“I’ve been everywhere, man.” -Johnny Cash
I’ve DJed hundreds of weddings for couples all over the greatest area of the Midwest: the St. Croix Valley. My job has landed me in almost every single wedding venue in the area.
If you’re overwhelmed with your wedding planning and can’t decide on a venue, look no further. There are many great venues in this area, but here are the best of the best.
Hudson, WI – troyburne.com
Golf course wedding venues all look the same. There. I said it. That’s not to say that you can’t add personality to any reception with things like uplights, but Troy Burne is one of the very rare exceptions to the cookie cutter golf course wedding format.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the venue is the amazing ceremony area located immediately next to the venue on a golf green surrounded babbling water and flowers. Not only is this one of the nicest outdoor reception areas that I’ve seen, but it also doesn’t require a long walk or golf cart taxi system to shuttle your guests to and fro like most golf courses.
Coordinated by an extremely personable and knowledgeable staff, the reception area is large and able to accommodate seating for up to 300 people. But what’s most impressive is the huge panoramic windows that surround the entire venue, giving you outdoor views from any corner of the reception.
Speaking of any corner, make sure to check out the bar. This isn’t a standard “wheel and pour” bar. It’s a full bar with a wider array of taps and drinks than I’ve ever seen for a wedding. It’s a place you’ll want to hang out in even after your wedding day. Another perk is that it’s located in close enough proximity to the dance floor to help encourage a full dance floor (my job) but far enough away that it’s easy to hold a conversation without having to shout over the music.
Mystical Rose Gardens
Baldwin, WI – mysticalrosegardens.com
A greenhouse wedding is a thing? You’re damn right it’s a thing, and nobody comes even close to pulling it off as well as Mystical Rose Gardens. Of course, I don’t know of any other greenhouse wedding venues, but I’m confident that Mystical Rose Gardens would stay at the very top of the list regardless.
The appeal of barn and outdoor weddings is popular everywhere, but it’s especially popular in this area. However, you’re often taking a risk with barn weddings and an even bigger risk with entirely outdoor weddings due to the possibilities of inclement weather (rain is supposed to be lucky though, right?).
Mystical Rose Gardens has you covered regardless of the situation. Sunny and perfect? Get married in their beautiful white picket fenced courtyard under the gazebo. Rainy, cold, and blah? No problem! Move the ceremony into the reception area: an actual greenhouse that’s entirely made out of glass and decorated to the nines. It’s the perfect balance between the beauty of the outdoors and the safety of not having to worry.
This is the venue you’ll want to seriously consider if you’re going for a more relaxed vibe while still having a solid party. They don’t allow hard alcohol, so your guests will be pleasantly buzzed on enough wine and beer to get them dancing but not blackout drunk in the bathroom after vehemently requesting AC/DC every 3 minutes.
EDIT: Apparently you CAN have hard alcohol at Mystical Rose Gardens! I must have just done some weddings where they were trying to throttle the AC/DC requests from their guests.
Weddings In Echo Valley
Clear Lake, WI – weddingsinechovalley.com
The majority of barn venues aren’t good. There. I made another controversial statement. It seems like everybody who has a barn, also thinks that they have a wedding venue, and there are a lot of barns in this area.
They’re not all bad, of course—some of my favorite venues are barn venues (obviously, since this one is in my top 5), but I’ve also feared for my life and the safety of the guests at certain barn “venues,” and have had issues with significant volume restrictions at some barn venues that makes it almost pointless to even hire a DJ.
Weddings In Echo Valley is the epitome of a great barn venue; however, I’d argue that it’s much more than a barn venue. In fact, this transformed saw mill is so far away from a standard barn venue that I’m going to coin the term “property venue.” Everybody who says that from this point forward owes me a nickel.
I wish I knew how many acres this property is, but I’ll just say this: it’s EPIC. It has the most beautiful natural outdoor ceremony site that I’ve ever seen that overlooks a pond. It also features other buildings and structures galore:
- Fully operational wood-fire pizza facility available for the rehearsal dinner
- Bridal suite / groom quarters
- Craft beer building (in process of being up and running the last time I was there)
- Real bathrooms
You’ll instantly like the owners Emily and Dustin. Get to know them. They have a great story and are 100% my kind of people.
The Loft at Studio J
Stillwater, MN – studiojloft.com
What could possibly produce a better backdrop to your wedding photos than a venue designed and owned by photographers? Not only are Judd and Josh photographers, but they’re some of the best… not just the best photographers, but also just some of the best people in the entire wedding industry.
A while back, I had a wedding planner tell me that their clients were looking for a venue that was “rustic and elegant.” The general reaction to that request was “WTF? Those are opposites?” Up until that point, I didn’t really know how to describe The Loft at Studio J. This couple accidentally nailed it.
Perfect for weddings under 200 people and ideally closer to the 150 range, I’ll save you some reading and just tell you to call them and immediately check it out if it’s available. You’ll thank me later.
JX Event Venue
Stillwater, MN – jxvenue.com
I thought about combining JX Event Venue with The Loft at Studio J in my list because it doesn’t seem plausible that Judd and his team could possibly have started another wedding venue that landed in my top 5… but I just can’t lump these two together.
Take everything that exists at The Loft at Studio J and multiply it. That’s JX.
Co-staffed by The Loft’s amazing crew of coordinators, JX features things that I won’t even begin to be able to summarize without either a.) making this post way too long or b.) making you think they’re paying me to write this.
JX is able to accommodate up to 720 guests, and features things that will pique your interest by name alone such as a Bourbon Room and a fully operational Speakeasy. Their LED lit color changing bar runs directly along the back of the dance floor and is the longest I’ve ever seen in a wedding venue. They’ve personally told me that they’re working on creating robotic bartenders, and their bathrooms are so nice that you might be tempted to move in. You can’t make this stuff up.
This list is not all inclusive. There are plenty of other great venues to choose from, but I had to stop somewhere. Feel free to contact me about any questions that you have about other venues, or if you’re looking for a vibe for your wedding that doesn’t seem to exist on this list.
Joe Osterberg at www.dayonedj.com