About the Venues

The Idea for the Jump

When Aaron and I started thinking about what we wanted in a wedding ceremony, we both wanted it to be memorable and unique, a spectacle that would capture the metaphor of plunging into a new phase of our lives together. I think we both came up with the idea of jumping off a high dive separately. We had shared a memorable Valentine’s Day afternoon at the pool at Northwestern University, throwing ourselves off the 5-meter diving platform. So with fond memories of that day we called Northwestern to see if they would rent us their facilities for a wedding. “No way, we don’t do weddings” is a pretty accurate paraphrasing of their reply. But they did point us to a pool in Brown Deer, Wisconsin, the only place in the region with a 10 meter diving platform.

The Only 33 ft Diving Platform in the Tri-state Area

When we contacted this pool in Brown Deer, their reaction was the opposite of Northwestern’s: “We’d LOVE to host your wedding! We’ve never done a wedding! We think that would be great.” We went to visit the pool and were treated to a warm reception and a private coaching session from our new favorite diving coach, Todd, on jumping from the platforms without breaking ribs. All the questions we came up with were met with a shrug and a “sure, why not?” (Can we wear formal wear in the pool? Can we throw flowers in the pool? Can we videotape from the boiler room?)

Diving Platform Picture

From 10 meters up, you see the bottom of the pool, 50 feet away.

The Green Dream

Once Aaron and I had discovered the charming Walter Schroeder Aquatic Center, we still weren’t sold on a “destination Brown Deer, WI” wedding. We needed to find a reception venue that was equally awesome. We are both vegetarian and conscious of the enormous amount of waste created by the average wedding. Could we find a venue that was eco-friendly and served good veg food? We checked out possibilities as diverse as a small bed and breakfast to a huge hotel ballroom in downtown Milwaukee. Nothing really felt right, and we were prepared to return to Chicago empty-handed. One last idea (Aaron’s) was to go to a vegetarian restaurant in town, ask who the vegetarian caterers were, then ask the vegetarian caterers what venues they liked to work in. So we consulted the iPhone and headed to a restaurant north of Downtown called Beans and Barley. Once I walked in the door, the plan went remarkably smoothly. They didn’t know a vegetarian caterer, they were a vegetarian caterer, and their favorite venue to cater was just up the street, a nature center called the Urban Ecology Center.  Back in the car, another glance at the iPhone (I love google maps!) and we drove the few minutes over to the UEC. Once we got in and took a tour, we knew almost immediately that it was right. Exposed pine beams, dark wooden furniture, lots of windows and light and a 4 story observation tower – it was like a cozy mountain lodge meets the smart home outside the Museum of Science and Industry.  And again, like at the pool, our non-traditional wedding plans were met with excitement and enthusiasm.