Lake Elmo mulls commercial wedding venues

If the Lake Elmo City Council approves a new ordinance next month, residents with 10-acre lots will be able to rent out their properties for marriage ceremonies.

The Lake Elmo Planning Commission voted last week to recommend passage of an ordinance that would allow commercial venues for the exchanging of wedding vows, but not for hosting receptions. 

Commissioners had discussed the topic at several past meetings and modified the ordinance’s wording over time. The proposal will now advance to the city council for consideration.

Following a public hearing, commissioners refined the proposed ordinance even further by making several amendments to the draft prior to voting on approval. The city council will need to adopt the ordinance for it to become legal for residents to host for-profit wedding ceremonies on their properties, and it comes with several restrictions. 

Communications coordinator Alyssa MacLeod said the proposed ordinance would go before the city council at its Tuesday, May 6, meeting for consideration. At that time council members will either adopt the ordinance as is, make changes to the ordinance before adopting it, table it or deny it altogether.

Community development director Kyle Klatt told the planning commission that the process of considering an ordinance began with a request from a property owner who wants to conduct outdoor wedding ceremonies.

The ordinance as it is currently written would exclude wedding receptions and allow just ceremonies, however, food and alcoholic beverages would be allowed during the ceremony. Klatt said the ordinance is targeted for properties that are zoned as rural transitional or agricultural -- properties 10-acres or larger.

“It’s intended to allow people that own these types of properties to find ways to receive some economic returns from their properties,” Klatt explained.

If the council adopts the ordinance, qualifying property owners could host wedding ceremonies for profit, but would first have to request an interim use permit from the planning commission. The commission would then review the submitted proposal to make sure the applicant will follow the terms and conditions of the ordinance before granting a permit.

Some of the ordinance’s restrictions include:

• A maximum of 150 guests at each event.

• A maximum of two ceremonies per week in the months of May through October.

• A maximum of three hours per ceremony between the hours of 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.

• An applicant must have liability insurance in place at least one week prior to an event

• Temporary structures or tents must be erected and taken down within a two-day window before and after an event

• Food and alcoholic beverages must only be served during the ceremony itself and the applicant must meet all federal, state and local licensing requirements

• Properties must be at least 10-acres in size and the ceremony must be held more than 400 feet from a neighboring property line

Concerns among residents

During the public hearing a handful of residents voiced concerns over traffic, noise, the use of alcohol, littering and the frequency of events. Klatt read a few emails from residents who had similar concerns.

Klatt said the ordinance would require a public hearing before a commercial venue is permitted, and nearby residents would have an opportunity to address the planning commission with their concerns. The ordinance would also require a written notice be mailed to neighboring properties prior to every ceremony.

Klatt said city staff were in the process of putting together a final draft of the ordinance, which will be presented at the May 6 council meeting.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at or 651-748-7822.


Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Comment Here