A Woodland Wedding in Northern Minnesota

Although Katie Myrold, 27, a registered dietitian and fiber artist, and Kevin Friedland , 34, a former professional soccer player for Minnesota United FC, met at trendy, high-energy Bar Louie in Uptown Minneapolis (“he was their with his soccer teammates and was the first and last customer I ever gave my phone number to,” says Katie, who was a server at the time) their wedding ceremony was a world away in a peaceful woodland setting two hours north of the Twin Cities. The outdoor venue, Juliane James Place in the tiny Northern town of Finlayson (pop. 314), perfectly represents what the couple love most about Minnesota. “Nature really speaks for itself out there,” says Katie. The property not only includes 40 acres of wooded land (complete with wildflowers and blackberry bushes), but a cabin and main house, where the wedding party stayed (other guests were shuttled to a nearby hotel). Katie and Kevin's ceremony took place on a small stage in the middle of a forest with a small pond in the background, an arch framing the couple as they exchanged vows, their guests looking on from vintage church pews. Everyone was immersed in nature.

All of the couple's guests traveled to celebrate with them—either requiring a few hours' drive or a flight—so it was important to not only make 100 of their closest friends and family feel appreciated, but also treat them to good food, drinks, and entertainment in an unforgettable natural setting. The cocktail hour took place among the trees, with a rustic bar, standing cocktail tables, and a signature drink, Chowgirls catered the meal family-style in the reception tent, popular Izzy's Ice Cream was served instead of cake, and the DJ spun tunes—including the couple's first dance to "Tethered" by the bride's favorite band Sleeping at Last—until the sun went down. Katie and Kevin personalized their wedding with green and gold, copper-painted woodland animals, photos hanging from trees, and thrift-store mugs, chosen specifically for each guest, as wedding favors. "Plan your wedding to reflect who you are," says Katie. "The entire day was incredible."

— By Chrissy Sorenson