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A’bulaePhoto by Bellagala
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Nelson Cultural CenterPhoto by Studio Laguna Photography
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Villa BellezzaPhoto by Photogen
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514 StudiosPhoto by Callahan & Co.
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ARIAPhoto by Studio 306
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The Bachelor FarmerPhoto by Studio 306
New & Improved
The wonderful thing about living in these creative twin towns is that there’s always something new and exciting going on. That holds true for wedding venues, too. Whether you want to go Scandinavian chic or raw urban warehouse, these new places to say “I do” are worth exploring.
The idea for one of the newest venues in town has been simmering for nearly a decade. When Tim George founded local wedding vendor Bellagala in 2004, his long-term goal was for the company to have an event space of its own. In June 2013, that vision came to life with the opening of A’bulae in Lowertown St. Paul. To create the space, George’s team solicited input from local event planners and event site directors. The result is a versatile space with integrated digital technology (including a 55-inch iPad and interactive digital photo booth) and a crew of in-house experts and services. The feel is SoHo loft: think floor-to-ceiling windows, contemporary furnishings, and a rooftop deck with great city views. Mintáhoe provides the onsite catering.
255 E. 6th St., St. Paul, 651-788-9818, abulae.com
Nelson Cultural Center
When it opened in June 2012, the Nelson Cultural Center provided a stark contrast to the attached American Swedish Institute, with its clean modern lines next to the historic turrets of Turnblad Mansion. It also provided more options for weddings at ASI: In addition to the spaces in the mansion itself, you can now have your wedding in the simple, modern Larson Hall (which fits up to 275 people for a seated dinner) or outside in the ASI Courtyard between the mansion and cultural center (up to 200 people). And tree-huggers, take note: Nelson Cultural Center is one of the few LEED Gold-certified wedding venues in the Twin Cities.
2600 Park Ave., Mpls., 612-870-3368, asimn.org
We’re not Napa and never will be, but you can still have the winery wedding of your dreams. In 2012, Derick and Julianne Dahlen added to the local winery landscape when they opened Villa Bellezza along Wisconsin’s Great River Road, an hour and a half from the cities. Inspired by their trips to Italy, the couple created a Mediterranean-style winery with stucco, stone, classic red roofing, and a central piazza complete with a fountain. You can get married among the grape vines, host a customized wine reception, and then dine in the Great Hall, which accommodates 250 to 300 people. If planning a big wedding isn’t your thing, Villa Bellezza also offers an elopement package, which takes care of all the details for two to 10 guests.
1420 3rd St., Pepin, Wis., 612-803-0025, villabellezza.com
It's a working photography studio by day and an event space by night—a turn of events that happened almost by accident, when friends and acquaintances started inquiring about holding events here two years ago. At 3,000 square feet, it’s smaller than some of the other venues mentioned here, and that’s part of its charm. The classic warehouse setting provides a blank canvas that’s ripe for tailoring, and the owners let you bring in your own food, booze, and any vendor you choose. Another highlight: the 10-by-10-foot garage door that opens from the main space to a private outdoor lot, allowing the celebration to spill outdoors—and perhaps to your favorite food truck parked outside.
514 N. 3rd St., Ste. 101, Mpls., 612-520-1514, 514studios.com
Theatre de la Jeune Lune may have disbanded in 2008, but its former home in the Warehouse District still puts on a good show. Since reopening as an event space in 2012, the 14,000-square-foot venue has become a popular booking for creative-minded weddings, galas, and original programming. Designed by architect Cass Gilbert in the early 1900s, the building beautifully mixes gritty and classy, from the exposed brick to the crystal chandeliers. It’s a good fit for couples drawn to raw urban spaces that make a statement. It’s also great if you’re planning an oversized wedding, as it can accommodate 1,000-plus people.
105 N. 1st St., Mpls., 612-342-2742, ariampls.com
The Bachelor Farmer
The Dayton brothers had an instant hit when they opened The Bachelor Farmer in 2011. And since fall 2012, they’ve been carving out a different kind of success—this time in the local wedding market. The second floor of their North Loop building offers an unconventional wedding venue with four rooms to choose from, including the colorful Afghan Room and the lounge-y Living Room. Bachelor Farmer is a good fit for intimate weddings, as it accommodates 50 people seated or 80 to 150 for a cocktail-style reception. The New Nordic food from the kitchen downstairs is certainly a perk, as are the cocktails from the basement-level Marvel Bar. Another unique aspect: There’s no set rental fee, just food and beverage minimums.
50 2nd Ave. N., Mpls., 612-206-3932, thebachelorfarmer.com