St. James Hotel is a charming local destination in Red Wing, Minnesota, with a history dating back 100+ years. With historic décor and a vintage charm that is unmatched, it makes for an amazing wedding experience for you and your guests. Their on-site restaurants, elegant guest rooms, and all-inclusive offerings are just a few of the reasons couples must consider this destination. Get to know more about their history and how they will make your wedding day memorable below!
Q: Let’s get to it, what’s your business’ specialty?
A: We are a one-stop shop for all things WEDDING! We can do the rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception, and gift-opening brunch!
Q: Where can we find you?
A: Red Wing, Minnesota
Q: Tell us when and how St. James Hotel began.
A: The hotel was founded by 11 civic-minded businessmen that observed the need for a first-class lodging establishment in what was then the wheat capital of the world. These men formed the original Red Wing Hotel Corporation and raised $60,000 for the project. They built it in the heart of the business district that is nestled in the Bluffs of the Mississippi River. E.P Bassford designed the four-story Italianate structure. The hotel was ahead of its time; 50 rooms with hot and cold running water, steam heat, and a state-of-the-art kitchen. The hotel opened on Thanksgiving Day 1875.
Q: What makes your company unique from others?
A: We treat our guests like family. We maintain the historic quality of the guestrooms and venues but with added modern touches and conveniences that truly make you feel like you are stepping back in time. We have so many hidden areas within the hotel that are very Instagrammable. Where else can the bride and groom take an iconic balcony photo in the area?
Q: How long have you been in the industry? What do you think has changed the most since then?
A: I began in the industry part-time back in 2007 and made the jump to full-time in 2016. I think guest counts have reduced a lot and I also think that couples are looking for a one-stop-shop for all of their wedding events. To be able to have the ceremony, reception, and even their lodging take place all in one location saves time, is incredibly convenient, and is much more stress-free for the couple.
Q: Walk us through your average workday.
A: Emails, details & tours…oh my! An average day can be one or all of those things.
Q: What would you want couples searching for your business type to know?
A: We do it all! We are able to host your entire wedding weekend extravaganza! In addition, you can stay here, dine here AND get your floral and salon spa services here too! The best part, you can come back and stay with us any time to celebrate where the most special day of your life took place!
Q: How far in advance should a couple book with you?
A: If you have over 150 guests, I would book 9+ months out. In addition, if there is a particular date that means something to you, book ASAP! If you’re flexible on the date or have a guest count under 50, you can book 90 days or less depending on availability.
Q: What’s one wedding trend you’d like to see fade away?
A: Navy Blue Suits with Brown Shoes and Dusty Rose Dresses! I would also love to see more patterns and unique colors as well as guests returning to semi-formal and formal attire.
Q: What is the biggest crowd-pleaser at your venue?
A: The sweeping views of the Mississippi River in our Summit Room and Chef Sarah’s Pot Roast.
Q: What is the history behind your venue?
A: Pulling from the very beginning, in 1906 Charles Lillyblad became the manager and bought out the remaining partners. He married Clara Nelson, a young woman who was waiting tables in 1914. They had two children, Art and Frances. Clara then took over the kitchen and gained a reputation for outstanding food and customer service. When Charles died in 1932, Clara became sole proprietor of the St. James Hotel. She had an iron fist for attention to detail but a heart of gold. No detail was overlooked. Clara also curated her ingredients from local farmers and holidays were her soft spot and would help those down on their luck by sending over complete turkey dinners for their entire family. She also would celebrate with the staff and cook meals fit for a President to thank them for their hard work.
Clara died in 1972 and Art Lillyblad took over operations until 1977 when Red Wing Shoe Company purchased it. The St. James Hotel closed for 2 years to complete a multi-million dollar renovation. Modifications, an additional 19 rooms and over 10,000 square feet of banquet space were added to create the amenities guest are looking for in the new world of travel. Three restaurants were added — The Port of Red Wing which offered fine dining on the lower level, the Veranda Café, overlooking the Mississippi and Jimmy’s Pub, which pays homage to English Pubs in London. During the Covid pandemic, the Veranda was remodeled and became what is now Scarlet Kitchen & Bar which serves an elevated menu that would make Clara proud. An Event Planning room was also added to the main level to assist brides in planning their special day.
Q: What are your other hobbies and passions besides creating beautiful wedding days?
A: Trying out new breweries or food & beverage hot spots is always great fun. That along with seeing theatre productions and concerts that come to town, traveling, hosting family & friends for pool and dinner parties at home and Netflix and chill are all enjoyable. Many relate to working in hospitality but when you love what you do, that mindset never shuts off!
Q: Duck Duck Grey Duck or Duck Duck Goose?
A: When you’re from Minnesota, there is only ONE correct answer: Duck Duck Grey Duck!
Q: Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall Wedding?
A: Winter Weddings are AMAZING!
Q: Veil or no veil?
A: No Veil. I want to see all of the emotion!
Q: Mountains or Beach?
A: BEACH, please!
Q: Chocolate or Vanilla?
Q: Go-to comfort food?
A: Mashed Potatoes
Q: Favorite place you’ve traveled to?
A: Edinburgh, Scotland
Q: What show are you binging right now?
A: Mind Over Murder on HBO Max…it’s quite the true-life trip!
Q: Go-to cocktail (or mocktail)?
A: Spring/Summer: Ketel One Botanicals Grapefruit Rose Vodka & 7up; Fall/Winter: Old Fashioned
Now that you have the lowdown, meet the St. James Hotel team in person at Twin Cities Bridal Show! Secure your tickets here.