Brides and grooms think Bruentrup Farm is perfect place to say “I do”


It was a beautiful day when Arthur Graf and Kelly Lynn Michlitsch exchanged their wedding vows at Bruentrup Historic Farm in Maplewood. (Courtesy of Kirstin Lukes)

Newlyweds Arthur and Kelly Lynn Graff pose in front of the Bruentrup Historic Farm’s sign. Their ceremony was the first in what has become a wedding staple in Maplewood. (Courtesy of Kirstin Lukes.)

Wagon and trailer rides are common before and after the ceremony. They take this trail to make their way around the site. (Tim Faklis/Review)

Kelly and Arthur Graf wanted to make their wedding as perfect as perfect can get.

There’s a lot that goes into planning a wedding -- the dress, the theme colors, the dinner choices, the DJ/band dilemma, or if an open bar is a good idea.

Still, the venue can be the ultimate make-or-break decision, and holds several sub-decisions of its own. A church wedding? A destination wedding? An indoor or outdoor location? What about the reception? Same site as the ceremony or a different one?

Kelly and Arthur wanted to go somewhere they were familiar with, and somewhere they had a history with. Ultimately, they settled on a place near and dear to their -- or more specifically, Kelly’s -- heart.

It was the Bruentrup Heritage Farm.

You want a wedding where?

“We lived right by there growing up, and when we were dating, we would walk by there all the time,” Kelly said. “So, we thought, ‘Why not get married there?’”

Although the engaged couple though the location was “perfect,” it had never before been used as a wedding venue.

Kelly’s father, Mickey Michlitsch, is on the board of directors for the Maplewood Area Historical Society, and his daughter presented him with the idea of having her wedding at the farm.

When he approached the historical society with the idea, the response was more or less what he expected.

“We came over (to the historical society) members” and we told them my daughter wanted to get married here. And they looked at us like we were nuts!”

This was back in 2008, and the historical society had never considered using the farmstead as a wedding venue. The barn had been refurbished with lower-key gatherings in mind: folk concerts, barn dances and Halloween activities for kids.

After the initial surprise wore off, the members agreed to welcome Mickey’s daughter to have the first-ever farm wedding at the site.

And eventually they came to understand why it was such a desirable setting. About 400 guests watched the ceremony and then enjoyed a pig roast, games and barn dance.

The historical society was impressed with the turnout and how easily the historical farm accommodated everyone. They were equally impressed with how the site created a visually beautiful backdrop for a wedding.

“It was just your typical, old-fashioned wedding,” Michlitsch said. “And the historical society members were there observing everything, and when it was all done, they decided that it had worked out for the best.”

In fact, they liked it so much that they hired Kelly to be the wedding coordinator shortly after her wedding. She stayed in the position for two years and promoted the site as a rustic wedding venue in an urban location. Lisa Wagner then took over in 2010, and has remained at the post ever since.

Deep roots in Maplewood

The Maplewood Historical Society oversees the Bruentrup Historical Farm, which is located on County Road D east of Maplewood Mall. The dairy farm began in 1891 on White Bear Avenue and the buildings were moved to their current location about 15 years ago.

The buildings are all intact, but some modifications have been made to make them accessible to people with disabilities.

Before anything else, the farm is a museum of how life was a century ago, Michlitsch explained. It has a variety of exhibits on Maplewood’s history, and the society holds events there such as ice cream socials, Victorian teas and square dances, reflecting the entertainment of the day.

Still, its use as a wedding site has become a big part of Bruentrup’s more recent history.

Even the farmhouse, which has period furniture, is used heavily, especially when the wedding party opts to have its reception on-site. 

For the ceremony itself, an outdoor gazebo was recently added to give the rural site even more visual appeal.

The Bruentrup house is used primarily for the bridal party. Brides do their final preparations for walking down the grassy “aisle,” between lines of white outdoor chairs.

There is an play area for kids, and even a large stationary fire truck to keep them occupied. Tractor and wagon rides (run by Bill Bruentrup, son of the farm’s original owner) are also available for wedding parties.

Weddings take place between May and October, and it has become increasingly difficult to get onto the list without applying far ahead of time.

That’s mainly because the city of Maplewood only allows the farm to hold six large events (over 100 people) per year. The historical society is working on acquiring a permit to increase that amount.

“It was a lovely place,” Kelly Graf said. “It kind of had a magic; we like the outdoors, and we really wanted some place where we could have the ceremony and the reception in the same place. It all worked out.”

It all worked out for Kelly and Arthur. And it worked out for the historical society, too.

You can reach Tim Faklis at 651-748-7814, at tfaklis@lillienews.com, or on Twitter @tfaklisnews.


Picnics and prayers

Along with its allure as a wedding site, the Bruentrup Historic Farm in Maplewood also serves as a great place for other activities.
The Holy Redeemer Lutheran Church in White Bear Lake, for example, holds an outdoor worship service at the farm on Wednesday evenings during the summer months. At 5:30 p.m., church members fire up the grills and serve a full picnic dinner, and the service begins at 6:30 p.m.
The idea of the barbecue was planted, oddly, one December.
“We had a Christmas Eve service there, and they didn’t expect too many people, but we had 100 people come,” recalled Karna Metzger, communications administrator at Holy Redeemer. “We tried to figure out what attracted people to the farm, and what people liked about it.”
Since then, it has become a regular Wednesday service. And it was the Christmas Eve service that started it all.
The setting “provides another level of authenticity,” Metzger said. “The Christmas story happened in a barn, so the feeling closer to the nativity story is a reason.”

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