The Newquist wedding will always hold a special place in my heart. First, it was my first same-sex wedding that I had the pleasure of documenting and it was also an awesome collaboration with the brides leading up to their wedding day. Alyson and Jesse are the definition of Do. It. Yourself. These ladies didn’t just bring together some details, they created an entirely new venue that is now open for other couples to rent out for their wedding! Juliane and James Place is located a little over an hour north of the cities and is the ultimate wedding retreat. We caught up with Alyson and Jesse to learn more about why they decided to open a new wedding venue, in the midst of planning their own perfectly styled event!
Q. You have incredible style. Hands down. What kind of resources did you use to gather inspiration for your wedding?
A. We used everything from historical images of turn of the century weddings to the weddings of some of our favorite wedding vendors like Hello! Lucky co-owner Eunice Moyle, whose wedding was featured in Martha Stewart Weddings a few years ago. In fact, we used Hello! Lucky’s website to see what their past clients have done because we love their work so much. Most of our influence to go with our theme of a turn of the century exploration/discovery/invention theme though came from watching Sherlock Holmes a few years ago. We loved the costumes and the depiction of London in Guy Ritchie’s interpretation of that world. So we tried to recreate it in the woods.
Q. What were the first steps you took in designing your big day?
A. Coming up with a feel we could both agree with. I have fairly outlandish tastes and Jesse needs to reign me in a lot and keep me focused, especially because as a wedding planner I see so many things I like all the time. I also don’t have that part of the brain that controls impulse and I tend to think I can do anything, and then try, and keep trying until I succeed, so she needed to put the breaks on some of my crazier ideas. Anyway though, Jesse has much stronger opinions on what she likes and doesn’t like so I would present her with a ton of ideas, ask her what she liked about each one and then go back to the research table (aka the inter-web) and then find more stuff I thought we would like.
We also spent about 16 months up to our wedding renovating a property in the middle of the forest just thinking and coming up with ideas and running them by each other. What we were doing was so utilitarian that a lot of our ideas, such as creating our invites as a shadowbox that guests could use as a photo frame after they were done with the invite (the invite slid out and then photos could slide in) came naturally to us. We also were doing a lot of discover about gardening and grounds-work with our 40 acres so creating things like terrariums or test tubes with feathers in them came to us from nature and just living so close to it.
Q. How did you choose your vendors?
A. Mostly by reputation and word of mouth and price. I didn’t want mid-range vendors, I wanted high-end luxury vendors who marketed themselves that way and valued the services they provided enough to price themselves in the upper echelon within the Twin Cities.
Q. Both you and your Bride put in TONS of work to get your venue up and running. What was that process like?
A. I’m pretty sure answering this questions would take up an entire novel, let a lone a blog post! To be concise though, we had to first renovate the main house and then the cabin, then get the grounds ready via clearing spaces for the tents and various cocktail areas. We had to tame and reign in the garden spaces. We had to hunt down church pews and antique folding chairs across the Midwest and build tables for the reception area. We had to build a stage and landscape a space that was formerly (a month prior!) the middle of the woods and then two weeks prior to our wedding we decided to build an aisle using stone we found on the property. Then we had to let other people know about our space and get people excited about what we were creating. At our first wedding that wasn’t our own, I had to remove myself from the ceremony because we had just work SO hard to get to that point, to see another couple as happy as we were getting married. Standing in the same spot. To know that so many people are going to commit to themselves in a space we created we our bare hands is an unbelievable feeling.
Q. All of your bridesmaids had different dresses. Why did you choose this?
A. I like the look of different colors together and different women have different bodies. My maid of honor could never have pulled off blush but two of my bridesmaids could. And one of my bridesmaids was pregnant and she would have been the odd one out. I just love the look of the same material in the same length in different styles with different colors. Luckily, Flutter Boutique carries both Jenny Yoo and Amsale who both make a silk crinkle chiffon.
Q. What was your philosophy in investing in the details of your day (money wise)? What were the priorities for you?
A. Our priorities were:
Guest experience: almost all our guests traveled from out of state and we wanted to treat them to everything they could ever imagine being at a wedding, food and drink wise.
Creativity: making sure our wedding was unique and represented us.
And lastly, creating a mode for other weddings at the property.
Q. Why did you choose to start Juliane James Place?
A. My parents died a couple years apart from each other in my late twenties (I in my (very) early 30s now) and I wanted to create a place where happy things happened. Jesse and I had just been through so much in our 20s and moved around so much that we wanted to create a place to be anchored to where everyone would feel safe. I also wanted to have a tangible example for others to see of what same-sex weddings, marriage, and participation in the business community surrounding weddings look like. I feel that through our creating JJP, many other people feel comfortable reaching out to same-sex clients or talking about same sex weddings because they now have a language to do so with. Every person who comes for a tour at our property who saw our wedding in MN Bride knows how to talk about our marriage and wedding. We create a space where folks can feel comfortable asking if they should say partner or wife, which is awesome, because gay people are still figuring all that out, and we can create an environment where people who know how important getting married is, feel comfortable talking about all weddings as equal (besides the boring, unthoughtful ones, obviously!).
Q. When it came to your actual wedding dress, you both chose local designer, Joynoelle. Why did you choose this? How did you choose your dresses?
A. We chose Joy because she is the established name in local bridal couture. She also just got it that we wanted dresses that went well together but didn’t compete. She had also done same-sex bridal dresses before. Her boutique was an amazing space too that I knew that Jesse would feel comfortable in. I LOVED my experience with Amanda and L’Atelier and would recommend them and their amazing space and collection to anyone, but when it came down to it, I felt we needed to have dresses created in conjunction with one another so that neither of our dresses took precedence over the other.
Q. Aside from your vendors, who did you collaborate with to bring your ideas to life?
A. Each other mostly and Jesse’s family. Jesse’s parents have built their home from scratch in the middle of the woods in a gorgeous valley outside of Winona, MN. My father in law, Pat, is a genius at figuring out creative ways to make anything you want to have happen, happen. And he inspires us constantly. Jesse’s mom, Julie, has the most amazing aesthetic that utilizes a lot of muted pastels. Even her collection of bathroom towels inspired our love of muted pastels for our color scheme. And Mitch, Jesse’s brother, came and helped us so many times when we needed him and it just made so much more possible. He is always networking for us and thinking of things we can do to run our business better. I feel so fortunate to have married into such a great family.
Q. What advice do you have for brides who are planning a stylish wedding that incorporates so many details?
A. Hire a planner! You can access the services of a skilled planner for just consulting to organize your ideas, for partial planning, or for full-planning. I know plenty of planners who offer hourly consulting to just get you on the right track toward organizing and achieving your wedding goals. We are lucky to have planners like Laura Mullen Event Design, Mimi Design, Amy Zaroff Events + Design, Rocket Science Weddings & Events, Lizzie Anne Weddings, and other great planners locally (who are too modest to list their own company!). Utilize that vast resource!
To back up the suggestion above: Do not rely too heavily on your family and friends. They are there to celebrate with you; not work for you.
Create a well-thought out craft and DIY plan so you know what gets done when and invite friends and family over to help with those projects and make it fun. And feed them and give them wine for helping you (include that sort of thing in your DIY budget if you are going to ask for a lot of help)!
Make sure you have the budget to be able to execute all the ideas you would like to or you may financially over-commit and be left with only half an idea executed.
Do not cut corners on floral. It makes the biggest impact of all. Take a look at our photos and imagine them without flowers. It’s a different wedding.
Focus on a few key style elements. Your guests can’t possible take in everything you create and you may end up feeling upset that the thing that took you a month to work on is tossed aside because your guests are doing what you want them to do: HAVING FUN!
Hire a photographer who values details and understands capturing them. If details, crafts, styling, and DIY projects mean the world to you, then make sure your photographer knows that! And be willing to pay more for a great team of photographers.
You can also check out Juliane James Place on Facebook.