Past Pine Lake, grazing horses, buzzing tractors, a cow-crossing sign, the city of Finlayson (pop.
Bed & Breakfast Weddings
The whisper of a deep forest, a stretch of rolling green fields, vivid flowers in elaborate gardens, and charming and historic towns; these are the backdrops for bed-and-breakfasts, a Minnesota tradition that offers elegant luxury and simple delight. These romantic retreats also have something for every bride and groom: the settings for beautiful destination weddings, intimate elopements, festive groom’s dinners, or a long and relaxed honeymoon. And the morning after the big day, waking up on a wide feather bed to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and hot scones provides the perfect way to welcome those first moments of marital bliss.
Berwood Hill Inn
Berwood Hill Inn stands out as a bright jewel in the crown of Lanesboro’s scenic bluff country, with grounds for romantic summer weddings and intricate flower beds bursting with tangerine, fuchsia, crimson, and violet blossoms against a lush green backdrop. With acres of award-winning gardens designed by owner Fran Scibora, many couples seek out this flowery paradise to exchange vows under a blooming trellis that overlooks the Minnesota countryside.
“We have acres and acres of phenomenal gardens, especially in the summertime, and that’s what really draws people,” says Jan Engstrom, special events coordinator. “The gardens are very innovative.”
Bride Jaclyn Roverud McMurray was overwhelmed by the beauty of the gardens, and chose to hold an outdoor ceremony at Berwood in July. “Our guests were seated on little white folding chairs and we were under a canopy of trees in the garden overlooking the valley. It was just such a beautiful setting,” she says.
Roverud McMurray took advantage of the multihued scenery during her outdoor reception as well, serving fresh mojitos and using the wide lawns for lively wiffleball games, a wedding tradition among her husband’s friends. The festivities later moved into Berwood’s Lu Lu Belle’s Roost, a reception space dreamily adorned in tulle and white lights, which comfortably accommodates 120 guests.
Much of Berwood Hill Inn’s charm comes from the restored 1880s Victorian farmhouse, available to host the bridal couple and guests over a long weekend. Impeccably decorated with fine furnishings and antiques, the inn offers five cozy sleeping spaces, including the intimate Owl’s Nest. “That’s where I got ready with my bridesmaids, and it was really very romantic,” Roverud McMurray says. Many brides don their gowns in this old-fashioned attic suite before walking down a rose-petal aisle in the most colorful summer ceremonies.
“The gardens are amazing,” Roverud McMurray recalls. “We knew we wanted our wedding there just because it was so beautiful. We’re hoping that in 10 years we could come back and have that be our anniversary location.”
Classic Rosewood Inn
“Rosewood Inn really offers a home atmosphere,” says owner Pam Thorsen. “Our goal is that guests have a chance to spend a wonderful time with their family, book the whole house, and spend the weekend together. It really is the way that families celebrated 100 ago.”
Coming home is the overwhelming sentiment at this history-rich mansion, where family, tradition, and intimacy have remained treasured values throughout the years. Located just outside of the Twin Cities in historic downtown Hastings, those seeking an elopement or a smaller ceremony will find tradition and open-armed hospitality.
The intimate setting of the inn allowed the families of one Minneapolis couple to bond over the groom’s dinner, which took the form a finely catered afternoon tea. The two families had never met, yet when they discovered the inn’s extensive collection of nearly 75 hats to model, all remaining awkwardness melted instantly. “It was such a wonderful ice-breaker; I don’t know what it is about wearing hats, but it puts you on another level about being able to laugh at each other and begin reminiscing. It put everyone at ease from the start,” Thorsen says.
Many couples embrace the familiarity of this bed-and-breakfast with simple ceremonies, like a vow renewal with a few close friends, or a secret weekend elopement featuring photographs, flowers, a delectable homemade dinner for two, wedding cake and an overnight stay in one of the luxurious suites. Other couples appreciate the mansion’s historical value by holding unique theme weddings, with motifs such as the 1930s or “Murder Mystery.” Many newlyweds become local celebrities for the evening as white, Christmas lights surrounding the mansion alert locals to the wedding, and a cruise through downtown Hastings in a buggy or an old-fashioned car puts the pair in the spotlight.
Classic Rosewood Inn has also seen several couples return over the years. “One of our wedding presents to them is an overnight for their first anniversary,” Thorsen says. As it turns out, home is where you always return.
Round Barn Farm
Weddings are weekend events in the rolling countryside at the Round Barn Farm. Bridal parties can head to this B&B in Red Wing for a two-night stay in the country manor farmhouse where they can enjoy piping-hot breakfasts, and of course, beautiful bucolic weddings and vivacious receptions in the Round Barn. “You’d be surprised how many people are enamored with round barns, plus the country setting,” says owner Elaine Kleffman.
Built in 1914, the Round Barn is one of only a few dozen left in the state, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. Originally a dairy barn with a milking parlor that held 20 cows, the structure was renovated in 2003 and has been a wedding destination ever since. Comfortably accommodating 150 guests, the space has two levels, stunning woodwork and a soaring 60-foot domed cathedral ceiling.
Deborah Spirn was inspired to host a country wedding and found that this B&B was the only location in Minnesota where she could hold her reception in a round barn; she was married at the farm in August. An interior designer, she played up the summery country theme with a green, yellow, brown and white color scheme throughout the barn, paying attention to details such as lemon and lime place card holders. “Simple elegance was what we were going for. The whole theme was vintage shabby-chic, but elegant at the same time,” Spirn said.
Hosting a Jewish wedding, Spirn and her husband Daniel also wanted to carry on the tradition of throwing a wild dance party. Breaking between each meal course, 130 guests hit the dance floor of the Round Barn throughout the night. “We’ve seen every type of music; everything works here,” Cleffman says. “And you can have a square dance in a round barn!”
Minneapolis couple Tor and Nicole Westguard, who were married in June, used the barn to embrace a unique Asian tradition. The couple folded 1,000 paper cranes, which they hung from ribbons in a gridwork pattern over the silo hole. Others have chosen to make the unique setting a backdrop for a unique wedding, such as Red Wing natives Andrew and Tira Petersen. Andrew owns a bicycle shop in town, and as a token of appreciation he presented a new bike to each bridesmaid and groomsman. Every member of the wedding party donned a different color—a rainbow of orange, yellow, green and lavender—and Andrew matched each bike to the different colors of the clothing. The pairs rode off into the sunset in a multihued band—a grand finale to a charming wedding in the countryside.
Firelight Inn on Oregon Creek
Nestled among turn-of-the-century mansions in Duluth’s historic East End, Firelight Inn offers peace, relaxation and Old World charm. Romance lingers in the air of this 1910 mansion, which specializes in honeymoons. For active types who want to venture out, Duluth offers a variety of activities from hiking along the North Shore to antique shopping to watching ships glide through the Lake Superior harbor. Many other couples seek a romantic weekend in, and Firelight Inn offers luxury and relaxed seclusion. “We’re really all about romance here,” Joy Fischer, owner and keeper with her husband Jim, says. “And always by firelight. We excel at firelight.”
Fires glow in 12 hearths throughout the mansion, including each of the inn’s suites. Every room is outfitted with luxurious amenities: a plush feather bed, a Jacuzzi for two, chocolates, books and magazines, oversized bathrobes and silk petal soaps handmade by the owner. Two suites also include decks with winding staircases (adapted from fire escapes), offering a breakfast nook with spectacular views of Duluth.
“We loved that it had the charm of a small family bed-and-breakfast with the perks of a larger establishment,” says Laura Anderson, who honeymooned at Firelight Inn in August. “How the location is set up is fantastic too: Each couple is free to roam the home to get what they need, whether that be some relaxation time on the beautiful porch, a DVD or a book, or a sugar cookie and tea from the pantry.”
Perhaps the best part of staying at Firelight Inn is the deluxe breakfast personally delivered to each couple’s suite in the morning, allowing them to extend the indulgence of lounging in bed during a long morning. “Our B&B is special for honeymooners, because our specialty is delivering breakfast to their room. It’s a full, hearty breakfast. Everything is packed in a basket,” says Fischer. The menu includes baked apple pancakes, port wine, blueberries and cream, pumpkin muffins, chocolate chip scones with faux clotted cream, and Alakef Brazilian coffee, among other mouthwatering items. “The breakfast is amazing,” Anderson affirms. “To have a wonderful basket of goodies delivered to your room each morning is the perfect touch to an elegant location.”
Additional reasons stay in include an on-site massage therapist to melt away the stress of a wedding, and a variety of romance packages. One honeymoon favorite is the Firelight Celebration Package featuring champagne and custom flutes as souvenirs. This is often accompanied by Jim Fischer’s forte: decadent chocolate-covered strawberries to enjoy in the Jacuzzi with a glass of champagne. Staying in by the glow of firelight has never been as tempting as at this romantic Minnesota getaway.
B&Bs That Host Weddings:
A.G. Thomson House, Duluth
This stately 1909 Dutch Colonial features a main house as well as a carriage house overlooking majestic Lake Superior.
Ann Bean Mansion, Stillwater
Located in historic Stillwater amid the beautiful St. Croix River Valley, this Queen Anne lumber baron’s mansion has a double parlor and dining room ideal for intimate ceremonies.
The Covington Inn Bed and Breakfast, St. Paul
Minnesota’s only floating bed-and-breakfast is permanently moored on the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul; the elegantly renovated towboat offers spectacular views of the river and city.
Heritage House, St. Cloud
An elegant 1904 Queen Anne home, Heritage House features an octagonal tower, wraparound porch, the craftsmanship of German woodcarvers, and stained- and leaded-glass windows.
Historic Heights B&B, Minneapolis
An urban B&B, the motto here is “country pampering and city convenience.” Located on three city lots, this beautifully restored 1900s Arts and Crafts-era former hotel offers ample space, gardens, a patio, and great food and amenities—just steps away from the culture and convenience of downtown Minneapolis.
The Marshall Estate, Litchfield
This quaint 1920 English Tudor has hardwood floors, a grand fireplace, courtyard, and gardens, and hosts themed murder mystery dinners and luncheons.
Meadows Inn, Rushford
A secluded European-style home among beautifully wooded bluffs near the eastern Root River Trail, this B&B has spacious, beautifully landscaped grounds adorned with flowers and a fishpond.
My Lake Home, Grand Rapids
On the water’s edge of Dixon Lake in Chippewa National Forest, this lodge-style B&B lies beneath towering pines and brings to you lakehome living that’s rustic yet elegant.
The Pilar Inn, Cold Spring
An elegant B&B ideal for small ceremonies, the Pilar Inn has a wraparound porch, colorful gardens and a fishpond in the summer.
William Sauntry Mansion, Stillwater
Lumber baron William Sauntry built this Victorian mansion in 1881 when the sawmill of Stillwater was booming on the St. Croix River. The ornate home features original wood floors, stained-glass windows, chandeliers and Victorian furnishings.
W.W. Smith Inn, Sleepy Eye
The 1900s Queen Anne-style home is on the National Register of Historic Places, and features floor-to-ceiling stained glass, ornate woodwork, period pieces and chandeliers, including an original Tiffany lamp on the newel post of the grand staircase.
Xanadu Island, Battle Lake
A romantic island getaway, this 1920s lodge is accompanied by three original servant’s quarters, now remodeled and decorated as cottages. It lies on the shore of Elbow Lake,
surrounded by more than 100 other lakes.
B&Bs That Host Bachelorette Parties:
Classic Rosewood Inn and Spa
The Valley Girls, Hastings
Take over the whole third floor, with three rooms that all have whirlpools and fireplaces. Throughout the weekend, enjoy Sunday brunch at the Afton House, a $75 voucher to Caring Hands Spa, one in-house supper and pizza vouchers.
Beyer Haus Bed and Breakfast
Girls’ Slumber Party, New Ulm
A slumber-party special includes appetizers and wine, gourmet breakfast, fresh flowers and DVDs accompanied by snacks, soft drinks and popcorn. Enjoy the choice of a 30-minute massage, manicure, pedicure or mini-facial.
My Lake Home
Whole Inn Special, Squaw Lake
The entire inn is yours for a two-night stay. Savor a four-course breakfast and daily wine and cheese tastings, and take in the scenery on sunset cruises around picturesque Dixon Lake.
Cedar Rose Inn
Girlfriends Frenzy, Alexandria
Save 10 to 20 percent by renting the whole inn for a weekend, and enjoy a full breakfast each morning and strolls around shop- and restaurant-filled downtown Alexandria.
(Source: Minnesota Bed + Breakfast Association)