I have a soft spot for old-fashioned, Midwestern towns. I grew up in one—Waverly, Iowa, population 8000—and I must say I hated it there when I was a kid. But now, I look back on the peculiar charms of my town and smile. Roy’s Place, where you got the greasiest burger and best milkshake in town. The Waverly Bakery’s warm glazed donuts on a Saturday morning. And on Sundays bells rang out across town from the towers of every neighborhood church.
Pulling up to Special Events by Sound Haven in Lake Mills brought back all that nostalgia. Nestled among the trees a block off downtown, this quaint space offers a host of photographic possibilities for your small wedding, party, or bridal shower.
“It’s very intimate,” says, co-owner Laurie Allison. She and her husband, audio engineer Michael, bought the former St. Paul Lutheran Church in 2013 and opened for events in 2014.
It serves double duty as both an event space and a sound school, where Michael teaches the finer points of sound engineering he's learned during years touring with bands as varied as the Rolling Stones and Beyonce.
The church was built in 1913 to serve the local Lutheran community and has all the charm of an older church with a grand, towering main hall, beautiful windows, and some unique spaces great for photography. There’s a cute bridal suite, a great bar in the former sanctuary built from the church’s former modesty rails, and ample parking on the property.
We decided to start showcasing local venues because we are still relatively new to the Madison wedding industry, but also because, as photographers, we might see a venue differently than the clients or other wedding professionals. Our wedding photography approach is to personalize the day as much as possible, so taking advantage of the interest and beauty of each venue is central to our images.
Soundhaven has a few unique features. The main hall features beautiful soft light streaming from the towering windows on each side, which are a mix of classic stained glass and clear to provide enough natural light for ceremony images. The massive cast-iron central chandelier makes for a nice feature in wide views of the space.
We also love the alcoves in the stairwells to the balcony of the venue. The cathedral windows give photographers beautiful wraparound lighting and architectural detail that make the space a supporting character in photographs.
Outside, there’s a stunning aqua door for couples or bridal photographs, and the very charming downtown—with a central park and great small town brick architecture—is just a short walk away. Take a look at this quick gallery to get a better feel for the space and contact Laurie for more information!
Special Events by Sound Haven
Event Manager: Laurie Allison
Address: 412 W. Madison St., Lake Mills, WI
Capacity: Varies depending on setup, but anywhere from 50-150