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Justin Morneau's Wedding

Twins star Justin Morneau and his bride Krista Martin say "I do" in a romantic winter wedding
updated 9/9/19

Justin Morneau and Krista Martin’s romance could elicit a host of baseball metaphors: He hit a home run, they’re a grand slam couple—you name it. But such clichés would miss the point. Justin may be a sports superstar, but he put away his bat and glove and wore his heart on his sleeve for his January wedding to sweetheart Krista Martin. In truth, the only appropriate cliché is that they plan to live happily ever after.

As the starting first baseman for the Minnesota Twins, Justin is widely considered one of the premier players in Major League Baseball. In 2006, the American League awarded him Most Valuable Player and in 2008 he won the Home Run Derby.

Krista, a native of Winthrop, Minn., is a 2005 graduate of Mankato State University. A biology major, she estimates she attended only two or three Twins games before meeting Justin. It’s not surprising then that Justin’s celebrity status escaped her when she first met him in September 2006. She was having cocktails with friends when he approached her at DRINK in uptown Minneapolis.

“I thought she was beautiful and, from the little interaction we had, I thought she was funny,” says Justin.

Krista, though, wasn’t so sure. He sent her a drink from the bar and she had the bartender pour it out. “He chased me down the steps, out the bar and gave me his number and said, ‘Please call me.’ ”

She did call after all, and they went to a movie in Inver Grove Heights. It wasn’t until after their second date that she finally discovered who he was. Justin gave her two tickets to a game and she heard his name read by the announcer.

“I was so out of it. I was thinking he was a back-up or something. I didn’t know he played first base,” she laughs. “Everyone still teases me about that.”

After those first couple of dates, they were inseparable. “I think there were only three or four days that I didn’t see him in that entire first year,” says Krista. “I did every road trip of 2007.”

The proposal came during an October 2007 trip to Hawaii. The decision was an easy one for Justin. He says he knew she was the one “the first time I saw her.” Justin had a friend distract Krista with a phone call during a sunset walk on the beach. While she was occupied, he etched in the sand, “Krista Nicole Martin, I love you. Will you marry me?” As she approached, he was down on one knee.

“It was so sweet,” she says. “I could tell he was in a hurry as the question mark got a little shaky at the end.”

Justin’s training and game schedule meant a wedding during the off-season. Krista and Justin also knew they were expecting a large number of guests. A January 10, 2009 wedding, with the reception at Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul, was a natural choice. “We love Rice Park in the winter,” says Krista. “It’s one of our favorite areas.”

Because of their travel schedule, much of the day-to-day planning fell to veteran Twin Cities wedding planner Joan Nilsen of Ambiente. Working primarily via e-mail and phone, Joan set up several appointments during the few days Krista was in town.

“We were smart with our time and we would get as much packed into a day as we needed,” says Joan. “They were a blast to work with from start to finish.”

The night before the big day, the wedding party celebrated with a groom’s dinner at D’Amico Cucina in downtown Minneapolis. After a dinner with multiple options including braised lamb ravioli, Berkshire pork loin and warm chocolate truffle cake, Justin and Krista surprised their guests with an after-dinner bowling competition at the Park Tavern in St. Louis Park. They even included retro bowling shirts with name patches and logos that Krista designed.

“Everything else about our wedding was very traditional, and we wanted to throw everyone off by adding in some fun,” says Justin. “Krista and I are very competitive and love to bowl.”

After getting her hair done by Laurie Gillham and makeup by Michelle Sachs of H Design, Krista donned a custom 100 percent silk and satin ivory gown from the Platinum collection. The dress, from Bridal Accents Couture in Savage, featured a hand-embroidered bodice, an A-line skirt and a beaded and embroidered cathedral-length train with pleated detailing.

“The train is what I loved the most,” says Krista. “I really wanted a long train and this one stood out from the rest.”

For his part, Justin chose a two-button traditional notch tuxedo in ivory, also from Bridal Accents Couture, adding a unique twist on traditional groom attire. The rest of the men in the wedding party wore traditional black tuxes with a Windsor tie.

Justin didn’t let the pressure of the day get to him. “I really wasn’t that nervous because proposing to her was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made,” says Justin. “I was more excited for the day to come.”

Krista chose a classic palette for the wedding: black, white and deep, stunning red. She carried a bouquet of rich red roses and dahlias, fiddlehead fern shoots, Schwarzenwald miniature callas and red hypericum by Wisteria Design, all wrapped in a deep red satin ribbon. Her attendants carried bouquets of various white roses, spray roses, white dahlias and freesia—also by Wisteria—which provided a dramatic contrast against their black gowns from David’s Bridal.

In keeping with tradition, Krista didn’t want to see Justin, or even her father, before the ceremony at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in southwest Minneapolis. It was the only moment Justin almost lost his cool.

“Right before the ceremony in the church while we were waiting, I got a little nervous,” he says. “But that feeling went away right when she walked through the doors of the church. I thought she looked amazing.”

After the traditional Lutheran ceremony, the couple was escorted to the Landmark Center in a white Rolls Royce from Classic Restoration.

Upon arrival at the Landmark Center, the guests were treated to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the second level. The nibbles from executive chef Lance Kapps of the Saint Paul Hotel included Asian spoons of seared beef tenderloin with red onion marmalade and sliced veal with a grilled corn relish. 

To create the romantic ambiance of the evening, crews began setup at 2:30 that morning. Behind the scenes, 16 crewmembers from Instant Request Disc Jockey Entertainment operated an intricate lighting and production scheme.

One hundred LED lights surrounded the perimeter of Landmark Center on two levels, creating a warm glow and highlighting its architectural beauty. Forty-eight pin spotlights hung from the fourth floor, projecting white light onto each table’s centerpiece. Sixty custom crushed dichroic gobos created texture and color on the ceiling draping, periodically changing hue as the evening progressed.

Playing off the Landmark Center’s columns, designers from Linen Effects hung draping down all four levels, accented by white twinkle lights. “We wanted our wedding to feel very warm even though it was cold outside,” says Krista.

Wisteria Design arranged the centerpieces on each table—covered with black taffeta tablecloths hand-stitched with white ribbons from Linen Effects—with two different levels of floral. Half of the tables featured tall candelabras of deep red flowers, including roses, dahlias and Jamestory orchids. The other half were centered with low-profile mounded arrangements in the same palette. Both featured crystal glass garland accents and were surrounded by rose petals and votives.

Justin and Krista made sure that no one went hungry at the reception. Chef Lance Kapps designed a feast that included cream of Minnesota wild rice soup; a salad of baby spinach with brie, strawberries and a raspberry poppyseed vinaigrette; and a main course of beef and salmon filets or Saltimbocca chicken served with rock shrimp and basil risotto.

“We had dined a few times before at the Saint Paul Grill and loved their spinach salad with strawberries,” says Justin. “So that was a must to have on our menu.” Dinner was served on black chargers with diamond edging, black satin napkins and a mixture of black and clear goblet glassware, all from Linen Effects.

The couple made a bold choice with their wedding cake: a dramatic, five-tier cake covered in black fondant, edible white pearls, white scrollwork and white edible monogram and red floral. “I’ve only ever done one other black wedding cake in my 12 years in this business,” says Robin Martin of Gateaux, Inc. in Plymouth. “We just took our time and made it flawless.”

The cake flavors included pumpkin walnut with cream cheese filling, tuxedo (chocolate cake and white cake separated by fudge filling) and cream cheese nirvana (white cake filled with cream cheese and fresh raspberries).

Krista also surprised Justin with a four-tiered groom’s cake featuring frosting replicas of all his favorite things: traveling, the Twins, even ketchup chips—a Canadian ketchup-flavored potato chip made by Old Dutch. The bottom of the cake, also by Gateaux, copied his sand-written proposal using brown sugar as the beach.

During cocktails and dinner, guests were treated to a photo-montage of Justin and Krista, created by Instant Request. The show played on eight 60-inch plasma TVs strategically mounted throughout the perimeter of Landmark Center’s main level. Three live camera operators were also on hand to shoot the speeches and first dance, which were also broadcast on the plasma screens.

For relaxing, Linen Effects created a Miami-style lounge adjacent to the dining and dancing area, adorned with white leather furniture and white draping.

The dance included tracks played by Instant Request’s Nate Anderson and during dinner, live music by Cookie Coleman and Friends. During the packed dance, a custom glass gobo on the second floor projected Justin and Krista’s monogram onto the floor. 

The evening concluded with Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me,” a fitting metaphor for this jet-setting, inseparable couple. After a honeymoon in the Turks and Caicos, Justin and Krista split their time between their five homes, including one in Mendota Heights.

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