A charming chapel nestled on the top of a Hill

Leah & Josh wedding at Steeplechase Event Center

After their engagement session in Quarry Hills (not to be confused with Lebanon Hills in the Twin Cities area), they drive 70 miles from Minneapolis, to a stunning venue in the Steeplechase event center. So on an early morning, your favorite photographer, left Rochester, MN and headed to cover this unique wedding. Let me introduce the Steeplechase venue and dive in this unforgettable wedding reception!

Presentation of the Steeplechase Event Center for Your Wedding

First, let’s confess that I don’t really understand its name (if someone gets the meaning, please explain to me). Indeed, when the bride and the groom told me they would get married at this event center, I first thought about horses jumping over water. Not really! Well, what we need to remember from the name here is “Steeple” part, because it has for sure a nice steeple with an illuminated clock.
In fact, the venue is nested on the top of the hill in the South-East of the State, on what used to be a ski resort. They offer 172 acres of field to take pictures. It’s the same kind of nice hills that you can see everywhere in Wisconsin. It is located about half an hour from the Med City, between Pine Island, Oronoco, Zumbrota, the Zumbro River and Red Wing, MN. The wedding center would seduce people from Rochester (it’s close to the Mayo Clinic) and also people coming from Saint Paul, who are looking to celebrate their weddings ceremonies in a spectacular location.

The Panoramic view

This place offers a breathtaking panoramic view on the surrounding hills. And to use this exceptional view as a backdrop for your ceremony, the SteepleChase has a large wood deck! So, you can fit with your wedding officiant and all your entire wedding party while you’re getting knots! Your guests will enjoy the charm of the rural landscape, the wildlife oak woods and the prairie behind you. During ceremonies, birds will provide live music. Isn’t that romantic and idyllic!
For your photography session, unless you want, you don’t need to hike on every trail to find a stunning backdrop. There are multiple options close to the Chapel and its overlooking view

The Chapel

That’s the other big piece for the wedding of your dreams: the venue itself. It’s a 1900s chapel, with its woodwork, arched windows and its steeple. They moved it from Oronoco, MN, and nestled it on the top of the hill. They renovated and created an adjacent and large extension to host your banquet. For your dinner, the venue has a kitchen space that the catering can use. The Chapel itself is elegant and big enough to handle a medium size ceremony. After the dinner, the chapel turns into a ballroom, with its wood floor and high ceiling.

The Wedding Day

When Leah and Josh looked to hire a wedding photographer in Minneapolis to capture their mutual  engagement near the twin cities, they were seduced by my candid shot. They value true and authentic emotion immortalize by stolen moments. Also, that’s what I did most of the day.

The event was pretty classic in terms of the schedule, so I have also added some touch of fun and creative images.

Getting ready inside the bridal suite

The bride and bridesmaids came earlier to get ready while some family members were helping with the venue decorations. The girls used the bridal suite room to have their hair and make-up done. During this time I went outside and looked for a place to hang the dress. I finally found what I was looking for; the pine tree.
Then the girls wore their getting-ready outfit. It’s kind of a new trend where the bride offers to her bridesmaids the same outfit. After that, they opened a bottle of champagne and started to relax after they spread half of the bottle on their wedding photographer. That was kind of a funny moment!

Then the Groom Came With His Groomsmen

For the groom, the preparation was done in 10 minutes. His relatives and friends liked to tease him, he was pretty relaxed. I set him close to a window in order to have natural light and asked his brother to help the groom with his suite.

First Look and Photo Session Outside

For their first look, they chose a shadowy place in order to have a soft light (given the sun was high in the sky). The groom was excited and nervous until he saw his wife-to-be. As a wedding photographer, I always feel privileged to be a witness of this beautiful moment, which 99% of the time is full of emotion!
After that, we took the time to shoot the bride and groom photo session. It was the end of spring, but the temperature was already pretty high. I liked the complicity between those two, and how the groom was taking care of the bride.
For the pictures, we used the amazing landscape with its meadow and natural reserve.

Wedding Groups pictures

After the couple session, we went back to the Steeple to make the group pictures. The AC was appreciated! For the group photographs I used the balcony, the pillars, including the piano, to compose my background.
We staged the group on chairs and tried to compose dynamic pictures that look like painting.

Ceremony on the deck and its panoramic view

They were gathering all their guests on the hill. When everyone was seated (half exposed to the sun, and half in the shadow), the bridal party started to walk down the aisle. The officiant was pretty relaxed and allowed me to turn around the wood deck. For me it was a real pleasure to cover this ceremony! At one point, the pastor let the groom’s father say some words and announce their union. It’s definitely more powerful when you get married by your father!
Before kissing, they exchanged their vows and their wedding rings.

Cocktails and Receptions

After the outside ceremony, everyone was going inside the chapel for the cocktail hour. It’s usually the moment your professional photographer takes the most candid shoots of your guests. Indeed, when families share beverages and discuss together, they don’t pay attention to the camera and that allows me to capture raw emotions.
Then the dinner took place, animated by toasts and speeches.


Before the opening dance on the Chapel dance floor, I managed to “steal” the newly married couple for some minutes to shoot some sunset pictures.

Then they gather their guest in the Ballroom and open the dance. The DJ played a few games to motivate people to come dancing.
Finally, before leaving the party, I set up a last picture outside of the Steeplechase event center. For me, it’s the opportunity to create an artistic photograph, to offer to the bride and groom some time together and wish them the best.
I can’t say enough how lucky I am they choose me for covering their big day!

The pro and cons of the steeplechase for a wedding

Let’s start with a few cons, and summarizes the good reasons to keep in mind. You will see that, from a photography consideration, excepted the bridal suite, I haven’t found anything.

Not plenty of hotels around

 Mazeppa, MN, is the country side of Minnesota. There is no nice hotel, such as the Renaissance Minneapolis Depot. And, precisely, if you have some family traveling from far away (I believe there was some guys from Virginia and Wisconsin), you want them to be at their ease in a comfortable Hotel room with a great service (and not in a creepy hotel).

Nothing much to do the day after

Check Zumbrota, MN, except the Minnesota Zumbro River, there is nothing to do: no Guthrie Theater to see a good play, no concert hall, no stadium to enjoy a good game, no museum, not even a mall.

The point is, when you become husband and wife, you usually invite a lot relatives and friends from far away. They will reserve their weekend for you, and might want to enjoy the area.

For that they would need to go to the city.

A New Kitchen Facility

The kitchen is usually the Achilles heel of historical venue. Thus they can limit you in the catering service. Surprisingly, this is not the case of this venue which features a bright new kitchen.

It’s pretty rare, so I thought it worth being mentioned.

A charming place in Mazeppa for a perfect wedding

As a summary, I would say that this venue is one of my favorite venues around Rochester, MN. It is more picturesque than luxurious. It’s elegant, old-looking, with the entire history heritage, and (except for the bride and groom suite) it’s very bright. The nice ballroom, and the dinner room, both offer a wood floor. On the top of all this, the deck with its panoramic scenic view is just a breathtaking place to celebrate a wedding in the state of Minnesota. Of course you are dependent on the forecast, but even in the worst scenario, the inside of the chapel is ample enough to host your special day and have all your guests seating.

Finally, this venue is the perfect place for hosting middle size or intimate weddings in the Southeast of Minnesota!

— traditional wood chapel—

— traditional wood chapel—

bride's makeup

bride’s makeup

— Magnificent chapel —

— Magnificent chapel —

— white bride's dress in pine tree —

— white bride’s dress in pine tree —

sapphire earrings

sapphire earrings

detail of open back of the white dress in back light

detail of open back of the white dress in back light

mid heel blue shoes

mid heel blue shoes

diamond ring

diamond ring

diamond ring

diamond ring

bride and bridesmaids having fun with champagne

bride and bridesmaids having fun with champagne

— panoramic view —

— panoramic view of the Zumbro hills —

— locations for Outdoor ceremony —

— locations for outdoor ceremony —

— acres of land covered by dandelion—

— acres of land covered by dandelion—

the bride the groom and their guests at steeplechase event center

the bride the groom and their guests at steeplechase event center




— The bride, the groom, their bridal party and the officiant —



— The Ballroom —