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Reception advice needed for a large Minneapolis wedding

My fiance and I are beginning to plan our Fall 2011 wedding and are having trouble finding a great reception spot. We're not SUPER picky but here's the criteria we're *trying* to meet:

- has an outdoor space (large terrace, deck, etc), or is outside and would allow us to rent a large tent to put up so we didn't have to worry about the weather
- isn't ridiculously expensive. We know we'll have to pay a pretty penny to have a nice reception in MSP, but we'd like to keep it somewhere around $8-10,000.
- can accommodate btwn 300-400 people (dining, not just for the dancing part)

We had thought of Calhoun Beach Club, but I can't seem to find out how expensive they are.... we also had read about the St. Anthony Main Event Center. Does anyone have any thoughts/reviews of these places? Or any other suggestions? Anything would be appreciated!


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  1. Have you looked at theknot.com messageboards? That's a resource I used a lot when planning my wedding, though it was a couple years ago now.

    Based on what you've said so far, what comes to mind is the Nicollet Island Pavilion. http://www.mintahoe.com/go/venues/www...

    (edit to take out a suggestion that looks to be too small).

    1. 300-400 people is a lot of people. Calhoun Beach Club is a member's only thing. You would have to know or become a member to use the space, and I would imagine "ridiculously expensive" would be the case, but I do not know for sure. I have not been to St. Anthony Main for years so I cannot comment.

      What ever you do, do not forget service fees and taxes in your budget planning. They can easily add another 25-30% to your cost for food, etc. and are unavoidable if you use a professional caterer or food service vendor.

      I thought of the Nicollet Island Pavilion. With your size and budget, parks will likely be a great way to go.

      I attended a nice wedding at Como, but it only holds 300.

      Good luck and congratulations.

      1. Calhoun Beach Club is available to be booked through D'Amico catering (you don't have to be a member). They also do several other venues, my favorite being the Mill City Museum. They can cater the event however you like to meet your budget (for instance, have a cash bar instead of an open one, one choice for dinner, etc) but they'll still be somewhat expensive.
        The conservatory at Como Park is a cool space as is the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Plus there are some great mansions (such as the Gale House, but that may be too small for your wedding size). The pavilion is a good suggestion.
        If you don't mind being out of Minneapolis, the Red Barn in Red Wing is a fantastic space.
        I looked at a lot of places when considering having our wedding here (we ended up getting married in Georgia). Our favorite was the Women's Club. For a wedding your size, it's going to be really tricky keeping it within your budget, from my experience.
        Good luck!

        Mill City Museum
        704 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401

        1. We had a local reception for about 250 at the St Anthony Main Event Center 4 years ago and it definitely meets all of your criteria. There were a few hiccups, but for the most part Three Brothers did a fantastic job with our event and I can recommend them.

          We had looked at using the Nicollet Island Pavilion, but I can tell you that with your budget and 400 people it will be very hard to make it work. I think median cost for seated dinner and non-premium open-bar came in well over 10K for 250. It doesn't hurt to ask however...times are leaner now and you may have more room to negotiate.

          While it doesn't have a patio, the Depot can certainly accommodate that many people and we have been to several events both in the "station" portion and the ice rink pavilion that have been well done.

          One note as you begin this process; negotiate the hell out a a few things and get it in writing/email before you sign a contract. We were able to provide cheesecake and champagne wholesale as it was a provision we requested early on. That alone probably saved us three grand.

          1. In your price range, consider a venue that will allow you to provide your own caterer. Fat Lorenzo's caters very inexpensively, and the food rises above the price point. If you are doing a cash bar, consider hosting a keg, which allows everyone to feel as though they got a whole meal without bearing the cost of a hosted bar (which could blow your budget on its own).

            Fat Lorenzos
            5600 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55417

            1 Reply
            1. re: kevin47

              Congrats on your engagement and Fall 2011 nuptials. I will agree with many of the CH posters.

              I planned a wedding in 2008 and I also do planning on the side (for free for friends). A venue, indoor or outdoor, for 300-400 people including dinner for 8-10k won't be easy.

              First, does it have to be Minneapolis? Can it be St. Paul or a suburb? Depending on suburb, it can get a little cheaper (but with the surchg factor ranging from 13%-21%, and also for some convenience factors (a lot of suburban venues don't require police (which costs per hour), add'l security and cars at some venues can be left overnight (Mpls-have to be removed by midnight at a lot of places).

              If it has to be the cities, I can tell Nicollet Island is expensive. My BF got married at the Pavillion and the food and bev minimum is '05 was $14k. However, I do agree that with the economy, it is still worth it to make the call and see what they might be able to do for you. It's beautiful there. My BF also checked out the CB club - she did not need to be a member, but the F/B min was 21k on '05.

              Have you thought of some of the park facilities? That might be an option. Check out the Knot or even browse MN Brides-in the back, there is a section that lists every venue basically in the cities and surrounding areas and an idea of how expensive it is.

              I am not sure if this is an option - but if you were looking for something beautiful with outdoor potential too - boats are always something you might want to look into. Or getting married at a park and doing a scenic boat reception.

            2. If you are willing to consider Prior Lake, my dtr had a summer wedding at a restaurant there. Outdoors, great ambiance, and good food. This was 12 yrs ago. Can't remember the name of the place, but it was just off I35, south of 46th. All I did wsas pay the bill, and thought it was reasonable for the location and service we received. Don't know about the tent, though.

              AZ Grandpa

              3 Replies
              1. re: AZGrandpa

                Mea Culpa

                Upon reflection, at my age (3 score +) I think that the restaurant I mentioned above was
                the Quarterdeck. Not sure, but I think that is the name.

                1. re: AZGrandpa

                  One of mine just got married, and we looked at a LOT of places, and I'm having a hard time coming up with something that fits. Most of the places big enough to hold that large a party do not have outside space.

                  NIP is too expensive. Also Calhoun, though you couldn't get everyone in one room either, I don't think. St. Anthony is big enough, but the outside space is really just a relatively small deck. You could try Harriet Island - I think it only holds 275 inside, but there's lots of outside space and they MIGHT let you put up a tent. Gale Woods holds around 325. Those last two give you several choices of caterer, so you can keep the price down that way.

                  Oh, and I think the big ballroom at Edinburgh gold course holds 350. Their deck is really nice.

                  1. re: LoriQ

                    Oh, and Plymouth Creek Center holds about 350, too, and has a really big deck overlooking the gardens. Downside is dates might be tricky - they give Plymouth residents first shot.

              2. I think you need to scale back your amount of people as 400 people at $10,000 is $25 a head. Where can you even get an entree let along a rental, sides, etc. for $25 a person.

                200 people is more realistic at $50.

                1. Went to a great weeding at Mendakota Country Club...beautiful inside and out. Fun bride and groom had reception on July 4th. Really good food, plus touches of whimsy like hot fudge sundaes and pie passed by waiters for dessert.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jillbcooks


                    With the budget Mendakota is out.

                  2. Hi,

                    I came across this while searching for a wedding reception. I actually have the exact same criteria as you did, only we have 300 people max to invite.

                    I am wondering if you found anything? We have been searching non stop to find a unique outdoor area that allows for a tent and are not having much luck.

                    Any help at all is much appreciated!!


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: cveire

                      If you click on the OP's user name, ldburdick, you'll see that she only posted 2x, and those were both wedding related.

                      You might want to start a new thread about your needs, as 4 years is a long, Long time in the venue business!!