Where do people get married DOWNTOWN?

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June 28, 2004 // UPDATED 2:15 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Jennifer Frey
Jennifer Frey

Beyond City Hall

It's wedding season. Bridal shops are bustling and caterers are busy finalizing meal plans. Now, where will these couples tie the knot Downtown?

Off the skyway track, Downtown is full of interesting places to get married in, from the traditional to the unconventional, indoors and out.

THE church

For those looking for a traditional Catholic Church wedding, the Basilica of St. Mary is the ultimate ceremony spot. One of the most popular and well-known indoor locations, 88 N. 17th St. is renown for its historical significance as the first basilica built in the country, as well as for its stained glass and architectural beauty.

However, if you want to get married at the Basilica, either the bride or groom must have been a registered member of the parish for at least six months, according to Nancy Keller, the marriage coordinator for the Basilica. The only other restriction on the space is a no-alcohol policy.

Keller said that for "around $700" the Basilica provides a number of premarriage services, including meetings with a mentor couple and a daylong retreat. (Since at least one half of the lucky couple is a parishioner, the Basilica does not charge them to wed in the church.) A mentor couple is a couple that has gone through the marriage classes and the wedding process that can guide the younger couple and answer questions about marriage. In order to complete all the classes and workshops in time for the wedding, Keller suggests reserving the church a year in advance.

Usually, couples coordinate their own decorations for the expansive hall, which holds approximately 1,200 people. However, Keller said, "The couples who get married around church holidays (Easter and Christmas) usually don't have to bring in decorations because the church is already decorated to celebrate the holiday."

For more information on Basilica of St. Mary weddings, call 317-3478 or log on to www.mary.org.

A little different

When Dena Modica came to Downtown 15 years ago, there was a bridal shop on every corner at the intersection of South 10th Street & Nicollet Mall, she said. The shops are more spread out now, but the cozy and comfy Dena Marie's Bridal is still on that original corner.

Modica said the biggest trends in dresses this summer are strapless and colors other than white. "Nowadays it's not always about the big and traditional, it's 'What's going to make me look different?'"

Of course, this can also be applied to people's choice of ceremony venue. Modica said that she increasingly hears of people getting married outside of the traditional church setting, and mentioned the Milwaukee Road Depot, 225 3rd Ave. S., as one such place.

The railroad-depot-turned-ice-rink-and-hotel/entertainment complex contains several different spaces to rent. According to The Depot's Director of Sales, John Tracy, up to 1,200 people can be accommodated in the de-iced rink, while the Great Hall holds about 350 people and a smaller hall holds about 175.

A couple can rent space for the ceremony and reception, or just the reception. Tracy said prices vary depending on the space rented, the weekday and season, but he declined to offer a range of rental costs.

Because the Depot hosts between 75 and 100 wedding parties each year, Tracy suggests reserving the space up to a year in advance.

Much like the other halls and reception spaces separate from churches, couples looking to get married at the Depot will have to bring their own priest or minister. Because the Depot uses the Marriott Hotel catering service for all their events, couples are also required to use them for their weddings.

For more information on the Milwaukee Road Depot, call 375-1700 or log onto www.thedepotminneapolis.com.

Au natural

When it comes to outdoor weddings, Loring Park, 1382 Willow St., is a good choice because it has several different outdoor spots but also offers shelter in the event of rain. At $25-$35 an hour, it is also a less expensive alternative to some church or banquet halls.

To reserve the park, fill out an application online with your preferred date and time. If the date is available, the park will reserve the park for your wedding. Because the Park Board doesn't start reserving spots until the first workday in January, couples need to apply as early as they can in the year to make sure they get the day they want.

According to the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board's Web site, www.

minneapolisparks.org, a permit to get married in the park is good for a one-and-a-half-hour time slot. The permit gives you access to whatever part of the park you want the ceremony to be in and ensures that no other couple can be in your space (i.e. the whole park) at your time on your day.

On one end of Loring Lake there is a sort-of dock (boats couldn't use it to get into the water, but pedestrians can saunter out on the floating walkway) that couples can get married on, although the grass and wildflowers have grown too tall for good viewing from the shore (although you're free to bring your own cut bouquets or flower baskets, you're not allowed to tamper with park greenery). Couples can also tie the knot in the large, circular garden full of bright wildflowers located near the lake on the northwest/Harmon Place-facing side. Near the garden is a small wooden pedestrian bridge that is a perfect picture-taking spot -- hanging branches frame the bridge well. (There's too much foot and bike traffic on the narrow bridge to hold a ceremony there.)

The indoor room of the Loring Park pavilion holds up to 175 people, in case of rain. And unlike most indoor facilities, including the Depot and the Basilica, pets are allowed at Loring Park weddings. So if you've always wanted your true best friend to be your bridesmaid or best man, this is the spot for you.

Couples planning on using the park's facilities have to bring their own caterer, but no alcohol is allowed.

For more information on getting married in this park or another park facility, call 370-4929 or log onto www.minneapolisparks.org (click on "Weddings" under "Shortcuts").

In and out

By far the most popular outdoor/indoor facility is the Nicollet Island pavilion, 40 Power St. The recently remodeled pavilion includes an indoor event facility as well as outdoor space with tent options in the event of rain.

"My guess is that we do at least 200 weddings a year, but I think that might be a little low," said Jackie Waste, an employee for Mintahoe, the group in charge of renting out the facility. Because it's such a big space, there's a no-ceremonies-only policy, Waste said. You can either have both the ceremony and the reception at the pavilion, or just the reception. Rental prices vary according to weekday and time. The general range is $1,000-$1,750.

With such a large number of weddings in a year, if you want to have your wedding at Nicollet Island pavilion, make sure to reserve the facility at least a year in advance, said Waste.

Notes for interested brides and grooms: The pavilion is basically one large room. If patrons want to divide the room instead of having an outdoor ceremony and an indoor reception, they must provide their own dividers. And if you want a band to play, they should bring their own speakers. However your caterer comes preselected and alcohol is allowed.

For more information on the Nicollet Island Pavilion, call 651-642-1049 or log onto www.mintahoe.com.