I love shooting weddings in Duluth, Minnesota. Glensheen Mansion, also known as the historic Congdon Estate, is one of my absolute favorites. It’s classic luxury and proximity to Lake Superior appeals to the couple who want the very best, and it has become a top wedding destination in the North woods. This incredible estate should be at the top of the list when searching for the perfect place to tie the knot.
The home and grounds were built in 1908, and over one hundred years later it still feels as opulent as ever. It is one of the most popular tours in Duluth and is one of the most well preserved historic homes in Minnesota. The mansion itself boasts 39 bedrooms, many formal dining and sitting areas, and seemingly endless hallways furnished with lavish details. Now officially a museum owned by the University of Minnesota, great care has been taken to restore and preserve the estate in all its glory.
In addition to the main building, seven acres of formal gardens will amaze guests as they walk the grounds. A large variety of plant species provide a lush, beautiful, and colorful wonderland, especially in the summer and autumn seasons. The grounds are truly spectacular at any time of year, and many a perfect moment has been captured to remember the celebrations held there.
Glensheen is ideal for medium and smaller weddings, and the setting is both serene and idyllic. As a photographer, this venue has a beautiful variety of locations and scenes to spark creativity. The well-groomed grounds and gardens offer endless options for epic outdoor photos, and the opulence of the main house makes it easy capture sophisticated shots of the bride and groom on their big day.
There are many nooks and crannies filled with blooming annual and perennial plants, many of which are native to the Duluth area. The numerous pathways around the grounds lead to other great photo sites as well. There are several historic buildings on the property that are excellent photo backdrops. The short stroll to the shady bridge over Chester Creek is also a must. I love this spot for an intimate moment because it’s genuinely romantic, and just for the couple.
The private pier on the shore is also a site I like to take advantage of for gorgeous shots with Lake Superior in the background. Canal Park and the iconic Aerial Lift Bridge can be seen from the pier, adding to its photo appeal. Glensheen also provides the option of having a bonfire at the beach, which is great for both guests and the couple who’d like to make some s’mores and commiserate by the water.
For the ceremony, I love the balcony on the lakeside of the mansion. The bride makes a grand entrance while ascending one of the staircases, and the couple can see all of their loved ones below in the courtyard. With the lake in the background, it is indeed a perfect scene. I can also shoot from behind the bride and groom without being disruptive, so the first kiss can be captured from more than one angle, and remembered in all the best ways.
The Juliet Balcony, where most weddings at Glensheen take place, offers a gorgeous view of the formal garden, the hand-carved marble fountain, and Lake Superior. There are several different options for couples looking to rent out the perfect space at Glensheen for their wedding day, or any event that requires a private, beautiful space. These include the formal dining room, the amusement room, the carriage house lawn, and the winter garden. For those looking for a larger, outdoor ceremony or reception, the carriage house lawn offers the perfect space for a tented, garden wedding; and for eager brides planning their wedding, Glensheen has newly added a Bridal Suite for savoring those special moments before the ceremony.
The Winter Garden, open year round, is a great space for a reception, or any event that requires indoor seating with lots of natural light. The space holds 120 people and runs the entire length of the mansion. Its marble floors and brick walls offers a gorgeous background for any special event.
What better way to end the day than with a bonfire along the lake? The Glensheen staff emphasize the importance and beauty of Lake Superior, so why not enjoy it with a roaring fire and a couple of s’mores to close the night?
The staff is excellent! They are very friendly and accommodating, and go the extra mile to keep events running smoothly. Parking is plentiful, and the restrooms are well-kept and accessible. Guests may also have the option to tour the mansion and grounds between the day’s events, so be sure to ask about the tours that are available.
Glensheen is a fantastic spot to hold any event, and the weddings that take place here are extraordinary. This unique venue offers the best of both nature and classic elegance, and the setting is picture-perfect. I highly recommend the historic Congdon Estate when looking for the perfect wedding venue. Happy planning!