Finding a Spot to Tie the Knot

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There are very few days in your life that have as much meaning as your wedding day. You’ll acknowledge the date in some special way each year on your anniversary. You’ll tell the grandkids about it at your 50th wedding celebration. It’s a celebration of your love and commitment, and it should be a special, memorable, beautiful occasion—but first it has to be planned. There are many factors that go into planning a wedding, but the largest piece of the planning puzzle is deciding where you want to celebrate. This will not only account for the biggest slice of your budget, but will help set the theme for your wedding. Are you more city-chic or country? Fun and festive or spiritual and serious? Do you want an elaborate bash with all of your friends or an intimate wedding with less than 50 guests? Where you choose to celebrate your union is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You’ll spend most of your wedding day here, so it’s vital that the venue is exactly what you want.

For couples wishing to add a little culture to their big day, it doesn’t get much better than the iconic Walker Art Center. The Walker’s shimmering façade and sweeping skyline view of Minneapolis, as well as convenient underground parking, seamlessly integrate form and function. Indoor and outdoor spaces can accommodate anywhere from 50-250 guests. (Many couples are married outside on the terrace and then move the party indoors.)

Guests attending a wedding at the Walker can tour the gallery or pose for photos by the popular Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture outside. Another bonus? The exclusive caterer is internationally acclaimed chef Wolfgang Puck.

Brides and grooms wishing to capture the romance of a bygone era find the perfect fit at The Saint Paul Hotel, a local landmark since 1910. It’s not difficult imagining presidents Herbert Hoover or Woodrow Wilson strolling through the lovely English garden outside—in St. Paul’s charming Rice Park area—or admiring the beautiful architecture inside. Elegant extras such as ceiling drapes, candles, rich ivory linens and beautiful china, glass, silver, and crystal add a sophisticated feel to the space. With a long-standing reputation as the place to host a party, and a staff that treats bridal parties and guests like royalty, it’s no wonder that weddings here book out as far as 18 months in advance.

Another turn-of-the-century venue steeped in character and charm is 490 Summit, a gorgeous Victorian mansion in the heart of St. Paul’s Summit Avenue neighborhood. Built in 1883, the mansion is rich with details of the past. The warm and welcoming atmosphere includes a paneled library, ornate hand-carved staircase, charming dressing area (bride’s room), and five dining rooms. The mansion can accommodate up to 250 guests.

At Embassy Suites Minneapolis Airport and Embassy Suites Bloomington, all-inclusive packages help make the wedding day stress-free so that couples can focus on enjoying their wedding day. In addition to a very attentive, professional, and friendly staff, the locations “have the feeling of being outside when you’re inside,” says Renee Lawler, wedding and social catering manager. “Our facilities are great for winter weddings. When your guests walk in, they forget about the cold, snowy weather; they feel like they’re in a warm tropical environment.” The atrium of Embassy Suites Minneapolis Airport is a tropical paradise of palm trees, lush plants, and waterfalls, while the Bloomington atrium has a European and Spanish flair. The Bloomington location can accommodate up to 450 guests, and 300 can fit comfortably at the Minneapolis airport location.

You don’t have to be a member at North Oaks Golf Club to get married there, but after experiencing the fabulous food and service in such lovely surroundings, a lot of people ask how they can become members, says Kay Zeigler, membership/catering manager.

A venue for all seasons, couples equally love the outdoor patio and gazebo and the warm and inviting Lakes Ballroom, accommodating up to 250 guests. In the ballroom, multiple windows let the sunlight pour in and show off spectacular year-round views of the 18th green.

Other benefits of getting married at North Oaks Golf Club include mouth-watering menu options ranging from asiago encrusted chicken to broiled Norwegian salmon to bone-in beef tenderloin, valet parking, and tasteful décor such as beautiful artwork and gold chandeliers.

At Midland Hills Country Club in Roseville, brides often use words such as “classy and elegant” to describe the space. Special event rooms include St. Andrews, seating up to 50 guests and featuring a built-in wine cabinet, beautiful arched ceiling, and large cove window, and Turnberry Hall, seating anywhere from 130 to 200 guests comfortably and offering views of the golf course. Other perks include a private seasonal patio, an LCD projector and screen (ideal for slideshows), and wireless Internet.

According to Jan Knudtson, Midland Hills Country Club membership sales and catering director, guests most often comment about the central location, the hot and delicious food, the friendly and professional staff, and the
beautiful ballroom.

The best part about planning a wedding at StoneRidge Golf Club in Stillwater is the fact that Catering Manager Matt Anderson, with over 15 years of experience and over 350 weddings under his belt, will be at your service handling all the details from your first meeting, to the tasting, to the reception and even the day after your reception to make sure the conclusion of your event is flawless. The club is very pretty (both indoors and out), people rave about Chef Ron Bohnert’s award-winning menus, and fun bridal parties have had creative photos taken outside in a row of golf carts.

For a wedding that doubles as a weekend experience, couples are heading out of town to resorts and lodges. Destination weddings in Minnesota appeal to outdoorsy 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.

At Bluefin Bay, a seaside resort on Lake Superior 80 miles north of Duluth, the staff really knows how to roll out the red carpet and welcome wedding parties. The website ResortsandLodges.com recently named Bluefin the No. 1 Wedding Resort in the “Top 10 Minnesota Wedding Resorts List.” The article states, “Bluefin’s private Tofte Cove is the romantic backdrop to commemorate your already romantic occasion. Exchange vows and your first kiss as husband and wife on this secluded cobblestone beach. The fun doesn’t just happen at the wedding and reception either! Take a wedding party sea kayaking on Lake Superior or hike to Oberg Mountain. Or, perhaps you prefer to snuggle up in your suite with a private fireplace, whirlpool tub, and lake views.”

Not only are the views fantastic at Cove Point Lodge in Beaver Bay, the lodge is also romantic, quiet, and secluded—providing all the right ingredients for a small, intimate wedding.

Some couples are married in front of the Great Hall fireplace; others choose to get married outside on the lakeside lawn, on the point, or at Split Rock Lighthouse. Wedding season at the lodge is from December through May, and honeymoons are popular year-round.

Breezy Point Resort, located in the Brainerd Lakes area, is another get-away-from-it-all resort setting, a short distance from the hassle of big city traffic and distractions. Wedding options include spacious formal or informal ballrooms, romantic outdoor ceremony locations (there’s even a quaint chapel on-site seating up to 100 guests), affordable lodging accommodations, and a plethora of outdoor recreation. It’s the staff, though, that goes above and beyond.

As one guest said of his Breezy Point experience, “The facilities are nice and well-kept. The food was very good and service was right on time. The staff followed through on everything just as we had ordered it.”
 

 

SETTING THE TONE

Couples not only want a venue that will take their breath away, they want to go that extra mile to make their wedding totally unique. This can be achieved through personalizing or branding your wedding celebration with logos, interesting color palettes, and unique themes—starting with the wedding invitation.

At Give My Regards To in Edina, brides and grooms can look through albums or work with talented in-house designer Vanessa Kimball to create an invitation that mirrors their individuality as a couple. Are you outdoorsy? Sporty? Laidback? Traditional? Does your wedding have a theme?

One way to add style, flair, and a personal touch to your invites is through the bold use of color.

“In the past it was only ivory and white, now anything goes—navy blue, hot pink, bright orange. Invitations take their cues from fashion, so we’re also seeing a lot of purples and deep beautiful jewel tones right now,” says Amy Zaroff, Give My Regards To owner and lead event planner.

In addition to invitations, brides and grooms can purchase personalized gifts such as key chains, luggage tags, playing cards, paper items, and stationery (great bridal party gifts), or hire a Give My Regards To wedding coordinator to help with event planning.

And if you can’t justify a wedding coordinator from start-to-finish, consider hiring one on an hourly basis or day-of only, Zaroff suggests. A wedding coordinator can help calm pre-wedding jitters and ensure a flawless wedding day celebration so that you can sit back and enjoy the party you’ve been anxiously anticipating. Whether working with couples on one-of-a-kind invitations or wedding planning, the team’s attention to detail, friendly personalities, and follow-through speaks for itself. “Many of our clients become dear friends,” Zaroff says.

At A Milestone Paper Co., based in Burnsville, each of the designs is custom. “I meet with each client to discuss the vision, style, and feel of their wedding. Based on our conversation I create several unique ideas, then tweak and revise until the concept is perfect,” says owner/designer Sarah Glad. Trends today include bold, creative designs that show “personality and style,” the combination of interesting cardstocks like linen and shimmer for a very textural effect, and unique packaging, she says. One happy bride wrote to the company saying she had “tears in her eyes” because she was so thrilled with her invitations. “My phone is ringing off the hook with people absolutely astounded by my invitations.” she wrote. Another satisfied bride commented, “Today I’ve gotten four compliments from coworkers, and three of them stated it was the most beautiful invitation they had ever seen. One person left me a voicemail to say how she ‘almost fell out of her chair’ when she saw it. It was truly a magnificent work of art!”
 

INVITATION TIP

Letterpress, thermograph, or offset invitations? What colors? What paper texture? What about if you’re trying to watch your budget? According to Amy Zaroff, owner and lead event planner at Give My Regards To, budget-conscious couples can trim costs by trimming down paper layers. “Our designer can create something with visual texture rather than actual paper weight,” she says. “Rather than three layers of paper, she will put three layers of design on one piece of paper. People will still get that visual impact without going overboard with paper thickness.”
 

FLOWERS AND DECOR

Choosing flowers in bold, dramatic colors for centerpieces is a surefire way to personalize your reception. In addition to color, imaginative floral designers are finding ways to add texture to centerpieces and bouquets. At Indulge and Bloom, located on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, the seasoned events team takes care of the details for everything from black-tie dinners for 75 to elaborate affairs for 500. An affordable Wedding Day Concierge Service, providing behind-the-scenes and day-of support, is also available.

In addition to flowers, colorful décor is another way a couple can stamp their personality into their wedding space. A room is just a room until you make it come alive.

Design consultant Sheree Bochenek of Aprés Party & Tent Rental—a family-grown business celebrating 22 years as a premier provider of event rental service—knows a thing or two about color (and tents and lighting and linens and accessories and tables and chairs).

“We have a reputation for being trendsetters, with the newest and most innovative products,” she says. “And we pride ourselves on quality.”

The hot new trends, Bochenek says, are clear tents, lounge furniture, chandeliers, “any shade of purple,” and textured linens with a vertical crush (referred to as “wildwood” at Aprés). She recommends that couples in the early stages of wedding planning begin collecting pictures of what they like and start a wedding portfolio (it’s easier to show someone what you like rather than attempt to describe it) and she can’t stress enough the importance of visiting their showroom to see everything they have to offer.

Event Lab, in Minneapolis, offers the services of a rental company (linen, chair covers and ceiling treatments) but with the added benefit of three full-time floral artisans, two designers, and an experienced sales and project management team. “We provide couples with a one-stop resource for all of their needs,” explains Jennifer Warner, bridal consultant. She says they have worked with brides six weeks in advance of the wedding and as far out as 18 months, but six months is about perfect.

When it comes to adding pizzazz to a space, Warner says couples are achieving this through special lighting. “Lighting provides the couple with the ability to add dimension and color to their venue without taking up a lot of space or a lot of budget,” she says.

The team at AARCEE/Skyway Classic Events, one of the largest event rental companies in the Upper Midwest, takes great pride in offering couples “fresh, relevant ideas,” says Stephanie Chan, sales representative. “We regularly attend local and international event conventions to research new products and trends.”

Some of these trends include elaborate tents and structures set up everywhere, from the heart of the city to the natural countryside, décor such as ceiling drapes, swags from beams, sheer fabric liners, and specialty linens. “We’ll find a way to bring your vision to life,” she says.

Brides and grooms in the southern suburbs can transform spaces from ordinary to extraordinary at Affordable Elegance Rental in Hastings, offering tents, tables, chairs, linens, chair covers, ceiling draping, specialty lighting, decor, dishware, centerpieces, and more. Services include design, delivery, and set-up.
 

DESIGN TIP

“Put your attention and dollars toward the ‘wow’ items that will make an impact—lighting, draping, chair covers, and linen,” says Sheree Bochenek, a design consultant with Aprés Party and Tent Rental. “Don’t get caught up in the tiny little details, like personalized M&Ms.”
 

WEDDING DAY ADVICE

If you have your heart set on a certain wedding-day dream, don’t settle for less, says Jennifer Warner, a bridal consultant at Event Lab in Minneapolis. “If you want a couture dress, get it. If you want a modern, sleek, sexy venue, find one you love. If you want a fantastic band, go for it—make compromises elsewhere but never give up on the top two that are most special to you and your fiancé—you will remember those forever.”
 

 

CAPTURING MOMENTS

You can never have too many photos of your wedding day, and one way to complement your professional photography is with a photo booth rental—a great way to get a collection of fun, candid shots while entertaining your guests.

The Original Traveling Photobooth Company
, a business run by two local guys who met as roommates at the University of Minnesota, offers a Wedding Package including the photo booth, a photo strip guest book, a full-time photo booth attendant, a 60-day web gallery, and 100 personalized thank-you cards. “I have looked at my book about a million times,” comments bride Sue Zvers. “And I find something new and hilarious every time. Hands down the best money spent at the wedding.”
 

PHOTO TIP

On the big day, make sure you allot enough time for group photos (especially between the ceremony and reception). Photography is a big investment for most couples; don’t short-change yourself with a hectic, stressful, rushed photo shoot.
 

A MEMORABLE MEAL

The reception dinner gives couples the chance to express their palate and the caterer’s expertise and innovation. Classic entrees will always have a place at the dinner table, but many caterers are moving away from the classics and offering dishes that reflect the couple’s heritage or interests.

“We’ve performed services from build-your-own pizza to five course plated meals that would be welcome at any five star restaurant,” says Benjamin McCallum, executive chef/co-owner of Three Sons Signature Cuisine.

Three Sons Signature Cuisine is by-design caterers who offer full menu design, event planning, and event execution services throughout the Twin Cities.

Food trends, according to McCallum, include a slight shift away from multi-tiered cakes to mini and specialty desserts or dessert bars. Nontraditional meals and interactive food stations are also popular, adding an element of entertainment for the guests.
 

BEAUTY AND FASHION

Whether it’s achieving a healthy wedding day glow, or looking dashing in a tux, brides and grooms spend a lot of time perfecting their wedding day look. Trends favor European Old World flair, romance, and splendor. Subtle touches, such as rhinestone hair accessories, are replacing traditional tiaras and headbands. Grooms are choosing to add a splash of color to their wardrobe. With brides, it’s all about romantic dresses and shorter trains and veils. Colored wedding gowns in champagne, pink, and platinum are also hot.

One option for a unique wedding gown is dugo (Dress Up Go Out), located in Edina’s Galleria. Featuring fine clothing for charity balls, summer parties, rehearsal dinners, and weddings, dugo brings back the satisfaction of dressing smart and dressing well.

“Mothers of the bride and groom especially like dugo because we understand their style and can order many different things in terms of design, style, and color to meet their exact needs and wants,” says Nancy Shank, owner.
They carry luminous Thai silk by designer Marissa Baratelli, hand loomed and hand dyed in exquisitely bright colors, in addition to simple gowns (ideal for destination weddings) in white, ivory, or pink. With the ability to mix-and-match and custom order different items, just about everyone can find a unique dress at dugo.

Once you’ve found the perfect dress, consider buying some Hollywood Fashion Tape to make sure you look perfectly put together. Hollywood Fashion Tape’s specially formulated adhesive is gentle on skin, hypoallergenic and leaves no residue on fabrics. The clear tape doesn’t cover up the skin’s natural color and is more discreet and fabric-friendly than safety pins, working wonders when it comes to fixing hems, hiding slipping bra straps, holding up strapless gowns, and keeping garters in place.
 

BEAUTY TIP

Start shopping for your wedding gown shortly after you set a date. Many designer dresses need to be special-ordered, and fittings and alterations take time, too.
 

WEDDING DAY JEWELRY

Your ring is a symbol of love built to last a lifetime. Do you want a contemporary setting or an antique reproduction? Smooth or sculpted metal? What will your ring say about you? Many brides and grooms are creating and selecting designs as original and unique as they are.

“A growing appreciation for custom designs keeps our loyal customers returning every year,” says Stephen Lehman of Studio Vincent.

Lehman prides himself not only on 25 solid years of training and experience as a gold and platinum smith, but also on the high standards he set for his exquisitely-crafted collections, ranging from stainless steel to the finest in precious gems and metals.

Choose your ring wisely. When your wedding day is over, your ring symbolizes your life-long commitment to one another; a reminder that wherever you go, you are not alone.
 

GRAND FINALE

When the vows have been exchanged and the wedding guests have returned home, your honeymoon is the perfect way to enjoy some time as a married couple before real life intrudes again. At Carrousel Travel American Express, a destination wedding or honeymoon is not treated like just another vacation, says Carol Flanigan, senior travel consultant. It is treated like the once-in-a-lifetime experience that it is.

Hiring a travel agent like Flanigan can help a couple simplify their search, give them access to expert advice and recommendations, and help them get the best pricing and deals. A travel agent can also be a couple’s best advocate should a problem inadvertently arise.

For established couples, Flanigan recommends creating a free honeymoon registry—thehoneymoon.com—where wedding guests contribute to honeymoon experiences rather than a traditional bridal registry.

Whether staying close to home or traveling to an exotic destination, it’s important that newlyweds take some time to unwind, have fun, and enjoy one another’s company. You will take many vacations together as a happily married couple, but you will have only one honeymoon. Make the most of it!

 

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