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: www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=24#locations.

St. Paul parks: www.stpaul.gov/index.aspx?nid=1390

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

Gibbs Farm: 2097 Larpenteur Av. W., Falcon Heights. www.rchs.com/gbbsfm2.htm

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. www.acoolcave.net

Niagara Cave: 29842 County Road 30, Harmony, Minn. www.niagaracave.com

Wabasha Street Caves: 215 S. Wabasha St., St Paul. www.wabashastreetcaves.com

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. www.turfclub.net

Varsity Theater: 1308 SE. 4th St., Mpls. www.varsitytheater.org/CateringDetails-Wedding.html

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., www.ariampls.com

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

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

Southern Theater: 1420 Washington Av. S., Mpls., www.southerntheater.org

Walker Art Center: 1750 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. www.walkerart.org/facility-rental/rental-policies

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 www.jjhill.org/wedding_rental

St. James Hotel: 406 Main St., Red Wing, Minn. www.st-james-hotel.com/stjames/weddingsGroups.html

Van Dusen Mansion: 1900 Lasalle Av., Mpls. www.thevandusenmansion.com