The idea to build a wedding venue in Southern Wisconsin started back in 2016 while planning my own wedding. The venue search was a very frustrating and defeating process for Ben and I. We had a really hard time finding a venue that fit our style and vision but also allowed us to customize the experience for our guests. I can’t tell you how many times I told Ben during the venue search, “we should build a wedding venue,” but it was enough for him to just start nodding in agreement with me. Seed planted.
After all the wedding celebrations ended and we returned to our post-wedding lives, I couldn’t stop thinking about this dream venue. During this time, Ben and I were living in Nebraska preparing to move to Southern California for his job. Three months after moving, he got moved again but this time to Northern California, and, unfortunately, I had to stay in Southern California (SoCal) for my job. It was a chaotic first year of marriage as you may be able to imagine.
After his move to Northern California, Ben spent the next year flying down to SoCal every weekend to visit me until I was able to move. With this wedding venue on my mind and Ben gone during the week, I would come home from work and research wedding venues, wedding designs, and wedding trends. The more I researched the more I realized there was a desperate need for a wedding venue like The Eloise in Southern Wisconsin.
During my research, I spoke with numerous vendors in the wedding industry to understand their needs, wants, as well as likes and dislikes within the current market. I spoke with caterers to understand what they needed in a space to optimize their work and be more efficient with preparing meals. I spoke with wedding planners to understand how the layout and flow of a venue can enhance the events of a wedding and the couple’s/guest’s experience. I spoke with photographers to understand how the lighting in a venue can influence photography and their ability to capture all those special moments in a wedding. I basically spent all my free time researching and designing this venue. I would tuck away my research and doodles when Ben flew down on the weekends and come Monday night, I’d bring it all back out and continue to research.
I took the Pacific Coast Highway to and from work every day. It was about an hour drive both ways but the view of the beach was worth every minute. I spent that time dreaming about building The Eloise and what it would look like. I’d think about my struggle finding a venue and how I’d make it better for other couples. I’d listen to wedding and business podcasts and become inspired as I drove into what I thought was my dream job at that time. On one particular day while driving home from work I came up with the name for the venue. I was pondering over a name for some time, searching for one that was bold yet represented elegance and sophistication. On that day sitting in traffic and peering out to the ocean, it hit me like a wave crashing onto the beach. Everything that I wanted in a name, is what my grandma Eloise represented to me. From that day on, I called the venue The Eloise.
About six months into Ben flying back and forth, we hit our breaking point. After moving three times in six years, working high-stress jobs, and located even further from family, we were both burnt out. We talked about what our future would look like if we had to keep moving for our jobs, and neither of us were thrilled with it. We pondered the idea of moving back to Wisconsin before this point but we never had a solid plan to do it. During that discussion, I said it again, “we should build a wedding venue.” By this time I had already spent 6 months researching the market and designing the venue. I had data to back up my idea, knew what the venue would look like, and what the name would be. I lit up with excitement as I described my research, plan, and design of the venue. I spoke with so much passion and electricity about how we’d help couples just like us, how we’d work with and connect with vendors, and how we could make a positive impact in our community. Without hesitation, Ben looked at me and said “YES”.
From there, we spent the next two years continuing our research and developing the design intent for the venue. We developed the business plan and started searching for the perfect plot of land for The Eloise. We searched all over Southern Wisconsin looking for land that was accessible year-round and had our must-haves checked off. We needed the land to:
It took us several months to find the perfect plot of land, but when we had our top choices narrowed down we invited our brother-in-law to come and check them out. Our brother-in-law is a wedding photographer and he helped give us a photographer’s point of view and insight when looking at land and building the venue.
After we purchased the land and had it rezoned, it was time to tell our families that we were moving back home and starting a business. SURPRISE!! Over the next 8 months, we went through the design and development of the venue and then prepared to start construction on The Eloise.
We broke ground on January 15, 2020! Our construction team made it through freezing temps, snow, spring rain, and let’s not forget a global pandemic. We got the keys to the venue on August 20, 2020, and it’s a day we will never forget. As soon as the keys hit my hand, I said to myself, “Now, Stacey, you cannot, I mean you 100% CANNOT, lose these keys!” I clenched on to those keys with all my might as I did a little happy dance outside the venue. It’s difficult to describe the emotions that we went through that day. There was a euphoric sense of happiness and excitement that The Eloise was here, and we were finally going to be able to help so many couples celebrate their wedding days. But just on the other side of that joy was worry and fear as we opened in the middle of a global pandemic.
It has been a long winding journey for Ben and I, but we could not be more excited to share our venue, be a part of the wedding community, and help our couples celebrate the most special day of their lives! We put our love and passion into building The Eloise with the vision of helping our couples through the wedding planning process and creating everlasting memories. It’s our mission to provide our couples with a genuine and unique experience that is unlike any other.
We want to thank you for coming along this journey with us and being a part of The Eloise. We look forward to meeting you and being a part of your story one day!
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Photo Credit: CSB Photography