They don’t call it the heartland for nothing.
Weddings in the capital city of Des Moines are super sweet and surprisingly stylish. And, bonus (!), offer a bride a lot of bang for her buck.
To prove our point, we rounded up three of the area’s top wedding planners and asked them to name their top picks for gorgeous venues, fashionable gowns, and energetic talent in hair and makeup.
First up, the wedding pros who bring the magic.
Anthony Marinaro, Out of Box Productions
With a gift for adding an element of intrigue while keeping an air of classic sophistication, Anthony Marinaro is a force of nature. “What makes us different from other wedding planners is that our staff is classically trained in event planning, so we focus on the fine dining standards taught by Emily Post. But we also are very creative.” The company offers absolutely everything a bride should need from A to Z, including an 8,000-square-foot warehouse, complete with a catering company.
Accolades: Winner of the Top Event Planning Service from local culture magazine DSM magazine; Featured on the TV Show “I do, Let’s Eat.”
Stuart Alexander, Stuart Alexander Productions
To level up to royal proportions, look no further than Scottish expat Stuart Alexander, who is iconic for his whimsically luxurious fabric treatments, jaw-dropping floral arrangements, and one-of-a-kind custom tabletop creations. His warehouse acts not only as storage for the vast collection of curated furniture and décor he uses in his installations, but the newly renovated top floor, in tandem with Alexander’s penchant for the resplendent, magically transforms into a brides’ dream space with enough space to comfortably seat your bridal party and 300 of your closest friends.
Taylor Boesen, White Willow Events
What started as an assignment to build out a business plan for a college class in entrepreneurialism has grown over the years to become one of the city’s most comprehensive event planning companies, one that has been touted for its innovative design and vast network of vendors. Taylor wears the hats of wife, mommy and CEO with seamless sophistication and style. And the list of her charitable work is expansive, including the creation of the 65 Roses Gala, which was created to raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Accolades: Central Iowa Wedding Choice Awards: Best Event Decor Rental Company; Best Day of Wedding Coordinator; Best Wedding Planner.
Here’s the list of these pros’ suggestions for a wedding that is anything but Great Plain Jane:
Glen Oaks Country Club
Guests can set their big day in the gorgeous main ballroom or against the croquet lawn overlooking the Tom Fazio designed 18-hole championship facility. The club is adored for the amazing and attentive staff, delicious menu offerings and multiple options for backup plans in the case of inclement weather.
The River Center
The historic building is laced with history, having been originally constructed in 1915 as the third expansion of the Des Moines Brewing Company. The company was forced to close in the 1920s due to Prohibition laws. One hundred years later, the venue holds onto its original charm with rustic elements throughout that mimic the quintessential Iowa charm. Near the heart of downtown and with views overlooking the Principal Park minor league baseball stadium, brides can profit from the stadium’s free fireworks show each Friday during the summer.
The Tea Room
This grand space dates back to 1913 when it was the Younkers Tea Room, a Victorian-style space located in the Younkers Department Store that hosted a variety of extravagant events like lavish fashion shows, fundraisers and elegant parties. Today, its historic elegance lives on with its floor-to-ceiling windows, original and restored ornate plasterwork and Juliet-style balconies.
Dornink’s mission is “To flatter all that is feminine,” and that, they do. Mother and daughter pair Faythe and Sarah have become the first off one’s lips for recommendations for custom bridal, evening and cocktail apparel, but also for tailoring, alterations, and garment repair. The Historic East Village couturier also carries ready-to-wear and accessories for every day.
Bridal Boutique Des Moines
According to our pros, if you want to stand out from the crowd and are searching for a unique look, this bridal boutique is the best first stop. Established in the hippest neighborhood in the city, its intimate setting allows the staff to focus on you without making dress shopping a stressful experience. And, you can easily make a day of it by visiting the other shops and restaurants in the area.
Bride, meet fun. Fun, meet bride. You’ll feel like a princess in the West Des Moines bridal store. And you’ll also feel like your best self, as the knowledgeable staff fits you into dresses that work with your body type. Buyers from the store attend New York City and Chicago’s spring and fall wedding fashion weeks to bring back the runways’ best looks to the Midwest. From designer dresses to off-the-rack, Schaffer’s caters to every bride at every price-point with dresses starting at $600.
Salon Spa W
The staff at this favorite Historic East Village salon is top-notch with both talent and follow-up. Known for its award-winning architectural design and roster of expert staff, this ultimate urban luxury experience never disappoints. The “Who’s Who” of the city report here for their beauty needs and the salon is the go-to for bridal parties who are in need of the complete package.
Makeup artist Breiyan Lanea
Brides seeking a polished yet natural look can search no further. As one online reviewer states, “Breiyan is a master at her craft. She’s inviting, personable and turns into a friend quickly. My family and I have used her for two weddings and wouldn’t recommend anyone else. She is the absolute best.”
Mia Weber Hair Studio
Self-described as a “hairstylist and day maker,” this local hairstylist is a trusted vendor of the local pros because their clients never give negative feedback about her work. Her list of services is extensive, and she is an Aveda Color Coach, which makes her trusted within the industry. She is a 2016 Fashionista Global Contest award-winner for Best of the Midwest in color/cut/style/make-up/overall look, and she won the 2018 Global Fashionista award for Best of the Midwest in Overall Look.
*Note: Photos taken from each company’s social media pages
Belle thinks with both the left and rights sides of her brain as a creative director and strategic content writer. She covers food, fashion, arts, culture, design, and philanthropy for both print and digital. Her career as a fashion show producer and model agency booker has taken her to New York City, Chicago, and London. In her free time, Belle enjoys playing tennis, photography, learning about and food and wine, and volunteering.