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Top right and middle photo by Craig Dirkes, dirkesphoto.com;
middle left photo by Noah Wolf Photography; bottom middle
photo of Stillwater Courthouse by Laura Ivanova
The first item on your “to-do” checklist is finding a venue. The setting makes all the difference. Do you want a small, intimate gathering of close family and friends or a giant bash with a seemingly never-ending guest list? Do you want a lavish venue, or something simple? Take a look at a number of venues within your budget. Are you more of a traditional girl? Ultra modern? Vintage? Do you picture yourself celebrating in a 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?
With a little imagination and creativity, even the most ordinary venues can be turned into fairytale settings.
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—including an actual theatre with a stage for the bridal party. “Couples sometimes even play off the theatrical theme incorporating invitations and place cards to mimic theatre tickets, or programs designed after a theatre playbill,” says Halley Bechtold, weddings and events manager.
Rivertowns like Stillwater and Hudson, Wis. are especially beautiful locales for a wedding—whether saying “I do” on a riverboat, at a charming inn or bed and breakfast, in the Stillwater Historic Washington County Courthouse (built in 1870 — the oldest standing courthouse in Minnesota), at an interesting hotel, or at Camp St. Croix in Hudson.
For those from the Land of 10,000 Lakes, a wedding “on the lake” can be the perfect fit for a wedding destination. The scenery is beautiful on its own without spending more on decor, and the weekend becomes a fun reunion for family and friends, with a list of activities like golfing, spa days, hikes, and bonfires. Excellent options include Breezy Point Resort in the Brainerd Lakes area (the Breezy Belle Paddle Boat can accommodate 100 people for a sunset dinner cruise), The Lodge on Lake Detroit in Detroit Lakes, Lutsen Resort in the Lutsen/Tofte area, and venues in the pretty harbortown of Grand Marais.
Tip: If you’re having a destination wedding, a welcome bag is a nice gesture to show that you appreciate those guests who have traveled to celebrate with you.
Find out if you should make an appointment with the store where you intend to look at dresses. Many salons prefer to have brides make appointments, and some require it. Once you’re there, try on different dress styles. Don’t rule out anything at first glance. You might be surprised at what you like.
Tip: When trying on gowns, wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off, leave the big, dangly earrings at home (they could snag the dress), and don’t bring a crowd with you. Two people is plenty (we recommend mom and a sister or close friend). And make sure to stick to your price range. Falling in love with a gown that is way more than what you can afford will either break your heart or break the bank.
Fashion goes in and out of style, but a classic dress will stand the test of time. Right now brides are loving elegant strapless gowns, romantic lace, delicate cap sleeves, satin sashes, birdcage veils, vintage hair combs, and feather fans. For the bridesmaids, you can’t go wrong with dusty rose, lavender, taupe, pale yellow, shades of grey, or bold, bright colors that really pop. And speaking of colors that pop, more and more brides are choosing to show their personality by wearing fun shoes on their wedding day, and letting their bridesmaids choose their own style of shoe as well. (Colorful shoes make for some great wedding photos!)