Venue Spotlight: The Grain Exchange

May 9, 2018 | Venue Spotlight

Venue Spotlight: The Grain Exchange

Couples who are looking for elegance of a by-gone era, who want that WOW factor when they walk into a room, who want service, outstanding food and a venue set in the heart of downtown Milwaukee look to The Grain Exchange to set the standard. Their soaring ceilings and regal columns set the stage for what are (in our opinion) some of the most beautiful weddings in town.


The Team

The Grain Exchange is led by the amazing team of Maria, John, and Katie.

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Maria and John opened The Grain Exchange in 2008 when Bartolotta’s Catering took over and have been there ever since – raising the bar year over year for themselves and the event industry at large. In 2008, they had each been in the industry for over 20 years and were the perfect pair to marry Bartolotta’s catering to this beautiful space. Later, Katie completed the Grain Exchange Events team when she joined after years of experience as a wedding planner.

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We had a chance to sit down with these three and ask them all kinds of questions to get the inside scoop from some of the industry’s finest. As they all basically finished each other’s sentences (that’s how in sync they are) and most of these answers are compilations of quotes from all of them.

The Interview

Why are couples drawn to The Grain Exchange?

Just look at it!

You feel like you are being transported to another city, state, country, time. It’s classic and will never get old or dated feeling. 

When you walk in this room, there’s a “Wow!” factor.

Grain Exchange wedding


Fabulous features couples might not know about?

The team.

As much as this place is about the room, the people here make the difference.

We have an annual showcase (usually early in the year) that features all our favorite vendors. It is a wonderful opportunity to see the room in action.

What in-house services do you offer?

  • Catering
  • Bar
  • Planning Services
  • Vendor Referrals
  • Rental Coordination
  • Ceremony Planning
  • Linens
  • Parking
  • Hotel Recommendations

grain exchange wedding

What are your favorite things about weddings at The Grain Exchange?

It’s theater, it’s showtime. Putting on a production and hearing parents just raving about everything we’ve done and put into this day, there’s nothing more gratifying. We exceed our own expectations.  – Maria

Of all the places I’ve worked, this place sets the bar for excellence. It’s great to see the production go off and to see the results and to know that you probably worked with one of the best teams in the city.  –  Katie

What do couples forget about when planning their wedding?

  • Learning to dance for the first dance
  • Telling us about all of their vendors so we can be prepared
  • Thinking ahead to the end of the night and who will wrap up all the loose ends

Grain Exchange wedding


What are your favorite dishes on the menu?

Maria: Salmon, champagne beurre blanc celery root, and potatoes puree

Katie:  Wild mushroom risotto

John:  Tuscan chicken, lemon olive oil, caramelized brussels sprouts, and roasted rosemary potatoes


What are some of your favorite wedding trends in the last year?

  • Mixing and matching table shapes
  • Unique floor plans
  • Couples personalizing food and desserts

What should people know before picking a venue?

  • Have an idea of a realistic budget prior to scheduling a visit
  • That having a small and consistent team is really important. There is value to working with the same people from the beginning to the end of this long process
  • You get what you pay for

Fun Facts About Grain Exchange

  • It was built in 1879
  • 65’ ceilings
  • 24-carat gold throughout
  • All the art is original from when it was built
  • Largest hand-painted frescoes in the state
  • Before it was a ballroom, grain used to be traded here (hence the name)


The Details

The Grain Exchange is located at 225 E. Michigan Street. It features one majestic ballroom that can hold up to 350 people seated or 550 for cocktails.

Visit their website at:

Contact the team at by calling 414-727-6980.

Don’t forget to follow them on social media!


 The Beauty

The Grain Exchange provides its own amazing backdrop. Whether inside the stunning ballroom or using the classic exterior to frame a couple, there are enough great options between those two to generate a collection with brilliance and variety.

But the beauty of The Grain Exchange is that it also offers access to downtown and the Riverwalk just outside its doors. This is the kind of location that as the evening wears on, the possibilities don’t diminish, they just start to glow!

Grain Exchange wedding


Learn More!

You can always contact the Front Room Studios team to learn more about weddings at The Grain Exchange or our wedding photography or wedding videography.

Call us 414.294.0080

Email us at