As a wedding photographer, I spend my weekends at some of the most beautiful Midwest Wedding Venues for small weddings. From the Twin Cities to Duluth, Des Moines, Kansas City and beyond, the Midwest has perfect wedding venues for whatever vibe you’re looking for. As you begin planning your wedding, picking the perfect venue can feel like a daunting task. I took the time to research and look through my archive of photos to pull for you the best of the best. These wedding venues not only have perfect photo backdrops but are also places I know your guests will love too.
For this list, I specifically included wedding venues that are ideal for wedding guest lists of 200 or less. I’ve photographed many weddings over the years and hands down, small or intimate weddings are my favorites to photograph. There is more space for your guests to move about the venue mingling and partying, allowing space for me to make more candid photographs of you and your loved ones.
In fact, cameras are designed to perform their best with light. It makes sense, then, that some of the best photographs are made in places with plenty of light. Keeping this in mind, you will want to choose a wedding venue with a variety of light sources–especially natural light through glass windows or doors.
Window light tends to be the most flattering light during the day, which results in beautiful, true-to-life skin tones as well as well-lit images showcasing the memories you made on your wedding day. Good light is important in getting ready spaces for both partners, if the venue has separate rooms for that. If you’re having a ceremony outdoors at your wedding venue, I highly recommend finding space on the property that is fully shaded or fully in the sun. This allows for consistent or even lighting in your images that shows off the luscious natural scenery in the way that you remember it.
Situated just 20 minutes from Stillwater, Minnesota along the Apple River, the Riverbend Venue at River’s Edge is a gorgeous, recently renovated wedding venue designed to accommodate a max of 200 guests. I was especially drawn to the spacious, window-filled room the can be used for both your ceremony and reception. There are multiple rooms in this wedding venue that can be used throughout the day. From getting ready to cocktail hour to dancing and more! Not to mention the various outdoor spaces available in good weather. The venue backs up to the river, providing even more unique and scenic backdrops for your wedding photos. The staff was easy to work with and so friendly and accommodating.
On a hill overlooking the St. Croix River, this sprawling public park is an idyllic location for DIY-ers excited to host an intimate wedding celebration. While this is not a traditional wedding venue, it is a scenic park. If you’ve got a keen eye for logistics, this park makes a beautiful blank canvas for your dream wedding. The rental and reservation fee for using the space is relatively low compared to many venues. However, this means it doesn’t come with many amenities. What I love most about this space is that you truly don’t need to enhance it much with decoration in the summer and fall because it is already naturally beautiful. I’d highly recommend working with a trusted wedding rental company (like Style Society) for ceremony seating, reception decor and more!
Located in downtown Minneapolis, the Lumber Exchange building is home to several timeless and elegant event venues. The spacious wedding venue, Sawyers on 5th, boasts west-facing windows letting in that glorious sunlight. It fills the room with a warm glow. The space allows for up to 250 guests, but can easily be set up for a more intimate wedding day. Dylan’s is a cozy cocktail hour space overlooking the Bob Dylan mural. You can customize this event space to make all your wedding day dreams come true. The best part is you need not leave the venue once you arrive. With private rooms for getting ready, and access to both rooftop views and downtown cityscapes, you can enjoy your whole experience without worrying about transportation.
If you want to go bougie, The Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis is your must-have experience. With all inclusive package options for you and your guests to find a place to sleep, brunch and party, this historic hotel makes a charming scene for your intimate wedding day. I love that the restaurant attached to the hotel sources food locally and seasonally! This is a perfect addition to your elevated small wedding celebration. Take in the North Loop cityscape from your rooftop wedding ceremony. Afterwards, you can take a little dip in the hot tub or pool afterwards. Create an intentional atmosphere of rest and relaxation for your wedding weekend with all the comforts that The Hewing provides.
In the heart of downtown Des Moines is The Teachout Building. This historic space has been lovingly restored to offer you a blank canvas for small weddings. This wedding venue is intentionally designed to host intimate affairs. The rental fee includes access to the venue for your whole wedding weekend, as well as chairs and tables. While there isn’t a lot of natural light available, the ambiance is unbeatable. As a bonus, the Teachout Building is within walking distance of many beautiful urban scenes, including that classic Des Moines skyline.
Though the Holden Arboretum itself is a sprawling landscape, the side patio off of Lantern Court is the perfect space for a small wedding. Lantern Court is a Georgian Colonial home built in the 1930s for the Cornings who designed the 25-acres of informal gardens and woodlands surrounding it. If you’re looking for a venue that makes you feel like you stepped into a Monet painting, this is the space for you.
Elevate your small wedding with the newest wedding venue in Ankeny, Iowa: Toast. This elegant new venue features multiple floors filled with natural light and charming features. Toast is a great place to host a chic wedding celebration. Located in The District (at Prairie Trail), you and your guests can make a whole weekend getaway with hotel accommodations, restaurants, breweries and more all within walking distance! While the venue has space to accommodate larger weddings, the rooftop patio would make the perfect backdrop for an outdoor ceremony or cocktail hour. I can’t wait for the opportunity to photograph a wedding at this upscale wedding venue.
In the heart of St. Paul, the Summit Manor Reception House stands out as a distinctive wedding venue for a casual and cozy wedding day. With a sprawling, well-maintained landscape, you and your guests can enjoy an outdoor ceremony on the lawn. This venue boasts an in-house catering option to make your wedding planning even easier. One of my favorite features is the speak-easy style bar in the basement. There are so many intimate nooks throughout the manor for guests to mingle in. You can also find chic spaces for you to take romantic couples portraits.
If you’re looking for a Midwest wedding venue that cares about sustainability practices as much as they care about customizing meaningful wedding experiences, Paikka in St. Paul is the perfect place for you. This modern wedding venue used to be a mattress factory. You can truly curate a whole experience for you and your guests. You’ll find indoor and outdoor ceremony space, family style seating for your wedding dinner and reception, and twinkling lights strung up on the patio for cozy cocktail hour or late night dancing. I especially love that it’s within walking distance of SK Coffee Bar + Roastery and Lake Monster Brewing Company. You and your wedding party can enjoy some fun beverages before the ceremony to get the party started. Everything about this wedding venue is intentionally curated making it an ideal location for your intimate wedding day.
Nestled away in Northwest Iowa is a cozy little bed and breakfast, The Oakwood Inn. This homey space is designed specifically for small guest counts. In fact, I photographed a wedding here that had 9 people total including the couple! Depending on the season, there is space indoors and out for your wedding ceremony. The dining room is the perfect indoor space for a family style dinner with your loved ones. As a bonus? There are rooms available for you or your immediate family to stay on site before and after the wedding. With Okoboji being a popular tourist destination, you’ll find it’s the perfect wedding venue for small weddings.
I’ve loved working with these incredible Midwest wedding venues, especially for small weddings. In the end the most important thing about picking a wedding venue is finding a space that works for you. You deserve a thoughtful wedding celebration in a space that appeals to your aesthetic as well as your values.