“Three young people, kids I call them, in our family got married within six months of one another at very different venues,” says Annie Danielson, who runs The St Vrain — a wedding and event center in downtown Longmont — with her husband, Mark. “So we were educated that year about the process that couples and their families go through to host a wedding. We all kind of felt bludgeoned to death, by the end of it.
“We felt like this could be a lot simpler for people,” Danielson says.
Danielson and her husband are “serial entrepreneurs,” who ran a home décor design and manufacturing company for 25 years before taking a brief sabbatical to reorganize their lives. But their experience with their kids’ weddings brought them back into entrepreneurship, with the idea of starting a wedding venue that takes some of the hassle out of wedding planning.
“Our goal was not to rent people a building and then expect them to figure out how to fill it or for us to say, ‘Oh, now you’ve got to rent the tables. Now you have to rent the chairs. Oh, do you want the lights turned on? Well, then we’re going to charge you $400 to turn the lights on.’” Danielson says. “We took a slightly different approach and said we want to offer people an experience for one of the biggest days of their life, so we’re going to take care of all the foundational pieces… so that you can bring what best represents you as a couple to the space.”
The location was also a selling point for the Danielsons when choosing a building to house their business — the venue regularly hosts weddings for couples from Fort Collins to Denver (and beyond) and its access to the airport makes it easy for visiting guests. The building was formerly an antiques mall, and before that it was one of Colorado’s first car dealerships.
The Danielsons are handy, so they worked the space to maximize its industrial roots while also adding in softer textiles, art, fixtures and furniture to create a uniquely cozy atmosphere. Mark built beautiful, long tables from reclaimed lumber sourced from a fourth-generation sawmill in Southern Colorado, where the Danielsons are from originally. Clever accents like lockers and a foosball table in the groom’s room, natural lighting and soft-fabric chaises in the bridal suite a wall away, a massive tapestry designed by the Danielson’s daughter, and a manicured lawn with games fill out the space.
That balance of soft and hard elements is perfect for the space and perfect for Longmont.
“When couples come to The St Vrain, they love that this is an older urban building, so it has that sophistication of being from the city, but you have all the conveniences of a small town,” Danielson says.
She adds that it was fortuitous for them to land in Longmont not only for its location, but for the booming cultural scene.
“Longmont provides a really interesting culture with our newer restaurants that keep popping up, 11 breweries and 4 micro-distilleries. I feel like Longmont’s in the midst of a renaissance, really, and we’re so happy to be part of that,” Danielson says.
The St Vrain has hosted about 200 weddings since opening in late 2017. It also hosts corporate events, and as of this year, concerts: The Winter Folk Music and Photography Showcase was held in late February 2020 and brought in artists like Mason Jennings, Brett Dennen, Gasoline Lollipops and Daniel Rodriguez of Elephant Revival.
Altogether, the space fills a critical regional need for wedding and events spaces, and with its unique, modern atmosphere that can serve multiple purposes, it’s a boon for Longmont, which has supported the project from the beginning, Danielson says.
“The City’s been amazing, so welcoming. I think they had a lot of foresight by going, ‘Well, yeah, we need this. What can we do to help you?’” Danielson says. “Which was very different than other municipalities that we had looked at property in.”