By Todd Pernsteiner
So you’re getting married? Congratulations! Now comes the hard part, deciding where to hold the ceremony and reception.
Picking a venue is almost as challenging as picking a spouse – again, I said almost. The area’s event spaces are as diverse as the residents are. Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and surrounding suburbs have several unique, hidden sites just off the beaten path that can make your day special. Best of all, finding the perfect location doesn’t have to be like finding a needle in a haystack.
John Basill, President and CEO of Discover St. Louis Park, suggests using a city’s Destination Marketing Organization such as theirs (DMO, also sometimes called a Convention & Visitor Bureau or CVB). DMOs typically offer complimentary services to assist in finding a wedding venue, reception site, and group hotel accommodations.
Best of all, they’ve done the legwork, so you don’t have to.
Basill says an organization like his is great for helping find unique venues that people might not be attuned to. He also points out that DMOs are also key to finding group accommodations. “Hotels will set aside a block of rooms for your group at no fee in advance, up until 14-30 days prior to your event. It’s important to know how to secure the best rates for your group and that’s how a DMO can help.”
When it comes to event spaces, the west metro itself offers up a plethora of hidden gems ready to be mined. Here is a sampling of spaces that Basill says to consider.
Winery in the City
If you’re a wine aficionado, you know a winery is a great site for both a ceremony and reception. What you might not know is you don’t have to travel out-state to find one.
St. Louis Park is home to one of the only urban wineries in the region. Nestled in an industrial area, this nearly five-year-old, working winery has found its niche in hosting spectacular events.
“The winery is likely unlike any other local space you may have seen,” praised Basill. “Its eclectic decór and large open spaces complement each other well to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere.” WareHouse Winery is an impressive 7,000 square foot space with 13-foot ceilings, interesting gathering spaces, and a seating capacity of up to 200. Their diverse catering menu, full beverage service, outdoor patio, and free parking make this a desirable venue for an unforgettable experience.
Insider Tip: Warehouse Winery’s wines have won numerous national and regional awards. You are invited to the winery every last Wednesday of the month for their “Wine Down Wednesdays” – a great opportunity to sample their wines and take a peek at the venue.
All the World’s A Stage
If an outdoor wedding is more your style, a stage and amphitheater might just be the place to act out your love. Picture yourself as Romeo and Julio, or Romany and Juliet, proclaiming your undying admiration for each other – minus the tragic ending.
Veterans Memorial Amphitheater in Wolfe Park, located just south of St. Louis Park’s Excelsior and Grand, has seen its share of ceremonies. The venue’s tiered seating offers guests a casual place to comfortably enjoy the ceremony. Within feet from the amphitheater is a fully enclosed, climate-controlled pavilion with a fireplace and restroom facilities. The pavilion seats up to 30 guests and overlooks a creek and covered pergola. Ample free parking is located within a short walking distance.
Insider Tip: If you want to literally take the plunge, rent the adjoining Aquatic Park for the evening. What better place is there to capture memorable photos than a tandem waterslide?
Make it a Blockbuster Premiere
You’re the leading actors in your wedding so why not profess your love on the big screen! Showplace Icon Theatre at The Shops at West End in St. Louis Park is a swanky venue to do just that.
While the facility’s primary focus is clearly showing movies, Showplace Icon has hosted grooms dinners and quite a few unique proposals. They have yet to host a full wedding, but just think of the possibilities; their state-of-the-art sound and projection capabilities would knock your guest’s socks off. The theater’s adjoining Lobby Lounge restaurant offers a full-service bar and restaurant, as well as an intimate private space within.
As with any space, theater rental dates and times are based on availability – and renting it will cost you a few pennies – but it could prove to be an epic wedding your guests won’t soon forget.
I Do, I Dine
For intimate gatherings, a favorite restaurant space may leave a good taste in your mouth. Many have beautiful, private dining rooms equipped with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment – not to mention tantalizing food and beverage menus.
The new iteration of Figlio at The Shops at West End in St. Louis Park has a private space called the “Milano” which is decked out with a candlelit fireplace, rustic brick, dark wood accents and stained glass privacy panels. It can seat 72 guests or be split into two smaller spaces seating 24 or 48. Alternatively, the space can hold up to 100 for heavy hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.
The Shops at West End is also home to Rojo Room, a comfortable private space that seats up to 75 guests. Rojo Room’s built-in projector, 192-inch drop down screen and digital sound system are perfect for showcasing a slide show or video presentation. Rojo adjoining private patio seats up to 40 and gives guests a place to enjoy the summer air.
Insider Tip: For a toe-tapping bachelor or bachelorette party, consider renting the private VIP room at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill at The Shops at West End. The room accommodates up to 35 people and includes a private bar, plush leather couches, velvet lined walls, and a soundproof window facing the live music stage.
Be Good to Your Guests
When choosing a site for your big day, don’t forget your transient guests who will need accommodations close to your venue, says Basill.
“We oftentimes get inquiries from brides and grooms whose out-of-town guests aren’t comfortable staying in the heart of a big city,” said Basill. “We proudly assure them we are ‘comfortably close’, right off two major highways that connect the metro. Free parking, an abundance of local eating establishments and nominal cab fares make our hotels and event spaces particularly desirable.”
Check it Off Your List
The perfect spot for your joyous occasion is likely hiding right under your nose. With a little research and some phone calls to experts in destination marketing, you’ll quickly be able to check “The Venue” off your to-do list. Then you can move on to the most important task, choosing cake flavors.
Discover St. Louis Park
City of St. Louis Park
Park Facility & Amphitheater Rental
Kerasotes Showplace Icon Theatre
Rojo Mexican Grill
Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill