Beyond the chapel: unconventional wedding venues

SHEILA REGAN | Updated 5/29/2013

Your presence is requested at these unconventional wedding venues.

Newlyweds Gwen Ruehle and Justin Waken danced at their May 4 reception at Aria in the former Theatre de la Jeune Lune.
Photo by Joe Lemke

Summer weddings mean primroses, small children adorably throwing flower petals, drunken uncles, chandeliers, tacky bridesmaid dresses, random hookups and lemon cake. A big part of what makes or breaks a wedding, of course, is the venue, so here’s our take on the best wedding spots.

Go Outdoors

Being surrounded by trees and water and grass lends a feeling of promise and hope. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has some great spots available, such as Lyndale Park and Minnehaha Falls. Some locations such as Wedding Hill at Theodore Wirth Park and Central Riverfront Park have tents available in case of rain. St. Paul Parks and Recreation has many sites, as well. Weddings at farms can be fun, including Camrose Hill in Stillwater or the historic Gibbs Farm in Falcon Heights for a rustic experience.

Minneapolis parks:

St. Paul parks:

Camrose Hill Flower Studio and Farm: 233 S. 2nd St., Stillwater,

Gibbs Farm: 2097 Larpenteur Av. W., Falcon Heights.

Go Underground

Underground weddings are great for ambience. Surrounded by cool-looking rock formations, they offer an almost mystical appeal. Wabasha Street Caves does weddings in St. Paul or there’s Niagara Cave in Harmony, Minn., or the Crystal Cave in nearby Spring Valley, Wis.

Crystal Cave: W965 State Road 29, Spring Valley, Wis.

Niagara Cave: 29842 County Road 30, Harmony, Minn.

Wabasha Street Caves: 215 S. Wabasha St., St Paul.

Get Married like a Rock Star

Many legendary Twin Cities music venues make for an awesome wedding location. The Turf Club has hosted some legendary punk-rock weddings, while the Varsity Theater is another perfect space for the special day.

Turf Club: 1601 University Av. W., St. Paul.

Varsity Theater: 1308 SE. 4th St., Mpls.

An Artful Wedding

The Twin Cities’ thriving art scene offers fun and funky venues. Whether it’s at a small gallery like Soo Visual Arts Center, the historic Soap Factory building or the Walker Art Center (with its glorious skyline view), a gallery or a museum will create an artsy, offbeat feel. Many local theaters rent out their facilities with enough notice. The Southern Theater has a gorgeous arch and beautiful brick walls to give the occasion a theatrical flair, while Aria, the event space in the former Theatre de la Jeune Lune, has an amazing energy with its high ceilings and large floor space.

Aria: 105 N 1st St., Mpls.,

The Soap Factory: 514 SE. 2nd St. Mpls.,

Soo Visual Arts Center: 2638 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls.,

Southern Theater: 1420 Washington Av. S., Mpls.,

Walker Art Center: 1750 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.

Historic places

Mansions, hotels and libraries can be perfect spots to get hitched, especially because their rich beauty will save time and money in decorations. The James J. Hill Library in St. Paul, the St. James Hotel in Red Wing and the Van Dusen Mansion in Minneapolis have gorgeous interior designs that help create a magical night and make for good photographs.

James J. Hill Library: 80 W. 4th St., St. Paul

St. James Hotel: 406 Main St., Red Wing, Minn.

Van Dusen Mansion: 1900 Lasalle Av., Mpls.