American Swedish Institute: Classic charm in the Big City

Photo by Hubert Bonnet

When planning a wedding, one of the most important decisions to be made is the location of the celebration. A wedding venue must be able to function on a variety of levels. First, the venue has to be able to comfortably hold the number of invited guests. More importantly, the venue should act to enhance the theme or style of the wedding. But the biggest determining factor for the GLBT community is whether or not the venue is willing to host same-sex ceremonies. Fortunately, Minnesotans can look to the American Swedish Institute as a venue that is practical, beautiful, and supportive for wedding celebrations of all style and sizes, including GLBT celebrations. Without leaving the city, weddings can be transported to timeless venues steeped in culture and tradition.

Located on historical Park Avenue in Minneapolis, the American Swedish Institute (ASI) stands tall and proud with two unique buildings—the Turnblad Mansion and the new Nelson Cultural Center. The ASI is internationally known as the cultural center and museum for Swedish and Nordic cultures, and it is also the perfect place to plan your wedding, especially if your dream wedding includes a fully decorated, ornate castle.

The American Swedish Institute was founded in 1929, when Swan J. Turnblad and his family donated the Turnblad mansion (along with the Svenska Amerikanska Posten building and the Posten office in downtown) to serve as the cultural center and museum for Swedish culture in the Twin Cities. The mansion was originally the home of Swan, Christina, and Lillian Turnblad. As Swedish immigrants in the late 1800s, Swan and Christina came to Minnesota to pursue their dreams. Swan became the owner of Svenska Amerikanska Posten, the largest Swedish newspaper in the United State. The Turnblads purchased six lots on 26th and Park, and they began the building process in 1903. In 1909, this resplendent, “French Chateauesque” mansion was completed with the design inspired by the family’s frequent visits to Europe.

Photo courtesy of The American Swedish Institute

June 2012 brought the opening of the Nelson Cultural Center, a modern-style building built to be energy efficient and environmentally sustainable. The center houses Fika cafe, a reception area, an event center, an art gallery, studio craft classrooms, and a beautiful terrace and courtyard. Some green features of the building include a geothermal system for heating and cooling, two green roofs, efficient lighting practices, sustainable building materials, and native plants. The building is also in review for LEED Gold certification by the United States Green Building Council—yet another reason to love this beautiful building.

No matter what type of ceremony you’re planning, the American Swedish Institute has a space for you. Several spaces are available to rent, depending on the amount of guests and the style you’d like to have for the event.  For a more classic wedding (or for those of you who have always dreamed of having a fairytale wedding—castle included), Turnblad Mansion can be rented, including the Grand Hall, the Salon, and the second and third floors of the building for guest tours.

The Larson Hall in the Nelson Cultural Center is perfect for receptions and dinners and has space for at least 225 guests. Also, the Courtyard between the two main buildings can be rented out for a spectacularly seasonal event. Jennifer Stromberg, ASI’s Communications and Marketing Coordinator, notes that “a lot of wedding ceremonies have been held in the courtyard recently.” Finally, if you’re looking for a smaller event, both buildings have more intimate spaces available.

Photo courtesy of The American Swedish Institute

One great perk to holding an event at the American Swedish Institute is the ability to take advantage of beautiful seasonal and holiday decorations. The decorations for winter are, simply put, awe-inspiring. According to Gegi Carlson, Event Manager at ASI, “The Turnblad Mansion goes all out for the Christmas holidays.  Volunteers from each of the five Nordic countries [Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden] decorates one room of the mansion according to their country’s traditions.”  These five rooms include traditionally decorated trees and table settings.

Throughout the mansion, traditional Swedish candelabras twinkle in the windows, and garlands with red ribbons grace the space as well. Along with internal decorations, the exterior areas are decorated with pristine lights. Add the charm of a historical building complete with eleven ornate tile stoves, stained glass windows, mahogany carvings, a two-story fireplace, and wool rugs, and you have the timeless and breathtaking wedding venue of your dreams.

The American Swedish Institute enthusiastically hosts same-sex weddings and ceremonies, as well as business meetings, corporate events, and other celebrations. For more information on the American Swedish Institute and facility rentals, visit

5100 Eden Ave, Suite 107 • Edina, MN 55436
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