Weddings take the stage at iconic St. Louis landmarks

March 2, 2018

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Where you choose to say “I do” is likely to say something about you as a couple.

The default wedding locations used to be places of worship or hotel ballrooms. Now, guests may be invited to a destination winery, a rustic barn or even a secluded forest to witness a couple exchange vows.

The setting has become an increasingly important element in a wedding story.

“A lot of couples are spending a lot more time on finding that perfect venue,” said event planner Allison McDonald, of Flourish Events in St. Louis. They want to find a space that is meaningful to them and in line with their style and personalities.

“There aren’t a lot of rules to stick to anymore, so it allows people to find a place to define who they are,” she said. There are couples who visit eight to 10 sites before finalizing a location, she added.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that besides the aesthetic appeal and emotional connection of a location, there are several practical issues to keep in mind, as well. Your budget and guest count have to fit within the cost and capacity of the place. Some couples may not realize that they need to add about 30 percent to the stated minimum food and beverage purchase required at a facility. That extra percentage will go toward tax and gratuity.

It’s also a good idea to take into account the accessibility of the location and parking for your guests. And there other logistical details to consider that may be site-specific.

For example, McDonald says one of her clients wanted to have a formal wedding in the St. Louis City Hall rotunda. It is a government building so there are specific restrictions and security measures she had to follow.

“It’s all about planning ahead,” she said.

Keith St. John, a St. Louis photographer who has been shooting weddings for 20 years, said that couples need to be mindful of exactly how much time they will have at their venue. In some cases, a tight time frame can make it challenging to squeeze in wedding party portraits within that window. He also suggests to brides that they try to find a park location close to their venue or reception area if they have their heart set on outdoor wedding photos. Popular locations such as the Grand Basin or Tower Grove Park may have six or seven other wedding parties taking photos when you show up with your wedding party.

And, there always needs to be a Plan B in case of bad weather. Many outdoor places will also have an indoor location. St. John recalled a wedding he shot at the Butterfly House.

It was about 100 degrees that day.

“We sweated through it,” he said. “It was beautiful in the pictures, but it was hot.”

We asked couples who chose iconic St. Louis destinations for their weddings to share their stories about what made them pick these spots. Responses have been edited.

Kristen Weiland wed Nick Werne on Nov. 11, 2017. They live in Ballwin.

We got married on 11/11 and had our reception at Busch Stadium in the UMB Champions Club. We love Busch Stadium. I call it my home away from home. We were both born and raised here, and when you think of St. Louis, you think of the Cardinals. From the moment we got engaged, we both knew there was nowhere else we’d rather have our reception. We are obviously huge Cardinals fans, but more than that, we knew what a special memory it would be for our guests. And it really was. Being surrounded by all of those World Series trophies and baseball magic was the perfect way to celebrate. Fredbird came and partied, as well. Nick got to participate in the Groom’s Cake Dive at Busch in September last year, too, so that added an extra layer of Cardinals excitement.

Shelli Hellman wed Mike Zundel on Aug. 19, 2017. They live in Lincoln, Neb.

For Shelli and I, the St. Louis Cardinals (and Busch Stadium II and III) have been a key component of our 16 years together. Whether it was talking about baseball on nerve-racking dates early in the relationship, sweltering day games in the bleachers years later or screaming ourselves hoarse during the 2011 World Series as we settled in to our new lives far away from St. Louis, the Cards have been a constant. We have lived outside of Missouri for more than a decade and have spent some of that time traveling around the country and the world. Whether we are watching together on the couch or live-texting the game to each other when we’re apart, sharing the game has become an almost sacred ritual for us. When we learned that you could get married at home plate at Busch Stadium all other possible venues were forgotten. The feeling of standing at home plate, surrounded by friends and family, and watching my wife emerge from the dugout in her wedding dress was surreal. Hearing our vows echo around the stadium and exiting the field to “Here Comes the King” was even more so. Wherever we end up next, watching the Cards will always be an important part of our lives, and now for at least 81 games a year (it will be more than 81 this year, count on that!) we get to see the very spot where we became husband and wife.

Amy Holland Pennell wed Brandon Davis on Jan. 6, 2018. They live in Los Angeles.

I was married at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis with a reception following at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. I am from Granite City and come from a theatrical family. I grew up watching my mother choreograph on stage and was heavily involved in our hometown community theater. I have wonderful childhood memories of going to see musicals at the Fox with my mother. I can remember telling her, “One day, I want be on that stage, Mama,” and she replied, “If you study your craft and work hard, you will be.” I attended St. Louis University, where I studied theater and communications. From there, the Fabulous Fox was just a glimpse away. Being on the Fox stage has been a dream of mine from an early age, so to have had the opportunity to share my first dance with my husband on such a special stage was a real dream come true. My husband and I are both actors in Los Angeles. I know we will have many more family memories in this incredible establishment that we are so lucky to have in our own backyard.

Afshan Chishti and Daniel Smith wed on July 16, 2016. They live in Chesterfield.

There is just something about the Fox. As a child, I can remember walking into that lobby, my breath taken away. The rich textures and colors, the incredibly intricate architecture, the stunning mural painted on the ceiling. Everywhere you look, the theater just gleams in beauty. Daniel and I have a special place in our hearts for the arts, and I always wanted to celebrate the biggest and best day of our lives in a place that is home to such talent and history. It truly was something so spectacular to share our special moment on that stage, along with our family and friends. I can’t think of a more iconic St. Louis venue than the Fabulous Fox Theatre. And it is just that ... fabulous.

Sydnee Stottlemyre wed Landon Burke on Aug. 5, 2017. They live in Columbia, Missouri.

I’ve known for years I would get married at the Peabody Opera House. Growing up, my family attended shows every year after the renovation in 2011. Ever since then, my heart was set on walking down the aisle at the Peabody. In the era of rustic weddings, Landon and I wanted something unique. Being St. Louis natives, we were drawn to the personality and rich history of the Peabody. It’s pretty cool that our first dance took place on the same stage where so many great artists and influencers have performed. It’s a moment we’ll never forget.

Amy Schutte wed Nick Uffelmann on Sept. 2, 2017. They live in St. Louis.

As we were searching for wedding venues, our criteria included somewhere nontraditional yet magical and elegant. We found that the Peabody Opera House was just what we had wished for; it truly is a hidden wedding venue gem. I had no idea this was being used for weddings prior to our wedding planning and feel lucky every day to have found it. The Grand Lobby, used for our reception hall, lives up to its name with grandiose marble pillars and ornate views in all directions. The old-fashioned ticket lobby was used for our wedding ceremony. This lobby has a regal vibe with a wraparound spiral marble staircases leading into the ceremony. I felt like a princess floating down these stairs during my entrance.

Erica Vickers wed Warren Cage on June 13, 2009. They live in Shiloh.

We were living in Jefferson City at the time and wanted to come back home to the St. Louis area for our wedding. I wanted an outside wedding, and my husband was scared that it was going to rain. I don’t like flowers, and my husband likes flowers. So the Jewel Box was a perfect compromise for both of us. The plants, the flowers and the fountain outside were beautiful. Our ceremony was inside, but it had the feeling of being in the outdoors. We didn’t have to bring many extra flowers. We both enjoyed how beautiful it was. We don’t have many disagreements in our married life because we always come to a compromise. It’s so important in marriage. Finding this location that was a great compromise set the tone for the rest of our marriage.


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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