You’ve heard it a hundred times before: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So when a prospective wedding client told me she had found an amazing venue for photography at the St. James Hotel in Red Wing, Minnesota, I just smiled politely, told her I was sure it would be wonderful, and prepared myself to be nothing short of underwhelmed. I’ve photographed weddings nationally and internationally and I know first-hand that what someone might describe as “amazing” can easily turn out to be mediocre. Plus, as a Minneapolis based wedding photographer, I’ve shot hundreds of venues in and around the Twin Cities before (a handful of them in Red Wing) and I knew better than to assume this place would live up to its proposed luster.
Then I got to see it for myself…
The morning of the wedding, I walked into the lobby of the historic St. James Hotel and immediately understood why the bride had spoken so highly of the place. I was awestruck! Having arrived early for the shoot I wandered through the hotel, admiring the classic woodwork, the ornate graphic patterns on the walls, and the number of beautifully lit hallways, stairwells and rooms.
I thought, “How have I never been in here before?”
I’m often forced to choose between one ordinary backdrop and another equally ordinary backdrop to photograph, but when it came to the St. James Hotel, the options were endless! I didn’t know how I would be able to choose only a handful of locations to shoot from with the variety of captivating settings the hotel offered. It was a dilemma I was happy to face.
We began our shoot with the bride getting ready. Natural light cascaded in through delicate window curtains, creating the kind of soft box-style lighting that wedding photographers often try to artificially produce.
Almost every hallway and open space in the hotel was lit with this romantic natural light, producing a perfectly soft, pure feel that photographers dream of.
The St. James Hotel offers countless opportunities for shooting stunning photographs. A staircase leading to a beautiful open room served as the perfect vantage point to capture the priceless moment of the bride and groom’s first look at one another. In and around the hotel, charming settings with vibrant colors and rich textures offer endless possibilities ideal for wedding photography.
While the guests were served cocktails, we had just enough time to capture the bridal veil wedding photos.
Vintage railroad tracks, which run just behind the hotel, made for a captivating backdrop.
The reception hall offered another picture-perfect location. The hotel’s spacious Summit Room is lined with windows that provide a spectacular view of the Mississippi River. During the reception, the setting sun lit the room perfectly for capturing some beautiful photos.
The St. James Hotel may be outside of the normal coverage range for many Minneapolis area wedding photographers, but I can assure that it is absolutely worth the drive. This hotel perfectly reflects the beauty and sentiment of a wedding day, making it the ideal venue for hosting and photographing a memorable once-in-a-lifetime experience.