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New wedding venue offers secluded setting near Duluth

Ivy Black Wedding & Events in Saginaw is now booking reservations for October and beyond.

A secluded wedding venue in Saginaw seen through trees.
The venue for Ivy Black Weddings and Events as seen from Minnesota Highway 194 in Saginaw on Wednesday.
Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune
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SAGINAW — During their search for a private wedding venue in the Northland, Kevin Swanson and Andrea (Shevich) Swanson, of Duluth, realized their dream location didn't yet exist. The couple met in 2016 through a mutual friend, and were engaged two years later.

"We looked at wedding venues around Duluth, and weren't finding something where there was vast property that had our own secluded space. We would have had to travel two hours down to the Twin Cities area to get that. Other local venues were semi-open to the public," Kevin said.

Sign at the driveway entrance for a secluded wedding venue
Ivy Black Weddings and Events is located 6910 Minnesota Highway 194 in Saginaw.
Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune

Having worked for Cirrus Aircraft for seven years, Kevin was in charge of customer deliveries and became very familiar with setting up and hosting events. In addition, he owned a small side business for 10 years. When the pandemic put events on hold in 2020, Kevin decided to start over and throw himself into a new business venture with his partner, Brennon Plaisted.

After facing public opposition from the Solway Town Board and other nearby property owners about his plans, Kevin gained approval of a conditional use permit for a wedding from the St. Louis County Planning Commission in a 4-3-1 vote June 10, 2021.

"Duluth was missing something. I did some venue tours across the country and brought the best features here," Kevin said.


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As the pandemic eases, more ceremonies with larger guest lists are moving forward.

He purchased 60 acres from his best friend's father, 19 of which would be used for the venue, and the adjacent properties would act as a buffer to sound and noise in the rural location.

Construction on the project began in October. It wasn't without the challenges of supply shortages, delays and acquiring proper permitting from state, Kevin said. By early August, the project was 90% complete, he said.

Ivy Black Weddings & Events is located at 6910 Minnesota Highway 194, within 10 minutes of Hermantown and Proctor . The upscale, modern, black barn is nestled among pines and open fields, nearby scenic trails and a pond.

A sign for Ivy Black Weddings and Events in Saginaw.
Ivy Black Weddings and Events is a new venue in Saginaw.
Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune

The wedding and event venue can accommodate up to 288 people, including a paved parking area. Televisions and projectors are located throughout, in addition to an outdoor patio with fire pits and yard games.

Its 800-square-foot bridal suite features a private bathroom, stations for the bridal party and a separate station for the bride to get ready. The bridal room walks out onto a deck overlooking the property. Also included is a private groom suite.

The venue offers a prep kitchen for caterers and a 24-foot-long full bar.

"Our recommended caterer is Black Woods, but we will allow any vendor to come in; even food trucks as long as its licensed and insured. We understand that everyone is on a different budget," Kevin said. "Wedding planning is already difficult. Vendors should be willing to work with you, and at the end of the day just really make sure everything is perfect for the couple."

The Clemmers are the second family to own the land since it was homesteaded in 1864. The farmhouse had been vacant and in rough shape when they bought it 37 years ago.

The Swansons on Aug. 20 were the first to be married at Ivy Black Weddings & Events. Duluth's Northland Special Events provided the planning and decorating. DJ services were provided by Pro Sound & Light Show of Duluth.


Ivy Black Wedding & Events is booking reservations for October and beyond. Kevin said weddings and events continue to be backlogged due to previous COVID-19 shutdowns, and he is already seeing bookings into late next year prior to officially opening.

Brielle Bredsten is the business reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.

She earned a bachelor's degree in Professional Writing & Technical Communication, with minors in Advertising and Creative Writing from Metropolitan State University, in addition to a two-year professional paid internship as reporter/editor of the student newspaper.

She is an award-winning professional writer, photographer and editor based in rural Minnesota. Over the past decade, Brielle Bredsten has contributed more than 1,000 articles, feature stories, non-profit press-releases, photographs and columns. Her work has been published in several community newspapers.

Send her story tips, feedback or just say hi at bbredsten@duluthnews.com.
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