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Weddings & Special Occasions

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He popped the question and you said “Yes!” Now what?

Before you start spreading the news, you should come up with vague timeline of when the wedding will be (spring of 2012, for instance), because after “Congratulations!” and “Let me see your ring!” you will undoubtedly be asked, “When’s the wedding?” Figuring out when the wedding is will be the first of many decisions you will make for the biggest day of your life. The next big one is determining the budget. Your budget will help you decide where you’re getting married (your venue will account for the biggest slice of your budget) and how many people you can invite. Finding the perfect venue will help set the tone and play a significant role in many of the other planning decisions you’ll make. You’ll spend most of your wedding day here, so it’s vital that the venue is exactly what you want. Start researching your options now—good venues book far in advance.

The perfect location

You can narrow down the list of possible reception sites by answering a few questions about your style. Are you more of a traditional girl? Ultra modern? Vintage? Do you picture yourself celebrating in hotel ballroom? Victorian-era mansion? Rustic lodge? Banquet hall? Outdoor pavilion? Dinner theater? Restaurant? Perhaps you’d prefer a breezy beach affair or formal black-tie event?

When it comes to unique reception sites, one of the Twin Cities’ best kept secrets is Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. Whether planning a rehearsal dinner for 20 or a seated dinner and dance for 250, there are a variety of banquet rooms for rent. Over the theatres’ 43-year history, more than 1,500 wedding receptions have been hosted at CDT. One room, The Club, is actually a theatre with a stage, explains Kris Howland, public relations director. “We like to position the bridal table right on the stage, with the area surrounding the stage illuminated with lights for special effect,” she says. The rental fee not only includes a one-of-a-kind setting, but a helpful, professional staff, white linen and napkins, complimentary cake cutting, white satin skirting, votive candles, free parking, and delicious food at a moderate price point.

An uncompromisingly beautiful venue, The Carlson Towers Rotunda and Amphitheatre in Minnetonka is the epitome of “distinctive elegance.” The two-level venue accommodates up to 360 guests and features a cathedral ceiling, marble floors, majestic fountain, grand piano, breathtaking views, English gardens, and a spectacular outdoor Amphitheatre for photography and ceremonies. The rental fee includes almost all extras, including a day-of wedding coordinator.

There are 24 different wedding venues or sites available for use in Stillwater, a charming rivertown on the Minnesota side of the St. Croix River. There are quaint bed-and-breakfast inns (check out the Water Street Inn and Lowell Inn), luxury hotels and resorts, unique wineries, and one-of-a-kind restaurants and pubs perfect for a wedding or special occasion. History buffs should consider saying “I do” at the Historic Washington County Courthouse (built in 1870 — the oldest standing courthouse in Minnesota) or taking their wedding party for a spin in a turn-of-the-century trolley.

When a couple wants to get away from it all, a destination wedding can be the answer. You don’t have to have a memorable destination wedding. It can be as simple as getting married in Minnesota, a few hours away from home. Destination weddings in Minnesota appeal to people who prefer an option that’s not too fancy or formal. The scenery is beautiful on its own without spending more on decor, and the weekend becomes a fun reunion for family and friends.

In addition to a spectacular setting on the North Shore of Lake Superior, couples celebrating at the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts (Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior, Surfside on Lake Superior, and Temperance Landing) can choose to have their wedding or special event at one location and reception at another, selecting the perfect combination of North Shore venues. For instance, a couple could get married on the cobblestone beach at Bluefin Bay and have the reception just a mile away at the state-of-the-art banquet facility at Surfside. Other perks include shuttle service for guest transportation, group or solo spa days at the new Waves of Superior destination spa (complete with appetizers and champagne), and lakeside outdoor campfires for gathering with friends and family for s’mores, stories, reconnecting and recharging before the big day. The fun doesn’t just happen at the wedding and reception either! Take a wedding party sea kayaking lesson on Lake Superior in double or single kayaks or hike to Oberg Mountain and breathe in the refreshing scent of spruce and cedar trees. Or, perhaps you prefer to snuggle up in your suite with a private fireplace, whirlpool tub and lake views.

Couples and their wedding guests will soon discover that The Lodge on Lake Detroit is not your typical lodge—it’s a luxurious, yet affordable, lakefront lifestyle hotel. The lodge features 55 lakefront rooms with an emphasis on eco-friendly initiatives (the hotel was recently recognized by the Minnesota Office of Tourism with the “Sustainable Tourism Award”) and upscale in-room amenities. A two-story lakefront lobby features a grand piano, stone fireplace, lobby bar and balcony (complete with sunset serenades), the Renewal Spa Suites offer aromatherapy whirlpool tubs and fireplaces, and guests can unwind with spa services at The Spa Within.

“In the summer, the green space between the hotel and the private sandy beach is a favorite place for outdoor weddings,” says owner Chris Holland-Mehlaff. Guests receive a two-for-one experience: a gorgeous wedding in a gorgeous lodge plus access to boat slips, firepits, picnic tables, kayaks and paddleboats, and beautiful rain gardens.

Hop on a ferry out of Bayfield, Wis. and leave the mainland behind for a wedding or private party at The Inn on Madeline Island, located in the Chequamegon Bay area of Lake Superior. Whether casual or formal, The Pub, the new Lightkeeper’s Lodge, and the beachfront are ideal for any celebration. “Imagine a beach setting with a sunset arching the wedding vows, musicians on the dock, and sailboats gliding in the distance,” says Susan Hartzell, proprietor of The Inn.  The friendly and professional staff can arrange every detail of the big day, including lodging, custom menu options, and rentals. Whether it’s memories of lupines and daisies, extraordinary night skies, or the magic of the lake, guests will remember an island celebration long into the future.

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