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Wedding At the Van Dusen Mansion Minneapolis, MN

Elegant Wedding at the Van Dusen Venue Minneapolis

If I cherish unexpected locations for a ceremony and engagement session (such as rooftops), I love traditional locations in the cities for exceptional celebrations.

This wedding is the second part of a multicultural wedding that took place in the amazing Van Dusen Mansion, located in south Minneapolis. The day before, the bride and the groom celebrated the groom’s Diner on a River Boat on the Mississippi, in the morning they celebrated the Traditional Indian Wedding, and now they are about to celebrate their classic Christian ceremony at the Van Dusen.

indian wedding

The Van Dusen Mansion

First of all, I need to say a couple of words regarding the Van Dusen mansion. This venue, located in Lasalle Ave, is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in the State. When I first visited the Van Dusen Manor to cover this wedding, I was not quite realizing that. Indeed, in France (where I grew up), in contrast with Minnesota, there are a LOT of old and beautiful castles everywhere. They are all charged with history and memories. From an outside point of view, this wedding venue is typically the kind of massive aristocratic home that looks very similar to a small castle.

van dusen

A Real Stone Mansion

Like all European castles, this mansion was built in real stones: Sioux Quartzite (from Luverne, Minnesota). This stone is famous in the Twin Cities, and you probably noticed that several nice big Minnesotan buildings are made of this stone (like the Landmark Center in Saint Paul, for example).
In other words, this stone was quite expensive at that time, so homes built with it were synonymous with quality. For instance, you can enjoy several similar vintage mansions in the Stevens Square neighborhood. Those would be some perfect places to host an unforgettable reception.

van dusen

The architect didn’t like minimalism.

The architect wanted the Mansion to be tornado-proof, but aerodynamics was not very popular at that time, so he designed it massively. Therefore, it looks between a castle and a bunker! There is no need to say that you feel secure in this venue.

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Inside the Van Dusen Mansion

The inside of the mansion is also pretty impressive. Even though there are many windows, the interior is designed with dark oak wood from the floor to the ceiling. It is pretty dark, except maybe the white room where the bride can get ready. The style of the decoration is quite surprising (for a European): it’s a mix of French Renaissance, Gothic, Elizabethan, and Romanesque styles.
That said, this venue inspires respect. In fact, it comes from the Old World. That’s why, if you are planning your wedding and want a vintage one, this unique venue will be the perfect backdrop for your fairytale. The good point with such a charming pavilion is that you don’t need additional decoration! The Van Dusen Mansion, by its authenticity, is elegant and chic. It’s a great place for a photographer to capture a dreamy wedding.

The Neighborhood

When you choose your venue, you must also pay attention to the adjacent photo spots if you want great photography.
Located on Lasalle Avenue (like other famous venues for receptions, such as the Blaisdell and the Semple Mansion), the Van Dusen Mansion is near a famous park that you can easily reach by horse carriage. Let’s think of Loring Park, the Walker Art Center, The Basilica of St. Mary or the Minneapolis Institute of Art, just to name a few.

loring park

The Preparation Before the Ceremony

When they were looking to hire a wedding photographer in Minneapolis to cover their ceremony in the Twin Cities, they expected much more than the traditional boring pictures. They valued real candid shots and stolen moments. They wanted all the little moments that they would miss on their special day. The good ones, but also the bad ones. And that’s why I have so much fun doing it.
At this wedding, you will see the stress increasing before the party.

van dusen

While the guys went on the basement to switch their traditional Indian costume to a more sophisticated and modern tuxedo, all the girls stayed on the first floor of the venue having their make-up and hair fixed.

Makeup room

The Mansion was restored a few years ago and equipped with wedding amenities. Indeed, there is a specialized room for the girls to get ready, equipped with a makeup table! That is quite surprising for an old house, but it’s very convenient given the amount of hair and makeup that had to be done in a short period of time!

Then I captured details of the bride’s dress, shoes and other jewels attire she wears for her romantic wedding.

The Bridal Suite

Then the bride moved into the white room to get dressed up (the bridal room). That’s where I captured this stunning moment and glamorous portrait of her looking at herself in the mirror. She had so much elegance; I felt like I was shooting pictures for a wedding magazine! She was more than gorgeous, and I didn’t even have to ask her to pose! She was simply relaxed with me, capturing shots of her in her breathtaking wedding gown.

In the meanwhile, the bridesmaids were designing their bouquets and the groomsmen’s boutonnieres using purple carnation flowers (Minnesota color).

A backyard marriage to become husband and wife

On this big day, the ceremony took place outside, between the three buildings constituting the Van Dusen Mansion: the Mansion itself, the carriage horse, and a new building which gathered everyone for the meal. Between those three buildings, you find the paved courtyard surrounded by birch and lilacs.

When everyone was seated, the ceremony finally began. The groom passed through the iron gate and started to walk down the aisle. At this precise moment, we heard the sound of the thunder! That’s the risk of an outdoor wedding! Luckily, the first drop of rain came down at the end of the ceremony. Isn’t that a proof of blessings?
After the groom, the bridal party couples walked down the aisle, followed by the ring bearer and the flower girl.

The ceremony was a Lutheran ceremony hold by the officiant pastor. Also, I tried to catch all the moments, all the emotion, in an unobtrusive way as do photojournalists, and at the same time I had to work side by side with a family member doing videography.  Thus, I took portraits of the bridesmaids in their gowns, the groomsmen and the first rows. What’s more I worked on catching the joy into candid shots to make memories of this beautiful and unique wedding.
Then they exchanged their vows with lots of emotions. She said “I do,” and the ring bearer brings the wedding rings. The end was memorable and pretty epic. After a romantic kiss, all the guests ran inside the Mansion to protect themselves from the rain.

Cocktail Hours in the Van Dusen Mansion

The cocktail reception was for sure the time where the guests can enjoy the spacious and awesome venue. They appreciated going from room to room, enjoying the leather coach, the antique chairs, the sublime piano, the elegant chandelier and the timeless decoration. They were standing in the hall and on the wooden stairs, drinking champagne. We were surrounded by art, with beautiful stained glass windows and paintings.

Sublim Receptions in a Mansion in Minneapolis

I had the feeling to be part of an historic movie: Gatsby! I had the sensation that at one point the front door would open and a senator smoking a cigar and drinking whisky would enter.

So, if you decide to host your wedding in the picturesque Van Dusen Mansion, I will suggest that you plan a long cocktail hour, because that’s by far the moment your guests will enjoy all the beauty of this place!

For us, despite the work of the wedding planner, the schedule of the wedding day was a little tricky due to all the unexpected events, which is not rare during big marriages.

Actually, we had to take the bridal party group pictures during the cocktail hour and also to skip the bride and groom photo session. Thus, we used the white room to do posed pictures. I turned this timeless historic room into a photography studio by adding flashes and staging people. I believe the bride and groom had a lot of fun anyway!

The Dinner and the Party

The next part of this perfect wedding was the dinner. Located behind the Mansion, the dining room was a huge new extra construction. The modern style contrasted with the mansion.
The caterer organized a banquet with delicious food. During the dinner some speech took place. We were delighted by an emotional and funny toast given by the best man. Then the newly married couple cut the cake.

van dusen

Great Caterer Vendors

After the dinner (operated by Mintahoe catering), all the guests moved into the paved backyard to enjoy a small traditional Indian desert. Once done, we moved to what was before the horse house, renovated into a ballroom, where took place the first dances. If the outside of the courtyard house is pretty neat and looks antics, the inside is pretty modern. Even if it’s well made, with an ironed balcony, the dance floor room differs from the

van dusen

Dance and creative pictures at the Carriage House

After switching her white dress to a magical traditional Indian dress, it’s in the Carriage House that the bride opens the first dance with the groom, followed by a father-daughter dance and finally a groom-mother dance.
There was no bouquet toss or garter toss.
Before leaving, I convince the married couple to take a last artistic picture using the Van Dusen Mansion Building. As a wedding photographer, I love this last picture thing because it’s usually what closes the wedding album.

The Van Dusen Mansion is not the only Historic Mansion symbol of splendor and prosperity

Van Dusen Mansion vs. other historical venues.

If a lot of wedding venues take advantage of their past, claiming to offer an historical building, they are not equal. Let’s compare 3 kinds of historic venues offered in the area.

theodore wirth chalet minneapolis

The Simple Historic Building

Minneapolis, and St. Paul Mn feature a lot of historic constructions, such as The Theodore With Park and its chalet. Despite the locations spacious, and the landscape pretty amazing, what we would pay attention to, is the interior decoration. In this case, the reception space is not only very small, but the other rooms have all be renovated in a modern way. Which means, without any elegance.

ceremony at lowerton event center st paul mn

The Post-Industrial

One very popular kind of venue in St.Paul MN and Minneapolis is the post-industrial venue, such as the Lowertown Event Center. Some, renovated in loft offer Makeup room and a lot of natural light. Other, located in the basement, offer no natural light at all and a low ceiling. They can be downtown or at the border of the town, but usually located near transportation axes, such as the river (Mississippi), the road, and the railways.

Nevertheless, if a mix of modern and post-industrial architecture can be fancy, the imaginary evokes memories of another social world.

summit manor st paul

The “small” Manor

There are a lot of Small Manor in Minnesota, offering a historic ballroom. For instance, the Summit Manor in St. Paul MN is a charming house, made with wood panels. It also confers a higher distinction to your event. But the big difference with the Van Dusen is probably its capacity and the amenities available to handle large group weddings.

Therefore, a charming house like this Manor should be reserved for medium size reception.


To conclude, I believe the Van Dusen Mansion is one of the most magnificent venues you can dream of for your perfect day in Minneapolis. Today, with a great staff, they still offer quality service and create unforgettable events.

I am honored that the bride and the groom chose me to testify to their celebration for their destination wedding in Minnesota!

There is no need to say that if you are planning a wedding at the Van Dusen Mansion, I would be more than happy to take pictures. Call me or send me a message!

Black and White Portrait of Alexandre Mayeur, photographer at French-Touch-Photography

Born and raised in Paris, I am now a proud Wedding Photographer in Rochester, MN, serving MPLS.

I don’t only capture emotions in candid pictures, I also create timeless images and artful photographs.
Recognized as one of the best photographers in the Twin Cities.

I serve Duluth and also far beyond the 10,000 Lakes State (Wisconsin, Iowa, and destination). I am more than happy to discover beautiful landscapes and new horizons.

Have a look at my previous publications to learn more. As an experienced professional photographer, I don’t limit my field to lifestyle, family, or event photography! I invite you to visit my portfolio and discover my photography and work out of the studio.