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Best of 2010 Winners

 Being named the Best of 2010 is no small feat when you consider who casts the votes: brides and grooms planning the biggest day of their lives. According to more than 6,000 online ballots, these 40 vendors represent the best in the business when it comes to all things bridal in Minnesota.


Top of the Tiara 

The finalists are: Gateaux Inc., Bellagala, and Semple Mansion
The winner is: Semple Mansion
Minneapolis | 612.290.4448

    With a master’s degree in public history and museum studies focusing on the Victorian era, Amanda Whetstine naturally wanted her Minneapolis wedding to have a historical angle. While that might seem a tall order in a city known more for modern metal-and-glass structures, Whetstine found her dream location in Semple Mansion, a restored Italian Renaissance-style home in the heart of Minneapolis.
    “I fell in love with Semple Mansion right away,” says Whetstine, who says the restored frescoes, mahogany woodwork and dramatic staircase gave the property an air of opulence that perfectly complemented her wedding theme of Victorian elegance. “I liked that having the ceremony in the parlor meant I could make a grand entrance down the staircase.”
    Whetstine also appreciated the expertise of Katherine Hendrickson, Semple Mansion’s executive director and a constant source of calm—and information—for brides. Hendrickson was on-site for the duration of Whetstine’s Oct. 10, 2009, ceremony and reception; she even moved the gifts to a locked room so the wedding party could cut loose. “It’s nice to know that if something goes wrong, Katherine is there to deal with it,” explains Whetstine.
    Because Semple Mansion offers ceremony and reception space—not to mention ample parking—Whetstine took advantage of the bridal chamber for pre-wedding preparations (and mimosas), while the groomsmen enjoyed beers and billiards in a separate space; it all meant jitters were kept to a minimum. “Semple is so comfortable and laid-back that it makes your whole wedding experience, from start to finish, memorable and beautiful and perfect!”

Best Rehearsal Dinner Venue
The finalists are:
Al & Alma’s Charter Cruises, Buca di Beppo, and Loring Pasta Bar
The winner is: Buca di Beppo
Multiple locations
“Buca had a lot of different room sizes to choose from, and we chose a private space where we could be loud and have a good time without interruption. They also let us change our order a week before and it wasn’t a problem. I thought they really went above and beyond for us.” –Kirstyn Fulton, married July 26, 2009, at the St. Paul College Club

Best Bridal Gowns
The finalists are:
Monique Lhuillier, Grace Bridal Boutique, and The Wedding Shoppe
The winner is: The Wedding Shoppe
St. Paul | 651.294.4991
“I went to The Wedding Shoppe because I’d heard about their large assortment and because I knew others who’d had good experiences there. When I described to the attendant what I was looking for she understood immediately what I was saying and said she had the perfect dress for me. That’s the one I bought!" –Kate N.G. Sommers, married Oct. 19, 2007, at Nicollet Island Pavilion

Best Formalwear
The finalists are:
Savvi Formalwear, Men’s Wearhouse, and Heimie’s Haberdashery
The winner is: Heimie’s Haberdashery
St. Paul | 651.224.2354
“Heimie’s has so much character and classic style to it that other places just don’t have. During the fitting they had beer and cigars for us, and the whole experience was awesome. I would 100 percent recommend them.” –Charlie Koch, married Oct. 10, 2009, at Camrose Hill Farm

Best Caterer for a Small Wedding (fewer than 200 guests)
The finalists are:
Chowgirls Killer Catering, Fabulous Catering, and We Cater to You
The winner is: Chowgirls Killer Catering
Minneapolis | 612.203.0786
“I liked that the Chowgirls were very easy to talk to. We had a lot of people coming in from out of town and I wanted them to have food from around the area so they could feel like they were experiencing where we live. The Chowgirls were able to create an all-local, all-seasonal menu. We even had a couple guests who were vegan and they made them special plates." –Sarah Fassbender Novak, married Oct. 3, 2009, at James J. Hill Library

Best Reception Site for a Small Wedding (fewer than 200 guests)
The finalists are:
Semple Mansion, Calhoun Beach Club, and James J. Hill Library
The winner is: Calhoun Beach Club
Minneapolis | 612.238.4444
“Calhoun Beach Club is so naturally beautiful it didn’t cost a lot of money for it to look gorgeous. And we loved the caterer! My husband and I both ate our full entrées, which you never hear about at weddings. We even took one home for the next day.” –Kerry Casey, married June 21, 2009, at Calhoun Beach Club

Best Gift Registry
The finalists are:
Target, Macy’s, and Crate and Barrel
The winner is: Target
Multiple locations | 800.440.0680
“Target is a very versatile store to register with. Not only do they have high quality, practical items for the household (dish racks and vacuums) but also electronics and nice pieces for decorating. Plus, all of your guests will be familiar with it.” –Katie Grutsch, married July 25, 2009, at Christos Union Depot Place

Best Reception Site for a Large Wedding (more than 200 guests)
The finalists are:
Semple Mansion, Calhoun Beach Club, and Carlson Towers Rotunda
The winner is: Carlson Towers Rotunda
Minnetonka | 952.249.9713
“The Rotunda is just stunning, absolutely beautiful. The rental fee actually included quite a number of things, which made it a really good value for us. The fact that we got a day with a coordinator sealed the deal. The professionalism of the staff meant I didn’t have to worry about a thing; I just trusted that everything would go well because of how they presented themselves.” –Rebecca Morris, married Sept. 25, 2009, at Carlson Towers Rotunda

Best Cake
The finalists are:
Buttercream, Gateaux Inc., and Queen of Cakes
The winner is: Buttercream
St. Paul | 651.642.9400
“We did a tasting and it was so different than any other cake I’d had; it wasn’t sugary, and there’s nothing artificial. Buttercream was a one-stop shop for us. We didn’t even look anywhere else after meeting with them. And two people who came to our wedding are going with Buttercream after tasting our cake!” –Tatum Brevig, married Aug. 22, 2009, at the Crowne Plaza in St. Paul

Best Rental & Décor
The finalists are:
Linen Effects, Lasting Impressions by Amy, and Après Party & Tent Rental
The winner is: Linen Effects
Minneapolis | 612.355.2500
“The thing I liked most about Linen Effects was that there was a showroom where we were able to see all of the tablecloth options as well as try out how they would look on a table. This gave me a much better sense of what I liked and didn’t like as well as what worked well together.” –Allison Booth, married Aug. 8, 2009, at the White Bear Yacht Club

Best Photography
The finalists are:
Vick Photography, Spencer Combs, and Studio 306
The winner is: Spencer Combs
“Spencer is one of the most positive, energetic, warm people you will ever meet. He starts everything off with a hug and he means it; he’s not being cheesy. It’s very clear that he’s excited about his work, he loves what he does, and he loves his clients. And we really liked our pictures!” –Nicole Stover, married Oct. 11, 2009, at Dakota Lodge

Best Travel Agency
The finalists are:
AAA, Travel Leaders, and Busy Bee Travel Agency
The winner is: Busy Bee Travel Agency
“Deb made everything so easy. We had a lot on our plate and she was super-organized and helpful and did all the legwork of finding us a variety of destinations that would give us the most for our money. She even followed up afterwards to see how our trip was.” –Andrew Furman, married Nov. 17, 2007, in Winnipeg, Canada

Best Videographer
The finalists are:
Princess Bride Cinematic Videography, United Video Inc., and Capture Studios
The winner is: Capture Studios
Minneapolis | 612.237.2485 |
“[Owner] Matt Brue has a very contemporary and engaging style that makes the videos very personal. A lot of wedding videos are corny and you don’t want to watch them more than once, but he gets a feel for the couple and goes with it so the finished product is unique.” –Charlene Miller, married Jan. 1, 2010, at Villa Siena in Gilbert, Ariz.

Best Caterer for a Large Wedding (more than 200 guests)
The finalists are:
D’Amico Catering, Bon Appétit, and Fabulous Catering
The winner is: D’Amico Catering
Minneapolis | 612.238.4444 |
“My aunt commented that you know you have a great caterer when everything is getting done but you don’t notice it happening, and that was exactly how D’Amico worked. [It was like] everything was magically being set up and served! Plus the food had the same great quality and flavor at our tasting as it did when served to 300 people.” –Kim Hamlin, married Aug. 8, 2008, at McNamara Alumni Center

Best Transportation
The finalists are:
Renee’s Royal Valet, Eclipse Transportation, and Total Luxury Limousine Services
The winner is: Renee’s Royal Valet
Plymouth | 763.551.1919 |
“I really liked what Renee’s had available as far as the cars, and they were really easy to work with—we could always get in contact with someone easily, and the contract was easy to go through. As a vendor I thought they were at the top of their game, and I really liked working with them.” –Jessica Stevens, married Sept. 12, 2009, at the Saint Paul Hotel

Best Jeweler
The finalists are:
Wedding Day Diamonds, Arthur’s Jewelers, and Continental Diamond
The winner is: Continental Diamond
St. Louis Park | 952.593.5602 |
“I found a setting I really liked at another jeweler and Andy researched it and significantly beat their price. He made a million calls and seemed happy to do it. They also modified some earrings for my wedding day—they will really do anything to help you.” –Elisabeth Beal, married July 18, 2009, at the Minneapolis Club

Best Band
The finalists are:
Synergy, The R Factor, and Metro Jam
The winner is: Synergy
Edina | 952.926.9927 |
“Synergy picked up immediately on what my guests were into; if they played one song and the floor was packed and people were leaving the dance floor with the next song, then the following song pulled people back out. That’s what impressed me the most: They were really in tune to what people wanted and adjusted accordingly.” –Jill Metz, married Oct. 24, 2009, at Brackett’s Crossing Country Club

Best Valet
The finalists are:
Class A Valet, Tradition Valet, and Metropolitan Valet
The winner is: Tradition Valet
Minneapolis | 952.233.2763 |
“Tradition was really easy to work with. They were responsive to our inquiries and very courteous to our guests. A lot of our guests needed cabs to get to their hotels, so the valets walked down the block to flag them down for everyone so no one had to wait when they wanted to leave. They made everything really easy for us.” –Lynne Leaf, married Oct. 9, 2009, at FIVE Event Center

Best Spa for the Bridal Party
The finalists are:
Spalon Montage, Juut Salonspa, and Ivy Spa Club
The winner is: Spalon Montage
Multiple locations | 952.915.2900 |
“My sister used Spalon for her wedding in May, so I knew how relaxing it was. When it was my turn for pampering I knew it was a good choice. They did a great job of scheduling my group in a block so our manicures and pedicures were all together and no one had to be off on their own.” –Carrie Wittenberg, married Oct. 9, 2009, at the Saint Paul Hotel

Best DJ
The finalists are:
Flow DJ, Midwest Sound DJ Entertainment, and Instant Request Disc Jockey Entertainment
The winner is: Instant Request Disc Jockey Entertainment
Bloomington | 952.934.6110 |
“The DJ kept the dance floor packed, which is how I could tell my guests liked what he was doing. I liked everything he played, and I liked the online event coordinator where I could pick out songs. People said they had a lot of fun. Instant Request was one of the best vendors I worked with.” –Abby Staerkel, married Sept. 5, 2009, at St. Anthony Main Event Center

Best Outdoor Reception Site
The finalists are:
Carlson Towers Rotunda, Nicollet Island Pavilion, and Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
The winner is: Nicollet Island Pavilion
Minneapolis | 612.253.0255 |
“Nicollet Island Pavilion had a great combination of scenery and richness of character in a historic building. My guests could go outside, walk by the river and enjoy the skyline, and the staff had prepared a backup plan [in case of rain] for every component of the day, which took pressure off of me.” –Katy Johncox, married Sept. 19, 2009, at Nicollet Island Pavilion

Best Ceremony Music
The finalists are:
Four Voices String Quartet, Diane Martinson Wedding Music, and Bellagala
The winner is: Four Voices String Quartet
612.724.3591 |
“We got their sample CD and thought they were much better than any of the other quartets we’d listened to. They had a fuller and more professional sound, and their level of experience was really impressive.” –Danielle Povolny, married June 20, 2009, at Calhoun Beach Club

Best Alterations
The finalists are:
Louise Kegley, The Dressmaker, and Mary Kay’s Bridal
The winner is: The Dressmaker
Edina | 952.929.9475 |
“I really liked Kristen [Olsen] when I first met her. She made me feel like she knew what she was going to do, and she listened to what I wanted. I was really confident in her skills and her price point was very fair. I was very happy with the final product too.” –Colleen Clark, married Oct. 3, 2009, at Cinema Ballroom

Best Ceremony Venue
The finalists are:
Basilica of St. Mary, Carlson Towers Rotunda, and Semple Mansion
The winner is: Basilica of St. Mary
Minneapolis | 612.333.1381 |
“We liked everything about the Basilica, and it was one of the best decisions we made about our wedding. When we would tell people where we were getting married their jaws would drop because it’s such a gorgeous venue.” –Carrie Schmid, married Aug. 7, 2009, at Doubletree Park Place

Best Mother-of-the-Bride Apparel
The finalists are:
Dugo, Nordstrom, and Von Maur
The winner is: Dugo
Edina | 952.746.4440 |
“I walked into Dugo and literally the first dress I tried on, I bought. They have a really great selection of dresses and separates, and the alterations are very reasonable. I definitely would recommend Dugo to any mother of the bride!” –Marilyn Benson, mother of Meredith Benson, married Apr. 18, 2009, at Windows on Minnesota

Best Hair & Makeup
The finalists are:
Emily J. Hair + Makeup, Brett Dorrian Artistry, and Smart and Chic Bride
The winner is: Emily J. Hair + Makeup
612.590.8174 |
“Emily [Koski] has great style, great makeup, and great hair, so you know you’re in good hands! Working with her feels like you’re just hanging out with one of the girls—we chatted and laughed and she made everything really comfortable and stress-free.” –Britta Gustafson, married Oct. 10, 2009, at Café Lurcat

Best Invitations
The finalists are:
Epitome, Amy Zaroff Events + Design, and Watermark Stationery
The winner is: Amy Zaroff Events + Design
Edina | 952.941.3371 |
“The services were really personalized: You sit down with one person who works with you through the whole process and helps you look through all the different options. They have quite a variety to choose from, and they help you go over the different color combinations and styles, right down to the different font choices.” –Shandi Zurek, married Sept. 7, 2007, at St. Boniface Catholic Church

Best Officiant
The finalists are:
Judge Thomas Armstrong, Rev. Tomkin Coleman, and Jim Albani
The winner is: Rev. Tomkin Coleman
St. Paul | 612.986.5528 |
“Tomkin is really personable and original; he doesn’t serve the standard typical patter you hear in wedding sermons. We met with him to talk about our relationship and our thoughts on marriage and each other, and he took that and really did something unique for us. He was really diligent and spent a lot of time with us to make it special.” –Kris Butler, married May 23, 2008, at Stella’s Prestige Oyster Bar

Best Dance Instructor
The finalists are:
Bellagala, Arthur Murray Dance Studio, and Brian Sostek
The winner is: Brian Sostek
Minneapolis | 612.384.6914 |
“Brian is a really funny and down-to-earth person; very approachable. I was pretty nervous about dancing lessons and he made it go so well and boosted my confidence tremendously! I highly recommend him to anyone, at any experience level. He’ll pick you up from whatever level you’re at and make you even better.” –Amy Rudser, married Sept. 26, 2009, at Grand Event Center

Best Planner
The finalists are:
Mi Mi Design, Ambiente Wedding & Event Planning, and Lasting Impressions Weddings and Event Coordination
The winner is: Ambiente Wedding & Event Planning
612.285.2955 |
“[Owner] Joan [Nilsen] has been so helpful and knowledgeable about the entire process. She set up appointments, recommended some fabulous vendors, and helped me understand how to get the best value for the items I wanted. I could immediately see her not only as a great planner but also as a friend.” –Melissa Jordan, getting married Sept. 11, 2010, at the Landmark Center

Best Custom Dressmaker
The finalists are:
Joynoelle, The Dressmaker, and Carmelle Elizabeth of Grace Bridal Boutique
The winner is: Joynoelle
Minneapolis | 612.209.7822 |
“Joy has this really intuitive sense of feminine style, and I appreciated that. She didn’t get it from anyone but herself, which I thought was so cool. I had ideas and fabric picked out, and Joy was really good at knowing what looks good with your body type—she really knows the different cuts and lengths and fittings that will make you look great.” –Christine Bussler, married Sept. 19, 2009, in Door County, Wis.

Best Talent Agency
The finalists are:
Macken Music and Entertainment Agency, Bellagala, and Marsh Productions
The winner is: Macken Music and Entertainment Agency
Minneapolis | 952.832.5555 |
“Both my husband and I had a great time working with Macken Music. They really listened to what our expectations were. My husband plays jazz, so he explained exactly what style of jazz he liked and they only showed us jazz trios that fit that description. We went there thinking it would be the typical appointment where you keep listening to really bad wedding bands, but everything we heard was really good.” –Mercedes Gutierrez, married July 4, 2009, at Bayview Event Center

Best Florist
The finalists are:
Floral Logic, Just Bloomed, and Richfield Flowers & Events
The winner is: Floral Logic
Minneapolis | 612.767.6336 |
“[Owner] Eric [Sandstrom] is a down-to-earth man with a creative mind. He worked around our schedules to meet with us on a Saturday and spent hours picking our brains to create flower arrangements that satisfied our preferences. He exceeded our expectations. Our guests continue to talk about our biodegradable centerpieces. He was a big part of the most amazing day in our lives.” –Stacey Seibel, married Aug. 1, 2009, at Walker Art Center

Best Wedding-Night Hotel
The finalists are:
Saint Paul Hotel, Graves 601, and W Minneapolis - The Foshay
The winner is: Saint Paul Hotel
St. Paul | 651.292.9292 |
“I really liked the historic aspect of the Saint Paul Hotel; it felt really Old World and classy. We had no problem arranging things with them, and we got an upgrade on our room. It felt like they really stepped up and brought their A-game, and we had a great time there.” –Dina Goodman, married May 24, 2009, at Landmark Center

Best Calligrapher
The finalists are:
Rosann Konieczny, Kathy Moon at Epitome Papers, and Crystal Kluge
The winner is: Rosann Konieczny
Golden Valley | 763.221.4584 |
“I had a really short deadline and asked her to do the invitations in a weekend, and she said yes. It was really impressive. She was quick and did the most beautiful calligraphy job I’d ever seen.” –Christine Hartman, married Sept. 12, 2009, at her home in Sunfish Lake

Best Favors
The finalists are:
The Traveling Photo Booth, Gateaux Inc., and Lasting Impressions by Amy
The winner is: Lasting Impressions By Amy
White Bear Lake | 651.387.3881 |
“[Owner] Amy Maranda is so enthusiastic that she gets you really excited too. She makes the process fun, and really, her work says it all. Plus, she gets back to you right away. I had to send some people three e-mails before I got a call back, but she responded right away.” –Katie Weidell, married July 10, 2010, at Tanners Brook Golf Course

Best Hotel for Guests
The finalists are:
Graves 601, Saint Paul Hotel, and W Minneapolis - The Foshay
The winner is: Graves 601
Minneapolis | 612.677.1100 |
“The sales manager at the Graves was very responsive, and their contracting process was straightforward. It was a relief to know that we wouldn’t incur any penalties for not filling up our block of rooms, but by the same token, we could expand the number of rooms if we needed to. I also really liked that the Graves set up a personal URL for our guests so that they could book online easily rather than needing to call in with specific event codes.” –Letta Page, married Oct. 11, 2009, at the Craftsman Restaurant

Best Attendant Gifts
The finalists are:
Che Bella, Patina, and Continental Diamond
The winner is: Patina
Multiple locations |
“I went to Patina because it’s my favorite store—they always have a lot of unique and cute stuff. I’ve shopped there for a long time. I sort of had an idea of what I wanted, and they got together a bunch of necklaces from all their stores for me to look through, which was really nice.” –Amy Prawalsky, married Sept. 18, 2009, at Plymouth Creek Center

Best Honeymoon in Minnesota
The finalists are:
Bluefin Bay Resort, Grand Marais, and Superior Shores
The winner is: Bluefin Bay Resort
Tofte | 800.bluefin |
“Being on the lake on the North Shore is a really serene atmosphere, and really quiet; we felt like we were the only ones staying there! Whenever we wanted something or had a question it was handled right away, and we got exactly what we wanted. It was a place where we could relax.” –Courtney Stenseth, married Oct. 10, 2009, at Holiday Inn Burnsville

Best Attendant Dresses
The finalists are:
Flutter Boutique, The Wedding Shoppe, and Priscilla of Boston
The winner is: Flutter Boutique
Minneapolis | 612.216.1926 |
“I liked the whole atmosphere at Flutter. They have really unusual dress lines that are unavailable at other places. And I liked how you have the whole store to yourself so you get great service!” –Karoline Sperling, married June 19, 2009, at Calhoun Beach Club

Best Accessories
The finalists are:
Brides of France, The Wedding Shoppe, and Che Bella
The winner is: Che Bella
St. Paul | 651.209.8822 |
“I had a fabulous experience. The staff was fun, professional, and not pushy at all. They offered honest advice about what accessories would look good with my skin tone, hair color, and wedding gown. I loved being able to touch and try everything before I purchased it.” –Laura Paisley, married June 26, 2009, at the Minnesota History Center

Thank you to our awards ceremony partners:

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