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Back to the Classics: Marrying in a Classic Minnesota Wedding Venue

Never go out of style.
updated 9/4/19

Trends come and go, and weddings are no exception. From color palettes to gowns, there are more choices than ever when it comes to defining your wedding day. While unusual venues and trendy details have their appeal, a classic wedding is a foolproof way of honoring history while maintaining a look that won’t go out of style. With an air of elegance and a comfort with tradition, classic weddings are making a comeback in a huge way.

Classic-wedding expert Stephanie Johnson, owner of Park Place Planning in Edina, emphasizes the appeal of traditional wedding venues. “So many couples find classic weddings appealing because the elements remind us that weddings are so much more than just great parties,” she says. “Weddings are truly timeless when couples include the traditions that are most personal and meaningful to them, ignore trends and popular colors, and focus on one or two unique details to truly delight their guests,” she says.

Rachelle Mazumdar, director of weddings and events at Style-Architects in Minneapolis, agrees on the appeal. “Classic weddings are still very popular because many brides envision a wedding they can look back on in 20 years and not question their choices,” she says.

When it comes to planning a classic wedding, finding the right venue is the key to defining the day. From ballrooms to mansions to historic clubs, the Twin Cities is home to many venues that will not only wow your guests but also provide a timeless look and feel that will last many generations to come.

Back to the Classics: Marrying in a Classic Minnesota Wedding Venue
Bridget and Jim Madich chose the majestic Minikahda Club for their October 2013 wedding.

Magnificent Mansions
Semple Mansion
Originally constructed as a residence for Frank and Anne Semple and their family, the Semple Mansion is easily one of the most beautiful and unique spaces in the Twin Cities. The spacious grand foyer of the mansion can be used for ceremonies, while the Copper Lounge, wine grotto and the library can be used for cocktail hours. Guests can then be welcomed to the lavish ballroom—the largest original ballroom in Minneapolis—for dinner and dancing. Capacity: The ballroom has a seating capacity for 250 guests for dinner and 200 guests for a buffet.

Van Dusen Mansion
Built in 1892, this mansion’s Romanesque style will make you feel like you’re walking into a real-life fairy tale. Guests will enter through a porte-cochère (carriage entrance) into a lavish courtyard. Within the mansion is an ornate interior adorned with stained glass windows and sparkling chandeliers. Couples can chose from multiple spaces for their wedding, including the two-tiered carriage house, a grand event center, and the iron-gated courtyard boasting gardens and fountains. Mintáhoe Catering & Events provides customized menus, as well as linen and décor options, to balance the unique styles of each couple. Capacity: 200 guests seated for a ceremony and dinner, or up to 350 for a cocktail reception.

Gale Mansion
Located just south of downtown Minneapolis, this historic mansion built in 1912 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally heated with coal, the Gale Mansion has eight unique fireplaces that are now used as stunning decorative features. With indoor and outdoor ceremony options, as well as three separate levels that can be used for weddings, the Gale Mansion offers many options for couples seeking a unique historical venue. Each room in the house has its own style and can be decorated to match any couple’s taste.
Capacity: Up to 100 guests for a seated dinner on the main level, 190 guests in the lower ballroom level.

Blaisdell Manor
Built in 1915, Blaisdell Manor in South Minneapolis is a Georgian-inspired mansion rich in history. Step back in time as you enter the white-pillared, brick exterior and see the grand staircase on the interior—enough to make any bride feel like Scarlett O’Hara. The grand ballroom, with a vaulted ceiling, is built to impress, and can be used in conjunction with the outdoor and garden areas. With catering exclusively provided by Three Sons Signature Cuisine, your guests are sure to ooh and aah over the meal as well as the ambiance. Capacity: The Grand Ballroom can host up to 290 guests for a plated meal or 350 for a cocktail reception.

Classic Clubs
Lafayette Club
Built in 1924, the Lafayette Club is conveniently located only 20 minutes from downtown Minneapolis on the shores of Lake Minnetonka. The executive chef and his team are known for their top-notch fare and can customize each course. The Lafayette Club has 17 guest rooms, which couples can reserve for their out-of-town guests. Along with the stunning ballroom, there are three additional facilities suited for receptions, along with several smaller rooms for bridal showers and groom’s dinners. Look for an outdoor space available in summer 2015. Capacity: Receptions for up to 450 guests.

Minikahda Club
Tucked away on Lake Calhoun, the Minikahda Club offers a luxury country club experience right in the middle of Minneapolis. If you’re looking for history, you’ll find it here; Minikahda was founded in 1898, making it the oldest country club west of the Mississippi. A deck and croquet lawn can each host a cocktail hour, and guests can move into the ballroom for dinner and dancing. Outdoor ceremonies can also be held on the lawn overlooking Lake Calhoun. The on-site executive chef creates dishes using locally sourced and organic ingredients, and will customize menus for your event. Capacity: The ballroom hosts 220, adjoining rooms open it up to 300 guests.

Minneapolis Club
The Minneapolis Club has been a community fixture since 1883. Conveniently located in downtown Minneapolis, the club offers several distinguished event spaces, each with their own style. The second floor of the club houses a handsome wood-floored hall, suited for ceremonies and receptions, while the third floor has ornate rugs and window fixtures for an old-world feel. The Minneapolis Club specializes in comprehensive wedding services, and serves food prepared by renowned executive chef Hakan Lundberg. Capacity: Up to 200 guests in the main dining room for dinner service, up to 350 in the main lounge for wedding ceremonies, cocktail and dance receptions.

The Woman’s Club
A club and a mansion in one, the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis is an elegant six-story facility overlooking Minneapolis’ Loring Park. Built in 1928, the clubhouse has multiple spaces available for weddings. The ballroom, one of the club’s most versatile spaces, can be used for sit-down dinners and boasts a foyer for additional space and flexibility. Other spaces available include a terrace, a lounge and dining room, a library and a parlor. Capacity: The ballroom can accommodate 144 for a seated dinner, the dining room can accommodate 116 for a seated dinner, and the lounge fits 500 for a standing reception.

University Club
Chandeliers, ballrooms, swirling staircases—the décor at the University Club of Saint Paul radiates elegance. Having recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, the University Club’s Grand Ballroom hosts dinner receptions as well as wedding ceremonies in front of floor-to-ceiling windows. Spaces are also available at their sister property, the St. Paul Athletic Club, including a 14th-floor penthouse, the Grill Bar and the lobby. The club offers a variety of wedding packages, as well as options for gift-opening brunches and wedding shower luncheons. Capacity: Up to 330 seated guests.

Calhoun Beach Club
Scenic and swanky, the Calhoun Beach Club offers beautiful lake and park views from its several event spaces. Rooms have been updated with crisp white accents to meet modern tastes, while still maintaining a classic sensibility. The Solarium room, the most popular space in the club, has arched windows that fill the space with sunlight, as well as an attached terrace that overlooks Lake Calhoun, perfect for guests looking to get a breath of fresh air after all that dancing. Amenities include a bridal suite, a baby grand piano, and the award-winning D’Amico Catering. Capacity: Up to 550 guests for a reception in the Solarium, 270 guests for theater-style seating. The entire club can host up to 1,000 guests.

Historical Hotspots
James J. Hill Center
For book lovers and history buffs alike, the James J. Hill Center is a venue like no other. Since opening in 1921 on Rice Park in the heart of downtown St. Paul, the James J. Hill Center has been a historical landmark. With its high ceilings, dramatic lighting, grand columns, and walls and walls of books, the center’s reference library will awe your guests and make for a gorgeous backdrop to your ceremony or reception. The venue has an open catering policy, but offers a list of preferred caterers to help you choose. Capacity: Up to 150 attendees for ceremonies with reception, up to 225 attendees for reception only.

The Saint Paul Hotel
Consistently ranked among the country’s top hotels, the famed Saint Paul Hotel in the heart of downtown provides luxurious accommodations for your guests, along with exquisite spaces for your wedding. The hotel offers numerous indoor and outdoor wedding spaces but the newly remodeled Promenade Ballroom is a top choice. The hotel recently unveiled its luxurious new bridal sanctuary, l’Etoile, where brides can relax and get ready before the big event. Capacity: The Promenade Ballroom can accommodate 350 banquet-style or 500 for a standing reception. The James J. Hill Room can accommodate 120 guests banquet-style or 250 for a standing reception.

Landmark Center
Originally a federal courthouse and post office, the Landmark Center was the site of major city happenings, including the famous 1930s “gangster trials” of infamous types like John Dillinger. Today, the historic downtown St. Paul space hosts stunning ceremonies and receptions. With beautifully restored courtrooms and a large cortile available for rent, the Landmark wows guests with their uniquely glamorous spaces. The cortile (interior courtyard) can be used for both ceremonies and receptions. The Landmark Center doesn’t work with an exclusive caterer, but a list of preferred caterers is supplied. Capacity: Cortile can accommodate up to 320 guests for a seated reception; the entire building can accommodate up to 750 guests for a seated reception.

Timeless Details
Your venue may define the look and feel of your wedding, but don’t neglect the details. Wedding planners Stephanie Johnson of Park Place Planning and Rachelle Mazumdar of Style-Architects share some classic wedding elements that will never go out of style:
The white dress. The wedding staple that has stood the test of time.
Printed invitations. Nothing conveys the importance and grandeur of a wedding like a lovely invitation.
A wedding cake. While dessert bars are all the rage, nothing says classic wedding like a gorgeous cake. Bonus: A cake doubles as a gorgeous piece of décor
All-white décor. Regardless of your venue, white décor always works and won’t put a time-stamp on your wedding.
A gorgeous bouquet. Stunning blooms never go out of style.
Your own traditions. Incorporate something that’s personal and meaningful to you as a couple.

Words to the Wise
Top tips for hosting your wedding in a classic venue.
Know your space. Many classic venues are converted mansions or clubs, and were not originally designed to host events. Inquire with the event coordinator about the capacity of each room in the venue, and be prepared to split up guests during dinner, especially in mansions.
Use décor wisely. With glowing chandeliers and ornate woodwork, classic venues provide couples with a glamorous canvas. Take advantage of the space by working with its inherent beauty. You
may find that when it comes to decorations, less is more.
Know your limitations. Dreaming of a candlelight dinner? Want your guests to toss flower petals or light sparklers for your grand exit? Be sure the check with your venue. Many classic venues are also recognized historical sites and may have restrictions on fire, noise or mess.
Consider your color palette. With elaborate existing décor, classic venues may not work with every color palette. Pick the venue of your dreams and design your color palette around it.

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