Listen to the Podcast About Garver Events

Podcast for Garver Events

Podcast Summary

In this insightful episode of the Eventful Endeavors podcast, our host Jake Ashey has an enlightening conversation with Danielle LeVine, the event coordinator for Madison’s historic venue, Garver Feed Mill, widely acclaimed as Garver Events. Danielle enthusiastically recounts her entry into the event management scene, reminiscing on how her interest in wedding planning and her educational background in marketing fused together, eventually leading her to the celebrated Garver Events. She started with late shift roles as the event lead-in training, she gradually climbed her way up, and now coordinates events from start to finish, serving as the bridge between Garver Events and its clients.

Danielle pointedly mentions the uniqueness of Garver Feed Mill, from being an abandoned feed mill known only to local Madisonians to now standing as a restored, bustling hub replete with restaurants, a spa, yoga studio, photographer and much more. A testament to the transformation is the venue’s quick change since its reopening in 2019.

In this podcast, listeners are reminded of the dedication and flair Danielle LeVine brings to her job. Through her eyes, we see Garver Events as a versatile, inclusive venue that stands ready to cater to a wide range of events, leaving every guest with unforgettable experiences and more reasons to return.

This interview was provided by Felix and Fingers Dueling Pianos.

Podcast Transcript

Jake Ashey (00:24)
Hello everybody and welcome to the Eventful Endeavors podcast. I am your host Jake and it is my honor to introduce our guest for this episode, which is the events coordinator for one of Madison’s most sought after and historic venues, the Garver Feed Mill. This is Danielle LeVine. What’s up Danielle?

Danielle LeVine (00:44)
Hey Jake, thanks for having me.

Jake Ashey (00:46)
Anytime we’ve already bonded over the fact that we brought the same pen to this meeting purple power all the way, right? Fantastic, we’re styling we’re styling with our choice of accessories. We’re ready to go I’d love to jump in and just kind of hear a bit about some you kind of your background and how you got connected with Garver Feed Mill

Danielle LeVine (01:05)
Sure. Okay, I guess I’ll start from several years back.

Jake Ashey (01:11)

Danielle LeVine (01:11)
I always wanted to work in events, kind of weddings specifically, but I didn’t see a clear way to do that. So after college at the University of Florida, I majored in marketing. I thought it was kind of general, generally applicable. I moved out to Madison to work as a project manager for a big corporation, but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. I liked the project manager parts of it, but not like any of the actual content or the whole corporate thing.

Jake Ashey (01:30)

Danielle LeVine (01:41)

Jake Ashey (01:42)
Sure. Yeah.

Danielle LeVine (01:43)
A few months in, I applied for a lot of local venues, planning jobs, and I got this one and I started as an event lead in training. So we have event lead is what we call the person in charge of the closing staff normally for our longer events like weddings. And then the event coordinator is the one who works with the clients in advance and then is at our events from the beginning.

Jake Ashey (02:04)

Danielle LeVine (02:11)
dinner normally if it’s a longer event or the whole day.

Jake Ashey (02:14)
Okay, gotcha. So now you are on all day status wire to wire

Danielle LeVine (02:18)
Yeah, so it’s kind of the better shift for weddings. I’m normally noon to eight as opposed to maybe 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. But I started with the late shift. Yeah, occasionally I still take the late shift. Every once in a while, it’s OK to have the day free. Yeah.

Jake Ashey (02:26)
Gotcha. That’s a big change in shift. Gotcha.

Yeah, well, I got a pitch in at some point. Totally. Hey, I love that. Kind of working your way in from the bottom, came in, you know, interested in weddings, but then using that project management background, that seems like a pretty good way to apply those skills, for sure. Well, that’s fantastic. I know that we’ve had such a great time working with you guys in the past weddings we’ve done last year. Absolutely gorgeous venue.

Danielle LeVine (02:47)
Yeah, definitely.

Jake Ashey (02:56)
If love to can you explain some of our guests who maybe have an experience Garver Feed Mill kind of what makes it special? What makes it unique?

Danielle LeVine (03:02)
Yeah, Garver Feed Mill is a restored feed mill from a long, long time ago.

I hear from a lot of local Madisonians that they used to come here in high school and hang out, do things they probably weren’t supposed to when it was just a run down old factory basically. But it was restored and opened in 2019 as an event venue, but also there are other businesses here. There are a couple of restaurants, spa, yoga studio, photographer, hair salon, all that stuff.

Jake Ashey (03:22)

lot of options. That’s incredible. I had not heard that story about high school shenanigans taking place. So they really underwent a pretty big transformation from abandoned feed mill to now which kind of repurposed industrial is such a vibe these days that it truly is beautiful space. So yeah, we love over there. I love going there outside of even private events. We’ve hung out a few times, a few of those shops I know we got.

Danielle LeVine (03:47)

Mm-hmm. Yeah, thank you.

Jake Ashey (04:06)
Ian’s Pizza is great. I know there’s some board games you can play. And then my wife loves to do the shopping. There’s plenty of that there. But any other ways that people could kind of enjoy Garver Feed Mill without necessarily having a wedding or a private event booked there.

Danielle LeVine (04:13)

Yeah, so we try to make the most use of the space. So when there aren’t private events, we often have events that are open to the public. This coming weekend we have the Midwest Vintage Flee, so we do that twice a year for Saturday and Sunday. Yeah, a vintage clothing fest basically, but we also do… Yeah, it takes over the event spaces.

Jake Ashey (04:32)

get out, so it’s kind of taken over by a lot of vintage clothes. That sounds exciting.

That’s awesome.

Danielle LeVine (04:42)
We also do concerts. Some are free, some are ticketed. We do, recently we’ve been piloting a parent-child happy hour. So the parents can get drinks at, yeah, the parents can get drinks at Garver Lounge and the kids can do different facilitated activities in the atrium, the biggest event space.

Jake Ashey (04:54)
How does that work?

Danielle LeVine (05:07)
It’s something where we did a few this past winter, and we’re probably going to pick it up again late fall and this coming winter after weddings and other private events slow down again.

Jake Ashey (05:18)
that’s a really cool idea that’s a very cool idea, I love that. And the lounge is beautiful, I mean, won us over of course because there’s a piano in the lobby we are two on pianos guys, so that’s a pretty sweet opportunity. Killer Lounge, love the parent and child combo that’s a great activity for everybody I know you got special stuff too, I know that you got a viewing party for the Top Chef Wisconsin going on there, right? That’s what I saw on the website, I don’t know if you’re following

Danielle LeVine (05:42)
Yeah, we have a couple of those coming up. Yeah, those are also open to the public. There will be a speaker and then you’re viewing the TV show.

Jake Ashey (05:47)

And that is so fun. That is so fun. I love it. Well, very cool. If you haven’t, you’ve got to check out those spaces and check out their calendar because it really is. I mean, you can just see there’s so many types of events going on. You do?

Danielle LeVine (05:58)
Yeah, we also do cocktail classes. Yeah, so they’re ticketed cocktail classes. Normally, like you can go in pairs or as a single person. And they teach you some of our bartenders teach you how to make several cocktails in their small appetizers, snacks served along the way.

Jake Ashey (06:14)

I love it. I love it. No shortage of classy activities to be had at the Garver Feed Mill in Italian. You guys gotta check it out. That has been… Well, I’d love to pivot back to where primarily weddings focused. You know, podcasts for our listeners who may be planning events in the near future. So I’d love to pivot back to some of the weddings that you guys do and I’d love to hear if there’s any particularly fun ideas or themes you’ve seen recently at weddings that you’ve coordinated.

Danielle LeVine (06:46)
I think the best things to do at weddings are personalized customization pieces. Like I see a lot of Polaroid guest books these days, which is kind of unique, but it’s becoming a little mainstream so that you have a Polaroid on a table and then the guests take photos and glue it into the guest book. That one is fun. Yeah, they kind of make a scrapbook. It’s becoming a little mainstream, but it’s still pretty good. Okay.

Jake Ashey (06:55)

That’s like comes together in that’s awesome. Yeah, I Love that Starting blow up I haven’t seen that one particular so not super not super mainstream yet But I love they’ve seen that and that fits right with Customization is my favorite theme as well with the dueling piano show You know it’s all about guest pick in the set list and having no idea of the show is so anything that makes the guests Feel like they’re part of the experience. That’s particularly cool. We’re putting together pasting the other physical

Danielle LeVine (07:20)
Mm-hmm. Exactly.

Jake Ashey (07:32)
album in the process. That’s pretty cool. Flip side of that coin, is there anything kind of cringe worthy or that you would not like to see again at a wedding that you’ve coordinated?

Danielle LeVine (07:43)
I don’t know if I’d say, yeah, probably cringe-worthy, is when things just…

aren’t planned or nobody’s responsible for things. We don’t require a wedding planner because you can do it here without it. We do everything venue related and related to rentals. We also do catering in house. But the little things, sometimes little things might fall through the cracks. We try to make everybody prepared for everything. But we did once have, once recently.

Jake Ashey (07:52)

Danielle LeVine (08:13)
The DJ only brought one mic and then as the there were supposed to be only a couple speeches before dinner, but then someone else took the mic and started speaking. We were all ready for dinner and Nobody was sure what to do with all our weight staff was ready to start serving dinner and the DJ.

Jake Ashey (08:20)


Danielle LeVine (08:31)
didn’t even have a mic to interject. So I ended up just going over to the head table and like whispering to a bridesmaid, like should we wait for him to finish? Like you could tell it was gonna be a really long speech. So we ended up just serving the food during the speech. Yeah. So we now are even more diligent about asking for just a day of contact, if not even a hired person. It could be like a friend so that someone can make the executive decisions so that we can make sure they’re executed

Jake Ashey (08:40)
Yeah, that’s something to look out for.



Danielle LeVine (09:01)
wanted by the client.

Jake Ashey (09:03)
love that that’s a great tip for planning and i can speak to that from the dj entertainer side of things that’s a terrible thing to have a rogue microphone going off with guests of the wedding i always talk about people about you know planning those speeches and not letting anybody get up there that’s not on the specific list etc because that will get you um that no that’s awesome you got it yeah you push through you push through absolutely um that’s wonderful well

Danielle LeVine (09:22)
Mm-hmm. Yeah. But we rebound. Yeah.

Jake Ashey (09:30)
Any other, speaking of the people who may be listening to the podcast, trying to find some tips or they’re starting their journey, someone who’s just started wedding planning, with your experience, what advice would you give to somebody? Kind of first thing at the top of your head. Someone who’s just started planning their journey.

Danielle LeVine (09:47)
I guess come with questions. Like you want vendors and venue to be transparent. I’m open to any questions. So don’t be afraid to ask your questions. If you forget to ask when you’re there, email them after. Just so you know, like what to expect, what you’re paying for. So there aren’t surprises there after you book a vendor.

Jake Ashey (10:09)
That’s an excellent piece of advice. Don’t be afraid to ask those questions that are on your mind. And as they come to you to be reaching out, that’s a great piece of advice. Wonderful, wonderful. And then the weddings that you’re seeing over at Garver Feed Mill, any other kind of trends that you’re seeing overall with the wedding industry.

Danielle LeVine (10:28)
Specifically in our space, we kind of have the aesthetic. You can see a little bit of the exposed brick. We do a lot of mismatched vintage plates and silverware. And I see a lot of mismatched bud vases too. So instead of like big floral bouquets, like little vases with different kinds of flowers in them. I think people are, yeah, what were you gonna say?

Jake Ashey (10:49)

like mismatches, like the theme, like things mismatching until they match almost. I’ve noticed that in some fashion and decor. Yeah.

Danielle LeVine (10:54)

Mm-hmm. Kind of intentionally mismatched when we set the tables with…

the mismatched vintage plates. I normally try to kind of alternate the more plain ones with the more decorated ones. So it is kind of intentionally mismatched. But I think that kind of, yeah, it kind of ties back into the customization, doing what you want instead of thinking, what am I supposed to do at this wedding? Like people often ask like, well, yeah, like, well, what are we supposed to do here? And it’s like, well, what do you want? This is, it’s your event.

Jake Ashey (11:12)
Hmm, sure.

There is an R to it. Yes, that makes sense. Yeah.


Danielle LeVine (11:32)
paying a lot of money for it. It doesn’t have to be like the weddings you’ve been to or seen in movies. Yeah.

Jake Ashey (11:32)

Yeah, that’s fantastic. So you really try and give, put the ball in the client’s court and execute their vision as opposed to kind of pushing them into something you have planned.

Danielle LeVine (11:46)
Yeah, I mean it kind of reduces liability if they don’t like what I propose, but if they need some help we can give them some guidance.

Jake Ashey (11:52)
Genius. I like that. No, I don’t like that. Put it again, customization, putting the ball in the client’s court, they get to bring their vision, you help them bring it to life. That’s very cool. That’s lovely. Awesome. Well, how are you guys looking for it? I guess have a busy summer. How far in advance do you think couples should be knocking on your guys door for reservations?

Danielle LeVine (12:13)
If you want a specific date, and maybe a year and a half at least, just because you never know if that certain date’s gonna get booked, but otherwise, if you’re shooting more for like a season or maybe a month even, probably a year for our venue.

Jake Ashey (12:21)

Danielle LeVine (12:30)
We are extremely booked this summer. It’s super seasonal, I guess, because we’re in Wisconsin. I’m coming from Florida. I wasn’t fully expecting the seasonality of events here, but it’s been pretty slow with the private events, but we’re picking up end of April through end of October. We’re very busy, but we still do have some Saturdays next summer. 2025 are still available.

Jake Ashey (12:34)


Yeah. Totally.

Absolutely. Yeah, that’s a big transition coming from Florida, reborn and raised Florida. And had you been to Wisconsin before moving? Yeah.

Danielle LeVine (13:05)
Yes. I visited before moving, but born and raised in Florida, I moved here just over two years ago.

Jake Ashey (13:14)
Just two years, okay, so probably not fully acclimated to the winters yet.

Danielle LeVine (13:18)
I think my blood has gotten a little thicker already. Yeah.

Jake Ashey (13:21)
It does happen fast. I feel like my third winter was the one that really kicked in. Virginia. I was in Virginia before. East Coast. Some snow, but not crazy. Are you guys shut down during the winter or is it just really slow for events?

Danielle LeVine (13:26)
Where are you from?

They still love seasons, yeah.

Um, no, we’re open year round. It’s just, um, we do a lot of holiday parties in the winter, like company holiday parties. Yeah, but not a lot of people want to get married in the winter. We got to have a couple sprinkled in. We do host the, yeah, we host the Dane County Farmers Market January through early April.

Jake Ashey (13:46)
Gotcha, yeah, yeah.

Yeah, yeah, totally follows that seasonal cycle for us.

Danielle LeVine (14:02)
So the same farmers market that’s around the square, but with a little less vendors, a little fewer vendors, and that’s every Saturday morning. Yeah. So we still are able to do evening events. We just have to have a quick turnaround of the space those Saturdays.

Jake Ashey (14:08)
That’s a big deal. In the winter, yeah.

Man, that’s, yeah, for those who don’t know, Dane County Farmers Market, it’s the largest farmers market in the country, if I’m not mistaken. So in its version on the square, you get an abbreviated version of it, at Garver Feed Mill over the winter, which goes so well with the agricultural theme you guys already got me in the repurposed seed mill. So that’s great. Fantastic. Well, Danielle, I wanna thank you so much for taking the time, for being a guest on our podcast today.

Danielle LeVine (14:36)
Mm-hmm. Exactly.

Jake Ashey (14:46)
for all the hard work that you do executing people’s visions over at Garver. I know I’m very much looking forward to our next one.

Danielle LeVine (14:51)
Of course, we’re excited to have you all back.

Jake Ashey (14:51)
And I think there was, absolutely, absolutely. And there was a discount, I believe, if you’re listening to the podcast, that if you book before a certain time, was it end of May, you can get a certain discount off of reserving Garver.

Danielle LeVine (15:04)
Yeah, yeah, 25% off select rental dates. More info if you submit our inquiry form on the website or email the email there.

Jake Ashey (15:10)
Check it out, you heard it here.

Perfect, yeah. You heard it here first, folks. Get a discount if you’re getting married in a couple years. Not surprising, Garver Feed Meal, again, one of the most sought after, super popular venue here in Madison. Thanks again so much for taking the time, Danielle. This has been the Eventful Endeavors podcast, you guys. We’ll catch you this summer for all these weddings.

Danielle LeVine (15:35)

Jake Ashey (15:36)
Have a good one.

This interview was made possible by Felix & Fingers Dueling Pianos

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