I am often tasked with helping my brides and grooms decide on a location for their engagement photos. Milwaukee has so many beautiful spots for engagement photos that it can be hard to choose! I normally ask if they want more natural or more urban of a spot, and narrow it down from there. I’m sharing my all-time favorite Milwaukee engagement photo locations below (with photos of each!). Enjoy, and hopefully this helps you find the perfect spot for your photos!
1. Villa Terrace
Obviously my #1 FAVORITE spot for engagement photos is Villa Terrace. The European-inspired mansion boasts some of the most picturesque spots in all of Milwaukee. There’s the Renaissance garden, lush and green in the summer, the various sculptures and art pieces, and architecture to make you swoon for DAYS! If I was doing my wedding over again, this would be at the top of my list! *note: photo fee applies, though this also ensures privacy during our shoot where we don’t have to dodge other people while photographing*
2. Milwaukee Historical Society / Pere Marquette Park
Milwaukee Historical Society is another wonderful location for engagement session photos in Milwaukee. I personally love its versatility- it offers stunning architecture, a gazebo, trees in the Pere Marquette park, the river, AND a view of Milwaukee’s skyline. You can get so much variety within a small amount of time/ walking distance which I love! There are occasionally small festivals that occupy this space, so it’s always good to double check a Milwaukee city calendar to ensure we will have enough room to shoot without hoards of crowds or booths in our way.
3. Third Ward / Riverfront
Taking engagement photos in Milwaukee’s Third Ward is another great option for an urban setting. There are so many great little areas that make for great pictures- Broadway St shops, Cafe Benelux (for that outdoor cafe style photo in the warmer months), the white West Elm building, the riverfront by Blue Bat, the Outsider rooftop bar, and more!
Milwaukee’s lakefront makes for the PERFECT neutral backdrop for your photos. It is serene and muted so you really POP against that background! Within walking distance of this paved lakefront sidewalk is a small “marina” outside of Discovery World which is a great secondary place to use as well. Parking can get a little tricky (Harbor House is usually packed!) but it’s totally worth a little walk to get to this gem of a spot.
5. Retzer Nature Center
Hands down: this is the most popular spot for engagement photos for my brides and grooms! And if you’re searching for a more natural setting, it’s easy to see why! Retzer Nature Center (technically located in Waukesha but 1000% worth the drive) has tons of variety in background: tall grass, a “wheat field” if you hit it at October, fields of wildflowers, picturesque rows of trees, and plenty of lush vegetation that make for such beautiful photos. I always see at least 2 other photographers here when I’m there (it’s no secret that it’s a great spot!) yet in all the times I’ve shot there, I’ve never had an issue of people being in my shot. It’s spread out enough that you still feel just as private as if you were alone.
6. Formal Gardens/ Frame Park
Frame Park is another gem situated in Waukesha technically, but again- TOTALLY worth the drive IMO! If you shoot here during the week, you don’t have to pay the photo fee that applies during the weekend which is always a plus! However, if you do pay for a photo permit, they do rope off the gardens so you have it all to yourself (which is nice and sometimes necessary if it’s during a peak time like summer evenings).
7. Mitchell Park Domes
All Milwaukee photographers’ favorite winter engagement spot: the Mitchell Park Domes! It’s the best way to beat the cold/snow in the winter months- you’ll be nice and warm (maybe even sweaty in the tropics dome!) and I will have plenty of natural light to achieve my “signature look.” Truly the best Milwaukee engagement photo location when it’s cold out, hands down! *A photo fee applies, yet it does not include crowd control- aka: it’s still best to go right when they open so we don’t have to dodge too many people!*
8. Bayview Park
When you think of Milwaukee, you probably don’t think of beaches first, do you? However- that doesn’t mean we can’t take dreamy beach photos!! I give you Bayview Park: a relatively private little park with beach access AND a great view of the Milwaukee skyline! It boasts tall grass/wildflowers, an open lawn, and of course- beach access! It’s a lesser known engagement photo location in Milwaukee but deserves all the accolades.
9. Lake Park
Lake Park is my final suggestion for the best Milwaukee engagement photo locations! I’ve shot both bride + groom portraits and a family/ newborn session here, yet never an engagement session; but it’s definitely still worth including! You have a pretty black iron bridge, statues, a light house, trees, and a super pretty view of the lake from above. *A photo permit applies*