A Rollercoaster Wedding at Mall of America!
Having a wedding during the month of January in Minnesota is not always the most popular option, but if you are going to do it, why not have your reception someplace that offers a lot of warm, indoor space. Kirsten and Ben knew they wanted to have their ceremony in a church, but when it came time to give their guests a place to spread out and have fun, nothing works quite so well as Radisson Blu at Mall of America. Hotel weddings are a great option to cut down on the driving in the winter and allows a lot of guests to just retire to their rooms at the end of the night.
With Kirsten being an only child, it was important to her to do a First Look with her dad before she did hers with Ben. We honestly love these moments and will encourage brides to do these with their dads whenever possible, even if it wasn't in the plan on the original timeline. After getting some photos at the hotel done, the whole wedding party took off on a mini-bus to get some pictures outside. We cannot stress enough how important it is to have transportation for the wedding party if you are going to be out and about taking pictures. Trying to organize cars and drivers for 10-20 people is just an added stress that no one needs on the wedding day. Yes, it is an extra expense, but the ease and peace of mind it causes is worth every penny.
Because the ceremony at the church was happening so soon after the holidays, Kirsten and Ben were fortunate that they still had the Christmas trees and some decor up. All they needed to do was add some greenery to the candelabras lining the aisle, which we then took with us back to the reception space to use as extra decor there. They did a candle unity ceremony and had their mothers go up and light the tapers as a sign of their union being built on their families.
Whenever we are doing a timeline, we always slot in 30 minutes for the ceremony (unless we know for sure it will be a lot longer). This is to give ourselves a cushion in case it doesn't start right on time, and gives us a little bonus time if it's not quite 30 minutes. We got the ceremony started on time for Kirsten and Ben...and then they came back down the aisle exactly 12 minutes later! Needless to say we were surprised but moved quickly to get them and their parents into place for a receiving line. The extra time was very welcome, because we had big plans once we got back to Mall of America!
When we first met with Kirsten and her mom, one of the things she talked about was finding a way to get the wedding party on one of the rollercoasters at Nickelodeon Universe for photos. We took charge of that and thanks to some connections, we were able to arrange for that to happen. We met them at the hotel entrance to the Mall when they came back, let them drop their items and freshen up, then navigated the 16 of them through the Mall to the park where we met up with their representative. The park had arranged for the ride to be temporarily shut down while the wedding party was on the ride and until they got back so they could get the best photos (and on a busy Saturday in January right before kids were spending all their Nick U bucks they got for Christmas, it wasn't easy). But, we managed to get everyone on and are happy to report everyone made it back in one piece (even Ben who maybe didn't enjoy it quite as much as Kirsten).
One other activity Kirsten and Ben wanted to do was make a stop at Cowboy Jack's to do a little wedding party bonding. We were pretty firm the whole time that it had to be on the "if we have time" list because the logistics of navigating the 16+ of them around the Mall and getting on the coaster was so unknown for time. Well, thanks to that 12-minute wedding ceremony, an efficient receiving line and rollercoaster planning, they had about 45 minutes to spare. We got them upstairs to the bar, where of course it was busy and we hadn't made any kind of reservations, and there Kirsten took over and in all her "I'm a bride in my wedding gown" glory, proceeded to secure a large table in the bar area for them all. Sometime, you just need to let the dress do the talking!
We always encourage couples to incorporate as much of themselves into their weddings as possible, and Kirsten did not disappoint! Working at a zoo meant that animals are a big part of her life, and would be well represented at the wedding too. They had little animal placecard holders that guests were welcome to take with them. On each table, the number was a framed painting done by one of the animals at the zoo and a little card telling you about the animal. And to top it off (literally), the cake topper was a little bride and groom meerkat, Kirsten's favorite animal.
The rest of the evening went smoothly, with a beautiful first dance, a great shot of the guys showing off their gifts from Ben, and a serious candy bar from us. They are big Parks and Recreation fans, so we made a special sign just for them! All in all, a very successful day, made all the better by good logistical planning and a surprise extra 15 minutes we gained from the short ceremony. It's amazing what that seemingly small amount of time can do!
Ceremony: Richfield Lutheran Church
Reception: Radisson Blu - Mall of America
Photo, Video, DJ and Photobooth: Studio Veil
Wedding Party Transportation: Total Transportation
Florist: Cindy's Floral Creations
Hair and Makeup: Qute By Quitta
Coordination: Keyed Up Events (Dana and AJ, with a little help from Krista of deVasco's Daughters)