Join the Club: Twin Cities
(Above) With sweeping lawns stretching to Lake Minnetonka shores and a ballroom with elegant chandeliers, the Lafayette Club is dressed to impress
In the Pinterest era, with endless ideas at your fingertips, everyone is trying to push the envelope when it comes to weddings. Yet with so many brides seeking trendy venues, the best way to stand out could very well be to embrace the elegance of the classic venues. Rich in history, these Twin Cities clubs—social, recreational and athletic—have been the haunts of the powerful and glamorous, and inspire stories of their own. Each can provide the perfect backdrop for a wedding.
The Lafayette Club
The Lafayette Club’s history dates back to the original hotel, built by railroad magnate James J. Hill in 1882. Just 20 minutes west of the Twin Cities, it’s set along 3,000 feet of shining Lake Minnetonka lakeshore.
“The Lafayette Club is such a grand, beautiful place, as you enter the drive it’s easy to feel intimidated. We work very hard to be welcoming,” says catering director Brenda Rogers.
The gorgeous lake setting is enhanced by the pristine white clubhouse, lined with arched doorways. A veranda overlooking Crystal Bay leads into the Crystal Ballroom, featuring gleaming hardwood floors and two huge chandeliers. While elegant, the ballroom can be transformed into a more rustic setting as well.
The Lafayette Club also offers a picturesque ceremony garden, and a casual patio for smaller, more intimate receptions. Guests can lodge in 17 charming rooms.
Special features: Lakeshore setting, grand ballroom with enclosed veranda, outdoor venues, clubhouse, 17 guestrooms.
Minnetonka Beach, 951.471.6411, lafayetteclub.com
University Club of Saint Paul
Perched atop a hill on St. Paul’s legendary Summit Avenue, this Tudor-style estate boasts jaw-dropping architecture. The landmark setting is defined by the historic opulence of swirling staircases and shimmering chandeliers. Ornate architectural details include dark millwork, fireplaces and sculpted plaster ceilings.
“If these walls could talk, they’d probably have some excellent, and possibly scandalous, stories about F. Scott Fitzgerald, among others,” says Julia Struve, catering director for Commonwealth Properties. “The club’s member list reads like a who’s who of St. Paul history, hosting literary legends, titans of industry, and movers and shakers.”
Modeled after the great social and recreational clubs of London, the space retains a regal flair that begs for a classic cocktail and sharp attire. For couples that envision an outdoor ceremony, Lookout Park adjacent to the University Club offers stunning views of downtown St. Paul and the Mississippi River valley.
Special features: Outdoor weddings at Lookout Park
St. Paul, 651.222.1751, universityclubofstpaul.com
The Saint Paul Athletic Club
To host an event at the Saint Paul Athletic Club is to follow in the footsteps of generations of tastemakers. Housed in an iconic building in the heart of St. Paul, the Athletic Club was meticulously restored and reopened in 2013. The renovation brought the space to the highest standards of contemporary design while maintaining every ounce of historic value.
“From its outset more than 100 years ago, the Saint Paul Athletic Club was one of the nation’s finest examples of exclusive social, recreational and athletic clubs. Today it is one of the only enduring examples of this hallmark of civilized society,” says Struve.
Highlights of this city sanctuary include a soaring multi-story lobby, a sweeping marble staircase, ornate woodwork and glittering lighting. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer panoramic views of downtown St. Paul. While many venues require extensive decorating, this historic venue arrives fully dressed.
Special features: Grand ballroom, on-site café and bar
St. Paul, 651.291.7722, thespac.com
For Old World glamour, look no further than the Minneapolis Club’s distinguished event spaces / Photos courtesy of The Minneapolis Club, Photos by Robert Evans Studios
The Minneapolis Club
Nestled between glass skyscrapers, an urban oasis lies hidden in downtown Minneapolis. Lush green vines creep up the brick walls, built in 1908. For more than a century, the Minneapolis Club has been the Twin Cities’ welcome mat for industry icons, U.S. presidents and heads of state, from Nelson Mandela to the Dalai Lama.
The club features original hardwood flooring, grand open spaces, vaulted ceilings and wood-burning fireplaces. Updated décor adds a touch of the modern to the vintage charm.
“Guests can step inside, remove themselves from the hustle and bustle of a big city and enjoy being treated as royalty,” says catering manager Ashley Waters. “History permeates the club, and it remains a distinguished, yet warm and welcoming place.”
Couples have also hosted theme weddings in the elegant setting, embracing themes as wide-ranging as murder mystery to The Great Gatsby.
Special features: Main dining room, main lounge, downtown lodging
Minneapolis, 612.332.2292, mplsclub.org
The Woman’s Club of Minneapolis
Designed by French-born architect Leon Arnal, the man behind Minneapolis’ beloved Foshay Tower, this classic six-story mansion overlooks picturesque Loring Park. It includes several unique spaces under one roof.
A Spanish-style lounge boasts a 16th-century hand-hewn stone fireplace imported from Italy. Floor-to-ceiling windows rise above oak floors and open onto a covered balcony, while the staircase makes a dramatic focal point. The ballroom is classically decorated with hand-carved plaster relief, stately columns and a crystal chandelier.
Intimate gatherings can be hosted in the mahogany-paneled Falconer Memorial Library, lined with Juliet balconies. Couples can also opt for a creative wedding ceremony onstage in the Clubhouse theater.
The formal dining room is hung with bronze chandeliers and carpeted with jewel-toned Persian rugs. In warmer months, guests can dine on a rooftop terrace with an unrivaled view of the Minneapolis skyline.
“One of the greatest benefits of having a reception at the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis is that it’s such a hidden gem,” says Jamie Gates, wedding and events coordinator. “It’s not a space that is often seen. Because of that, it’s a unique venue, a beautiful space to showcase our masterful art collection and many antique furnishings.”
Special features: Spanish-style lounge, grand ballroom, formal dining room, rooftop terrace, Falconer Memorial Library, Juliet balconies, theater
Minneapolis, 612.813.5300, womansclub.org
Metropolitan Ballroom & Clubroom
Before it was transformed into a chic event space, the Metropolitan Ballroom & Clubroom was a nightclub. Rupert’s House Band took the stage, and the group still performs in the Twin Cities under the name R Factor.
Today, tiered cocktail seating flanks an ornate stage, creating a jazz-club feel enhanced by high ceilings and mahogany woodwork. The dance floor makes an ideal atmosphere for live music and after-dinner dancing.
“Some of my favorite receptions have been those that really embrace the unique feel of the space,” says Jessica Kielblock, D’Amico catering sales manager. “Rich metallic linens, Gatsby-esque Art Deco menu cards, and era-appropriate live bands create a memorable experience for the guests.”
The space is adorned with oriental rugs, hand-painted murals and tapestries, and period chandeliers. A baby grand piano adds a touch of sophisticated luxury. The Metropolitan can be also customized for a unique look or transformation into an Art Nouveau space or a 1920s club.
Established: 1990s (club-space renovation)
Special features: Clubroom, ballroom, veranda, stage, dance floor, built-in sound and lighting system
Golden Valley, 612.238.4444, damicocatering.com
Minnesota Boat Club
Minnesota’s oldest athletic institution sits on the lush shores of Raspberry Island, offering both the wildlife setting of the Mississippi River Valley and views of the St. Paul skyline.
“From the moment you cross the bridge, Raspberry Island provides an unforgettable experience, whether you prefer the cityscape or the natural beauty of the river,” says Angie Dusold, marketing director for Mintáhoe Catering & Events.
Arched doorways and a red tiled roof are striking aspects of the club’s architecture. Its timeless interior includes paneled ceilings, intricate woodwork and tall paned-glass windows. A wrought-iron chandelier and a grand fireplace make dramatic focal points.
Two outdoor verandas offer breathtaking views. Brides and grooms can also select from a variety of riverside ceremony spaces.
Special features: Outdoor ceremony options, two outdoor verandas with views
St. Paul, 651.228.1602, mintahoe.com
Your little something blue could be the azure accents in the vintage nautical décor at White Bear Yacht Club / Photos courtesy of White Bear Yacht Club, Photos by Leah Fontaine Photography
White Bear Yacht Club
The story of the White Bear Yacht Club begins in 1889, when it opened for the sailing set. Tennis was added in the 1890s, and the club became a premier golf facility in 1912. The course, designed by Donald Ross, remains one of the county’s top-ranked today.
F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda visited the lakeside club in 1921. A year later, Fitzgerald published “Winter Dreams,” a short story that transpires at a golf club on “Black Bear Lake.”
While many wedding ceremonies are held on White Bear Lake’s shoreline, the vintage nautical clubhouse is much-prized by brides. Dramatic characteristics include floor-to-ceiling windows and a grand spiral staircase.
“The design and colors of the clubhouse are meant to replicate the historic clubhouses of the past,” says general manager Ken Galloway.
Along with a day on the golf course, wedding guests can also enjoy clay tennis courts and a pool with adjoining cabanas.
Special features: Indoor and outdoor venues with lakeside views, golf, tennis, pool
Dellwood, 651.429.4567, wbyc.com