EDITOR'S NOTE: The following story first appeared in the Grand Forks Herald's Wedding Guide.
The uniqueness of Ralph Engelstad Arena and Naastad Acres makes the two wedding venues stand out in a crowd.
The Ralph Engelstad Arena – “the Ralph,” as it's commonly called – is located on the UND campus in Grand Forks. It features an elegant setting complete with granite floors, brick pillars and chandeliers. Couples also can be married at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, adjacent to the hockey arena.
Naastad Acres, located on a farm near Hatton, N.D., offers a charming, pastoral setting for country, outdoor weddings. JoAnn and John Naastad, the farmstead’s owners, began hosting weddings in 2013, and each year since have added a distinctive feature to their venue.
The Ralph, a spacious building, offers a variety of intimate settings for weddings and related events, including groom’s dinners and wedding receptions. The settings include the main arena floor, lobby and Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, said AnnMarie Lane, REA special events coordinator.
“We like to say that we’re uniquely different for a wedding reception venue,” Lane said.
Couples can even get married when there’s still ice on the main arena floor. Staff are able to insulate it, she said.
The staff at Ralph Engelstad Arena can accommodate large parties, but also cater to smaller, intimate weddings and receptions in other areas of the arena.
Naastad Acres offers an outdoor setting and couples can move indoors into another building if it rains, said Jodi Sundeen, who helps the Naastads manage their venue.
The setting of Naastad Acres is breathtaking, she said.
“When you come into the place, it's like 'Wow,'" Sundeen said. “You really need to see the place to see what you get offered.”
Besides the outdoor setting framed by trees and the barn, the venue also includes a building called the “henhouse,” where brides and other members of a bridal party can get ready. The henhouse features tongue-and-groove flooring, makeup mirrors and a lounge area. Overhead, there is a loft, where the bridal party can stay overnight, Sundeen said.
The Naastad Acres grounds also has a building known as “the elevator," which can accommodate 22 overnight guests.
Naastad Acres typically books weddings during the warm months, ending the season in October, Sundeen said.
“We want to start doing it year-round," she said. All buildings are heated, and when snow removal logistics are worked out, the venue will be able to expand its bookings, she said.
At Ralph Engelstad Arena, most weddings are booked from mid-April to August, when there are no hockey games, Lane said. The arena, which can accommodate as many as 500 guests for weddings and receptions, is especially popular with UND hockey fans.
Ralph Engelstad Arena will take care of most of the details for weddings and receptions, including setting up and tearing down, providing tables and chairs and in-house catering.
“We honestly do everything, other than decorations and the disc jockey,” Lane said.
Naastad Acres’ wedding packages include tables and chairs, use of a commercial kitchen and decorations, Sundeen said.