Weddings: A Superior Wedding, a Great Lake, a Good Story

The view from the balcony at Eagle Ridge, coffee in hand. Photo by Craig Bares
The view from the balcony at Eagle Ridge, coffee in hand. Photo by Craig Bares

I can imagine the last morning of life as a single person. I’m drinking a cup of coffee on a private balcony, both on a mountain and overlooking a mountain, a great blue lake is in the distance. I can’t see across it. It’s as expansive as my future with my beloved. I would be getting married on Moose Mountain on Lake Superior, in front of friends and family, surrounded by beauty, gazing at beauty, being a part of the beauty.

The Lutsen Mountains are along the North Shore of Lake Superior, north of Duluth but south of Canada. Not only is there our Great Lake that is just so enchanting, but our flat state seems to rise to meet it, with the tallest mountains in the Midwest. We come here regularly. We hike the trails, we’ve made breakfasts and lunches and elaborate dinners in these rental condos at Eagle Ridge Resort. We love live music, we’ve seen some of our favorites on this mountain through the years. We’ve taken the Mountain Tram to the Summit Chalet and the sky has dumped fat snowflakes on us, obscuring our view of the surrounding mountains and trees. We’ve fallen on our asses and laughed them off. We love it here.

Even though we’re so familiar with everything here, it still feels like a destination. It will always be a destination. And this is our destination wedding.

When the Lutsen area isn’t the winter playpen for skiers and snowboarders, it’s an idyll of wildflowers, trees, and waterfalls. Our guests will enjoy seeing the mountains on what is ironically an off-season, though it’s gorgeous and lush, a spectacle of nature. Many of them will take advantage of the discounted package rates at Eagle Ridge Resort, some will camp, some will stay further away, on their own adventures. I hope they all get a good dose of the State Parks or art galleries or water views, whatever passes their fancies. Grand Marais is so close, as are so many parks and waterfalls, that it’s hard not to jest about playing hooky from our own wedding. Even if they’re just there for the day of the event, our guests will be treated to views from the Mountain Tram gondola ride to the top of Moose Mountain, ones that I am frankly quite surprised to see in Minnesota.

As we’ve been planning this grand event, we’ll learn much about having a wedding on a mountain. When we wonder how we’ll get our elders up the mountain, our guides at Summit Chalet ease our nerves by telling us a van can take our precious cargo up and down, rather than the Mountain Tram. Like our contacts at the Chalet, our vendors know the ropes as they’ve done many weddings here before ours; they know the mountain, they know the spaces, they know the views and how they fit into the setting. We’ll import our photographer, some musicians, and decorations; the rest will come from the vendor list.

Minnesota chic. A little rustic pomp and circumstance goes a long way with me at the lovely Summit Chalet. Photo by LaCoursiere Photography.
Minnesota chic. A little rustic pomp and circumstance goes a long way with me at the lovely Summit Chalet. Photo by LaCoursiere Photography.

We tasted delicious menu items and went with the Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper Crusted Prime Rib and you’ll laugh when I request an end because you know I like it well done. Our guests will also enjoy the Ginger and Maple Honey-Glazed Pork with Honeycrisp Apples because it’ll match the season of our nuptials, autumn, when the air is getting crisp and the flavors are deepening. If the coin flip had fallen differently, our choice would have been the Swedish Meatballs. Just because. Our gluten-free and vegetarian friends will be thrilled with the options of salads and sides, we made sure to choose plenty for their palates. The kids have their picks, the bar will be stocked, and we know I’ll be happy with unlimited Caribou Coffee, because I always am. It’s all very Minnesota. It’s all very us.

Photo by Emily Steffen
View of Summit Chalet from the mountainside of wildflowers. Photo by Emily Steffen

You had some very well-reasoned doubts. You know we’re not spring chickens. You wondered if we should elope. We checked; we could. Our friends at Summit Chalet can work a little magic if we’d wanted a small ceremony at the top of some of the meadowland ski runs or a really intimate, barely noticeable foursome ceremony elsewhere on the grounds. It was a fleeting thought, and you know that we both wanted our love more publicly displayed. We wanted to shout our vows from the mountaintop. We want the world to hear, to see, to witness. Microphones, music, dance, celebration. We want at least a little pomp and circumstance. Rustic pomp and circumstance. And then we’ll toast and dine and end the reception with a firepit on the deck, under the stars, on a mountain, within view of our lake in the dark.

The night before the wedding, we had the rehearsal dinner at Papa Charlie’s, in a private dining area upstairs, away from some of the hubbub, but still within reach of it. A rehearsal dinner likes a little hubbub, particularly after the rehearsal, itself, up on the mountain. There might be some nerves to mitigate. Papa Charlie’s had music, pool, darts, and plenty of food and drink to keep our bellies full. We needed to blow off some steam, and then we needed to wander back down the hill to our condos to get a good night of sleep; something that is easy to do on a quiet ski mountain in the summer. We’ll be together again on our wedding night, but that night before, we sleep alone.

Our mountainside retreat; the one-bedroom executive condo at Eagle Ridge. Photo by Craig Bares
Our mountainside retreat; the one-bedroom executive condo at Eagle Ridge. Photo by Craig Bares

I hope someone brings you coffee as you sit on your balcony, separate from me, the morning of our wedding, because that’s my job for the rest of my life with you. I hope you eat enough so the nerves don’t get the best of you, we stocked your condo’s fridge to stave off the hangries. I hope you don’t worry about your vows because nothing you say to me will be wrong; it will be just right, just as we are. I hope that you take a morning hike and get to clear your head like you like to, because you’re in the perfect place for it.

I can’t wait to see you at the top of this mountain, in front of all of our loved ones, between me and the lake and sky. We’ll walk toward each other, toward the ledge, toward our future: a great expanse.

Our wedding ceremony with a view. Photo by Athena Pelton
Our wedding ceremony with a view. Photo by Athena Pelton

Weddings at Summit Chalet at Lutsen Mountains:

  • Moutaintop location with 100-mile view of mountains and Lake Superior
  • Ceremony is outdoors, with indoor cocktail hour, reception dinner, and dance for up to 165 guests
  • Price includes round-trip Mountain Tram gondola ride to the summit of Moose Mountain
  • Food is prepared by Summit Chalet, other vendors are negotiable
  • Group bookings at Eagle Ridge Resort at base of the mountain earn discount at Summit Chalet
  • A Group Coordinator from Summit Chalet is included in the booking to assist in the details of your wedding on the mountain
  • Papa Charlie’s is available for rehearsal dinners as well as parties after your reception

For more information, go to www.eagleridgeatlutsen.com/experience/weddings.


Note: this is a fictional account, based upon multiple visits to the locale; the writer is not getting married, so please don’t tell her mother.