Art of Love

Museums and art galleries put creative spins on urban weddings.

Soap Factory
With an industrial-chic look and expansive galleries, the Soap Factory in Minneapolis offers a “tabula rasa” of sorts for reception décor. Emma Berg and her fiancé Ben Olson chose to host their wedding celebration at the riverside warehouse because they wanted to immerse their guests in a creative environment that reflected who they are as a couple.

“The blank canvas of the gallery is what we enjoyed most,” says Berg. “Because the space includes white walls, exposed brick and concrete, every detail that we added felt like it glowed. Also, the size of the gallery and the separate rooms allowed us to keep the evening flowing from one room to the next, without worry for clean-up.”

Built in 1892, the Soap Factory is the oldest unconverted warehouse in Minneapolis. The 12,000-square-foot space is the third-largest contemporary art gallery in the Twin Cities, teeming with distressed elements.

The gallery itself specializes in showing younger, emerging artists, explains executive director Ben Heywood. When art isn’t covering the walls, the Soap Factory rents the facility for $150 per hour for wedding receptions and other events. “We tend to capture the attention of arts-minded people who are willing to work with this unusual space.” The warehouse has restroom facilities, but no heating or air conditioning, so it works best for fall weddings. The gallery in which Berg and Olson held their ceremony boasted simplicity: white wood folding chairs for the 250 guests and three Tord Boontje Midsummer lights adorning the front of the space. An additional room was decorated with white tablecloths, piles of white lights in the corners, and square vases with single fuchsia roses resting in pink water.

“Because the space is so raw, people not familiar with it were a bit apprehensive at first,” Berg says. “But once they arrived and saw how it really was a representation of Ben and I and that we wanted to share that with them, they couldn’t help but love it.”

518 2nd St. SE | Minneapolis
612.623.9176 |

Minnesota History Center
For many couples, a sense of grandeur and stately ambiance is the epitome of how a wedding reception should feel. That’s why more and more couples are choosing the Minnesota History Center. The building boasts towering windows and graceful marble columns, and a 65-foot skylit dome ushers guests to a rotunda, which leads to a beautiful open lawn ideal for photo ops.

“Dinner is served on level two—accessed by a grand and open central staircase—where guests are greeted by sweeping terraces that overlook the St. Paul skyline and cathedral,” says Michelle Kirkwold, general manager and director of catering at the center. The clean, contemporary design offers a wonderful backdrop for any event, simple or extravagant, she says, with very little extraneous decor needed to create a classic, upscale environment. If you’d like to personalize the space, it’s possible to do so in so many ways, she adds.

Creative-minded newlyweds Shawn Trebnick-Anderson and her husband Ken wanted a reception venue that reflected their unique style. Their wedding took place on the center’s third-level concourse in front of a 2½-story window overlooking the Capitol. “The views are absolutely stunning,” says Shawn. “And the museum, with its distinctive feel and contemporary architecture, encompassed everything that we were looking for.”

The center can accommodate 300 to 450 people for sit-down dinners and 1,200-plus for cocktail and hors d’oeuvres receptions, both of which are orchestrated and serviced by the center’s Bon Appétit catering department.

345 Kellogg Blvd. W. | St. Paul
651.259.3000 |

American Swedish Institute
With its turrets and towers, the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis is considered by many to be the Twin Cities’ only “castle.” The historic mansion, built for newspaper publisher Swan Turnblad in the early 1900s, boasts sweeping staircases, glorious fireplaces, and magnificently carved mahogany, oak, and walnut woodwork that add a distinctive aura to receptions.

“The castle-like ambiance of the building seemed classical and whimsical all at the same time,” says Anna Martin, who recently held her wedding at the institute. “It was much more reasonably priced than any other place. It also offered the ability to choose your own caterer. This was a big plus because we had very specific ideas about the food.”

According to Katy Epler, the institute’s group tours and rental manager, receptions at the mansion typically include a cocktail hour in which light hors d’oeuvres are served, followed by a sit-down or buffet dinner in the institute’s banquet facility.

“We try to work with each couple to make their event truly their own,” Epler says. The institute’s in-house caterer offers a variety of menu options, including a traditional Swedish mix of culinary delights for couples that want to incorporate a Nordic dimension into their celebration.

2600 Park Ave. | Minneapolis
612.871.4907 |

Rosalux Gallery
At Rosalux, an artist-owned gallery in downtown Minneapolis, creativity truly shines—not just in the artwork gracing the walls, but in the way couples use the space to create a reception site all their own. The gallery, which has a capacity for 150 people, is best used for an open house or “cocktail and appetizer”-style event.

“The artwork on display gives the gallery a hip, urban vibe,” says Kate Van Cleve, rental manager at Rosalux. It’s an ideal location for a mature bride or couples who want something more low-key and casual, she adds.

“Rosalux was exactly what we were looking for,” says recent bride Molly McCoy, especially since she and her fiancé weren’t interested in a traditional, sit-down dinner reception. “Not only did it have a chic look and a great vision for selecting their art, but they gave us the flexibility we needed. It was a real obstacle to find reception space with flexible catering options and no catering minimum. We knew we wanted cake, wine and beer and Rosalux encouraged us to work with any caterers we desired.”

The gallery does, however, partner with several caterers like Chowgirls Killer Catering, Prom Catering, and Never Enough Thyme. “Our caterers are small, independent businesses, not unlike the members of our gallery,” Van Cleve says. “Most use natural, local ingredients and are familiar with our layout.”

In addition to a kitchen for on-site cooking, the gallery offers dining tables, although any specific furniture rental is the client’s responsibility. They also have two coordinators who help clients through their event logistics.

“And the best part of selecting an art gallery: No need to decorate,” McCoy notes. “We had a few cocktail tables with black linens and bought some potted plants for the tabletops for guests to take home. The art that was on display at the time was really amazing and made for good conversation among our guests. The space allowed us to host the kind of party our guests would expect from us—something unusual and festive.”

1011 Washington Ave. S. | Minneapolis
612.747.3942 |