Best of 2011 Winners

Best of
Written by
Monica Wright


Second only to saying “I do” to your significant other is signing on the dotted line with a wedding vendor: You’re putting trust, commitment and plenty of expectations in the hands of someone else. These vendors shouldered the weight of the most important day of many Minnesota couples’ lives, and according to nearly 10,000 voters, did so with aplomb.

The finalists are: The Traveling Photo Booth, Mobile Photo Wall, Bellagala
The winner is: The Traveling Photo Booth
Minneapolis | 612.605.9203 |
“The Traveling Photo Booth has amazing customer service. They immediately responded to all of our questions and had worked at our venue before, so I didn’t have to worry about coordinating the setup or giving them any special directions. The photo booth attendant was a big hit; her fun personality made the guests comfortable, and she made sure everyone took advantage of the photo booth.” ––Rachel Lorentz, married November 6, 2010, at the Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis; reception at Nicollet Island Pavilion, Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Jim Albani, Reverend Tomkin Coleman, Judge Tom Armstrong
The winner is: Reverend Tomkin Coleman
St. Paul | 612.986.5528 |
“Tomkin was calm, affirming, and he gently guided us through the wedding process. I was able to totally relax into our wedding because it was clear that Tomkin had a handle on what needed to be done, what our wishes for our day were, and for what the other people at our wedding would expect.” –Tammy Hendrickson, married November 15, 2003, at The Reserve, Plymouth

The finalists are:
Bridal Accents Couture, Monique Lhuillier, l’atelier couture bridal boutique
The winner is: Bridal Accents Couture
Savage | 952.846.4496 |
“I had a great experience with Bridal Accents Couture. The staff is so friendly there. They were just as invested in finding a dress for me as I was. It is a genuine experience, one in which they focus on you and really make you feel excited about being a bride and looking for your dress.”  –Robin Andersen, married July 9, 2010, at Christ Presbyterian Church, Minneapolis; reception at Carlson Towers Rotunda, Minnetonka

The finalists are: Buttercream, Gateaux Inc., Queen of Cakes
The winner is: Buttercream
St. Paul | 651.642.9400 |
“I was especially impressed with Buttercream’s ability to match the colors we had chosen for our wedding. Everybody at the wedding was impressed with how beautifully decorated the cake was, but I received even more comments on how amazing the cake tasted. We had a marble banana layer and a layer of chocolate Kahlua. To this day, my husband will occasionally say, ‘I really wish I had a slice of our wedding cake.’ ” –Jenna Hart, married October 29, 2010, at Wabasha Street Caves, St. Paul

The finalists are:
Camrose Hill Farm, The Carlson Towers Rotunda, Nicollet Island Pavilion
The winner is: Nicollet Island Pavilion
Minneapolis | 612.253.0255 |
“We got multiple comments from guests about the pavilion. Everyone thought the setup was beautiful and loved the outdoor area with the view. We also got comments that the food was really good. Everything ran very smoothly; there weren’t any problems during the reception. They were very organized during the planning process and had everything set up just as we wanted it when we got there.” –Allison Weyer, married September 7, 2007, at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church, Minneapolis; reception at Nicollet Island Pavilion

The finalists are:
Midwest Sound DJ Entertainment, Four Voices String Quartet, Sharon Planer
The winner is: Midwest Sound DJ Entertainment
St. Paul | 651.644.4111 |
“As soon as I hired them, Midwest Sound made me feel like I didn’t have to worry about the music, because I knew that they had it handled. It was so nice after spending months planning the wedding that I didn’t have to worry about a single thing that night. I just showed up, and they were there with everything under control.” –Toni Pender, married November 6, 2010, at the DoubleTree Park Place, St. Louis Park

The finalists are:
The Wedding Shoppe, David’s Bridal, Flutter Boutique
The winner is: Flutter Boutique
Minneapolis | 612.216.1926 |
“I was impressed that Flutter set aside time specifically for our wedding party; most places do that for a bride, but not for bridesmaids. They also had little glasses with lemon water, which was classy. The space is really cute and warm, and even the dressing room is nice and roomy. It’s just a really unique space, a nice change from going to a department store.” –Karen Terhark, married July 3, 2010, in her parents’ backyard; reception at 317 on Rice Park, St. Paul

The finalists are:
Crystal Kluge, Rosann Konieczny, Kathy Moon at Epitome Papers
The winner is: Rosann Konieczny
Golden Valley | 763.221.4584 |
“Rosann put all the wedding guests’ names on little doves that were perched on martini glasses with the guests’ seating assignment and dinner selection. The calligraphy was beautiful, very elegant! Our guests were dazzled by the beauty and creativity. Every detail matters in a wedding, and our calligraphy was outstanding!” –Anne Kidder, married July 3, 2010, at Windows on Minnesota, Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Grand View Lodge, Bluefin Bay, Superior Shores Resort
The winner is: Bluefin Bay
Tofte | 218.663.7296 |
“Bluefin Bay was beautiful for the fall; we were right on Lake Superior. We loved the massage services, used the rental bikes, and visited Bluefin’s on-site restaurant and neighboring towns like Grand Marais. And the fact that they refilled the logs for our fireplace every day was great!” –Amanda McKee, married October 4, 2008, at Emmanuel Christian Center, Fridley; reception at Majors, Roseville

The finalists are:
Joynoelle, The Dressmaker, Tara LaTour
The winner is: Joynoelle
Minneapolis | 612.209.7822 |
“No matter who you are as a bride, Joy makes you feel comfortable. She was able to make dresses for my partner and me that are reflective of each of our styles—which are very different! We didn’t want our dresses to compete with each other and she understood that by creating two amazingly different custom dresses.”  –Alyson Newquist, married July 23, 2011, at Julian James Place, Finlayson, Minn.

The finalists are:
Cathedral of Saint Paul, Basilica of Saint MaryThe Carlson Towers Rotunda
The winner is: Cathedral of Saint Paul
St. Paul | 651.228.1766 |
“The cathedral was an easy choice for us, because, besides religion being a big factor in our wedding, it’s obviously a beautiful building. We worked with deacon Jim Meyer for our spiritual preparation and marriage classes, and we liked him so much that we requested he preside over the wedding. Every time we drive through the city and see the beautiful cathedral, it’s a reminder of a really special day.” – Leah Schultz, married October 17, 2009, at the Cathedral of St. Paul; reception at International Market Square, Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Crate & Barrel, Macy’s, Target
The winner is: Target
Multiple locations | 800.591.3869 |
“We chose Target for our registry because of convenience, the number of stores and the great variety of their products. It was easy having both an online and in-store registry that our guests could access. And our returns were really easy too: We could take anything back that was on our registry even if we didn’t have a receipt.” –Jess Spaude, married August 7, 2010, at the Crown Room, Rogers

The finalists are:
Graves 601 Hotel, Saint Paul Hotel, W–The Foshay
The winner is: Graves 601 Hotel
Minneapolis | 612.677.1100 |
“We received a lot of positive feedback from friends and family who stayed at the Graves. When many of our guests saw the deal we were able to get, people who weren’t initially planning to stay overnight ended up getting rooms. Out-of-town guests made a weekend out of it and became familiar with Cosmos, the chic bar on the fourth floor, and Kieran’s, the Irish pub next door.” –Amber Rohde, married October 16, 2010, at Wesley United Methodist, Minneapolis; reception at Graves 601 Hotel, Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Watermark Stationery, Paperista, Epitome Papers
The winner is: Watermark Stationery
Wayzata | 952.473.7230 |
“Watermark was so easy to deal with. I went in there one afternoon, picked out an invitation and we went through the wording, and from then on everything was done through email. They were very accommodating to what I needed. If you don’t want to deal with addressing the invitations yourself or stuffing the envelopes, it is definitely the way to go!” –Maggie Arnold, married October 16, 2010, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Chowgirls Killer Catering, Three Sons Signature Cuisine, We Cater to You
The winner is: Chowgirls Killer Catering
Minneapolis | 612.203.0786 |
“The Chowgirls were really professional and straightforward; they were not trying to do a hard sell or get me to buy things I didn’t need. We had two tastings and I never felt rushed. They were great about explaining things and making sure I was comfortable. I could tell they really wanted me to get what I wanted, and my guests said it was the best food they had ever had at a wedding!” –Molly Torrey, married June 19, 2010, at Gibbs Farm and Museum, St. Paul

The finalists are:
Spalon Montage, Juut Salonspa, Ivy Spa Club
The winner is: Spalon Montage
Multiple locations | 952.915.2900 |
“Spalon Montage was very professional. I absolutely enjoyed the pedicure; the massage chairs were very comfy and I liked that I could listen to soothing music at the same time. I also liked that the pedicure room was removed from the busy hair salon. Everyone was happy with how their nails turned out and agreed that, with all of the hustle and bustle of the weekend, it was a nice and relaxing moment together.” –Emily Mavridoglou, married October 16, 2010 at St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church, Minneapolis; reception at the Minneapolis Golf Club, St. Louis Park

The finalists are:
Lasting Impressions by Amy, Gateaux Inc., The Traveling Photo Booth
The winner is: Lasting Impressions by Amy
White Bear Lake | 651.387.3881 |
“I had an outdoor wedding and the fabric [owner] Amy [Maranda] was going to use to decorate couldn’t get wet—and it was raining. Even though she had two other events that day, Amy went out and bought fabric that could get rained on and made it happen—and she did it for free. She went above and beyond my expectations, 120 percent. My guests also still talk about the popcorn buffet she created!” –Katie Trottier, married July 10, 2010, in her Vadnais Heights backyard; reception at Tanners Brook Golf Club, Forest Lake

The finalists are:
Bon Appétit, D’Amico Catering, Chowgirls Killer Catering
The winner is: D’Amico Catering
Minneapolis | 612.238.4444 |
“D’Amico paid a lot of attention to what I wanted and they were very detail-oriented. They also suggested things I hadn’t thought of, like having a fruit and cheese platter during our cocktail hour that was really simple and our guests absolutely loved. I’m a perfectionist, an absolute control freak, and they exceeded my expectations.” –Jenn Lestor, married October 23, 2010, at Mill City Museum, Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Just Bloomed, Marah Cole Designs, Ashley Fox Designs
The winner is: Just Bloomed
Minneapolis | 612.600.9033 |
“We had two consultations with owner Jackie [Just] and were treated royally! One of the things that stood out was that she continually kept our budget in mind when suggesting flowers. I never felt that she would even consider going above our budget, and we appreciated that more than anything. When the day came, everything was beautiful and in place just the way we had dreamed it would be!” –Amy Jo Cherner, married October 23, 2010, at Mount Zion Temple, St. Paul; reception at the Metropolitan Ballroom, Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Nordstrom, dugo, The Wedding Shoppe
The winner is: dugo
Edina | 952.746.4440 |
“Dugo did an excellent job helping us find exactly what we were looking for. We felt like royalty there. They really impressed my mom and me with their unique look. It felt like we were finding a really special outfit for a significant life event. You just don’t usually get that feeling if you’re looking in a department store.” –Lindsay May, married June 20, 2009, at Cedar Valley Church, Bloomington

The finalists:
Vibrant Film, Capture Studios, Princess Bride Cinematic Videography
The winner is: Capture Studios
Minneapolis | 612.237.2485 |
“After seeing Capture’s video blog, hiring them was a no-brainer; their videos are absolutely unbelievable. They make videos that feel like movies and capture the more subtle details and sweetest moments of the day. When you see the final product it seems like they must’ve had 17 cameras all over the wedding, but you wouldn’t know it at the time, because they are completely hidden and unobtrusive.”  –Debra Arbit, married December 11, 2010, at Adath Jeshurun Synagogue, Minnetonka; reception at The Depot, Minneapolis

The finalists:
Linen Effects, Lasting Impressions by Amy, Après Party and Tent Rental
The winner is: Linen Effects
Minneapolis | 612.355.2500 |
“Linen Effects is great for two reasons: first, the breadth of linen choices they offer. No matter what style or preference or price point, they can find something that would fit perfectly. Second, it was really easy. Considering the number of choices Linen Effects offers, it could be overwhelming, but they kept it simple for what our goals were and had a good way of reading what would work in our venue.” –Shanda Phippen, married November 6, 2010, at Calhoun Beach Club, Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Bellagala, Instant Request Disk Jockey Entertainment, Bill Hermann
The winner is: Instant Request Disk Jockey Entertainment
Bloomington | 952.934.6110 |
“I would definitely recommend Instant Request to other brides. They worked with me in finding songs to match my beach theme and helped me find songs that would work well for walking down the aisle. They took the work off my hands and just approved everything through me. It was easy. They make you feel like you’re the only bride they’re helping.” –Courtney Karban, married June 15, 2007, at Carlson Towers Rotunda, Minnetonka

The finalists:
Dancers Studio, Adagio Djay Entertainment, Arthur Murray Dance Studio
The winner is: Adagio Djay Entertainment
Edina | 651.437.3344 |
“I cannot say enough positive things about Krista Haskins. My husband and I took six months of private lessons from her, and she is a great teacher. We had a 1950s period wedding and reception, and she choreographed a dance for us from a mashup my husband created.” –Alyssa Breece, married in California on June 7, 2008, with a reception at the Ritz Theater, Minneapolis, on July 5, 2009

The finalists are:
Ambiente, Mother of the Bride Wedding Planning + Design, Mi Mi Design
The winner is: Mi Mi Design
Minneapolis | 612.789.2507 |
“Talking with [owners Amy Steil and Amy Fuerstenberg] about our wedding was like talking to friends as opposed to, say, our mothers. They wanted us to be able to enjoy the day while they took care of absolutely everything else. I asked ‘What do I do the day of the wedding?’ and they said ‘You show up and get married. That’s it.’ We didn’t have to worry about anything. I tell everyone that they were worth their weight in gold.” –Anna Chang, married June 19, 2010, at Camrose Hill Farm, Stillwater

The finalists are:
The Sevilles, Metro Jam, Synergy
The winner is: Synergy
Edina | 952.926.9927 |
“We gave them very few guidelines—really just no ‘Chicken Dance’ and what our first-dance song was going to be—and Dick Whitbeck planned out their entire performance. He chose the perfect songs, it all went together so well, and they kept people on the dance floor. Their vocals were out of this world and had people cheering!” –Molly Rollwagen, married October 3, 2009, at Holy Angels, Richfield; reception at the Golden Valley Country Club

The finalists are:
David’s Bridal, The Wedding Shoppe, Posh Bridal Couture
The winner is: The Wedding Shoppe
St. Paul | 651.294.4991 |
“Consultant Kim at the Wedding Shoppe was really good at asking me helpful questions and picking what I said I wanted—in fact, she chose the dress I bought. She also added a sash that totally made the dress. The whole experience and the service were above and beyond my expectations.” –Emily Solid, married May 1, 2011, at Gale Mansion, Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Brides of France, The Wedding Shoppe, Che Bella
The winner is: Che Bella
St. Paul | 651.209.8822 |
“Che Bella took the time to make sure the custom earrings they were creating for me went with the style of my dress, my other accessories and the hairstyle I was going to have. They were very accommodating and had great suggestions. I had many people comment on the earrings throughout the wedding; they were beautiful and completely custom.” –Sarah Denney Johnson, married October 9, 2010, at The Woods Chapel and Event Center, Orono; reception at Gale Woods Farm, Minnetrista

The finalists are:
Loring Pasta Bar, W.A. Frost and CompanyBuca di Beppo
The winner is: Buca di Beppo
Multiple locations | 612.225.3400 |  

“I’ve always found Buca to be a great place for celebrations. Its cozy atmosphere swallows you up and makes you feel a part of something special. The rich aroma of Italian cuisine warmly greets you at the door. We wanted our families to have a chance to get to know each other in a friendly, fun and welcoming setting, and Buca definitely provided that.” –Maria Garbe, married August 28, 2010, at Macalester College, St. Paul

The finalists are:
Semple Mansion, FIVE Event Center, Lafayette Club
The winner is: Semple Mansion
Minneapolis | 612.290.4448 |
“As soon as we walked into the Semple Mansion we knew it was for us—the grand staircase, the parlor/living room (which was perfect for the ceremony) and the ballroom. All of our guests commented on what a great place it was and how lovely it looked. They loved having the options of going to a quieter place to sit and visit or dance the night away in the ballroom. Easy to find, convenient parking—it is a place made for weddings.” ––Holly MacDonald, married January 1, 2011, at Semple Mansion

The finalists are:
Brett Dorrian Artistry Studios, Smart & Chic Bride, Emily J. Hair + Makeup
The winner is: Smart & Chic Bride
Minneapolis | 612.871.4482 |
“Kiera did a test-run of the makeup and hair, and was great about incorporating any of the changes I had into the final look. I got so many compliments from my family and friends. After seeing how great my makeup looked, my sister decided she wanted them to do hers too!” –Heather Wuollet, married August 28, 2010, at 5120 Restaurant & Onyx Bar, Bloomington

The finalists are:
Arthur’s Jewelers, Continental Diamond, Shane Co.
The winner is: Continental Diamond
St. Louis Park | 952.593.5602 |
“Continental Diamond took total care of my then-fiancé, educated him and presented the perfect diamond, band and setting options that were in his price range. They really listened to him. They also rushed and got the ring to him in time for our trip to Jackson Hole where he proposed.” –Allison Kuhl, married August 27, 2010, at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, Excelsior; reception at Lafayette Club, Minnetonka Beach

The finalists are:
W–The Foshay, Graves 601 Hotel, The Saint Paul Hotel
The winner is: The Saint Paul Hotel
St. Paul | 651.292.9292 |
“I grew up in St. Paul, and the Saint Paul Hotel was always a pillar to me, the epitome of a romantic evening. The staff was impeccable and the whole presence lived up to my expectations. You definitely feel like a queen when staying there. When I left the next morning after getting married everyone called me ‘Mrs. Rogers,’ which I loved.” –Lori Rogers, married August 1, 2009, at Randolph Heights Presbyterian Church, St. Paul; reception at 317 on Rice Park, St. Paul

The finalists are:
The Dressmaker, l’atelier couture bridal boutique, Louise Kegley
The winner is: Louise Kegley
St. Paul | 651.739.2387 |
“Louise makes you feel like you’re her only client, like you’re the most beautiful bride. She treats you like you’re her daughter; there’s instant trust, and you can tell she knows what she’s doing. I know girls that have had more expensive alterations on a bridesmaid dress than I had on my wedding dress! I felt so comfortable working with her. Louise is just awesome!” –Rochelle Matthews, married July 17, 2010, at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church, Minneapolis; reception at Solera Restaurant, Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Men’s Wearhouse, Heimie’s Haberdashery, Savvi Formalwear
The winner is: Savvi Formalwear
Multiple locations | 651.578.1110 |
“I was so impressed with Stacy, the store manager at the Woodbury Savvi. She returned phone calls, followed up to make sure things were going well, let us try on everything (and even again when another family member came to town) and made sure we got just what we wanted for our perfect wedding.” –Marlana Wenzel, married June 30, 2007, at Summit Church, St. Paul

The finalists are:
Renee’s Royal Valet - Limos, Coaches & Trolleys, Eclipse Transportation, Total Luxury Limousine
The winner is: Renee’s Royal Valet - Limos, Coaches & Trolleys
Plymouth | 763.551.1919 |
“I have a Type A personality, so when a vendor said they’d send a quote, I expected it the next day, and Renee’s definitely met those expectations. They called us the week before the wedding to make sure they had all the pick-up locations correct, and when we had a change in hotel they were very accommodating about it. On the day of the wedding, they were prompt and well-organized, which we really appreciated.” – Kelaine Haas, married October 15, 2010, at Our Lady of Victory Church, St. Paul; reception at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, St. Paul

The finalists are:
Spencer Combs, Graddy PhotographyVick Photography
The winner is: Graddy Photography
New Prague | 952.649.0529 |
“When I saw the photos on Graddy’s website, it was exactly what I was looking for: a more creative, artsy style that wouldn’t be your usual stand-and-pose wedding photos. At the wedding they were so friendly and easygoing, and the photography was our favorite part, looking back. Our albums are beautiful.”  –Lisa Kielty, married September 13, 2008, at Bluff Creek Golf Course, Chaska; reception at Turtle’s 1890 Social Centre, Shakopee


The finalists are:
Mother of the Bride Wedding Planning + Design, Vick Photography, Bellagala
The winner is: Mother of the Bride Wedding Planning + Design
Excelsior | 952.474.1639 |
When bride Amy Lind Truelsen realized at the last minute that she had forgotten to arrange for centerpieces at her rehearsal dinner, she didn’t freak out, grab her cell phone or even break a sweat; instead, she turned to Nicolle Sellers of Mother of the Bride.  
     Sellers, a seasoned wedding planner, had been helping Lind Truelsen meticulously orchestrate her wedding for months. “Nicolle used her connections to quickly get centerpieces, and that was beyond what I even thought possible!” explains Lind Truelsen. “She coordinated every detail down to the last minute.”
For Sellers, who has climbed trees to hang candles, parked cars when valets got overwhelmed and even organized wedding-party kickball games, it’s all part of working at Mother of the Bride. “Weddings are a family event, and we want brides to focus on enjoying the day,” says Sellers.
     Mother of the Bride was started in 1995 by Martie McGlasson and her daughter Laura, who planned three to four weddings each year. Today the company has a staff of six and organizes weddings for every budget and location (including a 600-plus Las Vegas wedding with elephants). That flexibility means brides can hire Mother of the Bride on an hourly basis for simple things like vendor consultation or for complex tasks like full coordination of every detail. And just as the name implies, it’s all done with a maternal touch. “We’re there to hold a bride’s hand every step of the way,” says Sellers.
     For Lind Truelsen, that service meant her whole family got to focus on simply enjoying the wedding. “I’ve been to a lot of weddings where the mother or the sister end up running around behind the scenes and couldn’t enjoy the day. It was important to me that we celebrate our marriage with our family, instead of putting them to work—which is what Mother of the Bride let us do.”