Lake Elmo says ‘I do’ to commercial wedding venues, with strings attached

The Lake Elmo City Council approved an ordinance that will allow homeowners to rent out their properties for marriage ceremonies at its May 6 council meeting. The council’s approval of the ordinance follows a unanimous vote by the city’s planning commission last month to recommend passage of the ordinance. It will allow residents to use their properties as commercial wedding venues, but just for the exchange of wedding vows, not to host receptions.

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

Lake Elmo residents with properties zoned as rural transitional or agricultural -- properties 10 acres or larger -- can now host for-profit wedding ceremonies on their land.

Qualifying property owners would first have to request an interim use permit from the planning commission. The commission would review the submitted proposal to make sure the applicant will follow the terms and conditions of the ordinance before it grants a permit.

A public hearing would also need to be held before a venue is permitted, at which time nearby residents would have the opportunity to address the planning commission with any concerns.

The ordinance excludes wedding receptions; however, food and alcoholic beverages are allowed during the ceremony. 

Some of the ordinance’s restrictions include:

• A maximum of 150 guests at each event

• Ceremonies may only be held in the months of May through October

• A maximum of two ceremonies per week

• Limited operating hours of 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

• A maximum of three hours per ceremony

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

• Temporary structures must be taken down within a 72-hour window after an event

• Food and alcoholic beverages may 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.

Klatt said the process of considering an ordinance began with a request from Carol Palmquist, who operates a small vineyard on her 10-acre property, located at 12202 55th Street North.

In a Feb. 10 letter to the city, Palmquist requested permission to schedule ceremonies on her property twice weekly, Monday through Saturday, during the months of May through October.

Council member Anne Smith said she visited Palmquist’s property and noted that it was a “beautiful property” and seemed a suitable place to hold a wedding ceremony.

Klatt said, so far, the planning commission has not received any requests from other property owners in the city to host wedding ceremonies on their properties.

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


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