This wedding reportage is from far one of the most emotional of the year. All the photos of this wedding day are captured at the Saint James Hotel, a magnificent venue.
Before that, I met with the bride and the groom in Rochester, MN, and I was immediately seduced by their idyllic project. She comes from the west coast, while he is a Minnesotan. They were looking for an unobtrusive professional wedding photographer to take candid shots of their special day at the Saint James Hotel in Red Wing. I guess I convinced them because quickly after they booked me, we were shooting their memorable engagement photo shoot in Rochester.
- The Saint James Hotel in Red Wing for Your Wedding Reportage
- The Getting Ready of the Bride and Groom
- Meeting room as a bridal suite
- Complicity between the groom and his son
- The First Look and photos at the Historic Wing of the Hotel
- Wedding Photos at the St James Hotel, Red Wing, MN
- Bridal Party and Family Portrait
- Unparalleled Ceremony in the Summit Room
- Cocktail in the Victorian Dining Room, or Tea Salon
- Shots on riverfront for sunset pics
- Wedding Reception
- Last Picture and a Sparkling Grand Exit
This is one of the most enchanting places I have ever seen among all Minnesota’s wedding reception venues, and as a wedding photographer I have experimented quite a lot!
First, for the pragmatic part it has all the amenities you can expect when you plan your wedding in a hotel:
- rooms for your guests who can sleep at the event place (no need to drive or transportation)
- caterer service is already included
- several packages adapted to small and big weddings
- planning services, so you don’t have to care about the details (ideal for destination weddings)
- restaurant and coffee place. So it’s easy to organize a brunch the day after.
- hair salon
- concierge service (if you need anything in the middle of the night)
- a parking
Second, and that’s from far why I love this venue, the St James offers:
- an historical vintage aisle with outstanding room (Victorian style, club style)
- some historical rooms for you and your guests, where is perfect to get ready
- an historic story, which gives a soul to this venue
- a red brick good looking façade with a balcony (great for pictures)
- a fountain
- a panoramic view on the Mississippi River and the bluff
- it is located in Red Wing downtown and surrounded by old streets
- it is surrounded by several parks (a couple of them are located on the Mississippi shore and others on the top of the bluff)
So from far, this venue offers a lot of options that could be used for amazing photo backdrops.
After all the flattering comments above, the only thing I appreciated less at the Saint James hotel is its modern wing. That said, it is also the reason it can hold a considerable number of guests (and thus, big weddings up to 240 people).
The kind of room they offered as a bridal suite in the modern wing of the hotel had unfortunately no windows (it is designed to be a meeting room), therefore it is not as photogenic place as the historic rooms (with windows, nice furniture, etc.). Thus, even if it’s convenient when you want your entire wedding party to get ready with you, it’s not what you expect when you get married at the Saint-James Hotel.
If you are OK not being surrounded by your entire bridal party, or if you manage to reduce your bridesmaids number to a small group, then ask for one of the amazing old looking suites https://st-james-hotel.com/our-accommodations/) offered by the hotel. And then, you will be sure to have a beautiful backdrop, with natural light. Consequently, those wedding photos would totally match with the historic style. That’s why we escaped with the bride and her mother for the bride to get ready in one of these old-fashioned rooms. She got dressed in her wedding attire in few minutes and ready for her big day.
Meanwhile, guys got ready in another adjacent room (with no window). The groom helped his 5-year-old son to get ready, despite his excitation and desire to play. It was a real pleasure to see such complicity between a father and his kid. Even if the groom was the kind of guys who control himself in front of the camera, he just behaved naturally with his son. Indeed, you can’t cheat with kids. At this moment, I knew I was seizing real true, candid and charming moments.
We were supposed to use the balcony for a spectacular first look, but the temperatures were pretty low. Thus, it’s in the old wing of their historic venue that they chose to discover each other’s looks. The bride was elegant in her wedding gown, and catching the large smile covering her face when she discovered her husband was a true romantic and magical moment (you may see some tears).
It was simply a pleasure! I was delighted to use this exquisite and luxurious hotel to capture the wedding of these two lovebirds. I think we went on all possible photo spots in the hotel, and the session (almost) turned into a visit of this alive museum!
In this cold day of October, it was pretty convenient to shoot all the pictures inside the hotel. It’s the kind of privilege that it doesn’t serve entirely as an event place! When I look back, I believe the engagement session truly helped them to feel at ease quicker in front the camera, and that provided more unforgettable pictures.
Then we used the same chic and luxurious background to shoot the group pictures. I took some photographs in the hall and some in the library.
The ceremony was held in the summit room which offers a panoramic view on the Mississippi. Chairs and Tables were finely decorated. The most emotional wedding of the year was about to start.
What made this wedding special was not the bride walking down the aisle, nor her to say « I do .» It wasn’t neither the officiant (a friend) helping them to create a personalized and non-traditional ceremonies. And it wasn’t neither their symbolic ceremony of planting a tree, even if the customized batman shovel was pretty comic.
Actually, it was their little boy that the bride and the groom decided to include in their vows exchange. As a consequence, they were three. This little 5 years old boy (from the previous groom’s relation) was bravely standing on a high wood steep stool. The paroxysm of the emotion is when the bride turned to the boy and told him, “I promise to take care of you, to protect you and to love you as if you were mine”. I can still hear those words today. She was publicly formalizing her love for this little cute and therefore establishing her position as a devoted mother. I testify that from my entire wedding photographer career, I have never seen such attention! Indeed, you can imagine that nowadays, kids from previous relations are really common! But this was the most powerful ceremony I have ever assisted.
Everybody was crying, or had at least wet eyes. I tried not to, but it was difficult! I strive not to be overwhelmed by the emotion, to stay focus and attentive to anything happening catching journalistic wedding images.
After the knot was tied, guests were invited to drink champagne in the Victoria Dining Room. The newly married couple decided to salute their guests and hold a receiving line in the lobby.
The Mississippi River is situated at a walking distance from the St James Hotel and at that particular moment it was sunset time.
Earlier, I couldn’t manage to convince the bride to escape to the riverfront, but I tried again. That worked! Despite the cold weather, the bride who was now much more relaxed, found the motivation to go out to the Sea Wing Memorial Park in order to catch some pictures with the sunset light. The park itself, with its gazebo is pretty simple, but those two ones playing and reading love and happiness on the waterfront granted it.
After the grand entrance, there were the funny speeches. Then the sympathetic and well-organized DJ set up the table game, which was pretty convenient for the bride and groom to have their pictures taken with all the guests around the tables, without requiring one hour. Indeed, it was done in less than five minutes. Well done!
After the wedding cake was cut, the dance started and all the guests joined them on the dance floor.
During the dance I set up an artistic and creative last picture, using colored flashes. After that, it was time to end the party. They asked all the guests to line up outside the Saint James for their grand exit using sparklers! That was an upscale of the Redwings nightlife!
It was a privilege, from my arrival in the morning to the last photo shoot in the night, to capture the pictures of this lovely couple and their romance. Their love for each-other is evident in every frame. They allowed me to enter the intimate privacy of their families for this unique day. They trusted me, from the pre-wedding production to the last moment, and I believe, pictures provoked a lot of emotions. At the end of the day, I had the feeling to know them as friends for a long time and I left with the smile on my face. It is this kind of weddings that makes me love being a wedding photographer.