A light breeze is blowing off the lake, just enough to stir the bouquet in your hands. You draw a deep breath that smells of fresh, cool water and flowers. Behind you, Grand View Lodge’s Historic Inn rises majestically. The brick walkway is festooned with rose petals, its edges flanked with planters in full bloom. This place is alive: alive with flowers, with the joy of the event, with stories, with history. As you take your first step onto the path, you imagine the countless others who have walked it before you. Taking the first step toward your future, you add your story to theirs.
Built in 1919, Grand View Lodge is one of Minnesota’s premier getaway destinations. Nestled on the shores of Gull Lake in Nisswa, it offers luxury dining and accommodations, a variety of recreation options, and a lavish, first-rate spa. In short, it’s everything a discerning couple could want in a destination wedding that’s conveniently close to home.
Event Spaces and Lodging
Grand View Lodge offers a wide array of options for both ceremonies and receptions. Most couples that marry at the resort take advantage of the gorgeously landscaped grounds and hold their services outside. Smaller ceremony sites include the lakeshore or a cozy, rustic grotto tucked behind the Glacial Waters Spa. The impressive stairway behind the Historic Inn is a popular spot for ceremonies, as are the grounds surrounding the recently constructed Gull Lake Center.
“It was such a picturesque view, coming down the long stairs, the lake in the distance,” says Katie Sweeney, who married husband Jeremy at the lodge in September 2009. “You couldn’t have ordered better weather.”
Every bride-to-be planning an outdoor wedding knows that the weather can be a fickle master. Sweeney advises brides simply to avoid weather.com. “I was checking it constantly. I was a wreck. But we had a back-up plan.” In fact, whether as a fallback plan or venue of choice, the resort offers several indoor ceremony spots, including the enormous Gull Lake Center, the smaller Norway Center, and the Historic Inn. Décor ranges from charming and rustic to sleek and modern, though all three buildings share a northwoods theme.
Both the Norway Center and the Gull Lake Center make excellent reception sites. The latter is the larger and more luxuriously appointed, with a ballroom that can host up to 500 guests for a plated dinner. It also boasts the Headwaters Wine Cellar, an intimate space perfect for a rehearsal dinner. The Norway Center can host plated receptions of up to 300 guests and is perfect for those who prefer a more rustic locale.
Lodging is plentiful and as diverse as Grand View’s other offerings. Numerous single-couple and family-style cabins are available, and the Historic Inn offers spacious, comfortable rooms in a convenient central location. Couples who fall in love with their room will be pleased to learn that the resort has a legacy program, allowing them to book the same room for the same dates in the years to come, making it an excellent anniversary destination.
Food and Drink
Grand View Lodge has a plethora of dining options, from casual to opulent. Whether it’s the rehearsal dinner and reception or relaxed day-after beers and burgers, the lodge’s food and beverage staff have you covered. Locations for a rehearsal dinner or casual pre-ceremony brunch include the Italian Gardens Trattoria (a family-style Italian eatery), Grand Dining Room, Northwoods Lounge, Headwaters Wine Cellar, and Historic Sherwood Forest (a steak and chophouse nearby).
For reception fare, couples have several options. All food is prepared on-site and can be served buffet-style or as a plated dinner, with menu items such as filet of beef Wellington, pan-seared halibut, and baby spinach-arugula salad. Each catering package comes with an hour of hosted bar service.
Sweeney wanted a casual atmosphere for her fall wedding. “We’re not sit-down-chicken-dinner, prime-rib kind of people,” she explains. “We wanted more of a cocktail party with passed hors d’oeuvres and plates. That’s what’s so great about Grand View. There were so many options, and they were so flexible. Whatever personal touches you wanted to add, they would accommodate you.”
Couples looking for a little R&R or fun in the sun will find both at the Nisswa resort. The Glacial Waters Spa, just a short walk from the Historic Inn, is one of the highlights. A luxurious full-service spa far from the urban hustle and bustle, it’s a great place for some pre-wedding pampering.
Those who never travel far without their nine-iron will be happy to know that the lodge is a first-rate golfing destination, with three championship courses. It also offers a wide array of other activities to keep you and your guests busy, including horseback riding, cross country skiing, a pool house (complete with water-slide), boating, biking, fishing, and more.
Of course, it’s not each individual aspect of the wedding experience at Grand View Lodge that makes it such a great wedding destination; it’s the synthesis of all those parts working as a whole.
“We wanted a destination wedding, but didn’t want guests to have to get on a plane,” says Sweeney. “It’s about us, but it’s about our guests, too. Being there with our friends and family, just having them share that with us, was amazing. The tradition and history are great. It’s a memorable spot, a place to go back and visit every year.”