Wedding season is upon us and Stillwater is a picturesque backdrop for any wedding. Gorgeous views of the river, jaw-dropping bluffs, historic venues, and an incredibly charming downtown make Stillwater not only the birthplace of Minnesota but the ideal place to say “I do”.
Two and a half years ago, my husband and I said our vows in Stillwater. We wanted our wedding to be very local and almost everything we had at our wedding was “Stillwaterized”.
Our ceremony took place at the historic courthouse, our reception at The Loft at J Studio in downtown, our rehearsal dinner was at the Whiskey Lounge atop of Pub 112, my dress was from the downtown boutique Our Shop, my veil and alterations were prepared by Golden Needle, my yummy cake came from Buttercream Bakery, my hair and makeup was done at A'salonna, our candy bar consisted of treats from Tremblay's Sweet Shop, and my bridesmaid gifts were a collection from Stillwater Olive Oil Company, Designs of Sweden, and St. Croix Vineyards.
We took pictures by the riverfront with the lift bridge in the background and our first drinks were created by our favorite bartenders at The Mad Capper. Our guests stayed at Water Street Inn and Lowell Inn, and our first breakfast together as man and wife took place at the Victorian Rivertown Inn. I even made a t-shirt at The Shirt Factory in downtown to commemorate my last "single girl" run that took place the morning of my wedding as I got out the last of my jitters.
Stillwater owned our wedding and that’s exactly how I wanted it.
The funny thing was no one at our wedding besides myself and my husband actually lived in Stillwater and many had never visited the town. The best part was hearing from so many guests how much they loved staying in Stillwater, how incredible they thought the town was and how it was the perfect place to get married. Stillwater made my greatest day even better.
Every wedding is different and if I had to plan more, here would be my top Stillwater picks.
Best Historic Wedding
Am I a little biased on this one, yes. But look at that beautiful building. Built in 1870, the Historic Courthouse is the oldest standing courthouse in Minnesota and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Planned by Augustus Knight and influenced by Italian architecture, this pristine building with full arch windows sits high on the bluffs while overlooking downtown Stillwater and the St. Croix River.
There are two options for your ceremony at the courthouse, either on the outside lawn with your guests seated on the grass while you say your nuptials atop the stairs under the beautiful archway. Or you can have it inside on the top floor of the courthouse with stunning full-length windows and grand architectural details. There are two changing rooms for the groom and his men and for the bride and her ladies.
The old jail cells are still intact and can make for some cute, if not damaging, pictures. The courthouse can also host your reception and can accommodate up to 200 guests.
*Currently, the historic courthouse is not taking any private reservations, but that could change in the future.
Best Outdoor Wedding
This captivating farm is tucked away on the far south side of town and the best spot to host an outdoor wedding. Unique characteristics such as a bonfire pit, quaint signage, a fountain garden, lights and tiki torches will have your guests feel like they are in an enchanted garden.
The bride and groom say their vows under a beautiful rustic chapel covered in natural vines and hanging crystal chandeliers while being surrounded by gardens. Lawn games can be set up during the cocktail hour and the reception area can hold 200 guests under a large canopy with 5 crystal chandeliers and white lights. The bride and bridal party can get ready in a charming 1950’s cottage with plenty of space.
Camrose Hill is also known for their renowned flowers. Many of the flowers picked for your special day are homegrown on site. Camrose Hill can accommodate all your essential flower needs from the bridal and bridesmaid bouquet to the cake flowers, table centerpieces, boutonnieres, corsages and ceremony decorations, depending on your budget.
Best Eclectic Wedding
If you want a historic but eclectic feel to your ceremony or reception, then The Loft by Studio J is your place. During the summer of 2013, the incredible photographers of Studio J (named the "Best Photographers in the Valley" by the Gazette), completely renovated the upstairs portion of their building for downtown events and weddings that Stillwater residents were desperately asking for.
The 6500 SQ. feet of space can accommodate over 250 guests. An incredible hand crafted wood bar with seating sits off to the center of the space. There is plenty of space for tables, a band, dancing, and a buffet. Funky details such as a classic Coca-Cola sign, spiral chandelier, large frames, brick interior, and old style piano make this venue very unique. Extra vintage rooms are great places to take pictures, steal a kiss, or hop in the photo booth.
Best Large Scale Wedding
Is your guest list getting out control and you just can’t make “cuts”? Then Studio J’s “JX Event Studio” is the right place for your wedding. Built in 1905 and located at the Old Connolly Shoe Factory this event space just opened last year and was recently voted one of the 25 most stunning venues in Minnesota.
With 3 levels and 42,000 sq feet, the event space can host 700 seated guests or 1200 standing. The lower level is designed for catering, hair salon, photography studio, co-working space and a speakeasy lounge. Eventually, JX Event Studio wants to have a rooftop with a 360-degree view of Stillwater and hopes to have that accomplished sometime in 2019. Experience the elegant JX Venue, with first-class amenities and historic charm. For a full visual tour of the JX Event Studio, click here.
Best Small Wedding
Located just 2 miles from downtown, the Trellis is another great option for outdoor weddings. It is a ceremony only wedding venue. The main canopy can hold 250 guests.
The true gem of this outdoor venue is the Gazebo which can host 50 or fewer guests. Lined with gardens, vintage post lights, music that can be heard throughout the entire sight and a vintage chandelier that complements the floral setting makes this the perfect place for a more intimate, beautiful wedding.
Best Private Wedding
Want to have your wedding at a place that can host the ceremony, reception and have a place to stay? The Outing Lodge is your wedding destination. Located in Pine Point Park and away from all the bustle of downtown Stillwater, this European-style country estate sits on 300 acres of wooded paths and rolling land.
Have your ceremony outside in the luscious garden where the guest list can virtually be unlimited or have it in the vintage library that can hold 150 guests. The reception can be held in the garden area under a canopy or inside where the dining room can have 150 guests or use all 3 floors of the lodge for up to 300 guests.
After dinner, have drinks and dancing on the lower level or head upstairs to play games or chat in the library. Once the party is over, the bride and groom and other members of the bridal party can head up to their rooms all located in the lodge. The next morning the newlyweds can open their gifts with their nearest and dearest over breakfast.
Best River Wedding
Since St. Croix River defines this town, a riverboat wedding seems inevitable for Stillwater. Depending on the boat you choose, you can have a small wedding of 25 people or up to a larger scale wedding of 675 guests.
Enjoy breathtaking views of the river and bluffs on either side, see the lift bridge in a whole new way and let the natural beauty of St. Croix Valley be your backdrop. Boats are provided through St. Croix Boat and Packet Company and go a few miles north or south on the St. Croix River, depending on bridge lifts and water levels. Catering is provided by Grand Catering, located in downtown Stillwater.
Best Way to Arrive
The Trolley in Stillwater is a must! Enough seating for the bride, groom, and bridal party to ride up to the ceremony, photo site and reception in the bygone style of the Stillwater Trolley. This is definitely a one of a kind Stillwater experience.
If you are planning an upcoming wedding, I can promise you Stillwater will not disappoint. Come and see why so many start their forever in Stillwater.
For more information on Stillwater and Events, visit www.discoverstillwater.com