Wedding at The Minneapolis Theodore Wirth Chalet Fireplace | Minnesota

Small and Emotional Wedding at a Switzerland Style Chalet in MPLS

Liz & Alex Wedding in Minneapolis at the Theodore Wirth Chalet and its stunning Fireplace

The second more famous public venue in Minneapolis, MN, is probably the Theodore Wirth Chalet, the first being the Como Conservatory which is the pride of Minnesota! Also, today I will present you Liz and Alex’s wedding, and this unconventional venue!

I first meet Liz and Alex in a restaurant and we discussed how they envisioned their wedding and what their expectations were. Like most couples, they wanted mostly candid shot, natural style, but high quality with highly valuable stolen moments.

We spoked a bit about the vine and French cuisine. The connection was instantaneous, and after a lot of laughter, they decided to hire me. I first shoot their engagement session in the same park in Minneapolis. And it was now time for their big day.

Given that Liz and Alex don’t really like being the center of attention, they wanted something intimate. Thus, they decided to invite only their closer families.

The Bride and the Groom Preparation

Given their venue does not have any beautiful room with natural light, the bride and the groom decided to get ready for their new home. Their friends and family members joined them.
The bride and the groom isolated each other in different rooms of the home.
Alex had some fancy sneakers, a limited Lacoste edition designed by Keith Haring, and he offered the same one of his best man (his new).
Liz got ready with her friends. She offered to each of them a big box with a lot of gifts! That was pretty neat from her!
Then the two lovers exchanged a letter, and the guys drove to the venue. During this time, the bride and the bridesmaids opened a bottle of champagne.

The Chalet: An Unexpected Architecture (for the area)

When I arrived to the venue, my reaction was a mix of  happiness (to discover this beautiful chalet), and surprise, to discover this Swizerland architecture settled on a hillside . How a rich Bavarian-style chalet, made with rough-cut blocks of pink granite could stand in the middle of a Minnesotan public park. That’s not really the kind of architecture used in the area!

History Point

I got my answer by reading the historic signs. Theodore Wirth, the past superintendent of Parks in Minneapolis was Swiss. He left Swizerland for the United States in 1888 when he was 25 years old. In 1904, after he showed his landscaper talents working for different parks across the world (London, Zurich, Long Island, Connecticut), he was hired by the MillCity to take care of the city’s park.
He is the man behind the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, and the other park of the city.
As a result, the Superindentand name was given to this Golden Valley Park (previously called Glenwood) and its lake (previously named Keegan’s Lake).

As you can bet, he found the inspiration of this building in his own childhood from Switzerland!

Rustic and Elegant ambiance

Now, let’s speak about the style itself.
As you know, Switzerland is a country located in the Alpine mountains. Winters are pretty cold, and summer hot. They need massive buildings that can resist to the harsh temperature and protect the people. As a result, the building basement is made with large blocks of granite.

The style is massive, simple but efficient.

A spacious balcony

The two outdoor stairs are part of the edifice’s frontage. They reinforce a visual sensation of protection to the building, reminding us some medieval ramparts.
They lead to spacious observation deck (or gallery) where can take the cocktails hour. Surrounded by pine trees, and offering a perfect view on the park,  it’s a very pleasant place.

A Modern Facility to Get Ready

But let’s got back to the basement. Today, it is used for the park activities, and offers lockers room and other amenities for the golf club. Nevertheless, those modern and convenient amenities have a price: the total lake of charm!
Also, if you are planning to get married at the Theodore Wirth Chalets, I would recommend getting ready in a nice hotel room, or in your home!
Also, be aware that you will cross the path of golfers, or people doing country skiing depending on the season.

The Historical part

While the basement is modern, the top floor of the Theodore Wirth Chalet remains unchanged. The main room is nothing but a spectacular. The high ceilings (probably 30 feet) are made with exposed wood beams. The walls and the floor are made with dark wood. The high single-hung wood windows, and their tiny glass bring a touch of light in this dark environment, but not enough to properly light the room.

The main brick wall offers a spectacular fireplace, which creates a warm atmosphere (especially when you add extra candles all around).

In addition the candle chandeliers hang from the ceiling, reinforcing the medieval aspect.

First look and bride and groom pictures in the Theodore Wirth Chalet  recreation area

The chalet is surrounded by gorgeous pines trees. We took advantage of those to stage their first look.
After that we shoot most of their couple pictures.
We also used the granite stairs, the majestic oak trees and the bucolic wood bridge near the parkway.

Family and fun pictures

After that we staged more funny pictures.

Wedding Ceremony at the Theodore Wirth Chalet

Their union took place in front of the fireplace.
The guests were seating in the white chairs (include in the rentals).
Their officiant was a family member who made the atmosphere even more intimate.
After a few speeches, they exchanged their wedding rings and lightened unity candles.
Finally, they exit and welcome everyone in a receiving line, which is always the opportunity for a couple to exchange a few words with all their guests.

Cocktail hour in the pub and cafe-style room

Then the guests enjoy a cocktail hour in the pub still room (a mix of wood, and green, reminding an Irish pub).
I always recommend that couples plan a long cocktail hour in order to have the more candid portraits of their guests.

A dinner with Emotional Speech

Speeches can be the highest point of a wedding celebration. It was the case for Alex and Liz when their parents took the microphone. Both the bride and the groom ended with tears in their eyes. I also did.
I really love such speeches. In my opinions, they bigger gift that can be offered to the couples: their families sharing their love.

Getaway with the Bride and the Groom

The best light being late in the evening, we I asked the bride and the groom to exit to take a few more shots.

Special Vendors

A Special Caterer Vendors Under the Porch

Alex is a chef, and both Liz and Alex work for the same company in Minnesota: Lunds & Byerlys. As you can imagine, Alex hired his staff to prepare the best food ever.

Given there is not a kitchen , they were working in their truck, and staged the food in the verandah.

And I have to admit that not only the food was amazing, but I have really been well treated by the vendors. Indeed, it’s important that the photographer is served in first and can eat fast, so he can continue to catch pictures during the dinner.

Last Picture

Like often, during the dinner and the dancing, I like to set up some more creative images. I use the elements offered by the Theodore Wirth Chalet, and include flash most of the time.
Therefore, after taking the first dance pictures (I plaid with mirror reflection to catch the stunning ceilings) we take pictures near the golf courts with the sunset light.

Thank you

Finally, I wanted to thank you Liz and Alex for choosing me among all the photographers in the Twin Cities.
It not only easy, but a real pleasure to work with them. I had the sensation that I manage to put them at their ease in from of my camera, and that they ended up having a lot of fun having their pictures taken!

What should you know before planning to get married at the Theodore Wirth Chalet

  • No natural light
    (the Theodore Wirth building is pretty dark, so don’t expect bright pictures, and hire a good photographer)
  • No kitchen
    there is not a kitchen so your caterers would have to work in their truck! That’s a very important point, because all caterers are not able to do that.
  • No tent allowed
    despite the 759 acres of recreational areas, you are not allowed to set up any tent on the grass.
  • No dog
    Dogs are allowed outdoor, but not inside the venue
  • No Linen
  • Lots of parking places
    a pretty convenient point for your guests.
  • Rentals
    You won’t have to rent chairs, they are included.
  • A lot of photo spots all around
    The 759 acres of nature provided by Theodore Wirth Park should be enough diversity for your wedding pictures. Let’s thin to The Theodore Wirth Lake, the adjacent hill, the golf course, the trails, the wood bridge, the wild flowers, the Bassett Creek. If you need extras location, you can  even consider the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden.

Conclusion

A great discovery

I was very happy to finally discover the Theodore Wirth Chalet. Indeed, it is one very famous venue in Minnesota!
It’s a rustic and elegant venue located in the middle of the nature.
And it’s located only 20 min driving from St Paul, MN.


Another great venue you might like

If you agree to concede on the choice of your caterer, you should check the Mayowood Stone Barn. It’s located in Rochester, MN (1h30 from Minneapolis,MN), which is probably the only criticism that could be made.
Indeed, like the Mayowood Stone Barn is larger and could handle bigger groups (up to 300 seated guests). Its architecture is styled (European), looks pretty similar to a British Victorian Style: lighter and brighter than the Bavarian architecture of the Chalet!

Other historic venue in MN