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An Interview With The Wedding Report

Earlier in June, the Mercantile Hall Team of Calyn, Stephanie, Wendy, and Andrew were interviewed on The Wedding Report, which is a site dedicated to helping couples decide how much they will likely spend on their wedding through wedding statistics and unbiased data. On their most recent podcast episode, which is featured on their YouTube channel, CEO Shane McMurray asks the team a number of questions about the venue itself, the booking process for couples, and more.

No time to watch? Here’s a quick overview of the question-and-answer moments:

  • “Tell me a little bit about the venue and location!”

    “We’re in Burlington, WI which is Southeastern Wisconsin just a hop, skip, and a jump from the resort community Lake Geneva, and we are an industrial venue with a capacity of around 220. It was originally a historic indoor mall, which is where the name Mercantile comes from. After a huge fire came through in 2014 and essentially ruined the store, we decided to restore the building, have our bridal boutique upstairs, and turn the rest into a gorgeous wedding venue – the rest is history!”

  • “Tell me about the process that couples need to go through when booking a venue.”

    “Our websites generate most of our leads, along with our social media channels, so our bread and butter mostly comes from there. Then it’s handed over to the venue experts, Stephanie and Wendy! We have a whole inquiry process where we welcome them to the family, send them the extensive pricing guide to make sure that there are no hidden costs anywhere, and then we work on figuring out a date for them to come in.”

  • “So what’s next after you get them in for a tour?”

    “During the tours, we will give them a mock proposal to see all the pricing upfront, which is extremely helpful. From there we will adjust to fit their needs whether that’s increasing or decreasing the bar package, or adding on other rentals! We strongly believe that the more information they can get early on the better.  A lot of times couples book within the first week or so, and some take longer; either way we are sure to check in on them and let them know that we’re still here and ready to be there for you on your big day, as well as sending them content to keep updated on things like events, Suesanna, the Urb Garden, and more.”

  • “What about rentals and planners?”

    “We have incredible relationships with all of our vendors and while they are typically outside of the package, we work really hard to make sure everything fits for that couple. As for planners, we do a lot of in-house coordination, we obviously welcome outside planners but we do have our own packages as well. We help plan along the way, which can lead to being the on-site coordinator for their big day – our coordinators know the space in-and-out and can just do everything so effectively which is extremely comforting for our couples.”

  • “What is there to do around Mercantile Hall post-event?”

    “We make sure to remind couples about what is outside in the community, too, because the experience really isn’t only about what is in those four venue walls. There are late-night places to go out after our venue, free parking, hotels nearby, and more. For example, Burlington has lots of townie bars, we’re kind of known for that. Lots of local bars and taverns with a Wisconsin-vibe, but also other classy bars around whether it’s in Burlington or Milwaukee. We are sure to have couples know about the whole experience for their wedding.”

  • “Are events usually all day?”

    “Absolutely, they get the space all day long, which is great for our couples because they are not having to share the space and can make their own memories. We also have an incredible outdoor area known as the Urb Garden which is uncommon for Wisconsin venues, especially in the Winter, but we have had some gorgeous January weddings there. This is their space, in-and-out.”

  • “If you had to give couples some advice about looking for venues and what they should be thinking about, what would it be?”

    “Essentially: vibe, price, capacity, value, and location. Right when the couples get to Merc, we always ask things like, “what is most important to you?”, “have you seen anything elsewhere that you like or don’t like?”, “do you have any questions on the pricing guide?”. We try to learn what’s going to work best for them. One of our key things that we want people to connect with here is the overall vibe; we’re going to be working with them a lot so to build that relationship and connection with the space and us right from the moment when they walk in the door is so important.”

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15 Tips to Navigate Your Nuptials Post Quarantine

Couples all over the world are now navigating a new way to have their friends and families celebrate their weddings. Like you, other couples are making unprecedented decisions about how to host a wedding that is filled with celebration and happiness while keeping their guests feeling safe. Phew, that is a lot to take on, but know You Are Not Alone. Couples everywhere are dealing with the same scenario and it is proving to be challenging for everyone. However, on the bright side, wedding guests have never been more forgiving! Need to change your date? That’s fine. Need to limit your guest count? That’s fine. Need to have everyone wear masks that match your wedding colors? That might be too much, but it’s fine to ask. The point is that your guests are people that love and support you and your future spouse. It is okay to ask for what you need from your guests, your wedding party, your vendors, and your venue.

Mercantile Hall has put together 15 tips to help you navigate your nuptials post quarantine.

  1. New Types of Seating Charts – Create A Type of Seating Chart: Quarantined Together, Sit Together.

  2. You May Ask To Wear Masks – You are allowed to ask your venue, catering, florist,and DJ staff to wear masks during your wedding and during set up.

  3. Please Celebrate From a Social Distance – It is alright to ask your guests to celebrate from afar. Follow the current CDC guidelines for those who might be in higher risks – See Link here.

  4. COVID Response Cards – Send your invitations with a COVID Response Card -include a card that explains the venue’s guidelines or CDC guidelines for large gatherings (based on your anticipated RSVP count.) Post messaging on your wedding website, or email the info too. See Mercantile Hall’s Messaging on our COVID Plan Page.

  5. Have a Face Time Attendant Consider asking family members to serve as face time attendants to live stream with those who may not be able to travel to your wedding.” You could also host a private zoom call, or even go on social media live to share parts of your celebrations.

  6. Use the Entire Space to Create Safe Distancing – When designing your venue layout consider spreading out the tables and potentially adding a second bar area. Consider having 8 per table or adding more tables to decrease space between your guests.

  7. Plated Or Served?- Speak with your caterers about having the staff serve at the buffet or change your dinner to a plated option.

  8. Decorate & Disinfect – Consider wearing gloves when decorating your tables so that everything remains sanitized.

  9. Sharing is Not Always Caring – In your dressing suite- have your make up artist or stylist bring new make up or hair products, rather than re-using. Also, tell your wedding party to bring their own makeup, hair, and beauty items.

  10. Design Hand Sanitizing Stations – When designing your wedding decor, include hand sanitizing stations throughout the venue. Talk to your venue about where they will have sanitizer out for your guests.

  11. Re-think Desserts -Bakeries are now offering individually wrapped cookies, cakes, cupcakes and if you have already ordered a cake, ask if the staff could serve the cake to each person rather than having it out during the event.

  12. Alternatives to a Signed Guestbook – Assign a friend to sanitize your pen or marker in between each person that is signing.

  13. Ship to Home- Ask your guests to mail your gifts or cards directly to your home rather than having them bring them to the wedding.

  14. Less Can Be More – It is okay to reduce your guest count if you are concerned with the size of the event. At this time people are more forgiving than ever.

  15. Enjoy Your Day – This is a big day in your life but remember to enjoy the day. Everything won’t be exactly as you planned but make it special for you and your guests.

All in all, we know these are not the items you pinned to your wedding board but they are now part of our reality. Addressing these items and having a plan in place will put your mind at ease as well as your guests.

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There is a Time To Plan

How to Use This Time to Plan Your Wedding

We are all aware that these are unprecedented times. We can’t just Google “How to plan a wedding during Coronavirus” and have the answer displayed in a few easy steps. However, we can use this time to look at the elements of a wedding and say; I get to take time to incorporate new ideas I may have not had time to do. I get to take a deep breath and focus on the fact that I am still getting married. I get extra time to find ways to overcome any of the obstacles. Here are a few ways we hope to inspire you to take this time to plan your wedding and look forward to your big day!

    There is A Time to Plan

Now that we have a time where we are social distancing, at least physically, it gives you the extra time to plant new ideas into your wedding. Our Merc team is spending a lot of time on Pinterest looking at new ideas for our brides to incorporate into their wedding. Maybe you didn’t have time to create the little moments or experiences for your guests that you wanted, now you have time to complete those. Plant new ideas, expand or explore creative ways to ensure your wedding is exactly how you imagined it. Looking for some ideas? – Check out Merc’s Pinterest Boards For More Ideas.

    There is A Time to Speak

At Merc. we have been talking with our brides a lot during this time and are aware that your guests, vendors, hotels and family members, etc. all have questions and expect you to have the answers. This is a time to explain to your guests that you have decided to postpone, not cancel your celebration. Send your guests communications and updates as you have them. Work with your venue to solidify a new date, send out a message “We Can’t Wait To Celebrate on Our New Date.” Then as you receive more information that they need, provide that as well. Using tools like a wedding website will help streamline communication. Our Merc Couples: email your Event Manager to receive the message templates we have for you.

 There is A Time to Laugh & Dance

Staying positive and finding a way to say “I get to” instead of “I have to” can help your brain shift the narrative of what you’re facing. Use this time on projects or self-care that always end up at the bottom of our list. Here are our favs:

  1. Binge-watch Netflix and Say Yes To Dress (we are too),

  2. Write out your thank you notes.

  3. Hang up your engagement photos you had printed but are still in your guest bedroom on the floor. (no judgment)

  4. Create a To-Do List – Tackle at least 1 thing a day

  5. Struggle to decide which pair of black leggings you haven’t worn yet.

  6. Write your Vows – (unless you thrive under pressure; then wait 😉

  7. Enjoy this time with your future partner.

  8. Take a relaxing bath and use those $1 face masks you bought on a random target run.

  9. Take.Deep.Breaths. Journal your feelings, and practice self-care.

  10. When in doubt FaceTime and Wine with your BFF. (she’s feeling it too)

We understand how your feeling, and you are not alone. All of us at Mercantile Hall feel the same feels right along with you and have your back. Call your Event Manager with questions or ask for suggestions as obstacles arise.


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OMG Yay! You’re Engaged! Now What??


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Header photo and photo at left credited to: The Native Dreamer Photography

Hey Merc Hall fam! In a recent post, I talked about being in the swing of engagement season, so chances are you’ve recently got engaged or you know a friend or family member that has. It’s such an exciting time for you as a couple and for all of your loved ones. As you celebrate your engagement and get ready to start planning your wedding, here’s a few tips on what to do next.

STOP AND ENJOY- No, really, I mean it. Take the time to sit in this moment with your fiancé and truly appreciate how amazing it is that you have come this far in your relationship and what a beautiful new chapter you are building towards. More than planning a wedding, you are planning for your marriage and all that comes along with it. Be excited with each other and spend some time sharing in the excitement of your friends and family- don’t let the moment pass you by too quickly.

ENVISION YOUR DAY- Start dreaming with each other! Talk about what you each picture when you think of your wedding day- where are you? How many people are with you? What time of year is it? Are there any special traditions that you know for sure you need to have as part of your day? Getting on the same page as a couple is SO important. You will likely be fielding expectations and opinions from the people in your life, but you and your fiancé are the most important people involved in the day. Acting as a team and sharing a vision for your day will help keep your planning focused on what is important to the two of you.

DISCUSS EXPECTATATIONS WITH IMPORTANT GUESTS- Once you’ve set a vision for your day as a couple, sharing that with your closest family and friends can help them understand what you have in mind. There may be a chance that your plans and their expectations for the day aren’t exactly in alignment. Helping them understand your views early can go a long way in keeping the rest of your planning as smooth as possible.

RESEARCH VENUES- Now you may think I am biased here, since I work for a venue and all, but this is most often where couples start their research. Your venue determines your date, which impacts the availability of other vendors and the season may impact how you want to plan your color scheme or attire. The venue also sets the backdrop for your day which impacts the style you may go for in your decorations and other aesthetic parts of your day. Venues book 12-18 months or more out from your wedding date, so you will have more date options the earlier you book a venue.

Being engaged is such an exciting time in your life! Hopefully these tips will help you start off on the right foot as you enter this beautiful new phase of your relationship. Here at Merc, we are so excited for all of our newly engaged couples and we are SO EXCITED to celebrate each and every one of you!

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When You Say Yes


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Header Photo Credit to: Megan Swederski Photography; Photo at Left Credit to Elyse Bullard Photography

Did you know that 40% of couples get engaged between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day? It’s no wonder that we often get a ton of tours at this time of year! The holidays are a beautiful time for couples to get engaged as they are typically in a festive mood and around friends and family to celebrate with.

One of my favorite parts of meeting new couples is hearing the proposal story- when they got engaged, how surprised she was, and how they made it personal and special. I’ve heard everything from heartfelt and private proposals involving pets or sentimental mementos to an underwater proposal, a proposal on The Great Wall of China, and proposals right here at Mercantile Hall (we had another one just last week!). It’s so fun to watch the couples’ faces light up and watch them laugh together while they tell the story and share pictures with us.

As we head into engagement season, we are so excited for all of the amazing couples who will be getting engaged and coming in to check out our space. We are here for you and can’t wait to watch your love grow here at Mercantile Hall!

We wish our Merc Hall community a beautiful and safe Thanksgiving- we hope it is full of good food and great friends and family.

Can’t wait to see you all soon this holiday season!

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How Early Should You Book A Venue?

(Photo credit: Pixels by X)


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Hey, Merc Hall fam! Happy Monday!

I really love the chance to talk with our community on here and share some of the tips we’ve learned over the years helping couples plan their weddings. As I sat down to write this week, I thought I’d touch on a topic that is at the forefront of our minds right now and that is- how early should you be booking your wedding venue?

In general, booking your venue is the first thing a couple should do when they start planning. Setting a date with a venue not only allows you to reach out to other vendors (photographers, DJs, etc.) to ask about their availability, but the space itself has a huge impact on the overall vision for what the wedding day will look like. It’s hard to start planning décor or what a couple would like to wear on wedding day without knowing where the event will take place.

Venues will book 12-18 months out from your wedding date. For example, right now, we have tons of couples reaching out to us about weddings in fall 2020 and we have only a few non-Saturday dates left. If you want to have the pick of your dates, shop at least 12 months in advance, and more if you can.

Fall dates are the most popular. This tends to surprise some people, but October is actually our most popular wedding month, followed by September. Though “wedding season” has traditionally been in the spring/summer, today’s couple is looking for the weather of the fall season and dates in October and September book FAST. If you are thinking of a fall wedding, venue shop as early as you can to save your date before they are gone.

Friday and Sunday weddings are trending right now. If you are still looking for a venue and are less than 12 months out, being open to a Friday date (or even a Sunday date) will give you the best possible chance to get married in your favorite season. I often advise couples that are thinking of a Friday date to consider sending a save the date so that their guests have about 6 months to plan to be with them on their wedding day. Friday dates are often less expensive and give you and your guests an extra day to recover before getting back to work on Monday. Fridays are truly the new Saturdays, ESPECIALLY when you are looking to get married within a year.

Have a great week ahead,

Meghan

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We Love Weddings Like It’s Our Job

Happy Monday from Mercantile Hall!


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We had an exciting week as our team and the team from our sister store Bon Bon Belle Bridal headed to Las Vegas for the Wedding MBA Conference hosted by The Knot and Wedding Wire. We got to spend three days immersed in learning from the best of the best in our field.

We learned about trends in weddings- can you say designer balloon installations, pipette infused appetizers, and convertible wedding dresses?- and how we can take our service and experiences to the next level for you and all of our clients.


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Amidst all the learning and networking, we also spent some time having fun in Las Vegas. We faced our fears and drove scooters down the Red Rock Canyon as a team building exercise, and got to attend the a GORGEOUS “wedding” thrown by the The Knot and Wedding Wire in the Havana Room at the Tropicana, complete with a cigar bar and Vegas showgirls.

Being surrounded by people who have a heart for weddings and for taking the absolute best care of their couples definitely gave us all the feels! There are SO many people who come together and lend their talents toward making a wedding day perfect. It takes a heart of service and a joy in celebrating other people to love being in this industry, but we can’t help it! We love weddings like it’s our job!


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April 2020 Booking Special!

Happy Monday from Mercantile Hall!

I wanted to share with you that we are offering special pricing for all April 2020 couples! Receive $500 off venue pricing for all of April ✨ snag this sweet deal & give me a call at 262.758.6280 or send me an email: at meghan@mercantilehall.com ♥️

Have a great week ahead and we can’t wait to celebrate with you,

Meghan


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The Greatest Climb: The view from the rooftop


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As we celebrate more and more weddings, we’ve realized that the little things about Burlington truly make it a dream to get married here. Things like taking your wedding photos to new heights (literally) from our sweet rooftop spot. It’s perfect for escaping the busy activities of such an important day, and allow our couples to let go, have fun, and dance on the rooftop!

This photo from Megan Swederski Photography featuring Merc Couple Amber & Wyatt shows some of the sweetest moments of them celebrating their new marriage on the rooftop in our historic downtown. Ater all, you just married the love of your life, you should SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS! 

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A First for Us: She Said Yes!


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A very exciting thing happened here at Merc last week- we got to experience our very first proposal! Blake and Leah had already booked their wedding date and joined the Merc Hall family, but they still had a special proposal ahead . When Blake contacted us about proposing here, we couldn’t have been more excited to help him.

He surprised Leah under the guise that she was headed out for a birthday brunch with family, and instead blindfolded her and brought her to the gates of the Urb Garden, where candles, a sign and letters spelling out “Marry Me” were waiting for her. He got down on one knee, asked her to marry him, and she SAID YES while “When I Fall In Love” by Nat King Cole played in the background.

Their parents were waiting, hidden behind the building, for the couple to have their special moment and then joined them in celebrating. Congratulations, Blake and Leah! We were so happy to be a part of your beautiful proposal and we can’t wait to continue the celebration next July!


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