Author Archive for Kari Swan

The Perfect Shoes

So, you’ve found and secured the perfect Wisconsin Dells wedding venue and you’re planning the rest of your wedding to match this perfect location. The flowers will be stunning, the food will be 5-star, your fiancé will have the perfect three-piece suit with the perfect tie to reflect your wedding colors. And the dress, the dress is absolutely breathtaking and you couldn’t be happier. Now it’s time to choose the perfect shoes to match your perfect day.

When picking out shoes for your wedding, the most important thing to remember is comfort. You will be on your feet for much of the day, talking with family and loved ones, dancing, exchanging vows. If you don’t usually wear heals this isn’t the time to invest in a pair of stilettos and hope for the best. Equally important, the barefoot trend, though carefree and fun, can get you into trouble especially if you are planning an outdoor wedding. Nature can be unforgiving on bare feet.

The next thing to consider is style. Will this be a strictly black-tie event with all the elegance and finery or a more laid-back affair? For high-end, formal weddings and receptions classic choices like white lace or satin heals or flats will be an appropriate choice to go with the theme. If your day will be more relaxed, shoes like satin ballet slippers, decorated flip-flops and even custom tennis shoes will add the right touch of individuality and fun to your big day.

Choosing a color other than white, a color that complements your wedding or even your bride’s maids’ dress color adds a nice splash of flare to your wedding. Or choosing a nice neutral color with a sensible heal will let you use your shoes after the wedding, making them a nice reminder of your big day.

Whatever shoe style or trend you decide to go with, remember this is your day and your shoes should reflect your style. Have fun shopping!

The Right Invite for Your Wedding

Your Wedding date is picked, your dress shopping has begun and you are searching through the most beautiful barn wedding venues in Wisconsin. You have a vision in your mind how glorious your big day is going to be and now it’s time to pick out the perfect invitations. The following are few tips to help you pick out the perfect invites to your perfect day:

• Your invitation should reflect you and your fiancé’s personality. If you both enjoy the outdoors consider more natural tones with wildlife touches (i.e.: vine work, scenic picture in the background, etc.).

• Will you have a picture of you and your fiancé or no picture? Traditionally, wedding invitations have had a lovely picture of the happy couple, which let distant friends and family know what the couple look like. With today’s technology and the prolific sharing of photos, invitation pictures are on the decline. If you have your heart set on a gorgeous picture of you two in each invitation, then add one.

• Going green by skipping paper all together is also a trend as well. With little to no cost you can upload photos and details, complete with an RSVP that’s just a tap away, to invite your wedding guests. The only drawback to this kind of invite; you will need all the guests’ current emails which may be harder to get than actual addresses.

• Use wedding colors as your invite inspiration or keep it a simple black and white. While bold and bright colors will definitely get the invitees attention, you can’t go wrong with the simple elegance of a black and white invite. One word of caution: go easy on the color and remember less is more. Color on a wedding invite should give the right pop and not be garish.

• Gold and silver foil can give a touch of class to your invitations. Whether gold or silver foil envelope liners or lettering, a little shine will grab attention and add beauty to your invitations. If choosing color and metallic foil, be sure they complement and don’t clash with each other.
The most important aspect about your wedding invitations? That they are uniquely yours.

Great Wedding and Good Eats

The details of a wedding can seem never ending. After souring all the wedding venues in Wisconsin, you’ve decided to have a lovely, rustic-chic barn wedding. You have the decorations, invitations, colors and save the date cards all ready to go; but what about the food? Creating the perfect ambience for your wedding means creating a reception feast that reflects your big day.

Buffet or Sit Down

As you budget for your wedding reception dinner you will need to decide whether you want a buffet style reception meal or a sit-down meal. A buffet offers more food options, allowing guests to choose their own food and gives off a casual feel—perfect for a barn wedding. However, a buffet meal can mean long lines and take away from a more elegant affair.

A sit-down reception meal is more formal, requiring waiters to deliver food by the plate.  While this is the more elegant option, there isn’t much food choice for the guests and this option can sometimes be a little pricey.

Choose Your Food

As you prepare your menu, it’s easy to get carried away with all the culinary possibilities.  Remember to keep it simple as you plan. Consider two types of meat options with simple side dishes that will complement each entrée. For instance; if you choose to have a beef or chicken option, roasted potatoes, salad and rolls would pair perfectly with each.

Work with your caterer on presentation and seasoning possibilities to turn a simple dinner into a memorably delicious meal.

Keep it Seasonal

Working with seasonal ingredients will help keep the meal fresh while also protecting the budget. Seasonal fruits and vegetables usually cost less and are at the peak of freshness which will enhance your reception meal. As you plan your menu, consider different ways to incorporate seasonal items into the meal. For example; watermelon brings a crisp and sweet taste to a salad and when frozen, can be blended into cool and refreshing drink options.

Whatever menu you choose for your big day, remember to do some homework and find a good caterer who will help you be creative with your reception feast.

What to do for Your Bridesmaids

You are planning the perfect Wisconsin wedding, choosing a dress, picking out cake filling, looking forward to the day you and your sweetheart will say, “I do”. One traditional step in planning a wedding is to choose bridesmaids and groomsmen to complete a wedding party. When choosing your bridesmaids, there are some steps to follow to ensure that your day (and theirs) is special and memorable.

• How many of your friends will you have as bridesmaids? Large or small party, the choice is up to you. While a large party might be what you have hoped for, keeping your party smaller and focusing on your closest friends will make your day a little more special for all of you. It will feel like a special moment only you and your closest friends will share.
• When choosing outfits for your bridesmaids, ask for their input. The final decision will be yours, but you want to make sure all your bridesmaids have a general dress style that will flatter their shape. You might consider several dress styles in the same color to give a little variety. Consult with your party and see if you can find a solution that will work for your wedding.
• Will you be paying for everything or will they be required to foot some of the bill? Nothing will ruin a festive occasion faster than arguments about money. Be candid with everyone in your wedding party and lay out clear expectations about money to be spent. To lessen money fueled friction, be willing to pay for the bulk of the expenses for your bridesmaids (i.e.: the dresses, jewelry, lodging, etc.). You can work this into the wedding budget or consider having fewer bridesmaids if you will be covering their costs.
• The best thing you can do is say, “thank you.” Your friends will most likely be re-arranging their lives to help you plan and execute the perfect wedding. Take the time to personally thank each one of them for being there for you. A verbal thanks from you coupled with a heartfelt letter will let them know how much their friendship means to you.

Your wedding will be your day. Don’t forget to share it with your bridesmaids and make memories you can all cherish.

Barn Safety Standards and State Compliance

Planning for your big day means planning for a day to remember, a day that reflects you and your love. While considering local Wisconsin wedding venues, especially barns, be sure to know what the location offers and what barn safety standards have been met and if they are state compliant.

Due to the popularity of Barn venues and the increase in dairy barns being converted to wedding facilities new legislation will soon be in place allowing only those who meet all safety requirements to remain open. It would be unfortunate to plan so far in advance only to be told your venue has been closed.

The Swan Barn Door was built new and complies to with all state required ADA ( Americans with Disabilities Act), Fire Sprinklers, fire alarm, path of Egress and emergency lighting requirements. All the large wooden beams including the hardwood pins with mortise and tenon joinery were engineered and approved by the State of Wisconsin. This insures the safety and comfort to the public in this commercially compliant venue, but still maintains the rustic charm found only in turn of the century timber framing.

The Swan Barn Door is open year round which means we have central heat and air, indoor ADA bathrooms and handicap accessible exterior cedar decks and a large outdoor ceremony site.

If you are looking for the rustic elegance of a barn wedding with safety and comfort for you and your guests, The Swan Barn Door can provide the necessities to make your special day the day you’ve been dreaming of without the safety concerns.

6 Tips on How to Create the Perfect Barn Wedding

It’s the day you two have been waiting for since you both said “yes”. The day you’ve been dreaming about, when you and your fiancé will stand in front of family and friends and say, “I do”. It’s the day you’ve both been prepping for with all the hopes and stress brought on by the little and not so little details. You’ve scoured local wedding venues in Wisconsin and you’ve decided that rustic elegance is what you both want. You are planning the best barn wedding of all barn weddings in Wisconsin. Now that you’ve settled on the type of wedding, a few details are needed to ensure that you have the perfect day.

Location, Location, Location
If you have your heart set on the perfect barn that’s a three hour drive from where you live, you’ll have to budget in money for a hotel for you, your family and some guests. The farther away the location, the harder it will be for guests to be there for your wedding. Look for closer barn venues if you are planning a large wedding and consider farther locations for smaller, more intimate weddings.
14237656_767721183370814_674543377281674756_nA Place for the Food
While most barn venues have areas for catering, some do not. Some locations may have full professional kitchens on site to aid in food prep while others might have a more simple set up. Find out all the details before booking a location and work out any issues with your catering service well in advance to avoid and food fiascoes.

Plan for the weather
The elements can wreak havoc on even the best planned weddings. If you are planning an outdoor ceremony on the grounds consider renting a tent for any rain, snow or extreme heat. Even if the weather is perfect, it’s better to have a tent ready than to have guests complain of sunburn.

Choose the Right Shoes
Older barns may not have finished floors and that can be murder on high-heeled shoes. Check out the floors to help you decide what kind of shoes to wear. Non-traditional shoes at a barn wedding can add to the ambiance and charm. If the flooring is an issue for your shoes, let guests know so that they can wear the right shoes as well.

Park Right Here
Parking can be an issue if you are planning a large wedding. Ask about parking, whether it’s on-site or nearby. If only off-site parking is available ask if the venue offers shuttle service to and from the wedding site. If not, you might want to consider a different locale or add room in the budget for a shuttle service.

Don’t Let the Bugs Bug Your Guests
A barn wedding usually means a more rural location and with rural locations, like working farms, insects can be a problem. Using citronella candles in decorative jars around the barn will add a touch of elegance while also deterring insects. If the location discourages candles or open flames or as an added measure of protection for your guests, consider placing small containers of insect repellent in an ornamental basket at each table with a cute note.
Keeping these tips in mind as you plan your barn wedding will turn your big day into a lovely, memorable success.  Happy barn wedding planning!

Why Build Timber Frame?

Why Build Timber Frame

Here’s why you should consider timber frame construction for your home, barn, pavilion, bridge or commercial structure.

Structural Soundness and Durability. The combination of timber with strong mortise and tenon joints make the timber frame building very durable. It can stand up through most natural disasters. Heavy timber is fire resistant and their joints can take more pressure than conventional buildings.

Energy Efficient. Timber frame buildings are very energy efficient because of the large timbers, which allow virtually no temperature transfer between the outside and inside of the building. The large spaces between each timber are filled with structural insulated panels, known for superior insulation qualities.

Eco-Friendly. Many timber frames support sustainable forestry and use reclaimed lumber.

Design Flexibility. The interior floor plan on a timber frame home is very customizable with endless options. The strong exterior shell makes for easy and flexible options for interior walls and the ability to create large open spaces. Windows can be used more because of structure allowing more natural light. Even dry wall can be used unlike in log built homes.

Craftsmanship. Timber frame structures are purely artistic, beautiful and a fabulous example of true craftsmanship. Want the wow factor? Timber frame buildings are the answer.

Historical. Timber framing was the primary way of building before dimensional lumber became more readily available. Modern timber frame builders engage this historical technique to build strong structures that beautifully display the wood, one of the world’s oldest building materials.

Interested in finding out more about Timber Framing? Call Swan Timber Frames today for your next building project or go to their website for more information at

Wedding Planning: Do-It-Yourself or Hire Professionals?

Wedding Planning in Wisconsin Dells

The stress of planning your perfect day can really take a toll on you especially if trying to stay within a budget. Here are some things you can do yourself to save money and what to hire out professionally.

What to DIY:

Flowers and Table Centerpieces. Here’s something that you can do yourself for a fraction of the cost of paying a florist. For a rustic wedding, try wildflowers in mason jars wrapped in twine. Check out our Pinterest page for lots of rustic ideas on wedding flowers and centerpieces.

Invites. By doing your own invitations, you save a ton of money but also can give them a more personal touch to show your personalities shine as a couple. The Internet offers so many options on Save-The-Date postcards and wedding invitations.

First Dance/Bridal Party Dance. The internet once again can be your instructor. YouTube has videos for every kind of dance you could imagine. Have a special one planned for your first dance and a fun group one for your bridal party.

Refreshments. There are a lot of beers and wines that are inexpensive if you buy in larger quantities. Just pick two kinds of each and you then create your own signature drink that reflects you as a couple. Buying liquor and mixers can get really costly.

What to Hire Professionally:

Food/Catering. Think you’re a great cook and your family wants to help? Trust me, cooking on a large scale is an entirely different animal. Plan a seasonal but simple menu with a caterer and leave that stress to them. You will definitely not regret hiring this task out.

Photography. This is one of the most important days in your life. It’s best to have a professional with experience in lighting and angles to get the right shots. Plus a professional will make it their main focus, not your best friend’s brother who would rather be having a drink at the bar.

Wedding Planner. Sure, you are organized and planned your wedding like a professional. But consider a day-of planner to make sure all your plans run smooth. This will let you kick back and enjoy your perfect day.

Music: DJ or band. This is another way to reflect your personalities as a couple and make your wedding reception interactive. Be sure the performers, whether DJ or a live band, take requests from the guests for the most fun!

Here at The Swan Barn Door, we are very excited to offer this beautiful new venue for your special day. Check out all the amenities included at


10 Tips to Planning a Successful Retreat in Wisconsin Dells

Retreat Venue in Wisconsin Dells

Want to plan a successful retreat? Here’s some tips that will encourage attendance and give you rave reviews.

1. Develop a Theme for Your Retreat. A theme gives your retreat focus and should relate to your group’s purpose. Give it a cool title to create excitement and encourage participation.

2. Research Your Retreat. You want your participants to contribute and be engaged. Plan your retreat so they are encouraged to participate. It should be a balance between work and fun.

4. Establish a Good Facilitator. This will ensure smooth running of your retreat and keep it on task. It also ensures objectivity.

5. Arrange for a Note Taker. This will provide a record of key points and results to refer back to later.

6. Select a Great Venue. It should offer comfortable accommodations, great service and food, and the equipment needed to present any information. Natural light would also be a great thing to encourage positive spirit.

7. Get Feedback from Participants. You can find multiple free surveys online. Be sure to make them anonymous for best results.

8. Reserve Your Space. Some venues will need reservations up to a year in advance. This way you can publicize and market your retreat once you secure a date.

9. Use Marketing Materials. Send out marketing materials at least two months in advance. Set the registration deadline at least 10 days before event, and use an “early bird” discount if people sign up before the deadline.

10. Provide Details for Your Participants. Give your participants directions to the facility, a schedule and “what to bring” and what will be provided.

Looking for that perfect space for your next retreat? Consider The Swan Barn Door for your venue conveniently located in beautiful Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Save the date for your event today at The Swan Barn Door by going to the Save the Date page or click here.  Please book for your special day as 2016 dates are going fast!

20 Fun Ideas to Make Your Rustic Wedding Unique in Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells Wedding Venue

  1. Use flea market finds as part of your decorations, such as an antique pitcher, mason jars or even an old cowboy boot filled with wild flowers.

  2. Instead of a traditional guest book, put out a “coffee table” book that has pictures of something you both love and guests can write on photos or in the margins.

  3. Add a line for a DJ song request to your RSVP cards.

  4. The weather forecast for your wedding day is hot and blistering? Rent a Sno-Cone machine and chill out!

  5. Give out sparklers as favors to your guests. This makes for great photo opportunities.

  6. Not into classical or traditional music? Have the DJ play instrumental versions of your favorite contemporary songs for the wedding ceremony.

  7. Ditch your fancy wedding dress shoes after the ceremony so you can dance at the reception in cowgirl and cowboy boots! Yee haw!

  8. Set up a mini photo studio at the reception for guests to ham it up in front of the camera and send photos with your thank you cards.

  9. Instead of traditional bride and groom cake toppers, make it more personal and representing something you both love as a couple, such as a little dog you love or the Eiffel Tower to celebrate your honeymoon in Paris, or even a big “G” for the Green Bay Packers!

  10. Decorate the bathrooms with childhood photos of bride and groom.

  11. At the reception, toast the woman who has had the greatest impact on your life, then hand her your bouquet as a tribute.

  12. Put crayons and colored paper on the kids’ table.

  13. Serve non-traditional and fun foods at your wedding dinner, such as Mac n’ cheese, fried chicken, or even French fries.

  14. Have an ice cream bar for dessert for your guests.

  15. Tie napkins with satin ribbons, twine for rustic look or even metallic cording.

  16. Use small horseshoes to keep place cards for guests at tables.

  17. For your vows, consider words he wrote in a Valentine card, or something from a love note you sent him.

  18. A decorative, antique brooch turns a simple bridal gown into a look that’s all yours.

  19. Set up a “farm stand” of fresh fruit and small baskets that guests can fill on their way out the door.

  20. Stock welcome baskets with a quiz that leads out-of-town guests on a scavenger hunt to your favorite local places, such as a bakery, gift shop or pub.

Looking for the perfect rustic but elegant venue for your special occasion? Check out all the amenities offered at The Swan Barn Door by clicking here.



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