While Minneapolis is home to several historic wedding venues, Semple Mansion is the only one to feature wedding vendors under the same roof.
The mansion, built in 1899 by hardware wholesaler Frank Semple, is now home to a number of hair and makeup artist studios, as well as a Prohibition-themed barbershop, a photography studio and a wedding officiant who also offers décor rentals and styling services.
On Feb. 19, the mansion opens its Italian Renaissance–inspired doors to welcome 25 of its preferred vendors for its annual wedding event, offering brides- and grooms-to-be the opportunity to meet local photographers, a bridal gown designer, a tuxedo rental company, caterers, florists, hair and makeup artists, DJs and event planners, making it a one-stop shop for wedding planning needs.
Following decades of disrepair, the mansion was purchased in 2004 by husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Kristi and Zev Oman, who painstakingly restored the home’s frescoed ceilings, hardwood floors with marble inlays, three original marble fireplaces, balustrade entry porch with Ionic columns and its ballroom, said to be the largest original residential ballroom in Minnesota. The building also boasts Swarovski crystal chandeliers, original woodwork and an original Tiffany stained glass window.
The building, which has been home to everything from the Franklin National Bank to African American Family Services over the years, was reborn as a wedding venue in 2006 when it hosted its first ceremony. Executive Director Katherine Hendrickson, who does all of the mansion’s bookings, event planning and tours, said the mansion now hosts more than 100 weddings a year.
Wedding ceremonies are typically held in the mansion’s grand foyer, which features ornate ironwork doors and a hand-carved stone and marble fireplace. Dinners and receptions are often held in the mansion’s crown jewel, its grand Palladian ballroom, which boasts domed ceilings and restored Fresco paintings. Other rooms include a wine tasting room and cellar, a billiards room (which serves as the groom and groomsmen room), a bridal suite and a reception area dubbed the “Copper Lounge.”
The mansion’s various bedrooms were transformed into studio spaces, which were rented out to wedding-related vendors. This has a clear benefit to the Semple Mansion staff, the vendors and the clients alike — vendors are more easily accessible, and both the vendors and venue are able offer a more streamlined experience to clients.
Leslie Ann Johnson is a wedding officiant and décor stylist who rents a studio at Semple Mansion under her business, Positively Charmed Weddings and Décor.
“When I’m working with clients who are having their wedding at Semple, there are a lot of added perks,” Johnson said. “As we’re creating their ceremony, we’re meeting in the space where they’ll be married, so it really comes full circle. Plus, it offers a private place for them to sign their marriage certificate.”
Ashley Ronning enjoyed the benefits of having an on-site wedding officiant when she was married at Semple Mansion in 2016.
“Leslie’s on-site office was a cozy, comfortable place where my fiancé and I felt like we could talk openly about our relationship,” Ronning said. “Plus, it was extremely convenient having her on-site as we got to see our venue many times before our big day, which helped with planning and visualizing our space.”
Ronning also took advantage of Johnson’s décor styling services. The couple wanted a “romantic, Gatsby look” for their wedding, so they rented gold chandelier candelabras and mercury glass votive candles to match the theme.
“Prior to being engaged, I had my heart set on Semple Mansion,” Ronning said. “Even after touring four other venues, both my husband and I felt like Semple was the one.”
The Semple Mansion wedding event is 4 p.m.–7 p.m. Feb. 19 at 100 W. Franklin Ave. For more information, visit semplemansion.com.