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Minnesota Bride's Best of 2014 Winners

Each bride has a unique vision for the innumerable details that converge to create her wedding. From the flowing gown that falls just right and the luscious frosting on a delectable cake to dancing to the rhythms of an upbeat band to one-of-a kind keepsake photos, it takes a team of connoisseurs to orchestrate the big day. Now thousands of newlyweds are giving kudos to the experts who brought their visions to life, casting their votes to recognize the state’s most talented wedding professionals in Minnesota Bride’s Best of 2014.

The finalists are: Bellagala, Graddy Photography, Vick Photography
The winner is: Graddy Photography
Northfield | 952.646.0525 |
“After meeting and discussing our wedding with Justin Graddy, I knew I wanted to book right away. He listened to what I wanted and was eager to show me pictures of other weddings he had done. Not only were the wedding photos he showed us breathtaking, we saw that many of the couples return for photo sessions with new additions to their family. Our engagement session pictures turned out even better than we imagined. We could not narrow it down to just one picture for our save the date, so we used four! Chrissy and Justin Graddy have an amazing business. They both are very personable, professional, and most of all, talented.” — Katelyn Zoz, wedding set for  August 22, 2014 in Lakeville

The finalists are: Ashley Fox Designs, Floral Logic, Munster Rose
The winner is: Munster Rose
Minneapolis | 612.812.2538 |
“I chose Munster Rose because [creative director] Jackie Reisenauer’s bouquets and centerpieces are colorful and unique. When I met her, she was very enthusiastic and I could tell that she would pay attention to details. Throughout the process, she was very accommodating and helpful, working with my budget to get the most beautiful flowers. She also did some styling for my wedding, including finding Moroccan lanterns for my tablescape.” — Zeina Dajani, married June 1, 2013 in Minneapolis

The finalists are: A’bulae, The Carlson Towers Rotunda & Amphitheatre, Grand View Lodge
The winner is: The Carlson Towers Rotunda & Amphitheatre
Minnetonka | 763.212.1448 |
“We knew we wanted an outdoor ceremony with a butterfly release and also wanted the ceremony, dinner and reception in one location. We feel so lucky to have found the Carlson Towers. In addition to the beautiful grounds and breathtaking rotunda, they encouraged us to bring our own ideas and work with them to plan a day that was unique to us.” — JoAnne Archer, married August 24, 2013 in Minnetonka

The finalists are:
The R Factor, The Sevilles, Synergy
The winner is: Synergy
Edina | 952.926.9927 |
“We had heard from friends that Synergy was the best band in Minnesota, and that was proven true as soon as they played their first song. We were incredibly impressed with the band; from start to finish, their blend of musical skill and performance made for a full and lively dance floor. My only complaint from our wedding was that we didn’t have a large enough dance floor—it was packed the whole night!” — Annie Trudell, married August 31, 2013 in Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Buca di Beppo, Loring Pasta Bar, Pinstripes
The winner is: Buca di Beppo
Minneapolis | 612.288.0138 |
“Buca makes you feel like you’re with family. It was great because it felt like we were dining in the living room of a family member. They let us decorate the way we wanted, and the food was amazing. Sometimes when serving that many people, the food tends to get cold and mushy, but this was hot and delicious. The way the staff served us made us feel super comfortable.” — Heather West, married July 9, 2011 in Excelsior

The finalists are:
Buttercream, Cocoa & Fig, Gateaux
The winner is: Buttercream
Locations in St. Paul, Stillwater and Wayzata |
“When I walked in, the staff was friendly, and once I sat down they made sure that they got to know me and my wedding to make the perfect cake. We got to try so many different kinds of cake. We had questions about the decorating, and instead of just explaining what they did, they showed us. They brought out the powders and explained the process of how they decorate cakes, so we knew 100 percent what we were getting.” — Heather Rowson, married May 17, 2014 in Eagan

The finalists are:
Après Party & Tent Rental, Festivities, Linen Effects
The winner is: Linen Effects
Minneapolis | 612.355.2500 |
“I had a wonderful experience working with [sales rep] Robin Rosenberg at Linen Effects. She was so great about letting us play around with all the options and provided many suggestions that we ultimately went with for the décor. I was in awe of all the options we had to choose from with Linen Effects and thrilled that they had just the styles I envisioned for my wedding. It was these details that helped bring our vision for our wedding to life.” — Lindsey Merchant, married June 1, 2013 in St. Paul

The finalists are:
Graves 601, The Saint Paul Hotel, W Minneapolis–The Foshay
The winner is: The Saint Paul Hotel
St. Paul | 651.292.9292 |
“The Saint Paul Hotel was a great choice for us because it’s close to so many of the places we love in the city. My husband and I had a romantic and relaxing dinner at the hotel restaurant the night before our wedding. We took a walk downtown afterward, which was a lot of fun. Most of all, the service was outstanding and the atmosphere had the special feeling that we wanted for our wedding.” — Erin Koster, married August 17, 2013 in St. Paul

BEST LUXURY BRIDAL GOWNS (more than $2,000)
The finalists are:
Bridal Accents Couture, l’atelier couture, Posh Bridal Couture
The winner is: Bridal Accents Couture
Burnsville | 952.846.4496 |
“Our consultant greeted us at the door and offered us slippers so we could take our shoes off. Once I started trying on dresses, she made me feel at home and beautiful in every dress. They make you feel like the only bride in the world that matters, and they don’t pressure you. I even got a handwritten thank-you, even though I hadn’t bought my dress the first day.” — Kira Quigley, wedding set for October 17, 2014 in Plymouth

The finalists are:
A’bulae, Aria, Calhoun Beach Club
The winner is: Aria
Minneapolis | 612.342.2742 |
“Aria is a one-of-a-kind venue. When I first walked in, I was completely blown away. It’s so raw, so exposed, yet it has these glamorous touches, such as the chandeliers, that just take your breath away. It’s a blank canvas and you are the designer—you can create anything you want for your special day.” — Lisa Sherman, married June 7, 2014 in Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Amazing Alterations, Amy Jane Studio, The Dressmaker
The winner is: Amy Jane Studio
St. Paul | 651.276.9492 |
“Right from the beginning, Amy Stariha was quick to respond to my emails and flexible with setting up a time to meet. My dress needed a lot of work and she never had a doubt that she’d be able to do it. Every time I met with Amy, I felt comfortable and in good hands. My dress turned out to be even more amazing and breathtaking than when I first picked it out, and it was all because Amy made it a perfect fit for my body.” — Kirstin Watters, married July 6, 2013 in Hales Corners, Wis.

The finalists are:
Joynoelle, The Dressmaker, Tara LaTour
The winner is: Tara LaTour
Minneapolis |
“I had an amazing experience with Tara LaTour. Her designs are so unique and flattering, and incorporate gorgeous fabric and unexpected details like the hand-sewn buttons. I even got to pick out the floral lining for my gown! Since the dress was custom-made to my measurements, it fit perfectly on my wedding day. Tara was great to work with and had so many ideas.” — Erin Quinn, married June 22, 2013 in Fridley

BEST BRIDAL GOWNS ON A BUDGET (less than $2,000)
The finalists are:
Brides of France, Luxe Bridal Couture, The Wedding Shoppe
The winner is: The Wedding Shoppe
St. Paul | 651.298.1144 |
“The consultant I worked with was really enjoying herself. She seemed to be having fun helping me try on beautiful dresses and showing me different options for accessories. It felt more private and special than the other places I looked because we had our own room and dresses were brought in to me. She also didn’t push high-end designer dresses and really respected my budget.” — Lindsy Gornick, married June 22, 2012 in St. Paul

The finalists are:
Eclipse Transportation, Renee’s Royal Valet, Total Luxury Limousine
The winner is: Renee’s Royal Valet
Plymouth | 763.551.1919 |
“What makes Renee’s special is the staff. It felt like their main goal was to make sure we didn’t have to worry about anything. They were very accommodating to our party and they literally rolled out a red carpet for us when we got on and off the bus. The bus was also decorated with lights and lamps in the back, which made for awesome pictures.” — Stephanie Morrell, married May 25, 2013 in Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Continental Diamond, Shane Co., Wedding Day Diamonds
The winner is: Continental Diamond
St. Louis Park | 952.593.5602 |
“Continental’s uniquely comfy store makes it a pleasure to browse their equally unique inventory. Where else can you shop for earrings and be offered hot chocolate and fresh chocolate-chip cookies? My husband and I picked out my wedding ring together at Continental many years ago. It was a simple contemporary design, and I still love it as much as I did when we bought it. My dad found a new wedding ring there, too, after his ring of over 50 years was damaged. My mom likes it so much, she had it sized to fit her finger after he passed away, and wears it every day.” — Fran Lebahn, married October 1990 in St. Paul

The finalists are:
Birchwood String Quartet, Four Voices String Quartet, Sharon Planer Pianist for Parties
The winner is: Four Voices String Quartet
Minneapolis | 612.584.1444 |
“We tried to make our wedding elegant and sophisticated, and Four Voices absolutely helped make our ceremony experience just that. The music was so beautiful, I wish I had been in the audience prior to the ceremony so I could have heard them play while our guests were being seated. Four Voices is made up of four extremely talented women who care so much about their music and how it will play into the theme of your wedding.” — Glenna Stone, married August 4, 2012 in St. Paul

The finalists are:
Crystal Kluge, Calligraphy with Style, Rosann Konieczny Calligrapher
The winner is: Rosann Konieczny Calligrapher
Golden Valley | 763.221.4584 |
“When I met with Rosann, I was blown away by what she can do. I showed her some ideas I had and she duplicated them exactly. I had several of my guests rave about the way the invitations were written. I also had Rosann do my place setting cards and the name tags of all my guests that were tied to their welcome beach bags. It made me smile seeing my guests carrying around their beach bags with their name tags still attached because they loved how nicely their names were written.” — Amanda Allan, married September 28, 2013 in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

The finalists are:
Camrose Hill Flower Farm, Juliane James Place, Nicollet Island Pavilion
The winner is: Nicollet Island Pavilion
Minneapolis | 612.253.0255 |
“We knew we wanted an urban wedding, but we also wanted to have a large part of our ceremony and reception outdoors. Nicollet Island Pavilion provided both, with a convenient location right downtown and the beautiful grounds along the riverfront. We loved that our guests could enjoy the fresh air while taking in the stunning city views, and the grounds had perfect spaces for the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception activities.” — Kristin Reimann, married September 2, 2011 in Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Capture Studios, Story of Us Films, Vibrant Film
The winner is: Story of Us Films
Little Canada | 651.249.3105 |
“When we first met with Story of Us, they made us feel at ease, which is important for making the footage feel natural. They were very professional, and we could tell that he had the experience to fully capture our day. The five-minute short film was beautiful, something we didn’t see from other companies. The short takes pieces of the whole day and seamlessly puts them together to tell our story. Set to music, the short becomes a film that’s unique and a great way to share our day with friends and family for years to come.” — Julia Floyd, married May 17, 2014 in Stillwater

BEST CATERER FOR A LARGE WEDDING (more than 200 guests)
The finalists are:
Bon Appetit, D’Amico Catering, Mintáhoe Catering & Events
The winner is: D’Amico Catering
Minneapolis | 612.238.4444 |
“My wedding reception was catered by D’Amico, and everything was phenomenal. Every single one of the guests at my wedding was over the moon about the food. Dinner was impeccable, served hot, tasted great and everyone received their food in a timely manner. The dessert table looked elegant, and all of the little treats were so tasty (especially the white chocolate-dipped pineapple). Last but not least, the midnight snack was just what everyone needed before heading home.” — Blair Valone, married November 5, 2011 in Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Bella Bridesmaids, Flutter, The Wedding Shoppe
The winner is: Flutter
Minneapolis | 612.216.1926 |
“Out of all the Minneapolis boutiques, Flutter has the widest selection of bridesmaid dresses. They had many styles, colors and designers. For the designer I settled on, they could get the dress in probably 15 different colors and 10 different styles of a similar dress. I had a wedding party of 10, so it was convenient to pick out a dress that fit many different figures. They loved it—they looked fantastic!” — Whitney Anderson, married September 7, 2013 in Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Brett Dorrian Artistry Studios, Emily J Hair + Makeup, Julie Swenson Beauty
The winner is: Brett Dorrian Artistry Studios
St. Paul | 651.253.3559|
“Brett was a referral from several photographers that work in the business. The quote from them was, ‘She is awesome.’ I would have to agree. Brett was flexible with my schedule. She also took care of several other members of my wedding party, but made sure that I remained the focus. Brett has this kind spirit and almost immediately I felt like she was one of my friends, even though I just met her. She brought a cheery disposition.” — Shelly Kaufman, married October 19, 2013 in Brooklyn Center

The finalists are:
Gateaux, Gretchen Berry Design Co., Paperista
The winner is: Gretchen Berry Design Co.
Minneapolis | 952.922.5176 |
“As we were deciding how we wanted our invites to feel, Gretchen brought various ideas to get us talking and thinking. She then took our ideas and created a theme that we were able to run with throughout our wedding. Each item made me feel special; no one else has or will have the custom monogram and heart logo that we used throughout the events. I appreciated Gretchen’s unique eye for design and ability to think outside the box.” — Claire Hutcheson, married June 15, 2013 in Minneapolis

The finalists are:
The Traveling Photo Booth, The Studio MPLS, VIP Photo Booth
The winner is: The Traveling Photo Booth
Minneapolis | 612.605.9203 |
“I chose the Traveling Photo Booth because I love the retro tones of the film strips. The booth is small enough to fit into any area of the reception space, and it comes with an attendant to organize the printing of the photographs, glue them into our guest book and give copies of filmstrips to our guests as their favor. During our communication, the company was extremely quick and informative in their responses.” — Amy Weum, married May 31, 2014 in Minneapolis

The finalists are:
DUGO, Nordstrom, Macy’s
The winner is: DUGO
Edina | 952.746.4440 |
“I had a wonderful experience shopping for an outfit for my son’s wedding. I wanted it to be perfect and comfortable enough for the entire day. DUGO has designs that you do not see in department stores or other specialty shops. It was a beautiful store with lovely sales associates. The outfit I purchased was a three-piece suit consisting of crepe pants, tank and jacket. It’s important to feel beautiful and confident on such a special day, and this outfit did that for me.” — Nancy Paciotti, son married April 2013 in Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Crate & Barrel, Macy’s, Target
The winner is: Target
Various locations |
“Target has the best registry for a few reasons. It’s conveniently located in many cities, so guests and family around the country can find one fairly close to home. They also have a wide variety of household items that are great for starting a home, and the price range is affordable, so every guest can find something within their price range. Lastly, the process of registering is fun!” —Ryan Weber, married January 26, 2007, in Kauai, Hawaii

BEST CATERER FOR A SMALL WEDDING (fewer than 200 guests)
The finalists are:
Brie Cater, Chowgirls Killer Catering, D’Amico Catering
The winner is: Chowgirls Killer Catering
Minneapolis | 612.203.0786 |
“From their support in the initial planning stages through the day of our wedding, Chowgirls’ staff made us feel like our day really mattered to them. Our vision was to serve an entirely gluten-free, vegetarian meal that would reflect our passion for fresh and seasonal food. Not only were they not fazed, they seemed to welcome the challenge and presented us with a full array of thoughtful, inventive options. The food was incredible. We got compliments from even the avowed meat-eaters in my family.” — Linda Vinz Hummel, married September 1, 2013 in Stillwater

The finalists are:
Ivy Spa Club, Juut Salonspa, Spalon Montage
The winner is: Spalon Montage
Locations in Chanhassen, Edina and Woodbury |
“When choosing our salon for my wedding, Spalon was the natural choice because it has been a special place for my mom, my sister and me. It’s where my sister and I learned the feeling of being truly pampered. On the day before my wedding, my sister, girlfriends and I went to Spalon for mani/pedis. The staff was so wonderful to us, and we were all in one room together enjoying the experience.” — Melissa Bolman Boehner, married October 6, 2012 in Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Bridal Accents Couture, Brides of France, Che Bella
The winner is: Che Bella
St. Paul | 651.209.8822 |
“I had been searching for some unique pieces to turn my modern, strapless silk taffeta gown into something more refined and glamorous. My consultant was so warm and friendly, and helped me as I tested out ideas. I was able to transform my perfectly fine gown into something extraordinary. They carry a fresh and smart collection of accessories that will make you stand out from other cookie-cutter brides.” — Marah Lawton, married May 8, 2010 in Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Graves 601, The Saint Paul Hotel, Westin Edina Galleria
The winner is: Graves 601
Minneapolis | 612.677.1100|
“The hotel itself is a work of art, combining modern clean lines with warm, contemporary lighting. The location is key. Our guests took advantage of the Minneapolis location and spent the weekend going to sports games, including a Vikings game and Twins game. The Graves was also convenient because the light rail from the airport has a stop just two blocks from the lobby front doors.” — Lindsey Boden, married September 18, 2010 in Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Heimie’s Haberdashery, Men’s Wearhouse, Savvi Formalwear
The winner is: Savvi Formalwear
Various locations |
“We decided to go with Savvi Formalwear after choosing colors for our wedding. We knew that the guys were going to buy suits and rent vests and ties. We brought color swatches to Savvi, and the consultant brought out all the vests that could match our color. There was a huge selection of colors and patterns to choose from. It was really nice for us to be able to choose specifically which color and style we wanted instead of just being shown the one that ‘matched’ our color theme.” — Kaitlin Smith, married September 28, 2013 in Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Bellagala, Instant Request DJ Entertainment, Midwest Sound
The winner is: Instant Request DJ Entertainment
Bloomington | 952.934.6110 |
“I voted for Instant Request DJ Entertainment because our DJ was awesome. He was professional, fun and knew just the right music to play to keep our dance floor packed. We had guests ranging from age 2 to 82 who danced the night away. In fact, I didn’t leave the floor once all night. They were very timely in responding to my questions and were pleasant to work with. Competitive pricing and top-notch service!” — Kristen Nordberg, married January 25, 2014 in Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Minnesota Officiants, Positively Charmed Ceremonies, Rev. Tomkin Coleman
The winner is: Minnesota Officiants
Minneapolis | 612.825.4432 |
“We decided to meet with officiant Cara Tollefson based on her hilarious and sweet profile. After our first meeting with Cara, we knew she would do an amazing job. Minnesota Wedding Officiants has many options to create a perfect ceremony, from traditional to contemporary to quirky. She even wrote a personalized welcome that included our story and why we chose to get married on the banks of the Mississippi. Cara made the process of writing our ceremony easy and enjoyable.” — Courtney Moore, married May 24, 2013 in Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Arthur Murray Dance Studio, Monica Mohn, Krista Haskins at Adagio DJ Entertainment
The winner is: Arthur Murray Dance Studio
Minneapolis | 612.920.1900 |
“Arthur Murray is passionate about ballroom dance, and that shines through their instructors and staff. I had so much fun and would love to go back and continue the lessons I started. Collin and I were able to use the instruction we received to put together a fun rumba for our first dance at the reception, and my father and I did a waltz for the father/daughter dance. We received many compliments from our guests about the dances.” — Stephanie Schultz, married June 22, 2013 in Minnetonka

The finalists are:
Cocoa & Fig, Gateaux, Lasting Impressions by Amy
The winner is: Gateaux
Plymouth | 763.577.9815 |
“Working with [owner] Robin Martin at Gateaux is delightful. She makes the experience so fun. She met with me personally (just as she does with all of her clients) to design my favors. She does this so she can customize them inside and out to fit the look and the feel of your wedding. She customized our favor boxes with ribbons and tags to match our wedding décor. The treats inside were hand-made and hand-decorated as well. Not only were they a treat for the eyes, they were delicious.” — Michele Peacock, wedding set for summer 2015

The finalists are:
Bluefin Bay Resort, Grand View Lodge, Larsmont Cottages
The winner is: Grand View Lodge
Nisswa | 866.801.2951 |
“We stayed in one of the updated cabins right on the water. It was fabulous to wake up and drink coffee on our private balcony overlooking the lake with my new husband. The lodge is beautiful, with exposed beams and big windows overlooking Gull Lake. We are both big golfers, so having the golf course connected to the resort is a bonus. The grounds of the historic lodge are beautiful in the fall. It was too cold to swim but we spent time walking around the resort. Cru is also a great restaurant right on-site, with a very fun wine cellar. We can’t wait to go back and celebrate our one-year anniversary.” — Sarah Letich, married September 28, 2013 in Nisswa

The finalists are:
AAA, Paradise Weddings and Travel, Travel Leaders (Romance Leaders & Enchanted Getaways)
The winner is: AAA
Various locations |
“We used AAA to help plan our honeymoon to Italy. The whole planning process was really a breeze. We met with our travel agent and talked for close to two hours. She took note of everything we were interested in: the kinds of sites we wanted to visit, how long we wanted to be gone, our budget, and our general personalities and traveling style. Then a few days later she emailed us a complete sample itinerary. That personal touch really made me feel comfortable when we finally booked our vacation. And our honeymoon was perfect.” — Chelsey Kornetzke, married April 27, 2013 in Minneapolis

The finalists are:
Lasting Impressions Weddings, Mother of the Bride, Style-Architects
The winner is: Mother of the Bride
Minneapolis | 952.474.1639 |
“Working with Mother of the Bride was one of the best decisions I made during my wedding planning. They offer so much advice, great recommendations on top vendors and so many fun and unique ideas. Many brides say they were incredibly stressed during their planning, but I loved it. They are professional, become so invested in your day, and truly build a personal relationship with you.” — Kristen Bjork, married July 11, 2014 in Minneapolis

The finalists are:
 Bellagala, Graddy PhotographyGretchen Berry Design Co.
The winner is: Graddy Photography
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a still by Graddy Photography may be worth much more. Justin Graddy’s subjects don’t pose; instead he captures the raw emotion of couples on the day they say “I do,” and the accompanying laughter, tears and subtle moments that make up the fabric of a wedding.
     “The pictures from our wedding were top of the line; people kept saying they belonged in Vogue,” says Brianne Isaacson, who had Graddy Photography shoot her November 2011 wedding in Faribault. “The creativity and true passion behind the lens … they capture timeless moments that take your breath away.”
     Behind the striking wedding-day photographs is a husband-and-wife team, Justin and Chrissy Graddy, who founded the Northfield-based business in 2009. Five years later, they document destination weddings around the globe, accompany couples to beloved locales for engagement sessions and photograph nuptials across the state. Minnesota’s natural beauty and diverse urban landscapes often appear as stunning backgrounds.
     “He can take the most simple of settings and make the most beautiful picture,” says Alexandra Schluneger, who had an engagement session with Graddy Photography prior to her wedding in March 2014. “It was very easy and comfortable having the photo shoots with him. He doesn’t spend much time setting up for the picture—he captures each moment and it’s all very natural.”
     The aesthetic is honest photojournalism—a tear trickling down a father’s cheek as he shares a dance with the bride—merged with a striking style: vibrant settings, dynamic poses and dramatic lighting.
     What sets the mom-and-pop company apart is their personal touch. The pair behind the lens strive to know each of the duos in front of the camera, and with an honest bond established and brides and grooms at ease, Justin Graddy can seamlessly slip into the background and quietly capture the most intimate and truthful moments.
     “When it came time to find a wedding photographer, there was no question that I wanted to hire Graddy,” says Jessica Wolf, engaged to be married in Lakeville this July. “Their work captures intimate moments and emotions during a wedding that aren’t always seen, but are what makes a wedding so magical.” 

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