Weddings and Special Occasions


Whether you’re getting married, celebrating a milestone anniversary, or hosting a birthday bash—you want to acknowledge the big event with an unforgettable party. And you don’t want just any party, you want this to be the party of 2011. With some useful tips from wedding and event-planning professionals, we help simplify the process for a truly memorable celebration.


The Venue

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. With a little imagination and creativity, even the most ordinary venues can be turned into fairytale settings.

TIP: Ask if the venue is handicap-accessible, has air conditioning, and if parking is readily available. Ask if there are any restrictions in regards to using the facility. (Some venues, such as historical sites, have restrictions regarding smoking, candles, and alcohol.)

Tip: Keep costs down with a small, intimate wedding. The Lodge on Lake Detroit, located on Big Detroit Lake, is a great choice for smaller destination weddings (get married outdoors during a lakeside ceremony or indoors in the fireside lobby) or honeymoons. The hotel offers affordable luxury, complete with an on-site day spa perfect for couples and wedding parties.

Trend: Think outside the box. A unique wedding venue is Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. The professionals at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres can also facilitate a memorable rehearsal dinner or bridal shower during the sweet romantic musical comedy I Do! I Do! running from Sept. 24, 2010 through May 2011.

Trend: Make your wedding a mini vacation for everyone on the guest list. The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes, located in Baxter, can accommodate between 10 and 500 guests. Perks include in-house AV, natural lighting, and a beautiful lodge-style ballroom featuring fireplaces and a courtyard walkout. Guests love the on-site restaurant, fitness center, and massive indoor waterpark.

Personalizing the Event

According to Twin Cities wedding experts The Wedding Guys®, Bruce Vassar and Matthew Trettel, a memorable invitation will not only set the tone of the party, but make a lasting first impression (and build anticipation) of what’s to come.

“Use something other than a standard envelope, and you’ll get people talking,” Trettel suggests. “From metal clam-style boxes to mailing tubes, you can create a dynamic enclosure for your invitation.”

TIP: Customize invitations by adding wrap, ribbon, a motif or monogram, or using two colors of ink. –Parchment of Minnesota

Vassar adds that you can also make a “wow” statement with high-impact floral arrangements. “Upscale hotel and fine dining restaurants use this technique all the time. Do you remember the last time you stopped in awe of a large arrangement in a hotel lobby?” he points out. Using a high-impact floral arrangement can serve double-duty during a wedding: it can dress up the ceremony site and be moved over to the reception venue.

TIP: Most brides take into account the color of their bridesmaid dresses before choosing bouquets, but many forget about the colors of their venue when selecting centerpieces or floral arrangements. To avoid an awkward color combo, “Make sure you take into account the characteristics of your venue when choosing color and design selections for your big event.” –Sadie’s Couture Floral and Event Styling

TREND: Hand-tied bouquets are popular, as are romantic roses and the all-white combination of classic and timeless Lily of the Valley and orchids.

Add pizzazz and personal touches to your party through items such as canopies, tables, chairs, P.A. equipment, LCD projectors (for slideshows), décor pieces, and ceiling and design treatments, available locally at Ultimate Events (a culmination of Classic Events & Parties, Skyway Event Services, and Aarcee Party & Tent Rental), Festivities Event Services, and Event Lab. Couples can also hire event consultants and coordinators to take care of any “what ifs” on the big day, and put out any fires so the day flows seamlessly.

TIP: “The biggest decor mistake people make is not allowing their personality to come through in the vision of the day. If the day represents you, you can’t go wrong.” –Jennifer Braun, owner, Festivities Event Services

TRENDS: “We’re designing weddings and events with beads, crystals, chandeliers and unique lighting to make any event really shine.” –Jack Noble, president, Event Lab

“Color isn’t the primary source of inspiration any longer. It’s still important, and we’re seeing brides use multiple shades of the same color rather than just green and purple, for example, but we’re also seeing themes like ‘Rustic Garden’ or ‘Classic 40s,’ with color as a supporting element.” –Ultimate Events, Inc.


The Food

Gone are the days of the dinner plate simply presenting a protein, starch, and vegetable medley. According to The Wedding Guys, presentation is just as important as taste. Trettel says, “Using creative vessels such as martini glasses, or serving steak tartar in spoons, for example, can make all the difference.”

Tip: Keep it local. The Bryant Lake Bowl has a brand new catering business, with locally sourced products on the menu. BLB’s focus is on outdoor picnics and zero-waste events, in which they plan ahead to reduce waste, reuse various elements, and encourage recycling.

Trend: “Real foods and flavors are on everyone’s mind and plate lately, with an emphasis on sustainability. Everyone wants to do the right thing whenever and however they can. There’s been experimentation, too, with unique and delicious combinations, such as bacon ice cream and lavender créme brulée.” –Amy Carter, catering sales manager, Prom Catering

The Honeymoon

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. Plan your honeymoon with qualified professionals at Carrousel Travel or MLT Vacations. It’s the only time in your newly married life that you’ll be able to take a honeymoon. Make the most of it!

TIP: Hiring a travel agent 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.

Signature Weddings

Bonnie & Jim: A Root Beer Float Salut!

The venue where Bonnie and Jim Gross booked their December wedding—Academy of Holy Angels—has significant meaning to the couple: Jim was a member of the first co-ed class at ACA, and the couple had their newly adopted daughter Samantha’s baptism at the church. The chapel, with its bright stained glass windows, was adorned in ivory, cream and light green roses, white and blue hydrangea, and accents of lavender thistle. Bonnie wore a breathtaking Henry Roth original gown.

The celebration continued at the Hotel Sofitel. Guests arrived to a cocktail reception featuring wine/cheese and stout/chocolate tastings, along with other hors d’oeuvres and beverages. In remembrance of their parents, the couple had a root beer float salute. Unique features of the winter wedding included a Guinness ice bar and premium cigars adjacent to an outdoor fire pit. Chef Serge created a menu that included multiple action stations with fun interactive foods that guests enjoyed throughout the night, concluding with an outstanding French wedding cake topped with layers of fresh fruit. Foregoing table favors, the bride and groom gifted each guest overnight accommodations at the hotel so they could dance the night away to Dr. Mambo’s Combo and then awaken the next morning to a sending-off brunch.

The Details:

Venue: Hotel Sofitel
Photographer: Erika McCauley
Stationery: A Milestone Paper Co.
Gown: Mestads Bridal Salon
Formalwear: Heimie’s Haberdashery
Flowers: Summer Harsh Botanical Artistry
Band: Dr. Mambo’s Combo
Linens: Aprés Part and Tent Rental
Ice Bar: Ice Sculptures by Tom Doyle
Draping: Avant Décor
Transportation: Eclipse Transportation
Wedding Designer: The Wedding Guys®

Kimberly & Paul: A Modern Day Fairytale

The vision for Kimberly and Paul Jilek’s wedding was “fairytale wedding with a modern flare.” Every aspect of the wedding was orchestrated right down to the arrival of the bride—reminiscent of an elegant Grace Kelly—as she ascended the aisle on her father’s arm to “I Was Glad” by Parry, written for the coronation of King Edward VII. Her beautiful Amalia Carrara gown from Mestads was complemented by a stunning tulle shawl wrap cascading 20 feet behind her. The flowers, designed by Sassafras Floral and Garden Design, were fresh from local gardens and included bridal wreath spirea, peonies, and Lily of the Valley. In European style, the bridesmaids followed the bride instead of preceding her down the aisle.

Following the ceremony, a “Cake and Tea Sandwich Luncheon” was catered by Lunds and Byerly’s. A canopy of chiffon featured the wedding cake, with tea sandwiches displayed on small tables accented with white lanterns. Following the luncheon, guests mingled and sent the couple off in a festooned car. The next stop? A dinner celebration at restaurant Max in Hotel Minneapolis.

The main focus of the décor at restaurant Max was the head table, adorned with low florals. The menu was beautifully prepared butler-passed hors d’oeuvres, a deconstructed baby green salad, and a duet plate of grilled filet of beef and a seared scallop served with fingerling potatoes, grilled asparagus, oyster mushrooms, and tomato vinaigrette. Dessert was a shared tasting plate trio of seasonal sorbets. Speeches were cheered with a toast of champagne and sparkling water.

The groom recorded his own rendition of the first dance as a surprise to the bride. Dancing continued into the wee hours of the night.

The Details:

Venue: Hotel Minneapolis/restaurant Max
Photographer: Coppersmith Photography
Stationery: A Milestone Paper Co.
Gown: Mestads Bridal Salon
Flowers: Sassafras Floral and Garden Design
Videography: Forever Films
DJ: Complete Music
Linens: Aprés Party and Tent Rental
Cake and Catering: Lunds and Byerly’s
Draping: Avant Décor
Transportation: Eclipse Transportation
Décor and Lighting: BeEvents
Hair and Makeup: Bridal Beauty Artists Network
Wrap: Che Bella
Formalwear: The Wedding Shoppe
Wedding Designer: The Wedding Guys®

Deb & Phil: Home is where the Heart is

For Deb and Phil Dow, it was important to have an intimate, private ceremony with only close family and friends when they exchanged vows. They achieved this by getting married under a stunning pergola in the garden of their Kenwood-area home in Minneapolis.

Wait staff served celebratory glasses of champagne and San Pellegrino, and Deb’s children, Allison and Thomas, performed a heart-warming duet. The flowerpots at the entrance to the home echoed the design in the garden, with flowers in cream and white placed throughout the home. The flowers under the pergola were created as contemporary art with suspended floral and mercury mirror balls. Deb wore a light silver blue fit-and-flare gown by Monique Lhuillier. The bridesmaids wore ivory dupioni silk tea-length dresses.

The ceremony was followed by a joyous evening filled with family, friends, love and laughter—as stated on their invitation—at one of their favorite restaurants, Mission in downtown Minneapolis. Another popular trend, a restaurant reception, gave the 120 guests the option to order off a pre-selected menu encompassing five different entrees as well as individual sides and selections of wine with dinner. Since the environment of the restaurant provided instant décor, the focus was on flowers. A sea of phalaenopsis and cattleya orchids towered over the tables. Additional details included olive satin napkins wrapped around copper glass chargers with laser cut menu cards tucked inside. The tables glowed with candles as saxophonist Don Washington played into the evening.

The Details:

Venue: Mission Restaurant
Photographer: Coppersmith Photography
Stationery: A Milestone Paper Co.
Gown: Monique Lhuillier
Flowers: Martha’s Flowers
Music: Don Washington
Music: Birchwood String Quartet
Linens: Aprés Party and Tent Rental
Cake: Lucia’s
Wait Staff: Hire A Host
Wedding Designer: The Wedding Guys®

Recognized internationally as leading authorities on wedding celebrations, The Wedding Guys, Matthew Trettel and Bruce Vassar, helped plan the creative Signature Weddings featured in this section. If you would like to hire them to plan a unique Signature Wedding for you, contact Bruce at 612-770-3635 or


Resource Guide


Bryant Lake Bowl

Buca Di Beppo
Burnsville: 952-892-7272
Eden Prairie: 952-934-9463
Maple Grove: 763-494-3466
Minneapolis: 612-288-0138
St. Paul: 651-772-4388


The Deco Catering

Heartland Restaurant


Mintáhoe Catering & Events

Prom Catering






Event Lab
Festivities event services
Ultimate Events, Inc.


Sadie’s Couture Floral and Event Styling


Carrousel Travel
Toll Free: 800-800-6508
MLT Vacations
Delta Vacations: 800-800-1504
Continental Vacations: 800-829-7777
Worry Free Vacations: 888-225-5658


The Traveling Photo Booth


Parchment of Minnesota


Arrowwood Resort

Best Western Superior Inn
800-842-VIEW (8439)

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres

The Lodge At Brainerd Lakes

The Lodge on Lake Detroit

Radisson Plaza Hotel Minneapolis

The Westin Edina Galleria





Wedding Planners/Coordinators

The Wedding Guys