Minnesota Bride Best of 2012 Winners

Best of
Written by
Nancy Eike

A wedding is a work of orchestration at its best, with each individual part contributing to create a beautiful event. On the pages that follow, meet vendors who have played those integral parts in the weddings of many Minnesota couples. More than 10,000 of those happy couples logged on to nominate the people who helped create weddings that were, in a word, symphonic. From dressmakers to custom cakes, these are 2012’s best wedding vendors.  


Best wedding vendor
Top of the Tiara All-around best wedding vendor

Wedding Dresses
Best Wedding Gowns on a Budget (less than $2,000)
Best Luxury Bridal Gowns (more than $2,000)
Best Custom Dressmaker
Best Alterations

Wedding party
Best Formalwear
Best Attendant Dresses
Best Mother-of-the-Bride Apparel

hair & beauty
Best Hair & Makeup
Best Spa for the Bridal Party

Best Jeweler

Reception Sites
Best Outdoor Reception Site
Best Indoor Reception Site

Wedding PLanners
Best Planner

Best Photography
Best Photo Booth
Best Videographer

Decor & Rental
Best Rental & Décor
Best Accessories

Best Florist

Best Caterer for a Large Wedding (more than 200 guests)
Best Caterer for a Small Wedding (fewer than 200 guests)

Cakes & Desserts
Best Cake

Best Ceremony Music
Best Band
Best DJ

Best Invitations
Best Calligrapher

Gits & Favors
Best Favors

Party Details
Best Rehearsal Dinner Venue
Best Ceremony Venue
Best Officiant
Best Dance Instructor
Best Transportation
Best Registry
Best Wedding-Night Hotel
Best Hotels for Guests

Best Honeymoon in Minnesota

Winner: Bellagala
St. Paul | 651.227.1202 | bellagala.com
When Kayla and Adam Mathwig were planning their May 7, 2011 wedding, they knew that besides a gorgeous gown, the perfect venue and a glorious cake, they wanted the music at their reception to get everyone on their feet and onto the dance floor.
“It was really important to us that our reception would be a good time for people of all ages,” says Kayla, who reveals she had been to many weddings where that wasn’t always the case. So they turned to Bellagala, a full-service wedding planning company that offers everything from music and photography to cakes and flowers, started by wedding industry expert Tim George in 2004.
“We started with four services and have expanded to include 16,” says sales coordinator Sari Lindeman. “Our goal is to simplify the whole wedding planning process and to give couples peace of mind working with experts every step of the way. Because we work with a variety of artists, couples can pick and choose which one best fits their personality and style.”
It was through that thorough selection process that Kayla and Adam found the perfect DJ for their reception.
“Our DJ Matt was amazing. I can say with 100 percent certainty that I couldn’t have asked for anyone better than him. He clearly had a lot of experience; he was very personable and the crowd loved him,” says Kayla.
And when her dad made a last-minute song switch for the father-daughter dance, Matt didn’t sweat, or panic—he went with the flow and found the song because he knew it really mattered.
“That dance was meaningful in so many ways—it’s a tradition that I think both dads and daughters dream of, but it also gave us a chance to talk about my husband and our approaching life together,” says Kayla. 
Finalists: BellagalaGraddy PhotographyVick Photography
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Winner: Grand View Lodge
Nisswa | 866.801.2951 | grandviewlodge.com
“We loved the seclusion and privacy [of Grand View Lodge]. The cabins are adorable, with fireplace and jet-powered tub; it’s a great way to relax after a stressful wedding! The spa is immaculate, and the amenities like the sauna, lotions, treats and friendly service make you feel like royalty.” —Kelsey Giles, married December 16, 2011, at Como Zoo and Conservatory, St. Paul; reception at the Saint Paul Hotel
Finalists: Bluefin Bay, Grand View Lodge, Larsmont Cottages
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Winner: Linen Effects
Minneapolis | 612.355.2500 | lineneffects.com
“Nothing transforms a room like table linens; they can tie the whole wedding together and make it your own. Linen Effects helps any DIY bride look like a professional with their expertise and accommodating style. You meet with them and create a mock-up table so you can visualize your reception.” —Anna Tanis, married July 22, 2011, at St. Bartholomew, Wayzata; reception at Rush Creek Golf Club, Maple Grove
Finalists: Linen Effects, Après Party & Tent Rental, Midway Party Rental
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Winner: Paperista
Edina | 612.886.3470 | paperista.com
“Working with Paperista was a great experience. [Owner] Antoinette Ramos took care of all our paper needs, including save-the-dates, invitations, wedding programs, reception dinner menus, etc. Antoinette took our unique idea for invitations and helped to make it a reality.” —Jenny Hsu, married August 7, 2010, at Minneapolis City Hall and Courthouse; reception at Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis
Finalists: Amy Zaroff Events + Design, Epitome Papers, Paperista

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Winner: l’atelier couture bridal
Minneapolis | 612.367.8120 | lateliercouturebridal.com
“The consultants at l’atelier were amazing. They spent a lot of time understanding my desires in a gown and worked hard to find a dress that fit my style and taste. The consultants also made the experience of finding a dress fun and relaxing—something I didn’t find at other bridal boutiques.” —Betsy Jakuc, married December 3, 2011, at Calhoun Beach Club, Minneapolis
Finalists: Bridal Accents Couture, l’atelier couture bridal, Monique Lhuillier
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Winner: Rosann Konieczny Calligrapher
Golden Valley | 763.221.4584 | rosannkcalligrapher.com
“The best compliment I received was a couple of guests saying that they usually throw away invitation envelopes, but not this one. It really set the tone for the special evening that it was. Rosann also did other pieces at my reception that pulled the whole theme together.” —Gail Doyle, married November 11, 2011, at the Minneapolis Club  
Finalists: Crystal Kluge, Kathy Moon at Epitome Papers, Rosann Konieczny Calligrapher
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Winner: Flutter Boutique
Minneapolis | 612.216.1926 | flutterboutique.com
“Working with the staff at Flutter Boutique was great. Everyone was very professional, but laid-back—they made the process fun and easy, without pressure. Their selection of dresses is finely curated, so I didn’t have to dig through racks and racks to find something to fit my style.” —Emily Kralick, married May 1, 2011, at Golden Valley Historical Society Museum
Finalists: Bella Bridesmaid, Flutter Boutique, The Wedding Shoppe
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Winner: Semple Mansion
Minneapolis | 612.290.4448 | semplemansion.com
“The decorative details like the ornate woodwork, gorgeous murals and sparkling chandeliers at the Semple created beautiful ambiance that our guests raved about. They enjoyed the variety of spaces housed under one roof, from the intimate wine cellar to the welcoming foyer with the sweeping staircase to the majestic grand ballroom.” —Alyssa Jensen, married June 3, 2011, at Semple Mansion
Finalists: Calhoun Beach Club, The Carlson Towers Rotunda, Semple Mansion
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Winner: Basilica of Saint Mary
Minneapolis | 612.333.1381 | mary.org
“The one thing we liked most about having our wedding at the Basilica was the architecture of the building and the altar, which added a nice backdrop to our pictures. We also enjoyed how helpful the staff was in the planning process.” —Sarah Szczeck, married January 8, 2011, at Basilica of Saint Mary
Finalists: Basilica of Saint Mary, James J. Hill Reference Library, Mill City Museum
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Winner: Lasting Impressions Weddings and Event Coordination
Minnetonka | 612.245.4791 | lastingimpressionsweddings.com
“From the beginning, Lasting Impressions demonstrated professionalism, responsiveness, attention to detail, problem resolution, passion, compassion and an ability to step right in and handle the last month and day-of without hesitation.” —Christine Marvin Farnes, married August 13, 2011, at 413 on Wacouta, St. Paul 
Finalists: Ambiente, Lasting Impressions Weddings and Event Coordination, Mi Mi Design
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Winner: Che Bella
St. Paul | 651.209.8822 | chebella.com
“Jennifer Meyer, the owner of Che Bella, designed a sash that incorporated lace from my mom’s wedding dress. The sash was my favorite part of my dress because it was unique and meaningful. Jennifer also designed earrings, a bracelet and a hairpiece that fit my vision. My custom-made accessories from Che Bella were absolutely perfect and made my wedding day all the more special. ” —Erin Johnson, married August 6, 2011, at the Minnesota History Center, St. Paul
Finalists: Brides of France, Che Bella, The Wedding Shoppe
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Winner: Graves 601 Hotel
Minneapolis | 612.677.1100 | graves601hotel.com
“Working with [the staff] at Graves 601 made our experience seamless and worry-free. The convenient and easy-to-use online reservation tool that she set up for our wedding
block earned us lots of notes of appreciation from our guests.” —Colleen Doyle, to be married July 28, 2012, at Calhoun Beach Club, Minneapolis
Finalists: Graves 601 Hotel, The Saint Paul Hotel, W Minneapolis—The Foshay
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Winner: Continental Diamond
St. Louis Park | 952.593.5602 | continentaldiamond.com
“Helain and Jimmy of Continental Diamond created three timeless pieces of jewelry for my husband and I, which will surely be family heirlooms for generations to come. Our fiery diamonds are impossible to miss, making them perfect representations of our love.”—Molly Harris, married November 19, 2011, at the Cathedral of St. Paul; reception at James J. Hill Reference Library, St. Paul
Finalists: Arthur’s Jewelers, Continental Diamond, Shane Co.
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Winner: D’Amico Catering
Minneapolis | 612.238.4444 | damicocatering.com
“The best part about working with D’Amico Catering was how flexible they were. We were able to customize our menu while working within the buffet budget and got exactly what we wanted. We got more compliments on how wonderful the food was than on any other part of the wedding!” —Erin Gurda, married November 19, 2011, at McNamara Alumni Center, Minneapolis
Finalists: Bon Appetit, D’Amico Catering, Mintáhoe Catering & Events
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Winner: Arthur Murray Dance Studios
Multiple locations | arthurmurray.com
“We would have never tackled the fancy dips and spins [choreographer] Lynn incorporated into our dance on our own. She choreographed a dance that showed our personalities and gave us an opportunity to express how happy we were to be husband and wife.” —Sandi Weinand, married September 24, 2011, at Greysolon Ballroom, Duluth
Finalists: Arthur Murray Dance Studios, Cinema Ballroom, Dancers Studio
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Winner: Capture Studios
St. Louis Park | 612.237.2485 | capturestudios.net
“We were genuinely awestruck upon viewing the short few-minute video, [which] captured a fully packed 12 hours worth of events. The background, which included both song and speech [accompanying] snippets of memorable video, was not only pure ingenuity, but breathtaking, heartwarming and special well beyond the description of words.” —Rachel Baratz, married August 6, 2011, at Oak Ridge Country Club, Hopkins
Finalists: Capture Studios, Princess Bride Cinematic Videography, Vibrant Film
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Winner: The Dressmaker
Edina | 952.929.9475 | thedressmaker.com
“The Dressmaker [Kristen Olsen] is a perfectionist with her work. She asks you a lot of questions to get a feel for exactly how you want your dress to fit. She shows you how the alterations will look while the dress is on you, and keeps making adjustments until it is perfect.” —Katie Hoffmann, married October 1, 2011, at Holy Name of Jesus Church, Wayzata; reception at Rush Creek Golf Club, Maple Grove
Finalists: The Dressmaker, Louise Kegley, Reyna’s Alterations
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Winner: The Traveling Photo Booth
Minneapolis | 612.605.9203 | thetravelingphotobooth.com
“I had a great experience with the Traveling Photo Booth. They were able to answer all my questions quickly and made the whole planning process simple. I continue to get compliments on having a photo booth; it was the hit of the night! We also got the photo strip guest book, a great way to preserve memories.” —Melanie Mobley, married September 3, 2011, at the Como Zoo and Conservatory, St. Paul
Finalists: Mobile Photo Booth, The Traveling Photo Booth, VIP Booths
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Winner: The Wedding Shoppe
St. Paul | 651.294.4991 | weddingshoppeinc.com
“The Wedding Shoppe had the largest selection of wedding dresses in my price range. They didn’t show me dresses that were beyond my budget or push me toward dresses that they liked on me (as some associates did at the other bridal shops). Everyone was helpful and genuinely happy that I was there.”—Stefanie Brock, married September 10, 2011, at St. Catherine University, St. Paul; reception at Profile Event Center, Minneapolis
Finalists: Luxe Bridal Couture, Posh Bridal Couture, The Wedding Shoppe
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Winner: Graddy Photography
Northfield | 952.649.0529 | graddyphotography.com
“What we liked the most about working with Graddy Photography was the fact that [owner] Justin Graddy was able to capture our wedding exactly how we envisioned it. He was a blast to work with and had so many great and unique ideas that really fit our personalities. His eye for detail is among the best I have seen in wedding photography!” —Heidi Gilbert, married September 10, 2011, at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center
Finalists: Bellagala, Graddy Photography, Vick Photography
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Winner: Buca di Beppo
Multiple locations | 612.225.3400 | bucadibeppo.com
“The Buca di Beppo staff was very accommodating. [The team] was excellent and very friendly! They catered to our needs without being obtrusive and provided perfect timing for delivery of the food and beverages. Leftovers were neatly packaged for us and everyone left feeling happy and full!” —Lauren Robbins, married September 30, 2011, at Semple Mansion, Minneapolis
Finalists: Buca di Beppo, Café Lurcat, Loring Pasta Bar
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Winner: Spalon Montage
Multiple locations | spalon.com
“I gave [stylist] Erica an idea of what I wanted to do with my hair, and she was able to create exactly the look I was going for. She also did a great job choosing my makeup so that it looked natural, but flattering in photographs.” —Carrie Steenlage, married on November 12, 2011, at Semple Mansion, Minneapolis; reception at Temple Israel, Minneapolis
Finalists: Ivy Spa Club, Juut Salonspa, Spalon Montage
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Winner: Savvi Formalwear
Multiple locations | 651.578.1110 | savviformalwear.com
“The best part of working with Savvi was the fact that they had the suits/tuxes on hand at the store and let my fiancé try them on several times over. Not to mention the fact that we went back in to have him try on the red Ralph Lauren shoes with the pants, and then back again to make sure the argyle socks [worked] with the shoes; they didn’t even blink.” —Tiffany J.C. Shallbetter, married February 11, 2012, at McNamara Alumni Center, Minneapolis
Finalists: Heimie’s Haberdashery, Men’s Wearhouse, Savvi Formalwear
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Winner: Synergy
Edina | 952.926.9927 | synergy-dwmusic.com
“Synergy is a fantastic band with a great amount of energy and talent. They did a wonderful job keeping our guests on the dance floor all night. [Musical director] Dick Whitbeck is very organized and made sure that the band followed the exact timeline of events that we had confirmed prior to our wedding. Guests of all ages loved this band!” —Sara Frank, married June 12, 2011, at Temple of Aaron, St. Paul; reception at the Saint Paul Hotel
Finalists: The R Factor, The Sevilles, Synergy
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Winner: The Saint Paul Hotel
St. Paul | 651.292.9292 | saintpaulhotel.com
“The Saint Paul Hotel is in an ideal location and [they] execute ideal service. From cooperating with a very late check-in, to making sure we got our midnight pizza, they catered to us in a way that made our wedding night both romantic and restful.” —Karmin Hoang, married June 4, 2011, at St. Thomas Aquinas Church; reception at the Landmark Center, St. Paul
Finalists: Graves 601 Hotel, The Saint Paul Hotel, W Minneapolis—The Foshay
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Winner: Creative Beauté Agency | Smart & Chic Bride
Minneapolis | 612.567.3434 | smartandchicbride.com
“One of the best decisions I made for my wedding day (other than the groom, of course!) was to have everything at one location. Having Amber B. and the ladies from Creative Beauté Agency | Smart & Chic Bride come to the mansion allowed us to sip champagne and relax while my bridesmaids and I had our hair styled and makeup applied.” —Rochelle Spanel, married August 20, 2011, at Van Dusen Mansion, Minneapolis
Finalists: Brett Dorrian Artistry Studios, emily j. hair + makeup, Creative Beauté Agency | Smart & Chic Bride
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Winner: dugo
Edina | 952.746.4440 | dressupgoout.com
“Dugo has a fantastic selection of dresses—dresses that don’t necessarily say ‘mother-of-the-bride.’ They helped my mom find a dress that was not only flattering to her figure, but hip. She looked great! I had a fall wedding and the dress they helped her choose was a color that worked perfectly with my color palette.”
—Amy Kennelly, married November 26, 2011, at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, Minneapolis; reception at Vic’s, Minneapolis
Finalists: dugo, Nordstrom, The Wedding Shoppe
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Winner: Instant Request Disk Jockey Entertainment
Bloomington | 952.934.6110 | instantrequest.com
“Instant Request Disk Jockey Entertainment truly helped make our night a wonderful experience! Not only were we able to choose all of the music from their incredible database, we were also paired with a DJ that met our needs and preferences. On top of all that, they were extremely reasonable in price and friendly to work with.” —Melissa Van Havermaet, married August 5, 2011, at Medina Country Club
Finalists: Bellagala, Instant Request Disk Jockey Entertainment, Midwest Sound
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Winner: Lasting Impressions by Amy
White Bear Lake | 651.387.3881 | freewebs.com/lastingimpressionsbyamy
“Lasting Impressions by Amy did a beautiful job with the candy buffet at my wedding. The colors went perfectly with the rest of the décor. I wanted something fun for the younger people at my wedding, and at one point, my little cousin ran up to me and said, ‘This is the best idea ever!’ ” —Landrey Darouni, married August 20, 2011, at Majestic Oaks Golf Club, Ham Lake
Finalists: Cocoa & Fig, Gateaux Inc., Lasting Impressions by Amy
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Winner: Just Bloomed
Minneapolis | 612.600.9033 | just-bloomed.com
“[Owner] Jackie Just seemed to ‘get me’ from our first meeting. She took my ideas and made them better! She prompted me in areas I hadn’t even considered, making sure everyone who should have flowers, did.” —Andrea Kleinschmit, married on July 16, 2011, at Bearpath Golf & Country Club, Eden Prairie
Finalists: Ashley Fox Designs, Just Bloomed, Wisteria Design Studio
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Winner: Joynoelle
Minneapolis | 612.209.7822 | joynoelle.com
“I loved my dress and it fit me and my farm wedding setting perfectly. I really enjoyed wearing a dress that I had helped create with Joy’s design. It was made out of a vintage kimono with an amazing floral print. She really listened to what I wanted at every step and I ended up with a beautiful, unique and comfortable dress that I loved.”  —Cari Tan, married June 19, 2010, at Windbeam Farm, Hager City, Wisconsin
Finalists: The Dressmaker, Joynoelle, Tara LaTour
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Winner: Nicollet Island Pavilion
Minneapolis | 612.253.0255 | mintahoe.com
“It was a joy to work with the Nicollet Island Pavilion. They were so flexible, honored our special requests and worked closely with us to make our day unique and special. Our guests are still talking about how wonderful our wedding day was!” — Deborah Getsug, married September 11, 2011, at Nicollet Island Pavilion
Finalists: The Carlson Towers Rotunda, Juliane James Place, Nicollet Island Pavilion
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Winner: Reverend Tomkin Coleman
St. Paul | 612.986.5528 | mnweddingminister.com
“Rev. Tomkin is the most genuine person we have ever met. He listens and makes things happen. He writes a ceremony that tells your story and makes your fairy tale come true! Our guests loved our personalized ceremony. We remember every single detail of our wedding day, and for that we have Rev. Tomkin to thank.” —Nancy Comstock, married June 26, 2011, at Royal Cliff, Eagan
Finalists: Jim Albani, Judge Tom Armstrong, Reverend Tomkin Coleman
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Winner: Four Voices String Quartet
Minneapolis | 612.724.3591 | fourvoicesstringquartet.com
“We chose to go with nontraditional music at our ceremony, and Four Voices String Quartet played it beautifully. They even found an arrangement for a piece they didn’t have in their usual repertoire. It was the perfect background music, and our guests thoroughly enjoyed it.” —Kristin Reimann, married September 2, 2011, at Nicollet Island Pavilion, Minneapolis
Finalists: Four Voices String Quartet, Lake String Quartet, Sharon Planer—Pianist for Parties
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Winner: Buttercream
Multiple locations | buttercream.info
“Our cake was absolutely stunning and equally delicious! We loved the flavor variety that was offered to us when we were designing our cake, which ranged from traditional carrot cake to white raspberry, and the bakers were able to incorporate our delicate floral details onto the cake. These aspects made our cake unique to us.”  —Caitlin Trebelhorn, married September 10, 2011, at Valley Grove Church, Nerstrand; reception at Brackett’s Crossing Country Club, Lakeville
Finalists: Buttercream, Gateaux Inc., Queen of Cakes
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Winner: Renee’s Royal Valet—Limos, Coaches & Trolleys
Plymouth | 763.551.1919 | reneeslimousines.com
“I had 14 people in my wedding party, so it was important for us to find a limo service that could accommodate that many. Renee’s Royal Valet definitely met that challenge. They were also really friendly, flexible and extremely easy to work with.” —Rachael Joyce, married August 14, 2010, at The Depot, Minneapolis
Finalists: Eclipse Transportation, Renee’s Royal Valet—Limos, Coaches & Trolleys, Total Luxury Limousine
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Winner: Bed Bath and Beyond
Multiple locations | bedbathandbeyond.com
“We chose Bed Bath and Beyond for our registry because they have a wide selection of kitchen supplies to choose from. Our experience was wonderful—not only did we have a dedicated employee walking us through our registration process, but they were also there to teach us about their products and what would best suit our needs.” —Courtney Wilman, married June 6, 2009, in New Brighton
Finalists: Bed Bath and Beyond, Crate & Barrel, Macy’s
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Winner: Chowgirls Killer Catering
Minneapolis | 612.203.0786 | chowgirls.net
“Chowgirls’ food is unique, delicious and reasonably priced. We received tons of compliments from our guests, and many commented that it was the best wedding food they had ever had. I appreciated how open Chowgirls was to working within our budget and responding to my questions. I would absolutely recommend them to anyone planning a wedding!” —Jen Zaske, married August 5, 2011, at Columbia Manor, Minneapolis 
Finalists: Chowgirls Killer Catering, Fabulous Catering, Three Sons Signature Cuisine
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