Side and across the historic Steel Bridge.

Sturgeon Bay, the county seat, is a wonderful place experience scenic beauty coupled with the impressive shipyards, shops and art galleries, great restaurants and nightlife including live theater and a wide variety of music.

The Lily Pad is furnished with a king bed, the perfect combination of firm and soft, a queen futon in living room and air conditioning. If you feel the need to get online, the cottage is equipped with WiFi and a 27” HDTV TV with a Roku streaming device in the living area.

Suite on the Water

Located on the Eastside of Sturgeon Bay between the Bayview Bridge and the Oregon Street Bridge is a beautiful private suite of rooms in a local home located on Memorial Drive. The entire home has been recently renovated. The upper level suite features a queen size bed, a private balcony overlooking the water, a private bath with a luxurious rain-shower head and a small dining area with refrigerator and coffee maker. On the same level, is a second bedroom with a full size bed.

door county suite on the water

Upper Level Suite with water view at Suite on the Water.

The lower level suite also offers a water view with a queen size bed, private bath and a pull out sleeper sofa. The kitchen bar is equipped with a sink, refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, and dining table. All of the rooms come with WiFi and streaming devices for TV. Guests may use the steam shower, infrared sauna and washer/dryer. The owners, Chris and John provide guests with a canoe on the adjacent shoreline and dock space for a small boat is available depending upon availability (call 920.819.1341). Suite on the Water does not offer B&B services since there are many restaurant nearby including our favorites, Get “Real” Cafe and Lola’s Bakery and Restaurant.

“An what about up nort hey…?”

Silver Poplar Studios

Door County Silver Poplar Studios

The Firebird Cottage. Silver Poplar Studios was established as an artists’ retreat in the 1940’s.

The home and grounds of Jim and Carole Maronek in Ellison Bay, Silver Poplar Studios and Ellison Wonderland is a whimsical collection of antique architectural remnants stitched into a collection of lodgings set within 15 acres of woods, meadows, and gardens, all adhering to a Russian theme (Carole’s parents were from Byelorussia) – an exquisite spot for a distinctive and memorable Door County wedding and honeymoon.

The centerpiece is their barn, built in 1998 and registered as “Ellison Wonderland, LLC” itself a collection of reclaimed barns and salvaged materials. The surrounding gardens and outdoor artwork are exquisite. They each represent the passion of Carole and jim, respectively. Jim came to Door County after a successful career as set designer for Chicago’s Goodman Theater and he has not stopped creating sets and settings, wall murals and sculpture. Carole’s plants and gardens are a living work of art. The public is welcome to visit during regular gallery hours and the Maronek’s offer the cottages for rent as well as their barn for concerts and wedding receptions.

Carlson’s Europe Lake Guest House

Carlson Cottage, located in the Europe Lake region of northern Door County… Your Own Private Guest House

If you want a more reclusive experience, head to Carlson’s Europe Lake Guest House in Ellison Bay. Facing the peaceful waters of Europe Lake, the Guest House sleeps 9 including children and provides visitors with cozy, private and quiet seclusion, surrounded by forest and the pristine beauty of a waterfront setting. The perfect family gathering place, it features an open concept, vaulted ceiling and a cook’s delight kitchen. There are three bedrooms, with 2 full modern baths, loft and cozy family room with a two story stone fireplace.

The Lake Lodge is a private and relaxing experience with a spacious deck, and a large picnic table. Guests have their own kayak, canoe and rowboat. Enjoy the simple pleasure of sitting around the living room fireplace with friends and family. Door County’s beautiful Europe Lake offers peace and tranquility that we all need in our daily lives.

Creed Cottage

Creed Cottage Ellison Bay

Creed Cottage enjoys a perfect spot in Ellison Bay.

Steps away from the shores of Ellison Bay on the Bay of Green Bay and a short distance from Lake Michigan, this light-filled and lovely 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath cottage is minutes from the water and convenient to everything in town.

Walk to the public marina and boat launch ramp, post office, public beach, parks, The Clearing Folk School, Savory Spoon Cooking School and Marketplace, the Pioneer Store, unique shops, terrific restaurants, a great coffee shop, numerous fine art and pottery studios and diverse galleries.

Hike and bike around town and in nearby state parks and wildlife areas, ride the ferry to Washington Island, take a sightseeing cruise, kayak and canoe or enjoy the many music and cultural venues that Door County has to offer. If you did not bring your own bikes and would like to take a quick bike tour around town, limited free bike rental is available in town at the information booth.

Consider Creed Cottage for your next visit north of the tension line aka Ellison Bay – their three bedroom cottage offers beautiful, clean, fresh and comfortable accommodations while exploring northern Door County and nearby Newport State Park. Creed Cottage accommodates up to six people with two queen bedrooms (one with adjoining 1/2 bath) and one twin bedroom. The season begins Memorial Day weekend and lasts into November. You can find out more at

They Call it Wedding Fusion… Tue, 19 Jan 2016 04:11:08 +0000 Three opening chapters of a Door County Wedding in a cinematography style that blends photos with video footage by Alisa Landman and Stephen Kastner…

Taking inspiration from Ken Burns, who reanimates archival footage and historic photographs in his highly acclaimed documentary films, Alisa and Stephen seek to tell wedding stories in a similar manner. They call it wedding fusion, combining film footage with still photos, working as a team… aka DesignWise Studios. This particular wedding production features the solo guitar work of George Sawyn. You can see more on the DesignWise YouTube Channel.

Door County Wedding Venue & Vendor Guide Fri, 18 Dec 2015 20:19:48 +0000 Door County’s comprehensive Wedding Venue and Guide is a DesignWise Studios project, a comprehensive, free, online resource created with the following intentions:

  • help provide couples with a complete guide to Door County Wedding Staging Resources,
  • to let the public know that Door County is the perfect wedding destination with an amazing variety of venues,
  • To spotlight anything and everything “wedding” available right here from experienced wedding vendors.

Door County Wedding Venue & Vendor Guide Categories…

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Baileys Harbor Thanksgiving Benefit Dinner Creates Positive Feedback Loop Sun, 13 Dec 2015 21:13:57 +0000 “We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly.” ― Aristotle

Baileys Harbor Town Hall Thanksgiving Dinner photo by Alisa Landman

When I asked my partner, photographer Alisa Landman if she’d like to go to a benefit dinner instead of cooking on Thanksgiving, she agreed that it would be a different way to spend the holiday. I’d recently heard a story broadcast on WDOR about a special fundraising event at the Baileys Harbor Town Hall for a woman fighting cancer.


Natasha Ustianowski photo by Alisa Landman

Her friends and neighbors wanted to help…

For several months now, Natasha Ustianowski, a Sturgeon Bay single mom, raising her 11-year old son Dex, has been making regular trips to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. The intent is to shrink the tumor before surgery. In December of last year, she noticed a lump on the back of her leg and after doing some research, assumed it was a baker’s cyst. But it failed to get better. In June, after a series of tests, it was diagnosed as synovial sarcoma. She had to abruptly cut back on work as each chemo treatment requires about a week of recovery and her post-surgery rest and recuperation is expected to take an additional eight weeks.

So this year, the Baileys Harbor Community Association’s (BHCA) fifth annual Thanksgiving Dinner became a fundraiser. Door County wedding planner Carrie Baldwin Smith was recruited by Barb Anschutz, and Heidi Penchoff to help organize the event along with the assistance of a small army of volunteers and donors.

How it all got started…

In 2011, at a recap meeting following that year’s Baileys Harbor Halloween festivities, someone tossed out the idea of having an event on Thanksgiving. Paul Salm at the Cornerstone jumped on it, offering to host what would become the First Annual Baileys Harbor Free Thanksgiving Dinner inviting anyone who had nowhere else to go. I distinctly remember that first year as I numbered myself among those “bachelor farmer types” that Garrison Keillor describes in Lake Woebegone. I was living alone on Thanksgiving and that year, I went to the Cornerstone. I’d guess  there were not more than about 50 people, but it felt like a crowd, at the Cornerstone. In a few years, the celebration outgrew the Cornerstone and it was moved to the Town Hall.

This year, the first time it became a fundraiser, more than 300 people passed through the doors of the Baileys Harbor Town Hall.

Thanksgiving Day 2015…


When we arrive, the surrounding streets and parking lot at the town hall are already filled with cars. Once inside, I negotiate the crowd to secure a couple of unclaimed seats along the far wall before we stroll over to the buffet line. The stage overlooking the hall is filled with an abundance of donated raffle prizes …everything from a wheelbarrow full of booze to a set of handyman tools, 3 nights plus extras at the Bayview Resort to a women’s Harley accessory package, a dog lover’s package, jewelry and clothing all capped off by the ultimate, an autographed Bret Favre Packers’ team jersey!

“It seems that Bruce Alexander sprouted some enormous angel wings,” one Harborian is overheard saying. “Sirloin tips, lasagna, he even gave us all of the plates and silverware!”

Alexander’s is joined by 25 other locations, wholesalers and artisan contributors to roll out a bounty of free Thanksgiving fare.

Sarah's Door County Cherry Pie“Sara gave us 30 pies. Heidi Penchof’s sister is a food broker in the Minneapolis area and she sent 4 hams,” Barb Anschutz adds. “Everything was donated…”

  • Rolls – Piggly Wiggly and Baileys Harbor Community Association
  • Smoked Fish – Dave Peterson and Hickey Brothers Fishery
  • Relish Tray – Koepsel’s Farm Market
  • Garden and Pasta Salad – Al Johnson’s
  • Sirloin Tips, Mostaccioli, Green Beans and Sweet Potatoes, Plates and silverware – Alexander’s
  • Stuffing – AC Tap
  • Mashed Potatoes – Cornerstone Pub
  • Chicken – Casey’s and Sister Bay Bowl
  • Desserts – Sara Pellerin, Heidi’s sister and Tassie Knudson
  • Coffee and water – Koepsel’s Farm Market and Sister Bay Trading
  • Milk – Baileys 57
  • Apple cider – Krowas Orchard
  • Beer – Door County Brewing Co.
  • Wine – Chop
  • Beverageware and butter – Anschutz Plumbing & Heating
  • Linens – Horseshoe Bay Farms
  • Placemats – Innovative Printing
  • Graphics for ad and printing – Inside the Door
  • Printing posters – Paper Works Plus


“People were still bringing in raffle items on Thanksgiving day,” says Barb Anschutz. “We more than doubled what were were hoping to bring in for Tasha. She was just overwhelmed and afterwards the tears started to fall. This has given her so much hope. For the first time she knew she would beat this.”

The success of this year’s event confirms the organizer’s intention to continue spreading joy by making all future BHCA Thanksgiving dinners benefit events.

“I hope I can track down all of the people who gave their time and donations, big and small,” Tasha Ustianowski says. “What I want to say most is ‘thank you’ to all the people involved.”


I’m sitting across the table watching a dad singing the ABCs back and forth with his tiny young daughter who can almost make it to the letter G… and I think about how absolutely fortunate we all are to still be able to enjoy life in a small town community. Eventually, after things quiet down somewhat in the serving line, the dad and daughter get up to give their coveted seats to the mom and a second daughter who have obviously been hard at work in the kitchen. She still has on an apron. We ask the mom if they have a head count so far and she says they have already served more than 200 people…


And as she encourages her daughter to eat her Thanksgiving dinner, it turns out the mom is Carrie Baldwin Smith.

A recent study, published online in the Journal of Happiness Studies conducted by researchers at Harvard Business School and the University of British Columbia suggests the existence of a kind of “positive feedback loop” between kindness and happiness, with one encouraging the other.

“The practical implications of this positive feedback loop could be that engaging in one kind deed would make you happier and the happier you feel, the more likely you are to do another kind act,” says Lara Aknin, a graduate student in psychology at the University of British Columbia and the study’s lead author. “This might also be harnessed by charitable organizations: Reminding donors of earlier donations could make them happy and experiencing happiness might lead to making a generous gift.”

Another paper, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that spending on others makes us happier than spending on ourselves. From the abundance of  spirit generated in Baileys Harbor community on Thanksgiving Day, 2015 it also appears that happiness is a chain-reaction.

A Woodwalk Wedding Thu, 30 Jul 2015 18:44:22 +0000 Kelly Mortonson & Austin Simarski
July 18, 2015
Photos by Alisa Landman and Stephen Kastner, DesignWise Studios

Alisa and I were privileged to attend a great celebration of the joys of summer at an outdoor wedding held on the grounds of Woodwalk Gallery in Egg Harbor. The restored barn provides a spectacular reception hall, stage and dance floor with a bar, restrooms and an adjoining fine arts gallery. Wedding hosts typically erect a tent on the concrete pad that adjoins the barn for catering sit-down dining as the feature photo shows.

Early on, I connected with Austin and the groomsmen as they were spiffing up, showing me the keepsake, handmade knives that Austin had given each of them. The ceremonies took place in front of the wedding silo, one of the most unique wedding spots in Door County. Afterward, the bride and groom were led forth to the sounds of the Highland pipes played by bagpiper Dennis Metz.

[huge_it_gallery id=”2″]

A Visit to Ellison Wonderland Wed, 15 Jul 2015 23:18:07 +0000 Jim and Carole Maronek have created a world of their own at Silver Poplar Studios in Ellison Bay including a hybrid barn, built in 1998 from many other salvaged barns and registered as one of Door County’s most unique wedding venues, “Ellison Wonderland LLC.”


But, the best part of this eclectic estate is the Maronek’s intention to share it. Set on 14 acres of woods and meadows in Ellison Bay, the Silver Poplar Studios complex is filled with visual and historic gems that include the barn, housing an art gallery and the “Bolshoi Room,” suitable for wedding receptions and concerts plus two guest cottages – all converted and adapted from century-old farm buildings. There’s also a rare, wood-staved silo, capped off in glass.


Jim and Carole embody a living example of what Buckminster Fuller liked to refer to as synergy, when substances or people with different qualities combine or cooperate to create results far greater than the sum total of what either could achieve alone. Jim’s extensive background in theater set design is continuously exercised building structures of all varieties from the buildings to the surrounding fences and gates. Carole’s near fanatical love of gardening brings forth an abundance of living color in all manner of vegetation. The results are a masterpiece that must be seen in person to be truly appreciated.

The property was long-ago named after the forty, majestic Silver Poplar trees which once stood on the grounds. The theme throughout is one of Russian derivation, traced back through Carole’s parents from Byelorussia. Silver Poplar Studios was established as an artists’ retreat in the 1940’s. The log portion of the main house was one of northern Door County’s first buildings, dating from the 1850’s.

Photographer Alisa Landman set forth to capture images of some of the many breathtaking spots that await visitors to Silver Poplar Studios, a visual feast that is in a constant state of change as nature calls the tune. This is one of Door County’s most unique sites to celebrate a wedding …if you are seeking the embodiment of earth and sky lovingly groomed by a highly artistic couple.


“The thoughts that come to mind when I reflect on my visit to Silver Poplar simply bring forth a feeling of peace and calm,” says Alisa “…in one word, serenity. Wedding planning is quite often filled with anxiety and can be quite stressful for the two most important people in the ceremony. At Silver Poplar, this perfect place will quite likely cause those concerns to just fall away.”

“With an outdoor wedding in Door County, nature can provide much of the décor,” say the Maroneks. “The cottages, barn and surrounding gardens at Silver Poplar Studios are eminently suited for elegant, organic, unpretentious wedding ceremonies and receptions.”


Carole will often provide floral arrangements from the gardens in formal or casual arrangements. There is abundant privacy coupled with easy accessibility and ample parking, as well as restrooms on site. Tents are typically erected on the grounds to insure comfort under inclement weather, sheltering guests from the possibility of showers or intense sunshine. Visit to learn more about this delightful Door County wedding venue opportunity and we hope to see you there.

A Door County Wedding, Angie & Josiah 2011 Sat, 11 Jul 2015 21:14:01 +0000 This is the story of a Door County wedding told in short-form video chapters, produced in 2011 by DesignWise Studios and released as a weekly series on a dedicated Facebook Page.

Chapter 1 – The Rehearsal
Angie Brusky and Josiah Lent were married by Pastor: Michael Brecke at St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Juddville, Wisconsin on September 24, 2011. Processional planning and sound checks always produce a few surprises and we were lucky to capture a few of those enjoyable moments.

As one viewer describes it, “This is terrific! No question; it’s candid, real and funny – whether that’s intended or not. You’re the greatest!”

Chapter 2 – The Bike Ride
Josiah Lent is an avid cyclist who works for the Trek Bicycle company. On the morning of his wedding day, he had asked several of his best friends, all of whom are in the bridal party to accompany him on a cycling tour of Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek, Wisconsin. This was his idea of how to celebrate a bachelor’s party.

Chapter 3 – The Wedding
In this episode, Angie Brusky and Josiah Lent are married at St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Juddville, Wisconsin by Pastor Michael Breke.

The Marriage of Angie Brusky and Josiah Lent features Isaac Lent, Dan Riegert, Tristan Klein, Maureen Clark, Tristan Klein, Anna Warpinski, Joey Troup, Amy Yaniz Jones, Dan Riegert and Stephanie Voegele with guitarist, Tony Warpinski and The Rev. Michael Breke.

Planning Food and Drink with a Door County Wedding Caterer Thu, 09 Jul 2015 00:35:08 +0000 People often say that it is the food that they remember best, years after your special day is in the history books. These Door County Wedding Caterers will guarantee that fact with superb food and drink…

Find everything “wedding” in our Door County Wedding Vendor Guide:

You can search more than 150 local listings by name, location or by a specific wedding vendor category. Find everything you need to celebrate your dream wedding Door County Style!

Picking a Door County Wedding Venue Wed, 08 Jul 2015 21:49:08 +0000 From posh country clubs and shoreline resorts to classic barns and beaches, your Door County Wedding will be truly unforgettable at any of our unique wedding venues…

Find everything “wedding” in our Door County Wedding Vendor Guide:

You can search more than 150 local listings by name, location or by a specific wedding vendor category. Find everything you need to celebrate your dream wedding Door County Style!

Village of Egg Harbor Earns Travel Green Wisconsin™ Certification Thu, 26 Jun 2014 22:13:02 +0000 Travel Green program supports Wisconsin’s conservation tradition…

travel-green-wisconsin-certifiedThe Wisconsin Department of Tourism is pleased to welcome The Village of Egg Harbor as a certified member of its Travel Green Wisconsin program. With a longstanding conservation legacy, this program furthers Wisconsin’s commitment to sustainability. The Village’s Paul J. Bertschinger Community Center, other municipal properties including Egg Harbor Beach and Marina earned its certification for implementing green practices.

For example, the Egg Harbor Marina earned the designation of “Clean Marina” by Wisconsin Clean Marina in partnership with University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. The Egg Harbor Marina is also a bronze level Water Star Community certified by Water Star Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin has a longstanding tradition of conservation and Travel Green Wisconsin is an opportunity for businesses to further distinguish themselves for their sustainable practices,” says Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett. “We applaud their commitment to making sustainability a priority in their business, knowing the importance of doing our part now to preserve our natural resources and treasures for future generations.”

The Village of Egg Harbor is committed to water quality improvement projects such as Beach Park Improvements, permeable paver installations and bio-filter installations. The Village of Egg Harbor practices sustainability of wild life and landscape conservation and management. Those efforts have been recognized as designations of Tree City, USA as well as Bird City, Wisconsin. The Village of Egg Harbor joins more than 519 TGW Certified businesses.

“The Village of Egg Harbor strives to improve its environmental impact and constantly considers sustainability when making decisions,” says Michelle Anderson, Deputy Administrator, DC/DT, CTA-Village of Egg Harbor.

Even seemingly small practices can have a big impact. In a study done in 2013, Travel Green Wisconsin businesses that installed low-flow fixtures such as toilets, shower heads and faucets, reduced their annual water use by nearly 37 million gallons. Additionally the study found that by switching to energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs, Travel Green Wisconsin businesses reduced their lighting-related electricity usage by 75 percent, saving an estimated $3 million each year.

Travel Green Wisconsin was the first program of its kind in the nation and serves as a model to promote environmentally friendly practices in the tourism industry. The program is unique for its inclusion of all tourism-related businesses and organizations including but not limited to attractions, events, accommodations, outfitters, restaurants, retail, visitor centers and more. Tourism businesses interested in learning more about becoming certified can contact Marketing Specialist Christina Torkelson at or 608.266.1238.

The mission of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is to market the state as the Midwest’s premier travel destination for fun by executing industry-leading marketing programs and establishing strategic partnerships. The Department plays a significant role in generating greater economic impact and jobs for Wisconsin. The portal for traveler information can be found at